Exile’s Finish is a fancy, typically uncomfortable examination of artifact repatriation and cultural appropriation. An artifact of indescribable and irreplaceable magnificence created by an “extinct” tradition has been the premise of one other tradition’s origin tales. The race who created the artifact has survived on a distant world and has despatched a consultant to reclaim it, throwing all the pieces into query.

Impressed by the SF camp in Danzhai, China, which is co-hosted by the Future Administration Authority (FAA) and Wanda Group.



                                                                          Let’s sing of the lightbeam journey

                                                                          Of the person who was not a person

                                                                          Despatched by the Whispering Kindom

                                                                          To look the sky for ghosts.

                                                                                       How did he discover the way in which?

                                                                          He adopted the poison papers,

                                                                          He adopted the scent of secrets and techniques

                                                                          He adopted the footsteps of ashes,

                                                                          Retracing the trail of exile.

                                                                                       Can reversing exile set it proper


The sequence of occasions that might make Rue Savenga essentially the most reviled lady on Sarona started solely minutes earlier than closing time on the Orofino Museum.

The home windows had been rain-streaked all day, and now had gone darkish. Rue was at her desk, studying a brand new artwork historical past treatise she wanted to evaluate, when her wristband chimed.

“There’s a gentleman right here asking to see you,” the guard on the entrance desk mentioned. “He says he’s come from Radovani.”

Radovani was seven mild years away. Rue glanced at her calendar. No appointment. She may simply dodge this one. However the guide was disappointing—simplistic concepts gussied up in jargon—and she or he wanted a break. “All proper, I’ll come down,” she mentioned. That was her first mistake.

The components of the museum past the general public galleries had been cluttered and utilitarian. Uncovered conduits and plumbing ran alongside the ceiling above her as she paced down the scuffed-tile hall lined with crates and show circumstances nobody needed to throw away. Rising into the ethereal, subtle structure of the foyer was a launch from claustrophobia.

It was clear who her customer was. He stood out for his stillness within the bustle of departing guests—tall and slim, with lengthy black hair pulled again in a tie. His palms had been within the pockets of a jacket a lot too mild for the climate exterior.

Rue launched herself. When she held out her hand, the younger man stared at it for a second earlier than remembering what to do with it.

“My title is Traversed Bridge,” he mentioned; then, apologetically, “I’ve an unreal title as effectively, should you would like to make use of that.”

“No, your actual title is okay.” Rue had no thought what he was speaking about, nevertheless it appeared the well mannered factor to say. “You’ve come from Radovani?”

“I simply arrived by wayport. I got here immediately right here.”

“What can I do for you?”

He regarded on the ground, as if confused. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I’m not good at this. They need to have despatched a lady.”

Mystified, Rue mentioned, “You’re doing fantastic.”

He regarded up. He had lovely, liquid charcoal eyes. “I used to be despatched by the Whispering Kindom of the Manhu. I’ve come to seek out our ancestors.”

None of this rang any bells with Rue. “I believe they could have referred to as the fallacious individual,” she mentioned. “You most likely need to communicate to our ethnographic curator, Magister Hess.”

“No, I used to be given your title,” he mentioned. He fished a card from his pocket. Her title was written on the again. On the entrance was printed the title and get in touch with data for a colleague on the Radovani Archives, somebody who should have identified higher.

Rue sighed. “All proper, then, why don’t you come as much as my workplace and you may clarify.”

She led the way in which again. After they reached her workplace, he regarded round and appeared to chill out. “It’s good to get away from the ghosts,” he murmured.

Most individuals referred to as Rue’s workplace austere—or, in the event that they had been being well mannered, minimalist. The opposite curators’ places of work had been adorned with artwork and artifacts from their personal collections. However Rue was not a collector. It was not that she didn’t love the artwork; she would have raced right into a burning constructing to save lots of the museum’s assortment. She simply had no have to possess any of it.

She provided Traversed Bridge a chair, and he sat. There was nonetheless a circle of quiet round him.

“So that you’re from Radovani . . . ?” she prompted.

“Oh, no,” he mentioned. “I’m from a spot you name Eleuthera. We name it Exile.”

Eleuthera was even farther away than Radovani, a planet settled solely up to now three centuries as an experiment in radical self-determination—therefore the title, which meant one thing like “freedom.”

“You have got come a great distance,” Rue mentioned.

“Sure. I needed to retrace the steps of the ancestors. They got here from Radovani greater than 100 years in the past, however that was not the world referred to as House. The historians on Radovani advised me this was it, however I’m undecided. It doesn’t appear like House.”

“What does House appear like?”

“It’s a inexperienced and leafy place. It has further suns and moons.”

“Properly, now we have two suns,” Rue defined. “The second is just not very vivid, and immediately you couldn’t see both one, due to the rain. There are three moons.”

“At House, there have been initially extra,” Traversed Bridge knowledgeable her. “However the hero Whichway Traveler shot them down.”

“I see.”

“They had been too vivid.”

Rue nodded. “Why did the Whispering Kingdom ship you, Traversed?”

“Kindom,” he corrected her. “We don’t have kings. We’ve kin.”

“They despatched me to seek out our ancestors and ask them a query. I’m advised you possibly can assist me.”

Frowning, Rue mentioned, “Who had been your ancestors?”

“They had been Manhu. Your title for us could also be Atoka.”

Instantly, all the pieces made extra sense in a method, much less sense in one other. The Atoka had been an indigenous folks of Sarona, and the museum did have a small however priceless assortment of Atoka artwork—priceless, as a result of it was the one assortment in existence. The Atoka had been worn out seven hundred years in the past. They had been extinct. Solely their artwork survived, tantalizing and enigmatic.

Frowning, she mentioned, “We drastically revere the Atoka. However we consider them to be useless.”

“Oh no,” Traversed mentioned sincerely. “We’re nonetheless alive. They tried to kill us all after the Battle of the River Bend eight hundred years in the past. They hated us, in order that they tried to castrate all the lads, and handed a regulation making it unlawful to be Manhu. However a couple of hundred of us escaped to Refuge, which you name Radovani. We settled on what we thought was empty land, however after three generations, they determined we had no title, and so others took our homes and farms. We wandered then. Typically folks tolerated us, however in the long run they at all times needed us to surrender being who we had been. They referred to as us Recalcitrants at first, after which Atavists. When folks began to accuse us of crimes, the state despatched out dying squads to hunt us down and garrote anybody they caught. They would go away useless infants hanging from lampposts as a warning. Ultimately they shipped the final of us off to Exile, and now we have been there ever since. The entire story is advised in our songs. It takes three days to sing them.”

He advised this grim story in a matter-of-fact, even proud, tone. Rue listened, frowning. If his allegations had been true, it might upend 5 hundred years of scholarship. It couldn’t be true. May it?

Cautiously, she mentioned, “There are students who could be fascinated with assembly your folks, Traversed. They’ll need to discover out whether or not you’re actually the identical as our Atoka.”

“It’s not nonetheless unlawful?” he mentioned a bit of anxiously.

“No, don’t fear about that.”

“You wouldn’t thoughts a few of us coming again? Simply to go to, I imply. If that is House.”

“Everyone seems to be free to go to.”

“And our ancestors? Are you aware the place I can discover them?”

Rue glanced at her watch. The museum was closed by now, however the lights may nonetheless be on within the galleries. “I can present you one in every of them proper now, in order for you.”

A metamorphosis came visiting him; his face drained of all the pieces however nervous awe. He sat up as if one thing had crammed him, inflated him. She waited till he mentioned in a heartfelt whisper, “Sure. Please.”

She stood and led the way in which out. She appreciated displaying this specific paintings to individuals who hadn’t seen the unique; no copy had ever achieved it justice. She had written the definitive monograph on it, and it had made her profession, however she had by no means came upon a lot concerning the individuals who created it. The legends surrounding the Atoka had been so thick, and their symbolism so necessary, that the reality was elusive—even, in a way, irrelevant.

The gallery was darkish, however on the different finish of the room the show lights on the paintings nonetheless glowed. It was a particular set up, as a result of this was essentially the most well-known work the museum owned, and other people from all around the Twenty Planets got here to see it. Normally there was a crowd round it, however now it hung alone.

Traversed stopped within the doorway, arrested by some robust emotion. “I really feel like I shouldn’t be the one right here,” he mentioned. “It needs to be somebody higher than me.”

Gently, Rue mentioned, “Wouldn’t your folks be upset should you returned and mentioned you hadn’t seen it?”

He checked out her as if in search of permission.

“They did select to ship you,” she identified.

With a visual effort he overcame his uncertainty and adopted her throughout the darkened room.

Folks referred to as it a portray, nevertheless it was truly an elaborate mosaic, comprised of items so small it took a magnifying glass to see them. Rue had commissioned a scientific evaluation that had proven that the colours weren’t, strictly talking, pigments; they had been bits of chicken feather, beetle carapace, butterfly wing—something iridescent, organized in order to kind an image. And what an image it was: a younger woman in an embroidered jacket and silver headdress, wanting barely to at least one facet, lips parted as if about to talk. Operas had been written about her. Volumes of poetry had speculated on what she was about to say. Speeches invoked her, treatises analyzed her, kids discovered her story virtually as quickly as they discovered to talk. She was essentially the most cherished lady on Sarona.

“We name her Aldry,” Rue mentioned.

Traversed Bridge regarded transfixed, as if he had been falling in love. He whispered, “That isn’t her title.”

“What do you name her?” Rue requested.

“She is Even Glancing.”

Rue appreciated that title. It match her.

The lights illuminating the portrait had been mounted on a monitor, they usually slowly moved back and forth, in order that you could possibly see it lit from completely different angles whilst you stood nonetheless. Rue waited, watching Traversed Bridge’s face for a response, as a result of the picture modified. At one level within the cycle, the background, which was usually a darkish indigo blue, erupted in a profusion of feathers. There have been silver wings behind her, showing then gone.

“Did you see the wings?” Rue lastly requested.

“Sure,” Traversed mentioned. “I can see them.”

“Many individuals can’t,” she mentioned. “They’re in a wavelength not everybody’s eyes can sense.”

“They’re transferring,” he mentioned.

“Actually?” Rue had by no means heard anybody say that earlier than. However everybody’s expertise of the portrait was barely completely different.

“She is about to talk,” he mentioned.

“Sure. Everybody wonders . . .”

She stopped, as a result of his face had gone inflexible, like a plastic model, all animation gone. His physique stiffened, then started to tremble. He fell with bruising drive to the ground.

Rue knelt beside him, then got here to her senses and used her wristband to name for assist. However as she watched by the shifting mild from the paintings, the humanity flowed again into his frozen face. He blinked, then centered on Rue, tried to say one thing.

“Lie nonetheless. Assistance is on the way in which,” she mentioned.

“She spoke to me,” he whispered. He didn’t appear in ache, however stuffed with surprise.

He regarded round, noticed he was on the ground, blushed in embarrassment, and sat up.

“Are you damage?” Rue mentioned.

“No, no. I’m so sorry. Don’t fear. I’m fantastic.”

“That was a nasty fall.”

“I’m used to it. This occurred on a regular basis, after I was younger. My spirit would go away my physique, and I might fall down. I might hear voices nobody else may hear.”

“Voices in your head?” Rue mentioned, her novice analysis altering.

“No, no. They had been in my left hand.”

A guard regarded in, then came visiting. “Ought to we name an ambulance?” he requested.

“No,” Traversed mentioned, struggling to his toes once more. “I’m so sorry to place you to inconvenience. I’m fantastic. It’s over.”

Rue exchanged a look with the guard, shrugged. “A bit an excessive amount of pleasure, perhaps. Come again to my workplace, Traversed, and you may sit down.”

By the point he slumped again into the chair, Traversed was wanting unhappy and preoccupied. Rue had seen lots of of reactions to the portrait of Aldry, however by no means that one, and she or he was curious.

“You mentioned she spoke to you,” she mentioned as she brewed tea for them each.

“Sure.” He stared on the ground. “I didn’t perceive all she mentioned.”

Rue waited, and after a pause he went on. “She is lonely. All this time we thought we had been those in exile, and it seems she is the banished one, although she has by no means left House. To us, House was a spot. To her, it’s her folks.”

Rue handed him tea. “That is smart.”

He regarded up at her pleadingly. “She says she needs to return. She needs to see an Immolation.”

Rue didn’t just like the sound of that. She tried to maintain her voice even. “What’s an Immolation?”

“I don’t know.” Traversed shook his head. “That was the half I didn’t perceive.”

Rue was in a fragile place. There have been strict legal guidelines masking repatriation of cultural artifacts, and there was a protocol to observe. If it had been another paintings, she would have given an computerized set of responses. However Traversed Bridge had not but made a proper declare. The half-crazed younger man was right here with out credentials, with out authorized illustration, carrying solely an implausible story.

In addition to, repatriating Aldry was unthinkable. The whole planet would stand up in arms.

If she mentioned nothing, he may by no means discover out that repatriation was an possibility. It will save an excessive amount of hassle. Nobody may accuse her of something.

She sat down in a chair going through him and mentioned, “There’s a manner so that you can request the return of the portrait. It’s referred to as repatriation. You would need to file a proper request, and it might be a really troublesome one to win. It will be challenged, as a result of Aldry is deeply cherished right here, and she or he is a part of our tradition as effectively. You would need to show past doubt that your individuals are the Atoka, and that she was illegally taken from you.”

He was her like a ravenous man. “However there may be hope?”

“A little or no hope.”

“I need to deliver her again. It’s what she needs.”

Rue smiled and mentioned, “Why don’t you sleep on it, and return tomorrow? Nothing may be achieved tonight anyway. The place are you staying?”

“I don’t know,” he mentioned. “I’ll have to seek out someplace.”

Rue gave him instructions to a price range resort that was near a transit line, and walked him to the principle door of the museum.

“Thanks,” he mentioned as he was about to step out into the driving rain. “They advised me I might discover helpers alongside the journey, and I’ve.”

Rue didn’t reply, as a result of she wasn’t positive whether or not her function was to be helper or hindrance. “Have night,” she mentioned, then turned away, figuring out she must do some explaining tomorrow.


                                                                             He got here to the jail of ghosts;

                                                                             For Hoarder folks don’t free their useless.

                                                                             Their toes fall heavy, weighted by the previous

                                                                             They don’t hear the spirits cry for freedom

                                                                             They heap up secrets and techniques in an archive

                                                                             And lock the doorways to maintain them in.

                                                                                           How do you free a ghost?


“That’s preposterous!” mentioned Galbro Hess.

The Curator of Ethnology was practically as vast as he was tall, wearing an overstretched cable-knit sweater, his grey hair standing up in spikes. Usually, he was an agreeable, jolly individual, however Rue’s story had struck a nerve.

“I get them on a regular basis, charlatans and kooks pretending to be Atoka, or to have some type of religious connection to them. There are even re-enactors who fake to carry Atoka ceremonies. It’s a pile of . . . effectively, you already know. I’m afraid you had been taken in, Rue.”

She had discovered him within the ethnographic artifact storage space, the place he was sorting a set of damaged ceramics unfold out on a big, padded desk. Round them, cabinets rose to the excessive ceilings, full of carved masks, handlooms, mannequin boats, drums, and related issues, principally brown. That was Rue’s principal objection to ethnographic materials: it was so monochromatic.

“I can spot a charlatan,” Rue mentioned. “He didn’t learn that manner. For one factor, he’s not from right here, he’s from Eleuthera. I don’t suppose they’ve Atoka re-enactors there.”

“They don’t have Atoka both,” Galbro mentioned grumpily, sorting a glazed brown ceramic from even browner unglazed ones.

“He advised a protracted story of how some refugees escaped to Radovani.”

Galbro regarded up, however then waved a hand in dismissal. “All that reveals is that he did his homework. It’s true, there was a remnant inhabitants that went to Radovani. However they had been persecuted there, and subjected to compelled assimilation. In the long run they misplaced their tradition, intermarried, and dwindled to nothing.”

“He says they continued lengthy sufficient to be exiled once more to Eleuthera.”

“A handy story.”

“Regardless, I’d wish to know extra about how we acquired our Atoka assortment.”

“Whose facet are you on?” Galbro objected.

“I simply need to be ready. If this ends in a repatriation declare . . .”

“Nobody’s going to repatriate Aldry.”

“I do know that, however to arrange our response I need to be certain we got here by her legally.”

Galbro stopped his pretense of working and rested his fists on the desk. “Sorry, can’t offer you a lot pleasure there. The issue isn’t with the museum; we did all the pieces proper. However the unique collector . . . effectively, you know the way they had been in these days. Common looters and bandits. It could have been authorized on the time, however by present requirements, no.”

“What occurred?” Rue mentioned.

“Have you ever ever heard of the Immolation ceremonies?”

“No. That’s, I’ve heard the phrase, however not what it means.”

“It was the guts and soul of Atoka tradition. As soon as each three generations they might take all their earthly belongings, pile them up within the heart of the village, and lightweight a bonfire. Then they might burn all their properties to the bottom, in order that the subsequent technology must begin over with nothing. All their wealth, their artwork, their subsistence would go up in flames. It was the explanation the Atoka by no means constructed an ideal civilization—as a result of they voluntarily decreased themselves to poverty and dependence every time they began to get forward.

“When our ancestors got here to Sarona, they tried to persuade the Atoka of how pointless and self-destructive the customized was. From their standpoint, the Immolations decreased the Atoka to begging from their extra provident neighbors, whose surpluses could be drained to subsidize Atoka beliefs. In the event that they refused to assist, effectively, ravenous folks will get determined and take what they must. As tensions grew, our ancestors started to forcibly suppress the Immolations. In a single well-known occasion, an Atoka village was all assembled and able to mild the bonfire when troopers marched in and drove them out—then, naturally, looted the pile of products prepared for the torch. The Atoka had been so enraged they attacked, and that was the start of the wars that led to their destruction on the Battle of the River Bend.

“Properly, our Atoka assortment got here from the descendants of a person who was an officer in that troop of troopers. A person of his rank acquired first decide of the loot—and the Aldry portrait was the most effective Atoka tradition needed to supply.”

Rue was silent, shocked. “That may be a horrifying story,” she mentioned finally. “We are able to’t inform that to the general public. They’d be outraged.”

“Properly, they consider the Atoka as idealized kids of nature, not as flesh and blood who could possibly be simply as wrongheaded as we’re. Certain, what the troopers did was heavy-handed; but when they hadn’t saved the portrait, it might have been burned, not preserved in order that we are able to revere it immediately.”


                                                                                           Who had been the helpers?

                                                                             One was kindly,

                                                                             One was intelligent,

                                                                             One was upright,

                                                                             One was rich,

                                                                             And one was treacherous.


Rue returned to her workplace feeling troubled. She had taken the issue to Galbro in hopes that he would see it as an fascinating matter for investigation. However he was too anchored to his conviction concerning the extinction of the Atoka. The made-up portion of his thoughts had crowded out the curiosity.

Her spirits sank additional when her wristband alerted her that Traversed Bridge had returned. It will be as much as her to elucidate to him.

This morning he was sporting a heavier coat, rather more applicable to the climate. “The girl on the resort gave it to me,” he mentioned when Rue remarked on it. She couldn’t assist however discover that he introduced out beneficiant impulses in folks.

“Have you ever thought it over?” she requested once they reached her workplace.

“Sure,” he mentioned. “I have to do as Even Glancing advised me, and produce her again.”

Rue pulled up a chair and sat going through him. “All proper. Now, I can’t information you thru a repatriation, Traversed, as a result of my first loyalty is to the museum, and they’re going to contest this declare. It’s a fancy, costly course of, and you might not win. The very first thing I might advise you to do is rent an legal professional to make the formal declare. Additionally, you will have to rent an skilled that will help you show that your individuals are actually the Atoka.”

“However we all know who we’re,” he mentioned earnestly.

“That’s not adequate for the court docket. You want a documented path of proof. The museum could have consultants to testify that you could’t be who you say you’re. We additionally have to know that you’re actually licensed by your folks to make this declare. Are you able to get that?”

Gravely, he nodded. “I must ship a message to my Kin Mom.”

“Is she the one who despatched you?”

“Sure.” The shadows of complicated ideas moved behind his eyes. “I had no sisters, and I used to be firstborn, so it was my obligation to exit into the world. They selected me to go to college.”

It stunned Rue a bit of to listen to that he was college educated; he gave such an impression of unworldliness. “Did you get a level?”

He nodded. “Hydrological engineering. I needed to design a dam for the mountains above my village, to cease the river floods and produce us dependable water. I’m right here as a substitute.”

His apparent disappointment made Rue say, “Properly, you might have loads of time. You may nonetheless do this while you return.”

He shrugged. “I’m incomes my proper to be an individual.”

She needed to ask extra, nevertheless it was a threat to know an excessive amount of about him; it would cloud her loyalties. As an alternative, she continued, “Additionally, you will must show that the article was taken out of your folks illegally, and that it has an ongoing cultural significance to them. The museum isn’t prone to contest the primary level, however what concerning the second? What traditions do you might have about Even Glancing?”

“None that I do know,” he mentioned.

“Then how do you know her title?”

“It’s written on the portrait.”

There was no label or inscription. “Actually?” Rue mentioned skeptically.

“Sure, within the design on her jacket.”

Rue referred to as up {a photograph} on her pill. “Present me.”

He identified the portion of the embroidery that gave her title. “And this half says, ‘Cherished daughter.’ Possibly she was the daughter of the artist.”

“What concerning the wave design on the border?” It had performed an necessary function in Rue’s interpretation of the work’s symbolism.

“Oh, that’s not a wave,” Traversed mentioned. “It’s a thought. She is pondering, you see.”

If what he mentioned was true, an ideal many artwork historians would look very silly, beginning with Rue herself. One of the best ways to deal with this may be to get forward of it, to be the one to publish the brand new data. However that might be an admission that she accepted his claims of cultural authority. A intelligent legal professional may use that in opposition to the museum.

“So your folks don’t have any custom, no story, about Even Glancing?”

He shook his head. It was an necessary concession. She felt a bit of compromised to have wheedled it from him. “Then why would you like it again?”

“As a result of,” he mentioned critically, “there’s a ghost imprisoned in it.”

Good luck arguing that in court docket, she thought. However all she mentioned was, “That’s it?”

“That’s sufficient. We have to free the ghost.”

“And the way would you do this?”

“We’ve to destroy the image.”

Rue’s horror should have proven on her face, as a result of he mentioned, “It’s the solely humane manner.”

It was unthinkable. “Traversed, this paintings is acknowledged as a masterpiece—not simply on this world, however all around the Twenty Planets. It’s in all of the artwork historical past books, and other people honor the Atoka for having created it. Doesn’t that make you proud? Don’t you need to protect the best achievement of your ancestors?”

He didn’t have a direct response, however appeared to be weighing what she mentioned. She watched, hoping he would rethink. However finally he shook his head. “It’s not price her struggling. Delight can’t justify that.”

He actually believed it. Rue had been taught from childhood to respect the beliefs of different cultures—however rattling it, she had her personal core rules. “Then I’m sure to oppose you,” she mentioned. “I can not see this paintings destroyed.”

They sat in silence, going through each other, conscious that they’d grow to be enemies.

“You had higher go now,” Rue mentioned.

“All proper.” His expression was regretful. On the door he stopped, regarded again. “I’m sorry.”

“I perceive,” Rue mentioned.

However she didn’t.


                                                                                              How do you lose your title?

                                                                               When folks cease telling your story.

                                                                                                Why should we inform our story?

                                                                                As a result of others begin telling it for us.


The gallery was comparatively uncrowded apart from the clump of individuals across the Aldry portrait. There have been masterworks all around the partitions, however folks had eyes just for Aldry. They needed to say they’d seen her. They needed their pictures taken together with her. Some simply stood there for minutes at a time, watching the picture change, transported.

All of them knew the story.

As soon as upon a time, Aldry was an actual woman dwelling in an Atoka village that had tamed all of the birds within the forest round them. Birds had been their messengers and their music; birds ate the troublesome bugs and introduced warnings concerning the climate. They made nests within the thatched roofs of the village, and saved everybody under dry. Artisans vied to create elaborate cages for them.

Then at some point the Atoka spied an ominous fireball descending from the heavens: the touchdown craft of the settlers who had been the ancestors of present-day Saronans. That the 2 peoples had been very completely different was clear from the beginning, for the Atoka had amber eyes like owls, and the place regular people had physique hair, the Atoka had downy feathers. The brand new settlers had been refugees pushed out of a crowded, urbanized planet. They had been woefully unprepared for a subsistence life scratched from alien floor. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of Aldry’s folks, they might have perished. The natives taught them which crops could possibly be cultivated and which had been poison, how one can hunt the ample wild animals, how one can communicate to unfamiliar nature. However because the settlers multiplied, and extra of them arrived, relations grew tense. Battle appeared inevitable. It had occurred that manner all through human historical past.

However Aldry prevented historical past from happening its acquainted, violent path. She had fallen in love with a bookish younger settler—the very one who chronicled the entire story in cramped and sideways vintage language. In her tradition, a lady’s choice to marry conferred personhood on the person she selected, and when she introduced her intention to unite the 2 teams, the Atoka may now not regard the settlers as invaders of questionable humanity. The wedding ushered in a interval of peace. Aldry bore twin boys. One among them favored his father’s folks and one his mom’s, for one had hair and the opposite had down.

It got here to cross {that a} horrible flood swept by the settlers’ city, destroying the properties and fields they’d labored for years to construct. Viewing the drenched mudlands the place their crops and storehouses had been, they knew they confronted hunger. Then Aldry noticed her obligation. Sorrowfully, she kissed her toddler boys goodbye and set out alone into the forest. 5 days later, an immense flock of birds got here to the village. Led by a silver pheasant, the birds descended onto the fields, every with a seed in its beak, and replanted all of the crops. The village was saved, however nobody ever noticed Aldry once more. It was mentioned {that a} silver pheasant perched on the ridgepole of the home the place her grieving husband raised her orphan boys, as if to maintain them firm.

When the boys grew to become males, they quarreled. One went to dwell with the Atoka, the opposite stayed with the settlers. They each grew to become nice leaders, and their sibling enmity handed to their folks. When struggle broke out, they confronted one another in battle. However simply when the Atoka brother was about to kill his twin, he glimpsed the silver pheasant within the sky above, and spared him for Aldry’s sake.

“She is the mom of us all,” Saronans mentioned. She was the beneficiant spirit of the planet that welcomed them and invited them to be at dwelling.

The portrait dated to an period a minimum of 200 years after the unique occasions. It was regarded as an Atoka artist’s picture of Aldry, with wings foreshadowing her sacrifice. Who else may it present?

Until it was Even Glancing, the daughter of the artist.

Rue shook her head impatiently. In an necessary manner, it didn’t matter. Whoever she had been as soon as, she was Aldry now. Generations of Saronans had woven that id round her. And they might not simply give it up.


                                                                                             What did they are saying on Refuge?

                                                                               They mentioned, “Communicate one other language.”

                                                                               “Hand over your primitive methods.”

                                                                               “Be extra like us.”

                                                                                             And what did they are saying on House?

                                                                               “Be our imagined angels.”

                                                                                “Be what we are able to’t be.”

                                                                                “Reject us, love us, train us, exalt us.”

                                                                                We’re so uninterested in being advised who to be.


Rue half anticipated by no means to listen to of Traversed Bridge once more. The chances in opposition to any lone particular person mounting a reputable repatriation declare had been so excessive that, when he realized it, he would probably grow to be discouraged and go away for dwelling.

She underestimated his dedication.

Three weeks later, as she was selecting up breakfast on her technique to work, her wristband began to chime insistently with information alerts having to do with the museum. She put in her earpiece and listened on the tram, her consideration so absorbed that her physique needed to take over the automated job of exiting at her cease and strolling to the workers entrance.

The story was sensational and interesting: a remnant of the Atoka had been found on faraway Eleuthera. Outdated Radovani information crammed of their historical past. Now, an Atoka emissary had come in search of the traditional homeland of his folks. After touring throughout the sunshine years, the younger man had met solely rejection and disbelief from the Orofino Museum.

When Rue acquired to her workplace, there was a message summoning her to see the director.

Galbro Hess was already within the director’s workplace when she got here in. “In fact I advised her,” he was saying. “It’s simply the reality. There isn’t a manner Atoka tradition may have survived intact by lots of of years of persecution on Radovani.”

The director was a good-looking, distinguished older man with a neatly trimmed beard. His aura of scholarship was a sham; his principal job was care and feeding of the museum’s benefactors. He was good at it, and Rue thought-about it in her personal finest curiosity to make his job simple.

When he noticed Rue, he mentioned, “Magister Savenga, what’s this about our rejecting a repat declare out of hand? You realize we are able to’t legally do this.”

Rue settled down in a chair, intentionally projecting confidence and calm. The director knew how one can deal with donors, however she knew how one can deal with him. “We haven’t rejected any declare. In actual fact, I’m the one who advised Traversed Bridge how one can file one.”

Outraged, Galbro mentioned, “You probably did what?”

“If he’s a charlatan,” Rue mentioned, “it can come out. Did you hearken to the interview?”

Uncomfortably, Galbro mentioned, “All proper, perhaps not a charlatan—simply deluded and naïve. However now he’s acquired an legal professional and a pipeline to the press. His story’s an invasive weed, a virus folks don’t have any immunity to. It’s going to brush the world.”

The director interrupted, “However there hasn’t been a repat declare?”

“Not but,” Rue mentioned.

“All proper.” The director had his speaking level. That was all he wanted. “I need you two to deal with this as you’d another declare, and refer all press to my workplace. We have to graciously droop judgment, as befits our accountability as guardians of Saronan cultural heritage.” The press launch was virtually writing itself.

“We have to discover out what he needs,” Galbro mentioned. “He may be an opportunist, wanting to carry the portray hostage for acquire.”

“No,” Rue mentioned calmly. “He needs to destroy it.”

The 2 males checked out her in speechless horror.

Galbro discovered his voice first. “What, is he threatening to re-enact an Immolation? This actually is a hostage scenario.”

“He’s following voices. Revelations.”

“Oh nice. We’re coping with a lunatic.”

Severely, the director mentioned, “That doesn’t go away this room. You could possibly jeopardize our case, Galbro.”

“However we’ve acquired to show him!”

We received’t do something. If he’s uncovered, it will likely be the media, the court docket, or different students. We’ve to seem impartial.”

As they had been leaving, Galbro muttered to Rue, “You actually have gotten us into a multitude.”

“Don’t fear, Galbro,” she mentioned. “I’m not letting anybody set a match to Aldry.”


                                                                              What did they inform him, and what did he say?

                                                                  “You aren’t your self,” they mentioned.

                                                                  “You aren’t Manhu.”

                                                                  “You need to be Atoka.”

                                                                  “No,” he mentioned.


Galbro was proper: Atoka fever swept the land, sea, and sky. The story enthralled the general public. It was higher than discovering a species given up for extinct. It was an opportunity at redemption, an opportunity to save lots of what was misplaced, to reverse injustice, to make all the pieces proper.

The fact of the Atoka pale into inconsequence.

The museum was compelled to place its different Atoka artifacts on show—a bronze drum, a life-size wood child, a carved eggshell, and an obsidian knife so skinny it was clear. Visitation shot up. Archaeologists had been sudden celebrities. Musicals revived, unhealthy previous novels got here out once more, embroidered jackets crowded the racks. Rue’s espresso store offered Atoka breakfast buns.

Instantly, there was cash for all issues Atoka. When Orofino College obtained a grant to research the claims of the Manhu, Rue felt reprieved. With the size of the light-speed journey to Eleuthera, it might be a minimum of ten years earlier than the researchers may journey there and attain any conclusion. By then, the mania would have died down.

However she had not reckoned with current enhancements in instantaneous communication by Paired-Particle Communicator, or PPC. It was now doable to ship video by way of arrays of entangled particles, thwarting the bounds of sunshine velocity. Sarona had no direct PPC connection to Eleuthera, however the college was capable of arrange a relay by way of Radovani, and enlist native researchers.

“They’ve acquired universities on three planets collaborating,” Galbro advised Rue in gloomy discontent—partly at the truth that they had been taking the Manhu critically, and partly at being neglected. “I can’t think about what it’s costing.”

“Conscience cash,” Rue noticed. “Guilt is a robust factor.”

“It’s not guilt,” Galbro mentioned. “It’s delight, to show that we’re higher than our ancestors—as if we inherited their planet however not what they needed to do to get it.”

“You’re a cynic, Galbro,” she mentioned.

Although they had been banned from collaborating, each of them had contacts on the college who saved them updated, and they also had been ready for the report’s conclusions even earlier than it got here out.

All of the proof lined up. DNA traces from previous bones on Sarona matched Manhu blood samples. Linguistic similarities confirmed by the haze of poor information on Sarona and imperfectly transmitted grammar and vocabulary on Eleuthera. The chain of documentation from the Radovani Archives advised the shameful story of their persecution and deportation. Science mentioned it: the Manhu had been descended from the traditional Atoka of Sarona.

The report’s launch revived curiosity that had grown dormant within the many months it had taken to finish the analysis. Legislatures handed resolutions honoring the Atoka, cash poured in for statues and murals. Documentaries aired till everybody thought they knew the story.

It was then that the repatriation request arrived.

The primary assembly the 2 sides held was within the director’s workplace on the museum. It was to be an try to barter a compromise resolution and keep away from litigation. Rue was invited; Galbro was not.

“Don’t give all of it away,” he advised her beforehand.

It was greater than a 12 months since she had seen Traversed Bridge, besides on-screen in interviews, explaining time and again that the Manhu didn’t actually have feathers or owl eyes. Right now, wearing enterprise apparel, he regarded anxious and sick comfy; however nonetheless he had that aura of self-possessed silence. His lawyer was a younger lady with flaming purple hair and a sprinkling of cinnamon freckles. She would have regarded winningly roguish if solely she had been smiling, however she was not. She launched herself as Caraway Farrow.

The museum’s legal professional, Ellery Tate, mirrored his consumer, the director—a distinguished older man with an air of paternal authority. The director was current, however silent. He had advised Rue he needed her to signify the museum, so he may keep above the controversy.

Tate opened the assembly, talking in a beneficiant, calming tone. “Thanks all for coming to assist discover a mutually agreeable resolution.”

“We’re completely satisfied to speak,” Farrow mentioned.

The museum’s first proposal was to create high-resolution replicas of all of the Atoka objects for the Manhu to take to Eleuthera. Farrow glanced at Traversed Bridge, then mentioned, “I don’t consider that might be acceptable to my shoppers.”

“Oh?” Tate mentioned, as if stunned. “We are able to make replicas which are fairly similar to the unique, all the way down to the molecular stage.”

Traversed Bridge mentioned softly, “A reproduction wouldn’t have a ghost. It will be soulless.”

There was a brief silence. Rue may hear the director shifting in his chair. Then Farrow mentioned, “The Manhu may mean you can make replicas for the museum to maintain, should you don’t contest returning the originals.”

Tate checked out Rue. She needed to drive her voice to sound calm. “Which may work for the ethnographic materials. However within the case of the Aldry portrait, a reproduction wouldn’t have the identical aesthetic qualities.”

Farrow was learning her, frowning. “Why is that?”

“We’ve tried to duplicate it in previous,” Rue mentioned. “There’s something concerning the three-dimensional microstructure of the supplies that may’t be reproduced. We’re undecided why. The entire impact is flatter, much less animate. And the wings don’t seem.”

Traversed Bridge was watching her fixedly. She realized she had simply mentioned the identical factor as he: the duplicate was soulless.

“Would it not be doable,” Tate mentioned, “to work out some type of shared custody for the portray? I can think about an association the place the unique could be on mortgage to the Manhu for a time frame, say twenty or fifty years, after which journey again to Sarona for a similar period of time.”

Stony faces greeted this proposal. Rue had advised Tate what the Manhu supposed to do with the portrait; he was making an attempt to make them admit it.

“Settle for that the portrait is the property of the Manhu,” Farrow mentioned, “and we are able to talk about its future. Till then, there isn’t any level.”

She is a wily one, Rue thought. She noticed the lure.

Tate mentioned, “We’re ready to give you the originals of the opposite artifacts if you’ll settle for shared custody of the portrait. It’s an affordable compromise.”

Traversed was already shaking his head.

With a steely gentleness, Tate mentioned, “Please think about the time and expense of defending this declare if it goes to court docket. You can be making an attempt it in a Saronan court docket, earlier than a Saronan jury. Aldry is deeply beloved right here.”

Traversed Bridge’s face was a wall of decision. “Would you allow one individual struggling in jail for the sake of redeeming a couple of others? This isn’t a steadiness sheet. You may’t weigh souls on a scale and say 4 make one not matter.” He turned to Rue. “You need us to ask for one thing which means nothing to you, one thing simple to offer. I’m sorry, we are able to’t.”

“Ask for something however Aldry,” Rue mentioned.

“Your folks made her up,” he mentioned. “You may remake her.”

Nobody had something to reply then, so the assembly was over. They’d meet once more in court docket.


                                                                                  How did he craft his case?

                                                                   He made it on a body of metal,

                                                                   He wove the physique of sandalwood,

                                                                   He adorned it with feathers,

                                                                   He crammed it with speeding rivers.

                                                                                 What can we imply by metal, sandalwood, feathers, and rivers?

                                                                   The body of metal was justice.

                                                                   The sandalwood was steadfast.

                                                                   The feathers had been eloquence.

                                                                   The rivers had been compassion.

                                                                                 And what scale was used to guage?

                                                                                 What ruler can measure the previous?


Rue Savenga was, at coronary heart, an uneventful individual. She had at all times tried to do the suitable factor inside her secure, unremarkable life. She had by no means thought-about herself the type of individual to take a brave stand. That was the realm of ideologues and fanatics.

Now, she discovered herself thrust into an occasion that compelled her to ask the place her primary boundaries had been. What line couldn’t she cross? How far would she go to defend her core beliefs?

What had been her core beliefs?

The wanton destruction of artwork, she discovered, was the place she drew her line. It was an act so heinous she couldn’t stand by and let it occur. So when the museum’s legal professional requested if she would testify in court docket, she agreed. She was prepared to struggle to save lots of Aldry from the flames, even when her personal popularity burned as a substitute.

The trial was held in downtown Orofino, in a tall, imposing courthouse the place monumental sculpture, marble, and mural dwarfed all who entered, in an effort to strike them with respect for regulation. When Rue arrived, there have been two teams assembled within the park going through the courthouse, shouting at one another. Public curiosity was so excessive that the trial was to be broadcast, and opinion was break up. Half of Sarona noticed Rue because the defender of their heritage, and would execrate her if she misplaced. The opposite half noticed her because the defender of long-ago injustice. They’d execrate her if she received.

The courtroom’s air was busy with hushed conversations when she entered. It was a tall and cylindrical house with a skylight above and stylized, treelike pilasters of polished stone lining the partitions. A big round desk stood within the sunken heart, surrounded by tiers of seats crowded with press and different witnesses. Rue took her place on the facet of the desk reserved for the museum’s representatives and their witnesses; on the opposite facet sat these testifying for the Manhu. The choose and clerk sat within the impartial areas between, going through one another. Rue knew two of the skilled witnesses she was going through—magisters from the college who may set up the Manhu-Atoka connection. She nodded to them with out smiling.

The intention of Saronan regulation was to achieve a decision, not essentially a victory for one facet. Either side argued its case, the choose proposed options, and if no settlement could possibly be reached, the jury imposed a compromise. However this trial was to be performed with solely a choose, not a jury. Rue had no thought what the calculations had been on both facet; maybe it had one thing to do with the impossibility of discovering a jury whose thoughts was not already made up.

The choose referred to as on Caraway Farrow to start the proceedings by stating the case of the Manhu. She did it succinctly: the artworks had been illegally seized by Saronans within the act of suppressing an Atoka spiritual observance. The Atoka had suffered grievous hurt because of this. Now, the return of the objects was a significant step towards righting injustice and reviving Manhu cultural practices.

The case that Farrow offered was logical and unflinching. An ethnologist advised how the artwork had been looted, and a historian gave the story of the Atoka genocide and exile to Radovani. A geneticist and a linguist established the Atoka-Manhu connection.

“And do they nonetheless communicate the Atoka language and observe Atoka tradition?” Farrow requested the linguist.

“No,” the magister replied. “However there are previous individuals who keep in mind sufficient of what they had been advised as kids to reconstruct a few of it. Now they’re very fascinated with reviving the language and tradition. Our information will probably be worthwhile within the effort.”

Final, Farrow produced an influence of legal professional from the Whispering Kindom, designating Traversed Bridge as their consultant on Sarona.

Tate challenged none of it, besides to determine that there was nothing within the proof that precluded a special remnant of the Atoka turning up in future, with opposite calls for. He additionally extracted an admission that the Whispering Kindom was not the one kin group among the many Manhu, and that the others had not expressed their needs. Farrow requested Traversed Bridge to handle this final objection, as court docket process allowed.

“If there may be any distinction, we are able to work it out amongst ourselves,” he mentioned softly, staring on the desk. “We must always have that proper.”

It occurred to Rue that he had not checked out her as soon as throughout the entire presentation.

The court docket recessed for lunch, and reporters scrambled out to report their summaries within the hallway. Rue and Tate left by a again door to keep away from them. She had a sense of dread.

When the trial resumed, it was the museum’s flip. Ellery Tate spoke in an avuncular, easygoing method. Rue knew it to be an act, nevertheless it was an efficient one. He gave the argument they’d crafted collectively. “We keep that this isn’t a easy case of stolen items,” he mentioned as if it should be apparent to all. “The portrait of Aldry, and its tragic story, is the patrimony of two separate cultures—that of Sarona and of the Manhu. In actual fact, it has performed a extra important function in Saronan historical past than on Eleuthera, and it has an ongoing function as a part of our means of remembrance and acknowledgment of the painful previous. Sarona wants this paintings. We search solely to share it with the Manhu.”

Tate referred to as on Rue to offer a presentation concerning the function the Aldry portrait had performed in Saronan artwork, historical past, and literature. It was her experience, and it was simple to exhibit Aldry’s centrality. “We’ve constructed our personal cultural id round this picture and its story,” she concluded. Wanting straight at Traversed Bridge, she added, “We love and honor her, as a result of we are also her descendants.”

For a second, he raised his eyes and met hers.

In a low voice, Tate requested, “Magister Savenga, what is going to the museum do with the portrait if our request is granted?”

“We’ll preserve it in belief for future generations,” she mentioned. “Nonetheless, we will probably be prepared to mortgage it to Eleuthera, if that may be achieved safely. We need to guarantee that it’s preserved and seen by all who want to see it, eternally.”

“And has Traversed Bridge advised you what the Manhu want to do with it?”

“Sure. He mentioned they want to destroy it.”

For a second, the courtroom was completely silent. Then there was a stir, until the choose referred to as for order.

Tate turned to the choose. “Sir, we submit that the Manhu search to make an irrevocable selection. Their plan precludes any chance of compromise. As soon as they destroy it, we are able to by no means return. Sarona values this paintings, the Manhu don’t. It’s . . .”

“That’s not true,” Traversed Bridge interrupted, him for the primary time.

“Are you saying Magister Savenga is mendacity?”

“No. She is correct. We need to destroy it, in line with our custom. That doesn’t imply we don’t worth it. We worth it otherwise than you—not as a chunk of property however as a dwelling ancestor whose needs have to be revered. We need to honor her needs.”

“We can not name her to testify,” Tate mentioned.

“I have to do this for her,” Traversed Bridge mentioned.

“That’s rumour.”

“I might not lie.”

“You might be mistaken.”

“I’m not.” He turned to Rue, addressing her immediately. “I’m sorry to trigger you ache. However that’s the solely manner for us to be freed from our ache. It has been constructing for generations. It’s our dad and mom’ ache, our grandparents’, clear again to Even Glancing. We supply it round with us, at all times. We should do that to free not simply her, however ourselves.”

Rue leaned ahead throughout the desk, talking immediately again to him. “However right here’s the factor, Traversed Bridge. This isn’t an peculiar object. Sooner or later, nice artwork ceases to be sure to the tradition that produced it. It transcends ethnicity and id and turns into a part of the patrimony of the human race. It belongs to all of us due to its common message, the way in which it makes us higher.” She paused, drawing breath. “Sure, it has a ghost. The ghost speaks to all of us, not in phrases however in our intuition towards magnificence and goodness. We’re higher for having seen it. If it burns, one thing pure will cross from the world. Do you really need that?”

Their eyes locked collectively. Traversed Bridge regarded as if he was in a vise, and it was tightening. Ultimately he regarded down.

“Do you want to change your request?” the choose requested him.

Slowly, he shook his head. “No. I’ve to do that,” he whispered.

“Then the court docket will recess for half an hour,” the choose declared.

Tate was optimistic in the course of the recess, however Rue felt no sense of satisfaction. It doesn’t matter what occurred, somebody could be harmed. Far fewer could be harmed if the museum received; however that was like weighing souls on a scale.

When the trial resumed, the choose stunned everybody by saying that he would give his choice, skipping the standard negotiation of compromise. “Mr. Tate is right, the Manhu request precludes compromise,” he mentioned. “What they search is an irrevocable proper, they usually have already rejected something wanting that.”

Rue’s coronary heart leapt. The choose went on, “Nonetheless, all of the eloquent arguments which were superior right here don’t alter one truth: the portrait is a chunk of property, and that’s the regulation that should apply. The museum obtained stolen property. It was achieved in ignorance that the true house owners survived, however the regulation remains to be the identical. The Manhu are the house owners of the property, and it have to be returned to them.”

The courtroom erupted into noise: jubilant noise on one facet, agonized protest on the opposite.

Tate regarded staggered. “I had no thought he would resolve the case on such slender authorized grounds,” he mentioned to Rue. “We are able to attraction.”

Rue knew that her director wouldn’t need that. He needed to get this controversy behind him as shortly as doable. She may be capable of persuade him, however . . .

“No,” she mentioned. “The regulation is our cultural heritage, and now we have to respect it.”

Throughout the desk, Caraway Farrow was hugging Traversed Bridge in pleasure; however he didn’t look joyful. His eyes had been as soon as once more downcast, avoiding Rue’s. He regarded exhausted.

I have to reconcile myself, Rue thought. I have to cease caring.

However not but.


                                                                                                 How did she journey?

                                                                                   They’d have despatched her by lightbeam,

                                                                                   Quick as a flash,

                                                                                   However the mild didn’t need to take her.

                                                                                   “I’m afraid to be formed in your reminiscence,” it mentioned,

                                                                                   “Your sorrows and your exile.”

                                                                                   You can not argue with mild.


The artifacts couldn’t be despatched to Eleuthera by lightbeam, as a result of what would emerge on the different finish could be mere replicas of the originals, robbed of their ghosts. The quickest categorical ship that could possibly be chartered would break the bank and take virtually sixty years; however a Saronan capitalist pledged the cash, and it was settled.

Rue oversaw development of the capsule during which the artifacts would make their voyage. Within the six months it took, crowds thronged the museum to see Aldry one final time. It was like a funeral. An countless procession handed by her in heartbroken silence.

On the day she got here off show, Rue watched the gloved artwork handlers decrease her into the cushioned case the place she could be sealed in a nitrogen environment to stop ageing. Rue needed Aldry to reach as good as she set out.

“We could shut it up?” an artwork handler requested.

Rue regarded one final time at that younger, mysterious face. The expression hadn’t modified. Rue needed to recollect it, since reminiscence was all she would have.

“Sure, shut it up,” she mentioned, and turned away. She would by no means see Aldry once more, she thought.

However she was mistaken.


                                                                                When she comes again the sky will brighten,

                                                                                Outdated males will play at playing cards,

                                                                                Academics will evaluate their classes,

                                                                                Cooks will stir broth of their kitchens,

                                                                                Ghosts won’t cry within the evening.

                                                                                We will probably be freed from the previous.

                                                                                             What good is the previous?


Rue was a vigorous ninety-five years previous when she realized that fifty years had been virtually up, and if she had been to take the lightbeam to Eleuthera, she may arrive there in time to satisfy the ship carrying the artifacts.

It was not a straightforward choice. She wouldn’t age a second in the course of the journey, however the remainder of the universe would see ten years cross. And on the journey again, one other ten years. Everybody of her technology could be useless by the point she acquired dwelling, and all the pieces she knew would change.

Alternatively, the Aldry trial had been the pivot level of her life. When she regarded again, all the pieces earlier than it appeared to have led as much as that occasion, and all the pieces after had adopted from it. She had spearheaded an effort to vary the regulation—not simply Saronan regulation, however interplanetary regulation—in order that artifacts of surpassing cultural and historic worth could possibly be thought-about by completely different requirements. A case like Aldry’s would by no means once more be determined as if she had been a sack of potatoes. It was Rue’s most necessary legacy.

To not go to Eleuthera would imply selecting to overlook the tip of the story that had formed her life, and that gave her an unsettled feeling. She needed to be current on the finish, nonetheless tragic that finish may be.

Secretly, she cherished a glimmer of hope that sixty years would have modified the minds of the Manhu. As soon as they noticed the paintings they might need to put it aside.

And so at some point she closed her eyes on Sarona and opened them on Eleuthera. She had anticipated somebody from Eleuthera College to satisfy her on the waystation, however as a substitute, the small group ready for her was led by Traversed Bridge. She acknowledged him immediately. He had aged effectively. He nonetheless wore his hair lengthy, although now it was streaked with grey, and his eyes had been feathered with wrinkles. The most important change was that he now regarded assured and completely satisfied.

“That is Softly Bent, the lady who selected me,” he mentioned, “and our eldest daughter, Hanging Breath.”

The 2 ladies had been wearing embroidered jackets, with their hair neatly coiled in buns on prime of their heads. They each had a decided look that made Traversed Bridge appear positively easygoing by comparability.

They collected Rue’s baggage and Traversed led the way in which to a rented electrical groundcar. He drove, with Rue within the seat beside him. The town round them was a hive of exercise. Every thing appeared shiny, new, and underneath development.

“I’ll take you to your resort so you possibly can relaxation up,” he mentioned.

“Thanks. I’m too previous for this interstellar journey nonsense.”

“Tomorrow, we’ll go to the college to open the delivery capsule.”

“It has arrived?”

“A pair weeks in the past. They’ve had it in storage, acclimating.”

“Good. I’m glad they’re treating her effectively.”

He glanced at her sideways. “Individuals are fairly inquisitive about why you’re right here. There are some who suppose you might have come to grab her again. If they’re guarded with you, that’s the reason.”

“They’ll relaxation simple,” Rue mentioned. “The choice can’t be unmade, until the Manhu change their minds.”

“That’s what I advised them.”

They drove on some time in considerate silence.

“Did you ever construct your dam?” Rue requested.

He smiled. “Sure. You will notice it, should you come to our village.”

“In fact I’ll come to your village. I’m not going to journey all this manner and never go to the Manhu.”

He nodded, however glanced at her once more. “They made a track about me,” he mentioned.

“About your function within the trial, you imply?”

“About my journey, the trial, all the pieces. And so they gave me a brand new title after I acquired again. It’s a nice honor. I’m now referred to as No.”

“Why No?”

“As a result of when folks saved making an attempt to get me to do that and that, and settle for lower than we needed, I saved saying no.”

“Hmm,” she mentioned. “That will be fantastic, besides that the suitable reply is sort of by no means ‘no.’ The precise reply is ‘perhaps.’”

“I’ll inform them you mentioned that,” he mentioned, amused. “You’re within the track, you already know.”

“I can think about. Most likely the depraved lady guarding her treasures like a dragon.”

“No, in our songs, dragons are fortunate.”

She determined she appreciated Traversed Bridge. In fact, she had by no means disliked him. She had at all times thought his convictions had been misguided, however honest and deeply held. However then, so had been hers.

The following morning it was an ethnologist from the college, Magister Garrioch, who picked her up. He was a younger man with a curly blond beard and a fearful expression. Main her to the automotive, he advised her how he had achieved his dissertation on the Manhu, and had profound respect for them—“However this Immolation concept that No picked up on Sarona is simply plain loopy.” As she settled into the automotive, he paused earlier than shutting the door. “Can’t you persuade them to not undergo with it?”

She gave a wry giggle. “I attempted that when. It didn’t finish effectively. Anyway, what makes you suppose I might have any leverage?”

“No is essential to this,” he mentioned. “He’s deeply revered, and he respects you.”

“If that’s true,” Rue mentioned, “he began respecting me as quickly as I ended making an attempt to steer him of issues.”

Wanting annoyed, Garrioch went round to the driving force’s seat and began the automotive. After a number of blocks Rue mentioned, “I take it there may be nothing you are able to do to stop the Immolation?”

He shook his head. “At any time when I attempt to argue, No factors out that the Manhu had been promised freedom once they got here to Eleuthera. He will get actually legalistic about it.”

“I’m afraid we taught him that,” Rue mentioned.

“Sadly, his argument goes proper to the core of our values right here. We actually consider in freedom.”

“Even freedom to do silly and self-destructive issues?”

“Even that—as No retains stating. Infuriating previous man.”

“He was an infuriating younger man, too.”

Since Eleuthera had no correct museum amenities, the college was storing the delivery capsule within the basement of their humanities constructing. When Rue and Garrioch arrived, they discovered Traversed Bridge ready together with a delegation of seven Manhu. They regarded misplaced within the youthful bustle of the glass and brick foyer. All however two of them had been aged ladies wearing drab grey. Traversed Bridge launched Rue to at least one who appeared to be their chief. “Magister Savenga, that is the Kin Mom of the Whispering Kindom, Vigilant Aspire. She is my aunt.”

Respectfully, Rue mentioned, “I’m happy to satisfy you.”

Vigilant was a tiny, aged lady, however her eyes had been fast and watchful. She regarded Rue with well mannered suspicion.

Magister Garrioch led all of them downstairs right into a room off the loading dock, the place the delivery capsule waited, nonetheless sealed after its lengthy journey. A conservator and two college students stood ready in white lab coats. There was an air of hushed anticipation.

“Vigilant Aspire, would you care to interrupt the seal?” Garrioch mentioned.

She stepped ahead and undid the latch. As Garrioch and Traversed Bridge raised the lid, a sigh of previous nitrogen escaped. Inside, the artifacts rested of their cushioned cradles. The room was silent because the conservator and her helpers lifted the items one after the other onto a ready desk: first the drum, then the carved child, the eggshell, and the knife.

There was a second of consternation when that gave the impression to be all. Rue mentioned, “The portrait is beneath.”

The scholars lifted the tray that partitioned the capsule, and the paintings was revealed. They tilted it vertical so everybody may see.

There have been gasps. Aldry regarded precisely the identical as in Rue’s reminiscences from sixty years in the past. She shone, radiant, even within the industrial lighting of the workroom, together with her wings revealed. She had by no means regarded so lovely. Rue felt a painful exaltation on the sight. It had been years since something had made her really feel like this.

Vigilant Aspire’s cheeks had been moist with tears. She regarded reverent, moved to the underside of her soul. Rue checked out Traversed Bridge. He additionally was gazing Aldry, a touch of disappointment in his gaze.

The Kin Mom moved ahead and raised a hand as if to the touch the paintings. Rue suppressed an computerized urge to offer a warning concerning the delicacy of the floor. It was now not her accountability—or her proper. The Manhu owned the paintings now.

Vigilant introduced her lips near the portray and whispered one thing to the woman with the wings. Then she stepped again, overcome. One other previous lady put an arm round her shoulders.

The Manhu spent a very long time analyzing the artifacts and the paintings. The room appeared to fill with their emotion, tangible as smoke. Traversed Bridge hung again in an effort to let the others see all the pieces, and Rue took a seat beside him. “What did she say to Aldry?” she whispered to him.

“She welcomed her dwelling,” he mentioned.

At size, the scholars returned all the pieces to the capsule and latched it once more, and Traversed Bridge made preparations to have it picked up in a truck for the journey to the Manhu village of Threadbare. Rue discovered that Magister Garrioch was going to accompany them, and organized to journey with him.

They set out the subsequent day in a convoy of automobiles, escorting the flatbed truck carrying the capsule, strapped down underneath a tarp. It was a protracted drive into misty, forested hinterlands. The farther they drove, the upper the mountains grew to become and the more severe the roads, until they had been following a bumpy dust monitor that writhed alongside the edges of sheer gulches, precipices above and chasms under. It was late afternoon once they rounded the shoulder of a mountain and noticed a large valley open up earlier than them: inexperienced, terraced fields, a glowing river, a bridge, and a cluster of tile-roofed properties. The convoy stopped so they might name forward to announce their arrival and the ladies may develop into brightly embroidered jackets.

“It doesn’t look threadbare in any respect,” Rue mentioned to Garrioch as they stood along side the highway wanting down on the village.

“Not now. They’ve made monumental progress within the final fifty years, particularly since they put within the dam.” He pointed, and Rue noticed it. She had anticipated one thing of earth and wooden, however as a substitute it was a sheer crescent of concrete, reducing off a slender hole within the mountains upstream.

Traversed Bridge walked as much as them. He noticed the place she was wanting and smiled. “What do you consider it?” he mentioned.

“It’s wonderful, Traversed. I can’t think about the way you constructed it out right here.”

“We needed to arrange a plant to make the concrete,” he mentioned. “We imported the metal sluice gates and equipment, however we did all of it with native labor. It took a very long time.”

“It’s an ideal achievement. An exquisite legacy.”

“Sure,” he mentioned, gazing at it proudly.

The remainder of the convoy was able to proceed. “Would you wish to journey with me?” he requested her.

She surveyed the scenario, then shook her head. “Thanks, however I believe I’d higher keep behind the parade. That is for you and your folks.”

He nodded, and headed to his automotive.

After they got here down the steep hill into the village, they discovered the highway lined on each side with folks dressed of their brightest garments. The convoy handed between jubilant villagers shouting, singing, pounding on drums, and shaking rattles. After the final automotive handed, the folks crowded into the roadway, becoming a member of the procession because it threaded by the slender streets and downhill towards an open plaza close to the river.

The automobiles stopped in entrance of a giant group assembly home, and the gang pressed round them. Two younger males jumped onto the mattress of the truck and threw the tarpaulin off the capsule. All noise ceased as they unlatched the duvet and threw it again. One among them picked up the drum and held it overhead so everybody may see, then handed it all the way down to somebody within the crowd. The opposite objects adopted. Then, after a second of puzzlement, they uncovered the portrait and raised it excessive between them, displaying it to the gang. It flashed iridescent within the solar, and there was a collective gasp. For a second, all was silent; then somebody started to sing. Others joined in, until the entire crowd was singing solemnly, in unison.

“It’s a welcome track,” Garrioch mentioned to Rue.

The 2 males descended from the truck and started to hold Aldry across the city sq. so everybody may see her. The folks holding the artifacts fell in behind. The gang drew again reverently to allow them to cross. In all places, folks wept in pleasure.

Rue realized that Traversed Bridge had come up and was standing beside her, watching. She mentioned, “I’m glad to see them so completely satisfied.”

He nodded. “They’ve identified nothing however ache for thus lengthy. Generations. You may see all that ache pouring off of them, washing away.”

He had been happy with the dam, however now his delight got here from a deeper spot. This was his true legacy, Rue thought. Absolutely now he would rethink throwing all of it away. Aldry herself was the true persuader.

After circling the gang twice, the procession of artifacts handed contained in the group corridor, and other people began lining up for an opportunity to see all of them once more. The solar had dropped under the mountain to the west, and the air was rising chilly. A competition environment had taken maintain. 5 musicians started to play on pipes and drums, and brightly dressed women fashioned a hoop for dancing.

“Would you each do me the respect of staying at my dwelling tonight?” Traversed Bridge requested Rue and Garrioch.

“Thanks, that might be pretty,” Rue mentioned.

Reminded of one thing, Traversed mentioned, “Simply don’t ask my spouse should you will help with something. It should offend her.”

“In fact.”

His dwelling was near the middle of city, as befitted a number one citizen. It was a big construction with a concrete-block first ground and a second ground of stained wooden, with intricately carved shutters and rafters. The home windows glowed vivid and welcoming, and electrical lanterns hung from the eaves.

Inside, grandchildren had been all over the place. When Traversed Bridge’s daughter noticed the company enter, she hustled the kids off to a different room. Traversed provided the company one thing he referred to as “wine,” which turned out to be a potent distilled liquor. They might hear bustling from the kitchen. A younger man who bore a placing resemblance to the younger Traversed Bridge peered into the room curiously, and Traversed went to offer him some type of directions.

Garrioch whispered to Rue, “No is a bit of arduous on his son. The poor fellow can by no means dwell as much as his father’s requirements.”

“No doesn’t keep in mind what he was like at that age,” Rue whispered again. Or perhaps he does, she thought, and doesn’t need to be reminded.

They ate a bountiful dinner with the opposite adults, after which Softly Bent confirmed Rue to a shared sleeping room with 5 beds. Drained from the journey, she determined to show in early, and fell asleep to the sound of music from the city sq..

The following morning she acquired up simply after dawn and went out, desiring to stroll to the river. Early as she was, a crew of Manhu had been already within the sq., constructing a cone-shape wicker framework that towered ten meters into the air. She sat on a bench in entrance of the group heart, watching them work with a way of foreboding.

Garrioch got here into the sq., took within the scene, and noticed Rue. He came visiting to her.

“It seems to be like they’re going by with it,” he mentioned grimly.

“Sure,” she agreed. The employees had been inserting firewood and charcoal contained in the conical framework.

“Possibly we should always go away.”

“No,” she mentioned. “Our presence could also be a deterrent. There could also be one thing we are able to do.”

He regarded sick at coronary heart, however sat down subsequent to her.

All by the morning folks got here, carrying belongings to hold on the wicker pyramid, or to heap round it. They introduced blankets and garments, meals and furnishings and fishing sort out, baskets, birdcages, books, and child cradles. Kids contributed drawings they’d made and toys they’d treasured. Outdated ladies introduced intricate embroideries, and craftsmen gave up their carvings and instruments. Every thing worthwhile, all the pieces treasured, was added to the pile.

By midday it was a large tower, and males on ladders had been filling the higher tiers. Vigilant Aspire got here into the plaza, leaning on Traversed Bridge’s arm. He introduced her slowly over to the bench the place Rue and Garrioch sat, they usually rose to let her have their seats.

“Are you leaving?” Traversed Bridge requested the guests.

“No,” Rue mentioned, going through him with dedication. “We’re going to watch.”

He hesitated, taking in her expression, then regarded away. “As you please,” he mentioned.

He walked off to seek out another folks in what was by now a big crowd of two or three thousand. Rue watched as he led a gaggle of 4 others into the group constructing. They emerged with every one carrying an artifact. The gang made manner as they proceeded at a stately tempo towards the pyre. Every artifact was handed as much as a person on a ladder, who connected them excessive up on the framework. Final of all, Traversed handed up Aldry, and the employee hung her on the very pinnacle of the pyramid. The solar flashed on her wings, unfold like a silver chicken.

Because the ladders had been taken away, some musicians began taking part in a track on reed pipes and drums, and the gang gathered spherical, singing. When the track ended, the musicians threw their devices onto the pile and drew again. 5 males got here ahead with cans of kerosene and began splashing it on the bottom tier of the pile. The sq. was so quiet, a baby’s voice asking a query echoed loudly, and laughter rippled by the gang.

The 5 males soaked long-handled torches within the kerosene and lit them, then regarded to Traversed Bridge for a sign.

Rue may now not maintain her peace. She pushed by the gang to the place Traversed Bridge was standing. “Traversed,” she mentioned, and he turned. “For pity’s sake, cease this insanity.”

His face regarded set, like concrete. “You don’t have to remain.” Then, as she refused to maneuver or again down, the emotion he had been holding again broke by his management. “You didn’t have to return in any respect. Why are you even right here?”

“I did have to return,” she mentioned. “I do must witness, for my folks. So you’ll know the ache you’re inflicting us.”

“What about our ache?” His voice broke on the phrases. “Your folks by no means cared about that.”

“Is that what that is actually about? Revenge for wrongs we did to you?”

He drew a breath, gathering management. “This isn’t about you in any respect. It’s about us. Our likelihood to reclaim who we’re.”

“By destroying all the pieces you might have achieved, all the pieces you need to be happy with?”

He regarded up at Aldry. “Even Glancing will dwell in our songs,” he mentioned. “She is going to nonetheless be radiant in our reminiscences. However she will probably be free. And so will we.”

Rue realized that the lads with the torches had been nonetheless standing by, ready for Traversed to offer them the sign. The whole crowd was watching silently.

He nodded for them to go forward. The boys turned and thrust the torches deep into the pile. The hearth kindled instantly, blue kerosene flames licking upward. The crowded sq. was completely silent as they watched the hearth climb increased and better. Rue needed to flinch away, to not see, however she compelled her eyes to remain on Aldry as smoke billowed round her.

She felt Traversed Bridge take her hand, and she or he gripped tightly as she noticed the portrait begin to scorch, then blacken, then kindle. The flames had been now roaring skyward, they usually engulfed Aldry, hid her. Lastly, the entire wicker contraption collapsed, and all the pieces fell into one flaming pile.

There have been tears on her face, although she didn’t understand how they’d gotten there. She wiped them away and turned to take a look at Traversed Bridge. His face was additionally moist.

“We’ve to go away now,” he mentioned.

The entire crowd was transferring, exiting the sq.. Traversed Bridge walked again to assist Vigilant Aspire to her toes, and Garrioch got here to Rue’s facet. “Would you like me to deliver the automotive?” he requested.

“No, I can stroll to it.”

They discovered themselves caught in a tide of individuals, automobiles, and animals leaving the village. The slender highway was clogged, and Garrioch’s automotive may transfer no sooner than the overall tempo. A number of occasions they stopped to select up elders whose legs had given out, or moms carrying infants, till the automotive was full and other people had been using on the hood and bumper.

After they got here to the vast spot on the mountain the place they’d paused the day earlier than to look out over the village, the gang stopped transferring. Everybody gathered to look out over their properties, and the bonfire nonetheless smoking within the heart. Rue and Garrioch acquired out to see what was happening.

Traversed Bridge’s rental automotive introduced up the final stragglers, and he acquired out to survey the scene. Then he took out his telephone and made a name. Everybody was wanting west to the place the solar hung low on the shoulder of the mountain.

A puff of smoke bloomed from the midpoint of the dam, and seconds later got here the sound of the explosion. A niche appeared within the concrete wall; then, slowly, the highest began to break down and water poured out. As the entire midsection of the dam crumbled, a large brown gusher erupted. Gathering velocity because it handed down the valley, it took boulders and timber earlier than it, foaming because it washed towards the village.

At Rue’s facet, Garrioch was groaning. “I can’t watch,” he mentioned. She couldn’t take her eyes away. The water swept into the village, smashing buildings, engulfing the bridge, and spreading out to scrub over the fields.

A lot effort, a lot progress, and now the Manhu had been again to the poverty the place they’d began.

The reservoir continued to empty because the solar set, and the drowned valley fell into shadow. Everybody appeared to be making ready to spend the evening the place they had been—lighting campfires, spreading blankets, gathering in household teams. Garrioch turned to Rue for steerage. “Ought to we go away?”

Rue regarded round her. She didn’t need to abandon all of them like this and return to town’s comforts. “If they’ll sleep on the mountain, I can sleep within the automotive,” she mentioned.

He regarded relieved—partly to not must drive the mountain roads all evening, however extra so to not must decide, she thought.

They dined on some nut bars and fruit chips that Garrioch had within the automotive; it was greater than a few of the Manhu had. Then, as evening fell, folks began singing across the campfires—lilting, completely satisfied songs that the kids may be a part of, and that masked the disappointment.

Rue woke earlier than daybreak. The scenes of the day earlier than saved operating by her head. When the sky began to lighten, she left the automotive with Garrioch nonetheless sleeping in it. The mountain air was chilly, however the sky was clear.

She was not the one one awake. Out on the sting of the cliff overlooking the valley, Traversed Bridge was sitting, his again to the camp, searching into the void. She walked over to affix him.

Under, the place the place the village had been was a sea of mud and particles, a brown wasteland. Nothing had survived. Upstream stood the breached dam like an historical destroy.

“Are you all proper?” she requested.

He paused a very long time. “No,” he mentioned. “It’s arduous to offer all of it up. However something price doing is tough.”

It didn’t observe that something arduous was price doing, she thought, however left it unsaid. He already regarded damaged.

“What is going to you do now?”

“Begin over,” he mentioned closely. “Or a minimum of, my children will.”

She was silent then, questioning how anybody may bequeath such devastation to their kids.

As if listening to her ideas, or pondering them himself, he mentioned, “I did it for them. So they might by no means must surprise in the event that they had been actually Manhu.” He regarded up at her. “We don’t need to be such as you folks of Sarona, you Hoarders. We don’t need to drag our previous behind us. It’s too heavy for us to bear.”

They fell silent once more. The solar peeked over a spot within the mountains, lighting the valley under them.

“Look,” he mentioned, pointing upstream. Above the dam, a big flock of birds was circling. They shifted course, then got here down the valley, until they settled in a cloud on the flats the place the village had been.

“Possibly they’re replanting our fields,” Traversed mentioned, smiling.

Rue may virtually see the flash of silver wings.


                                                                                              What good is the previous?

                                                                               The previous is all the pieces misplaced.

                                                                               The previous isn’t once more.

                                                                               The previous doesn’t feed anybody.

                                                                               Solely the longer term does that.


“Exile’s Finish” copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Ives Gilman
Artwork copyright © by Mary Haasdyk

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