Sunlight Sonata: Part Ten
Part X – Moderato: Sunlight
Az sighed. Two days had passed since the ceremony. Two days had passed between the battle and the ceremony. And now they needed to go home. And he wasn’t sure if he wanted to. But then again, seeing how Invi was acting, he doubted the Eyrie was sure, either. Coru, of course, wanted to go home. Az was sure of that. But they were leaving today at sunset, no matter what people wanted.
Question was, how long would it take for everyone to say goodbye?
Too long, he’d decided. He’d said goodbye to the army already. Now he just had to say goodbye to Sayang. And that involved finding her, something that was entirely too difficult. But he couldn’t leave without finding her, and searching was getting annoying. Glancing up at the sun, he cursed. He’d been at this since noon, and it was nearing sunset now, with no sign of her.
Turning, Az began to retrace his steps, heading back for the area in front of the palace where he, Coru, and Invi had agreed to meet. The purple and pink and tan of the buildings around him clashed, both against his mood and against the pristine white of the clouds, and he growled as he wove back through them. When he found Sayang, he’d do... something to her to make up for how she avoided him like this.
But that also involved finding his way back through the maze of buildings. Hissing, Az spread his wings, leaping up above the obstacles. It was easy enough, after that, to get back. And it was easy enough to spot Sayang, her brown clothing and red fur dark against the purple rooftops. Halting, almost hovering in midair, Az turned to her, gliding slowly towards her.
“Hey,” he said, landing beside her. She was sitting curled up, arms around her legs, and chin on her arms, staring at nothing. “I wanted to say goodbye. We’re going to leave soon.”
She didn’t speak.
Az looked towards her. “Sayang, you’ve known this was coming since we won Faerieland back.”
“That doesn’t mean I need to like it.” Sayang stared down at her hands. “I want you to stay here. We need you.”
Az looked down, beginning to trace patterns on the rooftop. There was no sound. No wind, no echoes of others' conversations, no birds singing. Nothing.
Just the two of them and the sky above.
“Sayang?” He broke the silence, still not looking up.
The Kyrii tilted her head slightly, not speaking or moving her hands from her face.
Az continued. “I don’t want to go. I never have. This is my place. My time. I want to be here. This time needs me, in a way that mine doesn’t. Coru needs to go back, of course, and Invi likely will as well.” He paused. “Invi could probably come back, too.” He sounded bitter.
“You are what you are,” Sayang said. “And nothing is going to change you.”
Az turned towards her, letting her see the emotions that lay there. He wasn’t even trying to hide them. Not from her. Never from her. Stubbornness, confusion, despair. They were all there for her to see. “Sayang, I know that. But I’m still honor-bound to go back. That doesn’t mean I’ll stay there. I’ll find some way to come back here. It might take me years, but I will. I’ll come back here.”
He left the final words unsaid.
“You shouldn’t,” she whispered, not looking at him. “And you shouldn’t have said goodbye.”
“Why not?” Az sat down beside her, watching her.
“This isn’t going to help either of us.” Her tail was twitching, flicking back and forth in agitation.
Az raised an eyebrow. “Explain?”
“I can’t,” she said, sounding frustrated. “I just feel that it won’t.”
“That doesn’t help, Sayang.” He looked at her, still curled up, and so vulnerable. “Please?”
She looked at him. Her expression was softer than he’d ever seen it, even after the battle, when she’d found him, hugged him, and led him to his flight. “Az...” She paused, looking down again. “I don’t know. Take me down to the ground? I’ll talk more as we walk to the courtyard.”
Az nodded. Remembering that she couldn’t see him, he said, “Yeah. Sure.”
Neither of them stood, though. For the longest while, Az just watched the clouds drifting past and around them, and the slow descent of the sun to the horizon. Occasionally, he glanced over at Sayang, to see her still curled up, silent and contemplative. It was quiet, peaceful, and for once, Az felt at home in the silence with another person around.
“We should go,” Sayang finally said, but her heart wasn’t in it.
“We should,” Az admitted. “But we won’t, will we?”
“No. We won’t. Not until we need to.”
Az sighed, closing his eyes. “Then tell me when the sun begins to set,” he said, letting himself drift into the half-sleep where his dreams came most easily, most strongly, without him needing to fully fall asleep. If he fell asleep and delayed them, Invi would kill him. Coru probably would, too, now that he thought about it. He shivered at the thought of the two of them teaming up on him. That wouldn’t be fun at all.
He turned back to his dreams, ignoring the thoughts of being killed. Oh, Invi was the dreamer, but he could still dream. And he did. Technology, married to magic, was one of his dreams. Right now, technology that would let one of them be in the other’s time, forever. That was what he dreamt of, the images playing across closed eyelids, not his more usual images of new weapons, new things that went boom.
And, hidden in those images, he was sure he could find a way to make his dream come true. Especially if Invi let him examine the sunburst. That would help immensely. He doubted Invi would, though. The Eyrie seemed really protective of it for some reason. A reason possibly having to do with how he had tried to take it originally.
“Fine.” Az opened his eyes, pushed himself to his feet, and turned to Sayang. “Let’s go.”
She grinned, and Az laughed, grabbing her as he leapt off the rooftop, spreading his wings as they spiraled down. “You’ll need to lead the way,” he said, as their feet touched the clouds. “I’m not sure how to get back from here.”
Sayang just shook her head. “You should get to know places better,” she said, starting off.
Az followed, protesting. “I can’t help that this is the first time I’ve been in Faerieland! Though I guess I could’ve helped having half the army gather around and pester me about magic. That wasn’t necessary.”
“No, it wasn’t. Since you didn’t really tell them anything, anyway.”
“Not my fault I can’t explain instinct.”
“True, I suppose.”
They both fell silent once more, Sayang leading the way through the streets until they emerged in the courtyard, where everyone else was gathered. Az paused at the edge, next to where Sayang had stopped. “So this is it,” he said, finally admitting it to himself as he spoke the words. Dreams couldn’t change the truth.
“Yes,” Sayang whispered. “This is it.”
“I’ll miss you,” he said, trying not to turn, trying not to look at her one last time.
“And I’ll miss you, Drake.”
Az laughed, and the laughter carried him towards the others. He couldn’t look back. If he looked back, he might regret this. And that, more than anything else, would be what killed him. But looking ahead, to the others, he doubted that he was the worst off. That title probably went to Invi or Keben.
“Good! You’re finally here,” Coru snapped. “Now I won’t need to listen to Invi grumble about you being late any more.”
“Well, sorry,” Az said. “It took longer than I thought to find Sayang.”
“That’s not an excuse.”
“It’s an explanation, though,” Az said, taking his place by Invi.
“Shut up,” Invi said absently. “I need to remember how to activate this, now that you have joined us.”
“What’s so hard about it?” Az asked. “You just said some funny words. I think the last one was something like Solomon.”
“Thanks for that useless piece of information. I know the last word, but not any of the others.”
“How about I choke you again and set it off that way?” Az asked, almost hopefully.
“No,” Invi said, quietly, firmly. “You will not do that.”
Az tilted his head, grinning. “Whyever not?”
“Because I know the key, now.”
“Shut up,” Invi said again.
Az shut up and watched. Invi didn’t seem to do anything other than stand there. Not that he ever had much expression. His blindfold, gold and red against his darkness, didn’t help with that at all, hiding his eyes from sight. And making Invi’s refusal to act as if he were blind even more apparent. If his eyes were showing, at least Az could ignore it to some extent.
At last, the Eyrie moved, sitting back to hold the sunburst in both forepaws. “Addonos alio,” he said softly. His voice echoed through the courtyard, reverberating, becoming more than it had been when he’d activated it before. “Addonos uta vulnero locus. Addonos quanos succurro.”
A pause, and Az resisted the urge to whisper the final word with Invi.
Az thought he’d braced himself this time, but when the disorienting swirl of light and color and sound and wind came, with the echoed words, he knew he hadn’t braced himself enough.
Bright white light flashed, fading to the pale blue of sunrise, and then gold and pink swirls, wind blowing them around as if they were clouds. The scent of rain filled his nose, and he felt like he was surrounded by the softest feathers ever. The light changed to a deep rose, and the word echoed again.
Purple burst over the rose, and with it came the scent of sun-warmed earth and the feeling of utter warmth and satisfaction. But as the purple faded to blue, and from blue into green, Az felt himself spin, get blown by the wind that came from nowhere, swirling the green into dark and light. The deep scent of caves filled him, and with it came a sense of home.
A flash of bright gold light, and there they were, standing in Coru’s kitchen again, right where they had been before all this. Nothing seemed to have changed, other than what they wore and where they stood. Az just stared around him in silence, wishing.
Invi spoke, and all the noises of the forest seemed to start again. “I assume we arrived home?”
“Yes,” Coru said, a smile on his face. “We’re home.”