Book 4 Chapter 26

“Zento?” the golden voice echoed off the glassy walls of the Wyndor chambers.

SoYa looked over to see Lady KaiShi, in her person form, walking towards the slumped blue and white figure of his father. The slick floors reflected them from below, images of sorrow and concern. They weren’t in Wyndor long before she sought him out.

The Lady Dragon paused a few feet away from the winged warrior, giving him a chance to respond. Father’s sunken green eyes flicked up at her. He attempted a watery smile that only made him appear all the more mournful.

SoYa felt a lump in his throat as he watched. It was hard… so hard… to see the burden of Father’s pain. He was one of the most powerful, unbreakable forces that the young Athrylith knew. So much loss, both TsuYa and now Aunt SaRa, broke much of that spirit, and SoYa didn’t know how to comfort him.

Lady KaiShi seemed to have a better idea of what to do. With a gentle face, she swept her arms around Father and gave him a long, sympathetic hug. Her voice was schooled to strength, “Oh, Zento, I’m so sorry.”

The Athrylith watched with a slight ponder as Father not only allowed the hug, but actually embraced the Lady Dragon in return. Something within SoYa felt glad to see a display of affection that Father responded to, as unexpected as it was.

Well that’s… interesting.

Not that SoYa could blame him. She was very pretty, despite being a Dragon. He continued to watch them from a distance, seeing that Lady KaiShi was also successful in getting Father to start a conversation once the embrace completed. Eventually, as the talk began to get deeper, he even saw the winged warrior attempt another slight smile.

I’m glad. Father really does need someone to talk to.

Not much changed in Wyndor since the last time he was there, except for the signs of the women and children who migrated before the attack on Ceiswyr. The caverns were large enough to house all of the refugees, plus the Dragons that normally dwelt there. No doubt that they all had a safe and comfortable stay, up until now.

Now the threat of invasion is looming. No one expected Wyndor to come under attack, not so far away from Nefol.

At the far end of the main chamber, Zemi was in deep conference with the Dragons and leaders of the winged armies. Though they arrived in Wyndor ahead of the Marked invasion, traces of Zeromus’ dark forces were spotted scouting out the face of the mountainside. No matter how they fortified, they knew that somewhere, somehow, the shadows would find a way to break the defenses and flood into the chambers. All they could do was be ready for when that time came.

“There’s a Cynosure point located in the far west wing of the underground passage,” Zemi’s gritty voice carried through the tall vaulted chamber, despite taking his person form for the sake of the meeting. “I’ve already attuned it to open a rift near the Vision Stone if we need to evacuate.”

“Evacuate, Lord Zemi?” one of the Dragons asked. “Why would we need to do that? We can hold Wyndor!”

“I have every confidence that we can,” the Dreigiau replied. “But if things go sour for any reason, be looking for my signal to move into the west wing for evacuation. I want all the women and children there for safety, just in case we do need them to move quickly.”

“I don’t understand, Lord Zemi, but we’ll do as you say,” the Dragon replied with a quizzical look.

“It’s a promise I made that I plan to keep,” Zemi didn’t explain more, he simply gave the Dragon a pat on the muzzle with a quiet frown.

A promise to Father, I bet. Father really doesn’t want to put up a defense here. I’m not sure I understand why.

SoYa was no tactician, but Wyndor seemed to be far more defendable than even the Islands were. There were so many chambers and tunnels to set up ambushes, ways to block and confuse an invading army, not to mention the Dragons knew every nook and cranny like the back of their tail, having lived there for so long.

I guess Father is just trying to play it careful. Especially after all that’s happened.

The Athrylith gave a soft sigh and leaned with his back against the wall. Father should have been a part of that meeting, but people were giving him his space to mourn. SoYa worried and wondered if Father was in shape to fight the next battle at all.

As he settled back to ponder further, he heard the sound of his name from the other side of the chamber. Glancing up, SoYa found both Lady KaiShi and Father watching him. He gave them a questioning look.

“Isn’t that right, SoYa?” the Lady Dragon asked, including him in the middle of a conversation he wasn’t following at all.

“I’m sorry. I’m not sure what you’re asking, Lady,” he answered politely, trying not to stammer under her deep gaze.

She just gave him a kind smile. With a sweeping motion of one arm, she took his shoulder and led him back towards Father. Her tone was teasing and golden, “Now, SoYa, you know the best course of action is to always agree with a Lady without question. Am I right?”

“Yes, Lady KaiShi,” he felt the flush rising in his cheeks.

“There you go. You catch on quickly, don’t you? You’re a regular gentleman, like your father,” she chided him warmly.

“Yes, Ma’am. I try,” he bobbed his head to her.

“Well, if you must know, I was telling your father how much you must be worried for him.” And just like that, the Lady Dragon ushered father and son together, giving SoYa the chance that he had hoped for, to offer his concern and support.

He didn’t question how she knew. He just took the gifted opportunity.

“Well, maybe a little,” SoYa answered, trying not to appear overly anxious.

As was Father’s way, he turned the question backwards, “How are you holding up, SoYa?”

Expecting the question, the Athrylith had an answer ready, “I’m alright, Father. It’s been tough for everyone, but AsaHi is with me.”

“Yes, of course. AsaHi’s a wonderful girl,” Father’s thoughts seemed to trail off, leading to a dead end in the conversation.

SoYa observed him for a moment. Up close he could see it. Really feel it. So much of the spirit-light that used to show in the winged man’s eyes was dull. It was almost as hard to bear as the loss of TsuYa or Aunt SaRa.

Before the Athrylith realized what he was doing, he threw his arms around his father’s shoulders, hugging him tightly. Father gave a surprised sound, but relaxed, murmuring his last remaining son’s name.

SoYa struggled to find the words to express the feelings that burned within his chest. He wanted to be a source of comfort for Father, just as Father always was for him. He wanted Father to know how much he loved him, how important Father was to him. How proud SoYa was to have him as a father.

But the words all caught in his throat. Nothing seemed potent enough to convey the intensity of the emotion that choked all sound on his tongue.

Ever-helpful, Father just nodded and whispered gently, “I know. I know, SoYa. And I love you so much, too.”

The Athrylith could only nod in confirmation as the winged man gave him a last strong squeeze. No matter how distressed Father was, his hugs were always a power to be reckoned with.

Lady KaiShi stood, watching them both with a playful smile on her lips. As she caught SoYa’s eye, she beamed brightly at him. “Was that so hard to do?”

“No Ma’am,” he replied with a shake of his head.

“I didn’t think so. Not for a courageous boy like you,” she teased again.

Just for a moment as they stood there, a feeling of something old and familiar washed over SoYa’s body, as if they lived out something like this a long time ago. It was hard to tell, but he thought that the two could also feel it, as they gave slightly bewildered looks between them. Then, the moment was gone. All that was left was the quizzical air between them and the distant call of Zemi’s voice.

Father shook his head out before turning to glance back at the Dreigiau, “That appears to be my cue.”

“I’ll come as well,” KaiShi nodded.

“Should I?” SoYa offered, still worried about how Father would hold up under the stress of battle planning.

“I think I’ll be alright now. Thank you, SoYa,” the winged man nodded and gave him a light clap on the shoulder. “You should probably go find AsaHi. I bet she’s looking for you.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” SoYa nodded and rubbed his hand through his thick curly hair as he turned to walk away. Something deep inside was strangely reluctant to leave, but he didn’t understand why. “I’ll see you later, then.”

“Of course,” Father offered him a struggling but genuine smile. Then, with a flick of his silver-flecked wings, he turned to join the leader’s council in the great hall of Wyndor.