The Melancholy of a Whimsical Half-Elph
With change comes the knack of distancing the past, or so I believed. The conundrum that comes with it is how we’ll always be defined by what we’ve done. Our actions ripple through every fiber of our being. We can carry on, but we must maintain our own vision of the future. Let not the whispers of the past hold their grip on the changing times.
Enne had been thinking about this for days after finally having time to reflect. She fixated on her black fingers, unclenching them over the bustling streets beneath. The red sun cast its light upon the city as it broke the horizon. She wondered where her half-sister had gone. Enne was left to wonder what she meant before leaving. The half-elph slowly looked over her shoulder to see Alejandro walk onto the balcony.
“Enne,” Alejandro said. “You ready?”
“Yeah,” she nodded. She faked a smile.
She just hasn’t been herself, the wanderer thought.
“En… You’ve been pretty quiet these days.”
Enne turned to him. Her smile was no longer there as her eyes averted. Something captivated him about her two slit irises.
“I know I’ve been avoiding everyone,” she admitted. “There’s just a lot to absorb.”
“And I’m here for you every step of the way,” he replied. She rested her hands on his shoulders after he walked toward her. Even then, she couldn’t look him in the eyes.
“I almost lost you that night.” she reflected. His uncharacteristic grin set her at ease.
“It’s going to take more than that to take me out.”
“Since when did you get access to enthusiasm?”
“I learned from the best.”
“Oh, you—” Enne chuckled.
“All right. That’s enough flattery for the hour. They’re waiting for us.”
Their hands interlocked. Enne was finally able to look him in the eyes before he guided her back inside. The large windows cast the dawn’s warm glow upon the faded hardwood floors. Minimal furnishing was planted throughout the spacious flat. Silesta sat at the long table with Dewy resting in a bowl where the fruits should’ve been. The young elf smiled upon their approach.
“Well, aren’t you bright and early?” Enne said. “Silesta… Or rather, Celeste.”
“I’m still trying to get used to it,” she replied. “But, yes… It’s a fresh start for me… Well, all of us.”
Enne leaned against Alejandro with her arm around his shoulder. Celeste looked at them curiously, finding Enne’s puzzled expression.
“Are we sure we want to bring her?” she asked. “She just got some of her memories back.”
“It’s what she wanted, En,” he whispered.
“I—Hope it’s not going to be a problem,” Celeste said.
“N—no,” Enne replied. “I just… Have my concerns. Not with you, but where we’ll be going. I don’t want to see anyone else get hurt.”
Celeste processed her words with a gentle smile.
“I think I can handle myself.”
“Were you really from another world?” Alejandro asked. “A one with fog, at that? I mean, it sounds silly—”
“Not entirely,” Enne and Celeste said at once. The young woman acknowledged Enne’s faint smile.
“There are so many questions about how I ended up here,” she continued. “I know that spirit still rests within me, and these old feelings… I can’t put my finger on it. But I need to know more. I need to understand why I’m here.”
“The more, the merrier, I suppose,” Enne acknowledged. Alejandro nodded along with a smile as they walked over.
“Hey, doge slime!” Alejandro shook the bowl.
“Allie,” Enne frowned.
What a brute. Dewy yawned. Couldn’t you just carry me in peace? It’s not like I can hop any faster!
“I know, little one,” Enne sighed before turning to Alejandro. “So, where will we meet the others?”
“At the northern entrance.”
“Hm… It’s been a long time coming for them. And for you too, Allie.”
The wanderer gave a slight nod as he looked beyond the window. The city he condemned had a chance to thrive independently from the Ethoxian grip. The citizens began to feel in control of the elements of the old guard ridden from the sanctuary. Their old military equipment gave the city a chance to defend itself. Enne offered several proposals for the new leadership on top of what they had already planned. Unlike centuries ago, it seemed like the path was paved. His pensive expression softened.
“To new beginnings,” he said.
* * *
Mikail sat against the cold railing. The sunrise had barely pierced above the hilly terrain. He breathed the scent of morning dew that he had grown so used to. The approaching footsteps didn’t catch his attention until he felt her familiar hand. He turned to see Raquel. Her typically stern face brandished a more inviting smile.
“They’ve accounted for all the equipment,” she informed. A hologram sprang from the small device in her hand. “And we’ve got some unused supplies downtown. It seems like Janus didn’t bother with any of it. Perhaps the boys in R&D could salvage it. Are you—listening?”
“I don’t think I’ve seen you so relaxed,” he replied. She set aside the device and sat beside him.
“Part of me wonders if this is really happening. After all this time—”
“Oh, it’s real. I was… personally contacted by the one that was helping us.”
“When? And how?”
She paused while rubbing the sides of her head. Mikail’s smile didn’t waver as she focused on what he said.
“That’s a huge fucking deal,” he added.
“Yeah, I know, but—What exactly does she want from us?”
“Come on, seriously. A big player like that just doesn’t come by and hand a victory without…”
She fell silent when she realized his expression hadn’t changed. The glint in his eyes confirmed as much.
“No wonder why you weren’t so worried. When were you going to tell me about this?”
“I’m telling you now, aren’t I?”
Instead of getting angry, Raquel let out a brief chuckle. McCreary emerged from over the roof nearby, startling them as his camouflaged suit faded away.
“Some fancy equipment they got, no?” the dwarf grinned. “Had we had this before, it woulda made things more interesting!”
“How long were you there for?” Raquel frowned.
“What’cha mean? I’m head of the self-defense forces now—”
“Yeah, we know that! I’m just saying… ugh.”
“Eh, Raq,” Mikail sighed. “It’s okay to smile, y’know? We all have something to celebrate.”
“Right…” she replied.
“Oi,” McCreary said as he looked off into the distance. A flatbed came to a crawl. Enne hopped out from the back first. “Ah, our guests are here.”
“Hi!” Enne waved at them while helping Alejandro down. “I hope we didn’t keep you waiting!”
“No, Enne,” Mikail replied. He hopped down, and Raquel followed. “The air is especially nice today.”
“Autumn is approaching,” Alejandro said. He looked over at the city’s new leader. Mikail was a spitting image of his uncle. “Mikail, I—I’m not sure what to say. This was his dream.”
“Nah,” he shook his head before walking toward them. “It’s our dream. He based on what he wanted on what his community needed.”
“I see his good heart passed on.”
“Totally possible, by the way,” Enne chimed while helping Celeste down. No one questioned her, despite her claim.
“Well… There’s a lot of work ahead of us,” Mikail continued. “We can use your help since…”
“Enne and I wanted to see some places,” the wanderer replied. Enne and Celeste walked beside him. Mikail couldn’t take his eyes off the strange slime cradled in Celeste’s arms.
“How about Silesta?”
“Celeste,” the young elf corrected politely. “I decided I’ll go with them. I’m slowly getting my memories back.”
The leader didn’t question it as he nodded along.
“Before you picked her up, you two were on some sort of, uh, honeymoon, right?”
“Not quite,” Alejandro and Enne replied at once.
“It’s my first time traveling,” she continued. “So, Allie here was nice enough to show me around.”
“Then you two are together?” McCreary asked. The half-elph delivered a mischievous smile.
“You don’t need to have a ring on it, you know?”
Raquel scoffed while pacing toward them. Mikail observed the skyline behind them. The sun’s red hues cast against the glass, presenting its haunting glow. In some sense, he never thought they’d see the day. Raquel handed over a small device to Alejandro. He looked at the device before looking at her, noticing Mikail retrieve something around the corner.
“It ain’t gonna melt your hand off,” she said.
“What is it?” he asked. She repositioned her palm, and a terrain map sprung from its center.
“Courtesy of Salem, now that she’s ditched the fortune-telling gig for an apprenticeship for R&D.”
“I—Didn’t see that coming,” Enne remarked. Her eyes trailed to her old motorbike, freshly painted with an added sidecar. She was speechless as she approached.
“Um,” Mikail stammered. “I thought the sidecar would’ve made a great compartment for additional supplies, but—”
“This is perfect! Thanks, Mikail.”
“So, where’s Extendo?” Alejandro asked after looking around.
“He left last night,” McCreary snorted. “Something about his job being done here.”
“He goes wherever the money goes,” Mikail shrugged. Enne tilted her head. “What?”
“It doesn’t bother you that he played two sides?” Enne asked. “Alejandro filled me in on it, and—”
“We’ve all got a part to play in this. The battle wouldn't have been possible if it weren’t for everyone here. Imagine centuries of fighting coming to a close? We can prosper again.”
“Mikail,” Raquel spoke gravely. “We’ve just increased the targets on the backs of our heads. We’ve pissed off the establishment, and—”
“You can’t hope to change a thing without doing that,” Alejandro interrupted. Enne smiled at his enlightened outlook. “Society is built on progress. Without maintaining that hope, why sacrifice so much? This is why we fight… For a better tomorrow.”
Raquel chuckled when she saw his conviction.
“You’ve finally come a long way, haven’t you?” she asked. Alejandro turned to Enne once more. His smile warmed her heart. That uncharacteristic reaction was everything she could’ve ever wanted from him.
“Yeah… I have,” Alejandro replied.
Somewhere off to the north…
Cire stood beside a hooded man as they overlooked Frederick. Crescendo raised his head and let out a deep sigh. Only days ago was he driven out with the remnants of Janus’s old guard. He took another swig from the old flask in hand.
“Are you going to keep wasting away?” Cire asked. He growled lowly.
“What else am I going to do?” he replied. “Everything went to shit in one night. That pompous prick never knew what he was doing.”
“But you went along, even as he emasculated you—”
“All right! I get it. What the hell do you want from me?”
Cire’s lips pursed slightly as she placed her hand on her shoulder.
“There are plenty of opportunities in the Settlement Zones, specifically the outliers surrounding them.”
“Are you crazy? It’s a bloodbath.”
“Crescendo. You, of all people, have the most, how should I say it, colorful backgrounds. You only let Janus speak to you in that way because you had nowhere to go. You played your part perfectly.”
“Played my part?”
Cire’s eyes drifted to the sunrise behind them. The red sun evoked so many memories of a long gone past. Crescendo didn’t press the question further, realizing her mind wandered. She took a few steps away from him. She breathed in the scent of nature, taking an eased breath. Swiping the fringes away from her face, she fixated on the eastern sun.
I wonder how many wake up to the dawn. A new day brings new opportunities. Some muster the will to carry on while others drone on. How many sunrises have I watched for centuries? I think of them. Those whom I fought alongside… Those I loved. Tomorrow was meant for them. Today, I hand the keys to the future to play my part. Here’s to you…
And there we have it! The end of this arc with so much beyond the horizon. What did you think? Feel free to comment or provide feedback. With likes, they're always welcome!