Print Friendly, PDF & Email

New life

Curtains of years fell as Komae felt lighter. She remembered the day the fighting was over, the rebellion put down and their foe vanquished from the forests, driven back over the Burnt Sea – there would be a future. Yet, at that moment, standing in the smoldering ruins of her life, the terrible cost of victory had suddenly intruded. Tens of thousands of her friends had been lost forever, the Tree of Life was destroyed, forests and the cities in them were still burning, and the very air she breathed was filled with acrid smoke.

Today, though, she felt as if there was life ahead, like seeing the first green of a new tree breaking from the soil. It was a small, fragile thing, but could become mighty.

“Do you want me to stay with you?” Meha asked, looking at her. Her face was beautiful and open, without guile. Just a person.

“No, but thank you, I’ll be alright,” Komae answered.

Inside, she did feel better, like a house cleaned and swept, arranged and expectant. Rising to her feet, she laid her hand on the small Hadite’s shoulder, walked around her, then let go.

***

Brenzel’s back. In all that had gone on with Damian, Komae hadn’t noticed. However, everything was still so tender inside, she didn’t feel like opening up to her Edenite friend just yet. At the prow of the airship where the jib was, she watched the horizon. No more white salt flats. No more Butchers. In the distance, majestic mountains with snow capped peaks rose beyond the foothills. Hopefully, there were some forests that had escaped the ax, too.

She looked down at her hand upon the wooden railing as she caressed it, Who were you? she wondered. Though dead, the wood still felt alive, real. At least there was something left behind. What will I leave behind? she asked herself. All that marked her lover’s grave was a stone. What would people remember of her life? Who would care?

I’ve been running from that awful day so long only to come full circle to where I fled from. Did Alethea know? Impossible, how could she? But yet… The truth was, even the wisest among them never fully understood the Seraph of Hala’s true intentions. Though benevolent, her motives were shrouded in mystery, opaque to all, save the Creator Himself.

Sighing, she rubbed her eyes and straightened her hair. What now?

Departure

“The next time you decide to take an extended nap, at least let me know,” Damian said gruffly to Brenzel as she stood fidgeting. “We’re on a mission, not a pleasure trip.”

He was right, of course, but still she didn’t like his words – or tone. She wanted to say, “You’re not my father,” but thought better of it and, instead, just nodded, “Yes, I understand.”

Satisfied, Damian went on, pointing ahead of the ship toward the mountains in the distance, “They’ll put us down up ahead once we clear the Butcher Clan. Anything you sense? Any particular place you feel we should be put off?”

Brenzel stretched out her feelings inside beyond the horizon, trying to get a read on what lay ahead, but said, “No, I don’t. Any place is okay right now. Frankly, it all feels like danger.”

“Right,” the commander said as he looked at her closely.

“What?” Brenzel snapped.

“You’re drifting.”

“What do you mean, drifting?”

Damian took his handkerchief from his pocket, wiped his forehead and neck, then said, “In the desert, when we encounter a null field, you have to concentrate on what you’re doing or you’ll drift. That type of absent mind gets people killed, sometimes others with them.”

“I’m paying attention,” Brenzel said, crossing her arms.

“No, you’re not. Don’t drift. Get your head in the mission, Edenite. People are depending on you.”

Biting her lip and feeling her face flush, she just nodded.

“Good, I’ll tell the captain to set us down by that river up ahead,” Damian said. “At least we can rest and get our bearings before we head into the mountains.”

“Sure, that sounds good,” Brenzel curtly replied, then walked away.

***

Furling the sails, the crew rigged for landing as the ground and scrub brush grew near. Brenzel looked over the railing at the river below, winding it’s way through a small valley between foothills. It was the nicest patch of ground she’d seen since the northern forests. There were even trees in the distance. Evidently, no one came out this far, the salt flats and Butcher Clan were natural and unnatural barriers.

It will be good to be off this damned ship, she thought, irritated. She didn’t understand what recommended such a life to others. Cooped up together, never being able to be truly alone, no real privacy. I need a break. Yet, in her mind, the unsolicited words of Damian echoed, “Don’t drift.”

It still stung a bit, but she knew he was right. Her mind was filled with Iris and all that was back there. The frustration, conflict, her heart longing for everything to be right. At least Wichapi was with her baby.

What will I do with Komae? She’ll know…even if I shut her out, she’ll suspect something.

***

Shouting men brought the airship to within feet of the riverbank, lowering the gangplank, lashing its end to the ship with expert knotting of rope. The levitron engines hummed low, and all the sails were bunched up and secured on their yard arms.

Brenzel lifted her bag of things and filed off with everyone else.

She walked to the river’s edge. Looking at the clear flowing water, she felt homesick for earth. Behind her, the four engines powered up, lifting the vessel. She looked up, watching the acolyte standing amongst the smiling men. Strange times, Brenzel thought. Then she turned, crouched down and scooped some cold, clear water in her hand, tasting it. Sweet.

To leave Something Behind by Sean Rowe

SEOIB.