Blood in the water I sing, and one who shed it: deadliest hunger I sing, and one who fed it- weaving the ancient-most tale of the Sea's sending: singing the tragedy, singing the joy unending This is our shame- this is the whole Ocean's glory: this is the Song of the Twelve. Hark to the story! Hearken, and bring it to pass: swift lest the sorrow long ago laid to it's rest devour us tomarrow!
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She strolled between shelves, looking at titles, smiling as she met old friends - books she had read three times or five times or a dozen. Just a title, or an author's name, would be enough to summon up happy images. Strange creatures like phoenixes and psammeads, moving under smokey London daylight of a hundred years before, in company with groups of bemused children; starships and new worlds and the limitless vistas of interstellar night, outer space challenged but never conquered; princesses in silver and golden dresses, princes and heroes carrying swords like sharpened lines of light, monsters rising out of weedy tarns, wild creatures that talked and tricked one another...
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Must I accept the barren Gift? -learn death, and lose my Mastery? Then let them know whose blood and breath will take the Gift and set them free: whose is the voice and whose the mind to set at naught the well-sung Game- when finned Finality arrives and calls me by my secret Name. Not old enough to love as yet, but old enough to die, indeed- -the death-fear bites my throat and heart, fanged cousin to the Pale One's breed. But past the fear lies life for all- perhaps for me: and, past my dread, past loss of Mastery and life, the Sea shall yet give up Her dead! Lone Power, I accept your Gift! Freely I make death a part of me; By my accept it is bound into the lives of all the Sea- yet what I do now binds to it a gift I feel of equal worth: I take Death with me, out of Time, and make of it a path, a birth! Let the teeth come! As they tear me, they tear Your ancient hate for aye- -so rage, proud Power! Fail again, and see my blood teach Death to die!
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The city breathing, burning, living the life thy had preserved. Ten million lives and more. If something should happen to all that life- how terrible! Nita gulped for control as she remembered Fred's word of just this morning, an eternity ago. And this was what being a wizard was about. Keeping terrible things from happening, even when it hurts. Not just power, or control of what ordinary people couldn't control, or delight in being able to make strange things happen. Those were the side effects- not the reason, the purpose.
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But the trouble with sainthood these days is the robe-and-halo imagery that gets stuck onto it." Carl got that brooding look again. "People forget that robes were street clothes once... and still are, in a lot of places. And halos are to that fierce air of innocence what speech balloons in comics are to the sound of the voice itself. Shorthand. But most people just see an old symbol and don't bother looking behind it for the meaning. Sainthood starts to look old-fashioned, unattainable... even repellent. Actually, you can see it all around, once you learn to spot it.
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Power," Nita heard her father say behind her. "Creation. Forces from before time. This is--this business is for saints, not children!" Even saints have to start somewhere," Carl said softly. "And it's always been the children who have saved the universe from the previous generation and remade the universe in their own image.