Those Who So Casually Spurned Their Lands

The wind that blew across the ice was harsh, and Hoopla took shelter behind Nuncio. “I can’t make out anything in this gloom. Are there no lights?”

“Ah, no,” sighed Nuncio. “There’s no one here who’d thank you for the favor of a little illumination, for these luckless tribes wish only to be forgotten, even by each other. In all this blackness they muffle their cries, and bury themselves in the ice, and all fruitlessly, for even those who retreat entirely beneath the frost (and there are such) must remember, and suffer for it. Pass on, pass on, time pushes us on and little suffers us to wait.”

Hoopla’s foot struck against something, and a voice cried from the gloom, “Who are you, who, even though you pass to colder ice, seek to pile misery upon those who linger here upon the lake’s edge? What vile crimes have driven you to this exile?”

“By your voice I know you,” said Hoopla, “and hate you for it, you pirate, you rapist. How many did you kill for your greed before the Shu came? How many promises broke? How many lives ruined, you miser, you beast? And how many suffered through that long war because of the medicines you watered, the tainted meat you sold? How many did you kill to prolong your vicious empire?” And, so saying, beat the head with feet and stick, heaping further abuse upon it.

“Softly, softly,” said Nuncio, “though it’s full of admiration I am for your zeal. Dawn breaks unseens down here, but the sun is after rising and we must go.”