Rain splattered and poured as a torrential storm met the unyielding mountainside. The dark mass of swelling mist had arrived suddenly, carried across entire leagues in minutes by a cold, northbound wind. It drowned out the light of the mid-evening sun and drenched the land in shadow, leaving only the scattered flashes of lightning to illuminate the narrow road ahead.
After two days of rigorous travel, Kon and his companions were nearly there. Somewhere in the heart of that storm Westwind Academy was waiting. Nothing could stop them now.
Vigor leaned into the howling wind, his aura blazing, evaporating the pattering rain into hissing steam. Kon marched behind the giant, one hand holding onto the cliff for balance, while Lafer strode beside him, her right foot constantly grazing the mountain road’s ledge. For her, almost falling was thrilling rather than terrifying. Neither Kon nor his fae - who nervously buzzed in his ear - could understand.
“You two okay?” asked Lafer. She needed to yell to be heard over the relentless noise. Though her sword was in her hands, Kon still worried. The drop was long and as dark as oblivion.
“Just anxious,” he replied, his fae humming along with him. A pale sheen of magic filled the air, amplifying his voice. “Why is this storm happening now, of all times, and here, of all places? It feels like Fate is toying with me. Why complicate the last stretch of our journey? Haven’t we been through enough already?”
Lafer made a noise, testing the fae’s magic. With a look of satisfaction, she took a breath. “You can thank the valiant sacrifice of Orren for the time and place of this storm. We get a lot of them around here because of him. You’ve heard the story of the Hinderlands, haven’t you? When the weather is clearer, you can see the crown of ice from here.”
Kon nodded. When Tairn’s moon first shattered, a great Seer named Orren gave his very soul to his fae, Hinder, so that she could hold the impending cataclysm at bay. Because of her, it took decades for the meteors to land, their momentum slowed to a crawl. Centuries had passed since the impact and still, she remained there, imprisoning the first wave of invaders in a plain of frozen time. It made sense that storms were common near it. The cold air would displace the warm, generating clouds.
“How many years has she been there? Three hundred? Four?”
“Nearly 350,” rumbled Vigor. Kon saw him tilt his helmet, casting his gaze at his feet.
Lafer grunted. “Whole lifetimes spent in a never-ending standoff with the enemy.”
“That’s horrifying,” he whispered. “She must feel so alone. No people. No music.”
Vigor straightened, his voice sparking to life. “What’s truly horrifying is the fate of Orren. I could never let Lafer make that choice. No matter how much good I could do as a Spirit.”
A Spirit. “As in a fae without a Seer?”
“Yes. Like Prosper, Solstice, and Tempest. Unbound and transcendent.”
“How does that work?” he asked. “I didn’t realize Seers had a choice.”
Vigor quieted. The steam hissed louder as he pressed harder into the storm, leaving Lafer to speak in his place.
“When a Seer dies, our soul will persist long enough to deliver any last words or orders to people with the Sight. During that time, we’re able to make an important decision. Do we allow our fae to carry our souls back to the sun? Do we take our fae’s essence and use it to manifest a new body, becoming a Sorcerer? Or do we give our soul to them so they can keep serving Fate as a greater Spirit?”
Vigor huffed a burst of flame. “I’d sooner give myself up than Lafer.”
Lafer chuckled. “Well pal, guess what? The feeling is mutual. You’ll never be able to escape me. Not in this life or the next.”
Vigor chuckled as well.
When she refocused on Kon, the moment of levity was already gone. Her smile faltered and her voice dripped with sadness. “Both cases are rare for a reason. One means murdering your best friend. The other means denying yourself paradise. Only the most despicable people can do the first, and the second? There’s nothing more noble, I’d say. Just think of how many Spirits changed our world for the better. How many of them kept us alive.”
“Noble,” Kon agreed. Prosper had preserved humanity through Tairn’s sudden ice age, and Solstice had pulled their sun closer, thawing out the world. Spirits only grew more powerful with time, and both of them had a millennia to develop.
Kon looked at his fae and wondered.
“Don’t bother thinking about it now,” Lafer told him, as if sensing his thoughts. “I won’t let you die on my watch, and you’ve got a family to fight for, anyway. It will be a long time before you need to consider it.”
Kon hesitated. “How did you know that’s what I was thinking?”
“Because we all think about it when we find out. Been there, done that, got the chestplate. It’s not worth the existential dread.”
At that, he nodded. Despite being so young, Lafer was undeniably wise. He knew he was right, so he cast the thought aside.
“Hey,” said Vigor. “Look. The wind is letting up. I can almost see Zephyr’s Cradle from here.”
Kon could almost see it too. In the distance, a shimmering whorl of green magic was propelling the clouds away from a small valley. Between the rain and steam, he couldn’t see much else, but that tiny hint of color shined a ray of hope on his heart.
“Zephyr’s is a Spirit too, isn’t she?”
“Good guess. She was the fae of Westwind Academy’s founder. Younger than Hinder, but not by much. Zephyr guards the Cradle in honor of her Seer. It was his dream to create a safe haven for people to learn in. She continues to make that dream a reality in his stead.”
“People?” Kon asked. “Not just Seers?”
“Uh-huh. Is that surprising? The Academies aren’t just for us. They’re institutions of higher learning for anyone who vows to serve the Fated King. Officers, inventors, doctors, you name it. We mostly get inventors in Westwind, though more doctors have come since Eastend had to be quarantined.”
“Quarantined?” Kon asked. He didn’t realize Decay had gotten that far in her rampage. After Hovud, the self-proclaimed King of the Carrion, was executed, he left her behind to wreak as much havoc as possible. It took days for the Seers to put the monster down. Now that he thought about it, that meant she had been a Spirit as well.
“Unfortunately. Most of the students were evacuated and now attend the other Academies. You’ll meet a few of them soon, but don’t expect them to be friendly. One’s a jerk, but the others… they’ve just been through a lot.”
“Now that we’re nearly there, could you tell me about them and the other students? The Professors, too. It would be nice to know who I’ll be dealing with for the next few weeks.”
Lafer stepped away from the ledge and walked in arms reach, focusing solely on Kon. “I can do that. But there’s a lot of them. It might take a while.”
“That’s okay. Anything is better than listening to the steam and the storm.”
“Well then, I guess I’ll start with the Professors. Headmaster Nise and Lucid teach Meditation, which is all about discovering your inner self and forming a deeper bond with your fae. Most of the time, their lessons are private. You’ll probably spend a day or two in the Mirror Room before they make you find your own Sanctuary.”
Kon clicked his tongue. “You’ve already lost me. Mirror Room? Sanctuary?”
“The Mirror Room is what it sounds like: a small chamber with tiny mirrors covering the walls. Lucid’s magic can alter each reflection into a different version of you. Versions that you could have been, if you had made different choices in life, or versions that focus on different traits or qualities of your character. It’s meant to help you examine and compare the various facets of your self, but for me, I just found the whole experience overwhelming. Thankfully I found my Sanctuary quick.
“As for those, they’re basically a place of meditation that’s unique for each Seer. Somewhere that your mind is clearest and you feel the most like you. There’s a plaza in the Cradle where people go to listen to music and dance after nightfall. When I need to think, I go there and surround myself with friends. I’m most like myself when the people around me are happy and having fun. The song I heard that used the word vigor? That was where I heard it. I named him the same day.”
“I’m quite the dancer myself,” chuckled Vigor. “You should see me bust a move.”
Lafer chuckled too. “You really should. It’s quite the sight.”
“I’d like that. I’m better at playing music than dancing to it, but that sounds nice.”
“We’ll make a plan for after you graduate then.”
Kon returned the girl’s smile with his own. “In that case, I imagine my Sanctuary would be somewhere with instruments. Westwind doesn’t happen to have a music professor, does it?”
“Not really. Professor Meir would be the closest, but she teaches Innovation. A few years ago, one of her students built a machine that can use electricity to reproduce sounds, then used it to create pseudomusic. It’s completely unlike anything you’ve ever heard. I love it.”
“Professor Meir… that name sounds familiar. Who is her fae?”
Lafer giggled to herself. “Professor Meir isn’t a Seer. The only Professor that isn’t, in fact. You might know of her because of her father, though. The great inventor, Pardin. Sun rest his soul.”
Pardin. A legendary Seer. More than an inventor, he was known to be the most intelligent man in the world. Him and his fae, Circuit, made countless biological discoveries and technological advancements.
“I never heard he had a daughter. Completely different names, so I’m assuming she was adopted? But everything I’ve heard about the man said he was unfeeling. Why adopt at all?”
“By the time Professor Meir was your daughter’s age, she passed the test to join The Pinnacle. Pardin welcomed the young girl and immediately saw her potential. She had no friends or family either, and the pair found kinship in that. Not long after, Pardin claimed that she was even smarter and adopted her, leaving his legacy in her hands.”
“Why is she here, then? Why doesn’t she still live in The Pinnacle?”
“That I can’t tell you. Not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t know. She doesn’t talk about her personal life. Ever.”
“Okay. I’ll just keep that in mind then. What about the others?”
“Well, I kinda skipped Armsmaster Topek. He’s technically in charge after the Headmaster. He teaches Soldiery, which boils down to military training. He’s a tad younger than you, I think, and he’s also the man I mentioned who gained his Sight late in his life. He was a Knight before he was a Seer. Fighting alongside the Fated King and his army of fae must have rubbed off on him. Though rare, it apparently happens.”
Not exactly, Kon thought. Lucid had mentioned ordinary people could gain the Sight by killing. “What’s he like?” He’d never met a Knight before. They were supposed to be the greatest warriors on Tairn.
“Stern, for one, which I’m sure you expected, but also kind of like a child in a grown man’s body. He makes jokes constantly, even when you’re lying in the dirt because he worked you so hard that you can’t even move. His fae is Excel, which is kind of like a being of pure energy? She can course through a person’s body to empower them, whether or not they have the Sight. Her magic works best when she inhabits her Seer, but he’s tough enough to kick ass without her. If you’re a good student, he might let you train with her. A day of training with Excel is like a week of regular training.”
“Sounds useful. What qualifies as a good student, then?”
“Well, for one, always calling him Sir and treating him with respect. Salute him after you approach him and before you part ways. Follow his orders without complaint and most importantly, push yourself during his exercise sessions and weapons lessons. So long as you show him you’re optimistic and determined, he’ll take a liking to you.”
“I can do that first half of that easily enough, but the second? Traveling with you has been the hardest I’ve pushed myself in years, and there’s no way I could have done it without Vigor.”
“Nonsense,” the fae rumbled. “If you rested during the nights, you would have still made it in time. We’re a whole day early, after all.
Lafer nodded in agreement. “Definitely. I’m sure if a sixteen-year-old girl like me can pass his Physical Exams, you can too. You just have to believe in yourself.”
Kon wasn’t sure how to do that. Not in this way, at least. He might have been good with words and feelings, but that was as far as his confidence went. “Is there an option to not train with a weapon? I’ve never been fond of them, but with my fae, at least, I can use music to defend myself.”
“You wouldn’t be the only student to ask that question. Unfortunately his answer will be no. All Seers need to be able to defend themselves without magic. If we can’t, we’re too vulnerable when separated from our fae. It doesn’t take long for souls to begin dissolving, so once a Seer dies, their fae is taken out of the fight too. Besides, there’s another Professor in charge of teaching magic. Spiritualism is the name of his class.”
“Phantom,” Vigor muttered, his armor rattling as he feigned a shiver.
Kon didn’t understand. “Another Spirit?”
Lafer frowned, shaking her head. “A Sorcerer. A Seer so despicable he murdered his fae to become immortal. Before that, he was one of the good guys. Now he’s just a prisoner working off an eternity-long sentence. He’s locked up in a special chamber that was designed by Professor Meir to contain spectral entities like the wraiths. Phantom is capable of generating realistic, complex illusions. Within his domain, students can explore the depths of their fae’s power without fear.”
“So the Fated King’s father teaches Meditation, Pardin’s apprentice teaches Innovation, a former Knight teaches Soldiery, and an imprisoned Sorcerer teaches Spiritualism...”
“Crazy, right? Westwind’s last Professor is the most normal of the bunch, though he’s a bit crazy himself. Groundmaster Hazen and his fae, Lush- well, let’s just say they’re not always coherent. They covered a variety of subjects, too, with a focus on the natural world. How we affect nature and how nature affects us. Stuff like that. Most of their lessons are more like field trips. They were definitely my favorite.”
“I can tell.” The more Lafer talked, the more excitable she seemed. “Kinjra would love that.”
“Yeah. I bet she’d feel at home at Westwind.”
Kon slouched, regret swelling in his chest.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to- ugh. Foot meet mouth, am I right? I hope you don’t think I’m suggesting that your daughter reveal herself. I’m just saying it’s a good place. I know that it’s hard being away from your family, but I think you’ll feel the same.”
“It’s alright. Let’s just talk about something else. What about my fellow students?”
“Well, over half of them haven’t named their fae yet, so they might be less easy to remember. But to start with, hmm. Do you remember that friend I mentioned? The one who named their fae something contradictory to make a fundamental change in their self?”
“I do,” Kon said. “I’ll admit, that made me curious, but I didn’t want to seem insensitive by prying.”
“Don’t sweat it. Wilm is pretty much an open book about their situation. They were born female, but as they grew older, they realized they felt different. Later, they found out their fae was female, too, as much as fae can have genders. I’m sure you’ve noticed that male Seers have female fae and vice versa. A part of that is because they were crafted by Fate to act as our complement, but they don’t have a gender, really. It’s just a perception thing. Nothing is set in stone until we name them. After long deliberation, Wilm named their fae Rugged, and over a long period of time, found their body changing as well. They still have a long way to go, but they’re more comfortable than they’ve ever been. Happier. Like I told you before, that’s what really matters.”
Kon grinned. “I couldn’t agree more.”
“We know,” added Vigor. The sheen of magic that amplified their voices was gone, as was the howling wind and hissing steam. Kon didn’t even realize it, but they made it through the storm. The green whorl of magic was above their heads now, gently swirling and glinting in the sun.
“Finally,” Kon said, breathing a sigh of relief. He let go of the cliff and halted to stretch the tension out of his muscles. Though Vigor’s aura prolonged soreness, it did little to help the physiological ailments caused by stress. Birds were chirping in the trees that decorated the second and shortest mountain summit, Green Peak. It was like music to his ears.
Vigor and Lafer stopped and faced him, the latter smiling. “It’s amazing how fast time passes when lost in conversation. We’re not too far, now. Less than an hour left.”
The giant fae nodded enthusiastically. “I wonder if we’ve broken a record. Ashet and Outlook walk this path most often, but they aren’t exactly fast.”
“Depends on the Armsmaster, really. With Excel, he can move as fast as lightning. Wouldn’t be surprised if I heard he made the same journey in less than a day. The man loves to conquer unrealistic challenges.”
“I bet,” Kon said, intercepting the conversation. “So you’ve told me about Wilm, but what of the others? You mentioned Seers from Eastend.”
“Yeah. We have three of them. Saiet, Lili, and Dowen. Saiet’s the jerk I mentioned. The son of a count in Vaska Elek. He’s told me which before, but I couldn’t tell you. I just know it’s one of the minor ones. You know those people who believe they’re more important than reality? That’s Saiet. He likens himself as a modern Heavenly Knight in the making, if that tells you anything. His fae is a talking rapier named Riposte.”
Vigor huffed a breath of sparks. “We’re not their biggest fans.”
“That’s one way to put it. You shouldn’t have any problems with him, but just watch out. He acts nice, but everything he says and does, it’s only for his benefit.”
“Got it. Saiet’s a jerk. Avoid at all costs. But what about Lili and Dowen?”
“Lili is a refugee of Lidkha. Her brother is a Seer in the Fated King’s army, but she didn’t get her Sight until after the Battle of Vaska Toma. Lili breathed in Decay’s spores and has been dying ever since. I don’t know the whole story, but she named her fae to keep herself alive. Leach can drain the life out of anything and feed it to her. It’s a temporary solution until someone can manufacture a cure for bloodrot, but it gets the job done. Her and her best friend, Ora, go hunting a lot.”
“Ora?” Kon asked. “I’m guessing that’s another student?”
“Yeah. Works out that I mention her next. She’s a giant from the Northern Wing, but don’t ask why she’s here unless you want to see her get angry. Her and Lili… well, they’re a lot alike, despite growing up in completely different places. She hasn’t named her fae yet, but I expect her to soon. Ora knows exactly the kind of person she is, I think she’s just waiting for the perfect name. As for Dowen, he’s also Lidkhin. A lifelong orphan, I think. He follows Lili around like a pet and obeys every command Ora gives him. They’re not the best influences.”
“Troublemakers?” Kon asked.
“More like troubled. I believe they’re good people, deep down. Just not in a good place.”
Lafer smiled. “You got it. I can tell you about the rest after we make this last climb. Unless you’re hungry enough for a fourth lunch, that is?”
“I think I’m alright,” laughed Kon. “But thanks.” He took a moment to peer at his surroundings. The cliffside road was no wider than before. No paths branched from it, and there were no tunnels in sight. The crest of the valley at Green Peak’s base had a gentler slope than the rest of the mountains, but it was covered in trees. The only part clear enough to climb was too steep for Kon to manage on his own. “Where’s the secret entrance?” he asked.
“There is none,” rumbled Vigor. “Zephyr can defend this place on her own, so it’s as simple as climbing through the Windwoods. I’ll have to use the rock face, but I should be able to flare my aura wide enough to reach you. Send your fae to me and have her manage my speed.”
Kon nodded, sending his fae to hover beside the giant.
“Like I said, I won’t let you die on my watch, so just stay close to me and we’ll get to the top in no time.”
Quick, Kon refastened the straps of Gul’s sack and motioned Lafer onward.
“I’ll see you two at the top!” exclaimed Vigor, then took off running.
Gazes met then faced the trees.
𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥
Kon panted heavily as he pulled himself over the crest of the valley. Aside from the energy provided by Vigor’s aura, he managed to climb the last slope on his own. Steep as the incline was, the sturdy branches of the Windwood trees made for perfect handholds and footholds. Lafer followed him the entire way up, ready to catch him in case he fell. Now they were rising on solid ground. Kon walked to the middle of the flat precipice, then bent over to catch his breath.
“That’s it, right? We’re finally done? No more surprises?”
“No more surprises,” chuckled Lafer. Vigor was already moving toward the ledge that overlooked Zephyr’s Cradle. By the time he took a seat, the girl was skipping to join him. Both of them kicked their legs out beneath them over the ledge. “Come on!” she shouted. “Come take a seat!”
Kon wiped his dirty palms on his trousers before approaching. As he walked, his gaze was fixated on the bountiful valley and the roost nestled within. A castle with emerald walls and golden ramparts was carved into the mountains, standing vigil over leagues of farmland and towering, cylindrical nests. As tall as the nests were, they paled in comparison to the skyscrapers in Kolod Vor. Shorter, wider buildings lay between them, adjacent to patios with open kitchens or chest-high tables with various wares. Tiny specks navigated the tiled, green-and-gold streets, arranged in a pattern that swirled like a whirlwind. From this high up, the roostfolk seemed as small as ants.
Lafer waved a hand for his attention. “Relax a little. Drink the scenery in. Then we can talk about the rest of your colleagues. Once you feel ready, we can go check in.”
Kon took a moment to eye the ledge. The slope on this side of the crest was gentle, packed with dirt and barren of trees. If he fell, at worst, he’d roll all the way down to the castle. Lafer offered him a hand, and he gladly took it. Once he settled beside her, he leaned back, keeping his center of gravity above solid ground, but not so far that he couldn’t see.
“I’m guessing that’s the Academy?” he asked, pointing below. In the center of the castle’s ramparts, a bright yellow ring surrounded a wide field. Along its length, three statues glinted in the sunlight, the first surrounded by crystalline structures that resembled rivers and waves, the second surrounded by tall, yellowing grass, and the third surrounded by mud. “What are those?” he asked.
Lafer sniffed happily. “Those are the Trials, good sir. The culminating event of every Seer’s training. They’re based on the Seven Trials of the Fated King, but there’s only three of these. Every Academy has one, though for each, the first Trial is unique, based on alumni. Ours is Flow. We have to navigate the tops of those obstacles without touching the ground. There are pores in the crystal that leak water, so balance is crucial, and a lot of those gaps are farther than they seem.”
“What about the other two? The middle one is smaller than the others, and I can barely see it through all that grass. That last one… it almost looks like a giant pig.”
“That’s Reap and Sow. The Fated King’s fae. Unfortunately I can’t say more on the subject. You’ll need to figure those out yourself.”
“Alright. Sounds ominous, but I suppose that’s a problem for another day.” Kon gazed elsewhere, but for some reason, the Academy kept drawing him back. They’d traveled so far and so long to get here, it was hard not to stare.
“I understand if this is all too much to take in. I was pretty overwhelmed when I first got here, too. We don’t have to talk. We can just listen to the wind.”
“I won’t deny I’m overwhelmed, but knowing things is a great comfort. Tell me about the other students. After that, I should be ready to leave.”
“Let’s see. Wilm, Saiet, Lili, Ora, Dowen… right! Just two left.”
“Three, actually,” rumbled Vigor. The ledge shook with his voice, nearly making Kon topple. “You’re forgetting poor Morus.”
“Aw. My bad. Morus is a good kid, just... a bit quiet and strange. Not Cesca-shy or Professor Meir-weird, but somewhere between. Morus is only eleven-years-old, but he’s very smart and studious. Has a knack for memorization. I don’t know how, but he arrived two weeks before my graduation and still passed half of the Academic Exams before me. The only thing holding him back is the fact that he and his fae are so young.”
“I’m guessing the Academic Exams are difficult?”
“Very. But probably not as much for a former teacher. Most of the time, they’re the last thing a Seer finishes before graduating. No one else I’ve mentioned has passed them yet. Or, at least, not since I last checked.”
“I doubt being a former teacher will help that much. I imagine the curriculum I taught is very different.”
“Maybe. I never received a formal education before coming to Westwind. Everything I learned, I learned from my mother.”
Lafer’s voice darkened as the last word escaped her. Kon contemplated asking why, but she didn’t give him the chance.
“Anyway, the last two are the twins, Gaj and Rej. They’re flockfolk. Grew up with the Harrowings, I think.”
Kon knew of the Harrowings. They were a band of mercenaries as much as they were a flock. Instead of migrating with the seasons, they spent their lives hunting down Carrion. “What are they like?"
“Inseparable, for starters. A bit insufferable, too. It doesn’t help that they’re a couple teenage boys in the midst of puberty, but for obvious reasons, they’re more aggressive than most. Rej’s fae is Grit, but apparently he stole the name from Gaj. Ever since then, Gaj has been threatening to name his fae Grit too, which is generally a bad idea. Considering their situation, though, it could work in their favor.”
Kon stared into the girl’s eyes and blinked until she explained.
“Right. You wouldn’t know about that, would you? In most cases, two fae having the same name will end up very different, since they’re each based on their Seer’s personality and perspective. But since they both act as incarnations of a single concept, they end up sharing the same well of power. Both are weaker so long as the other remains alive. If one of the Seers takes the life of the other, however, they can take everything from the other. More power at the cost of the other’s soul.”
Kon continued blinking, his words failing him.
“As brothers, Gaj or Rej could never kill the other. Professor Meir encouraged Gaj to follow through with his threat for experimentation’s sake, but he’s reluctant. He doesn’t want to risk a lifetime of being a mediocre Seer just to see how their fae might coexist and develop.”
“I see…” whispered Kon. “Just when I think I couldn’t be more overwhelmed, you share this. Is there a way for us to know if a name has already been taken?”
“Not that I know of. You’d have to ask one of the Professors.” Lafer paused to take a breath. “Do you have any more questions? I don’t mind sitting here for another hour if you do but the storm is starting to clear up. I can see the horizon burning with the sunset.”
Kon followed her gaze, but again, his attention returned to Westwind. Glaring down the slope beneath his feet, he steadied his heart. “I could probably ask a hundred more questions, but that’s why I’m here, isn’t it? To learn and to train? No sense in waiting any longer. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
“That’s the spirit!” Vigor raised an arm and flexed as Lafer tapped Kon’s shoulder with a closed fist.
“You’ll be happy to know you won’t have to do any learning or training for at least two days. Tomorrow you can rest for as long as you need to, and on the next day, someone will be assigned to give you a tour of the Academy and Zephyr’s Cradle. For now, I’ll just show you to the mess and the barracks, so you know where to go for food when you aren’t lazing around in bed.”
Not counting the hammock at the Coastwatch Eyrie, it had been four nights since Kon last slept in a bed. Though his body wasn’t tired, he was beyond his mental and emotional limits. More than anything, the man needed sleep. With a smile, he rose, offering a hand to help Lafer to her feet. She took it gladly, then did the same for Vigor, who bowed in thanks.
We finally made it. His fae chimed a bright melody, but for a reason he didn’t want to grasp, it just sounded bittersweet.