Frigid. Cutting. Numbing. Glacial.
          I could have listed all of the synonyms I knew to describe my appalling conditions, yet among this dreadfulness, there was still loveliness. Although my eyes were blurred from the goggles, I could still discern the countless pebbles scattered along the floor, and the titanic ice blocks that surrounded me. Swimming forward, I saw a stone coffin elaborately carved to resemble the figure of a Tsar. The lid of the coffin was open from Morganne’s doing, so all I had to do was retrieve the other sheets of gold slates. When my hand reached for a target, I felt that I had grabbed a hand. I almost choked on water after realizing that I had touched a corpse. However, I recognized that I had to remain calm. I had to depend on myself.

          Once my hand grazed the carvings on one of the gold plates, I felt a sense of nostalgia. My fingers had known this texture before. I could not, however, pinpoint when I had become familiarized with this feeling. Ignoring this thought, I began a cycle of diving and reclaiming. Thankfully, there were only ten pieces in total.
          “This is the last one,” I panted while swimming towards the two of them.
          “Wonderful,” Morganne commented, “but, we do have another problem.”
          I almost felt like drowning myself, but Hendrick and Morganne had each grabbed onto one of my hands to help pull my body from the water. Morganne then covered Hendrick’s eyes as I rapidly undressed myself and then wore the warm fur coat with my boots. My clothes surely would not dry any time soon, so this was the best way to maintain a steady body temperature.
          I now posed, “What is the matter?”
          “Both of us have no idea how to read this,” Morganne replied.
          “This is not Slianvwish nor is it any language we have ever seen,” Hendrick concluded. “It appears to be an ancient form of Urcisian or perhaps, Prottian?”
          Morganne shook her head, noting, “I have studied past forms of Prottian and never have I seen this style.”
          I took one of the plates and stared at it with all my might. There were engravings resembling cuneiform with each bearing intricately cut and lined in rows. I felt like I was looking at an art piece whose name I had forgotten.
          “I know I have seen this before,” I informed them. “I just don’t remember . . . how or when.”
          I rotated the piece to landscape and my eyes followed the writing vertically. I knew this was how to interpret this masterpiece. Now, I just needed to know what each letter symbolized. Retracing my memories, I stumbled upon one during my schooling with the Queen.
“What I am about to teach you will become very important in the future,” the Queen had remarked.
She had passed a few sheets of thin paper, the sort that was almost translucent. One blotch of ink could soak through the other side. She saw my curious look, and carried on explaining, “These were made in Kosei from the bark of mulberry and bamboo. We will be using brushes to write.”
She then handed me a calligraphy brush made from horse tails. Dipping her brush in a dish filled with black liquid, she started to print a few letters. Each stroke had to be precise and the order of each stroke was crucial. The wrong sequence signified the wrong impression on the paper. There was no sense in wavering. Once the brush touched the paper, the ink began to flow.
“What are you writing?” I had voiced my concern.
“This was adapted from Koseian and Urcisian,” she had mentioned. “It is called Kurctic.”
“Why have I not seen this sort of writing?”
She had smiled so peacefully. “Only a few people are allowed to know this.”
“So, this is . . . archaic?”
I had attempted to imitate her writing on my sheet, but had undoubtedly failed with splotches of black dominating the original page. Her smile had morphed to a small frown.
“No . . . this is a scholarly and exclusive form of communication. Now, focus on your strokes.”
I remembered thinking how this language was like Latin, except even more confined. I believed I had laughed too; the Queen had responded by striking my hand with the end of her brush.
Beginning from right to left, I outlined a swirly, round character with my finger. It was the letter, i.
“You can read it?” Hendrick chirped.
“I believe so,” I replied.
Morganne urged, “Then, tell us what it says.”
My mouth was about to sound out the first word, yet my head felt light and all sense of thought drained from my mind. There was nothing to share. No, there was nothing that I could share. The coldness from the water must have struck me, forcing me to be silent.
Water, why must you obstruct me?
          I see and then I learn. I dream and then I remember. I do not remember the beginning however. Perhaps, my beginning is her beginning. At first, I cannot see her face. I only hear her howling breaths. I hear them so clearly. Occasionally, she sighs and I can feel her melancholy meshing with my mind.
          “Free me,” she tells me.
          Slowly, though, I watch her age with me and when I am able to speak, to walk, and to climb, she whispers too clearly, “Touch me.”
          She reaches her hand towards me and this time, I remember her features. She is young, as young as me. She is full of pallor and holds a wistful look in her sharp, crescent-shaped eyes.
          “Touch my hand,” she orders.
          Her voice reminds me of a warm, sultry breeze and I obey her. Then, I feel the draughtiness of her hand transferring to my palm and a sudden warmness infuses with my body. She seems to vanish, yet reappears in full figure once again. She is clad in a long, white robe with a beige silk piece serving as a belt to accentuate her waist. Her long, black hair loosely fall on her small shoulders and her eyes now glisten. A smile creeps from her blood red lips and I shudder.
          “Do you want to play with me?”
          She holds my hands. She smiles, but this time, I feel safe, and so I nod. We play. We talk. We listen. We sing. We live together and the world finds me insane. My mother asks who my friend is. My father wonders why I speak to myself. I tell them that she is my closest friend and then, the healers come. They feed me soups boiled in bitter leaves. They sprinkle holy water on my face and pray for my recovery. She laughs at this sight and I laugh along with her.
          “They will never understand until it is too late.” She sighs.
          I sigh at my age. I know it is time to marry, yet I feel . . .
          “I can help you,” she offers.
          “You leave this town behind and you follow me,” she instructs.
          “To where?”
          “To wherever the wind guides us.” I see a familiar grin and I welcome her advice. “But,” she continues to say, “you must listen to my every word. You must tell everyone of my story and you must also write.”
          She magically offers me a quilt and papyrus paper. “That is your duty as me,” she reminds me. “That is our punishment.”
          This is the first time I ask her and the last time she would answer this question. “Who are you?”
          Her long sleeves hug my body. “You.” She looks down at me.
          “Yes, you.” She slithers like the wind to face me. “Now, title the piece: The Book of Winds.” I listen to her dictating every word. “This is the first story called Birth. Write now that I am the . . .”
          I am the daughter of Suna, the Sun Goddess, and Lucrus, the Moon God. I am Shinatobe, the Wind Goddess, and these are the chronicles of my life.      
          They shall be dispersed around the world and people will understand. People will know what to fear and what to do when confronted with fear.
Chapter 43                                                                            Chapter 45