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I, Seiros

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As soon as word arrived from Alois that he was returning to the monastery with Jeralt and Jeralt’s child, and that they would be arriving the next morning, I could do little else but wait in anticipation for them to enter the monastery and my field of vision. I found myself to be so distracted and restless, that I had little choice but to cancel my evening meetings, claiming I was running a fever: which of course set Seteth into a tizzy. But even if my body temperature wasn’t running hot, anxiety certainly ran hot through my veins.

I had to see for myself. I had to see and know. I did not know what I would see when that child came through the entrance hall. But I knew I would either feel a hope I hadn’t truly felt for some twenty years, or else lose hope altogether. I was of course frightened by the thought of going through the pain of losing my mother yet again. To prevent that familiar pain, my mind was shouting at me: You cannot lose hope if you do not have it, Seiros! Do not get your hopes up!

Indeed, I had to acknowledge the possibility that Jeralt very well could have had another child in his long absence. After disappearing from the monastery, it seemed likely that Jeralt would have relied upon his skill set as a soldier and returned to his old life as a mercenary. Truly, I had no idea where the man had been for the past two decades, but if my theory was correct it was probably many places. And if Jeralt got around physically, perhaps he, well, got around physically. Still, even as my mind pointed to that possibility, a reflex to prevent the pain of crushing disappointment still shouting in my ear, my heart could not give up hope. The hope of seeing my mother again was what had sustained me for these past thousand years, after all. And when I had more reason now to hope than I had had in decades, how could I give up?

I reminded myself who I was; I was more than this role of archbishop. Long before, I was the warrior Seiros, and Seiros did not give up. That was something every child in Fódlan knew. Seiros stood proud and strong against the forces of evil, following the will of the goddess and felling the Fell King Nemesis. All that she did was for the goddess, her mother. Well, of course the children of Fódlan did not know that part, of that I had made sure. But I would continue to follow the will of the goddess in bringing her back, and I would not give up. Right now, not giving up meant not giving up hope. My mother would want me to hope, I thought. She would never want me to give up on her. Not after all this time and effort, and when bringing her back was the best thing I (or anyone) could do for Fódlan. But for that evening, all I could do was hope, and wait… I hated waiting. I had done enough of it in my life! I had waited… what had it been, a century? to deliver justice to Nemesis. And I had waited through twelve long lives, trying and failing to revive the progenitor god. What cruelty it was, that I had to wait through dreadful anticipation to know the fate of my thirteenth attempt at reviving her! Suffice it to say, I was more restless than I had been in long years, and it was all I could do to not take on my true form and fly to exhaustion, to simply feel free of the anxiety.

As it was, I settled for pacing about in my bedroom. I’m sure mortals who thought of immortals as being beings of endless patience might have been surprised to see me wearing a hole through the floor. It would have been an equally surprising sight to my followers, who tended to see me as being as composed and immovable as the statues of me around the monastery. To my own surprise, I somehow kept up my pacing until sunlight broke through the windows. As I saw the shadows and strips of light on the floor start to shift with the edge of dawn, I felt my anxiety reaching a fever pitch. To assuage his concerns for me, I had told Seteth I would be better today, but perhaps that was another lie.

I started to take deep breaths to keep calm, like my mother had taught me. Just the thought of her (and the thought of possibly seeing her again!) calmed me down though, as it always did. It’s strange how both my anxiety and my comfort come from thoughts of my mother, I thought as I smoothed out my robes and readjusted my headpiece. I was now realizing that I had never changed out of my outfit after returning to my room the previous evening. That would be the least of my worries when it came to my appearance, however; I was also now noticing the ugly black bags beneath my eyes. Luckily, I had enough skill with makeup to hide those away from all but a close inspection. As I stared into my mirror, I hoped that that would be sufficient. I did want to look my best for the child; I would not want the vessel of the goddess to look upon me with disgust or anything close to it. If he was the vessel to finally succeed, and Sothis returned, I was not sure if she would replace him and his personality, or if he would simply transition into Sothis. With the second possibility in mind, I wanted to give the best possible impression. Age-old memories stirred in my mind; mother would always tell me to take better care of my appearance if I looked at all disheveled (as I often did, spending much of my childhood playing and fighting pretend wars with the other young Nabateans).

And… well, my anxiety over seeing her- that is, him again was unearthing other, ancient anxieties. As surprising as it might be, I’ve always been rather insecure about my human appearance. It’s not my true form after all, and whenever I would think of that, it would become difficult to feel comfortable or at home in this body. I knew some thought me beautiful; I had heard many devotees standing before a statue of Seiros reverently praise her beauty. I had also heard whispering students in the hallways complement certain of my assets, as I walked past… if they only knew what dragons were capable of hearing (truthfully enhanced hearing was one draconic ability I sometimes wished I was born without). But I couldn’t recall a time in recent memory when someone had complimented my appearance to my face. I knew that this was likely out of respect for me and my station, which I of course appreciated. But it was frustrating that people always considered me too immaculate and ethereal to receive such worldly praise. And more frustrating still was when I heard that praise, only given to a lifeless statue or as a whisper in a hallway. But I wanted such praise: it would be nice every now and then, at least. Even though I was once known as the Sky Dragon, I was still a creature of the world, so was it unreasonable for me to want for worldly praise? Sometimes I just wanted to be reminded that I was a creature of the world and not some spirit detached from it. I sighed deeply, as I stared into my own eyes. It all felt so distant. “You’re beautiful, Seiros.” I said to my reflection impulsively, my voice coming out hoarse and raspy. Somehow saying that made me feel a sudden and sharp pang of loneliness. And in the next moment, I was full of self-contempt. My mind conjured up an image of the old Seiros (or really the young Seiros), confident and strong, sneering at the sight of a woman standing in front of a mirror with all of her pathetic insecurities on display. I just wished there was a voice other than mine to give me reassurances, but there was no one close enough. I was sure though, that mother would call me beautiful (as she always did, even after she would tell me to take better care of my appearance), once she returned and held me in her arms.

Mother! With a start, I realized what day, what time it was. My tiredness must truly be catching up to me, I thought, as I moved away from the mirror to look out the window. My nerves were already starting to buzz again as I reached the window, and my heart did a little flip when I saw that the sun had risen higher in the sky, as I had stood staring into the mirror. Did I really just spend so much time standing there with a blank stare? I took a deep breath. I needed to be out there, under the sun, blue sky, and white clouds, waiting for their arrival. One more deep breath, and I briskly walked down the hallway and outside to the balcony overlooking the paths and gardens below. As I stepped up to the edge of the balcony, to look out over my monastery, I felt a strange mix of both disappointment and relief when I saw no one (or at least no one of current import). Could the group have already arrived? Had I missed this moment?

No, surely Seteth would have already come to get me if that was the case. So, I stood, and looked, and waited… I really did hate waiting. I usually loved standing out on my balcony, for long stretches of time, simply catching the breeze on my face and watching the happenings of the monastery. The wind on my face felt like the closest I could get to flying (once my favorite way to relax) in my human form. I could ride a pegasus or a wyvern of course but flying on wings not my own just felt so unnatural; Sothis knows why it was so appealing to Cichol and Cethleann. I loved standing out on my balcony for another reason too; us dragons loved little more than to settle on a high perch and survey our domains. It was simply instinct, like it was for the cats around the monastery. But I could find no comfort in such simple pleasures today. After a few minutes of anxious standing, occasionally giving small smiles to people walking by and waving below, I took up pacing again. Every few seconds I would walk up and look again, and not seeing the party I was waiting for, return to my pacing. This continued for quite some time. I imagined I looked quite silly to passerby below, popping in and out every few seconds.

But then, then, at long last, as I was coming over for another look, I saw them below. There was Alois, and that must be Jeralt, he hadn’t changed much- and there, was that… could it be? Could it really be? A boy, no, a man now, with blue hair and blue eyes like that child from so long ago. My heart was thundering in my chest, threatening to break free from my body and leap from the balcony. It was him. It had to be him. That man was the baby I had held some twenty years ago, the baby whose life I saved, even as his mother died. That man held the heart of the progenitor god… my mother, within his chest. Of course, I had to stare. There was not a thought in my mind, other than the simple perception of the image before me.

I saw Jeralt squint up at me. Face solemn and weathered as ever. He said something then, looking up at me. Even with my enhanced hearing, I could barely make it out. “Rhea’s here…”. I could hear the distrust present in his voice. I felt a momentary twinge of something, probably irritation. But then my thoughts were focused back on his son, as he followed his father’s gaze up to me. For the first time he would see me. I continued to stare. Draconic vision was as adept as our hearing, so I had a clear view of him, even from up above. My, he had grown. For a being such as myself, a decade or two passed quickly (at least when one wasn’t waiting). Consequently, it never ceased to amaze me how much a human could grow in such a seemingly short time. The child had grown into a man of average height, or at least he was shorter than his giant of a father. And unlike his father, he had no facial hair (I remembered Jeralt barely having any himself, once upon a time, when his face was less weathered and worn). The child had a lean body; not bear-like like his father, but more akin to my own build. I was sure, doing… whatever with Jeralt, he had developed strong muscles.

My heart skipped a beat as I realized that the vessel was here, and he was looking at me- the weight of the realization was truly starting to press on my chest. He was finally here, finally home, and my mother’s heart and my hope had returned to me. It had been long years since I had felt such joy as I did then. Somehow though, all that joy did not remove the strange anxiety and nervousness I had been feeling since the day before (although it did remove my doubts). Still, I maintained my well-practiced façade, keeping my face clear of emotion, asides from the gentle smile I tried to always wear outside of my quarters. As anxious and full of feelings as I was then, with my doubts gone, I knew the course of destiny was once again running smooth. I wonder… did the flow of time bring you here?

I felt guilty for doubting her then. Didn’t I always tell my followers to trust the will of the goddess? And certainly, the return of my mother’s heart and her vessel was destiny, fate: the will of the goddess. I knew since I was little that my mother had powerful abilities over the course of time, with cause and effect not effecting her the same way as anyone else. Really, even with her gone, I knew she could never really be gone. How could I ever have doubted her or lost hope? With her power over time, her return was only a matter of time… Maybe, as quickly as a year passed for a human or a decade passed for me, a millennium passed for her. But maybe she was realizing it had been long enough for me and the world. Still, it remained my responsibility to ensure that she was brought back.

I suddenly felt my anxiety roar up like a raging fire, as a terrifying thought occurred to me; I had spent so much time thinking about rather he would come or not, I had not thought about how to keep him here! And suddenly, I felt like the world that had fallen into my hands was falling through my fingers. The desperation and fear that I had felt two decades ago when I thought my mother’s heart lost, I was now feeling all over again, at the thought of losing it all over again. My heart was pounding almost painfully, as the vessel looked away from me, and he and his father walked forward into the monastery, leaving my field of vision, and me to my anxious thoughts.