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It was written once that the road to creation is long. You know this to be true.

For as long as you can now remember you have walked the ákros, the glacial wastes that begin where the maps of men draw their ends, vast white plains that reach behind and beyond you towards unreachable horizons. Supplies are gone and the cold inescapable, a cold that numbs the face and deadens the feet, a cold that promises a swift and dreamless sleep. You walk.

You walk until the chill has gone deep into your blood, each breath a knife in your throat. You walk until the wind becomes a veil of white, driving into your eyes and fighting each step. You walk until you can walk no further, and then you fall to your knees. Looking up, through the whipping snow you think you glimpsed a thunderhead. You think you crawled; you do not quite remember.

For you are no longer on ice, but on stone, stone that shines darkly and glistens with water. There is something ancient about it, something that betrays a power within its veins.  This is not mere stone; this is the foundation of the world. This is the living rock.

A cool wind is about you, and the smell of rain. Drops begin to fall, and then you are enveloped in a storm, its water warm and sweet. You shed your clothes and rise to your feet as the downpour washes over you, drenching your hair and skin. Though you cannot see before you, you hear a roar in the distance.

Slowly, the rain recedes. The air here is thick with mist and power, saturated with a mageia so dense it makes your skin tingle. You dare not cast, but tentatively wave your hand in a half-incantation; the epaoide flows from your fingers near-unbidden, blossoming before your eyes into something wondrous and terrible, something that turns to glance upon its creator before twisting into the spray. The air is thick with power, here; the powers of creation.

As you walk forward the roar becomes louder, deafening. And then you see it.

A wall of water, broader than a hundred cities and taller than the eye can follow, falling from above the heavens to crash into the dark and churning sea beneath it.  This is it – the beginning of the oceans, the fount that birthed the nine seas. No, it is more. These are the very waters of creation. This is the beginning of life, of the world. This is the beginning of all things. You look below and see waves, waves that would dwarf mountains, moving in immense surges to crash upon the rock beneath you. The sound of their breaking is that of a thousand thunderclaps; it is the heartbeat of creation. It is the sound of the breaking of the world, and if there is pain in that sound it is the pain of birth, timeless and unending.

The spray of the ocean blows in your face and drips from your hair, sweet and cold, the water of life. You spread your arms, open your mouth. You wish to drink it all, to spend an eternity in this place.

You cannot.

Slowly, you turn back.

Slowly, the roar recedes. The rain is kinder on the return journey, and the winds are at your back.

There is no path to return but the one you took to arrive.

There is no path but the long road.

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