The Stream's Secret
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All waves must break, as they tumble and roll to smash upon the shore,
And so will I break, A lone wanderer alone upon the breakers of the soul.
What have you done to me?

Shem Shaket, Secret Seeker of Sodot, stopped and listened.

Never was I truly happy, not now, not before,
But I could pretend once, not now, never more
With true knowing, you destroyed me.

Interesting. Very interesting indeed. A soft smile on his wind-weathered face, Shem followed the soft murmurer of the voice, which he knew only he could hear. A secret, hidden in the heart of this forsaken wilderness. How odd.

Much as I would have liked to call you my love, you never were, nor any other.
For every glint of warmth and truth, I did so skillfully smother.
Was there ever any hope for me?

The starless night and the dusty wind of the plains made it difficult for Shem to see anything beyond a few steps, but he didn't need his sight. For a Secret Seeker, the voice of an unknown revelation was like the sound of a clarion call, clear and vivid even in the heart of emptiness. As he listened, the smile disappeared from his face. Much as the thought of a new secret to add to his collection thrilled him, this one's melancholy could not be denied. As he carefully made his way through a thicket of low, hardened Virbrush trees, he began to hum under his breath, his rhyme following a distant tune, the secret's soft, underlying music.

Twas not your fault it ended thus, that with a sigh I lost my heart.
I was too craven to make you know. My doom was sealed from very start.
There was never any hope for me.

Close now, very close. Ducking beneath the branches of an ancient Plain's Sentry, Shem began searching the leaf-covered floor for the telltale marks of a wayward secret. Soon, he found a trail, a soft glow like a lantern seen through heavy rain, leading towards a small shallow creek to the west. The murmur continued.

As I lie here, and feel my bones poking through decrepit skin, I wonder,
Are you happy where you are, in the west, where giants dream and ponder?
I hope you don't remember me.

And here it was. Plunging his long fingers into the icy waters of the shallow stream, Shem carefully picked up a tiny, colorful glass orb, dry even for its time in the water, shimmering in the evening air.

"Now what are you doing here, little one? So far from home, from any home at all. A lonely place for a lonely thought."

The secret did not reply. It began repeating itself now, forever lost in a maze of its own echos. Sighing, Shem brought the glass orb to his forehead and pressed. The orb's shimmer grew stronger, becoming a glow, a shining, a blinding flash of multicolored light. The secret's low whisper slowly faded, its essence joining the vast library of its brethren in Shem's vaulted mind. A sad, small secret such as it was, Shem appointed it a place among the secrets of field mice, of buzzing insects, and of song birds. A less careful Seeker might have forced it to rest between the secrets of other lovers, but Shem knew better. Misery breeds misery, even among secrets. A lesson Shem would not soon forget.

All waves must break, as they tumble and roll to smash upon the shore,
And so will I break, A lone wanderer alone upon the breakers of the soul.
What have you done to me?

The echo sounded in Shem's head, joining the discordant choir of its kin, the riotous cacophony of pleas, threats and promises that Shem called his library. He was used to it by now. Such was the price of power. Shouldering his light traveling pack, Shem made his way out of the shaded grove and back to the plains road, where he continued on his way to the east, towards the mountains. There, if the Lady of Lore smiled upon him, he would find the way to the only library he knew that surpassed his own. He had a deposit to make, and secrets to seek. Always more secrets to seek.

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