Hoisting his overcoat above his ankles, he made his way to the edge of the valley, where the colony of Vincula was seated like a sinkhole of foul and forgotten things. Every roof was like a bowed back in prayer before him, the homes clustered frugally together. The walls that had once denoted districts had all crumbled, and the air tasted bitter, an amalgam of chimney smoke from late-night fires and the stench of sewerage. Larger and better houses were lined higher up the valley, along a road marching off into the red-lit horizon towards the southern colonies. Some windows were lit with candle-pots and bottled, buzzing fireflies; in his weariness, they looked comfortable. After days of work and nights of clutching a blade beneath his pillow, his exhaustion was plain to see. When the clouds crackled with an oncoming storm, blazing the sky with light, he didn’t care to be afraid. Whilst Easterners feared another flood and lightning fire, they were not the concerns of a magus.
He was proud of what he was, a pride that was slowly weakening amongst his people. His life might have been simpler and easier if he had been born aosí, but he was made better for his suffering and humbled by his talents. Times being what they were, to come across a magus of his age and knowledge, the kind they called a majihan, was rare. Years ago, when he was nothing more than a neophyte majiri, he couldn’t have imagined being admired for being old. No amount of spells or charms could put an end to the emblems of his age, his white hair or his shrinking back, at least not permanently. His hands seemed oldest of all, luminous with blue veins, as were the corners of his eyes, and now, with both his eyebrows gone and an aquiline nose that frequented him to profile sittings, he was resigned.