Day 42Chapter 14
“When will mother wake up?”
He knew he'd asked that question many times since the accident but Makani just had to know. Saira was missing, mother was still sleeping and now lots of new, big dragons were showing up. They'd made it to the big hole in the wall where the really big dragon had laid mother down on the fluffy black sheet. Vin had kept his word and told her what had happened, to which she'd stayed a little longer to make sure everyone else was comfortable. Turned out Vila, as her name was, couldn't stay long and had only wanted to find out what happened but had been held back by the two younger ones. She'd left not long before Maki asked the question again, he and Vin sat against a wall while the two others made hot orange light.
“I really don't know.” Vin replied tiredly. Not tired-tiredly, his mind and heart were in more knots than he tied himself into when he got upset.
“And where did Saya go?”
For a long, long while the grey Spiral said nothing, staring at the opposite side of the rock-hole. Maki glanced over once, twice, three times, didn't see what the long dragon was looking at and thought about poking him again. Before he could move however Vin finally spoke. “She's...” Only to stop again, frowning, thinking hard. “She's in a really, really deep sleep.”
The green Fae perked up. “That means she'll wake up soon though right? Like mother?”
Vin sighed loudly, placing a hand on his face. “This is going to be so hard...” he muttered to himself. After another long pause he reached into the bag he'd gotten from the place with the friendly dragons and pulling out something long and white with a little black bit sticking out. “See this candle?” he asked, holding the stick-thing out for the Fae to see.
“Uh-huh.” Makani nodded, tilting his head to examine it.
The Spiral adjusted his position so he was laying flatter on the ground and turned the can-dal over a few times so Makani could see it all, then pointed at the black bit on top. “This represents us.” He took out a wooden stick, dragged it over the ground until light happened and pressed it to the black thing, which also made light. “And this is our life. When we're awake, like we are now, our life-fire burns bright like this, see?” Back to the bag, this time pulling out something like a lid and held it over the light. “When we go to sleep it goes dim, like this.” he lowered the lid-thing and the light went small.
“But it's still there.” Maki pointed out happily.
Vin nodded, removing the lid so the light could grow back. “And when we wake up, it comes back like this. Now Mata- your mother is like this.” Again the lid came down, further this time so the light got really tiny.
“Her “life-fire” is low?” Maki asked, fins folding back slightly. “But then you just take off the lid and it comes back, right?”
“Right.” the Spiral replied, doing just that. “But we're not candles. When our fire is low it takes a very, very, very long time for it to come back like the flame on the candle did. But her flame is there and she will come back.”
“And Saya?” Another long pause. Behind them they could hear the two young dragons arguing as the orange-light-fire crackled and filled the rock-hole with light and warmth. Vin was visibly shaking as he looked between the can-dal and the lid-thing, large eyes shining with wet, glaring at the hand with the lid in it. “Fin?”
“Sai... Saira's... life-flame is...” Vin trembled as he brought the lid right down over the flame, a little twist of smoke escaping from a hole at the top, then lifted the lid to show the flame had gone out. “This is Saira.”
Without understanding exactly what this meant a sharp pang hit Makani in the heart, making him bring both hands to his chest. His red-green eyes began to sting. “It's... gone?”
“If... if... if a candle... is allowed to... to burn all the time...” Vin swallowed, closed his eyes, grit his teeth. “It can burn for a long, long time. We're the same. We keep going until we reach our end, when there's... there's... nothing... left to burn.” His grip on the candle and lid tightened, squeezing them hard. “B-but sometimes... something gets in the way!
” he yelled suddenly, tossing the lid as hard as he could across the cave and startling the other two.
“Hey, watch it!” Eurus shouted as the lid bounced off the wall next to him.
Makani turned to see where the lid had landed and how the others reacted to it, saw the black Coatl staring back at him, squeaked and turned back to Vin, who had since collapsed into a pile of scaly coils with his arms over his face. “She was my only friend.” he managed in a faint, strained voice between sobs.
Wet began to collect in the Fae's eyes too, streaking past his face-fins which had drooped all the way down. He lifted a tiny hand and placed it on Vin's nose, making the Spiral open his eyes to see him. Makani then wrapped his arms around Vin's snout in the best hug he could manage, closing his eyes as he rubbed against the black scales. Warmth surrounded him as he felt Vin place a hand around his much smaller body, pulling him close.
In the dark depths Makani lay on his back, staring up at the very close roof. Vin had managed to find a crack in the wall leading to a smaller cave-hole, possibly used by some small animal, and brought the two inside it as means to escape the small red-and-blue Guardian who had decided to stick her nose in to see what was wrong. Not in any mood to explain Vin had slithered inside quickly, motioning for him to follow. So he had and now they were both trying to sleep. Trying. It wasn't working. To make himself more comfortable Makani rolled onto his side, finding himself face-to-face with a very awake Vin.
“Can't sleep either, huh?” the Spiral asked quietly, rolling an eye to better regard the tiny Fae. His voice was weak and raw from crying.
“No.” Maki replied softly, clasping his hands together like he'd seen Vin do all the time. “I was... thinking. Can we...” He stopped and looked away.
The black face lifted slightly. “Hm?”
“Can we go back? To where it happened?”
It lifted right up this time, almost hitting the roof. “What? Why?”
“I-I don't know. I just... want to see it again.”
Vin's jaw dropped, showing rows of teeth and a long, thin tongue. “I don't understand why why would you- that's where- just why?” Makani didn't respond, fins and crest pressed against his body. “...I'm sorry.” Vin apologised weakly. “Those guys want to see where we were and what happened too. We'll go when it's light. Makani nodded silently and the boys settled back down to at least pretend to sleep. Tonight was going to be a restless one.
As expected, the place where it all happened was a disaster area. The trees were black charcoal, barely standing against the new breeze. Black flecks were pulled off, dancing in the air, carried off across the Windswept Plateau. Smoke replaced leaves in a thick mockery of the foliage, coiling around branches and lifting into the skies which were choked with heavy black clouds. It could rain again soon. Underfoot the ground was ravaged. No grass remained in the torn, pock-marked mud where the pounding of many hooves had turned out, torn it. Some of the prints were filled with rainwater, ash settled in a thin, grey film on top of each one. Scales of other creatures unfortunate enough to be caught in the stampede littered the ground, the purple hide of such a one left behind as a predator was scared off from its meal. The desolation spread for acres, even coming close to the fisher-village of Saltwind Heights in the distance.
A low whistle was blown from between Eurus' lips as he took it all in. “And this happened because the giant tornado is blowing the wrong way now?” Not waiting for an answer he bounded forward to inspect the damage, licking a finger and holding it up to test the wind direction for proof. Lightning nature in action. His light-blue eyes scanned each and every hoof-print, followed the direction they'd come from, launched himself into the air with a flurry of feathers to get a better view.
“Wow I've never seen trees like this before.” Isaura said with wonder, making her way to the nearest burned husk and reaching out.
“Wait no don't touch-!” Vin tried, reaching out to try and pull the Guardian away. Too late, a red paw lay on the crispy bark. No reaction, only a confused look.
“Uh, why? It's fine! Look!” she patted the tree over and over, dislodging some dry flakes.
Vin glanced down at Makani in bewilderment, then moved over to also touch the tree. And drew back with a yelp. “No that's definitely still hot!” he claimed, waving his scorched fingers around to lessen the pain.
“Weird. How come it doesn't hurt me then?”
“Cos you're Fire flight, stupid!” came Eurus' voice from above as he circled over and disappeared over the treeline again.
“...Ohhhh.” Vin and Sora said together, looked at each other, started laughing. “Jinx!”
Makani meanwhile had made his way over to where Saira and her mother had danced, had helped him start learning to fly. He flared his wings, flapped a few times in memory. Soon, he felt, he could do that too. But that wasn't what held his full attention. He had gathered together some feathers that had come loose from both of them during the accident, along with a few strips of the silky material that made Saira's dress, now reddened by blood. Wing beats behind him, something landing in the sodden earth.
“What'cha got there, kiddo?” It was Eurus, the dark, yellow-streaked Coatl. Like his mother. Makani lifted his head to acknowledge him but was, quite literally, crestfallen. Saira had told him that Coatl couldn't understand Fae talk. Did Eurus know this? Maki didn't try, gut feeling telling him that no, the other feathered dragon wouldn't understand. Instead he moved to the side to show him. “Huh. Odd things to want to collect.” Eurus mused, taking a good look at each one. He picked up one of Saira's feathers. “Pretty though. Facet perhaps? I've known dragons with glass wings back home.” He picked up another and shook them, creating the still-pleasing chiming sounds despite the damage. “Yo! Sora! Other guy! Get yer butts over here!”
Isaura, or Sora as Eurus addressed her, was first to arrive in a splash of water as she pounced from puddle to puddle like a giant wolf puppy. “Yeeeeeeees Russ?” Vin snaked in afterwards, baulking at the sight.
“Could ya do me a favour and tell me what the little guy says?” He tapped the side of his head. “We kinda don't hear fairy dragons too well.”
“Sure!” Sora bumped Maki with her snout, grinning. “What'cha doing? Ooh ooh! Is this your Charge? Mine might be here too!” She wagged her long tail excitedly. Behind her Eurus groaned.
“How many times...?”
Hands clasped together Makani stepped back from the young Guardian and then gestured at the collection. “These belonged to Saya and my mother. I wanted something to remember Saya with. Her feathers... I liked the sound they made. And mother's feathers are so pretty. Oh, and this is part of what Saya wore.” He pointed to each in turn, then looked between the three. Vin seemed like he could cry again.
“Huh, that's kinda sweet.” Eurus said, folding his stubby arms once Sora had, in her own words, relayed Makani's explanation. “Kinda morbid, but kinda sweet.”
Maki held up the tattered silk. “I want to make something out of them. So they can always be with me.”
It had taken a few minutes of back-and-forthing between the four of them after Vin protested about Maki's decision. Yes he missed Saira, yes keeping the feathers was a nice idea. But the silk? Making them all into clothes? It didn't feel right. Plus the constant reminder from the chiming feathers would drive him mad. Eventually they managed to placate him enough for him to relent from arguing, though he still felt uneasy about it. After Vin and Maki told the full story of what happened they made their way back to the cave. When they arrived, they were in for a surprise.
“Mother?” Maki squeaked, seeing movement inside. He rushed in first, followed closely by the rest of the group. Sure enough, Ilmatar was finally awake and moving sluggishly around. She looked up at his approach, not fully focused. He didn't care, flinging himself against a foreleg and holding tightly. Her other hand came around, picked him up, pressed him against her face.
“I'm so glad you're safe.” she murmured. She then looked at the others, full of confusion. Anvindr she recognised and glared at uneasily, but the others? And where was Saira? “I missed a lot, didn't I?”