The Court of the Shining Prince: 1OOO CELet the pale children dance: our time is almost over. Let flute and shamisen wash the sheer air with ornament, and let all the slender children slide carelessly into patterns: the hour is upon us. We are wealthy beyond ancient imaginings of even the most lavish heavens: it is our birthright. We are slender, bred in rooms hung with silk, made venerable by the replicated visions of fine hands. We are without blemish, except in our bellies, where the dried wound still gapes, after the soul's gradual escape. We are not whole, but we are not dying. Rather, we are the pale children of legends who, falling here, built for their posterity homes more graceful than those from which they had been spurned. We cross vacant rooms in intricate rhythms, almost alive. Let us dance. We do not recognise the stranger whose beauty is not our own. From whence does he descend, his hair bright and undesigned, his eyes too clean? He has ridden too many days in the skies to belong here. Let us dance. Outside, strong men gather in the provinces. They are coarse, their fingers twitch.