I shook my head, marveling. “But that’s impossible. The Letherium machines erase those memories. That’s one of the conditions of becoming Faith to start with – you forget your first forty years of life.”
“There is no forgetting, and nothing is erased.” He gestured toward the clouded heavens, just as the heavy snow and winds reached our wood at last. “There is only that which is obscured.”
I raised my voice over the sighing of the branches. “So the White Swarm helped you remember?”
He shook his head again. “It was the nightwind. Did you think yourself the only battlefield?”
I shouted over a gust. “Who are these men? Where do they come from? They weren’t in the city, or you wouldn’t have sent those to the Temple. Who are they?”
“Who are you?”
“An orphan,” I said. “Why won’t you answer me?”
“Because you need only ask yourself.”
I squinted, then, and determined that I should know one thing at least. “You know what’s happening. Or at least you know more than me, though we woke in the same sarcophagus. Tell me, Jerem Cozak: why do the machines of the White Swarm not speak to me, as they do to you?”
He shrugged. “I am the command they send. I am your question in return. My heart is calm and clear, and I am more within myself than you are within yourself. Again I tell you, ask yourself.” And with that, he turned and walked away, talking to the men who tended to the fires.
I was unfurling my bedroll one-handed when Marcus came to see me, as short and thick and relentless as all the rest. They are strangely uniform, the Never-born. The men and women of my city always varied greatly in height and weight and build. But the Never-born each remind me of the squat, inexhaustible machines that once pumped water from the river up into the Temple grounds.