ORRA “Into the Wind” C40 (Inner Islands)

We sit with our backs to the trunk of the broad oak and breakfast quickly in the twilight, before night falls and we must move again. “The Fog Has a White Tongue” (side A) and we feel it begin to obscure us from prying eyes in the near distance. We two are alone, and we have been for almost a month now. It’s difficult to tell – determining time has become a dismal art at best, and the sun and moon start and stop in the sky seemingly at random. We don’t know why the world has started to shift its relationship to us; we only know that we may be the only ones of our kind left, and as such may be the only ones that can stop it.

And we’re being followed. We don’t know by what.

The forests hide us in the day, and we sleep when we can. As soon as it is dark, the path beckons, and we douse our small fire and remove any sign of our passing. The combination of the fog and the gathering dusk allows us greater freedom of travel, but we must take care not to veer from the path. We numbered three once, but we no longer do – we lost a companion on the wild steppe before we came to the forest; he simply disappeared in the night without a sound. We dare not stray now – we have come too far. The path continues on.

And then the river meets us. It is wide – we can’t see the other side, but the fog obscures anything more than ten feet in front of us. A dinghy is moored to a small dock, and we must risk it – we don’t know how wide the river is, and we may not be able to ford it or cross it in any other way. An oil lantern hangs next to it, and surprisingly ignites on the first try. We throw our packs in the boat and cast off, rowing slowly and carefully in the evening silence. “The Water Is Black That Licks the Boat” (side B). Perhaps this crossing will throw our pursuer off our scent. Likely not, though – it has followed us across greater obstacles than this.

As my companion rows, I drift into uneasy sleep. I do not dream, my rest will be short. Indeed, I’m awakened by thunder in the distance – it’s miles away, perhaps behind a mountain. But we still can’t see, and the night has deepened. The fog persists. The river is wide. We cannot know when the shore will approach. We must be watchful.

(Pro-dubbed cassettes come in clear cases with full-color 3-panel J-cards. Orra is Jennifer Williams and Sean Conrad. “The long untold night between scenes of folklore, and the breath and ridged back of elements unseen.”)

--Ryan Masteller