Every time Meridian closes his eyes, he can still see Amberle. He can still taste her on his lips, see her soft smiles. He can still see her death, feel it. He hears her screaming, and his. Sometimes, he can still feel the blood streaming from his eyes.
He doesn't realize how tightly his eyes are shut until a voice calls to him over the sound of crashing waves.
"Meridian..." A hand lightly touches his shoulder, and he lets out the breath he didn't realize he was even holding in a huge sigh. He snaps back to the present time and place.
"Elfenehoala," he greets the other Elder. "What brings you here?" Meridian's voice is hoarse and he grimaces at the sound. He turns to face her and almost regrets it.
Her gray eyes are filled with concern, a frown twisting her fair features. "We've not seen you for several weeks," Elfenehoala says. "Some of the others were starting to get concerned."
Meridian turns back around, facing the Amberle Sea. Elfenehoala moves to stand beside him, gazing into the waters.
"I came here to remember her," he says, the admission dragging against the inside of his throat, coming out bitter. "Try to... think about the good times, before the Soulless."
Elfenehoala sits on the ground next to him, folding her legs neatly. "We all try to remember," she says to him. "Sit."
He sits, cupping his chin with both hands.
"Lisaera... I will never forget the way she looked as she said goodbye..." Elfenehoala's voice is soft and sad. It anchors him, in some odd way. "I often wonder what she must be experiencing. Is it like a sleep or long meditation? Wandering alone?"
The other Elder's voice trails off, intermingling with the sea salt spray. He remembers when Carakhan carved these shores... the Artist had beamed with joy, her movements more languid and at ease.
"What do you miss most of her?"
The prompt is gentle, if not kind. Meridian finds himself choking on the words and his tears regardless. The words pour from his lips like a waterfall, tasting bittersweet on his tongue. Eventually, they begin to blur together.
"Everything," he finally whispers, his voice harsh. His cheeks are wet; he had started crying at some point, but he doesn't know when.
"Oh, Meridian," Elfenehoala says, sighing. He feels her arm, oddly warm against his cold flesh, wrap around his shoulder and bring him closer. She rests her other hand on one of his forearms.
Meridian looks down, marveling at the contrast of their skin. Blue and green dappled scales against olive skin shot through with gold. A beautiful display.
His mind hums softly as hers reaches out to it. A gentle caress, that which transcends the body.
"It is alright to mourn those we lost," she whispers. "But remember not to get lost in it. It is easy, I understand."
She tilts his head to look him in the face, wiping his tears away. Elfenehoala's face is curiously pensive as one hand cups his face.
"Carry the memories of her with pride," she says, impossibly gentle. "Just as I carry the memories of my sister."
"We should go back," Meridian says. "The others will be wondering if you've found me."
A faint smile crosses the other Elder's face. "I did find you," she acknowledges. She stands, brushing her golden hair back over her shoulders. She offers her hand.
He takes it, allowing her to lift him and take him back to the House of Xyl.
Little more than a decade later, he finds Elfenehoala's shards and feels a little more broken.