to make a mockery of water to a man born thirsty
by Keren Ziv

If nothing else, the snow keeps the bodies fresh. - Words of Maud'dib
by Princess Irulan

People from a world without water, dying in its cold and clear abundance, go through the ritual of saving the body's moisture. The Maud'dib watches each of these pointless exercises as a punishment to himself. These are his men and women, his brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers, though none are his children, not now, not with Chani wasted as she is, and certainly not with that pitiful princess as a wife.

For a folk so used to the brutal temperament of the desert, it seems an irony to find them perishing not of the symptoms of the melange-deprived but from the extremity with which they've never had chance to even dare imagine: freezing, biting wind; bitter and sharp storms of not sand but rime. Water that falls from the sky with the consistency and mercilessness of an Arrakeen storm is their downfall, is their mockery.

The little ones were given the highest estimate in extended existence: their short-lived addiction to the spice provided hope that withdrawal would not be so cruel to their tender bodies. Instead, they shrivel up in the cold like tiny old women, like the driest of the lowest Fremen, with any amount of water at their fingertips, waiting. It seems impossible to these men of the sand that so much dampness brings so much death.

Not even the tiny Reverend Mother, the St. Alia-of-the-Knives of his dreams, of his prescience, of his own mother's womb, can overcome the obstacles. She is withered and blue before he sees the path upon which she lies, and he nearly sighs at the innocence that the tiny thing had at last discovered.

Not one person gives water to the dead, for who knows how long this hoarfrost world will last? And if there be no water tomorrow, then that is moisture wasted, and one will have to do without. Stillsuits do not fall into disrepair, and the Fremen fill their hours with work on them with fingers stiff from cold.

He's brought them here on this pilgrimage for what? Obviously for little else but destruction of their lineage. These are desert men: skin pulled tight over muscle over bones, fluid only in movements, never a one accused of being water-fat. The women are bred of the aridity of Arrakis, have thin hipbones jutting out beneath leather, impermeable skin.

And so Usul watches his sietch die before him. This? -- this is what his mother bred him for? The Lady Jessica holds the boy Paul in her arms as the people they had promised to save become oversaturated with their ambrosia. The ones he had committed to jihad against his fondest wishes (yet with his strongest vanities), burn away in the frost. They thought the eyes would fade from blue-in-blue little by little. Instead, lips turn color to match.


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