The chorus of definition provides a fixed point in the chaos.
There is an endless sea between the Gibbelins’ Tower and the land, and crossing it there is a bridge. It creaks under Sebastien’s feet, and under the monster’s, as they walk. It is made of wood, and the railing is rope.
The silence between them is palpable but not eternal.
“I think that if you were not a monster, that you would be a physics teacher,” Sebastien says.
“It seems like you want people to be objects,” Sebastien says. “Inanimate and insensate processes of life. So I think that somewhere, you must love how objects work. If you were sane, then you would want to show others how cool objects are, and make that passion serve people rather than destroy them.”
“Ah.” The monster snorts.
Sebastien shrugs. “One knows certain things,” he says, “regarding one’s gods.”
As they walk, a star falls past. It strikes the water near them. There is a flare of light. Hot spray burns them both. They can hear a mewling. Sebastien stands at the edge of the bridge and looks down into the water.
“It’s a cynosure,” Sebastien says.
The monster follows. He looks down. There’s a thin and pale thing, covered in a sheen of ichor, splashing weakly in the water below.
“How useless,” answers the monster.
“Once upon a time,” Sebastien says. “Liars were honored. Did you know that? People wanted lies that would give them power and happiness at the minimum cost to the integrity of their lives.”
The monster frowns. His right hand brushes against his left-hand ring. Sebastien wavers, and his knuckles, gripping the rail, go white.
“Hm?” Sebastien asks, after a moment.
“Your description prioritizes an objective truth,” the monster says. “But we live, ultimately, in subjective worlds.”
“It’s just historical narrative,” Sebastien says.
“See, cynosures like that one—they’re the children of those liars. They can’t tell the kinds of lies that make everything better. They just . . . give you a fixed point. Something to look at. A lie to hold up when everything else is chaos.”
“We call them the chorus of definition,” the monster says. “When we make them. They seem most valuable in bulk. And when they are not drowning.”
“Drowning is generally a bad trait in gods.”
The cynosure looks up at them. She whispers, “Help me.”
“I can’t,” Sebastien says. “The best I can do is ask you your name, and regret your passing.”
“I shone down on a girl,” the cynosure says, “and said that everything would be okay. But then it wasn’t. And I fell.”
“That’s a good name,” Sebastien agrees. “I’m sorry you’re drowning.”
“Come on,” the monster says. “We’re wasting time.”
It is the April of 2004.
“What did Martin say to you?” Sebastien asks.
“A handful of dust fell from his hand,” the monster answers. “‘This is a season of metal,’ he said.”
The monster looks hollow and his eyes are tired.
“He suggested that I join the winning side.”