Chapter Seven: Calm Before the Storm

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Cirrus continued to wave the golden fairy pendant from its silver chain back and forth by his index claw. It had become a careful art of discipline for him to so much as hold the delicate jewelry, for he had only to forget about it momentarily to risk crushing it with his size. But he wouldn’t break it or lock it away as he should have. No, it was not something he could ever let go of.

His eyes began to grow heavy as he had been hypnotizing himself to sleep without realizing it. Between being asleep and awake, he could see the thin, silver strings weaving through the air, ground and trees behind him, like of a finely crafted spider web that stretched for eternity. But none of the Thread connected to what had formed the craftsmanship of the pendant in his hand. He couldn’t help but lose hope that he might ever find his best friend’s killer. Or the other end to the Threads of the pendant that might have the answers he sought.

With their King still missing, Time felt as if it had frozen the Torian Continent, even as it remained a constant warmth to hide such. It was three hundred years after the Last War and all his kind wanted was the power and edge to end the conflict. The one key that would seal the Fate of the other Continent with a similar Prophecy. The clue he had in his hand, but his mother’s pendant would not lead him to it, as if it too feared for the future. We won’t be fighting like this forever, his thoughts whispered to renew a promise to Nafury’s memory.

“There will always be another war, and when there isn’t, there will always be my father to make one. There’s no escaping it.

Cirrus was startled out of the trance as the pendant suddenly twisted. It sent all his senses rushing to it in fear that it would drop. Every once in a while the gold fairy would give him a Dream, as if to hint the direction he should fly next. But the closer he tried to get to it, the further the Threads pulled away. Then he would wake up, remembering only a small fraction of what he had seen. Perhaps his Ancient was not enough to decipher a Dream, outside of the need to craft him into a creature of warfare. Perhaps he was just a Nightmare who didn’t truly Dream at all, or have any capacity to understand one.

But he had seen the Caelestis once before. It was a brief glance, but she was real. Maybe the answers were in not waking up.

The only Dreams that did not leave him on waking were the ones within it of his mother. Sometimes he would hear her voice, like a gentle chime of song that would call his mind to a moment with complete calmness. She had spoken to him before he was born and even named him. But he would never see her, because he had killed her before opening his eyes to the world for the first time.

Cirrus turned his light blue eyes to the trees as his senses picked up on the Keol winds changing. His own aeri energies began to wane from his never-ending contemplation. The ground smelled like a burning storm when the life energies of the phelan passed under Aster. They travelled over the hot ashes, smoke and fires with the ease that he could soar through the clouds in the sky. Only as he looked up at the stars and the moon, with the Soph Aur having settled within the safety of Toria hours ago for the night, there were no clouds. Just his Dreams of them that he would never see or touch for real.

The Texts that had survived the first Aster from the memories of the Ancients and Eminor spoke of the Fay. Powerful spirits that could manipulate Fate and all the Threads between life and death.

For Cirrus, it meant an even greater possibility. Nafury’s mother, Serena, had prophesied that her son would be the one to lead the Asterian Caelestis, Asil, back to Aster and end the war. The war was coming and at some point between now and the future, was this Fay to stop it.

The necklaces were a symbol of the friendship that bound Serena and his mother to each other when they were alive. Now it remained as such on being passed to himself and Nafury. When they were alive, Alexia and Nafury’s mother were both powerful Seers. Their humanity may have made their bodies more fragile, but their spirits and foresight were unmatched.

Cirrus remembered the fits Nafury used to have when the Prince was still a child, when he would beg Serena for the necklace. He had taunted him on too many occasions on how his matching one was magical, and that in turn eventually led to Serena scolding him as if he were not thirteen years older than her son. But he had never managed to get her truly angry at him, even when he tried to provoke her.

He had always wanted to ask her why she never reprimanded him as he deserved, but for that answer, it didn’t take a mirror. There was only one reason he could think of, and that was how he looked too much like his mother, Alexia. He had killed her best friend, yet she never hated him for it. He deserved to be hated for all of it and now he was left forever-wondering to why he had been spared.

Cirrus believed from the moment they had found Nafury’s body in Mer City that his friend had found the Caelestis, and he had been killed for it. If there was the possibility that Asil was still alive, it wouldn’t matter to him what Threads she was caught in, he would find her. It was the only thing, the only wish left that he could give either of them. Whether the dead heard answered prayers or not.

He looked back at the pendant as another memory returned to him. How would taking her from Earth make anything easier?

“This is her world. Aster, not Earth. That and she would only have to take one look at you to believe all of our kind are beautiful, and want to stay forever.

The pendant twisted again, and the dark pupil in Cirrus’ light blue eyes grew wider. He had never considered himself beautiful. The daorans were beautiful; both in and out of their somned forms. Their dragon bodies were layered in hornless, unscratched, glass-like scales. They would change color to match the energy of their vibrant souls. The dragoons had no such beauty; for if their bodies did change in a similar way, then it was well-hidden under the thicker armor of their scales and horns that stayed the color of their Sylvan hair.

Cirrus wasn’t so much as a color; for his white scales could just as easily be a part of the white, lifeless sand he lay on. If his soul held any color at all, he would need a deep-enough scar on his body to find it.

He brought his tail around to his eyes and sat up, before looking closely at it and all its scars. Some were from the raids on the Falls camps. Some were from the phelan he had chased from the Torian Continent. Deep as many of them were, only the red color of his blood could be seen pulsing through his thinnest skin. His soul may have been locked inside him for years before, but he didn’t have white or red hair. He had his mother’s blond hair. So he settled on the conclusion that he wasn’t soulless. Not yet.

Cirrus closed his eyes as he held the gold fairy in his claws, looking for the calmer Threads of love. He needed to remember it—all of it. It was the only emotion that kept him from turning into the sand under him that had long been separated from a greater form and forgotten. The feelings of love that would always remain within his thoughts. Even if Nafury would never make new memories with him in this life. 

It was the start to the answers he wanted, as he could feel his Ancient stir from its sixth sense on feeling something. He let his Ancient show him its sight to what it sensed. A familiar, golden Thread appeared to glow brighter as it sewed its way through the rest of the world’s Animus Threads.

Cirrus gently set his claws on it as he had many times, never finding the remaining memories that his friend had locked away from reach with his death. But what he didn’t expect was something to respond to the touch, as it caught his soul within him in turn with a warning that his Ancient would make him unsomn. He had touched the life Threads of someone very much alive. What are you trying to show me, Aragmoth?

The aeri energy within himself began to rise as he reached out with his psi. It sounded like a heartbeat. On the other end wasn’t a spirit or a dying memory—it was a living soul.

He pulled his senses away from the Animus Thread and looked north. It was the same direction the phelan had shifted the winds of the Keol in. They risked their own lives by potentially stumbling on a patrol further inland. But that would be the least of their worries now.

He spread his wings in a rush of sand and let his emotions lift him into the sky, before folding its wind with his aeri to allow him to travel through it even faster.

Nafury had wanted the Caelestis for peace and absolution. If there was a way to bring such a peace, he would do what he could to ensure it. If only to keep in hand the path given to him, so he might reach the answers to his kind’s true destiny.

For lying on a bed of flowers, he had at long last found his fairy.

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