by Orson Scott Card
1st Place - Best Interior Art - 2010
I got control of Lytrotis, a half-Greek adviser to King Herod of Judea, in the year 734 of the Roman
Republic. It was the 27th year of the Peace of Augustus. It was the last year of Herod's life.
My control over Lytrotis was complete. He had thought I was a god, and that I would make him great
-- never guessing that the only power I had was the power to take control of his body, shunting him
He discovered how I had lied to him within moments of my taking possession, but it was too late for
him then. I was too strong for him, too experienced. He screamed with all his might, he wrestled with
me day and night, and to me his screams were the bleating of a lamb, and his writhing was the fluttering
of a moth.
Eloi, my enemy, had given poor Lytrotis what he had denied to me: a featherless biped body to dwell
in, with all its pleasures and pains, with those clever little hands, with eyes that saw so clearly and yet
saw nothing at all, and with a mouth to speak . . . so that lies could be told.
Lies! Ah, how sweet to tell lies again. During my time between bodies I felt like a prisoner, able to
communicate only as we evyonim do in our bodiless state, showing memories to each other, utter truth,
so that we stand exposed before each other, all our memories and motives known.
As I stood exposed before Eloi on that terrible day six thousand years before, when he cast us down
into the Earth. The featherless bipeds had already spread themselves throughout the world, had already
acquired the rudiments of language and the making of tools. They were ripe to be possessed by us, the
evyonim, the massless wanderers through the darkness of spacetime, but Eloi had a plan to make these
bipeds immortal, the bonds between beast and evyon permanent.
"They are not to be exploited," he said, "they are to be elevated. Your bodiless aeons are over. It is
time for you to become like me, if you can -- tied to the physical world again, yet masters of all things.
If you can."
His plan was a foolish one. Full of chances for failure. The bodies were too delicious. Once we had
tasted them, we would not want to let them go. Yet most of us would lose them. I had seen it before,
hadn't I? On the world of the cherubim, the world of the seraphim, the world of the nagidim, the world
of the yaminim -- only a tiny fraction of the evyonim were able to keep the beast they rode, and all the
rest were given a stunted, crippled, broken version . . . because that's all that Eloi thought that they
"This time," I said, "we will do it my way. I will not discard them the way you do. I will save them all."
How they rejoiced! But Eloi only looked at his beloved, his darling of darlings, his chosen one, his
Beyn, he whose real name I am incapable of saying and whose face I am forbidden to see.
"I will live and die for them," he said. "I will save all who master the beasts and then live to serve the
good of all."
"The weak, you mean," I said. "The ones who cower. When I have mastered my beast, I will not
cower." I was so brave, and all who saw my courage were rapt with admiration.