If I had measured time in the number of heartbeats it had taken to step outside, my years would have been many. Our parting had been simple: we had briefly embraced and said our goodbyes, but something was... off. Was it the warmth I still felt on my face? The earthy forest aura lingering in my nose? Whatever it was, I certainly had not arrived at the prince's home with it.
I placed a hand over my heart, which had just begun to slow. Calm, I needed to remain calm. But a hundred thoughts were already nagging at me, kept at bay only by a sweet diziness that had lingered at the prince's touch. Something was very, very different, something inside that had been very dark and heavy. I felt lighter, so much so that a strong breeze could snatch me like a dead leaf. I knew there were important things to attend to, something I had promised Hunter before leaving, but... the thought of our kiss came to mind and I had to wonder again if everything was quite right with me.
With a sigh, I took my first step away from the house, smiling at the late afternoon's heat. It really was quite lovely, despite all the strange buildings and even the odd road itself. But it was at that step when I realized something practical: I did not have the most remote idea of how to return to the Dome.
It was not long after that moment that tropical Blancwood's humid midday heat around Leonna became a gentler warmth, the kind that sets your skin to tingling and makes you want to just stretch out to bask in the glow like a lizard or stretch upwards to soak it up like a plant extends its leaves. A light breeze picked up, scented with a light aroma of yarrow trees and wildflowers, carrying with it a hint of possible life-giving rain to follow. A soft, yellowish light began to collect before her, full of a vibrant yet subtle magic which formed slowly into the form of a tall, tall female in long, flowing robes. The street then went quiet and for many moments no one seemed to come or go along it. It was as if the world were holding its breath all of a sudden, waiting for the newcomer's cue before it could go on about its business.
When she finally materialized completely, she looked entirely foreign to a modern city street, and yet utterly at peace there.
Some might have guessed she was an elf, could they have seen her. She had the grace, the poise, she stood taller than most human men, and her ears were indeed elongated to a slightly rounded point. Her hair was long and straight and flowing, a fair, warm blond hue, almost white, the way the yellow star that was the sun could appear white in the sky with its radiance. It seemed to turn into a pale greenish blue color only to return to the warm blond at the bottom, although that at times looked to be an effect of the light shining upon it. It was not, on the whole, too unlike Leonna's blond color. Her robes were a continuation of the flowing, elegant simplicity about her, everything in harmony, everything in the hues of nature, from the robes' rich grass green to the peachy hues and rosiness of her cheeks.
The most striking, however, were her eyes. No Spirit could ever hide the true nature of their eyes, it was said. This was true even for the Mother of All. Her eyes were a vivid, wise green, motherly and patient, kind and yet somehow they seemed to look into you deeper, deeper than you knew. There was understanding there, an understanding that had seen eons of life and human development on their earth.
They met Leonna's and only seemed to grow kinder, a fondness coming into them, and... could that have been tears? From the Spirit of Life, who had weathered through all? It had been said that she wept often when a living being, a "child" of hers in her heart's view, died, but so few had ever seen for themselves...
She stepped forward once, then twice, not wanting to frighten the girl, but wanting to explain, to explain why these emotions were swelling within her all at once at the sight of her. The firefly pendant at her neck jingled and glimmered as she moved, as if it were almost a real little creature that followed her about happily.
"Oh my child... my child, you have returned! I have finally found you... Aelfdene… my lost little fae…"
With tears in her eyes, reflecting the green like ponds in the forest, Gaia drew Leonna into her arms on the porch and hugged the fae girl tight, surrounding her with her gentle warmth and her smell like lilies and rainwater, like wildflowers. Ever since she had sensed her presence at the Seraph wedding, she had hoped she would get a chance like this for a reunion. Now she just hoped Leonna was not too startled to allow her to explain.
"There is so much I wish to tell you... I... I know it must all be too much right now..."
Light, warmth, that was all I could ever remember. Visions of a world beyond Bren had never come to me, try as I might to understand, to remember. Hemanias had told me many times of my “birth,” the rogue star that fell from the sky and brought an entire forest to ruin, and that was all I knew. But there remained that feeling, a sensation I had clung to even as a child. The rising of the sun, its warmth as a myriad of color touched the earth all at once—I had always known that sun was my connection to things neither my parents nor Hemanias could explain.
I did try to tell him, once, when my flame had first surfaced. That day, my true heritage had been realized, and I would never mistake myself for a human again. Fire could not harm me; it was me, that warmth, that light of the sun. Perhaps it was fitting that I had no image of human-like parents, that the only thing I knew from infancy was a warmth and light beyond the realm of mortals. It filled a person, brought vitality and energy as it penetrated every part of the body. Trying to describe that to a human, the soothing kiss of that inner flame, was near impossible.
So many nights I had looked up at the sky and wondered. Was the sun lonely? So bright it was that it outshone everything else in the sky, and only when it parted did the numberless stars peek out and dance across the black. Had they been my parents? Did they watch me from afar, those untouchable flames of the sky? Or had I always been an outcast, desired neither in that celestial realm or the earth below?
The woman's words put those questions to rest. Her celestial presence I had already accepted as truth, and her words, her embrace—this was the mother I had wanted. Always, always to be a lost little fey, not some material product of the stars, not a miserable outcast from another life—this was what I had wanted. Even believing the dream to be futile, I had hoped and imagined a mother, a father whose flame embraced mine, whose energy was one with me. Ever since I had left Bren, that was what I had searched for, the merest hint of an aura like my own, a being of eternal energy that knew what and who I was.
But I had never dared to hope that they would find me.
The search, had it ended for me? It was an overwhelming thought, one that struck so hard that I lost balance. This woman, she was no illusion of a feeble mind, no conjuration of an ill-meaning wizard. There was no mistaking it, that aura, that wonderfully warm aura that resembled the vitality of my own inner flame. Perhaps fire is not even a valid comparison, for it is too harsh, too quick, too fleeting. The warmth that gave me life, the steady and soothing stream of pure vitality, energy, was abundant in this stranger's presence.
No, she was no stranger. I was her Aelfdene; I believed it with every last part of my being. Even through Omentus's taint, she knew and I knew that we had both regained something. I would not believe for a moment that this was some manner of mistake—too long I had searched, feared, wondered. The evidence, the goal of all of my work was before me and I could not deny it.
But the triumph did not belong to me. How long would I have rotted away in Keithon had it not been for Khaz and his friends? How long would I have hidden away in that silly treehouse mourning over lost love? If Adrien had never forced me to the wedding, if I had never met Rain and been invited in the first place, if I had never met Hunter nor seen Cadenza.... how long would I have wandered alone, never knowing the beauty of the mother before me or the sweetness of her embrace? If I had never left Bren, never met all those outside of that cursed forest who guided and protected my humanity, what ugly wretch would I have become?
Tears and tears came, tears from years and years of dreaming. In a place I could never have fathomed, this odd world with its technologies and strangers, I had found... no, it had found me. The smallness of that treehouse, its emptiness was so plain to me then. That warmth that flowed from Hunter, and now this woman who held me... that essence was not the mere feeling of being touched: it was home.I accepted it blissfully, wrapping my arms around the woman as tightly as I could—I did not ever wish to let her go again.
Leonna, that foreign creature so feared by mortals, she was no more. Aelfdene, Aelfdene, the lost little fey embraced by her mother, the woman in possession of so many fine friends...
"I searched our world for you for so long, my child... so long, and for centuries I wept and rain fell... you had fallen into our river and I... I could not believe... I did not wish to believe you could be gone... swept away into another world beyond my reach..." the great Spirit's voice trembled, trembled like none had heard in countless ages. It warmed her heart to feel her child accept her embrace--and return it--and she cradled her closer, bathing her in the glow of her love and protection even as brilliant tears streamed from her eyes.
"I could not follow after... I could not find you, I feared I had lost you for sure... my little fey with the human soul... you fell into that river of lives and it changed you, gave you that precious gift... but it carried you away from me until that day I first saw you at Cadenza's ceremony... so fortunate I thought that it was, that one of my other children learned to venture beyond our world... that she had met you... my Aelfdene..."
Her long, gentle fingers stroked the fey girl's hair, and where she touched, the strands grew richer and more golden in color, as if calling to an energy within Leonna herself. Everything Gaia touched nurtured in her care. Her tears had finally stopped, little flower buds growing in the earth where one had fallen past the porch, and it was replaced by a smile that rivaled the sun for its warmth and beauty.
"Many unfortunate things have come to pass from that day... but for this meeting, for this chance, I am infinitely grateful... my child... please, I wish to give you something, so that we can never again be separated as we have, all these many lifetimes..." Gaia withdrew a hand to touch her firefly pendant, and at the caress of her magical fingertips it glowed bright, so bright that for a moment, the whole pendant was covered in the light. When it could be seen again, a second, identical pendant lay poised between the Spirit's graceful fingers, glittering in the sunlight. It was a perfect companion to her own.
"For you, my child..." she held the golden chain aloft, as if asking for permission to place the necklace over Leonna's head and around her neck. "This will protect you... guide you, so that we may never part as we had again..."
It was just as mother, mother! How sweet was that word! It was just as she had said, the whole of her words too much to take in. I had studied my entire life to comprehend this moment, but it all came too quickly, too sweetly. Merely the sound of her voice was familiar, soothing, loving just as her embrace was. I clung to the sound as I clung to her, trying to remember, to never forget the sight of her, the scent, the touch ever, ever again.
So little made sense at first, but how could I care? There was such vitality in the air, a wealth of energy that seeped to my very core. It felt as though I was breathing the essence of life, sweeter than honey, warmer than sunlight. And I knew, despite all the tears ruining my vision, that she was beautiful, moreso than all the suns and stars that had ever graced the sky. And to think... to think that this celestial being was a parent, the source of my strength... was I truly some angel of another realm, not the forgotten demon I had feared?
She was trying to give me something, too! Could I be blessed any further than her presence? This gentle mother, the one who knew my name? I tried to utter some manner of thanks, but my feelings were well beyond words. The only thing that came out was, “Beautiful...” and it was! Though all I could see were blobby shapes and lovely colors—that aura, the light, it was all ethereal and perfect.
"There is that pure voice I remember..." Gaia's whole presence warmed, if it were possible, even more at Leonna's first words to her, almost seeming to glow like the sun. With her allowance, she draped the chain around the girl's neck and let the firefly dangle, as if tinkling in response to her own.
"Should you ever feel lost, my Aelfdene..." she told her, her motherly voice soft, instructing with care, "this pendant will help guide you back to me... back home... There is so much still to tell you, child... can you forgive me for taking so long to find you...?"
Breathe... The tears had stopped momentarily only to begin again, and all the words I wanted to say were caught up in my throat. It was too much to believe, too much to hope for. To never be lost again, to be home, home in her arms... her kindness filled me and no words of my own would come out. Beautiful was foremost in my mind, swimming about in circles again and again as I saw and listened.
And shelter, there was shelter. I rested my forehead against the soft shoulder so near, feeling weak in the flood of emotions that had overcome me. “I am... sorry, there... there is so much I have always wanted to say... so many things I have told the sun and stars that I thought you would never hear. But now... the past is in the past... Mama...”
"That is right, my child..." Gaia wept, wept as magic and joy swelled in her chest, a bright vitality in the throb of her voice, "I would have endured the passing of many more suns if it meant finding you, Aelfdene..."
Her green eyes then finally took in the house before them, modest but proud, sturdy, with its fledgling family inside. She regarded the home for a moment and then her fae daughter once more, before she steadied her voice and spoke, a thoughtful tone lending her speech even more softness and wisdom, "Tell me of this human man you have befriended... this man whom I partly have to thank for bringing you home to our world for me... you have grow fond of him, have you not...? Is he good to you, Aelfdene...?"
“Is he good...” I breathed deeply, trying again to recollect my thoughts. It took a few moments, removing my mind from the softness of her shoulder and the glow of her aura, but my memories of Hunter were not difficult to call forth. In some ways, perhaps, his presence was as strong as my mother's; he did not hold her immense warmth and vitality, but there was a vivid light in him all the same. When he had held me, there was this same sense of shelter, like taking cover under the branches of an oak in a storm. They were good people—it shone from their eyes and rang in every one of their spoken words.
“I...” I looked up, having to take another moment as I saw my mother's face. Hunter had once said I was lovely as Spring, but she was the very essence of it, so soft and bright with warmth that would melt eternal winter. There was wisdom, too, a solid and wholesome goodness about her that spoke of sorrows overcome. An ethereal spirit she was, perhaps a mother of life itself, but I felt I saw in her a loving mother, a kindred spirit, one who tended to wilted blossoms with a hand of hope, not pity. How could I look into her eyes, hearing her words, and think otherwise?
“I hardly know where to begin, so full is my heart. Many dark things have transpired before I first came to this world, and I found myself so often floundering in despair. Yet in my wildest dreams, I would never have come to imagine so wondrous a mother as you, nor the fantastic means by which I have stumbled to you. I owe much to the Seraphs, many friends, and now more to Hunter... Prince Merridale, the man you speak of.” My cheeks began to warm at the mention of his name, but it was not tears that formed as my heart began beating faster once again.
“Oh, that you should know him, Mama! There cannot be a man so good, so kind, so handsome as he. When I first saw him, I saw a man of refinement and stature. After I met him a second time, I knew him as a prince and generous soul. But now... now as I have met him again, 'human' is too plain when he has the countenance of an angel. If you could but hear the words he speaks, you would hear the soul of a poet. And if you were to see his eyes, you could find no seal that binds such earnest honesty and compassion. He has been so kind to me, even when I was unaware of it. In the fit of my nightmares he carried me, in my sorrow he has visited me, and in my confessions, he has uplifted me. This day I find myself overwhelmed by people of such goodness... I am undeserving of it all...”
"I think that is not so..." the Spirit said after a moment, gently nudging up her child's chin so that she could see her face, meet her gaze with a smile. "There has been a great weight upon your heart for a long time, this I can see... this happiness you feel now is only what you rightfully should have known all along, had you never been lost... not the heaviness you had bore on your shoulders all these years."
Her smile grew as she considered the fae girl's words again for a moment, pleased to hear that she had found a man who treated her with the care she should have. He was an outsider, but Gaia was prepared to welcome him into their world with open arms if he showed such compassion and kindness towards her child. He was not one of the Spirit's own, but he could still become a part of the family should he someday join his heart in love and father a child with Aelfdene. Of course, those were all just shimmers of the future for now. A mother's hopes, perhaps.
"Do not ever question your worthiness again, love..." she added, gazing back down at those aqua-green eyes again, as if someone had taken the reflection of her own and mixed it with the clear blue of the skies, "You deserve all the goodness the world has to offer you..." Her touch on her child's cheek then was the first caress of the springtime sun on cold skin, warming it from the inside out.
Emotions rarely follow time. One can spend years and years sharing the same village, the same home, the same friends, and never know even the hint of anther's joy and sadness. And one may spend only a few minutes with another and realize that their severest anguish and joy is one and the same. At such moments, there is a vulnerability that comes from knowing those deeper, weaker parts of the soul. Then, perhaps just after, or when some time has passed, there is either trust formed or trust lost, and one cannot see the world with quite the same point of view as before. Knowing that there is another who knows so much, alive and walking in the same world... it is a euphoric and terrifying thing.
Momma knew me, I felt that she did, in a way that my human mother had not. It was not that my former mother had been cruel, nor even neglectful. In the face of so much fear and uncertainty, she had fed and dressed and taught me even after the great famine that followed my birth. But... all that time, she had thought me a human, Leonna the mortal child, the child her barren body could not have. When that was taken from her, when all proof made truth impossible to deny, she had lost that daughter. Aelfdene, the child of wings and flame, could never be Leonna, the harmless mortal girl from a forgotten village.
To embrace that name, to think of a life where I might have always been the child of this brilliantly kind and lovely mother... how different would everything be? I knew who I was now, what I was. Not all of the fine details were clear, but what more needed to be said? I had a true name and a mother with the most exquisite aura... and the things she said, even the sweetness of her touch... was this what others could see in me?
“I love you... so much...” The words came naturally, odd as it seemed. All I had known of her in my years of life wast the feel of her aura, so strong and right that even an infant had not forgotten it. "It simply seems unfair that one should be so happy as I am now..."
"Happiness... sadness... they are all part of life, but the way you speak, my child... it sounds as if you have known far too much sorrow. Is it not due then, now, that you should know an equally great happiness...?" as she spoke her steady, loving words, she again stroked her daughter's wavy blond hair, "What makes your heart so heavy that you feel this shouldn't be so...?" she wondered aloud, gazing at the girl curiously. She could scarcely imagine what might have happened to the young fae on those far-flung worlds of which she only knew hearsay, but she did know that she wished to know much more about her Aelfdene. There was much lost time to be made up for now.
"No guilt is too great in the eyes of love... worry not... your hand could do no wrong that should cause me to disown your heart... you have always had my love, even when you did not know me, darling Aelfdene... and you always shall."
OoC: I apologize for the loooooooooooong delay! 'S been a crazy month.
It was strange, yet the thought came on its own: had I always loved my mother? Surely, I hadn't as an infant. Babes know no more than need, continually needing as they grow. Food, clothing, shelter, affection—they demand and require these things and give nothing in return. In adulthood, the child only begins to return such gifts to another, a babe of their own, and is transformed into a more responsible, less selfish being. To have a love that only gives... that is perhaps the most pure and noble trait a being can have.
If my mother and I had never been separated, I did not doubt that she would have given all such gifts. In her presence now, I felt as if I was born again, held in her arms and knowing only the blurry beginnings of all that she was. Yet the mere touch of her hand, the realization that her flesh was my own, that she accepted the tainted and unvirtuous body that was her child... it brought overwhelming joy and shame. Here was my inheritance, the fountain of life and energy from which I had sprung, and within the few short years I had lived, I had befouled the most precious gift my mother had given long before I understood its meaning. My life, my body, was given unconditionally, treasured, and now I stood before its creator knowing all I had done with it.
My knees buckled as the tears came again to my eyes, and I buried my face in my hands, unable to look upon her without wishing that I might shrivel away into nothingness. Unworthy wretch! Untempered beast of flame! She was all I might have been like, blazing shame into the reaches of my past that did not wish to be remembered. Innocent life taken, innocence itself soiled, and all the selfish years of isolation—how could I have ever placed myself upon a peak above men? I had been given more than a mortal body, but it had never been a penance. My inheritance stood before me in all its glory and I knew only that I did not deserve it.
“Forgive me... forgive me if you can, dearest mother! I cannot bask in joy when I know the extent to which I am tainted, how I have ruined and misused the very love you gave me!” The rest came out in mangled cries, detailing in tatters all that my tongue could confess. Bren, Khaz, each nightmarish episode I had in the dark reaches of the wood and mountain. I told her of my beautiful wings, those firey stems of a dragonfly, how they had warped with my body from Omentus's work, how my flame had been replaced and a horrid darkness locked inside. Time and reason were gone from me, only layer upon layer of shame burying me in a pile of misery so great I lost all sense of light. I lost even my voice in the blubbering, trailing off into dry sobs that cracked at my throat.
"Time may cure... bring peace..." Gaia told her when the sobbing had died down, and the girl heaved in silent tears against her mother's chest. "No matter what they may have done to you, there is a part of you that they cannot corrupt, that I will always recognize... to be human is to face both darkness and light, my child... and while I hate that you should have had to face such cruel darkness as you have known, it only makes what light still shines in you stand out even stronger. You have the soul of a human, but you are my Aelfdene... one of my own... weep not, for you are made of more resilient things they they know and you may recover your flame some day."
As she kept one comforting arm around her girl, she held out the other, and a small orb of colorful light appeared, showing Leonna with her wings outstretched in glory. They were beautiful things, as vivid as a flame, and rivaled sunbeams that broke into rainbows in their color. The rest of the image was unclear, but it was possible that there was others around there with her... who were they? And where were they? The vision gave no further hints to any of these things.
If the fae girl had looked questioningly to her mother then, she would only see a wise gleam in her eyes and the kind of patience only found in old trees that have stood the test of time, and have seen the passing of many seasons. This was only a glimpse of what the future could hold, but Gaia never revealed more than a possibility. She, as always, could see many points from which events might branch out from there. Only time could tell.
Emotions are a fickle thing. Love does not have definite depth or form, not always so obvious as sorrow or anger. Yet it is the driving stuff of a people, the reason why one endures pain. I knew there, in my mother's arms, that all I had suffered was not in vain. I was rendered utterly dry from my tears, even my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth from lack of moisture. There were not words I could speak, only gratitude as I leaned upon the solidness of my mother. Her words of future hope lifted my heart, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was still one of her own, a fallen and tainted creature perhaps, but glorious in its heritage.
And then the image that Mother created... like the name she had given me, it resonated with something deep inside myself. Hope to be a redeemed creature, one with a future that any mortal was entitled to, one with hope and family... I wanted it dearly. So I believed, collecting myself as best as I could as I looked again to my mother's face. How patient she was, how beautiful, how warm!
Gaia simply kissed her child's brow, and said no more of it for now, instead relishing this chance to hold her daughter and share in her feelings once again. She held her for some time, as the winds whispered gently around them, as if calmed by her presence, a bit of dew in the air, before she looked towards the door of the house they were standing before, and her lips pursed in further thought.
"If the man here is kind..." the Spirit began, at first mainly musing to herself like it were a riddle to solve, "why should you be going, instead of coming? To where from this friendly house were you headed, my child?"
Her timeless eyes looked gently questioning, wondering. For all her power, all her knowledge, she could still never know exactly what was going on in the depths of her children's hearts and their minds. She could have a very good idea--sometimes so good that people felt her eyes could look right through them--but she could never be perfectly certain. And that was one of the many things she loved about them.
So if Aelfdene sounded so happy here, with her human, where in that dear blond head of hers was she thinking of going?
“I cannot stay.” The words came too abruptly, but they had long been waiting. How could I have refused the prince after all he had so freely given? When we had said goodbye, I had not explained—how could I? It was dishonest and frail, but I had never meant to go through with what I had verbally accepted. How could I possibly live in that kind little home? He was a pressed father, a concerned friend, and one that did not need some confused fae taking up more of his limited time.
“Mama... I have wandered too long to stay in one place. Hunter is a good man, one with an adopted son to care for, and I could not possibly ask for more of his attention. I know I agreed to his kind proposal to provide a place for me, but I cannot make good on them. There is too much strange about me, so much he still knows nothing of, and Chris... oh, Chris! If he knew what I was... goodness, he was troubled enough just to see me. How could I, in good conscience, place myself there?” I shook my head, growing more confident in the surrounding peace. Surely Mama would understand, being so kind and wise as I had seen.
“It was wrong of me, I know. But when I look at him, how he smiles at me, how he takes my hand and promises all good things with the touch of his lips, my tongue is bound and I doubt my own doubts. I could not tell him then... but I will... when he visits again... and... and... I will have words then, surely...” My resolve already sounded hollow to my own ears. I could not refuse him; merely the thought of his warm eyes tainted with disappointment brought the ugliest sense of guilt.
With a trembling smile, I looked up to my mother, so bright and lovely. “That is the right thing to do, is it not? I mean to go back to my place at the Dome... that... odd and magical place that I stumbled upon. There I will still be able to see him again, help him as I may, but... but not as a wretch that only means to take more of his hospitality.”
"I should think that if he invited you into his home, he invited you and your problems, whatever might come... that he was aware there would be things to work through and things he might not yet understand. Perhaps those are problems he wishes to deal with? Wishes to, because it also means being with you and being a part of your life, dear Aelfdene," Gaia's expression turned gentle but the wisdom in her eyes shone, not wishing to make this decision for the fae girl, but hoping all the same that she was not making the wrong one.
"I know well how that feels, being too long out of your life myself... Perhaps he does not wish to see you go away, even if staying may bring struggles as well. To love someone is to accept both the good and the bad... by leaving, you take that possibility, that chance to live and strive with you through whatever troubles, away from him as well..."
I blinked, lost for a moment at the mention of love. Oh yes, I knew my mother loved me, that I loved her, that she spoke in wisdom, but Hunter... did Hunter love me? We were quite new to one another, very much different, and I had done little but pine over my own troubles in his company. That he might have acquired fondness for me, I could accept (we had, after all, shared a kiss), but I had felt it could only be his great concern and kindness that had extended the gesture for me to stay. Surely it was impossible that he would go so far as to think about a life shared with me. Shelter, he had offered shelter so long as I might need it. Merely thinking of overstepping such a gesture with the notion of... of a relationship forced a heavy weight of guilt on my heart.
Had it been my own thoughts, I would have dismissed the feelings immediately and further worked to think of how I would form a gentle refusal. But it was my mother that had said it, this lovely and incomprehensible spirit that had appeared and filled a longing I had had since I was a child. In this matter she was concerned, and it was plainly clear what she thought. If my presence could, in some way, offer Hunter happiness he desired... well, at the very least, it was worth considering.
“I... I will ponder your words very carefully, Mother. My heart is in so much confusion, but I shall have time to sort it out, I am sure. Hunter does not strike me as one who makes hasty or thoughtless decisions... there will be more to say... I merely worry for his own current troubles.”
"He is a strong man, I think, from your words and what I have seen of him... I know he has befriended another of my children, although one more distantly related to me than you... if she has chosen him as a friend, I have no doubt that he can shoulder whatever burdens may come his way. He must have come far to be in this world..."
She gazed off as she spoke, as if seeing many miles away, to the edge of far horizons. Or, one could believe, perhaps to a time ahead. But she smiled a moment, and then her gaze was suddenly very present, and focused again on her daughter.
"But you wish to go, yes...? I cannot open the portal to this Dome myself, but I know there is one close. I shall take you there. Come, let us go, if you are certain that you need some time on your own... I shall miss you dearly, my child... you will return?"
Her smile grew sad, like a drooping flower, but one that had seen many winters. Leonna was not the first of her children she had to part with, but after such a long separation, parting with her now hurt the Spirit more than most.