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The Singer’s Man

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It was a man, slender like the Singer – taller and healthier, though they may have been the same age. His hair was not the color of rulgit leaves, though it may have been once. The Singer stood and showed recognition.

“I have come,” she started to sing.

“You’ll get no welcoming from me,” the young man said in the Black Flower tongue, gathering his wizard’s robes about him. “Whoever you are, you’ve caused me a great deal of trouble.”

She said a name. He said, “I know no one who answers to that.” His otherworldly voice, like hers, had a pleasing sound. “Go home. Go back to where you came from. You came here on your own – I know you can return.”

“We came here together,” she soon answered. “We sang the door to life, and we came here together, and now the door is gone.”

“Sing it back,” he said to her sharply. “I know you can. Go now, or you will not leave here alive.”

He looked at me, and there was hate in his eyes. “Get her out of here,” he said to me. Then he turned, and walked quickly back into the Mists.

She tried to follow him.

She ran on and on, until she could run no longer. I was able to track her down by the sound of her voice. For she was singing out his name until her voice was hoarse and she could no longer speak.

I stayed by her and watched over her while she sat silent in the Mist. I tried to give her food and water, but she would not eat or drink. When she was tired I helped her lay down to rest.

Later, in a daze, she rose, and walked off into the Mist. I was able to follow her for a short distance. But she had lost her voice, and all her songs, and when I called she did not answer.

***

It took me two Gandaran years, four Spirit and four Star by Harun reckoning, to travel back to my village. If I were the Harun I had been, the many changed paths would have baffled me… for in the four Gandaran years that the Singer and I spent roaming the world, so many new roads had been created and old ones destroyed.

This was all the work of the Singer. The power of the Black Flower tribe’s Wizard was failing, and the tribe’s control over the peoples of the continent had started to falter. All were busy building and rebuilding, joining and splitting, creating in a time of destruction and blood and war.

I came home with my new name, the Singer’s Man. And with this I traveled to many different places, places I had never been, toward the other ends of the world. I sang the songs I was taught and the songs I created, and most often I sang of the tall and slender Singer, whose secrets the world still craved to know.

They came to know me in some places as a bringer of change, of new ways of thinking. And then I came home for the last time, because I was old, and I was done with change.

I knew I would not outlive the Singer’s war.

This song, I sing from my heart. It is when I fall silent that I dream. She has left me her songs, and within them the many pieces of her.

And in my dreams, I listen to the wind. I hear her singing, I shall tell you a secret.

End

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First printed in Philippine Speculative Fiction 3, edited by Dean and Nikki Alfar, 2007. MRR Arcega Graduated from UP Diliman in 1998 with a degree in Journalism. Has published short stories and feature articles in Filipino and English. Won 2nd place in the Screenplay category of the 2001 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Has been an editorial assistant, a junior PR executive, a copywriter, a proofreader, an online content developer, an online English tutor, and a guitarist for a pop/rock band. Is now an offshore accounts manager. Still writes freelance.

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