Gehn did not move for a long time after Atrus had left for his room. Standing still in his now increasingly dimly-lit study, he let the anger and rage he felt overcome him. He was shaking, yet unable to move or to utter a sound. How dare his son betray him like he did? After all the knowledge and education Gehn had provided him with?

Tearing himself from where he was standing, Gehn started pacing the study, livid with fury. No one had ever questioned his abilities to create Ages before. He was a Master of the Art. The last one. He was not going to let a little boy tell him how he should Write. Nobody could. Nobody had ever been able to.

A little boy in a D'ni classroom. Himself, dwarfed by the long, almost shadowy figures of the Guildmasters.

"He will never be able to learn." "It is a helpless case." "The boy must be dim-witted, with all that tainted blood." "Do you even know how to speak D'ni, Gehn?" (His D'ni name, pronounced like a mockery)

Gehn reached angrily towards one of the book on the shelves that lined his study. Without realizing what he was doing, he opened it and starred blankly at the writing in front of him. D'ni words and D'ni letters ; good, pure signs, etched elegantly all across the pages. He had learned to read those letters, learned how to understand their intricate ways and their secret patterns. But now, he could not decipher their meaning anymore. He felt as if his eyes were shifting through a thick mist.

Cold words resonating through the dormitory. Mocking voices piercing through the wall of noise in the playground.




"Speak! Speak D'ni!"

He just stood there, silent. Guilty of everything he was accused to be. Always standing, taking the blame.

Other boys, later on, some of them Atrus' age. The night before his speech at the Guildhall.

"Say something in your fool language!" "Is it true that your mother is half-beast, half-woman?" "Do you howl at the moon together on the surface?"

Always having to prove. The illness of having to fit, and never succeeding. What good had come of all of that for those boys? Their civilization had collapsed all the same.

I'm thinking like an ahrotahntee.Gehn violently threw the book he was holding to the floor. He started to maniacally reach at books, then throwing them across the room, on after the other, kicking and stomping. He was not an outsider, he thought, the words a rhythm in his head, the systematic pattern of thought keeping him sane. He was a D'ni citizen. The last one. The best one. The only one.

The harm that had befallen his native world only happened because the D'ni had been severely misguided. In a time of sorrow and confusion, they had turned to fake messiahs and corrupted figures, and, like rats following a pied piper's pernicious song, they had drowned. But he was not the same way.

Gehn knew that what he created was good. Worlds needed gods, and people needed to be led. Even if they did not want to realize it. His Ages would have been full of darkness and chaos without him. His people, still savages, had he not guided them to the blinding light of the D'ni civilization.

Then why did his only son choose to betray him?

That thought alone sent a last shiver of rage throughout his body, and he fell down on his knees, shaking, ashamed of himself for the knot he felt in his throat.

I am a Writer. I am his father. I know. I know.

Then, nothing. Or maybe it was better to forget. He just faintly remembered smoking, still lying on the ground. And knowing one thing.

He was right.

And, as a drug-induced sleep overpowered him, the little boy lying wide awake somewhere in some cold and alien dormitory went to sleep again at last.