Is there a word for the moment you win tug-of-war? When the weight gives, and all that extra rope comes hurtling towards you, how even though you’ve won, you still end up with muddy knees and burns on your hands? Is there a word for that? I wish there was.

Star-watching: at night the stars of Alastor Cluster blaze in profusion. The atmosphere refracts their light; the sky quivers with beams, glitters, and errant flashes. The Trills go out into their gardens with jugs of wine; they name the stars and discusses localities. For the Trills, for almost anyone of Alastor, the night sky was no abstract empyrean, but rather a view across prodigious distances to known places: a vast luminous map.