Chapter II

Chapter II

A Chapter by VassD
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Some questions are answered, and a few more are raised. We meet new characters Zeph and Aryn.

"
Kaili!" She buried her face in her arms, childishly refusing to answer. Go away! she thought, wanting to do nothing more than stay there and cry in peace. 

Her father continued to call out, and she tried to block out his shouted apologies. She didn't care�"that is, she told herself not to care. It didn't matter what he said or why he said it. All that mattered was that he hadn't defended her. Now that that bridge was crossed, there was no way Fredricka would ever let him back out. She was leaving.

"Kaili, I'm sorry! I swear, I'll explain everything, just please let me in!" She heard the tears in his voice, and she realized that he had known the instant he had spoken that it would hurt her. She remembered the fearful look in his eyes when he had spoken. Something had made him say that, but that didn't mean it hadn't torn him apart to see the effect. 

She couldn't do this to him.

Staggering to her feet, Kaili blindly made her way to the door where she pulled it open to her father's tear-streaked face. She stumbled over the threshold, tripping slightly, but she was caught by her father's strong arms. 

They stayed like that for a moment, just holding each other, letting the tears slide down their cheeks. Standing like this, she could almost forget. Almost.

Backing away, she drew in a ragged, yet steadying, breath. "You said you would explain. So, explain."

She forced herself to clear her face. As much as she hated it, she needed to hear this, and emotions weren't meant for explanations. 

She watched as her father ran a hand over his face, trying and failing to compose himself. His eyes jumped around from sight to sight, and she knew he was looking for a believable lie. But why?

"Kaili…you…you're mother and I…she wanted you…to…study abroad, like she did…Fredricka, she knows, I…I told her�"" He stopped at the look of annoyance mixed with righteous anger that ran rampant across her face.

"You know you were never a good liar, Dad. Least of all to me. I can always tell. So cut the crap and tell me the truth." She was having the worst day of her life, and he was not helping. For once, she wanted to have some semblance of control over her life. 

Alec stared at his daughter, and finally, he was able to clearly see the scared, frightened, scared little girl that had inhabited his angel ever since her mother was ripped from them. Kaili had always kept such a strong mask up that he was rarely able to see through it to the true child within. He knew that it was there, but it was moments like these when he was struck with just how much everything he had done�"had had to do�"had hurt her. 

She was right. 

For once, he had to tell her the truth. All of the truth.

Closing his eyes, he was able to see his family as it had been: mother, father, daughter. He remembered the promises he had made to his wife�"to Kaili's mother�"that had orchestrated this moment. Oh, how he wished he hadn't had to make them. 

Yet, how could he have not?

Taking a deep breath, he started, in a shuddering, halting voice. But all the same, it was a truthful voice. "Kaili, I don't know everything myself. Before your mother died, she told me things…things I still don't understand completely. She told me that eventually, the day would come that you would have to leave. She didn't tell me why, she didn't tell me when, she just told me I couldn't try to stop you." Before Kaili could break in, he stared at her, eyes pleading. "I don't know if you remember that look that your mother had, the one that left no room for disagreement or disobedience. I couldn't have said no if I wanted to." Her eyes dropped, knowing he spoke honestly. 

"Kaili, you're all I have left. Do you think I would let you go so easily?" Looking up into his eyes, she saw his heart. It was breaking, and she couldn't let herself strike the final blow. Her mother had loved her�"this she knew without a doubt. She had her reasons for everything, and it had always turned out for the best. 

This would be no different.

She just had to believe.

Reaching out to her father, she hugged him tightly, and he clung to her as would a drowning man to his only hope of survival. She was all he had left. And he was all she had. 

Leaning on each other, they began walking away from the crypt, drawing support one from the other. As though through some kind of unspoken agreement, they began walking towards the pens that held the flying squirrels. Alec placed his hand gently on her head, holding it to his shoulder as he walked. The tears that she had shed in the crypt now seemed a sad, vaguely distant memory. Staring at the ground, she let her father guide her towards the pens. She let herself pretend that this was no different from any of the rides they had taken throughout the course of her life, let herself forget that when the sun set tomorrow, she would be gone. She let her self be a little girl for a few simple hours as they unhitched Zee and Rel, the old steel-grey squirrel that belonged to Alec, and took off into the open sky. They let each other laugh as they had races through the darkening twilight sky. Complex acrobatics wove patterns in the sky, connecting imaginary star-lit dots in a child's game that had always meant all would be alright, that nothing could possible go wrong as long as they could get to the next point before the other caught up. 

They let each other pretend. 


.:*:.:*:.:*:.


The sound of heartbeats and laughter slowly fading away intermingled with the peaceful symphony of the night, dancing to the gentle hum of crickets and cicadas, the distant sounds of nocturnal beasts echoing from the darkening tree tops.

They strolled through the yard towards the house, the silence of the night their only companion. Kaili stared at the ground, letting the long, smooth blades of grass brush at her bare feet. She had long since kicked off her shoes, holding them loosely in her otherwise limp hand. She walked automatically in the quickly fading twilight, her father's arm holding her to a steady course, leading her to the warm glow in the distance, gentle yellow lights spilling from the many windows of the family home. Even staring at the ground that passed beneath her feet, she could see it, the light quietly flowing on the edges of her vision, elongating the shadows that the grass blades threw against her legs. The light could be seen from anywhere on the massive, tree-filled estate, even if only one room was lit. When she was younger, and her mother had still been alive, Destinæ had told her to look for the light if she ever got lost. "Watch for it, little Kaili," she had said. "The light will always lead you home."

They reached the porch, a single crystalline light hanging above the door, lending a bluish hue to the otherwise yellowish light. Kaili looked around her, not wanting to forget a single detail, no matter how small. Her eyes drank in the sight of the colorful rocks cemented into a carefully planned mosaic surrounding the door that Destinæ had crafted when Kaili was two. At the base of the design were two sets of hand prints, one inside the other: the petite, slender hands of Destinæ and tiny, chubby hands of a young Kaili. The flower beds to either side of the door claimed her attention next, with white rose bushes and gentle pink azaleas just closing for the night, and the ethereal moon-blossoms that only grew in the hills of hZeriphanth spreading their petals in the darkness. The carefully crafted windows with delicately frosted designed that graced every room in the house. 

Even as her eyes glided over the familiar wood, she knew she could never forget this place. In her mind's eye, she filled in the details that the dark of night obscured. This place would forever live in her memory. 

This… was her home.

When they walked in the door, Kaili made to walk towards the stairs that led to her bedroom, only to stop in confusion as Alec pulled her to a stop. In answer to her questioning gaze, he said, guiding her towards his study, "There's something I have to show you."

Kaili looked around the familiar room as they enter, taking notice of everything and adding it to her mental gallery of home. Everything was a she remembered. The dark, stained wood walls that hung with drawings and pictures of his home and family. Neatly arrange stacks of paper and deftly organized shelves and drawers holding the daily information of the family estate. A jar of pens creatively decorated by a young Kaili, covered in beautiful stars and shimmering moons. Everything was just as it always had been; one more thing that would always stay in her mind, perfect and pristine as it was at this moment.

Wait…

Something was different. 

One of the drawers in the polished mahogany desk was open slightly. This wasn't strange in and of itself, but the drawer in question had been locked tight for as long as Kaili could remember. She looked around, wondering if there was anything else out of place. 

Alec moved forward and reached his hands into the open drawer. Straightening up, he turned back to Kaili with the most beautifully crafted box she had ever seen. It was the color of white marble, but it was grained like wood. Even stranger was the fact that it seemed like it had been shaped by melting the material and then subtly changing its form, more like blown glass than anything else. In the front there was a clasp that looked to be made of silver. The odd thing was that there wasn't a seam anywhere on the clasp. There was an obvious split in the box, the two halves of the container meeting like the pages in a book, but the silver clasp at the front was solid, without an imperfection to be seen. On the top of the box, there was a round inlaid dial, almost like a clock face. Instead of numbers, though, there were symbols, like the one that had been everywhere in the memory that was not a memory. In fact, the first symbol, lying just past an intricate bronze pointer, was the one that had reminded her of home.

She looked up into her father's eyes, the question obvious on her face. Alec looked down and the object in his hands, a look of tenderness and longing dancing just behind his eyes. "When I met your mother, she gave me this. She didn't tell me what it was. She just said it was important. When you were born, she told me that one day, I would have to give it to you. When she…" His voice twisted and cracked slightly. "When she got sick, she said that she…that she wasn't going to live much longer." Tears dropped from his eyes, landing on the marbled surface of the box. "She said that after she was gone, you would have to leave here. The box would open and tell me where to send you." Alec looked up. "While you were out today, I was working and I heard a chime come from the drawer where I kept the box. I pulled it out, and the dial on the top had turned a bit. I was able to open it, and there was a letter from your mother sitting on top." He looked Kaili squarely in the eye, swallowing hard but keeping an iron resolve steady in his gaze. "She said that you would find what you needed to do what you must in Terigmalthn. I showed the letter to Fredricka, and she suggested the school that her brother-in-law owned. It's a good school, and it's right where your mother said you should be. 

"Now do you understand why?"

Kaili looked down, feeling guilty for the way she had treated her father. Her mother had always told her of far away places, taught her histories and customs. Back then it had seemed like a game, but now she realized that Destinæ had been preparing her for this journey. Bringing her gaze back up to meet her father's, she nodded. Yes. She understood. It didn't necessarily make sense, but she understood. 

Alec handed her the box, and when her fingers touched the smooth, polished surface, there was a single, clear chime that rang softly from the box. The dial turned slightly, and the bronze pointer was lined up with the symbol that had been in her memory that was not a memory. The clasp swirled like quicksilver and split, leaving a seam as perfect as if it had always been there. Kaili, slightly stunned but deciding not to dwell on it, made to open the lid, but Alec's hand on top of her own stopped her. 

"I don't want Ty and Lizzie to see this. To them, you're just going away to a different school. Nothing dramatic, nothing traumatizing. Just normal life." Kaili nodded. Her two half siblings, Tyson and Elizabeth, were several years younger than her. Tyson was only eight and Lizzie was just six. While Kaili did not get along with her step siblings at all, she loved Ty and Lizzie with all her heart. They were the very definition of innocence, and she never cried in front of them. No, she would not show them the box that had sent her away. To them, it would just be normal.

Kaili and Alec walked up the stairs and set about packing everything that was dear and precious to Kaili into boxes. They put most of her clothes and personal belongings in larger crates that would be sent ahead with a team of adult squirrels that were strong enough to act as pack animals. They filled a knapsack with the things that she would need for the trip, and placed the box, as well as the pictures of Destinæ, into a white cloth sack that they put safely in the bottom of the knapsack.

That night as Kaili lay in her bed, she looked at the bare walls of her room. Even though they still bore the carefully painted designs of sun dappled forests that her mother had placed there so long ago, they seemed empty. Alone. Somehow, she knew something had changed. Her mother had told Alec that she would find what she needed to do what she must. While this was still her home, and would always be a haven for her, she was no longer… a part of this place, although it was still a part of her. She was needed somewhere else, and she would go, if only to find out why.


.:*:.:*:.:*:.


It was time again. 

Zephyrious stepped off the wind path he had ridden from the Aethyr Temple and onto the familiar worn dirt trail that led to the cabin on the cliff side. Although he could not see it, he knew that by now the sun would be setting just past the waterfall to his right. He could hear the deafening roar of water as it tumbled down the mountainside to crash on the rocks hundreds of feet below. The dying sun would be lighting the water on fire like thousands of liquid crystals. He couldn't see it. He had never seen it, though he had walked this path almost every day for years.  All he had ever been able to see was the grayed outlines of objects and people, the wind magic in him supplying the shapes and locations of anything. But the images were blurred and shifting constantly with the movements of the wind. He had never seen color, never seen light. The darkness had been on his eyes since he was born. 

But that didn't matter to him. 

She could see just fine. 

He opened the door of the cabin quietly. Her back was to him, and he could sense spikes in the level of magic in front of her. She was practicing again, testing theories and methods like she always was. Ever working, ever diligent. 

Aryn was humming, one hand on her throat to feel the vibrations. She couldn't hear him come in. She hadn't been able to hear since she was twelve years old, well over a decade ago. He sent a light breath of air to lift her hair away from her neck, the short, shoulder length strands dancing in the gentle wind. She turned around, a smile on her face. He could barely see it with what sight the wind gave him, but he knew it was there. It was always there. 

She looked at his face, soaking up the sight of him. His long, sand brown hair that hung straight and fine down his back, with a single streak of dark brown to either side of his face. His white eyes with a hint of grey in the center. His pale skin and slender features. His quiet smile.

Zephyrious looked at the silvery shape before him. He listened to the familiar sounds that always surrounded her. The light step, the gentle breathing, the swish of her silken grey mage's robes. The quiet, deep-throated sound of her voice.

"Welcome back, Zephyrious." He smiled. He loved the sound of her voice. No said his name quite like her. 

"It's good to be back, Aryn." She watched his lips form her name. She brought her hand up to rest on the side of his face, brushing back a stray strand of hair. He put his own slender hand over hers and squeezed gently. 

They walked together towards the tall window on the western side of the cabin. It faced the setting sun, and they sat, as they always did, facing each other cross-legged on the floor. Aryn relished the sight of the red sunlight splash over the two of them, and Zephyrious held tight to the sensation of her hands in his with the warm glow of the setting sun breaking over them. And as they always did, she asked him, in a quiet, lilting voice, "What did you hear today?"

Instead of replying, Zephyrious opened the passage that existed between them and fed his memories into it.  The bird song in the trees around them. The bright whistle of wind as it sped past him on the wind path. The Singing Hills of the Aethyr Temple. People talking, making simple, everyday remarks. A little voice wishing him good morning. Her own singing, her soft, unique voice. And finally, the sound of his own voice, telling her the same thing he always told her at the end of every day.

A few tears dropped from Aryn's eyes as she basked in the glow of hearing what he had, even if it was only in her mind. He always picked the most beautiful things to hear for her. They did this every day, a tradition since the day they had met. 

She saw his lips form the words, "What did you see today?" and she sent her memories down the passage to his mind. The starlit sky an hour before sunrise. The gentle blues and pinks of the new sun. Flowers that opened to the new day every morning without fail. The smile of a small child. The brilliantly burning sunset outside their window now, with the crystalline waterfall dancing and roaring beneath it. And her own face, with its soft brown hair and gentle hazel eyes. She spoke the same words he had spoken to her. Just the same as it always was. 

But then something changed. The passage of magic between them crumbled before they could shut it down. Their entwined magics were ripped apart, and Zephyrious thought, just as he lost contact with Aryn's magic, he felt it weaken slightly.

Aryn collapsed to the floor, gasping for air. She was shaking, and her eyes were wide in confusion. Zephyrious pulled her up into his arms, holding her tight until the shaking had passed. He pressed her head to his shoulder, calming her like a parent would a child. Her eyes were shut tight, and he didn't dare reopen the passage, so he place one of his hands into hers and signed, "What happened?"

To weak to answer out loud, she signed back, "I'm not sure. Something's felt wrong all day, but I haven't been able to place it. I think..." She faltered. "I think there's something wrong with the magic. I think it's weakening."

Zephyrious squeezed his blind eyes shut. No, no, no! This wasn't possible. He hadn't noticed anything before, but he had a direct link to the Goddess of Wind, not to the veins of magic in the earth itself. He searched that place in the back of his mind where his magic always lay. At first, it felt strong as ever. But as he reached out to feel the edges, they felt frayed and fragile. Only one thing could do that. 

The Prophecy.

Standing up, lifting Aryn's slender form as easily as he would a child's, Zephyrious strode resolutely to her room. He laid her down on the soft bed, and went about preparing for the journey.

"What are you doing?" The weakness in her voice scared him. She wasn't an elf, like him. She was only human, and her connection to magic was different than even regular elven mages. The magic had infused itself into her blood, and so without it, her body lacked something it had had for years. If he wasn't careful, she'd go into shock, and then into a catatonic state that he might never get her out of. He wouldn't risk that, not for anything. If it truly was the Prophecy, there was only one thing to do. 

"We're going to the Citadel. We have to tell them what has happened." He signed as well as spoke quickly before returning to his work.

Aryn's voice grew startled and concerned. "We? But I won't be allowed�""

"I'm the Wind Rider!" He cut in sharply, fingers flashing harshly. "It doesn't matter what their stupid traditions are. I am the eldest Son of the Citadel, and if I say that you can enter, then they will let you enter."

Her voice grew soothing, even in its weakness. "I know, I know. Calm down, Zephyrious. Why do we have to go?"

All of his movements ceased. He stood there, how long he couldn't tell, but finally he opened his mouth. "The Prophecy is in play." She gasped, but before she could say anything, Zephyrious continued. "Magic is in danger, which means she has to be out there somewhere. The Prophecy would have prepared for this�"it always has. We have to find the Child of Destiny, and we can't do that without all six of the Children of the Citadel together."

"Six? But I thought�""

"Two are hidden. But they will come. They are always the first to sense the danger. When we get there, if they haven't arrived yet, I will need you to be my witness. Magic is failing, and the Children won't be able to sense it until the last possible moment. They have to believe me. If we don't find her..."

He heaved a heavy sigh. "If we don't find Kalai, everything we know is lost."


© 2011 VassD


Author's Note

VassD
This one was a bit of a stumbling block for me. It seemed really short at first, so it took me several months to come back to it with a set of fresh eyes. That's part of the reason I dragged a few new characters in earlier than expected.

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Added on November 17, 2011
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Author

VassD
VassD

A tiny random town-city-dimension, ID



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I'm a fledgling author with dreams about as big as one of Robert Jordan's books. Maybe more than one on top of each other. I love writing fantasy and science fiction stories (No matter how long a piec.. more..

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A Chapter by VassD





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