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Petronus

Petronus mended the last of the net and tucked it away in the prow of his boat. Another quiet day on the water, another day of little to show for it, but he was happy with that.


Tonight, hed dine at the inn with the others, eating and drinking too much and finally breaking down into the raunchy limericks that made him famous up and down the coast of Caldus Bay. Petronus didnt mind being famous for that at all. Outside of his small village, most had no idea that more fame than that lay just beneath the surface.


Petronus the Fisherman had lived another life before returning to his nets and his boat. Prior to the day he chose to end that life, Petronus had lived a lie that, at times, felt more true than a childs love. Nonetheless, it was a lie that ate away at him until he stood up to it and laid it out thirty-three years ago.


Next week, he realized with a smile. He could go months without thinking about it now. When he was


younger, it wasnt so. But each year, about a month before the anniversary of his rather sudden and creative departure, memories of Windwir, of its Great Library, of its robed Order, flooded him and he found himself tangled up in his past like a gull in a net.


The sun danced on the water, and he watched the silver waves flash against the hulls of ships both small and large. Overhead, a clear blue sky stretched as far as he could see and seabirds darted, shrieking their hunger as they dove for the small fish that dared swim near the surface.


One particular bird-a kingfisher-caught his eye and he followed ithade follo as it dipped and weaved. He turned with it, watching as it flexed its wings and glided, pushed back by a high wind that Petronus couldnt see or feel.


Ive been pushed by such a wind, he thought, and with that thought, the bird suddenly shuddered in the air as the wind overcame it and pushed it farther back.


Then Petronus saw the cloud piling up on the horizon to the northwest.


He needed no mathematics to calculate the distance. He needed no time at all to know exactly what it was and what it meant.


Windwir.


Stunned, he slid to his knees, his eyes never leaving the tower of smoke that rose westward and north of Caldus Bay. It was close enough that he could see the flecks of fire in it as it roiled and twisted its way into the sky.


Oh my children, Petronus whispered, quoting the First Gospel of PAndro Whym, what have you done to earn the wrath of heaven?


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