Book 4 Chapter 5

Why is everything so fuzzy?

Something was wrong with his vision portals, though Zemi didn’t know exactly what the issue was. In fact, he didn’t even know where he was. Why he was there. And why the world was so white and floaty.

The sensation wasn’t painful or really that undesirable. His physical weight seemed nonexistent, something that he needed to tweak again later. His vision wasn’t projecting correctly. His audio was muted and dim. And his train of thought – when did he get one of those?! – was functioning far slower than it had a right to.

That’s the problem with these physical forms. Always requiring so much maintenance.

A nagging in the back of his mind told him that something happened to cause this failure in his so finely-researched and well-crafted Earthian form. Only, he couldn’t remember exactly what the experience was. So he decided that it wasn’t that important.

Failure? Impossible. ZemiDreigiaudoes not fail!

Every time he told himself that, the nagging returned. Oh, yes. Zemi Dreigiau had failed. And he failed in the worst way possible.

You’re going to have to work a little harder if you want me to believe that.

So the thought would recede, fading off into the distant haze. Until Zemi began to wonder once again why everything was so fuzzy.

He might have spent a small eternity pondering these questions if the voice didn’t interrupt. At first, Zemi thought it was a trick of his malfunctioning audio receptors. For whatever strange sort of state he was in, it was not possible for any other willful presence to push its way into his awareness. Arweinydd were not the same as Earthians, after all. They didn’t have the same visual and aural mind activity… dreams… open consciousness. All the things that it took to tap in and create the sensation of mind speak and physical illus-

“Zemi!” the voice sounded again, this time more insistent.

“Augh!” the Dreigiau responded. “You aren’t real! Be gone!”

“I most certainly am real, boy,” the voice retorted hotly. Then it even forced a visual appearance to take shape right there. Though the form was wavery, like a reflection in a rippling pool, Zemi could make out the image of a man. Appearing there. Impossibly in his non-existent Earthian-like mental imagery.

“How did you do that?” Zemi grit his teeth, taking a step back.

“The same way you just did,” the form lifted one hand to point.

That’s when Zemi realized that somehow, he too, imposed a physical representation of himself as a mental image within his own-

“Will you please stop trying to make sense of this? The how isn’t important, Zemi. You must focus on the why,” the voice told him, becoming a bit more gentle.

“The why?” the Dreigiau asked, busy waving his hand in front of his face. It looked and felt solid enough for a visual representation of– He forced himself to refocus on the voice’s words, “They why what?”

“Not what. Just why,” came the answer.

“What?” Zemi was now thoroughly lost.

The voice sighed, holding up both hands. “Okay. Let’s try this again. From the start.”

“Alright,” Zemi answered, half attentive. He toed at the ground with one boot, curious about the manifestation of clothing and how he could possibly have physical contact with a floor-like structure that did not appear to have any visual-



“You’re particling!” the voice informed him in a deeply worried tone.

“I’m what?”

“Particling,” he repeated. “Losing your physical form, and returning to your origins of light.”

“I am?” Zemi looked down at his hands. They seemed just fine to him.

“Not here,” the voice sighed, motioning. “Out there. In the world of Awareness.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” the Dreigiau admitted slowly. His tone was more grim. There was something in the way that this strange being spoke that seemed very serious.

“Zemi, things have happened. Bad things,” came the quiet, concerned reply. “Somehow, in the mix of it all, you’re getting all separated.”


“Your essence. Your awareness. They’re breaking apart from each other. You’re losing your connection to the physical world,” the voice explained. “If you don’t do something to stop it, you’ll return to what you were before — the Light without Knowing. All that you made, everyone who is counting on you, all of that will fade away.”

A sharp jolt cracked through the foggy white of his mind. As the words rang in his mind, memories suddenly bubbled up, carrying with them flickers of images. Dark images.

Himself. A Dragon. Flying into Zerom’s Chaos. With the tiny form of AsaHi on his back.

AsaHi… she…

Awakening. Her wings spread wide. Her struggle to save them as they fell.

As Ceiswyr fell. Raining like tears around them.

No! That couldn’t… it didn’t…

The pain of his people crying out to him. Feeling their spirits flicker and fade within his mind.

So many lost. So little I could do.

TsuYa’s Marked transformation. How they lost the one who meant so much to Zento.

Zerom’s triumph.

Zemi Dreigiau’s defeat.

“It’s not over yet,” the voice broke in, fighting to overpower the sorrowful memories. Fighting to be heard above the Arweinydd’s grief.

“I… failed them…” Zemi heard himself say. His own voice sounded unreal to his ears. The words were even more unreal.

ZemiDreigiau… does not… fail…

“No. You haven’t,” a soft wavering hand was on his shoulder. “Zemi, listen to me. I need you to hear me out.”

It was hard to hear anything. Everything was becoming more and more blurry. Shifting around him like a vast ocean of regret and defeat. Pounding within his mind. Tearing him down from inside out.

“ZEMI!” came the frantic shout. “Don’t leave them! They need you!”

No… they don’t…

“Yes! They do!” the voice argued. “Ceiswyrmay be gone, but there are still a lot of people left alive! Those people need their Patron! Zerom and his Marked are sitting on the other side of that Cleft just sniffing for a way to get across. If you leave them now, then Zerom will win! He will take everything. There will not be a single light left in this world that can stand up to that kind of Chaos!”

Zemi focused on the words that were clearer once more.

“But, I can’t fight it either,” the Dreigiau spoke slowly. “I can’t strike at him for fear of falling to the Chaos myself. All I can to do is struggle to defend and fall back as his power grows. How can I, an Arweinydd, fight another of my own kind?”

“Zemi,” the voice was soft again. A reassuring touch on his shoulder. “There’s more to you than you realize.”

The Arweinydd glanced up with a quizzical look.

“You have so much power, so much strength,” it continued. “But that was tempered in your art. In learning about your people. In finding compassion and love for the Earthians. Not in battle, struggles, and war.”

“Then what should I do?” Zemi frowned.

“Realize that you haven’t reached your full potential. That, like the Earthians, you can still change and grow. That there is so much about your kind, and yourself, that you have yet to learn,” came the gentle answer.

“Are you saying there might be a way that I can stand up to Zerom and his Chaos?”

“It’s possible. But you have to unify yourself and your energies first, all parts of yourself.”

“Parts?” Zemi frowned. “What does–”

“Now Zemi, if I gave you all the answers, that would take away the point of the journey,” the voice gave a quiet laugh. “There are just some things that you must discover for yourself.”


“Isn’t that what you say about your Earthians?” the image began to ripple and fade.

“Yes, but–”

“They’re waiting for you, Zem. Why don’t you see what your Watcher says about all this?” the voice became more and more distant. “Just remember, you haven’t failed them until you’ve given up.”

“Wait!” the Dreigiau protested. “Where are you going? I wasn’t done talking to yo–”

“Zemi!” another voice rang through his mind. A voice that he recognized instantly.


“Zemi?” the girl’s voice pleaded. It sounded so worried. So heartbroken. “Please, wake up!”

Wake up? ButArweinydddon’t slee-

The room around him suddenly came into focus. Tiny dancing particles of light floated before his eyes, capering across the sunlight that streamed through the windows. They alighted gently on the bed sheets, the curtains, and in AsaHi’s hair.

The girl stood over him, face etched in lines of deep worry. Worry all for him. She was just as beautiful as he remembered. The way the light reflected from her bright green eyes. The way her mouth curved, so small and delicate. The way her slender hand rested so lightly against his forehead.

If this is what I get for particling, I should try it more often.

A faint laugh rumbled in his chest.

“Zemi? Can you hear me?” Another face popped into view – SoYa.

All love-sick day dreams of AsaHi poofed out of his thoughts instantly. He tried to keep the grudging out of his tone, “Yeah, I hear you.”

“Oh, thank goodness!” AsaHi sighed deeply, hugging him around the neck.

That made the situation decidedly better again.

“Hey, I’m good. Why the long faces?” the Dreigiau attempted a casual approach. After all, if he didn’t let them sense trouble, there was no reason for them to think there was any.

“Because you haven’t been doing well,” SoYa told him with a grim look. He reached out, capturing one of the floating specks of light. “Look, AsaHi. They seem to be fading.”

The girl sat up, loosening her hold on the Dreigiau’s neck. He silently mourned the loss.

“Then they must really have been a part of Zemi,” she said slowly, giving him a quizzical frown.

“Particling” he said. I guess this is what he meant.

“Are you feeling any better, Lord Zemi?” came a smooth, calm voice from the far side of the room.

The Dreigiau pushed himself into a sitting position, teal-flecked eyes squinting through the light. It took him a long moment to figure out who he was seeing. Long silver hair… deep silver eyes… open and boyish concern… young Suzume hanging around one broad shoulder.

“Lucci?” his voice creaked out despite all attempts to school it.

Now that… was unexpected.

The young Sygnus rose to his feet, crossed the room and stooped next to the bedside. He hesitated just a moment before reaching out to the Arweinydd.

Zemi took his hands, “You came back safely.”

“You sent people to help me,” Lucci replied frankly. “You believed I could find it, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” the Dreigiau nodded quietly. “I believe if anyone can turn this battle, it will be you.”

The young man’s eyes widened with surprise, as if he wasn’t used to people putting so much hope in him. He simply nodded dumbly, over and over and over again. “I want to help. I want to stop Zeromus.”

“I know. So do I,” Zemi told him, patting one hand fondly. “And we’re going to. If you can just be patient for a little bit longer.”

“What do you mean, Zemi?” SoYa inquired with a tilt of his head.

“I’m not completely sure. There are some things I need to check into first,” the Arweinydd admitted. Then his eyes glinted with a new light, focusing on the faces around him, “But this fight isn’t over with. Not just yet.”

It was as if a warming wave of hope washed through the room — their faces lit up with their own new-found strength. Their minds opened to the possibilities, to the power of a Patron inspiring his people.

Even Lucci broke out into an honest-to-goodness grin, “I was hoping you’d say that.”