Light dappled in a shimmering flow up from the green face of the floating island under SoYa’s feet. Candy-colored clouds skimmed through the sky, leaving trails of breezy wake behind them. The air was warm here, warmer than it was in the waking world. In dreams, weather changed only with the mind of the dreamer.
There was more to it than just that, he knew. If the dream really reflected his heart, there would have been dark, dreary skies and a slow, cold drizzle. His dreams were a reflection of himself – he held his sorrows bunched up deep inside him, fighting not to let them show.
SoYa was thankful for the sun, though.
“As am I,” Zemi’s voice carried from across the island. “Do you have any idea how wet dragon smells?”
“No, I can’t say that I do,” the man turned to peer over his shoulder.
The image of the Arweinydd made him pause briefly. It wasn’t a trick of the hazy sunlight. Zemi’s brilliance had grown, even since the last SoYa saw him. Speckles of soft light capered around his form, the grass more vibrant wherever his great claws touched the earth. Both eyes blazed like distant starlight come from the sky.
Though SoYa should have been alarmed, there was a calming feel to the dragon’s presence that comforted instead. It tickled the back of his mind, like something that he should remember from a time and place long ago.
For all I know, it probably is.
Rather than loom in all of his majesty, the dragon arched his neck and lowered his head. Gently, the muzzle dropped to the ground, lying patiently, as tame as a trained brush hound. SoYa reached both hands out, stroking the brilliant white hide without thinking.
Zemi simply purred in pleasure.
“I’m glad to see you, Zemi,” SoYa said. The dragon’s warmth crept up his arms, carrying a reassuring feeling through the man’s body. It was almost enough to ease the pain of the waking world.
“Is there something I can do for you, SoYa? You seem sad,” the dragon inquired, his starlit eyes watching.
“No,” he shook his head. “I appreciate the thought, but there’s some things I need to work out for myself.”
SoYa propped against Zemi’s neck, silent for a moment.
“You are like your father in that way,” the Arweinydd said, surprising him.
“He was my Champion,” Zemi purred a bit, eyes distant with memory.
“You… miss him?” That wasn’t the question that he wanted to ask. It was just the one that passed through his lips.
“Every day,” the dragon admitted. “He was a good man, a great leader and a loyal friend.”
“I wish I could remember him,” SoYa murmured.
“You will, one day.”
“How can you be sure about that?” the man asked.
“Because your past is still a part of you,” Zemi answered, ears pricking forward. “It can be buried but it can’t be destroyed. Something within you is still Awakened.”
“Awakened,” he echoed. “I’ve translated about that, but I wasn’t sure if I was reading the term correctly. What does it mean?”
The Arweinydd breathed in a long, slow breath through his nostrils. “That’s somewhat difficult to explain. Even I can’t really define it.”
“The people who lived on the Islands became Awakened, right? Was it because of this place?”
“No, a place doesn’t Awaken someone,” Zemi spoke slowly. “Awakening is something that is already there within you. A potential locked inside that you don’t know about and can’t normally reach. That’s where an Arweinydd comes in. When Earthians and Arweinydd are in harmony, the balance of energies creates the right environment for an Awakening to happen. Though, even then, it sometimes takes something drastic and often emotional to trigger it.”
“What happens?” SoYa asked, wishing that he had some sort of way to jot all of this down.
“The best way to describe it is like a realization. Everything inside you aligns… everything you are, was and could yet be. When that happens, and you have an Arweinydd to guide you, you’re able to tap into the same flow of the living world as I can,” he spread his wings slowly, flourishing in a soft light. “You cross the barriers of the physical world and dissolve the myths that limit you.”
“Wings are involved,” he noted. “I remember that from the translations.”
“That was something that your father chose in his youth,” Zemi chuckled. “And I was too disconnected to argue with him on that. Looking back, it was probably not the best idea. Big ole wings, even spirit-energy ones, are really conspicuous and not well suited to people living on the ground.”
“And that’s why you built Ceiswyr?”
“Partly,” the dragon nodded. “We were both so young and extravagant in that time. We never stopped to think about how the world would view what we created. We simply made things on a whim, because we could, and because nothing like it had ever existed.”
“Do you regret that?” SoYa asked, capturing a floating flower-frond in one fist.
“Sometimes, yes,” Zemi admitted. “I wish we had chosen a more prudent path. But when things just didn’t work out as planned, we rebounded with the determination to make something even bigger and better.”
There was a moment of silence before the dragon spoke again.
“We… made so many mistakes.”
“I know that feeling,” the man stroked the dragon’s neck slowly. “When you do the best you know how to do, but it all still just comes apart at the seams.”
“My choices affected the lives of so many people. The echo of my choices still rings out in the lifetime you are living right now.”
SoYa couldn’t help but feel sorry for Zemi. He didn’t know how to make it better. “It’s a huge responsibility. I don’t think I could have done any better than you did.”
“I think you could,” the Arweinydd said. “You and your family are destined to rule and uphold the truths in this world.”
“Me?” he laughed a little. “I’m no leader, Zemi.”
“What do you call what you’re doing right now?”
“I’m… just organizing stuff,” SoYa waved his hand.
“Organizing is part of leading.”
“I don’t know the first thing about what I’m doing.”
“Neither did your father or I,” Zemi pointed out. “But when you have the good of the people locked in your heart, you can be certain that you are doing a better job than the ones who are ruling from the Manor right now.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“Of course I’m right,” the dragon chortled. “I’m always right! I am Zemi Dreigiau!”
A slight smile curved SoYa’s lips.
“That’s better. And don’t worry about your son so much. We’ll figure something out for him, too.”
The man blinked, “Wait, how did you know about that?”
“Do you think your mind mage magics work on me?” Zemi gave a big dolphin-laugh smile.
He stared down at the glimmering green grass. It wasn’t very often that SoYa felt vulnerable in the eyes of others. Even the Masters in the school couldn’t see beyond the things that the mind mage let them see. But this creature, he was learning, was very different.
“You don’t have to be afraid,” Zemi nuzzled him. “Stop worrying about how I see you and just be freed by the fact that I do see. You don’t have to hide anything from me. You can be what you really are. Just as I have been as I really am with you in these dreams.”
“It’s just… difficult.”
“I know it is. But I have known you since before you knew yourself, SoYa,” the dragon said softly. “You, too, were one of my people. You Awakened through my power. Your family has been, and will always be, very important to me.”
“I was Awakened? That sounds pretty impossible,” SoYa shook his head. “I can’t keep anything straight in my life. How am I supposed to believe that I obtained this higher state of mind?”
“You don’t have to believe. It’ll come when you are ready. When it does, I have a feeling everything else will come back to you.”
“You mean my memories?” he leaned forward in interest.
“I’m afraid so,” Zemi gave a soft sigh.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing. I’ll finally be able to piece together things that we’ve lost in the past.”
“That’s true,” the dragon spoke grimly. “But you will also be the only one who bears the memories of a darker time for your people. All that happened wasn’t pleasant.”
“It can’t be worse than the Manor,” SoYa muttered half under his breath.
The dragon’s fin ears caught the sound and drooped a bit. “You might be surprised. The Manor may seem harsh, but there’s a lot more overlap between Nefol and your world than you might think.”
“In what way?”
“I don’t have all the details yet, but I have some suspicions,” Zemi murmured. “Those, however, will have to wait for another time. Your dream is slipping from you.”
“Oh?” SoYa exclaimed with surprise. He looked down at his form, which was now misty and transparent. The world around him seemed brighter and less solid as well. All were signs that the dream was breaking away and that the waking world would soon infringe upon their conversation.
“Hang in there, SoYa,” Zemi’s voice came to him, growing further away. “You’re not alone in this.”
As the mind mage woke to the late afternoon sunlight, he came to realize he had vastly overslept. Rubbing his face, he also came to realize he was still in his office at the Zemitree. His first thoughts swept to AsaHi, who would be worried that he didn’t come home. His second thoughts turned to wonder why everything seemed so peculiarly silent around the base.
His fears were justified when he reached for the door knob only to find that it was locked.