Xin Chao and the Legend of Buildings

The saga of Vakhriyya Dawndrinker does not begin on the dawn of that chilly day when she sailed across the Sea of Years in her grey driftwood ship.

Nor does it begin some millennia before her birth, when Rustam on his ship of flowers landed here, when he and Allevih the witch and Durat the swordsmith became two kings and a queen, and ruled with great honesty and craftiness and glory.

Nor does it begin some hundreds of years later, when those three sailed away on the counsel of dreams, leaving their empire to collapse.

The saga of Vakhriyya Dawndrinker begins long before that, in a forgotten place in forgotten years, when Xin Chao tended his goats among the long grasses. They grazed day and night, uncaring, because Xin Chao's heart was like the sun.

Then the winds came to the hills of Xin, and with them the dust and the black kites that beat at Xin Chao with their wings and tore his flesh with their claws. Then Xin Chao's blood came out onto the red earth.

Then the rains came to the hills of Xin, soaking the goats and washing Xin Chao's blood into the red rivers and red streams.

Then the darkness came to the hills of Xin, the clicking darkness of velvet spiders and ebony wasps and onyx scorpions with stingers held high, and when Xin Chao gasped in fright he breathed them in and drowned in them.

Yet Xin Chao was undaunted, because his heart was like the sun.

So he took his sword and he crushed the spiders and he beat back the rain and he cut the wind's wings so that it could no longer fly, and he said to his long-suffering goats, "My heart is like the sun, but yours are not, and so I will build you a...a building! A building that will shelter you from outside as my heart shelters me from inside.

So he took his sword and he cut trees and reeds and blocks of earth and he built a...a building. He put his goats inside.

Then when the winds and rains and darkness came, they washed up against the...the building's walls, and were beaten back, and Xin Chao sat on the top of a hill and laughed, and they slunk away, muttering bitter, bitter oaths.

Thousands of years later, Vakhriyya Dawndrinker awoke to hear curses on the wind.


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