The Eternal Legend
Prologue: Fate's Division
The sky was raging with lightening and darker than black. The rolls of thunder sent echoes through the old ruins, knocking loose debris off the failing walls and crumbling towers. The wind soared through the decrepit walkways swirling clouds of dirt and dust with it. Throughout the storming weather the chants of seven men could be heard. Their moans and growls sent shivers through the clouds above shaking strikes of lightening loose.
Seven robe-clad men stood in a circle around an aging pedestal. Atop the pedestal came the wailings of an infant child in the throws of agony. Agony that could be felt to its very soul. The wisemen heard the cries and still chose to ignore them. Their deed was too great to be hindered by things of morality. To the skies and to the earth they chanted and moved their arms. Wildly swaying their own aging bodies to call upon the energies of the land and world surrounding them. They knew what they were doing. They knew what they were channeling.
Upon the outside of the child's right hand a triangular birth mark began to glow a pale gold. Gaining brightness and strength as the channeled energies began to coalesce upon the child. The lightening above struck more and more as four energies seeped in the child's very being, tearing, ripping and shredding it apart. Its heart stopped beating and his lungs stopped expanding. His very body went dead and quiet. The wind screamed in pain and defiance at this monstrous magic.
A vortex of mixed blues, greens, reds, and purples struck outward from the infant's gaping mouth, spiraling slowly into the sky. The seven wisemen grew silent and still, their only sounds the heavy breathing of their bodies. The vortex reached its apex at the base of the clouds. Without warning the colors lashed out and grabbed the striking bolts of lightening, corralling them into a vortex and at once sending them down upon the silent child. At once the energies struck the dead infant and an inhuman scream ripped the sky. And all grew silent as the energies dissipated and the vortex and lightening fell away into wisps.
Seven men leaned heavily upon their staffs and waited for the sign of their success. Then from the pedestal their came the sounds of crying. The men sighed and began to move forward, wiping the sweat from the wrinkled brows. They looked in wonder at the completion of their deed and began to talk to one another in low murmurs. Some in awe and others in speculation. All felt the enormous burden lifted from their shoulders. Now it was in the hands of destiny. They had finally stopped the Eternal Legend.
The night was quiet and subdued around Hyrule Castle. A night clear enough to see the stars in the sky. Within the castle the king raged from room to room snapping at any who were in his way. Kicking open the door with a bang in swept into the room, bearing down upon the crouching old man seated.
"This must be very important to risk your life, wiseman." He bellowed, his face redder than blood.
The wizened, old man slowly raised his small eyes and calmly met the King in his own. "It is your Majesty. It is. Even I would not bring you trivial news till the morning after your wife gave you your heir."
The King stopped and with a shaking breath reigned in his rage, but his temper was still flaring. To the servant clad in livery he snapped. "Bring me ale. The darkest the cook can get." The frightened livery bowed then jumped away. "Now tell me what it is you have to say and say it quickly."
The wiseman ignored the statement, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He slowly raised his hand and drew an archaic rune in the air. Moments passed slowly for the King as he waited, his foot tapping on its own accord. Finally, the wiseman released his breath and opened his eyes. He raised them to meet the King's stare. "Your child shall not be born until the dawn strikes the sky. Their birth will bring great glory upon the Kingdom and their reign will help begin the Golden Age of Hyrule."
The King stood in shock. His eyes widened, but his face did not lighten. He began to speak, but words failed him the first few attempts. "Is that what you had to tell me?"
The wiseman shook his head slowly. "No. But it will give us time to discuss what needs to be discussed. And the rest I told you for interrupting you at a inconvenient time." The King took several deep breathes, gripping his hands together tightly. He released them with a rush of exhaled air and frustration. "Are you calm now, your Majesty?"
"As calm as I'm going to get. Now what must we discuss?"
"Two weeks ago a child of destiny was born under a full moon. The father? Nowhere to be found. The mother? Died in giving birth. This child was born with the Mark of the Hero upon his hand. He was being sought by an ancient evil."
The King looked on in shock again, some red leaving his face. "An evil? Of what legend? Is it here in my kingdom?"
Of an that abused its power and fought the first war this realm ever saw. A conflict so great and ruthless its very memory was suppressed from the mind's of the people."
The King stood still. His eyes growing into slits. "This evil has been searching for this child? Why?"
"To gain power and strength. To seek the child while still weak and kill it. The evil was defeated once before by a hero bearing the Mark. It can sense when another is born. It hopes to come into its full being before the hero reaches his."
"But you intervened?"
"Of course. Destiny balances all things. We Seven Wisemen came together and took the child into our care."
The King said no words for a moment. And as the red leeched back into his face the servant returned bearing a tray crowned by a goblet. The King whirled upon the servant bellowing for him to leave at once. The servant dropped the goblet and tray, running away for his life. The King whirled upon the wiseman his finger pointed accusingly at him. "I shall not harbor this child under my roof as long as this evil is hunting it!"
The wiseman began to talk, unaffected by the King's tone. "We wisemen have taken the necessary steps to baffle the creature. It can no longer sense this child. We worked and gave much of our own life force in order to achieve this. In a few months I shall wither away into dust leaving only the legacy of peace in my wake."
The King sighed, his fist skating in rage. Yet, he spoke calmly. "Stop talking in riddles and tell me exactly what it is you mean old man or I shall refuse whatever request you have for me. Regardless if it is before your death."
"When a child is born bearing the Mark of the Hero, it means he has come into this world to balance a great evil. An evil that shall come to power and bring strife, war, and darkness upon the land. Death and the dead shall be everywhere until the Hero born comes into his own and challenges the evil. If he wins the evil is smited and peace returns. If he loses, darkness covers the land until the evil destroys itself.
"We wisemen came together and decided to let peace reign eternal. The spell we cast upon the hero will stop him from coming into himself and gaining the mantle of Hero. This done, destiny shall not let the evil come into its power with nothing to balance it. Thus, no great evil shall arise and no great hero shall arise. Their will be no endless days of black nor endless days of death. Their will only be a creeping evil and a shattered hero. And peace shall reign. Their will be war and hunger. But they will not be because of magic or destiny."
The King let out a long breath, exhaling slowly. The red momentarily draining from his face. "Is that why Hyrule shall have a golden age under my offspring? Because of what you did? Is that why you will die, because you defied fate?"
Yes. Yes. And yes."
"What will you have of me?" The King asked unclenching his fist.
"The child still needs some protection from the forces outside. He is no longer an instrument of fate, but he could still be used by the evil if found. There is no safer place to guard a child than in the heart of a kingdom's castle."
"You would have me raise the child here. As my own?" His cheeks began to color once more.
The old man only shook his head. "Nothing so grand. I only ask he be raised somewhere in the castle. Where and how are up to you, of course. I just ask he be brought-up healthy."
The King brought his forefinger and thumb to his chin. His eyes shifted to the left. "Alright. Must he be taught to fight? Or could he be a servant? Or an apprentice to a craft?"
The wiseman shrugged. "I leave that all to you. All I must know is where to leave the child and who shall care for it? Is there someone within these walls who can give it nurturing?"
The King chuckled and began to speak, more to himself than to the old man. "There is a maid here. Lyssa is her namesake. Has born two children, but lost them both. Her mate died many years ago and a child would ease her loneliness. She runs errands for the castle's kitchens some nights. They sometimes lead her through the back ways of the town. Seeing an abandoned child she'd be sure to hide it away in the castle. I, of course, would eventually learn of it and command her to my presence. I would order it sent to an orphanage. She would beseech me and in my compassion I allow her to keep it and raise it as her own. From there he would most likely become a servant. And to please you even more when he has come of age I shall make him one of my personal servants. That way he would be under guard for most of his of life." His eyes stopped wandering around and became set once more on the wiseman. "Does that satisfy you?"
The wizened man slowly stood, leaning heavily upon his staff. "It will do fine, your Majesty." He gave the King as much of a bow as his aging body would allow. "I shall make the arrangements." With that said he slowly made his way from the room. The sound of his cane echoing in his wake. And his thoughts wondering to the sadness that would greet the King at the dawn. For he would gain one family member at the cost of another.
The King made his way towards the window, after watching the old man leave. Slowly he looked up into the stars. He stared for what seemed an eternity dreaming of his offspring in a world of gold and riches. Of throngs of people coming to see the magnificence of his kingdom. He would not wait for his child to create a golden age. He would start it himself. He offered prayer and thanks to the three goddesses as he turned and made his way back to his wife. And as he turned away a distant green light streaked across the sky.
It was a clear sky high above the trees and the mist that intertwined them. Bird calls and strange creaks and growls emanated from the underbrush. Hypnotic hums and whistles came from the mist itself, enticing travelers to follow the sounds to their doom. In the heart of this vast expanse there was an old shrine. A temple built to guard and focus the energies of the Lost Woods. A meadow surrounded the ancient stone structure with flowers blooming and bushes reaching for the blue sky that only shown in this strange part of the woods.
Seated quietly on a stump stood a small childlike creature with a wooden ocarina pressed to her lips. She seemed pale and looked to be a ghost clad in nothing but green clothing. Many animals surrounded her as she played a quiet melody. They swayed their heads as the notes slowly rose into the air. Birds stood perched in the tree next to her, oddly quiet and still. Their was a rustling from in front of her. The animals darted their heads towards the noise then scampered away in fright. The birds took flight and flew swiftly away. She herself instantly stopped playing and faded away.
From the noise a bent old man stepped forward, leaning heavily upon a wooden, gnarled cane. He craned his head around and smiled joyfully speaking softly. "It is okay child. There is no reason for a spirit like yours to hide from one such as me. I bring no ill-tidings or otherwise I never would have found this haven."
The childlike creature reappeared seated on the stump, her ocarina held at her side. She gave him a searching look with her blue eyes. "Who are you?" She asked tentatively.
"I am a wiseman. One of seven who watch the land and care for its creatures. I look to the stars for the future and the shadows for evil. I am an aging guardian of this land. Chosen by fate and profession to see that things are righted. Can you not already sense this about me, Saria?"
The childlike creature smiled and giggled. "I see and feel a lot. I felt you come into my meadow, and I feel you speak truth. But, what you speak and what I feel are not always the same. How do you know of me?"
"How do I not know of you? I know of the legends you have seen and the legends you have lived through. I know how you became what you are and what you lost in becoming it. I as well know you are a guardian like myself, but that is all we have in common. Where as you guard this focal point I guard history. The making of it and the past of it. I know of an ancient war where your very predecessor turned to the darkness and embraced it. You do not know of it, but I know you can feel it."
The small creature shuddered at the vague memories which came forth from his speech. "You know too much." She said softly
"I know enough to know what to do."
"So why have you come to me? What is it that you will have me do?"
The old man chuckled. "It is hard to remember that you only look like a child. You have no doubt felt what has happened in the past months. The pain. The evil. Fate pushing. And of course the energies we used from your shrine."
She nodded, a guarded look upon her face. "That was you?" The old man nodded. "Yes, I felt all this and more. Of the Hero being born and of him dying and breathing anew. I have felt the creeping evil and its power growing. I was preparing myself for when the Hero would come to me."
The old man smiled. "Him dying was us." He raised his hand to stop her from speaking. "Let me finish, please. We cast a very dangerous spell upon the Hero. One where the creeping evil could not find him. He lives still, but he has been ripped away from fate's grip."
Saria sighed and spoke with a saddened look upon her face. "Then he shall not come to me has he as in the past? You have only prolonged the conflict, not stopped it. You cannot stop it. It is fated."
The oldman spoke solemnly. "No child, we can. And we have. The evil that has awoken is as old as the land you walk on. It is as old as the air I breath. It is but one remnant of that terrible war fought for so long and so long ago. With it awakened comes the war again. A war so great it would rage across this land and leave it scarred forever."
"And how will that differ than in the past?" She asked.
The old man said nothing for moment. Letting the silence bear his opinion on her words. "You speak of no faith in our sacrifice. We have given much to stop so much death, yet you seem to look forward to the struggle."
She looked into his eyes deeply, slightly leaning forward. "So you have given your life to stop it? How sad. Though, I do believe that it can be stopped." She spoke in a low saddened tone.
The oldman only smiled. "But we have. We have stopped it."
Saria shook her head, but nonetheless she smiled, a small child humoring an aging man. "Then what do you need of me?"
"To guard him. Countless years ago before you became a sage you helped care for a Hero. You helped to guide him into what he had to become. I do not ask the same thing this time. I only ask that you help to care for him. Nurture him and protect him until he his able to protect himself."
She smiled fondly, old memories and cheerful laughs coming back to her. "And you say he will not become the Hero?
The oldman's smile grew. "Oh no child. If he were to become the Hero again then the evil would grow into its power. What we wisemen have done is stopped him from becoming the Hero. Thus, destiny shall prevent the evil from gaining its power."
She said no words; only stared into the depths of his small eyes. "I will do it. I will raise him and I will protect him. Teach him and nurture him. Yet, you must do something for me in return."
The oldman looked at her strangely. "Anything within my power I will grant to you."
She smiled wide. "Hum me a song so old that no one remembers its lyrics. Hum me a song so ancient even the trees can't remember it."
The man laughed softly. "I shall child, but first I ask a personal request." She raised her eyebrows. "Let me die in these woods away from the snarling beasts and haunting mists. Let me die in peace as you play a song to linger about my grave."
She looked solemnly upon his bent form and nodded slowly. "When your time has come I will. I will show you an ancient grove where wisdom has died before. There I will play."
He smiled and a tear slowly crawled down his weathered face. "Thank-you child."
A few moments passed in silence as the wiseman searched his mind for an ancient tune. One came to him as he recalled the book where the notes were written. He began to hum softly and slowly. The notes rose gently from his frail form and fell down upon Saria. She watched in fascination at notes older than the temple she guarded. Gently she placed her wooden ocarina to her lips and echoed the oldman's sorrowful song.
"Calm your asses down boys!" Screamed a man as he tried to calm his rearing horses. "Damned kids! Serve'em right if they get kicked. I ain't paying another damned family for injuries." Moments passed as he screamed at his horses until they calmed down. With that he climbed back atop his wagon and whipped the reigns for his horses to continue down the roadway. To either side of him people were bustling about. Some crowded the booths lining the sides of the street while others gawked at the wares placed upon the blankets by merchants. The town was alive this early morning with the beginnings of the trade season.
The merchant slowly made his way down the road until he came upon a two story building with a sign above the front door that showed a picture of a bed and lamp. "The Lighted Bed. How farking original." He muttered to himself. He pulled his wagon to a stop and three boys came scampering out to the horses and wagon. "Alright you little terds. You'll each get yer tip when I leave on the morrow. If my horses got one scratch on'em I'll whip each of you instead. My wagon got a single bent board or dent I'll take yer bones out to repair it with." The three boys hesitated before taking the reigns from him. He stared each one in the eye, snorted his nose, and pit the contents onto the pavement.
With that done he climbed down and made his way to the inside of the inn. Into a sparsely lit common room is what he walked into. There were half as many taken table as there were empty ones. To the bar he went and hollered for the matron. A large man came bustling to him, his weight moving with his strides. "Can I help, sir?" The merchant gave him a scathing look.
"Yea, ya can. I need room and I need board. And I'll pay it all up front, right now."
The matron eyed him nervously. "How many days?"
"Just the night. I'm not gonna be staying in this shit hole of a kingdom as long as I can help it."
The matron looked affronted by his statement, but he licked his lips anyway. "That'll be three silvers and nine coppers."
The merchant snorted and threw the coins on the counter. I'll seat myself and you can serve me the dish of the day." He walked away and seated himself at the nearest counter. "And don't forget the ale!" He shouted.
Time passed and the merchant got his ale and food. He ate it ravenously and called for seconds. When he was finished he sat back and sipped his ale, enjoying a full stomach. As he wiped the crumbs from his black beard a bent old man leaning on a cane made his way to the table. The merchant gave him a withering look. "Waddaya want, old man?"
"Are you the merchant called Elias?" He asked politely.
"Yep. And I'm all out of wares, so find business elsewhere."
The old man only grinned. He slowly reached into his brown robes and tossed ten gold coins onto the table. Elias sat straight-up and stared wide-eyed at the gold. "Those are for a moment of your time." Said the wiseman calmly.
Elias looked from the gold to the old man and back again. He licked his lips and quickly gathered up the coin. "Pull a seat-up old timer you can talk till I die."
The wiseman smiled and took a seat. "You are a man of your word, correct?"
Elias barked a laugh. "I said you can talk. I didn't say I'd answer no questions."
The old man only chuckled. "If you want more gold you'll answer."
The merchant grunted. "Yes. I say something and I stick to it. Why?"
"As I thought. Do you enjoy merchanting?"
"It's something to do. I like the traveling and I don't have to worry about neighbors. And I ask again. Why?" He snarled.
The old man only smiled as he reached into his pocket and threw more gold at the merchant. Who in turn licked his lips and quickly gathered them up. "Because I had a proposition that would interest you. It would involve a lot of gold."
The merchant's lips glistened with saliva as he sat back and smiled. "I'm all ears."
The old man withdrew from his robes a small brown cloth bag. It was plainly done with a black leather throng used to tie it closed. He placed it upon the table. It didn't make a sound as the old man released it. "How much gold do you believe to be in this bag?"
Elias looked at him queerly. "How am I supposed to know?"
The old man shrugged. "Make a guess?"
The merchant looked from the bag to the old and back again. "Nothing from the sounds of it."
The old man smiled softly. "How much do you want there to be in the bag?"
The merchant scratched his head. "Ten golds."
"Reach in and take them out."
Elias growled and scratched his head. He snapped his hand out grabbing the bag and turned it upside down. Ten golds fell out. He dropped the bag in astonishment. The old man gently took the bag back. "I would like their to be five golds in this bag." He turned the bag upside down and five gold coins fell atop the gold already on the table.
Elias gaped, his eyes going wide. The wiseman shook the bag and no more came out. "Or maybe I think that two golds should be in this bag." Still holding the back upside down two more gold coins fell out.
Elias fell silent. He said no words for several minutes. Only gaping as the old man placed the bag back on the table. "Now tell me kind merchant, what would this bag be worth to you?"
"M-m-my my soul..." He stuttered.
"I don't require that. But would you be willing to do anything for this bag? Say, make a sacrifice in your personal life?"
Still wide-eyed the merchant looked up at the smiling wiseman. "What k-kind of sacrifice?"
"You see I have a small infant child in my current possession. I need someone with no strings attached to this kingdom to take him off my hands. Would this be worth one bag to you?"
The merchant whistled softly to himself. He brought his hand to his head and rubbed it. "You want me to take a baby? For that sac?"
The old man nodded. "There's more to it, of course."
The merchant slitted his eyes. "Like what?"
"You'd have to raise the child as your own. Raise him to be a capable young man. Nurture him of course. Feed him. Bathe him. Teach him. Everything a child would need to become a steady adult. And when he has reached an age of manhood you could send him on his way."
Elias brought both of his hands to his head and ran them through his hair viscously. He growled and exhaled his breath. "Would that be all?"
"No. One more stipulation. You must never return to this kingdom. That child must never know he is from here. You must do your best to smother any need he may have to find his birthplace. Tell him he was born far far away from here." The wiseman said with an intense voice.
The merchant was once more silent. He was mulling the thoughts over in his head, all the while staring at the bag. Then he spoke with a smile. "Can I guess as long as I fulfill my end this bag will always give me gold?"
The wiseman nodded.
"Then you have yourself a deal." Elias said with a grin plastered to his face. "Where do ya want me to pickup the little rugrat?"
"When you leave on the morrow take the road five miles north. You shall come upon a basket with a small fair-haired child sleeping within it."
"That's it, then, right? No more you want from me? No more stipulations?"
"That is all."
The merchant began to laugh uncontrollably, banging his hand on the table. "Great then! Hey, matron! Rounds of drink for the whole place. It's all on me." He shouted. "Its been a great pleasure oldman." He stuck his hand out.
The oldman ignored the gesture and slowly rose to his feet. He bowed once and made his way for the door, leaving behind a raucous common room and a merchant about to drink himself stupid.
It was a dry and arid day with small dust clouds lingering in the air. A medium built man was striking the dry, hard ground with his hoe, breaking up the cracked earth. The field he was working on was a relatively small one, with half of it already broken-up. He paused for a moment and wiped the sweat from his brow. His tanned face looked around slowly and he then went back to work. He was bent on finishing this field before the sun sank below the horizon. Watching him work from a distance was a bent old man, leaning heavily upon a gnarled cane. He had found the right place.
He slowly made his way over to the working man, biding his time until he was noticed. When finally his shadow fell upon the piece of earth the farmer was working did the man stop and look up. His gaze followed the old man's frame from toe to head. A moment longer he gazed into his small eyes before he spoke. "What can I help you with, elderman?"
"It must have been quite a risk to setup a farmstead here at the foothills?"
The farmer stood-up straight, wiped his brow, and leaned on his tool. "It was. Given enough years the ground'll soften and it'll grow most things."
The oldman slowly looked around, then back to the stranger. "It'll be near ten years before this rough ground can grow anything ripe. Even longer before you yield any good bounty."
"Then it will take that long."
The old man smiled. "Hoping to pass it along to your children? Let them reap the rewards of your labors?"
The farmer grunted and spit on the ground. "Don't want any. More of a hassle than anything else. Won't listen to ya. Cry and complain all the time. Then they up and leave you when you offer them a solid life."
"Does your wife feel the same?"
The farmer spit again. "Wouldn't of married her if it were any other way. All this got a point?"
"You know, not all children are as unruly as your younger siblings were. Some are humble and quiet, depending on who raised them."
The farmer's grip tightened on his tool. He then exhaled a deep breath. "Who are you old man? Enough words."
The wiseman slowly smiled. "I am a man offering you bounty for a price."
The farmer's grip tightened more. "Enough words." He glared at the old man.
"Very well. You must forgive me. I spend most of my days reading old texts and answering person's questions. Questions I must not answer fully or they would not like the answer. So I have become used to talking in circles and mysteries."
"You're forgiven if you will just tell me what you want."
"Agreed." The oldman nodded. "I can tell you much of your past, but little of your future. I can tell you this, though. You will die working young if you continue to till this land in a vain attempt to make it yield crops. That is all you know to do, though is work hard, but nature will not bend to you in the time you require."
The farmer stood still for a few moments. Then spoke softly. "Then you have come to offer me help?"
"I do not give free services so easily. It will come at a price."
The farmer straightened. "I am a farmer. I till the land and I plant crops. That is all I want in life. If I die doing this, then I will die at peace." He turned to walk away.
"What of your wife? Does she feel the same?"
"She would move on and marry again." The farmer walked away towards the house. The wiseman followed behind him. The farmer looked over his shoulder. "I was done talking."
"I know. But I was not. I know you to be a simple man with a very simple life, but I wish to show you something. If you then do not take my offer I will walk away and never bother you again."
The farmer stopped walking. He turned around to face the wiseman. "Show me then."
The wise raised his crooked hand and proffered it to the farmer. The farmer took it and as he did his eyes went wide. In his simple mind he saw a slithering, oily blackness crawling across a bleak landscape. Its inhuman hunger for life the only thing driving its movements. It shrieked in frustration at something it could no longer feel. A shriek that echoed into the deepest recesses of the farmer's mind, sending terror streaming through his blood.
The farmer struggled backward catching his balance. Sweat poured from his brow and into his wide eyes. His mouth was gaping from a scream that he could not utter. For minutes he stood there, trying to regain both control of his mind and his body. When finally he did he fell to his knees onto the ground.
The oldman looked down on him in sadness. "I am sorry for having to show you that, but what you saw is out there. It does exist in this world and its crawling across this realm searching for a child it can no longer find. A child I need you to care for."
The farmer stared at the wiseman as a child would a father.
"Given time the images will fade and the fear will no longer grip your heart, but now you realize the import of what I am asking of you."
The farmer lowered his head and took several deep breathes. Finally, finding his voice he spoke softly. "Will that thing ever come here for the boy?"
"Oh no. You will be perfectly safe from it."
"If I take this child, my land will yield?"
"Yes. If you choose to care and raise and nurture the child your land will grow and yield a great bounty until you and your wife's deaths."
The farmer sat still for moments. The only thing heard was his breathing. "I would take the child without the growths if it means helping."
The oldman nodded. "I know, but you must be rewarded for such an act of kindness, and that is your reward."
The farmer stood slowly on shaking legs. "Very well, I will take the child. Where is it?"
"The child will be at your doorstep on the morning after tomorrow. And this coming growth season will see you reaping your reward."
"Very well then elderman. Very well. Please, do not think it unkind of me, but will you please leave."
The old man only nodded. "I understand."
The farmer nodded and turned away. He did not bother looking back. He only slowly made his way towards his house and his waiting wife.
The wise man did not move from his spot until the farmer was inside his abode. He then slowly made his way to the center of the half-tilled field. Once there he closed his eyes and began chanting in a low murmur. A small wind picked-up and blew his loose robes. Slowly it gained in strength as clouds began to form in the sky. The wiseman ceased his chanting and swayed with the wind, the last of his strength leaving his body. His skin grew stiff and cold and his eyes turned dull. And grain by grain the wind blew across his face taking with it the dust that the old man had become.