The great old ones, wise but fierce, may live as long as a month. But the young ones, the small ones, the angry ones, they live only minutes or hours. And some are even more ephemeral, a life of seconds in an alleyway or a minute in the dust of a rutted plain.

They speak to each other, using the language of the air, of the spheres, and the resonance of the matter with which they interact. Few can hear these messages; fewer still can understand them. and, it must be said, what they speak of, what the great old ones leave lingering in the molecules of the air for their younger successors, is often dire for those of our kind.

Their primary concern is to leave a mark on the world: to part waves, to move clouds, to scour hillsides, to uproot trees. The more of a mark one makes, relative to its lifespan and abilities, the more its peers consider it a success. And, much as we cannot understand them, they cannot understand us. They see no distinction between a forest and a town, no line between a felled tree and a human life extinguished. To them, matter is matter and its rearrangement is the only sign they can leave of their brief existences.

Scant comfort that must be, though, to those who find themselves in the path of their destructive song.

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