It was the dry of winter, cold and tasteless, grey and hateful. It clung to fists and mouths and eyes and music, crackling and gritty, pops and whistles echoing from lips brittled by disuse. We hadn’t laughed in millenia; it had been bottled by the Mirth-Eaters before the dawning of even the second sun, and now there were three.
I couldn’t remember his name, so on the rock was a symbol for Unending — it was the last thing we could cling to, after time had washed away spirits and faith and ground them into ash from which not even the cry of a phoenix would lift.
The sound of chisel and hammer was muffled by the thick of cold that had crept in and choked the breath from the last in the nurseries. All my experiments drowned in ice and straw, wrapped in swaddling clothes; crowns of thorns as their pillows. I could not finish the symbol; draught parched my bones and tendons, and the last of me crumbled to nothing in a silent, bitter wind.
My eyes dissolved, watching the stone bear our final word.