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Clouds

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               The volcano is still there. It is cold and dormant, and wildflowers creep up its rocky slopes in spring. The people of Cephiro have made it into something of a pilgrimage: a place to go when they feel the prayers they whisper in their own hearts are inadequate. Perhaps it is a little more magical than other mountains in Cephiro, but whether that is because of the footprints left by Rayearth, or the belief of the people and the rough-hewn shrine there today, no one can say.

 

                The merpeople tell of an astonishingly deep system of sea-caves where the Magic Knights remember the Shrine of Selece used to be. They say the caves are wondrous to behold, but find no trace of the magnificent doors that had once opened to reveal a dragon. Umi refuses to go see for herself, saying it’s ridiculous to trust some weird magical submarine. As for the deepest recesses of the caves, daunting, pitch-black, and too narrow for safe passage, the sea keeps her secrets well.  

 

                There is no mountain in the sky. Of course not; that’s far-fetched even for Cephiro.

 

                Fuu remembers where it hung, suspended in geosynchronous orbit. She knows where it blotted out the strange constellations in the night sky, the exact patch of empty blue where sunlight glinted off its crystalline peaks.

 

                She lies in the grass, one hand a pillow for her head, the other tangled with Ferio’s, and they find shapes in the clouds together.

 

                It doesn’t work terribly well. Sure, there are things in common between Earth and Cephiro: dogs and cats, birds and dolphins. Fuu finds clouds that look like anteaters and giraffes. Ferio finds clouds that look like nachtkrapps and turuls. It is more a lesson in comparative zoology than anything else.

 

                Fuu doesn’t point out the cloud in precisely the right spot. After all, it doesn’t take much for a cloud to look like a mountain. She rubs her thumb over the back of Ferio’s hand. He squeezes hers in return.

 

               The wind ruffles their clothes.

 

                Fuu smiles.