Morgan lay blinking in the predawn glow. He'd skipped again, involuntarily jumping from one place and time to another place and time several days or weeks later. It was part of the way he'd damaged his future while working his past. It was all right though, they'd grown used to it.

Morgan felt Seth coming. He was still several miles away, climbing the steep hillside. He reached out and touched him in greeting and then continued outward to check the area. It was a habit really, he hadn't found any structural damage anywhere in a very long time.

Far below him the school was being rebuilt. War had come through here not too long ago and the school always fared fairly well through such things. The old house, hidden in a hillside was still there, and sometimes they stayed there for a while. It was good to have somewhere to call home even if you were almost never there. He lay on a bed of solid rock that shifted and conformed to his body in a way unique to his affinity with stone. This was one of his favorite places and it was kept private for him by a certain twisting of perceptions he'd endowed it with. He dipped into the monolith behind him and let memories wash over him. He'd been saving his thoughts to that very stone for a long time, like a diary. A lot of happy things in his life waited quietly in the rock, but so many sad things too. He didn't want to forget any of them.

The year they had spent tracking down Seth's children. Five sons and Seven daughters. He'd given Seth a full portion of playful grief about spreading his seed out so much before they'd met. Shiea's children, three of the most beautiful little gifts a god-father could receive. Mieka's passing and then Liane. Shiea with her grandchildren and great grandchildren at her centennial. Finally her passing at one hundred and nineteen years. His blood family quietly persisting in the northern mountains, growing closer to the stone each generation until they were known across the realm as the best human iron, stone, and jewel workers that ever lived.

For the first few generations they'd made it to every birth, wedding and funeral in all three bloodlines, but the family lines spread and they'd become something of an uncomfortable family legend, so they'd stopped. Now, when they had the chance they'd go in disguise to see one of their family. Seth's direct line was almost impossible to find but every now and again they'd hear of someone out on the margins who had some measure of his peculiar resistance and they make the trip to meet them.

They were both legends despite their best attempts to keep from the public eye.

The generations weighed heavy on Morgan sometimes. Twenty seven lifetimes so far. Five centuries. Nobody should really live that long, but they'd had work to do, chasing out the kinks of the Great Long Night. That Winterdark was still spoken of in embellished stories and bardic tails. Winterdark from Ease to Draw had lasted just under two hundred and eight hours. Eight and three quarter days for people of every species to sit in fear waiting for anything to tell them whether there would ever come a dawn again. There were a lot of fantastic tales about that night, but four of the six people who knew the truth had taken it to their graves.

Raiolal and Carteher. Now there was a mystery. They'd escaped from the inattentive captivity of their guards and months later Seth and Morgan had found them heading for the margins as if driven there. They'd shared a night and their stories with them and then the next morning they had left. Gone without a trace before Morgan and Seth had woken. Neither ever returned home. Morgan suspected they'd sought out the mist and gone wilding to only-the-Emperor-knows where.

Seth was much closer now and Morgan bespoke him on the intimate mode. “What have you been doing?”

Seth didn't stop climbing he just thought back “I've been in disguise, playing master of hounds to Castle Rieverace. They've been toying with thoughts of reopening the feud with the Merfolk of Yievien Sound. I've just been tossing in a few choice words here and there to keep the more-level heads in charge.”

“You're going to get yourself killed again.”

“It happens.”

“And it's very annoying to those of us who don't have the luxury.”

Of course if Morgan were to risk his hide Seth would be scolding him like a worrisome maiden aunt, even if neither of them were sure what exactly it would take to really risk his hide at this point. He'd an undeniable knack for surviving the unsurvivable.

As to Seth's occasional death and rebirth, Morgan had never been able to puzzle out the spell Korane had inked into his skin. Some mysteries she'd never written down. The only progress he'd made with the thing was cosmetic. He'd learned to bring out new skill-marks and such. Very puzzling. His best take was that as long as Seth had someone to come back to, and didn't get hacked up too bad or too often, he could go on indefinitely. He wondered if she'd somehow managed a good look into the future. Seth's ink made him the perfect companion to a truly long-lived mage like himself.

Maybe not though, the ink hadn't given him longevity. That had come from their time together as one man. They'd shared a lot of power in a very short period of time and the agelessness of Magery had taken root in Seth's body.

Mysteries for another time, if ever.

“Wake up!” Seth said in his head. “And what have you been doing?”

“I been dreaming with the Emperor. A new land is rising at the margins. An archipelago of mangrove islands and stony outcroppings. Some kind of space-fairing amphibians I think. I'm not sure what they may be running from or why they need sanctuary within the realm...”

“We should go and see.” This time Seth said it aloud.

Morgan never got tired of looking at Seth. Well, sometimes he made him go away for a couple of months when he was feeling fed up with him, but he always felt joy at his return. Perfect white skin with its ever growing ponds of skill marks on back, chest, arms, and legs. Black hair. Powder blue eyes. Cording muscles rippling with animal power. He was unchanged, or perhaps grown a bit. When he met your eyes with his you could feel the great contented stillness of centuries in that gaze, if he let you. And of course that big stupid grin he always had for Morgan.

Morgan feared he was not standing up to time half so well. His body was fine and unchanged. Physically he was strong and healthy and young but he didn't always feel vital. Sometimes life drained him nearly away to nothing.

“Are you tired?” Morgan asked distantly.

“No, I love to climb out here, it makes me feel a part of everything.”

It did exactly that, Morgan knew, and perhaps that was what he was missing himself, “... not what I meant.”

Seth's eyes looked at Morgan with their deepest aspect. “If you're really tired we could go...”

Morgan looked out at the horizon, his talent letting him see across the tens of thousands of miles to where the first bits of rock were emerging from the sea and the mist, the place where the new land would be. “No, There is still more in this life that needs to be seen too.”

“Good!” Seth said aloud as Morgan felt his mind fill with a playful-puppy sending from Seth. “You should ride with me! In three days it's the First of Fastings!”

Their anniversary.

“It's exactly five hundred years, I have something special planned.” Seth said elusively.

Seth reached up to touch the shining steel collar he wore. The gesture wasn't necessary. Morgan had put the collar on him on their centennial as a gift and it worked by thought alone. He just seemed to like to touch it when he used it. Morgan felt his power flow out through the mated ring around his own neck. With that power Seth could change his body to whatever form he wanted. A necessary thing to let him go out among people. In his natural form nobody ever forgot seeing him. The legend of the man was useful, but a legend can't have a life. The gift of it was more than just a tool though, it was a favorite toy he loved to play with.

Where Seth had been there was now a blur touched by the outer chaos. His form, flickering and shifting, hinted different creatures..

“Run with me! You are always down after you dream with the Emperor. Now come wake to the world again!”

Morgan opened himself to Seth's intent and felt his own form become uncertain. Seth plunged down the rocky slope, Morgan dragged, then pulled, then lifted into the aimless flight.

Morgan's own wild shape began to find the rhythm. In his mind he could feel Seth reveling in the animal strength and passions the shape lent him. The bright lust for everything life held poured up through him and washed Morgan clean of his melancholy. Soon he was straining to match Seth, even daring him, urging him to go faster. Better still their sharing was full of respect and lust and love for each other. This was everything. The secret that still made life worth it.

Then he recognized their shape, feeling it's echo from the land and sky. Unsure whether they ran or flew, Morgan released his stress. He lost it to the thundering hooves of the charge, and anticipation for their unbounded future.

A thought bubbled up from Seth's mind. “I love you... man.”

Morgan snickered to himself over an old name bestowed by a beloved child, and thought back to his soulmate, “I love you too... horsey...”