Book 4 Chapter 1

“What are they?” AsaHi’s question came out as a breathy whisper.

Her green eyes fixed on the dancing lights that floated throughout the small bedchamber where Zemi rested. Now and then, they alighted on the hand-painted murals that scrawled across the rough golden stone walls. Sometimes they sparkled as they fell upon the reed-wood chairs that sat in the far corner of the room. When they passed through the sunlight that streamed through the rounded windows, they reminded her of tiny glowing snowflakes, the kind that one saw deep in Nefolian winters.

A winter I’ll probably never see again.

“I’m not sure,” SoYa answered, brows furrowed to match the uncertainty of his statement. Carefully, he reached out, capturing a glowing speck in his palm. “It feels warm, almost like it’s alive. Like it’s coming from…”

AsaHi looked down with realization, “Zemi!”

On a whim, the girl reached down and pulled back the covers that obscured the resting form of the Dreigiau. Instantly, a cloud of tiny sparkles burst into the air, scattering thickly throughout the room. The Arweinydd was pale and translucent, as if fighting to hold on to physical form.

Oh no!

“SoYa! Look at him!” she recoiled with a shaken face.

His voice was low with concern, “When Ceiswyr fell, something awful must have happened to him.”

“I think so, too.”

The two stood at the Patron’s bedside, green eyes filled with worry and strain. Zemi Dreigiau was the one immovable force in their lives. The one, great protective power that couldn’t be destroyed. They were raised to believe nothing could overcome the Arweinydd that founded all that once made up their world.



After the fall of the Island nations, all they could do was escape to the Dragon’s Cleft. There, the people of the Dreigiau left their homelands, a wild flight into the vast waiting unknown of the world beyond. It was only the Cleft that protected them now, keeping the shadows trapped on the other side.

He fought so hard, and lost so much just to protect us.

They carried their weakened Patron into the Spiral lands, the realm of their former enemies. There they were greeted by allies who were torn by more terrible woes. The news that KoGuRai was defeated, but TsuYa rose to take his place as Zerom’s new Marked Champion. With this final blow, any strength that Zemi possessed during the long exodus to the Spiral seemed to slip away, replaced with a heavy sorrow. Now, he lay motionless, his form weak and flaking away into rising shimmers carried off on the warm Spiral winds.

-Stupid Earthians.-A deep growl filled their minds.

The hair on the back of AsaHi’s neck rose on end, her wings twitching with the unease. When she turned, she saw the head of the great white wolf, Zazo, at one of the open windows. As the She-Wolf watched them, there was something more harsh and cold in the light of her eyes. Bitter and unforgiving, as if she blamed them for their good fortune, a fortune that TsuYa didn’t share.

“Lady Zazo,” SoYa’s voice wavered in respectful uncertainty. He attempted a bow, only to get caught up in his own jitters and nearly ended up sprawled out before the Arweinydd instead.

Undaunted, AsaHi caught his shoulder. Her lips pursed as she faced the gleaming white fangs and canine eyes. She began by stating the obvious, “Lady Zazo, something’s wrong with Zemi.”

-What makes you say that?- the She-Wolf snapped at a nearby speck of light, sending it scampering across to the other side of the room.

“You can see for yourself,” the girl replied, a bit perturbed at Zazo’s indifferent reply.

-Yes. I see. He’s falling apart. And whose fault is that?-

AsaHi’s head jerked up, wings ruffled. Her fists balled at either side, bracing for the brewing confrontation. “What are you suggesting?”

-Zemi trusted you. You were supposedly the one who could protect him against Chaos, or some such drivel,- the She-Wolf snarled, jabbing her nose into AsaHi’s chest and shoving the girl backwards.

AsaHi caught herself on the side of the bed, a deep scowl spread over her face. Pushing herself back on her feet, she rearranged the stray locks of hair that fell out of place. Her gaze lifted, meeting the Arweinydd’s glare, not backing down. “I did everything I could.”

-He trusted pathetic, weak Earthians. It was his stupid mistake to believe in any of you. Now he’s paying the price for your failure.-

“Right now he’s sick and he needs our help!” AsaHi lifted her voice in retort. “If we don’t do something, he could die!”

-Stupid!- Zazo half barked. Arweinydd don’t die. They simply return to what they were before, which is probably the best thing for Zemi right now. It’s the best thing for us all right now. Earthians are worthless creatures!-

“How could you say that?” the girl snapped back. “After all that time you spent with TsuYa. You had to care about him, or why else would you–”


“Wait! Wait!” SoYa stepped forward with wide eyes, staring back and forth between the two. His palms were up, a look of mediation on his face. “This was no one’s fault! No one foresaw what was going to happen. We have to pull together and do the best we can to help Zemi, and maybe even save TsuYa. It looks dark right now, but we can’t give up hope for either of them!”

-There is no hope left in this world anymore.- Zazo’s tone was dark as she turned her head.

Before SoYa could reply, the She-Wolf was gone. Nothing but a sad scattering of shimmering light around the windowsill showed that she was ever there at all.

For a long moment, the two of them stood in a stunned silence. Then before AsaHi realized what she was doing, her hands had wrapped around SoYa’s upper arm, seeking his support and assurance.

SoYa’s voice was quiet when he finally spoke, “She feels like…”

AsaHi peered up, waiting for him to find the words to finish his thoughts.

“She feels like the embodiment of all the disappointment… bitterness… and hurt…”

The girl laid her cheek against his shoulder. There was very little that she could say, “I know.”

“Zazo must really care about Tsu,” SoYa swallowed. It was hard for him to talk about his brother now. To hear or say the name. But somehow, he managed to do it.

“I think she does. A lot of us do,” AsaHi told him. “I think it’s just harder for the Arweinyddto accept that things didn’t go well.”

“You’re right,” he agreed, one arm slowly moving to wrap around her shoulders. He had trouble with the wings at first, but he was learning to adapt. “They’re not used to this. To fighting and losing. To struggling. They’ve never faced defeat before. It’s easy for them to lose hope.”

“And you haven’t?” she asked.

“It’s not over yet,” SoYa answered. He reached out with one hand, capturing a drifting sparkle. It seemed somehow comforted, remaining cupped in his palm. “It’s not over for us, Zemi. It’s not over for Tsu. We’re still alive. As long as I’m alive, I’m going to fight.”

“That sounds very….” AsaHi stopped herself before she said it.

“Tsu-ish?” he finished instead, squinting out the sunlit window. “If it was the other way around, he wouldn’t stop fighting until he brought me back.”

“I know,” she stroked her fingers through his curly hair. It was getting long now.

Just like Zento… and Tsu… More and more like them.

If he heard her thoughts, he didn’t show it. Instead, SoYa turned to look at her with a steady gaze, “We’re going to figure out how to help Zemi. He fought for us, it’s our turn to fight for him.”

A soft smile curved her lips. She didn’t know if it was the mind mage powers, or just the sight of his confidence. Somehow, she felt like things weren’t so impossible. Not with SoYa there at her side.

“So where do we start?” she gave his pony tail a teasing tug.

SoYa opened his mouth, then closed it again. “I’m still working on that.”

AsaHi laughed softly.

On the other hand, same old SoYa.

He sat with her quietly for a moment, a time she presumed he was lost in thought. When he lifted his head, he spoke again, slowly, “We need to talk to someone who knows something about Arwienydd.”

“In what way?” she asked with a furrowed brow.

“Well, we don’t even know what it means that Zemi is sparkling away like this. Other that it appears that he’s not well,” SoYa looked at her. “You don’t go and heal someone before you know what’s making them sick, right? Why would we try to do that with Zemi?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“Is Zemi really all that different from us?” SoYa’s words hung in the air for a moment, as if they were the most important words he had ever spoken.

It was unthinkable. Unfathomable. So completely beyond comprehension.

How could it be possible that an Arweinydd — a creature of the starry heavens, a being of light and power, with abilities and knowledge so far beyond them all — be anything like they were? Creatures of the earth, bound to life and death. Bound to the world that they lived on. Struggling with comprehension and survival.

As AsaHi peered over at the shimmering form of the Dreigiau and saw the quiet, now familiar face lined with unusual pain, she realized that SoYa was right. The Patron was now suffering, too, and learning things unknown to his own kind. In the midst of the hurt and emotion…

Zemi is becoming more like us.

The girl’s hands wrapped more tightly around SoYa’s arm. She wasn’t sure why the thought made her uneasy. AsaHi was always the one to challenge the status quo. She was never content to take things for face value. She wanted to find the truth behind everything, even as frightening and painful as the truth might be.

So why is this one truth so hard to accept?

“It’s going to be harder for him to accept, I promise,” SoYa’s voice brought her out the depths of thought.

“SoYa,” she chided, searching for anything to shift the conversation, “Stop listening in.”

The Athrylith gave a sheepish look and rubbed the back of his head. “Sorry. You were being loud.”

AsaHi sighed in return.

After a moment, SoYa approached conversation again, “I was thinking…”


“We’re not getting much help from Zazo on this,” he informed her as if she didn’t already know. But then he continued, “So why don’t we go and talk to Zeni instead?”

“Zeni?” AsaHi echoed.

“Yes. I’ve talked to her before,” he answered. “She seems to be friendly and concerned. She might be willing to help us if she realizes something is wrong with Zemi.”

“What do you think she can do?” the girl tapped her bottom lip with a frown.

“I don’t know yet. But it’s a place to start,” SoYa spread his hands.

“Do you know how to find her?”

“I’ve heard that Zeni’s befriended Suzume, actually, while Suzume was in Wyndor,” he nodded. “So that’s probably the first place to check.”

“Suzume,” AsaHi tilted her head.

It was a while since she saw the girl. Or Lucci. Though she heard about what happened to the boy during his travels in the Outter Realms, it was hard for AsaHi to believe any of them. It was hard for her to think of Lucci as anything more than the little boy that she remembered.

I suppose I should go and see for myself.

“Sound good to you?” SoYa asked.

AsaHi nodded, giving his hand a squeeze, “You’re so smart.”

He laughed shyly and an attempt at imitating one of his father’s comebacks, “That’s why you love me.”

The girl covered her mouth with a teasing giggle, “Keep working on it, SoYa.”

The Athrylith just looked all the more abashed.

Then taking a sobering deep breath, AsaHi turned back to peer at the unmoving Dreigiau. Tenderly, she pulled the blankets up around his shoulders and smoothed out his hair. The shimmering light seemed to react to her touch, if only a little.

“Hang in there, Zemi. We’re going to find help,” she told him. Then giving his face one last soft stroke, she turned, leaving the room with SoYa at her side.