Morphine had belonged to the mountains before she was Morphine.

She was her flower's first and foremost, but nothing with wings can be content with feeling the breeze when they could soar through it, and the entire forest was her playground. She had raced the other spirits from treetop to ground and back again, always winning and always preening when she won. She would sweep low and skim across the lakes, so close she could feel the skin of the water on her belly, and then again on her back so she could feel it on her wings. She would fly straight and true up in the night sky, trying to meet the stars.

This was back before most ancestors could remember, when Morphine had been just another spirits of the flowers and the woods and the wind. The fastest and the most beautiful, to be sure, but still only a spirit, lovely and free and nameless.

Then the man had come. He stayed in the forest for many days, and all the spirits clustered around him at first, curious why he was there when he did not belong. When it seemed that he had no intention of leaving and would only walk among the trees holding a slab of shiny stuff in front of him, build harmless fires every night and eat what he had brought with him, the others lost interest and went back to their play. But she was more intrigued than she was curious, and kept coming back to watch him and his glittering pendant and the neat and conscientious way he rolled up his bedding every morning.

One day she had come too close and he caught her watching. She darted back to the cover of a bush, but he smiled and asked if she wanted to know what the pendant was for.

He had been the first Diethyl. Not the very first, of course, he had had a father, but the first one she knew and the first one who mattered. He had given her her name, and Morphine went with him not because that had given him power over her but because no one else had ever cared before to name her.

She had loved that first Diethyl as she grew to love his son after him and the son after him again. She loved them all for their seriousness and their sweetness and the nobility of their convictions. She had watched countless numbers of Diethyls grow weary and frustrated as they searched for the key while she laughed primly in her cage, glowing like the sunset in a jewel. She had seen their elation when they released her and she flew around their heads to rustle their hair and then alight on their shoulder in her version of a kiss. She had been introduced to all the sweethearts they brought home, more anxious for her grudging approval than for that of their parents. She had practiced with them as they created and perfected the techniques they taught to their sons.
And with their sons, she had mourned each Diethyl as they passed into a world she would never know.

She loved each of her Diethyls as separate people and for the smiling eyes that united them all, and loved them all equally and without exception. But she thought now, perhaps, that she might love Lyserg the most because of how much he needed it.

They would have been so proud of him, his fathers and his fathers' fathers, that he was so strong and brave and focused and had the opportunity to be in the Shaman Fights, and they would be so sad for him too.

Morphine was so happy when he made his allies. She hoped they would become his friends, that they would teach him to laugh more. Children should laugh often, and play - she had learned that. But she could only watch as he stood on the outskirts of their comradery, mystified and annoyed, too full of his mission to let anything else in. She did not mind when everything else basically meant Morphine - long ago she would have pouted and sulked, stamped her delicate foot in the air at the lack of attention. But the Diethyls had taught her patience, so she aided Lyserg and waited until he would hopefully look past his own anger and see the world around him. But now she feared that her love and his allies' example would not be enough.

Lyserg admired the X-Laws. They told him all the nasty things he suspected might be true wrapped in a package of self-righteousness he needed to feel. Morphine did not like them at all, wanted to, in fact, tear them apart with her pendulum and wire. She feared Lyserg would join them, suspected occasionally that it was only a matter of time. She recognized the dreaminess in a Diethyl's eye when one seized upon a new idea.

The X-Laws would destroy Lyserg, she knew that. They would take what made the Diethyls, made Lyserg in particular, so precious and special and ihers/i, and twist it in on itself until his justice had the steel edge of a sword and not the supple strength of a petal or the thoughtfulness refracted in crystal.

But even if he did join them, iwhen/i he joined them, Morphine knew she would stay true. Because he was a Diethyl and he was Lyserg. The Diethyls had shaped her as much as she had shaped them, they the lock and Morphine the key. She was no longer the spirit of a flower and its mountain; she was the spirit of a family. She was not going to abandon Lyserg, she was sure of it, even if he might be the last of her Diethyls.