It was good for AsaHi to see Suzume again.
It was only a matter of moments before the dark haired girl invited them inside, pulling them both over to the wicker chairs in the center of the room. Just as quickly, AsaHi started up a conversation, asking the girl all about the things she saw. Talking about wings. Feathers and flying.
AsaHi was so worried about Suzume. She was always sending her letters and trying to encourage her.
Now that the two were together again, he sensed a spark of cheer that was so far and in between lately. SoYa didn’t interrupt. He simply sat in his own chair, waiting and watching. Noticing things.
Suzume talks so grown up now. I guess we’re not the only ones that have been through a lot lately.
A little time passed before their conversation was cut off by the click of the opening bedchamber door. SoYa turned with a cautious eye, hands gripping the arms of his chair. Waiting.
They say Lucci’s become the Sygnus.
He knew it was wrong to base his thoughts off of the word of others, especially others who treated the boy with contempt back in Ceiswyr. Even SoYa couldn’t help being a bit nervous at the thought of harboring a Sygnus among them. Especially a Sygnus who carried a weapon that was forged through the Arweinydd wars during the Time Before.
AsaHi fell silent, her head turned towards the slowly opening door. SoYa sucked in a sharp breath through his nose as the young Sygnus stepped into the room.
It was undoubtedly Lucci. The silver hair was much longer. Silver eyes were deeper and somewhat haunted. His lanky teenage form was now taller and stronger. Strange runes marked along his jawline, the same cold silver color as the shifting mists that followed at his heels.
SoYa found his hands gripping the arms of his chair more tightly. Until he took a closer look.
One side of Lucci’s shirt had come untucked as he mis-buttoned it from the collar down. The tunic vest was clearly two sizes too small while his trousers didn’t quite tuck into the tops of his boots the way they should have. His cloak also looked too small for him, bearing the familiar stains that came from days of long travel. Under the shadow of the grown-up brow, there was the uncertainty of the boy that SoYa remembered.
Lucci stood for a moment before awkwardly attempting to bow. His voice was strained with apprehension, “Master SoYa. Lady AsaHi.”
Maybe AsaHi could see the same things that SoYa could. Maybe it was the clumsy attempt to bow. Or maybe the fear in the young man’s voice. Whatever it was, SoYa could tell that she was won over even before she rose to her feet.
“Lucci!” AsaHi half exclaimed, crossing the room to him. She took his arm with a soft sound. “Look at you! When did you get so handsome?”
The young Sygnus just gave a shy smile, unable to even stammer a reply.
Taking her cue, SoYa also got to his feet, “It’s been a while. It’s good to see you, Lucci.”
The young man nodded in return, finally managing a few words, “It’s good to see you, too. I’m glad… you didn’t get hurt… in the battles…”
“We were worried when you disappeared like you did,” AsaHi told him.
“I’m sorry,” Lucci offered an apologetic look.
“It’s all right,” SoYa pursed his lips. “We all have to do what needs to be done, sometimes.”
The young Sygnus was silent for a moment. Then he said again, “It’s hard. And I’m sorry.”
SoYa glanced up with a puzzled face.
“About Master TsuYa,” Lucci added, wincing a bit. “I’m sorry.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” the Athrylith drew in a long breath before he sat down again. “I know you did everything you could. We all did.”
“Come on,” AsaHi took the young man’s arm, leading him towards the chairs. “Let’s try not to talk about too much sadness. We have to figure out what we’re going to do here and now, not point the blame for things that already happened.”
Lucci gave them a long frown as he sat down. When he spoke next, it was the exact words that SoYa had been hoping to hear, “There’s some trouble, isn’t there? Is there something I can do to help?”
“As a matter of fact, I think there might be,” the Athrylith answered, relaxing slowly in his chair.
“Not for us, though,” AsaHi corrected. “It’s Zemi.”
“Lord Zemi?” Suzume echoed, leaning over the arm of Lucci’s chair.
“We think he may be… sick,” AsaHi searched for the best words to use.
“Is that possible?” Lucci’s voice was thick with incredulity.
“I know how it sounds,” SoYa replied. “But I saw it for myself. Something happened to Zemi when Ceiswyr fell.”
“He was fighting Zeromus,” AsaHi’s voice was quiet. “It could have something to do with Chaos, too.”
Suzume and Lucci exchanged worried frowns.
Then the young Sygnus spoke, “You know that I’ll do whatever I can to help Lord Zemi. Only, I’m not sure exactly how.”
“We’re not all that certain either, Lucci,” SoYa spread his hands. “We were hoping that if we can find out a little more about what can make an Arweinydd sick, we can figure out how to reverse it.”
“Suzume,” AsaHi began, “We know that you’ve been spending a lot of time talking to Zeni. Do you think that you would be able to persuade her to talk to us, if it would help her brother?”
The girl blinked. “I don’t see why not. She cares a lot about Lord Zemi.”
AsaHi smiled and pressed her hands together, “Good! Then maybe we can–”
“The child-Arweinydd won’t have the answers,” an unfamiliar voice suddenly interrupted.
“What?” AsaHi stopped with a puzzled frown.
“I said, Zeni won’t have the answers any more than you do,” the voice repeated. “None of the young Arweinydd understand what they are or where they come from, much less how to deal with the first wave of Becoming.”
“Who said that?” SoYa stared around the room, eyes wide.
A flickering glow appeared within the doorway to the bedchamber. At first, it was nothing more than a hazy light that rippled in mid-air. Ever so slowly, it began to take the form of a man. A tall, somewhat disheveled man with strangely deep eyes and pale hair. He offered them a wide smile as he stepped into the room, his image growing more and more firm until it became completely solid.
His smile faded the moment that AsaHi gave a small, frightened scream.
“Hold on!” Lucci was on his feet, hands spread in a calming motion. “This is Kaz! He’s a friend!”
“He’s a ghost!” AsaHi’s fists were jammed up to her mouth, eyes wide.
“We prefer the term Spirit. Or Departed, if you must,” Kaz sighed, half to himself.
“But you’re still a ghost!” the girl waved her hands forward.
“AsaHi, wait,” SoYa’s voice was smooth as he squinted at the Spirit. “I don’t think he’s dangerous.”
“Of course not!” the wide smile had returned. “I’m very friendly!”
AsaHi eyed Kaz with an uncertain look, but didn’t argue.
“He’s helped me,” Lucci explained. “He’s my friend. And he’s from the Time Before.”
SoYa perked up, turning a questioning gaze at the Spirit, “The Time Before? Really?”
“That’s right!” Kaz half pranced back and forth before them. “And I know a thing or two about Arweinydd!”
“Do you think you can tell us what is making Zemi sick?” AsaHi frowned a little.
“It’s possible,” he shrugged. “I’d have to talk to him first.”
SoYa leaned back with a thoughtful look. Then he turned towards AsaHi, “I don’t think that could hurt anything. Do you?”
“Zemi’s not talking to anyone right now. He’s hardly moved at all since we got him here,” the girl answered.
“Let me guess, he’s particling,” Kaz held up a finger.
“What?” SoYa furrowed his brows.
“Breaking off into a bunch of tiny floating light particles,” the Spirit defined.
“That’s right. How did you know?” the Athrylith blinked.
“I told you. I know a few things about Arweinydd,” the Spirit began to prance again with a self-important expression.
AsaHi leaned over to SoYa, whispering, “I think he’s a little strange. Are you sure it’s a good idea?”
“I don’t know,” he whispered back. “But we may not have the time to be picky about the help we get. I think we should at least let him try and talk to Zemi. He seems to know things that we don’t.”
AsaHi took a deep breath and nodded slowly. “Okay. But maybe we should keep Lucci around, just in case.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” SoYa pursed his lips, glancing across the room.
Kaz beamed a wide, friendly smile in return.
The Athrylith cleared his throat before asking, “Lucci, Suzume and… uh… Kaz. Would you mind coming back with us to Zemi’s chambers? Maybe we can figure something out between all of us.”
“Of course, Master SoYa,” the young Sygnus nodded without a second’s worth of thought. “Anything for Lord Zemi.”
Without further discussion, they rose to their feet — two winged girls, an Athrylith, a Sygnus and a Spirit from the Time Before – and made their way towards the resting chamber of the Arweinydd.