Shadows turning into shape. Nightmares seeping in from twilight. When speaking o’ the Fallen, one tale prevailing, the silent words hearts keep screaming . . .

Oh never will we forget the whispers in the wicket.

Wicket, the city gathering stars, shining bright through a night cowering until dawn. Six hundred years standing. War being but a distant memory o’ hands long laid to rest. Paving gilded streets with pleasure, yearning only for things that could lift them higher. Riverworn and Rageborn, Evenglass and Timeless, all finding welcome behind walls no invader had ever breached.

Building grand marble pantheons, crafting wonders beyond reckoning, clawing toward a moon beaming down its forever blessing. Their story having no end, their limits breaking free o’ every bound. Becoming the biggest city in all the world, and the world loving them for their feat.

The whispers beginning.

Walking home from theatres, closing down cafes for the night, and words rustling down the backs o’ their necks. Turning to find nothing and no one, a forgotten dream already moaning on the wind. Brushing it off as imagination. Knowing nothing could ever touch them here.

We begin to forget the whispers in the wicket.

Their ambitions climbing higher still. Feats o’ art and engineering taking flight a’ all hours. A renaissance forming, bolstering the harmony o’ Wicket’s thriving masses. Even Queen Llewellyn sending an envoy o’ approval. Starting the construction on a monument o’ the ages, to be unveiled on Lunar Light’s Eve.

The whispers forming words.

Artisans and builders alike toiling through the hours, stopping only when exhaustion claimed them. In the darkness o’ their weary bones, being awoken by sounds, murmured secrets none could know. Ill thoughts and deeds festering in the hollow places o’ every heart. Crying out a’ empty rooms, painting barren spaces in the guilt o’ those seeking to forget. No longer playing the whispers off as wind, even as they grew louder. Now seeing shapes in the night . . . writhing, moving, coming closer.

Woe how we forget the whispers in the wicket.

Terror finding every child, elder, and in between as the sun slept. Fearing the dreams upon closing their eyes almost as much as what might be waiting when the lights went out.

Losing days to preparation, exalting their home, their lives, their world. Nights filling with more and more restless thoughts, torrents o’ keening calls without form beyond flickering shadow. Grasping not to go mad even as madness echoed all around. Trying to believe themselves safe, trying to know their world was pure and whole. Completing the monument. Steel and stone and jewel and bone forming into a masterwork o’ minds. Skyward Anthem. No one soul claiming credit. None needing to. Its like unknown anywhere in the history o’ Sora, nor anywhere or anytime hence. The people rejoicing in their triumph. Holding on to a dream even as the nightmare moved to claim them.

Silver eyes flickered in the darkness, shrouded in soft-spoken screams.

Seven hundred thousand lives living in Wicket. Seven hundred thousand sparks on a canvas stretching brighter than the stars. A city unparalleled in beauty, ambition, accomplishment. A place unshackling the likes o’ time, toil, and transience for something greater.

The Eve arriving. A sun rising, filling empty streets without words to fill them back. Every home, every bed and crib lying empty. Every soul, every spark, gone.

Doors unmoved, windows unbroken. Lives untouched, farewells unspoken. Nigh a million songs now only a shrill silence, whispering the secret none were left to hear. A single sign o’ life remaining, one solitary clue o’ anything amiss: a ship, barely halfway out to sky. Three lone survivors climbing to the highest tip o’ the tallest mast…

… and putting pistols to their brows to escape what was coming for them.

Run run here come the whispers in the wicket.

—Threepwin’s Treasure and Tales, page 72

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