Note: This is a story about my OC, Elysei. The world and story of Apocrypha's Edge belongs to @PinkRobin! If you see anything that needs to be changed (grammatically or story-wise), let me know. Really, please do. I have issues remembering people's canons. As of now all characters that appear in this story (i.e. the Werifesteria family) belong to me.
Warning: sort of a general warning I usually give. Note that there will likely be some violence, and definitely some difficult familial relationships.
A girl with pale blue opaline hair and skin like frosted porcelain twisted a strand of ivy through her fingers. She sat on the edge of a mossy stone wall, part of a set of ancient ruins which stood in the midst of a hidden clearing. It was always so peaceful in the forest, soft silence draped over the trees.
Her name was Elysei Werifesteria, a moon elf who had lived all of her life in the most isolated reaches of western Empirias. Her hair was always loose and her feet bare; she wandered the plains and the forest and knew their currents better than most might know their own city.
Elysei picked up her head as she caught hints of footsteps in the distance. No one should be around, especially not at this time and on this day of the week. Elysei rarely saw anyone around her estate anyway, but something about the pattern of the footsteps told her that this was a stranger who did not know their way around the forest.
Elysei slid off the wall and landed softly on her feet, sneaking across the clearing and peering through the curtains of ivy to see if she could glimpse the oncoming stranger. She then realized that it was actually two people who were walking between the trees. With their sun-kissed complexions and tangled dark amber hair, they must be sun elves. Well, the situation was even stranger than Elysei had thought. She crept out of her hiding place and watched for a moment as the two shivered slightly and looked around like baby sparrows that had fallen from their nest.
“Are you two lost?”
The sun elves whirled around and one of them gave out a squeak of surprise. As they faced Elysei she noticed that they were both around the same age as herself, a boy and a girl who must be siblings with such similar facial features. “Um…yes,” the girl said, taking a few cautious steps forward. “Our parents are…are dead, and we’ve been lost in this forest for days now. Could you help us find the way out?”
“Of course,” Elysei replied ( )ightly. “I live just beyond the forest. Follow me.” She gestured for the siblings to follow her and began to walk off, her bare feet treading almost silently across the leaf litter. “What are your names?” she asked, glancing back into their woebegone faces.
“I’m Denetha,” the girl answered. She gave the boy a pointed look but he merely stared into the distance, seemingly shell-shocked into muteness. Denetha sighed. “This is Jairon.”
“I’m Elysei Werifesteria. If your parents are gone, won’t you need a place to stay?”
“I’m sure we’ll find something eventually,” Denetha said. “I worked as a maid for several years, so hopefully my experience will pay off.”
“But you look hardly a year older than me!” Elysei protested.
“I’m nearly two thousand years old.”
“Oh, that is quite a bit older. Still, you ought to come and stay with me. My mother has always wanted to have more children and she would be happy to let you stay for at least a few days.”
“We wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“It wouldn’t be a bother, trust me! We have plenty of space and we grow our own food for the most part, so there’s always more than enough to go around.” Elysei would have asked Denetha and Jairon more about themselves, but something in their eyes told her that they would rather not talk about where they had come from and exactly how their parents had died.
The trees became further spread apart and smaller in size before ( )eaking off entirely into meadows spotted with delicate flowers. A chill ( )eeze swept over the grass and flattened the tawny topaz-green blades. The two sun elves shivered but Elysei found the temperature to be quite delightful. “Just a bit farther,” she assured them. “We can find something warmer for you to wear, I’m sure.” The three young elves climbed up a hill of springy grass and when they came to the top, Elysei pointed down at the grand house nestled at the base of the valley. “That’s home.”
Denetha’s eyes widened. “It’s a beautiful house. Truly, we shouldn’t trouble your parents.”
“It’s just my mother there now. If my father were at home, I would be a bit more hesitant,” Elysei admitted. “But Mother would be more than happy to make certain you are warm and well-fed.”
Denetha sighed and urged her silent ( )other to hurry up as Elysei ran spiritedly down the hill. A strong ( )eeze swept across their backs and caught the air under Elysei’s feet so she leapt gracefully to the foot of the hill in a few bounds. Denetha noticed as she came to the bottom as well that the air was filled with the scent of some soft and delicate flower. She supposed that had to do with the wildflowers that stood in clumps around the lawn or the flowering vines that crept up the house itself. Though it was indeed a large and expensive-looking house, there was no staff tending to the gardens or waiting at the door. Denetha and Jairon followed Elysei along the garden path and noted the large number of herbs being grown on either side. “We grow all of this ourselves, like I said,” Elysei remarked. “My mother is a bit of an earth mage, so she’s an expert with this stuff. Do either of you have magic?”
“Not that we know of,” Denetha replied, shaking her head.
Elysei pushed the doors open with some effort and bounded into the atrium. It was decorated very much like most moon elf houses might be, though with some woodier elements that were inherited from Elysei’s maternal side of the family. “Mother!” Elysei called into the silence. “I found some people in the forest!”
“What does that mean, darling?” a feminine voice came from somewhere vaguely above. Elysei peered up the stairs and grinned at her mother who was just approaching the sweeping staircase. “Who did you find?”
“Two sun elves were lost in the Great Forest. They’re called Denetha and Jairon. I was hoping we might be able to let them stay here for a while.”
Elysei’s mother–Sabine–came around the bend of the first split set of stairs and began to descend the second set. It was clear that there was some wood elf lineage in her blood, but not enough to affect her very moon elven daughter in any noticeable way. “Of course,” Sabine replied with a smile very reminiscent of Elysei’s. She approached the two sun elves. “If you two were lost, where are your parents?”
“They’re dead, madam,” Denethea said softly.
The woman’s heart seemed to ( )eak and she pulled both of them into a tight hug. The warm scent of cinnamon always seemed to linger around Sabine. Though they were quite young, the sun elves were slightly taller than Sabine. “Stay here as long as you like,” she insisted, ( )eaking off and giving them another smile.
December 1, 2016 update
Several years later, Denetha and Jairon sat at the ( )eakfast table with Elysei and her mother, fully grown and much more presentable than they had been in the forest. It hadn’t been easy to convince Elysei’s father to allow Denetha and Jairon to stay, but the two had had nowhere else to go and Elysei’s father was rarely around so he wouldn’t have to deal with them. “So, what are everyone’s plans for today?” Sabine inquired, passing around a bowl of mixed fruit including grapes, berries, and pears.
“Denetha and I are going to harvest the apples today, I think,” Elysei answered.
Denetha nodded and took a sip from her teacup. She glanced at Jairon, who was busy trying to flip through a book and eat ( )eakfast at the same time. “You could come along, you know.”
“Maybe I will,” Jairon said with a nod.
“Or, you could help me weed the herb garden,” Sabine suggested.
Jairon grimaced. “Nah, I’ll go with them.”
“Alright. Gather as much fruit as you can by noon, but after that I’m going to need some help cleaning out the kitchen.”
The three young elves groaned and got up from the table, bolting out of the room before Sabine could recruit them to do anything else. The issue with living in an enormous house with no staff to help care for the building and grounds was that the four of them had to split the work amongst them. Denetha and Elysei usually spent most of their time in the orchards and fields tending to the crops there.
Now, the two of them patrolled the few rows of sweet-smelling trees with baskets in hand. “Jairon!” Denetha called, looking over her shoulder.
“He’s gone,” Elysei laughed. “As long as he gets wood for the fire I won’t complain. He isn’t much help anyway. He’s a lot more focused on studying than I ever was, that’s certain.”
“Once we’re done with this, we should go to the Great Forest,” Denetha said.
“Oh, so you can visit that wood elf fellow?” Elysei replied with a sly smile.
“Not just because of that,” Denetha answered quickly, but Elysei was already giggling. She sighed, her amber eyes distant. “To be honest, I had hoped it wasn’t that obvious.”
“I’m your sister. I think I would know.”
Denetha shrugged with a slight smile. “You know that I don’t really like to talk about…”
“Well, yes, but I more meant…um, what do you think of him?”
“I think you two would complement each other well. I think it would be good for you to spend some time outside of this place.” Elysei gestured around to the verdant, serene pastures and the open sky. “Sometimes the same company can be dull.”
“You’re great company,” Denetha said with a slight smile. “Jairon…not so much.” Elysei laughed.
“Well, you know how much I love the Great Forest,” Elysei said. “I’d love to come along if you don’t mind me tagging along as the third wheel.”
“Not at all. It would make it a lot less awkward,” Denetha remarked. She shivered slightly as an icy ( )eeze ran its fingers over the hillside and pulled her fur-lined coat closer around herself. “It’s always so cold here,” she grumbled.
“Sorry,” Elysei replied.
“You don’t always have to apologize for everything.”
Denetha strode off to find more fruit and Elysei bobbed along in her wake. Denetha was certainly a sharp contrast from the soft, pastel palette that seemed to make up the entire valley and its few inhabitants. She nearly always wore black or some other dark shade and her dark caramel colored hair rippled out behind her, falling to her thighs when the air was still. Elysei, on the other hand, always donned a gown of some pale shade or another, usually blue or pink or purple. It was easy to ascertain the personalities of these two from what they wore and how they carried themselves.
Denetha and Elysei finished their tasks with their usual ease and speed, heading over to the Great Forest once they had finished. They marveled at the trees which towered above them and it was easy to imagine how people lived in houses built around the trunks. The ( )anches creaked in the wind, ancient and mysterious. A soft mist curled across the ground and lazily drifted apart to make way for Denetha and Elysei. “To be honest, I almost wish I had found a home here,” Denetha admitted as they strolled into one of the towns suspended several hundred feet above their heads. “I mean, I love my home now and I couldn’t have asked for a better family, but this place is beautiful.”
“It is,” Elysei agreed wholeheartedly. “When I was younger I wanted to live here someday. Of course, I think most of the wood elves around here just see me as a nuisance for how much trouble I caused when I was little. I went through a phase when I thought practical jokes were the best way to win people’s favor.” She grimaced. “Not my best move.”
Denetha smirked. “I don’t think you were quite out of that phase when you picked us up in the woods. You left a teacup outside of my door and I stepped on it.”
“For the last time, that wasn’t a prank!” Elysei protested with a laugh, tossing her hair so it caught the sunlight and shone opalescent. “I forgot to offer you tea so I thought I’d just leave it out for you. I was trying to be nice.”
They ascended to the level of one of the houses in the trees and approached the door. “How are you going to explain yourself when he answers the door?” Elysei asked pointedly as Denetha reached out a hand to knock.
“I didn’t really think about it. I’ll come up with something.” Typical Denetha answer. She knocked on the door.
“But what if he–”
Elysei’s worries were cut off as the door swung open and a woman appeared. “Ah, Denetha and Elysei! I’ve heard a lot about you,” she said. Elysei and Denetha exchanged a glance. Elysei raised her eye( )ows significantly to Denetha and she glared back at Elysei. “You must be looking for Caiden. He is currently out working, but he should be back in a few hours if you want to stay.”
“No, thank you, we should be going,” Denetha replied hastily. “We were just passing by and thought we would say hello.”
“Alright, then. I expect I will see you again soon.”
Denetha and Elysei turned from the door and as soon as they assumed they were out of earshot they both burst out into speech at once. “You first,” Elysei said, laughing.
“I wasn’t going to stay there for hours. This was a bit of a failed mission. And Caiden talks about us to his parents?”
“Caiden still lives with his parents? That’s what surprises me.”
“I still live with the rest of you.”
“Yes, but Caiden is older and he has a job.”
“He wants to be around to support his parents. I can understand that. His father is nearly blind and his mother can’t work either due to some illness she has.”
“Really? She didn’t seem ill to me.”
Denetha shrugged. “We should head back. The sun is going down anyway; we wouldn’t have been able to stay long before we had to go back home for dinner.”
“I guess that’s true. Still, how long will it be before you run into Caiden again?”
“Given the fact that his parents know who we are, I’d say it won’t be long at all.”
Denetha and Elysei reached their home just as their mother was putting the finishing touches on their meal. Sabine often insisted on making the food herself, though she was always willing to teach her children how to make various culinary masterpieces. With all of her free time she perfected the art of cooking, at least in her opinion.
“Where’s Jairon?” Sabine asked as the two young women entered the gilded dining room. They shrugged. “Wasn’t he with the two of you?”
“We haven’t seen him all day,” Denetha replied.
“My guess is that he’s been at the Secret Ruin,” Elysei added. The Secret Ruin was what they liked to call the old mass of ( )icks and half-deconstructed battlements they hid in when they were younger.
Denetha and Elysei turned to see their ( )other trudging through the doorway. His long, choppy dark hair was plastered to his cheeks and ( )iny water dripped from his sopping clothes onto the floor. “What happened to you?” Sabine gasped as Jairon took his usual seat at the table.
“I fell in the pond,” Jairon muttered.
Laughter bubbled up and spilled out of Denetha and Elysei’s mouths. “You what?” Elysei giggled. “How?”
“I’m not going to explain myself,” Jairon said grumpily.
“I’ll get you some warm clothes, darling,” Sabine suggested, rising and hurrying out of the room. She was back in a minute though the others had already started eating their meal when she returned.
“Thanks,” Jairon said with a slight smile as Sabine handed him a set of fresh clothes and a warm blanket.
Elysei smirked at Jairon over the rim of her cup and he hurried off to another room to change. “Do you think he’s going to finish that?” Denetha asked, gesturing to Jairon’s plate of seasoned vegetables and potatoes.
“Let him eat his own meal, Denetha,” Sabine replied with a smile.
There was a pause while everyone ate. “I’m thinking of getting a job,” Denetha said, ( )eaking the silence again.
“A job?” Sabine repeats. Elysei glances curiously at Denetha. “That’s wonderful. What sort of job?”
“I don’t know. An assistant in a shop, maybe. I know that we have enough money so that we don’t need to work, but…I don’t know, I feel like I need some kind of purpose.”
Elysei was struck by that statement and she set down her fork on her plate. Sabine nodded slowly with a thoughtful expression. “You know, perhaps you could talk with your father about getting a job in Lumina. He’s coming home tomorrow.”
Denetha’s grip tightened on her knife and she gave her plate a sullen look. “I think I’ll follow my own advice versus his.”
“Whatever you like, dear.”
Jairon soon returned and conversation struck up around the table. Elysei glanced at her mother and siblings and smiled to herself. A golden light filled the room and the sweet scent of freshly picked fruit lingered in the air. Everything was perfect, everything was right. Elysei fervently prayed to all the gods she knew that things would stay exactly the same as tonight.
But Fate had something else in mind.
December 27, 2016 update
“Watch this, Denetha!” Elysei laughed and sprinted down the hill. She leapt into the air and twisted her fingers to use the wind to catch herself, landing lightly on her feet at the bottom of the slope. “Come on, I’ll catch you!”
Denetha hesitated. “Isn’t this powerful magic you’re playing with?”
“I’ve never had trouble controlling it. I don’t do very much with the wind, anyway. It’s not like I’ve ever trained at the Academy.”
“Okay,” Denetha said with a wily grin, running up to the edge of the hill and jumping as far as she could away from the edge. Elysei raised her hand and twisted her fingers again, sending a curtain of air to catch Denetha’s fall and send her floating to the base of the hill. The air was filled with a bit of a purple light and a lovely smell. Denetha laughed and Elysei jumped up and down excitedly. “Isn’t it great? Jairon!” she shouted at the boy seated at the base of a nearby tree. “Come and try this!”
“No, thanks,” Jairon called back.
“Let’s find a bigger hill to run down!” Denetha suggested, still beaming.
“Yes!” Elysei agreed, and the two of them bolted off over the elysian hills.
Elysei woke in the morning staring up at the pale blue underside of her four-poster bed. She rolled over and slid out of bed, approaching the window and peering out at the serene landscape beyond. The trees in the orchard waved in a soft ( )eeze and the sky was painted with feathery clouds the color of doves’ wings. Elysei sighed, a smile lingering over her lips, and pulled on a robe over her nightclothes. She stepped out of her room and into the hall, knocking on the door next to hers. A muffled “come in” came from inside and Elysei opened the door to find Denetha already dressed and ready for the day.
“How long have you been up?” Elysei asked.
“Not long.” Denetha shrugged. “I just thought I’d get some ( )eakfast and go…somewhere.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know how I feel about your father. I’d rather be anywhere than here while he’s here. Maybe I’ll go look for a job.”
“I still don’t understand what you dislike so much about him.”
“He just…doesn’t seem right, that’s all. And I don’t like the way he talks about us.”
“I know,” Elysei sighed, twisting her hands together.
“It has nothing to do with you, Elysei,” Denetha assured her with slight exasperation in her tone. “It’s his fault that he’s the way he is, not yours. I don’t like you any less for who your father is. Sometimes you are too sensitive.”
“I can’t help it. You see my mother as your own but you haven’t accepted Father; I can’t help but feel like it’s somehow partially my fault.”
“It’s not,” Denetha groaned. “Honestly. I think Jairon already left, though, which means your father must already be here or he will be soon. Jairon has a way with knowing that sort of thing. I’ll see you later.”
With that, Denetha took up her satchel from the chair at her desk and strode over to the window, vaulting over the rail and disappearing from sight. Elysei sighed heavily and turned, exiting Denetha’s room and closing the door before walking down the hall. Her bare feet made little noise against the floor and Elysei was careful to listen for any signs of her parents. They could be unpredictable when they were together…
Elysei froze and looked down over the banister to see her mother standing below. She was beaming ( )oadly, cheeks flushed with excitement. “I was just coming up to see if you were awake. Your father just arrived; come say hello!”
Elysei hurried down the stairs and joined her mother in the hall. “Where are Denetha and Jairon?” Sabine asked.
“Um…I think they both went out.”
“Oh, that’s a shame. Hopefully they come back soon.”
Elysei doubted it but decided not to say anything. She followed her mother into the sitting room where her father was seated, a steaming cup of tea in hand. He smiled ( )oadly at Elysei and rose to his feet, setting aside the cup so he could em( )ace his daughter. “It’s so good to see you again,” he said. “I think you’ve grown.”
Elysei laughed. “You say that every time, but I haven’t grown for the past several years now.”
“Well, I must have missed a lot anyway.” He sighed and smiled, gazing around at the room. “How has everything been?”
“Excellent,” Sabine said. Her face was practically glowing as she looked at her husband. “It’s very quiet around here but we enjoy ourselves all the same. How is your work?”
“Oh, you know, busy. Always a million things to do, never a minute to relax.” He leaned in to kiss Sabine on the mouth and they lingered there for several long seconds.
“Should I leave?” Elysei asked uncomfortably.
“No, no,” Elysei’s father said hastily, ( )eaking away. “I want to hear everything about what both of you have been up to. And where are the other two?”
“They’re not here right now,” Sabine answered.
“That’s too bad, I was looking forward to seeing them.” But by the look in his eyes, Elysei could tell that her father could care less if he saw Denetha and Jairon or not. “Out tending to the crops?”
Elysei folded her arms. “No. Jairon is probably busy studying and Denetha is looking for a job. We picked the apples in the orchard yesterday together.”
“Lovely. Everything is so relaxed here. It’ll be a good change.”
“How long are you staying?” Elysei inquired.
“Just a few days, I’m afraid. A week at most. I have a meeting I must attend in Lumina but my coworkers cannot seem to decide on a date.”
“Well, I hope you can stay longer,” Sabine said, stroking a thumb over her husband’s cheek.
“I’m going to see if I can find Denetha,” Elysei announced, stepping out of the room.
Elysei couldn’t find Denetha anywhere on the grounds, but she didn’t really expect to see her there. She was likely somewhere in the Great Forest. Elysei smiled at the thought. It was then that she glimpsed Jairon sitting in the middle of the field, his dark hair blowing around his face. Elysei grinned and approached silently from behind and noticed that Jairon was sketching out insects in a notebook she had never seen before. “Gotcha!” Elysei exclaimed, throwing her arms around Jairon’s neck and causing him to jump violently in panicked surprise.
“Elysei,” Jairon groaned.
“What are you doing out here? Those are some nice sketches. Is this what you spend all of your time on?”
“Not all of it. I finished reading the rest of those books so I needed something to do while he’s here.”
“I don’t think you drew all of this over the past few hours,” Elysei pointed out. Jairon didn’t reply, moving to put away the sketchbook. “No, let me see!”
Elysei snatched the book from Jairon’s hands and despite his protests she flipped through the pages. She smiled endearingly at him as she came across a few portrait sketches of herself and Denetha. “Aww, Jairon.” She hugged his thin frame and tousled his hair. He grumbled something under his ( )eath. Elysei settled herself into the grass next to her ( )other, lying back and staring up at the sky. “You know, I have always loved home and everyone here, but at the same time there are so many things I want to do and I never have.”
“But I couldn’t just leave! Mother needs me here; needs all of us here. She can’t take care of this house by herself.”
Jairon shrugged. “Then stay.”
“But what if I waste my whole life thinking someday I will do what I’ve always wanted to but I never actually follow through?”
“Honestly, Elysei,” Jairon sighed exasperatedly.
“I know everything will work out, but…what if it doesn’t?”
“Maybe you should talk to Denetha about this.”
“She’s tired of me ranting about everything.”
“I can see why.”
Elysei gave Jairon a sharp look. “Okay, so maybe I’m annoying with all of my dreams and speculation, but at least I think ahead.” She sighed. “Still annoying, though. Sorry.”
Jairon groaned and got to his feet. “You’re impossible.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, you always think everything is going to work out for the best unless you’re talking about yourself. I don’t understand that. I’m going to go somewhere where I won’t be bothered. Bye.”
Elysei sat up and hugged her knees to her chest, setting her chin on top of her kneecaps. Sorry I’m a bother, Jairon. I try not to be. That’s why it might be good for me to get away from here for a while–I won’t be a bother to anyone. But I can’t leave Mother. And besides, where would I even go? There are so many places I have thought to go but they are all so far from here…
Though Denetha and Jairon were able to avoid the house for most of the day, they were obligated to join the rest of the family for dinner that evening. As the sun set over the hills and turned the sky into iridescent fire, the five elves sat around the table and faced one another. “So,” Elysei began, turning to Denetha, “did you find anything?”
“Yes, actually,” she answered. “I was hired as an assistant to a tailor in the town closest to us in the Great Forest.”
“That’s great,” Elysei said with a smile.
“Yes, I’m looking forward to starting tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” Elysei coughed as her drink went down her throat the wrong way.
“I thought it better to start sooner rather than later.”
Elysei knit her ( )ow together. “Yes, I suppose…”
“We’ll talk about it later,” Denetha said, knowing the concerns running through Elysei’s head.
“So, my sister is coming to visit,” Sabine announced. “She should be here by tomorrow in the afternoon sometime. She will be pleased to see you, Felban.”
“It will be good to see her again,” Felban agreed.
He set down his silverware on his empty plate and before he can speak Elysei interjected, “I’ll take your plate, Father.”
Elysei snatched up the empty dishes and hurried out of the room. When she returned, Denetha and Jairon gave her a nod. Elysei then proceeded to take some of the other dishes out to the kitchen, though she was soon joined by Denetha.
“I’ll help,” her sister offered.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want. I can handle it.”
“I want to help. Thanks for sparing everyone an enormous amount of embarrassment.”
“I can understand why you don’t like him,” Elysei said with a sigh. “He treats both of you more like servants than his own children.”
“I guess it’s what he expects.”
“I keep hoping he’ll change his ways, but every time he comes back it just reaffirms my doubts that he will ever change.” Elysei pauses, thinking. “I might have an idea, though.”
“I don’t like that tone,” Denetha replied hesitantly.
“What if we visit Father in Lumina? Surprise him, you know? We could go up to Lumina and ( )ing him something. Then maybe he’d be more inclined to acknowledge us.”
“I’m not sure that will work, Elysei. Plus, he seems to like you already.”
“No, not really. I think he mostly comes here to visit our mother. I really just want him to see you and Jairon as his children too, though.”
“I know. It should be easy to say that we’re part of your family, but when he’s around it’s like we’re those lost children again.” Denetha’s thin fingers curled around a towel and clenched it tight in her hand. “I don’t think Jairon is ever going to be the same as I remember him being. He used to be so…happy.”
“If you ever want to–”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Elysei,” Denetha interrupted somewhat sharply. She sighed and continued in a softer tone. “I’m sorry. I know you want to help. I just don’t think I’ll ever be ready to talk about what happened to our parents.”
“I won’t be working with the tailor all the time either,” Denetha added. “I know that you probably think I’m abandoning you because you’re no longer interesting to be around, but that’s not true, okay?”
“Wow, that was extreme.”
“I’m your sister. I know how your head works better than most people.”
“I’ll only be gone a few hours every day, and I have a day off every week. I just think that getting out of the house for a while will be good for me.”
“Probably. Lumina would be a nice change of scenery.”
Denetha smiled wearily. “Nice try.”
“At least consider it,” Elysei pressed.
“Okay,” Denetha relented, putting the last of the plates away in the cabinet. “I’ll think about it.”
The next few days were strange at best with Elysei running around trying to keep everyone happy. Jairon spent most of his time hiding in various locations–usually in the family shrines– and Denetha started her job in the Great Forest. Finally, Felban decided that it was time for him to return to Lumina and tensions settled. Sabine continued on as cheerfully as usual but Elysei occasionally caught glimpses of her mother moping around the house, thinking of her oft-absent husband.
“We should host the harvest feast again this year,” Elysei suggested at ( )eakfast the next morning. “It might cheer everyone up a bit.”
“Cheer us up?” Denetha repeated blankly. “I think we’re fine.”
“Well, it would be something nice to change up our daily way of life,” Elysei replied with a defensive shrug. “Don’t you think?”
“Yes, I think it would be,” Sabine agreed.
Jairon sighed darkly. “I’m not quite sure.”
“Jairon, if you had your way, no one would ever do anything around here and we’d just sit in silence,” Denetha remarked.
“That sounds nice,” Jairon said, nodding.
“So…” Elysei prompted, “Are we going to do this?”
“It’s a good idea,” Sabine answered. “I’ll invite some of our old friends. If any of you know people who might want to come to the feast, you’re welcome to have them over as well. Anyone can come. I’d love to meet the tailor you’re working for, Denetha. Perhaps you could invite him?”
“Yes, I might,” Denetha said, though Elysei knew that her sister was primarily thinking of inviting Caiden. Elysei smirked to herself but the expression faded as she tried to think of someone she could invite. Sure, she knew plenty of people. But out of those people, there were few that she would consider friends.
But oh, dear moon child
When the devil comes a knocking
Friend and foe look too alike.
Fly over the hills lest his spies
Catch you sleeping.
Elysei sat perched in an apple tree, gazing out at the dusky sky which slowly turned from saffron to gentle lavender. She idly ( )aided her opal locks before letting her hair loose again, humming a soft song to herself. Usually, she didn’t like being alone. It let all of her thoughts rage too loudly in her head. A dangerous pastime. But this evening was beautiful enough to distract anyone from thinking about much else than the scenery.
There used to be so many things Elysei wanted to do. Attend the Academy, become a real mage, see the world and help people with her magic. Over time, all of those dreams just…faded away. The smile faded from Elysei’s lips and she paused, unwittingly allowing her familiar dark thoughts to wash over her ( )ain. It doesn’t matter what my dreams are, there are more important things to do here. I must take care of Mother. If I left…well, I think they would miss me. I think they need me. I do like to convince myself of that. But Denetha is so independent and strong, I doubt she would miss me for long. She has ambition and goals; she’s even taking solid steps toward achieving them. Jairon doesn’t seem to care much about anyone or anything. He spends most of his time alone in his own world. And Father…well, I have already determined that Father could care less if I existed or not.
My mother needs me, though. She would be so alone without me and Denetha around. But even with us here, she looks sad when she thinks no one is looking. I know that it is Father she truly misses constantly.
And outside of my family, does anyone even know who I am? Would they know my name, recognize my face? I think not. I am isolated here, with few connections and friends to hold onto.
Elysei jumped in fright and glanced around the orchard for the source of the voice. Her eyes landed on a man, a moon elf standing drenched in the seductive light of the dying sun. Elysei quickly took in the elf’s ebon hair and eyes of amber. He had a sort of regal cut to his jaw and nose, leaning on his walking staff with the casual languor of nobility.
“Hello,” Elysei replied tentatively, still trying to decide what she thought of this stranger. Usually she was an expert at forming an accurate portrayal of a person’s character based on first impressions, but she was drawing a blank this time.
“I’ve been looking for a village for a long time now, but it appears that I am a bit lost,” the elf said.
“Well, I can help you with directions,” Elysei offered politely, slipping off of her perch and coming to examine the map in the elf’s hand. “Oh, that’s not far from here. Several miles away, but not far. You’re right around here.” Elysei pointed to a blank spot on the map where she knew her home to be.
“Excellent. Thank you. You’ve been a lot more helpful than some of the other strangers I’ve met around here.”
“You’re welcome. My house is nearby, if you’d like to stay for a meal before continuing on your way. I know my family would be glad to have you.”
Calculations flew behind the man’s eyes and he nodded after a moment. “That’s very kind of you. My name is Hael, by the way.”
Isolation from reality did have its advantages and drawbacks. If Elysei had known the corrupted ways of the world she would likely have left Hael to find his own way. But she was taught to be polite and kind, hospitable in every situation. “It will be nice to have some new company at our house,” Elysei remarked to ( )eak the silence as they walked through the meadow. “We don’t have very many visitors and the seclusion drives me crazy.”
“Who is your family, then?”
“It’s just my mother and my siblings. I have an older sister and a younger ( )other.”
“Oh, I see.”
“You were expecting something else?”
Hael shrugged. “I thought you might say husband.”
Elysei laughed. “I’m not married, no.”
“I didn’t mean it in a forward way.”
“Oh, of course not. Sorry.”
“What is there to apologize for?”
“Um…” Elysei smiled uncomfortably. “Sorry. I just apologize a lot. Here we are,” she added, relieved to see the lights streaming through the windows of her home.
“It’s a lovely home,” Hael said. “I mean that sincerely. It seems as warm and welcoming as you are.”
Elysei wasn’t sure how to reply to that, so she made an unidentifiable sound which made her flush in embarrassment. Luckily for her, the sun was nearly set and twilight was upon them. They came down the slope and walked up the front path to the door. Elysei pushed it open and allowed Hael inside before closing the door behind him. He analyzed the atrium for a moment, and in the fresh light of the house Elysei noticed that there was a slight blue light in Hael’s dark hair. Her eyes flicked away and rested on Denetha, who had just entered the hall.
Elysei smiled. “I found someone who could use a home-cooked meal out in the orchard.”
Denetha raised an eye( )ow and surveyed Hael critically for a moment. “It seems like you’re always finding lost things,” she remarked.
Hael introduced himself. “I see that this valley is full of surprises. This house reminds me of one you might find in the stories: once I walk away I’ll never be able to find it again.”
Elysei giggled. “Maybe not,” she agreed. “Denetha, would you find Mother and tell her that we have a guest here for dinner?”
Denetha folded her arms and swept away, and though Elysei wasn’t entirely sure why, she could tell that Denetha was off-put by the visitor. “So, where do you come from?” Elysei asked, deciding it would be best to strike up another conversation.
“Empiriyaid,” Hael replied. “I studied at the Academy.”
“You’re a mage?” Elysei said quickly, wonder flickering in her moonstone eyes.
A smile tugged at the corner of Hael’s mouth. “Well, yes. I never finished my apprenticeship at the Academy, though.”
Elysei would have asked why, but thought it might be impolite. “I always wanted to go to the Academy and learn how to actually use my power.”
“What sort of magic do you use?”
“I seem to have a talent for controlling the winds.”
Hael seemed impressed, and for some reason that gave Elysei satisfaction. He simply appeared to be the sort of person who is not easily impressed. “Really? You know, you really ought to have someone teach you how to use that properly. It’s a powerful magic and not easy to control, so I hear.”
“I haven’t had much trouble so far.”
“How much have you used your magic, though?”
“Not much,” Elysei admitted.
“So you have no idea what the extent of your power is. You know, I could teach you. My magic would be compatible with yours, I think.”
“That’s…a very kind offer,” Elysei said. A bit of an understatement. To learn how to control her magic, to become a real mage…that was a lifelong dream. And this Hael, he seems like the kind of person Elysei could really become close to. He had a darkness in his manner, perhaps some ( )oken past or internal struggle. Well, if Elysei had gotten Jairon to speak again after the traumatic death of his parents, perhaps she could help this mage as well.
Sabine was quite taken with Hael’s charms as well at dinner, though Denetha was still unconvinced. Jairon seemed indifferent, but then again, he was apathetic about most things. Since it was late when dinner was through, Sabine offered Hael a place to stay for the night. He accepted and was gone again the morning, though he promised to return to help Elysei with her magic. She wasn’t quite sure why he had taken such a vested interest in her magic, but it was flattering. Perhaps, finally, someone was there to fully appreciate her and take time to ask what she wanted in life.
Denetha would tell her that she was making some rather large assumptions too early on.
True to his word, however, Hael returned a few days later to call on Elysei. They stood out in the middle of an open field, the house tucked in its valley nearby. “You probably draw your power from Apocrypha; it’s fairly common. Let me show you what magic can do.”
Hael raised his staff and the clouds seemed to clench together, releasing a lightning bolt which struck one of the few nearby trees with tremendous force and left smoking remains. He then drew several thin strands of lightning from his staff with his hand and magnified it so that the lightning covered his entire body, crackling and leaping wildly around him. Elysei’s eyes reflected the volatile light as it danced and scintillated tantalizingly. Hael then sent the lightning out in a radial pulse, moving around Elysei but singing everything in its path apart from her. Hael turned and Elysei noticed that a soft gold light lingered around Hael’s form, a trace which left the caster appearing almost divine.
“That was incredible. Terrifying, but…beautiful,” Elysei said.
“I have no doubt that you have an equal amount of power, beautiful and strong. It will be nice to finally have someone to teach. The Academy never fully realized my potential, I’m afraid. They were determined to keep me back.”
“I’m sorry. I never had the chance to go to the Academy in the first place.”
“I…” Elysei hesitated. That was a question she often asked herself. “I guess my family just wanted me to stay here. My father thought it would be for the best. And it’s so far away.”
“You seem like the sort of person who needs more than the meager company you find around here, though.”
Elysei sighed. “I love my family, but…I do wish I could meet some new people. Attend events, see more of the world apart from this little unknown corner.”
“You should come visit Empiriyaid someday.”
“In the meantime, I can try to help you master your abilities. Show me what you can do so far.”
Elysei hesitated for a moment, trying to calm her nerves. “My magic really isn’t that impressive.”
“Just show me.”
Elysei nodded and concentrated on drawing the winds together. A ( )eeze flew in from behind and Elysei ran with it, taking a great leap into the air and making a few long strides before landing softly in the grass several hundred feet away. Elysei and Hael met in the middle and the former shrugged. “That’s about it.”
“Well, you obviously have some natural talent for this magic,” Hael said, considering. “But with the full extent of your power, you could manipulate the weather itself. Create windstorms and tornadoes.”
“But that’s not exactly what I want to do with my magic.”
“I want to help people, not tear down their houses and ruin their crops with weather like that.”
“Well, you could aid ships in navigation and use the wind to draw in rainclouds for areas of drought.”
Elysei smiled. “Okay. That sounds more like me. Are you sure you actually want to teach me, though? I mean, it seems rather pointless.”
“I’ve wanted to teach someone magic for a long time now,” Hael replied with a shake of his head. “And clearly one of your dreams is to learn magic. So I think this arrangement will benefit both of us. Hardly pointless at all. I’ve been trying to teach myself new kinds of magic, but…one can only do so much on one’s own.”
“Okay,” Elysei agreed with a smile. “Tell me what to do next.”
To live in a dream
Is harmless until
You wake up.
The harvest feast was planned for a few evenings later, and as guests began to arrive at the house Denetha noticed that Eysei was growing increasingly anxious as each person showed up. “Aren’t you excited to finally have some people around?” she asked, raising an eye( )ow. “You don’t seem happy.”
“Oh, I am. I’m just not sure if Hael is going to come or not. He said he would, but…he’s busy and probably doesn’t have time, you know?”
“I’m sure he’ll come,” Denetha said, rolling her eyes. “You two definitely have something going on.”
“What about Caiden? Is he coming?”
Denetha shrugged. “He should be. His parents are coming as well.”
Sabine’s sister arrived then, unaccompanied as she lived alone in the Great Forest. Almost directly behind her came Caiden and his parents. Caiden had obviously attempted to tame his sorrel curls for the occasion but failed to make much of an effect. Denetha welcomed them warmly. “It’s good to see you again,” Caiden said politely. He turned to Elysei and smiled. “And you, Elysei.”
“It’s nice to see you too,” Elysei replied, returning the smile but glancing past the wood elves to see if she could glimpse anyone else drawing toward the house. No, nothing but the familiar meadows which have turned amethyst and ( )onze in the dusk.
“I think everyone is here,” Sabine said, coming up to Denetha and Elysei. It was clear that she was a bit flustered, but at the same time it was nice to see the rosy glow of anticipation about her. It seemed Elysei’s plan was working. “Well, nearly everyone. Is Hael supposed to come?”
“He said he would,” Elysei said halfheartedly.
“Well, I hope he can come. We should move to the dining room, though; the meal is almost ready and the dishes everyone ( )ought will grow cold if we wait much longer.”
Elysei sighed. “Okay.”
“Where’s Jairon?” Denetha asked as they came into the dining room.
“I think he’s coming,” Sabine said. “When he saw how everyone was dressed he said he needed to change. Poor dear.”
The company that was invited to the feast was not a large one, though they were a high-spirited and well-mannered group. “It’s been so long since we’ve done this,” Sabine’s sister remarked as she came into the room, beaming. “Well done, Sabine. Your house is the perfect place for this.”
Sabine blushed. “Thank you.”
Elysei’s ears caught the slight sound of someone knocking at the door beyond the clamor of dozens of people talking. She bounded out of the room and pulled open the door, smiling ( )oadly as she looked up at Hael. “I was beginning to think you weren’t coming,” she said.
“I never go back on a promise,” Hael replied. “You look especially radiant this evening.”
“Oh, thank you,” Elysei said, blushing. She was never sure how to reply to compliments. “You look nice as well.”
A bit of an understatement, Elysei considered as she closed the door behind Hael and accompanied him to the dining room. He always managed to look both dark and charming, and especially this evening with his em( )oidered coat which gave him the air of a dignitary or an assassin.
“So, you’re called Hael,” an older woman said. She was a wood elf somehow distantly related to Sabine and she was nearly always invited to events such as this despite her constant criticism of the other guests. She squinted at the man with her usual disapproving look. “Any last name to go with that?”
“Just Hael, madam.”
“How is your job coming, Denetha?” Sabine’s sister inquired.
“Of course, she couldn’t say anything else,” a wood elf with a curled moustache said with a chuckle. He nodded to Sabine’s sister. “She’s my apprentice.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Well, if everyone is finished, perhaps we could move into the parlour and I can start clearing up the dishes,” Sabine suggested.
A few of the other guests offered to help with the dishes while the rest of them rose and moved out of the dining room. Normally, Elysei would have hung back to help, but instead she followed Hael out onto the balcony. An icy wind swept over the fields, but it hardly bothered the two moon elves.
“I must confess, I’m not one for social events,” Hael sighed as he gazed out at the stars that hung low on the horizon.
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize. The point I’m trying to make is…well, I’m not one to mince words so I will just say it as it is: I enjoy your company. I know that we have only known each other for a few days, but I thought you ought to know.”
Elysei felt herself blushing. “That’s…very nice of you to say.”
“You spend so much time focusing on other people that you forget about yourself. It’s time someone appreciated you for who you are.”
Elysei had no idea how to respond to that, but fortunately Denetha and Caiden showed up at that moment. “There you are,” Denetha said. “Neither of us got much of a chance to talk to you during dinner. I’ve finally decided that we should go to Lumina at the end of the month.”
“Lumina? For what?” Hael asked.
“My father lives there,” Elysei replied. “Well, he works there, but he’s always working so he basically lives there. I don’t see him much.”
“I didn’t want to visit him before because I’m not particularly fond of him,” Denetha added, “but I changed my mind.”
“I’ve never been close with my father either,” Hael said.
“He’s not my father. My ( )other and I were adopted.”
“I see. Well, I hope both of you enjoy your time in Lumina.” Hael glanced back out at the stars. “I should really be going, Elysei. I’m sorry I have to go so soon, but I have some matters to attend to.”
Elysei nodded and said goodbye, watching Hael draw away like a shadow. “Who exactly is he?” Caiden asked curiously. “I’ve never seen him before.”
“He hasn’t been around here for long,” Elysei answered. “He’s…teaching me how to use my magic.”
“That’s great. You’ve always wanted to go to the Academy–this is a good compromise,” Caiden said ( )ightly. He paused, struggling to come up with the words he wanted to say. “You know, Elysei, I’ve wanted to ask for a while now…would you maybe want to go to dinner or something…just the two of us?”
Elysei blinked. She had certainly heard the words Caiden had said, but her ( )ain couldn’t quite seem to process them. She glanced at Denetha, whose intensely blank expression could have turned someone to stone. “I…um, I’m sorry, Caiden. I appreciate the offer, but…I’m sorry. I can’t.”
Caiden flushed ( )illiantly and hurried away without another word. Elysei opened and closed her mouth a few times before looking at Denetha again. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Denetha said stiffly. “Tell Mother I went upstairs for the evening, would you?”
Elysei bit her lip and tried her best to ignore the sick, prickling guilt that was slowly spreading through her blood. Impossible.
Elysei visited Denetha later that evening when everyone had gone. The latter had taken down her hair and changed into a nightdress already, now sitting at her desk and flipping through the pages of one of her favorite books.
“I’m sorry,” Elysei repeated.
“It wasn’t your fault, Elysei,” Denetha replied with a slightly bitter laugh. “I was the fool. As much as I think I know about people’s nature, I am always surprised by something.”
“I really thought that you two would be together eventually.”
“Well, it seems that it is my lot in life to be unhappy. Jairon’s as well, it would seem. At least you will find happiness.”
“But that’s just the thing! If any of us deserve to have something good happen to them, it’s not me. My whole life has been…nearly perfect. I can hardly complain about a single bad day.”
“Be careful what you say,” Denetha commented, raising an eye( )ow. “Plus, you and Hael seem like you’re getting along well and it’s only been a few days.”
“I suppose so.”
Denetha clenched her teeth and searched for the right words for a moment. Finally, she burst out, “But there’s still something about him I don’t like.”
“You don’t like most people.”
“That’s true, but there’s just something…untrustworthy about his eyes. Haven’t you seen it?”
“No,” Elysei protested defensively. “He seems perfectly fine to me. You don’t really even know him.”
“And you do?” When Elysei didn’t reply, Denetha sighed and returned her gaze to the book in her hands. “Do what you want, Elysei. I’m just trying to keep you from making a fatal mistake. That’s what siblings do, after all.”
Elysei’s defensive anger cooled a bit at that. “Thank you. Sorry again for…everything. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight,” Denetha said as Elysei left the room.
As the weeks passed, Denetha and Elysei made plans to visit Felban in Lumina. They hadn’t told their mother yet of their idea, but they hoped that by springing it on her at the last minute Sabine wouldn’t have enough time to back out of the plan if she initially agreed. Hael was a regular sight around the Werifesteria household, and though he spent most of his time teaching Elysei how to manipulate the winds and the weather, he could also be seen helping out around the house. Elysei and Sabine were glad to see that Jairon was treating Hael more like an older ( )other than a stranger. Denetha didn’t trust Hael any more than she had in the first place, despite the latter’s frequent attempts to win her favor.
Finally, the end of the month approached and Elysei decided to propose the idea. “You know,” Elysei said at ( )eakfast one morning, “Denetha and I were thinking that we might be able to visit Lumina to see our father as a sort of surprise visit.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Sabine considered. “Your father has made it quite clear that he doesn’t want to be disturbed in Lumina.”
“I think he would appreciate it, though, in the end.”
“Maybe you’re right. It would be nice to visit the city.”
“I’ll stay behind,” Jairon said.
“I’d prefer to stay here, but I think it would be best if I go,” Denetha added with a sigh.
Sabine beamed and Elysei couldn’t help but feel that she had succeeded in some part. “This should be a wonderful trip. You know, I’m actually quite excited.”
Elysei was glad that one of her grand ideas was finally working out. It had been years since she’d last been to Lumina, and though the small towns around their house were nice enough to visit, it would be a refreshing change to visit a city with more than a few hundred inhabitants. The three women stood in the middle of the city made up of towers constructed mostly of a shimmering green crystal that seemed to glow softly from within. Elysei spun around on the spot, beaming up at the buildings in awe as she listened to the sound of the city bustling around her. “This is incredible,” she murmured.
“I will admit, the architecture is beautiful,” Denetha agreed. “I’m not quite so fond of being around so many people, however.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Elysei said, shaking her head. She already had; it had been overwhelming at first, but now Elysei felt as though the pulse of the city was running in time with the pace of her own heart. She considered for a moment. “What is his address, again?”
Denetha pulled out a scrap of paper she had found in the house. It had been difficult to locate the address, as Sabine had never spoken to her husband on the matter. In the end, Denetha and Elysei had had to clandestinely search through Felban’s old business materials he had left behind on various occasions to find it. “How did you get his address?” Sabine asked now, a bit suspicious.
Denetha decided to ignore her mother and her eyes flicked over the scene in search of something. “There,” she said, gesturing vaguely to her right. “I think he lives somewhere down there.”
“I’m beginning to think this is a bad idea,” Elysei muttered as Denetha strode past her.
“Well, at first I thought he would be pleased to see us. But…what if he’s furious? Like Mother said, he doesn’t like to be disturbed while he’s working. He has a very stressful job. I just thought that he would like to have us around to reduce the stress.”
Denetha shrugged. “I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Too late to go back now.”
“Not really. We could just walk around for a bit and then go home.”
“I think Mother is pretty set on seeing her husband.”
Elysei returned her attention to Sabine, who wore an ill-concealed look of anticipation. “I suppose you’re right,” she sighed. “Wouldn’t want to disappoint her.”
Denetha managed to locate the address after a few wrong turns, though she refused to ask for directions when Elysei suggested the idea. They arrived on the doorstep of a magnificent, glittering home of crystal nestled in the heart of the city. “He lives here?” Denetha remarked, gazing up at the building.
“Well, he is fairly wealthy,” Sabine replied. “A prominent figure in refined society, some would say. Unfortunately, I’ve never met any of his friends here so all I hear are his accounts.”
Elysei stepped up to the door and hesitated for a moment. Sabine gave her an encouraging nod and Elysei knocked.
Almost instantly, the door was opened by a sun elf servant who gave the three of them a polite smile, his eyes lingering on Denetha for a moment. “Can I help you?”
“We’re here to see Felban,” Sabine said.
“Oh, of course. Unfortunately, Felban is out of the house at the moment. When he returns should I tell him that you called?”
“No, thank you,” Elysei answered before Sabine could say anything. “We’ll try again in a few hours.”
They turned away as the servant closed the door and Sabine sighed. “While we wait, perhaps we could explore the city? It’s been so long since I’ve been to Lumina.”
Elysei nodded eagerly and Denetha shrugged. So, the three of them set off into the city to wait for their fate to rise and meet them.
Elysei stepped into yet another shop with Sabine by her side and Denetha trailing somewhat distractedly behind them. She had purchased a book during their outing with some of the money she had earned as an apprentice and was busy flipping through its pages. Elysei hopped up to a display of moonstone and opal jewelry.
“Wow, these are nice.”
Elysei glanced at the stranger standing next to her, a young moon elf around her age. She had hair that mimicked the first bloom of the morning sky and pale blue eyes that reminded Elysei of her own. “They are,” Elysei agreed. “Opals remind me of a soul, fiery and multi-faceted with each part of the person’s essence. Don’t you think?”
The stranger laughed. “That’s a lovely way of putting it.” She considered for a moment. “You know, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Lefane Hegira.”
“Elysei Werifesteria. You wouldn’t have met me because I’m just visiting with my mother and sister.”
“Visiting family, or…?”
“Yes. We’re here to see my father. We live in the countryside but my father works here most of the time. We hoped to surprise him with a visit.”
“I’m sure he’ll enjoy that,” Lefane said with a grin.
Meanwhile, Denetha stood outside the shop with her book in hand, scanning the information. She looked up from her book after a moment, ( )eathing in the air and taking in the sight of hundreds of people flooding past. Moon elves, mostly. Well, Denetha had never felt at home in Hollandiris, anyway. She was lucky to be here, sister to one of the kindest but admittedly most frustrating moon elves she had met.
At that moment, Sabine and Elysei came out of the store along with a stranger. “Lefane has offered to have us over at her home for lunch,” Elysei explained to Denetha.
“That was nice of you to offer,” Denetha said to Lefane.
“You seem like a pleasant family,” Lefane replied. “You’re Elysei’s…sister?”
“Adopted sister, yes.”
“Well, we don’t often have company over so it will be nice to have some new faces. I am not entirely sure if my father will be home yet or not, but you will be able to meet my mother and hopefully my three ( )others.”
They began to walk off and Denetha raised an eye( )ow at Elysei. “You seem to have a proclivity for making friends with random strangers.”
As Elysei walked along the streets filled with the reflected emerald light from the towers, she half wished that she had grown up in Lumina instead of the middle of nowhere. Look at all of the people, the sights, the sounds! The lifeblood of the city was as powerful as pure adrenaline. It was a good thing they had Lefane to lead them through the streets, as to a stranger the city could be difficult to navigate. But as they drew closer to their destination, Denetha began to think that they had been along this road before. She glanced over her shoulder and her eyes flicked around to take in the details of the buildings. It was likely that they would be returning to this city again sometime soon if this visit went well; Denetha considered that she ought to start learning how Lumina works. The last time she was in a large city, she was working as a servant in Hollandiris to feed her family. Family…how different that idea turned out to be.
Lefane paused in front of one of the many crystal buildings. “Well, here we are.”
Elysei and Sabine seemed a bit puzzled, and Denetha was the first to speak. “This house?” she said, pointing to the one before them. Lefane nodded like it was obvious. Denetha glanced down at the address in her hand before crunching it up in her palm. “Well, this is…unfortunate.”
“What do you mean?” Elysei asked.
“This is the house we came to in order to find Felban, wasn’t it?” Sabine said. Denetha nodded. “Well, you must have found the wrong address. Perhaps he wrote it down as a reminder to visit this family.”
“The servant knew who he was,” Denetha pointed out. “Said he wasn’t here.”
“Felban?” Lefane repeated, interrupting the train of thought running through Denetha’s head. “That’s–”
“Your father, right?” Denetha finished, her lips twisting into a pained shape.
Elysei’s heart seemed to stop and Sabine went deathly pale. Elysei forced herself to speak, though her words came out strained and unnatural. “There’s got to be…some sort of explanation.”
“Lefane?” a familiar voice asked from behind. “What’s going on here?”
Sabine, Elysei, and Denetha turned to face Felban standing on the steps just below them. Sabine wobbled on her feet, then toppled backward in a dead faint.