| Epilogue |

I love to breathe.

I have never tasted air that is so strong and salty, yet so sweet to my tongue. I love the flavour of it, and that I feel it deep in my chest. It makes me feel alive-- makes me know that I am alive. I likened it to wine, when first I inhaled it-- but it is a thousand times more potent, though it does not intoxicate, rather clearing the mind and strengthening the spirit.

I stand alone on the cliff-- alone as I have been for these years past, and yet not so, for I do not feel the loneliness of it. I stand and look to the horizon, where the sun sinks out of sight, her burnished rays still grasping at the sky. She is beautiful, as I knew even in the darkness of my capture, beautiful in her wanton fire undying. She hoards no gold, but burns it that all might enjoy the warmth and light of the blaze. She is beautiful even as she leaves my sight, and twilight overcomes, because I know that she will come again.

I say no goodbye to the Sun.

I look to the Sea.

The white-foam crowns of waves rise tall and lordly where they swell and crash against the foot of the cliff, scattered only to gather again in gossamer crests atop the water. Ai, the water pounds, deep and sonorous-- I see it, I hear it, I feel it beneath my feet. The Sea calls to me-- whispers in the slap against the surf, shouts in the waves of the deep.

The Great Sea.

No enclosing shores-- no walls.

No chains bound to the feral ocean tempests.

No master but the very spirits of the Sea.

The Sea . . .

I would be a part of it.

I close my eyes to the salt-stinging winds and spread my arms, stretching wide and unbound in that wild, clear freedom of space. The rock falls away beneath my feet and I imagine that I fly, that I soar through the air-- to the Sea. If I could do but one thing in this moment, I would lift from these mortal shores and free-fall. To be a fleshless spirit, expanding limitless in the liquid-gem waters, no heights nor depths except those of tiny lands that I hold upon my free-form shoulders.

The Sea . . .

It speaks to me, and I believe that it will not stop-- for it is in me now, the longing of the Sea, and until we are one I will find no true rest.

But the promise of the Sun holds us both in wait . . .

I open my eyes and exhale, dispelling the ocean air with joy in knowing that my next breath will only bring it again. There is no light now but the pale stars-- the ocean shimmers black, snow-points of lather gone dull in the darkness. And though I will now climb down from these cliffs to seek food and shelter, I again speak no farewell, and there is such pleasure, such everlasting joy in knowing that I need not say it.

The Sea is in me, and after the Sun has come, I shall see it again.

And true freedom I will know at last.