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[personal profile] aliaspseudonym
Hey ... wait. I’m the Voice of the north wind whispering in the frigid night, tracing alien languages in the frost on your windowpanes and leaving glimmering secrets in the waves of snow drifting around your doorstep. Is ... is anyone listening?

Long ago, a traveller told me of a town built a around a lonely, rugged mountain in the middle of a vast plain. The wheat in that country turns to silver instead of gold, and the townspeople were a strange kind of folk -- small and thickly built with big eyes and thin hair that shone silver like the grain when it caught the light. Their voices were harsh and deep and they had thin webs of skin between their fingers, but when the traveller arrived one night in the midst of a terrible storm they spoke kindly and gave her a room at the inn on the mountainside.

Now on the very top of that lonely mountain in the middle of that vast plain, the townspeople were building something. Even in that terrible storm with thunder crackling all around them, some of them were out there, using pulleys to lift heavy stones to add to a great stone tower at the very summit. When the traveller asked, the innkeeper told her it was a lighthouse and that it must be completed soon for the time was nearly at hand. Why, the traveller wondered, would you build a lighthouse on a mountain surrounded by a vast plain? The innkeeper laughed and said, why does anyone build a lighthouse? Of course, it’s to keep ships from running aground on the rocks!

The traveller smiled and laughed with him. Of course. The storm raged on for days and days. She stayed at the inn and played her guitar and sang for the townspeople, and did magic tricks for their children since they could not play outside. Many of them had strange iridescent scales on their foreheads and necks and the backs of their hands. They gave her bread which was unlike anything she’d tasted before; thick and rich and heavy and flecked with grains that glimmered in candlelight -- she supposed if she ate this every day her hair might soon shine like silver as well.

On the eleventh day the storm showed no signs of stopping, and the traveller’s feet were beginning to itch for the open road once again. She asked the innkeeper if it often rained so much this time of year and he shook his head and said, no, never before and probably never again after this. But do not worry, today the lighthouse will be complete and soon after the rains will stop. Then our end of the bargain will be fulfilled -- we have long waited and prepared for this day. The traveller did not ask more because she already understood, having heard the songs the children sang as they played and the stories the townspeople told one another around the stove fire during the raging storm. She sang her own songs and waited, and when evening came and the great beam of the lighthouse blazed out into the clouds she said, the time has come for me to leave. You have been kind to me all this time -- I will sing your songs and tell your stories in many strange countries.

Then the innkeeper said, follow me, and taking their coats and lanterns they went together up the side of the mountain. Around them the rain fell in sheets and torrents -- puddles on the silvered plains turned to ponds and lakes and all flowed together into a rising torrent. The townspeople were all standing together in the town square singing a song, the third most beautiful song the traveller had ever heard -- although she would never tell me how it went. A voice from the clouds sang in reply, the same words, the same song. Some of the children turned to wave at the traveller on the mountainside just before the waters rose past their heads; she smiled and waved back with her lantern. The water was climbing the mountain below them now, engulfing the top of the villiage and then the inn on the mountainside and then the pathway where they had just walked. The innkeeper and the traveller kept climbing steadily, neither speeding up nor slowing down as the water lapped at their heels. At last they reached the lighthouse at the summit. A sturdy sailboat was waiting there with provisions for a journey, tied to a dock which just minutes before had been lying on the rocky ground. The rain stopped, then, and the clouds parted to let the silvery moonlight stream through. The innkeeper bowed to the traveller, and she bowed in return. I will stay here and tend the lighthouse, he said. I wish you well on your journey, traveller! The traveller thanked him one last time for his and his town’s hospitality and wished them all the best in their new lives, then with a twinkle in her eye she climbed onto the ship, opened the sail, and on a brisk evening breeze she sailed away into the night sky.
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