Book 1 Chapter 22

AsaHi woke to find herself draped in a satiny night robe. She lifted her head, her long white hair spilling over her shoulders as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. It took her a few moments to realize where she was.

Of course… it’s Ceiswyr!

The girl peered around slowly. The outside walls shifted in color, from the soft white floor to a transparent domed top, allowing her a wondrous view of the sky-world outside. The structure arched up and connected to the rest of the compound in a solid, warm grey.

Dangling her feet over the side of the bed, AsaHi gently ran her fingers through the downy blankets. Then she slipped out of the covers and pattered across the floor on bare feet. The wall shivered when she came near, and shimmered away as she reached out to touch it. AsaHi blinked at it for a moment before gingerly stepping forward. The floor followed her feet, spreading out before her in a strange makeshift balcony. The girl paused, watching it with an uncomfortable, accusatory face.

“Now if you drop me… or do anything funny…” she muttered down to it.

It did not drop her. Nor did it do anything funny. In fact, it did nothing at all.

She proceeded to stand there, her eyes gazing out over the slumbering sunrise that took place far below the cloudbank. The colors flushed through the sky, light blushing up from below in a pastel sea of rippling cloud.

AsaHi couldn’t stop staring.

“Awesome, isn’t it?”

“Awesome isn’t the word I’d choose, but it works,” the girl was so entranced by the view, she didn’t realize someone had joined her.

“Hello!” The large crimson form of Kaze dropped down from out of nowhere, landing without a sound. Crouching nearly brought the two of them to eye level. “Did you have pleasant dreams?”

“Dreams?” Feeling rather daring, she replied, “How do you know about dreaming when you don’t even sleep?”

“Mmm?” Kaze’s grin faded as he gave a rather despondent sound of acknowledgement.

“Or… do you really sleep, and I just never see?” AsaHi asked.

“No. I have no need to sleep as your kind does,” his eyes were very deep as they turned towards the girl.

She felt herself shiver, “My kind? What do you mean by that?”

Kaze gave a casual shrug as if talking about the weather. Then he draped his legs over the edge of the balcony and sat down in an offhand manner.

“Kaze?” She could feel her heart pounding in the silence. “You aren’t like my people, then?”

“Isn’t that obvious, Sunshine?”

AsaHi sucked on her lower lip, her skin prickling.

“Does that scare you?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she admitted slowly.

“I see,” the big man then fell back in a full-body sprawl, arms flung wide to either side, eyes searching the heavens. “I don’t understand why it should matter.”

“Why what should matter?” the girl heard herself echo.

“What someone is or is not,” Kaze turned his gaze back to her. It was warm and gentle. “Why should it matter what someone is as long as you like to be with that person?”

“I don’t know,” the girl repeated, taken off guard by the shift in the conversation. “To some people, it does matter. To a lot of people, actually.”

“Does it matter to you?”

“It depends,” she answered. Then she asked with a bit more conviction, “If you’re not like me, are you like the people of this city?”


AsaHi felt her breath draw in sharply. The question on her lips choked and lingered.

Then what are you?

She could see in his eyes that he knew exactly what she was thinking. Something told her that she should be concerned. After all, he had just admitted he was not like her people or the people of the floating city. But his words haunted her.

He’s alone, just like me. There is no one here that’s like him, either.

“I’m not alone,” he told her, answering her thoughts. Before she could say something about it, he continued, “You’re here. I’m here. How can I be alone when there’s someone sitting right next to me?”

“You can be. You can feel lonely even when standing in a crowd of people,” she said.

“Lonely?” He turned his head, a shock of wild white hair falling into his eyes, “Do you ever feel that way?”


“Do you feel like that now?”

“I don’t know.”

“I see,” Kaze sat up suddenly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make it sound like I don’t like your company,” she told him, quickly retracing her steps.

“No, that’s not it.” There was a strange expression in his eyes. They seemed to be looking beyond her, into her. And she didn’t know what it meant.

“Then what’s wrong?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he wrinkled his nose playfully. “I just… feel.”

“You feel what?” the girl gave him a puzzled look.

He shook his head, squinting slightly, “I simply feel.”

AsaHi blinked at him with a furrowed brow of confusion.

“And I like it!” his voice purred to her in its rugged, golden tone.

With a quick wink, Kaze was on his feet and gone. There was no mistake — she had seen a hint of embarrassment in his expression. AsaHi was more surprised to find her own face flushed with an unexpected feeling of delight.