by Jared Oliver Adams
The village of Ferrol was small, and their cloudsinging hill was nothing short of
pitiful, but they always managed to draw huge crowds. Whenever Case came
through, work stopped immediately, even if it was harvest season. It was just that
sort of town. Loved a good story.
And boy what clouds. Come mid-summer, you could count on obsidian black
cloud-walls towering overhead. Sure, stormclouds were volatile, harder to shape.
Most cloudsingers avoided them. But Case wasn't most cloudsingers. He was
going to be one of the greats, and to do that you have to take risks.
Today Case was going to tell the story of Dalian's Bow, a tragedy if ever there was
one, and the heavy dark clouds overhead would provide just the ominous tone he
needed. When it came time for Dalian to die, Case would have the whole crowd
weeping. And maybe, just maybe, when the people of Ferrol went back to work
after this reprieve, they'd look up at the sky and be a little more noble, a little more
courageous. Maybe the clouds above them, and the world around, would feel a
little less mundane. He got to the cloudsinging hill at dawn, sitting cross-legged
and opening up his mind to the sky. The wind whispered over the bare skin of his
chest as he closed his eyes and breathed in the coppery taste of the rain to come. In
his mind's eye, a picture of the clouds formed, and the wind he felt against him
slowly resolved into light blue lines. With those lines he could pull the clouds
where he wanted, could shape them. He tugged line after line and drew the clouds
toward his hill.
It took hours to coax all of the clouds over to the shabby little hill, but when he
finally opened his eyes again, the village of Ferrol did not disappoint. Every
farmer, hunter, and milkmaid in three leagues was sprawled out on their backs
around him, row upon row. They'd done it silently too, out of respect.
Had to love Ferrol.
Case stood up slowly, his legs stiff from sitting for so long in one position.
"Today," he intoned, "today a story of blood, heroism, love, and a bow." While he
said it, he used small motions of his hands to tug at the wind-lines, pulling a wisp
of cloud from the stormwall overhead and using the wind to shape it into a bow
ready to loose its arrow. Then he moved a larger block of cloud out overhead to
make Dalian, speaking the introduction in the manner of the great cloudsinger
Jenivette. Might as well stick to the classics.