The trailing prayer lines sparkled in the sky behind them, weaving a painted rainbow of light that shimmered as it faded. Neviril did not look back as the circular colors of the Emerald Ri Maajon enclosed them. The wishes expressed by the Morning Calm Ri Maajon to send them off with goodwill warmed her heart, but she and Aaeru looked forward now, not back. Forward to the Land of Hope. The blinding burst enveloped them as their prayer finished and they were swept up. Glimpses of worlds, or times, flashed past them. The heavens shifted through skies of multi-sunsetted hues, starlit midnights and brilliant mid-day sun beams. Even Aaeru was speechless with the wonder of what they saw. And then they were still.
Rosy clouds drifted around them, speaking of sunrise and beginnings. Aaeru looked down over the hatch-window's edge and whooped with surprise. "Neviril! Neviril! Look! We did it!" Neviril followed her gaze and took a sharp breath. They were hovering over their own land. It was clearly Simulacrum, but never as Neviril had seen it. Huge white cities gleamed pink from the cloud's warm filtering light. This was their country, but at the dawn of its golden age. Was this what was meant by the Land of Hope? The height of their own culture? She felt both awe and a sense of letdown. "Shall we go down, Neviril?" asked Aaeru curiously. "Yes. Let us go forth," Neviril repeated, feeling that there was little else to say.
They landed their Simoun in what seemed like the largest empty square of the city and climbed out. The square filled quickly as people circled them excitedly. The language was High Simulacrumin and Aaeru could hardly understand any of it, but of course Neviril, with her training, understood as much of it as anyone from their time could excepting those language scholars who made their life's work of it. Aaeru grinned hugely at her pair as they were escorted by a set of priestesses through the crowd. It was an adventure to her, the best adventure of all, and for Neviril, it was just as it should be.
Dominura woke early. The window was cracked open and the cool morning air ruffled her curls as Limone often did. She smiled at the thought and rolled over, glad to find her pair and not Rodoreamon's doll. Her fever had broken the day before and another pair of girls had flown off to give the ultimate gift of prayer to Tempus Spatium. She had promised Limone to fly with her again, now that they had taught their people how to perform the Emerald Ri Maajon and renewed their faith and hope. Hope was the key, she thought. They had gone to the Land of Hope and found it was there in the hearts of their own people, in the past, when things were darkest. Limone had said once that they had brought the dawn with them, and she had to agree.
"Good morning," the young priestess smiled up, her eyes creased from sleep and her pale green hair lying in braids across the pillow. Dominura leaned over and kissed her cheek before sitting up and stretching. "Shall we make our flight today?" Limone asked, reaching under the bed for her stash of cookies. Dominura was thankful that Mamina had taught Limone to make her own treats, considering how primitive the cooking of this time was. Her pair might be willing to give her life for the betterment of their people and her faith in Tempus Spatium, but she couldn't go long without a snack and her sweet tooth had not lessened with the years.
Dominura pushed the window open and breathed deeply of the pure air, free of any industrial taint. "Yes, I think we should. I think we are both ready to fly from here." She had left so many times, so many places, before this. Her choice to remain as a Sibylla long past her generation's age of choice, even past what would be her grandchildren's age of choice was rare, but she could imagine no other life. They had taught all they could to those here who wished to know, reinstilling the ability and knowledge of flight in such a way that she was sure it would last, and now flying the sacred Simoun with Limone again, going wherever the Emerald Ri Maajon would take them this time, was what she knew she must do.
Aaeru tugged at Neviril's long locks gently, attempting to get her attention. The pink waves covered her face as she bent over the table, lost in thought. They had been there, in the grand and glorious Simulacrum of old, for several days now and had discovered the circular mystery of the Ri Maajon they had performed. They had entered their people's past at time when they were surrounded by brilliant scientests who worked hand in hand with the priestesses to create objects and tools that melded together secular use and sacred worship. The helical motors so important the future of their country had just been invented, but there were no sign of Simoun craft in the sky. They had brought the first one back with them and given them a model on which to base the Simoun. There was no Sibylla Priestesshood in this time as there were no Simoun to fly, but now there would be.
Aaeru and Neviril were put into their own lodgings, a place that in their time would have been fit for only the highest in the land, even Neviril had never stayed in a place that beautifully designed and adorned. As a result, she had spent most of the time they were in their rooms trying to keep Aaeru from breaking the priceless works of art and flailing into the furniture. She felt slightly overwhelmed, but more at peace than she had ever felt in her life. "Neviril?" Aaeru prodded again, perched on the sill of the open window next to her and idily watching her music box play in the palm of her hand."Yes?" the former Regina blinked, shaking off her thoughts. "Do you think we will ever see any of them again?" It was unlike Aaeru to look so serious or sound so plantive and it warmed Neviril's heart, as much as she didn't want to have to give the reply that was the only one she had. "No, I doubt we will. But we've been allowed to give our people something precious, and I think, I think that it is worth it. Do you?" Aaeru nodded, her nearly always present impish grin returning. "Yeah, I do." She hopped down and threw her arms around Neviril's neck, kissing the top of her head and dashing off for parts unknown, leaving Neviril again with her thoughts.
Dominura gasped as she viewed the land that stretched out below them. They had given their farewells to the people they had come to know and love while living there and had, for what might be the last time, kissed in front of their Simoun and taken flight. The Emerald Ri Maajon had been as wonderful to perform as she had remembered, nothing else was like it, and now they could see where it had taken them. The majesty of the city spread out beneath them was dazzling. Limone's gasps matched her own. They had been taken farther back in time. They were the only aircraft in the bright afternoon glow, but as they flew closer to the city Limone spotted a Simoun parked on a wide, high ledge. As they landed next to it the knowledge of who it belonged to caused both of them to smile with happiness.
"Aaeru! Neviril!" Limone called as she hurried across the room that they had been shown to, her pair following at a slightly more dignified pace, the thick carpets hiding the disolving sparkles that followed in her wake. Aaeru flung herself at them and even Neviril stood quickly and joined in group hug. They would have been all right had they continued alone in the past, but now they were not alone. Limone, grown now but still herself, twirled Dominura into a waltz of happiness along with the melody streaming from the music box in the window. Neviril turned to Aaeru and slipped her arm about her waist. "For once I am glad to be wrong."
Six girls stood in a straight line, their young faces serious and slightly awed, the youngest two also showing a little fear. Limone, in her abstract way, handed them each a flower. Aaeru shook their hands exuberantly. Neviril gave them a gentle hug and a stern but reassuring smile. Dominura gave them their first proper salut as Sibylla. The four Eternal Maidens watched as the first Sibylla Priestesses flew into the warm summer afternoon, the trails of their prayer flashing in the sky.