Octavius scoffed. What he just read could only be interpreted as a writer's final strokes before madness. The council, gathered in their circular marble hall on the hill at the edge of town, agreed. With Octavius' vote, it was final; long ago they agreed that to cast out one of their own required unanimity among the other eleven.

August, flag-maker, at night stole aboard her sloop and struck out toward the dark horizon. She sailed for the cliffs at the top of the world, and when she saw land she lit two lanterns and hung them from either side of the yardarm. Soon a light appeared on shore.

The wanderer held the torch aloft to bring the ship in past the rocks. The woman climbed onto the shore and adjusted her dress as she came forward through the night breeze and into the light. Her hair was as dark as her eyes. The wanderer held a blade wrapped in red cloth out to her, and she took and inspected it. Grimly satisfied, she produced a leather pouch and placed it in the wanderer's open palm. He reached within, removing and holding the contents up to the light: a seed. With a turn of his cape, the wanderer left the woman to the darkness of the beach and the lapping of waves against the hull.

Octavius did not wake the next morning. The sun stayed just below the horizon, pinned there by the dagger through his neck. The marble court flooded with the blood of the twelve. The oceans were red in the halted light of an almost-morning. And soon the sky itself began to lose its luster, and with a great wind came a great darkness. It became impossible to shelter a candle from the storm. The world was ended.

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