In my opinion, Father was far too fond of his role as the Herald of Disaster. We would roll into town, he would preach the word of the coming destruction and then we would leave town to see it engulfed by the raging sharoof behind us.
I went through stages as a teenager where I believed that he dragged it behind him like a reluctant dog, that he chose its course by deciding where he was going to go. They were almost as common as the period where I believed that it was just misfortune that the sharoof turned up in places we had just left. The smallest part of the time I believed what father said, that the voices of the sharoof came to him in his dreams and told him where they would go next and when they would get there.
Being the Herald of Disaster made Father important, people hung on his every word. My father was a better talker than a listener. I first began to notice this when my brother told Father that he was going to stay and help defend Caiasto against the ravages of the sharoof. Father didn’t listen when my brother told him his plans. He didn’t listen when I told him my brother wasn’t on the transports. There would still have been time to go back and force then on board and still have gotten away.
Everyone who stayed, died.
My mother started dying too that day. A day at a time. He didn’t listen to her grief and she died of a neglected heart.
But it wasn’t until the day he died, after the dream of the sharoof’s arrival came to me and not him that I knew what he really didn’t listen to. When I found he had gone in the dreamless sleep of eternal night and we were barely able to get everyone out of Nial alive.
I was on the last transport out, I owed them that. The last person in the city, in the last spot on the last transport. That’s when I heard them, the millions of voices in the sharoof.
“Help us, free us, save us!”
And my father never listened.