The days dragged on as Suzume watched the summer roll through the hilly lands between the mountains. The sun became warmer and the sky more blue. Colors flushed the meadows in every direction. Though it was a beautiful place, the girl couldn’t find peace there.
It was a long time since Suzume last received a letter from Lucci. Far longer than a forgetful week. It passed into two. Then into three. She couldn’t help but worry that something had happened to him.
The girl held close the flower that Lucci gave to her at the Migration. He had her that as long as the flower was alive, he was alive, also. Something was happening to the flower. The purple petals were now completely silver, and she didn’t know what that meant.
Something feels wrong.
There was talk of a desperate battle to hold the island of Ceiswyr. Though the Dragons said that the battle was won and over, there was no call for the refugees to return to the Islands yet.
Why? Lucci said that when they won the fight, we could come home. Hasn’t it been long enough?
Something different happened that day. When she approached the incoming Dragon from the Island, she did not leave empty handed. A much-longed for letter was placed into her hands. Suzume was so excited to see it, that she ran halfway back to the outlook before she realized that the writing on the envelope was far too elegant to be Lucci’s.
I wonder who it’s from?
At first, there was a pang of disappointment. But that was buffered by curiosity. In all her time in Wyndor, only Lucci ever sent her letters. She didn’t know who else would write her.
A shimmering white light fluttered, zipping down out of the sky towards the girl as she stepped out of the caverns. A welcoming warble filled her ears and mind. Zeni alighted gently on the top of her head, little round eyes curious.
~Did you receive the waited for document?~
“Sorta… but… not really?” Suzume told her as she walked to the far end to sit down in her normal spot.
~I am confused. It is a document similar to what you were looking for, is it not?~
“Yes. I was waiting for a letter,” the girl tried to explain. “But I wanted one that was written by Lucci. I don’t think this is from him.”
~Who sent it, then?~
“I don’t know. I have to open it to find out.”
~Openitopenitopenit!~ Zeni chirped, hopping from the girl’s head to her shoulder, then down on to her forearm in excitement.
“I will! I will… hold on!” Suzume almost laughed. Sometimes the Arweinydd could be so funny – especially when she got excited about something.
The seal cracked easily on the outside of the envelope. Suzume’s fingers fumbled to pull the folded paper out and flatten it out. Her eyes flashed over the entire page in wonderment, rushing ahead of herself to solve the mystery. She had to force herself to go back to the top and start from the very beginning.
I know that you were watching for a letter, though it wouldn’t be from me. Lucci mentioned over and over that you would be waiting for him to write. He was pretty insistent on it, even though he couldn’t do it for himself. I asked him if he would feel better if I wrote in his stead. He said it would be better than sending nothing.
As you probably know, the Islands came under attack. Sadly, there were a lot of injuries and more losses than we would have liked. We did manage to fight off the enemies and secure the Islands for a little while longer.
Zento seems to think that there’ll be another attack in time. I’m not really good when it comes to all this talk of battle, so I have to trust them on their tactics. Because the Islands still aren’t safe, you and the others who have Migrated haven’t been asked to come back yet.
Don’t worry. Zemi and the others are working on plans on how they can make the Islands safe for good. When that happens, everyone can come back again. But until then, you have to hold tight for a little longer. I know it’s tough. I know that you probably miss Lucci a lot – just as much as he misses you. Which leads me to what I really mean to write.
I don’t want to send upsetting news, especially when I don’t understand all that is happening myself. But Lucci asked that I tell you as much of the truth as I knew. I promised him that I would try. So here I am.
During the battle, something happened to Lucci. I don’t think it was something like an injury – he doesn’t seem hurt. I’m not sure if he’s sick, but he’s been weak and in bed ever since the fight. No one has really explained to me what caused it or why people are watching him so closely. But we are doing everything we can to take care of him.
He’s been looking a lot better day by day. I stay with him often and make sure that he’s eating. Sometimes he even talks to me – though he’s usually pretty quiet. Often, he seems to sleep more than anything else. Maybe that’s his way of healing.
It was one of the days when he spoke to me that he asked me to write you this letter. When I asked him what he wanted me to write for him, he told me to tell you: “Don’t be sad, Suzume. We will be together again really soon. Watch over my flower for me.”
Feel free to write to him if you’d like – I will read him any letters that you send. I bet that they would help him to feel a lot better, if you did!
Best wishes always,
The girl let the letter drop from her fingers into her lap. AsaHi’s words tried to be kind and encouraging, but only one thing ran through Suzume’s mind.
Lucci is sick… and I can’t be there to help him. What if he dies?
~The words written here say that Lucci is starting to get better. Should you not be happy for that?~Zeni suggested, picking up the letter in her beak.
Suzume took in a long sniffling breath. “M-maybe. I just wish… I could see him. And talk to him. I miss him so much. And now he’s sick.”
The tiny white bird tilted her head. ~Will that help your sadness?~
The girl nodded slowly, “It would help a lot.”
~Then I shall let you see him.~
Suzume perked up, even the feathers on her wings straightening. “You will? How?”
~You must follow what I tell you. Exactly as I tell you. Will you do that?~
~This is not as easy for me as it is for my siblings.~ Zeni chirruped and hopped into the girl’s open palm. ~Now close your eyes. You must not open them no matter what. Or the magic will be broken. Do you understand?~
Quickly, the girl closed her eyes and nodded repeatedly. The tickle of new excitement rushed over her body, her hands quivering with expectation where they gently held up the Arweinydd. Suzume didn’t know what she was waiting for, but she waited.
A warm feeling spread over her fingertips. Then over her hands, up her arms and across her body. As the tingling became more pronounced, she could see a wavery purple outline where her hands would be. The outline became easier and easier to see the longer she waited, though it was hardly surprising to her. She spent so much time looking through the folds of the blinding cloth when she first arrived on the Islands. Being able to see with eyes closed was something she knew was very possible.
It felt as if she was floating. Weightless. Flying without use of her wings. She didn’t know how long she flew. Or how far. But in time, a speck light appeared from behind the shadows of her eyes. The speck began to grow as they approached it – only then did she realize how fast they were really flying.
With a disorienting jerk, Suzume suddenly found herself floating in a strange white room. It took her a moment to recognize it as Lucci’s bedroom.
I’m here!? I’m really here? How?
She reached her hands downwards, realizing that she could see straight through them to the objects on the other side.
Well, I’m mostly here?
Then her dark eyes focused on the figure in the bed. There didn’t seem to be anyone else there at all, just a curled-up shape in the covers. A mop of long silver hair. Suzume floated over to get a better look. Twisting herself on her side curiously, she finally could make out the face of her best friend.
Lucci looked older than she remembered, just as she knew he would. Much of the softness of boyhood had faded from his face as the stronger lines of young adulthood had begun to edge their way into his features. There was a darkness around the lower lids of his eyes that spoke of lack of sleep, even though he seemed to be sleeping now.
“Lucci?” her voice wafted like the whisper of the winds. She didn’t know if he could hear her or not, but she still called to him.
~Be careful. Do not touch him.~ came Zeni’s gentle warning in the back of her mind.
She didn’t understand why she shouldn’t touch him, but the girl didn’t argue about it. Instead, she called again, “Lucci, are you asleep?”
Lucci’s face scrunched up, nose wrinkling. He gave a quiet murmur under his breath and Suzume was surprised to hear how different his voice even sounded now.
Undaunted, she tried again. “Lucci. Wake up! I’m here to see you. Please?”
The youth’s eyes fluttered open, silver reflecting ghostly and deep. He turned his head towards the sound of her voice. It took a moment before he focused upon her, but when he did, his face registered quick recognition.
~How can it be that he sees you? Is that possible?~ Zeni’s tone was distant and puzzled. As if Lucci wasn’t supposed to be able to do such a thing.
“Suzume?” he opened his mouth with surprise. “Are you hurt? How…”
“I’m fine Lucci! I’m fine! But AsaHi’s letter – it came. She said you were sick and I was so worried!” a million things gushed from her heart. She didn’t know how long she’d have to speak to him. “I missed you so much, Lucci!”
~Time is short.~
“I missed you too, Suzume!” he reached a hand out towards her.
She reached for him. She could feel something about him that was wrong.
~Do not touch him!~
“Lucci, you must get better again. You’ve got to keep fighting. I can’t come home until everything is safe. Please don’t give up!” Suzume begged. Maybe it was a childish, selfish thing to plead for.
The youth made a choked sound, reaching for her. It may have been an illusion, but it seemed that his fingertips had begun to glow. “I… I will fight this, Suzume. I’ll fight this for you.”
The girl felt a strange pulling sensation, as if being drawn towards him. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she could sense Zeni’s sudden unhappiness and a desperate attempt to pull her in the other direction. Away from Lucci.
No! I want to stay! Don’t..!
~It’s not safe! You must come back now!~
“Lucci!” Suzume reached for his hand. A silver light pulsed between them, so bright that she was forced to turn her head.
“Suzume! I’ll find you!” his voice rang in her ears, but she couldn’t see him.
The girl’s eyes flashed open as her body collapsed back against the stone of the outcropping in Wyndor. Her body felt so heavy, the exact opposite of how it felt in Lucci’s room. Something within her lamented the loss of something that had felt wonderful – even if the silver light had almost taken her.
Zeni hopped from stone to shoulder to head to knee in worry, chirping her concern loudly before alighting towards the cave. ~You should not have come so close. I will bring assistance.~
The sky seemed to stretch endless in her vision. She watched the clouds as they passed overhead, no trace of the frantic worry that the Arweinydd possessed. In fact, she felt very calm, and far happier than she had in a long time.
She had seen Lucci. And he would be coming to find her soon.