32nd of Sunsebb 383 ONT 8:23am, Embassy of Redwall, Eiradun, Argyle
Please listen while reading
She didn’t know where she was going; only that she could not stay still. Hikari wandered the halls of the embassy aimlessly doing her best to keep the worry from her face. Many of those within smiled or nodded or greeted her as news of who their group was had spread through the ranks. But Hikari could only give a weak smile and nod in return or a casual comment as her mind was leagues away. Eventually though she spotted a very familiar mouse-like figure who, for a change, was alone.
“Thaden,” Hikari adjust her wandering towards him.
“Hikari,” Thaden nods before turning to continue down another hall.
“Can we talk? Please?” He pauses and turns back towards her nodding. “This way.”
“Did you know,” Hikari begins staring into the fire a plum in her hand, “I haven’t eaten one of these since the day we met? Since the day I dug you out of that plum…” She laughs softly to herself. “Stupid isn’t it? Just because you were cursed into one I can’t bring myself to do more than open them in case there is a Waylan trapped inside and fearing that I might find one.”
“Was it fate? Chance? Luck? Some grand scheme by the universe where we are but pawns or cogs meant to play our part and to not know it was preordained the entire time?” Hikari turns towards Thaden, her eyes still held the draconic slit pupil and tiny motes of light sparkled in her iris’ despite being back in her half-elven form. “I’ve had… more time than most to ponder and reflect on this and many… other things.”
Hikari slowly walks back to the table and gently places the plum on its surface before turning back to Thaden again. “Why? Why are you doing this Thaden? What makes you wander these halls like one already dead and afraid to leave loose ends?”
Thaden offered a weak smile as he wandered over to the table himself. He took a slice of bread and spread a thick cheese over it. He smiled again at Hikari acknowledging the stereotype but pursuing his favourite snack none the less. He then crossed the room to a chair near Hikari and settled himself with a cup of tea, then took a moment to reach inward to seek out the insight to answer the half elf.
“That is very perceptive Hikari” Thaden said offering a bow in reward to her perceptions “But I sense you may be projecting? Has your search for Valeria yielded nothing?” he paused seeing Hikari’s eyes drop at the mention of her lost love. “I am sorry for that; love is a powerful force, an all-consuming drug that can drive and sustain someone to otherwise impossible feats; but when that love, that drug is ripped from us, you are never the same afterwards… never as strong as you were before… I sincerely hope that you find her with all haste.” he said the last staring into his tea, memories of the past playing upon his face. Hikari was unsure how the conversation had turned this way.
“Attempts for Miriel to find her with her magic have failed, and she has not responded to any messages as yet either… I am starting to fear the worst” She said, saying things that had been bottled for some time; fearful that saying them out loud might cause them to become true.
“I would never presume to instruct a Master of Bendhu on how to conduct her affairs. But from one friend to another, and I do so hope that I may be counted among your friends Hikari, the Magics of Argyle are often easily blocked with the Weave, but for one that is truly looking the weave can never be fully hidden, I would seek her connection to the living and this world, not her soul or being.” He took a bite of his cheese bread and sat back enjoying the complex flavours as he did. “One other thing Hikari… if I may?”
“Of course Thaden, What is it?”
“When you find her, and I would recommend you find her as soon as you can… take hold of her, and love her. Make the love you give her then and there enough to last for all time… Love her fully and completely each time you see her, the fates can be cruel, so do not offer them a chance to cause you lament.”
Her insides were twisted knots of emotion and it was a struggle to even swallow past the fear that had lodged in her throat. She could hear it in his voice, feel it emanating from his soul Thaden’s loss and so she did the only thing she could. Hikari lunged forward and hugged her Waylan friend tight to her. For what he lost, for what she feared to lose she held on and the tears came on their own.
She felt like she was being pulled in so many directions and someone or something needed saving in each direction and she was being forced to choose and someone would pay for that choice. It was things like this that had caused her to react and grasp for powers to aid her in the first place. Even with the understanding that came in the Dragon Isles and even accepting what lay before her did not insulate Hikari from her feelings. She still felt all those emotions and if anything her new perspective made it all that much more difficult on her to make those choices.
Eventually though Hikari managed to collect herself enough to pull away and smiled at Thaden. “If only you had instructed me I might actually be a Master of Bendhu despite its differences with Ashla. Keeper, Guardian of the Way perhaps but not even close to Master. After all I’ve no one to learn from or teach me the secrets of Pine Nuts.” She winked at Thaden having long ago understood why he’d done that to Thalion. “But friends we have been since the moment we fought together to free ourselves and the Phoenix and will never part company on any other terms.”
“And as a friend I will not pry further about what haunts you save to offer you this.” From a pocket in her robe she drew forth a needle filled with a pitch black substance and held it out to Thaden, “This was meant to be used against the alien brain, use it to bring Sheppard down. For what he has taken from you and yours means as much to me as it does you my friend.”
She’d hoped to share his burden but instead had found her sharing her own. Ironic, Hikari thought. “Promise me Thaden. Promise me you will fight with everything you have and you will not only fight to win but to live! Be the shield that does not break. Be the shield that does not falter. Be the light that shatters the darkness and save your people. And then, when you win, and you have to… Be there to help them rebuild for that will be the most difficult of tasks and they will need you then more than ever.”
Thaden stood, smiled, and bowed to Hikari; a bow from the waist that was very formal. She returned it in kind and he reached forward holding both her hands “Gentle Hikari,” he said in a soft voice. “One who is feeling torn in all directions is one that is closest to achieving balance, it means you are already in the middle.” He squeezed both hands for a moment “I know not how the final battle will fare, save that it will be among the most difficult in my time; but it is not my life I fear to lose in this battle, not physically however. This battle will mark an end to many things, but also a new beginning; I am a slower than most Masters of Ashla, it takes me longer to give up my attachments; but I will get there… the weave will take us to where we need to be… and I will always embrace Ashla where and whenever that is… it is my hope that you heed your own advice young Hikari, and perhaps some of mine as well” the held hands for a moment, but Hikari felt he was evading the root again
“Thaden, you’re a hero, and the cruelest fate of all is saved for the truest of heroes is to never be allowed to rest or give in or die. No matter what you lose, no matter what you are offered to turn aside you will stand strong and do what must be done because there is no one else who can do what you do.”
“Be strong my friend. You are never alone.” Hikari wiped a last tear from her cheek and leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek. “Now I should be off. Learning to find someone through the weave is going to take me some time and I’d best be started at it…” they parted hands as she turned to leave, he held her left hand for a moment longer causing her to look back
“Thank you Hikari, I will try to heed the wisdom of a Bendhu Master” with that he let go, and the two shared a long look before Hikari turned and left the room, new purpose in mind.
For her part, Hikari decided to go to the tree. It was in a park where she first met Valeira and she wanted to be somewhere similar. And amongst the grass and roots of the large apple tree she settled herself in not knowing how long it would take and if it would work at all but willing to stay as long as necessary to make it happen. She’d become good at meditating and before long felt the calm and peace in her mind and body she required to begin.
Slowly she started staying away from Argylian magic she began to weave a web of Bendhu strengthening and expanding it with her divine source that was not of argyle. With each strand she wove she filled it with everything she could of who Valeira was. From how she carried herself to how she spoke and acted to how she looked and felt and more. Hikari opened herself to the weave and tried to show it everything and anything she could and the love they felt for each other. Time was meaningless to Hikari as she worked and she looked with her mind’s eye down into the ground where the leylines ran and reached for the nearest to siphon a trickle of power from. Too much and the spell might turn lethal but she needed more than she possessed within. But eventually her crude and makeshift net was ready though it looked ever so fragile. She had no choice and cast it forth letting it fly towards the elven lands and spread and settle like the thinnest of filaments over as much of the land as she could reach.
Then she waited. Connected to the web she slowly fed it power, just enough to keep it active and to keep it there. As much as it needed for as long as it needed…