Chapter 8

Osiris contemplates the universe.

Strand curls between his fingers, a gentle presence, shape shifting but not changing. A helix—a careful knot, like those that used to be artwork—a braid. Always strands, always a structure that creates strength from fragility.

He is so aware of the beat of his heart, in ways he never used to be. It shudders in his chest, aching but resolute.

He knows where the closest people are—the Guardian, obvious, within eyesight and hovering fretfully just in case Osiris slips. Nimbus, further away but tangible, probably surveying the city outside. And there's a pouka he can't quite see somewhere behind him, making eddies in the flow of the Strand as if it can dive into and out of that just as well as water or air.

It would be so easy to close his hand, to take hold of that which he touches. He does not. He thinks about it—lets his fingers curl softly—holds there as the humming cords of the world's loom shiver around him.

Existence flows. It is not a stagnant thing, one snapshot in time. In these connections, there is always motion, and all things are swept away in time, good and bad. No wonder Strand unravels, when it is given half a chance to do so; as far as it is concerned—if it has any sentience at all—everything is simply part of the river, a momentary curve or splash.

Osiris has known the vastness of the Infinite Forest and the great span of their solar system, and it is only here, with a tiny nascent spiral of the cosmic weft in his hand, that he feels small.

And yet: he knows also that he is not alone. A hundred hundred steady threads weave together, pulling this way and that, flowing and twisting and always part of the greater whole.

He should be taking notes. Expanding the Vanguard's understanding of Darkness, simplifying the steps of learning Strand for Guardians new to paracausality.

But for a moment, Osiris is at peace.