Hunter tossed and turned in his bed. The White Lupe knight just couldn't sleep – it had been exactly two years since his father, Sir Arthur Penn of Meridell, fell to the blade of General Kass. Even though he often had nightmares of arriving too late to rescue his father– on the very first day Hunter became a knight, no less – but they worsened around the end of summer. "It's my fault... It's my fault..."
"Hey, Hunter! Wake up!" Sirocco, a lean Skunk Zafara thief opened the door to Hunter's room. "What's wrong, buddy? You were talking to yourself... You having that dream again?"
"Yes..." Hunter got up and rubbed his eyes. "I still remember being there too late to save him... I didn't even get to say good bye."
"Well, Hunter..." Sirocco scratched the back of his head. "You know your father's still watching out for you. He may not be there, but he's still watching you... Right?" Sirocco grinned to try and comfort his lifelong friend, but to no avail.
"I know, but what if he were still here?" Hunter got out of his bed, still in his nightshirt. "Just... Please start cooking breakfast up, all right? You know Miraja's going to wake up soon, and she'll need some tea-"
Hunter was interrupted by a thud and the sound of a female Xweetok cursing in Shenkuuvian.
"I guess she's already up." Hunter weakly chuckled, as he helped Sirocco out of his room. After Sirocco had left for the kitchen, Hunter changed into his armor and joined his three best friends downstairs.
"Good morning, Miraja and Ashlynne." Hunter smiled weakly at the petite Striped Xweetok ninja and the whit-haired and tall Darigan Aisha sorceress. Miraja grumbled back a half-hearted attempt at "good morning," while Ashlynne nodded and turned the page of a novel she was reading. "How's everything going?" Hunter asked.
Miraja growled, her waist-length pink hair ungroomed. Obviously, she needed some tea before she'd be willing to talk.
"Hunter, you don't seem like yourself." Ashlynne, who seemed to always be awake before everyone else in the house, looked up from her novel. "I know what's troubling you, Hunter. You miss your father, don't you?" She gestured to a cup of tea, which floated over to her hand.
"Well... Yes. How did you know?" Hunter sheepishly admitted to the sorceress.
"I'm a sorceress. All I had to do was read your mind, Hunter." Ashlynne's expression grew worried. "I know he meant a lot to you, Hunter."
"Yes," Hunter nodded, "He did. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be half the man I am today."
Miraja, whose mood seemed to be getting worse and worse the longer she went without tea, slammed her face onto the table and muttered something that cannot be said here. She perked up a bit after Sirocco slid a cup of tea down the table, and she immediately guzzled it down. "Okay, now I feel better." Miraja smiled a bit. "Hunter, I know you and your dad had a strong bond. It isn't your fault he's gone – I thought you knew this."
Hunter looked away from everyone else. "I know... It's just that when you lose someone who means that much to you so suddenly, it... It never leaves." Hunter sighed. "And every year, around this time, it just feels even worse."
Ashlynne got up and placed her hand on Hunter's shoulder. "Hunter, there's going to be a meteor shower tonight... At least, that's what my spell book says. You know there's a magic in the stars... Just like you said he told you when you were a pup." Ashlynne smiled. "Maybe tonight, you should go watch it by Lightwater River."
Miraja smiled widely. "Yeah, we'll all go with you!" It seemed her mood had brightened after one mere cup of tea, and she was ready to help out her friend.
"Thanks, Miraja, but... I think I'd rather go alone." Hunter embraced his friends, and walked to the door.
"Hey!" Sirocco smirked a bit as he looked up from flipping some flapjacks. "It's a little early to go out there, you know?"
"I know," Hunter said. "I just want to spend the day doing what my father and I used to do." He smiled and closed the door behind him.
As the day went on, Hunter did all of the things he and his father used to do when he was younger. He counted potatoes, he rolled some cheese, he even watched some Turdle Races and picked some berries. After a long day of reminiscing about the good times he had with Arthur, he sat down in the edge of Lightwater River and gazed up at the stars, which grew in number as the sun sank beyond the hills on the horizon. "Father," Hunter stated, "I miss you." Hunter sighed before continuing. "You said you'd always be there for me! But when I call your name, you're not anywhere... And it's my fault..." Hunter looked at his reflection in the water and poked at it with his sword... He then saw the ripples clear, and he saw his father's face. "Father?!"
The reflection in the water began to glow as the proud, noble voice of the great knight carried on the wind. "Hunter..." A figure of light arose from the water, shimmering like the stars. Hunter shielded his eyes before the light faded, and an apparition of his father stood in front of him. "Hunter," Arthur's ghost stated in a stern yet warm tone. "You've grown so much taller, my boy."
"Father, it is you!" Hunter teared up slightly. "Are you... Are you proud of me?"
Arthur nodded. "Of course I am. I watched you aid Darigan in stopping Kass, and I've seen you aid the Bori and the people of Maraqua, as well. I've seen you make friends all over Neopia, my son."
Hunter, who had started to cry tears of joy, embraced his father's spirit. Even though his father may not have been alive, he felt as solid as he did years ago. "I miss you, father."
"I know you do, Hunter." Arthur embraced his son. "And I miss you, as well." The two broke their embrace, and Arthur stepped back into the water. "Remember this, Hunter; you are my son, and no matter where you are; merely call my name and look at the stars. I'll always be there to guide you when you need me most." Arthur then vanished as shooting stars filled the night sky; Hunter could swear he heard his father's voice on the wind.
"Thanks, father." Hunter wiped the tears from his eyes and started to move back towards his home.
"So, did it go well?" Ashlynne looked up as Hunter walked in the door.
"It did, Ashlynne. He said he couldn't be prouder of who I am today, and he even said that if I need his guidance..." Hunter smiled. "I just need to call his name to the stars."
Ashlynne smiled and closed her book. "Now, let's see if Sirocco can't fix us all some dinner."
"Good!" Miraja leapt down from the rafters and gave Hunter a quick hug. "It's good to see you're out of your funk, Hunter. Now let's eat!" Miraja dashed over to the kitchen, with her two friends tailing behind her.
Later that night, Hunter gazed out the window in his room. "Father... I'm going to make you even more proud." Hunter then got into his bed and fell asleep, this time dreaming of the days he spent with his father. He smiled in his sleep as the shooting stars continued to fall.