Roots & Wings
Life is often not a lesson in holding on, but in learning how to let go.
It was cold, the upper docking bay of the palace. The wind this high up always had a slight chill to it.
The former Magic Knight of Fire and current Cail of Cephiro stood side by side, watching a ship approach from the distance, the sun waning on the horizon.
Some ways in front of them, his heavy cloak whispering above the ground as it danced on the wind, was Eagle.
If they were being honest with themselves, Hikaru and Lantis should have seen this coming a lot sooner than they did.
Honestly, Lantis should have realized it as soon as the communications with Autozam began to become more frequent, but he’d been preoccupied with a new batch of potential palace guards he and LaFarga were training.
It had never really dawned on Hikaru, but she thought in hindsight that was foolish of her. Eagle missed his homeland, but she suspected that was not the entire reason for his departure.
No, the more and more she had come to know Eagle in the last year or so since Cephiro had been reborn, the more she came to see there was far too much wanderlust in his blood to keep him in any one place or bound to any one person for too long
But it somehow still felt far too soon.
When he had told them he was returning to Autozam she had been surprised, but also happy for him. She cared for him, loved him and wanted him to be happy. Even if that happiness wasn’t here with her and in Cephiro.
But even still she couldn’t make the fluttering sadness that seemed to want to linger around her go away.
The sinking feeling in stomach somehow reminded her of a conversation she’d had with her brother some time ago.
Her brother had been seeing someone for sometime, Hikaru had even met her on several occasions and liked her. But one evening she’d returned from a trip to Cephiro with Umi an Fuu to hear that they’d split up. Not wanting to intrude but wondering how Satoru was holding up and wanting to know what had caused the sudden split she went looking for him.
Her eldest brother had always been there for her, she wanted to do what she could to return his kindness.
Hikari lifted his head, tail wagging, as she reached down and fondly scratched his ears on her way out into the garden. It didn’t take her very long to find her brother.
She stood beside him for a long time in silence next the small pond and watched the koi fish dart to and fro. Finally she cleared her throat.
He gave a heavy sigh and turned from her to look back at the water.
“I guess you could say that people can’t have both roots and wings, Hikaru.”
She looked up confused, but the puzzled lines on her face smoothed away as he explained that an opportunity to study abroad had come up for his girlfriend and he’d encouraged her to take it, even knowing it would end their relationship. It was something she’d always talked about doing, he did not want to be the reason she let go of that dream.
“Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for someone is let them go.”
And right now she held her brother’s words close to her as the transport ship from Autozam finally docked. The castle giving a slight shiver as the extra weight suddenly added to it.
A person can’t be bound to something when they were meant to have wings, right?
She wanted to be happy for him, she was happy for him. He was well again, the sadness of a lingering death no longer haunted his eyes. When he smiled it was not tinged with regret. But even still…
Why did this have to hurt like this?
She jumped slightly when she felt Lantis squeeze her hand, the look on her face must have been enough for him to realize what she was thinking.
Eagle had walked further out to greet the crew of the ship as they disembarked, besides the handful of palace guards stationed on this level there was no one else around. Eagle had not wanted any fan fair with his departure, so the others had said their goodbyes earlier. Umi had sent him off with cookies that he eagerly accepted and Fuu had promised to contact him once he reached Autozam. They had a chess game left to settle between them after all.
One by one everyone had offered their farewells, but Hikaru couldn't bring herself to say anything just yet. She was sure if she did she would only start crying and she didn’t want Eagle to see that.
She glanced back up to Lantis, “I was just thinking about something my brother told me.”
She watched Eagle shake hands with the ship’s captain, an old friend of his, if she recalled what Eagle had told them earlier. He looked so happy to see him. Her hand tightened around Lantis’.
“He told me people can’t have both roots and wings. They can’t be bound and be free.”
Lantis seemed to consider her words carefully for a moment, she wondered if the Earth phrase wouldn't make sense to him. Earth phrases rarely translated well in Cephiro without explanation, but he nodded and seemed to follow it.
“I can understand where that might make sense to some. Eagle really has never been able to stay in one place for too long, he loves Autozam, but he use to leave often, before he became ill and talk of invading Cephiro began to come up.”
Eagle looked back to them now, smiling, he waved them over and returned to speaking with the captain.
“But you know…” Lantis considered as he took a few steps forward letting go of her hand momentarily, “I think the important thing about having wings is having a place to return to when they grow weary.” He smiled and held his hand back out to her, “That’s the thing about Eagle, eventually he always comes back.”
Hikaru felt warmth bloom in her chest and for the first time that day smiled, “That’s true isn’t? And he’ll always have a place here with us to return to.” She took his outstretched hand and they both went to greet the visitors with Eagle.
And when it became time for Eagle to board she smiled her brightest and did not say goodbye but instead said,
“See you later.”