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- "Take what is not given."
- — Xi Ro
Xi Ro waits in hiding, folded up Krill-small, as the living cloud approaches. It lowers the dangling threads of its feeding tentacles. Each is tipped with light. The light fills Xi Ro's heart with a terrible, aching happiness. The sensation sits heavy inside her, bearable only because it is unwelcome.
This will be the fourth bait star she collects. Xi Ro dreams that when the Helium Drinkers strike next, she will use the bait stars to blind them, then cut them up while they writhe.
She must leap as high as she can to cleave the bait star loose. The tentacle detects a stirring in the air and whips around. If she is slow, it will tear the blade from her hands.
She is not slow. Her sword cuts neatly through glistening, translucent muscle fibers, and with her free hand, she snatches the falling bait star from the air. The tentacle reels away, ascending into the sky like a withdrawn rope.
Xi Ro exults. It is only when she turns around that she sees her elder sister.
Xi Ro leaps and tackles her sister into the dirt.
After, the two of them wait beneath shelter while the stormjoy advances down the coast. Aurash is sullen, but Xi Ro knows it can be fixed.
"Look." Xi Ro holds out the bait star. "We can take joy for ourselves."
Aurash lifts the star by its shriveled stalk, then cups the light in her claws, like a small fire.
Xi Ro shoves her playfully, trying to knock the star loose.
But Aurash holds fast.
- This line refers to the description of the stormjoys in The Book of Sorrows' verse I. Predators Species of Fundament are rendered ecstatic and helpless under the glow of a stormjoy's bait star, and preyed upon.
- This line establishes agency for the Osmium trio, a theme that recurs and subverts throughout their arcs.