TO SPREAD THE WINGS VII: Do you remember the first summer?

'It was 1677. I usually suck with dates but I remember that one very well; that one, and every other related to him. Those are the only things that never lost clarity over time: everything looks like a fucking collection of sepia-toned photos with curled-up edges, but the moments we spent together... the sky, the grass, the sand... the colours, the sounds... the tone of his voice... can't get them out of here. Can't create new memories if they have to take up the space where he's recorded.

It surprised me this time he had a Scottish name, cause back then it happened at the Isle of Skye, remember? Of course you do, stupid question... It was summer; there the summer wasn't as merciful as it is in many other places where I've been, but people seemed satisfied. I had enough with not being knocked down by the wind, but I must admit the sun shone a lot those days. So much that it blinded me.

You know what brought me to that beach of thick and white sands, what always brings me anywhere: he was there. Of course I didn't know who he was, not even that he existed. I had never seen him before, I'm sure about it. And not only cause when I laid my eyes on him something stirred inside my trousers, no... that shit always happens, sometimes I hate this body... It was something much more intense, something new for me. I have no freaking idea if you ever shuddered: that tingling that goes up your calves and makes the hair on your forearm stand on end, and all that blood rushing to your cheeks... I felt like a twat. I was conscious my body was eighteen years old by then, I had mounted enough people and done much worse stuff. I wasn't a damn brat. Turning red like a damsel? Besides he still needed some weeks to ripen. What was the use of staying and waiting when there surely were some other ripe ones nearby? What a loss of time... My brain knew it, and still my feet seemed to have taken root and a sodding hurricane wouldn't have moved me away. The feet won. I wasn't very happy when I approached him, walking as refinedly and calmly as a baulky mule.

Obviously he had a different name. I spent a long time treasuring this first name; I'd make it echo into my mouth and the sound would be like a mantra and put my mind at ease when he wasn't around. But would it make any sense, when it was different every time? I soon realised he wasn't his name, and out of the incredible amount of unique features that were part of him and always repeated, how important could a word be? I always tried to forget, to start from scratch. And with the hope, I confess, of making things change.

He was trying to earn his living as a minstrel, or better said as a bard, since we were in Scotland. I remember it and I smile like an idiot, cause he made quite clear from the very first moment what his passions in life would be and they never changed. Never. He's always had his head screwed on, not like me... Well, as I was saying, there he was, with a battered lute he had inherited from his dead father and a sister who was a couple of years older, a mouth to feed he had also inherited from the same source. And he still wasn't sixteen. Old enough to have children but not enough to earn respect easily. There was a village not very far away but they were sleeping close to the shore, in an abandoned hut whose roof had partially fallen in. There they'd stay until the locals got bored of the novelty and they had to hit the road again.

But he was talented. Fuck, he hadn't practised a single one of those naughty things he was singing about, but he knew how to entertain and the right moment to wink or cheekily shake the hips. He looked after that piece of wood with strings with all the love in the world and I'm sure no one but him could have got those notes out of it; and his voice was already beautiful. He was young, but even those guys as refined as a turnip were able to recognise talent when it hit them on the head. He managed so that his sister didn't have to spread her legs to eat.

And when I could finally have a close look at him... That never changer either. The sun was reflected in the water and the bright was less intense than his hair's; the colour of the sea would have deserved to be called grey, compared to his eyes. Don't puke, I wasn't a fucking poet around that time, you know it, I was a fucking warrior and and fucking breeder, and that was everything I could do. But you see, my primitive brain was able to be touched. My lower jaw surely dropped on its own and he caught me with that sheepish expression that so nicely fitted the landscape, and his first reaction was supposing I was devouring her sister with my eyes. His protective instincts sprang right away; he was an unarmed shrimp in contrast to the hulk I was, but that didn't prevent him from looking me in the eye and asking very rudely who I was and what I was after.

My mind went blank for several seconds. That was a good question: who was I supposed to be? The only thing I had needed to travel were my swords, and they were in a safe place cause a nobody like me wasn't supposed to show off something like that. I couldn't do much but fighting, and that wasn't going to be of any help. I looked around in desperation. I observed the hut, pointed at it and said:

'Thatcher. I'll fix the roof of the house.'

God, it was pathetic. And since he wasn't a complete imbecile he believed me as much as if I had said I was a kelpie and he should come with me to have a dip in the sea.

'Sure, Mr. Thatcher. Nothing would make me happier, but you see, my steward is late with the money yielded by my properties and my funds are limited. Come later in the year; with the autumn harvest, maybe.'

He smiled slightly, much to his regret. He believed I was a dangerous guy but my dim-witted expression had to be amusing for him. And I smiled, also much to my regret. He was trying to take the Mickey, no pun, out of me, but I could thank heaven cause I was bright enough to appreciate the boy was ingenious. Ingenious and very handsome.

'I just arrived and will have to find some job to earn my living. In the meanwhile I fix your roof and you allow me to stay under it. I think it's a fair deal.'

He looked at his sister out of the corner of his eye; it was clear he wouldn't want to allow a guy that had to bend to cross the door to sleep within hailing distance of her.

'By Saint Andrew, I'd never lay a hand on the gal,' I told him.

'Sure, if it's by Saint Andrew, then I'll trust blindly... How couldn't I trust someone who assures me by Saint Andrew?' he asked ironically.

I wasn't a very patient guy, but wasn't an animal either. I'd have been unable to lay a finger on anyone I set my sights on, much less him... so I'd act calmly. I turned around and walked away.

'Where are you going?'

'To look for a spot to rest, there, among those rocks. And if the night falls and a good believer is willing to leave another one sleeping in the open, I don't know where we'll all end up.'

I don't know if he was a good believer... but I slept in the open! After seeing me the whole day wandering around there I didn't get to move him, it seems, and there I stayed, glancing at the hut and reminding myself it was essential to keep my hands away from his neck. I couldn't blame him after all. Times have always been hard and his sister was very beautiful, almost as much as him.

On the next day they left the hut and went to the village. I went through the fastest thatcher workshop in history and managed to patch that ruin; It wasn't near perfect but I could see them coming in the distance, so I ran to my hollow between the rocks and turned serious. The boy looked at the roof, then in my direction, then back at the roof. He was dubious. I had the impression he was tempted to come and talk to me, but he couldn't make up his mind. The results? Another night playing the abandoned puppy at the door of the house. I was hoping remorse wouldn't let him sleep that night, at least...

And the next day the joke was repeated and I completed my masterwork. I'm glad to say he was finally softened up. He approached me, a bit frowning.

'Do you swear, by the most sacred...?

'...I won't touch the girl,' I interrupted him. 'I told you, I just want a roof over my head.'

He was fighting his impulse to keep their distance. You know, she was all he had after all. But he allowed me to be part of their lives. Then I wanted to believe it was cause he saw something in me... the same thing I saw in him.

Once you repair one roof you can repair one hundred... What the heck, I was a big, strong bloke and the year had been prosperous enough to get some odd jobs here and there. When I contributed to feed his sister he started to look at me through different eyes, much more relieved... because I never treated her inappropriately. She wasn't the one I was interested in.

I can't say the same about her. She grew fond of me... fairly fond. Not that she was cheeky, but giggles and flirting are universal. In different circumstances I'd have felt flattered but, damn, I was working hard to earn his trust and wasn't going to spoil it all for a shag behind the rocks. And what do you want me to tell you... I didn't even feel like it. This filthy body always seems to be horny, but my dart was already aiming for a target. I'd hear him telling me about his short life. I'd hear him singing. I'd look at him, I'd sit on the sand and simply look at him while he'd ran along the seashore chasing his sister, laughing loud, making the water fly in her direction with a well-aimed kick; and sometimes he'd just stand on the wet strip, wait for a wave to break and smile when at the sight of his feet sinking and being tickled by the receding water. The afternoons would decline and his silhouette would get darker until it was hard for me to distinguish him. I was madder and madder about him.

In one of those occasions she ran towards me, tripped (that's what I want to believe) and landed on top of me, right between my separated legs. She took her time to stand up; she rubbed herself against me in a totally unnecessary way... I didn't know what to do with my hands; he was watching and I thought he wouldn't relish the sight of me planting them on any portion of his sis' anatomy. If I could have chopped them and thrown them away I might have considered the idea.

Since she saw she wouldn't be receiving any help from me, the girl stood up on her own... and what do you think that swine did? He pushed her again over me, on my crotch, with a really provocative chuckle. I knew so many naughty songs would take their toll. They laughed; this time I decided to help her, but while doing so I shot him a reproachful look. And I don't know if it was the dim light or my own imagination, or what the heck, but I'd have sworn his was melancholic. Maybe jealous cause he was thinking he'd have to share the girl's affection with someone else?

That night I escaped to take a walk. If I had gone inside the hut with them and seen him again lying besides her and falling asleep with that placid and confident expression, I think I'd have been unable to stand it any more and would have jumped over him. And it was too early and... no, I wouldn't have done it against his will. He wasn't a pig-headed brat I could manipulate as I pleased; he was young, so what? He was smart. He had seen the world and at the same time kept a strange naivety and inexperience that I found contradictory as much as magnetic.

It appeared, walking along the shore. My problem; and my solution as well, if he had wanted. I lifted my head, anxious to watch his expression, though the light was almost gone. He sat beside me on the sand; great, I had run away to avoid temptation and my alleged victim had come to force the jaws open himself and stick his head between the two rows of teeth. I was lucky cause I couldn't see much but a black shadow. I'd have had to make up for the rest with my imagination and my brain was almost off, after lending most of the blood to my package.

'Why didn't you come inside?' he asked; as I didn't open my mouth, he continued. 'Listen: it's all right... It's all right if you like my sister. She's very pretty. I know you promised you wouldn't get too close, but that was before I got to know you. Sometimes you look at her, don't you? She also likes you, and if you want...'

'I don't look at her,' I interrupted him. I had run out of patience. I didn't mind to earn his trust any more, nor the fact he was about to ripen, nor the bunch of angry guys that were surely after me. I didn't care shit; I just wanted to tell him how I felt. 'I look at you. I've been looking at you all this time.'

He was speechless. I could barely tell if he was still there or I was talking to a rock. I made an effort to hear his breath but I couldn't make out anything, apart from the murmur of the waves.

'Please, say something,' I asked. 'It's the first time in my... my life I confess this to someone, and you have my word I have such a huge lump in my throat I can barely breath, but as true as the sun comes out in the mornings that I can't think of anything else but you. And not as a friend or a little brother, or anything as simple as that, but in the way you are imagining.'

'But... but... but that isn't possible...' Finally he managed to say two words in a row. 'We are both... I'm not a...'

'I am well aware of that. And still it doesn't change what I feel.'

He remained silent again. What do you think: he hadn't got up and leg it, nor was shouting I was a dirty rat, nor trying to elbow me in the face; no, there he was, as if he were pondering, as if he were giving thought to my words. I got goose pimples. I turned to him; fortunately he couldn't see my hungry wolf face.

'We can't do that...' His voice was nothing but a trickle.

'Nobody but us decides what we can do.' Mine was fast as a snake.

'Somebody could see us...' Trickle.

'It's completely dark and we are alone.' Snake. And incidentally I placed my hand were his was.

'But that would make us sodom...'

'Please, don't say that word.' I gently grabbed his arm. 'Besides there are other things...'

I leaned over him. I missed his lips, just brushed the corner, but it tasted heavenly cause he didn't move back. Nor even when I went down his neck. Nor when I stuck my head inside his shirt. Now his breath could be heard above the sound of the sea.

I made him lie on the sand and felt around for his cheeks. I didn't want him to move, this time I wanted to hit the spot... I slid my tongue along my dry lips and then I kissed him; a simple touch, I wanted to check his reaction, if he'd respond...

He let me in...

Christ... Time could have gone backwards, so little it took me to sink my tongue all the way to the bottom of his mouth. It was pitch dark; I had imagined that scene in many different ways and I hadn't expected it to happen... while I was unable to even take a peek at his expression. Well, to compensate for it the rest of my senses were at their full capacity. Tact was threatening with making explode that bulge that would no longer fit into my trousers. Which suggested me an association of ideas...

I reached for his crotch and stroked it; there was life in there, oh yeah... I was unable to see, but I'd do something else. It was hard to take my tongue out of his mouth, but I wanted to try my luck and confirm if I'd manage to put something else into mine... so I moved it down to the place I was rubbing and almost opened his trousers with my teeth. His moist flesh against my lips...

It wasn't the first occasion I did that, of course not, but every time I had stuffed a cock into my mouth was to get something in exchange, mainly to get paid back in kind. Then I didn't want anything from him: all I wanted was making him enjoy it. I swear the most obliging prostitute wouldn't have put as much effort as I did for him not to notice he was inside a guy's mouth and not between a woman's legs. I spat slightly to make it even more slippery and took my time spreading the saliva; I sucked on the end as if I had spent years waiting to taste his flavour, and left no spot without licking; I swallowed him completely.

When I noticed his hips pushing... I almost came. I say almost cause he did it first; practically without prior warning, just some muffled moans. As if he had been scared of making too much noise and being discovered... Later I knew he had been covering his mouth with his hands...

I kept him warm and wet until he stopped shaking and being as tense as a bowstring. Then I concentrated on savouring what I had tasted of him, on slipping my sticky lips and my cheeks along that piece of flesh that was still throbbing... I couldn't hold back any longer: I stuck my hand inside my trousers and jerked off until I shot, and fuck was I fast... I stayed there, panting on his groin, convinced he was fully aware of what I had done.

He sat up without a word. His silence was uncomfortable, but I couldn't blame him either. I heard the rustle of the fabric as he tidied his clothes and the sand sliding when he stood up.

And he walked away with unsteady steps. In silence. I didn't dare to stop him, nor to follow him, nor to ask if he was okay, if... please... it didn't even cross my mind asking him if he had liked it. I almost felt as if I had already popped his cherry by force. I spent the night right on that spot, though I couldn't sleep a wink.

The day after I didn't dare to go to the hut either, nor the village, as I didn't want him to meet me and maybe turn around. That was the worse day so far.

Before dusk I felt like plunging my head into the water and leave it there... It wasn't going to kill me, but what the heck, I might fall unconscious once for all. So I left my clothes on the sand and entered. The sea was in calm; lucky bastard...

After a short time I sat down on the wet sand, washed over by the waves. Guess what I was thinking: bingo! My pike was again in position to receive the cavalry. I suppose that distracted me enough cause I didn't hear him coming, not until he was almost on top of me, and I stood up automatically and found myself face to face with him. Me and my not-so-little friend. He stared at me. I'll make it clear: he stared at us both. His eyes were so wide open...

Until he charged and made me fall on my back in an inch of water. I wasn't expecting that reaction, to be honest. Maybe a punch or two, but not a charge. He remained there, straddling me, and I thought, right, here comes the smacking, do as you please, I deserve it. But the trashing wouldn't come; he looked at the sun that still hadn't disappeared down the horizon; he looked at the deserted shore; he looked at me...

Those eyes so blue pierced mine from above, with the most intense gaze I had ever had on me. I couldn't read them in that moment; his eyebrows were knit and they might have been shouting hatred as much as a warning to keep out. I was used to face violence; I could recognise it even when it was disguised behind a hypocritical smile. I didn't know there was a side of it completely unknown to me...

He kissed me. Bugger, he kissed me. Or better said, he polished my tonsils with his tongue. If he had taken out a knife and stabbed me I wouldn't have been more surprised. But nope: it was something else he was stabbing me with; he was making me taste his saliva again, and what he lacked in technique he made up with push. Push... He was sitting on my stomach, with the end of my rampant eagle trapped under his buttocks. I was the one wanting to trap him under me and push... It is very difficult to fight the impulses of this damn body. I hugged him and unconsciously tried to make him turn and place myself on top, but he didn't allow me to do it. He twisted like a wild animal, threw his full weight on my arms, looked me in the eye once more, his teeth clenched...

He went down to my crotch where that thing awaited and studied it; brushed it with his fingers, surrounded it with his hands; tasted it slightly with the tip of his tongue. I was trying to sit up not to miss a thing, and despite the light was fading I could still take a good look at his lips closing around as much as they could cope with. I didn't cover my mouth not to moan; I did it loud and clear, while thrusting my hips and sinking my hands inside his hair as gently as I could; and that wasn't very much.

If there's a moment in my life I can be proud of for being able to keep my self-control, there you have it. Okay, this may be exaggerated, but I was really craving for shoving it up to the hilt into some other part of his body... you have to suffer it to know how it is. Of course I didn't do it, though I couldn't help but bursting inside of him. He coughed and straightened up. Then passed his hand along his lips and tried to make up what covered his fingers, as if he was intrigued thinking how that thing had got there.

'It tastes salty... and bitter,' he said.

I smiled.

That's the class of man he was, the class he has always been.

The few days that followed were the happiest I had ever had in my sodding existence. For the first time I forgot absolutely about everything: about the purpose that had driven me there, about the people waiting for me, about the swords rusting inside a hole. God, it was embarrassing, but so cheesy I got to be... And he took advantage. I had a young bard playing the lute for me and singing songs to my ear when his hands and mouth weren't busy somewhere else. He forced me to sing the backing vocals; first time ever I used my voice to sing... and what a surprise, heh, I wasn't bad. I had a good teacher.

We'd spend the afternoons under the sunlight; he'd tell me the stories he had learnt from his father, I'd... I'd tell him what I could. I laughed as I hadn't laughed before. His sister was a bit put out but I didn't care in the least; I didn't care about anything else. Once she fell asleep we'd escape to the rocks and you know what we'd do. It was different, I used to think, when you embraced someone to give warmth instead of to receive it yourself. Several times I had those words on the tip of my tongue and I should have told him. I should have told him so many things... why didn't I? Cause I was an arsehole... and still that wasn't my biggest stupidity.

Good things always come to an end too fast. My people found me. They didn't dare to raise their voices to me, but if they had had the guts... The question was that the bloke whose name still wasn't Swift had discovered one of us... too early. I'd have strangled them all, but the thing was too serious and I had no choice but going there. I ran to the hut, but they had surely gone to the village, cause it was empty. I tried to follow him and warn him I had to leave for some days...

'Dammit! One has fallen... are you going to let our people die cause of a stupid whim? Do your duty!'

Do your duty... that was the bullshit that made me lose my way. I should have sent them all to hell and go after him. But I didn't; I thought: well, it will be just a few days. I'll be back as soon as possible and take him with me. I didn't even stop to pick my swords.

But it wasn't 'just a few days'. Almost two weeks later, while I was still chasing that guy and couldn't even sleep the couple of hours I needed not to go nuts, I decided to send the youngest of us to find him and tell him everything was okay. That earned me new reproachful looks, but with my current state of mind I might well have killed someone with my bare hands, so nobody complained.

I hunted down my target. My messenger returned. He and his sister had left the hut and nobody knew where they had gone.

When I went back to Skye I could no longer feel him. That radar that warns you when someone who hasn't awoken yet is nearby was mute as a stone; that could only mean two things: that he was far away... or he had woken up. I prayed for him to be on the other side of the world... anything but...

But I got some news: a clan chief's son had gone through the village not long ago. It was worth investigating, since I had no other clue and distance didn't mean much and... my brain would have exploded if I hadn't done anything. Soon I planted myself at the gates of the clan main residence, and they were in the middle of a celebration cause the chief had found a wife for one of the chieftains. I had the worst feeling...

The clan chief's son was that big guy with brown hair and grey eyes that nowadays works as a pettifogger and is called Faulkner. He was beside him; I couldn't feel anything any more cause he had woken up.

I couldn't find much consolation. As he hadn't wanted to go with him willingly, the black Alpheh had used his sister. A wedding with a chieftain when you're nothing but a vagrant... who'd say no? He couldn't let his sister leave on her own, who knew where, with that smug nobleman.

His expression when I appeared in front of him... and when I told him how I felt, late, too late... and when we got laid and I could do, for the first time, what I should have done from the start if I had followed my instincts... He could be one of the Blacks, but he was also mine. As mine as I could aspire him to be, and that wasn't, it could never be enough.

I told him everything about us; I was unable to lie, not to him, because that'd have felt like committing sacrilege. You know? He was mine, but I was wrapped around his finger. I behaved live a stupid newbie, of course. He'd have never betrayed me, but damn, he was his Alpheh, no matter how much he resisted he had the power and the means to drag everything out of him.

When the future Faulkner knew who I was everything exploded. I tried to take him out of there and hide him in a safe place until I could think of something.

I failed miserably, same as always.

One of the Greys killed him. He was seventeen years old.

The old berserker spirit possessed me again, except that I didn't even stop to think in that occasion. So few of us were left... and I didn't care shit. I saw all red, I moved as if I was deep into a river of blood.

When everything was over I stole his corpse. I never told you this before... never told anyone... That was the first time I ever danced.

There was a tradition around that area, so old nobody knew where it had come from, and it was rarely practised. The former sacred place was in fact covered in grass and musk because it hadn't been used for a long time. The deceased's most beloved person would grasp his spirit, make it pass through his body and send it to the afterlife; the path would remain open for both of them to meet on the other side. What did they called it...? A psychopomp. It seemed so appropriated... I was desperate and I'd have done whatever. God...

I placed the body in a hollow carved in the rock, under an upper platform also made of stone, supported by two wide steps. The musicians launched into a soft and repetitive melody. As you may understand, the last thing I wanted to do was jumping around like a freaking drunkard. But I'd do it for him, and somebody up there better be listening to my prayers. Did I have to jump? To spin like a millstone? For Christ's sake that I would; I'd jump like the most agile Masai; I'd spin like the most crazed dervish in history.

And I did. My feet hit the rock and moved in time to the music while the musicians increased the pace more and more. As I jumped on the first rock step I started to lose control. I don't know what was commanding my feet to move so fast; my conscious brain surely wasn't.

When I climbed onto the platform I had to be in a trance. I barely remember anything, except that I was vaguely aware of his body being down there, that I might be pulling his spirit up, that it was possibly with me... and the music... the music that wouldn't stop speeding up... I, spinning so fast that it seemed my flesh would come off my bones...

All of a sudden everything was quiet. All my energies, all I had inside that should have sustained me through that life was emptied. I fell on my knees; it was also the first time I cried.

I followed him soon enough. I couldn't wait like an undead for the last day of the cycle to arrive. Things would change next time, I trusted. He'd be there, somewhere, and I'd get to him sooner.

You see, I was wrong. I was wrong the other two times; Faulkner, that sodding son of a bitch, managed to find him first. Keeping in mind that bastard can't remember his past lives he's amazingly persistent...

I though I was in the right track. After my tremendous awakening I fucking ran in search of him; I came to the Under 111 like sheep, such an appropriate lure, and Faulkner was there, without him. He had always been his partner during the Marked Days, it didn't even cross my mind that this cycle would be different. How could I know he had already made him one of them and was keeping him in a safe place? Cause I tell you that I have no damn idea how he managed this time... He had to find him literally the same day the Alpheh woke up, as it didn't even take me forty-eight hours to get here...

I watched him the Marked Days. I trusted my radar. I kept an eye on Faulkner and the rest of the Blacks for almost two years. And right when I decided to leave the city and keep looking for him abroad, he started to go to the club to dance. What a joke, huh?

But the best... the best...

I come back and I find him with that freaking black uniform and...

I would have killed Faulkner, seriously. Isn't that one of the first things you teach? If you remain inside them for too long when you awaken them, you'll bind them to yourself. Now nobody else can touch him; an old Alpheh trick to guarantee their people's faithfulness, I guess... But no one does it unless he's a bastard. That might have been coherent in the medieval ages and the serfdom time but... how do you show your people they can trust you if the first thing you do is attaching a label on them that brands them as your property? And don't try to tell me it was the mistake of a beginner; I'm sure he was well aware of what he was doing. I know him much better than he knows himself. That's why it pisses me off he's still able to surprise me. And that's why I believe there's someone up there who's having the time of his life at my expense... Am I right, Monitore?

Most likely, the man called Monitore wasn't a man in the true sense of the word. The Alpheh knew he walked among humans because the Brothers had stipulated it that way, and normally he'd only become visible to them. It was a completely neutral figure, that seemed to be satisfied with watching what the chosen ones did on the game board of the current dwellers of the palace.

He was dressed in simple, loose clothes that belonged to another era. His inscrutable face, with black hair and eyebrows, slightly darkened by an incipient Van Dyke beard, used to turn placidly to the speaker as he listened. His very clear eyes were striking on his dark skin. Most definitely he wasn't the best conversationalist, but he was a good listener.

He pretty much did nothing else. Right then he was witnessing Cienfuegos' burst of confidences and not a muscle on his face was moving. They had been meeting for many years since the first time in Italy; he knew the young man just needed to let it all out, and that long monologue was destined for his own ears more than the watcher's ones.

He was also carefully observing the boy, curled up on that windowsill: no shirt; old, worn out black jeans; his coppery-coloured hair partially hiding his face; the perennial cigarette in his hand. He had changed a lot, and it wasn't a simple physical question. He really looked like a different person.

Of course, he didn't answer.

'Don't say anything? Hah, hah, strange, usually such a chatty guy...' mocked the young man, more out of habit than for other reasons. 'Seriously, Monitore, what the heck is all this? Faulkner, Jang and Swift haven't changed at all, and I don't recognise myself in the mirror... why was I born this time with this body? Why am I much smaller? Why am I much younger? Why, when I woke up...? I don't understand shit. Haven't I done my duty through the years? Then I don't know why he hell do I deserve this punishment...'

'The one who fulfils his duty and gives the best of himself has the chance to guide his people to the palace up the sky,' declared Monitore with inexpressive voice.

'Sure, the pyramid...' He smiled bitterly. 'That should be enough, right? That should keep me blind, deaf and mute, as long as I'm able to use a blade... A palace in the sky isn't enough for me, Monitore. A palace in the sky is fine, but I... I never had the chance to enjoy what I had on earth... not even a single time...

Rafael sank his hand into his hair and brushed it out of his face, throwing his head back. The watcher calmly looked at him.

'I can't take it any more. I don't know very well what I'm going to do, though I tell you this is going to be the last one. We won't go through this again. I'll be a charming guy, a bastard, a whore or whatever it takes.'

'But one way or another, I'll change the story.'

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