Highlights for The Stone Sky

Well, some worlds are built on a fault line of pain, held up by nightmares. Don’t lament when those worlds fall. Rage that they were built doomed in the first place.

He has given up some of who he was, but what remains is still an artist of terror. If he has seen fit to share the secrets of his artistry with them, they’re lucky. She hopes they appreciate it.

“Would’ve been nice if we could’ve all had normal, of course, but not enough people wanted to share. So now we all burn.”

The fires within the earth are nothing to what you’re feeling right now, failed mother that you are.

But there are none so frightened, or so strange in their fear, as conquerors. They conjure phantoms endlessly, terrified that their victims will someday do back what was done to them—even if, in truth, their victims couldn’t care less about such pettiness and have moved on. Conquerors live in dread of the day when they are shown to be, not superior, but simply lucky.

This was what made them not the same kind of human as everyone else. Eventually: not as human as everyone else. Finally: not human at all.

Hjarka Leadership Castrima, who was taught from an early age to kill the few so the many might live, only touches her shoulder and says, “You’ll do what you have to do.”

For some crimes, there is no fitting justice—only reparation. So for every iota of life siphoned from beneath the Earth’s skin, the Earth has dragged a million human remnants into its heart.

You will do this—make her see these things, make yourself face it again, because this is the whole truth of what orogenes are. The Stillness fears your kind for good reason, true. Yet it should also revere your kind for good reason, and it has chosen to do only one of these things.

But that’s no different from what mothers have had to do since the dawn of time: sacrifice the present, in hopes of a better future. If the sacrifice this time has been harder than most … Fine. So be it.

What follows won’t be good, but it’ll be bad for everyone—rich and poor, Equatorials and commless, Sanzeds and Arctics, now they’ll all know. Every season is the Season for us. The apocalypse that never ends. They could’ve chosen a different kind of equality. We could’ve all been safe and comfortable together, surviving together, but they didn’t want that. Now nobody gets to be safe. Maybe that’s what it will take for them to finally realize things have to change.

We will have set her free … to struggle for survival along with everyone else. But that is better than the illusion of safety in a gilded cage, is it not?

Remember, too, that the Earth does not fully understand us. It looks upon human beings and sees short-lived, fragile creatures, puzzlingly detached in substance and awareness from the planet on which their lives depend, who do not understand the harm they tried to do—perhaps because they are so short-lived and fragile and detached.

“They’re not going to choose anything different.”

“They will if you make them.”

She’s wiser than you, and does not balk at the notion of forcing people to be decent to each other.

There is always loss, with change.

Then you say, “I want the world to be better.”

I have never regretted more my inability to leap into the air and whoop for joy.

Instead, I transit to you, with one hand proffered. “Then let’s go make it better.”

You look amused. It’s you. It’s truly you. “Just like that?”

“It might take some time.”

“I don’t think I’m very patient.” But you take my hand.

Don’t be patient. Don’t ever be. This is the way a new world begins.

“Neither am I,” I say. “So let’s get to it.”

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