Topic: Recently, near Fairhaven...

A sweltering Lakeland breeze grazed the landscape. The Tryker lying on his back in the high grass twitched. His nose wrinkled and his hand slowly, erratically waved at something in front of his face.

It was hard to tell his age. He had the weathered and grimy look of a sap wretch but not the telltale gauntness or pallor of the booster addict. As he dreamed, the writhing of neglected muscles under the thickened, olive skin of his naked torso betrayed past haleness which oddly contrasted the bloated sap-belly where he rested his hands.

He moaned, clearly plagued by his dreams. His right hand convulsively scrabbled at his side, searching for the comforting familiarity of a sap flask.

The wind swelled. Again, the hand rose to wave at the air in front of his flushed nose. Suddenly, it jerked and closed over the grimacing face. A red-rimmed eye popped open, followed blithely by its counterpart.

-- "Ow! Wha'! Who...?"

The voice trailed off, finding no target for its bile. The grass swayed innocently; the water lapped idly at the beach; bodoc and yubos grazed in the distance; fireflies hovered above.

No, someone realised -- a dim flicker of consciousness rising through the billowing fog of a binge which half-forgotten onset seemed to have been in another lifetime -- no, not fireflies; firefly... and a strange one at that. The quicker eye squinted.

-- "What're you'en?"

The words came out stumbling, as if unsure if they were a sentence or a single, droning syllable. The voice sounded painfully hoarse. The homin in the grass sat up unsteadily and frowned as if pausing to listen, face puckering comically.

-- "Yeah. Used t'be m'name. Wha's a... a... What're you doin' tossin't around?"

Again, a pause.

-- "Hah! Bad sap, bad sap! I thought I's awake but I's dreamin' still!"

For a moment a lilting, soft voice broke through the croaking drawl and the words came out like the memory of a half-lost nursery rhyme. The face briefly took on a different, lighter cast, then folded into itself as the homin again frowned.

-- "Chelnaa's dead. Long dead. Cut up by a bunch'a kitin. Wasn't'nough left'o'm to bury."

The firefly fluttered impatiently.

-- "Kami? Li'l'demons. Can'trust'em. Why'd they...?"

As if in explanation, the glowing little creature described an arc in the air and tentatively settled on the homin's shoulder.

-- "...but you're... if you're... why me? I don'd'serve..."

The homin cocked his head, a strange lucidity clearing his haggard eyes. After a little while, he mumbled something, then seemed to listen again.

Clouds gathered. A raindrop fell, then several. The grazing animals sought shelter. In the building rain, a solitary Tryker sat in a field, staring intently at the firefly he sheltered in his trembling, cupped hands.