Naughty, Tactic, Zenith
Xeri focused briefly on the terrain in front of her and then strode briskly on a course three degrees to the left. I’m sure this is where it is — it’s the kind of tactic he’d use.
Nearly half a wake period later, she stopped in front of three rocks, sculpted together by the wind. For years, they had met here, played, grown and bonded, to the despair of their parents. Naughty girl, she could remember her mother crying, and after we’ve worked so hard to establish the contract with Caetor Brandis. Do you know what you’re doing?
Xeri had shrugged her shoulders and nonchalantly accepted her punishment. I can’t help it if Ixle Brandis thinks he wants me. It will be Falai or no one. She repeated the words to her father, who visibly sagged and returned the mate-price to the Caetor. The following winters had been very difficult — and would have been worse had Falai not done what he could to help her.
What’s past is past. She climbed the rocks, finding the familiar hand and footholds, until she reached the zenith. Her vision blurred with tears, but she brushed them away angrily. Falai would laugh at me. He had been gentle and practical — even-tempered, not given to much emotion; a stark contrast to her volatile nature.
“You give me fire and I –“
“You gentle me. Yes.”
It had been their balance. Now she had to find a new balance, alone.
Xeri reached out with her mind — here, there — trying to sense what he’d left behind. There? No, there! She let her sense brush it gently, bring it to life. Slowly, before her eyes, a spark glimmered and grew. It was all that was Farai, all that was left of him. She cupped her hands in front of her, and the light floated to them, settling in.
“Yes, kerame?” The light glittered on her face in the wake of a single tear.
“Always with you. Always.”
“I know. And I with you.”
“Let me go now.” When she hesitated, his face shimmered briefly in front of her. “You must, mekera.”
“Yes.” She spoke the word of release under her breath, and the light rose, and thinned and vanished on the wind.