Even with warnings from Shana and Selphine fresh in her mind, Fae couldn’t help but find the Garden of Memory beautiful.
Dangerous places can be gorgeous, too.
The Garden was bathed in a cool, comforting darkness. Soft grass was like a plush carpet beneath Fae’s feet, broken up here and there by smooth stepping stones. Above wheeled twinkling stars in dazzling, complex constellations, the primary source of light in this place. The only other light sources came from hovering spheres of glowing words, what Shana had dubbed “memory spheres.”
Fae started ahead, leading the way. They needed to find their way to the central building of the Garden, where the Guardian of Memory awaited them. That was what Fae found herself nervous about.
He saw directly into Shana and the others’ minds. Could see their deepest thoughts, feelings… everything that they’d rather keep to themselves, everything embarrassing or awkward or personal.
Do we have to go through the same test as them?
Fae thought it was inevitable, and that inevitability left her uneasy. She didn’t have any deep dark secrets, but privacy was valuable to her. It was one thing for others to know things about her. But for someone to know her thoughts? Those were private, things that, normally, were solely for her to share of her own will. To think that someone could peer into her thoughts, her private feelings, and that someone was a stranger?
Again and again, I’m confronted with things I wouldn’t choose to do or be a part of.
I suppose that’s not entirely true. I did choose to come here, after all. I could’ve just gone home. Skipped this part. Gone somewhere else.
I’ve always had a choice. It isn’t fair to act like I’m doing this against my will. I don’t like what we may have to face here, and I’d rather not someone step inside my mind — that sounds eerily similar to what Wasuryu wanted to do — but…
I can’t be selfish. Not if I want the truth. Not if I want to be where I need to be, where I’m supposed to be.
Fae glanced aside to Olivia, who walked right beside her, holding her hand.
…I’m more worried about the Guardian stepping inside her brain.
After all she’s been through, to then have to subject her mind, all her deepest thoughts, to a stranger?
If there’s some way that I can keep her from being subject to that, if I can take the test for her? I’ll do it, no complaints.
Though she was loathe to walk hand-in-hand with someone for so long, Fae did find the touch, in a strange sort of way, comforting. Olivia’s hand was soft and warm, her touch gentle, and that simple physical contact also held fascinating truths. Fae was astonished to learn that just holding Olivia’s hand helped her learn more about this mysterious girl who looked and sounded just like her. Slight motions, the faintest things that wouldn’t be noticeable by sight, revealed Olivia’s anxiety, that she was nervous about what was up ahead, just as Fae was. The smoothness of her palm was broken up slightly by callouses at the base of each finger, marks of how much she’d wielded her scythe, physical indications of her experience as a fighter. And occasional changes in her grip revealed her strength, a strength tempered with remarkable control and gentleness.
Who would have thought you could learn so much about someone by holding their hand?
Those observations, the analytical side of Fae’s mind at work, also helped distract her from the awkwardness of such contact.
The group walked on in silence. There was a sort of hush to the Garden, a sense that, not only should the memory spheres go undisturbed, but that the general peace and tranquility should be preserved as well as possible.
It helped that they had Shana’s directions. Her perfect memory made it easy for her to recount the exact path that her group had taken to the Garden’s central building, and Fae had drawn up a map from those directions, keeping it close at hand. There was no guesswork, no wandering.
They knew where they needed to go, and how to get there.
Winding through the hedge maze, they walked past several statues, pale blue stone carved in the likeness of a beautiful maiden pouring water from a pitcher. These statues were centerpieces of fountains, their water cascading down in a gentle, quiet stream. Flowering trees and shrubs lent more beauty to the hedge maze, their flowers looking like something painted, deep streaks of color blending one into the next. When the icy blue light from memory spheres illuminated those flowers, they came alive with a deep, vibrant glow.
It really is beautiful. If it wasn’t so treacherous — all these memory spheres that we have to avoid — I’d love to just live here for a while. Take a vacation here. It would be such a relaxing place to draw.
“Come on, sis,” Mercury said. Fae looked back to see Mercury and Neptune both hauling Jupiter away from a memory sphere by the shoulders.
“I just wanted to look closer, honest,” Jupiter complained, wriggling free of their grip. “It’s not like I was gonna touch it.”
“Shana told us how it went with her,” Mercury said. “Don’t get too close, you’ll get drawn into doing something you’re not allowed to.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Jupiter said, pouting but turning away from the sphere.
“Just don’t look at them at all,” Madeline said.
“How do you manage that?” Jupiter asked. “We’re surrounded by them everywhere we go!”
“Be creative,” Madeline said. “Think about other things. If they’re in your peripheral vision, pretend they’re something else. Use your imagination, and keep from focusing directly on them.”
“Spoken like a true artist,” Neptune said with a smile.
“I didn’t realize you were doing the same thing,” Sonya said, looking at Madeline. “It’s the only way I can keep from thinking about them, too. Imagining they’re something else, and keeping them in my peripheral vision.”
Sonya had recovered so quickly from her time in the Fault Line Dungeon. Part of that was thanks to Healing Magic administered by both Shana and Selphine, part of that was healthy food, drink, and rest at Eventide Archive. But she also looked much better now that she was in clean clothes that weren’t falling apart. She wore a dark hooded jacket over a white shirt, white fingerless gloves, dark blue pants, and most importantly: shoes. Mineria and the Princesses of Solitude might be able to walk everywhere barefoot, but that wasn’t a healthy choice for most people. She also had a canvas messenger bag slung over a shoulder, bearing the X-shaped star formed of golden tongues of flame that was the symbol of Eventide Archive. She’d requested it of Selphine, along with several notebooks, pens, and pencils. When Mercury had asked her what she wanted “all that art stuff for,” Sonya had replied with a simple “I’m a writer.”
She remembers everything, even from before she was tormented by Wasuryu. Why is she so different from Olivia in that regard?
Maybe it has to do with their different roles. Broken Vessel, Sealed Vessel… Olivia’s memories seem like they’re sealed, and she’s slowly unsealing them, a tiny bit at a time.
Being in this place must be so strange for her. What if…
Fae was certain she’d thought the same thing, though Olivia hadn’t said as much.
What if some of her memories are hidden away in this place?
They weren’t allowed to touch the memories, not without the Guardian’s permission. And even if they did receive permission, it would only be for specific memories.
If Olivia’s memories were here, could she get permission to view them? Could this be where she recovered her lost past?
I hope so. I want her to remember her past entirely. Not knowing so much of who you are, where you came from… what must that be like?
Fae had noticed in the time they’d spent at Eventide Archive how different the two former Vessels were. She wondered if much of it had to do with their difference in memory, the different types of trauma they’d endured and the after-effects of it. Sonya was surprisingly personable, not initiating conversation often but gladly joining in when it was started. It was a stark contrast from the terrified girl Fae had found in the cell in the Fault Line Dungeon. But there was something… a melancholy sort of look in her eyes, when she thought no one was looking.
She’s carrying something, I think. And she doesn’t want to talk about it. Not that I blame her.
Olivia, on the other hand, continued to be rather shy, rather withdrawn, and quite clingy to Fae. It was more surprising seeing that side of Olivia now after Fae had watched her fight in the Fault Line Dungeon. The total fearlessness with which she had thrown herself at giant Shadow-Hollows, the bold power of her scythe slashes, the confidence and expertise with which she had moved… it was such a contrast from the very closed-off young woman who held Fae’s hand.
“We’re almost there,” Fae said, checking her map. “Two more turns, and…”
She trailed off as they made those last turns, coming to a stop before the central building. A wide staircase with shallow steps led up to the covered porch of the massive, pagoda-like building.
At the top of the stairs was the Guardian. His silver hair was slicked back, his mouth and nose hidden by the high collar of his long, dark green coat. Both worked together to accentuate his dark, penetrating gaze, a gaze which seemed to pierce right through Fae, to see her whole self in a single look. His hands rested on the hilt of a sheathed katana, which he rested on the floor between his feet. His stance was a clear indication — “none pass unless I say so.”
Fae braced herself. She felt Olivia grip her hand tightly, fearfully. Shana’s description of what had happened next had stuck in Fae’s mind.
Her entire group had been separated. Isolated, for the Guardian to then test them, to see their innermost selves.
Fae gripped Olivia’s hand tight in return.
We’re not getting separated. I won’t leave you alone with him.
I don’t want to be alone with him, either.
For several long, tense moments, no one spoke.
And then Fae started looking around. Madeline and Sonya were still there beside her. The Star sisters were still there behind her. Olivia was still right by her side, hand held tightly in hers.
What’s going on here?
“You fear the searching,” came the voice of the Guardian, a soft, flowing baritone that resonated in the air, filling the space far more than a single voice should. “But things will not be how they were for your sister, Fae Greyson.”
Fae’s head snapped up, staring in shock at the Guardian. The Guardian stared back at her, unblinking.
“They sought a memory,” the Guardian said. “A very specific, closely guarded memory. Your group does not. You seek something different, something that requires far less testing. For there are very few who would willingly seek out one of the Spiral Dragons.”
Fae’s heart skipped a beat. She was elated at the indication that she wouldn’t be searched like Shana’s group, but… the way he so ominously spoke of the next Dragon made her pause.
Of course, I can understand why no one would seek them out willingly. I’ve met Soryu, and he was… I still can’t wrap my head around his size, his power, his presence. And considering Dragon Riddles…
I can see why people would avoid direct meetings with the Spiral Dragons.
Olivia’s grip hadn’t relaxed, despite what the Guardian had said. After a moment, Fae realized the Guardian had tilted his gaze slightly, staring at Olivia instead of Fae.
“What you seek is not here,” the Guardian said.
Olivia gasped softly, but said nothing.
“You can take some solace in that,” the Guardian said. “Your memories were not destroyed by someone else. No one has stolen them from you or hidden them away.”
“But then why can’t she remember things?” Mercury asked, glaring angrily up at the Guardian.
“It is not so strange,” the Guardian said, his level gaze meeting Mercury’s glare, “to forget. Time and trauma can do much harm to one’s memories. What she has been through is something no one else has endured. Her memories are like her soul once was.”
“Sealed…” Olivia said softly. She bowed her head.
“The seals are breaking,” the Guardian said. “Kokoryu will know more. Your journeys bear you closer to great truths with every step.” He turned his gaze to the Star sisters. “The same goes for you three. Your lost memories are not here. Though how you will reclaim them, I do not know. Again, there is hope that Kokoryu will know more. Come.” He raised his katana in a smooth motion, holding it at his side as he turned, striding into the building. For a moment, Fae and the others stood still, watching, surprised by both not having to face what Shana had warned them of, and by the sudden change, as if they couldn’t believe they were being invited in.
“Yeah, so, let’s go, right?” Jupiter asked. “That’s what that means, right? We can follow him?”
“It seems so,” Sonya said, gazing thoughtfully up the stairs.
“R-right,” Fae said, pulling herself together. She looked at Olivia, who still stared at the ground. “You ready?”
Olivia looked up, eyes that mirrored Fae’s staring back at her. There was so much in those eyes, such a mixture of emotions, that Fae couldn’t read them. Slowly, Olivia nodded.
Forward they went, up the stairs and into the grand building that served as the centerpiece of the Garden of Memory. High ceilings were shadowed above them, supported by deep red wooden pillars, so wide that it would take four of the girls holding hands to wrap around one. For the most part, the great interior was open, spacious and filled with stone pedestals supporting glass boxes that held glowing memory spheres. In the far distance to either side and ahead, Fae saw staircases that descended into the floor. There was only one, small in the distance at the far wall, that ascended.
The Guardian led them forward, past rows and rows of memory spheres in their boxes, and even past the set of stairs straight ahead that descended into the floor, the one Fae remembered Shana saying she’d gone down.
Are we going up?
There were no doors, no hallways, no corridors. Just the wide open space, and Fae wondered at how many people it could hold. Thousands? Tens of thousands? She’d never seen so many people gathered in a single place at once — Grimoire University only enrolled five thousand students, and she’d never even seen the entire student body gathered in one place — so she couldn’t be sure.
And the only one who’s here at all times is the Guardian.
Does he have a name? The Fates have names, the Spiral Dragons have names. “The Guardian of Memory” sounds like a title, not a name.
What kind of life does he lead? Does he just stand around waiting for people? He carries a sword — has he ever had to use it?
Questions whirled in Fae’s mind the longer they walked. They were the kinds of questions she and Madeline often asked when coming up with their own characters.
Everyone has layers. Everyone has a past, and a future. Everyone has wants, desires. Things they show, and things they hide. There’s always so much we never see.
Who is the Guardian of Memory, really?
With the fear of being searched in her innermost thoughts banished, Fae found she could think more clearly, and was naturally drawn to questions, to curiosity.
But she couldn’t bring herself to ask anything aloud. The Guardian seemed a stern, serious man, one who was wholly dedicated to his duty in guarding this place.
Maybe Selphine knows about him.
She filed her questions away for the future as they reached the far stair, the only one that went up rather than down. It wrapped around itself, not quite a spiral, as it ascended, and had no handrails or walls to the sides. It wrapped back twice before the exit through the ceiling was visible. Up through it they went, emerging into what felt like a tremendously small dome. There was ample space for the girls and the Guardian, but after the vast, grandiose space of below, it was strange being in a normal-sized room like this. The dome was unadorned, no furnishings or decorations in sight. The only thing that broke up the dark room was a circular stone platform in the center. The stone was white, and carved with a variety of markings that had then been filled in with gold and silver. The markings and symbols were strange to Fae, not following any sort of pattern or fitting any sort of image she could recognize.
“Step onto the platform,” said the Guardian. “You will not see me again.”
“Wait, just like that?” Jupiter asked. “What do you mean? We’re not coming back here? Where are we going? Is this a trap?”
“Calm down,” Mercury said, bopping her sister on the head. “He’s just being mysterious, righ—” But she cut off suddenly, looking around the room.
The Guardian was gone.
“Freaky,” Jupiter said, her voice quaking.
“It’s fine,” Neptune said. “Fae has the doorknob. We can go back to Eventide Archive whenever we want.”
“So if it’s dangerous,” Sonya said, “we can escape.”
But why did he just leave us like that?
Fae couldn’t shake the question, but she also wasn’t nervous about what lay ahead. Another Spiral Dragon awaited. She knew that much.
It’s hard to understand a person you’ve just met. Even more so if they’re inherently mysterious, like the Guardian.
He has his methods, he has his ways. None of this feels like a trap. It feels like this is his way of doing things.
“Ready?” Fae asked, looking at Olivia. Olivia nodded, and then Fae looked around at the rest of her group, each one indicating her readiness.
“Let’s all step on at the same time,” Fae said, circling the platform with everyone else. “Just in case.”
“Wouldn’t want to be left behind,” Madeline said. Jupiter shuddered.
With a count of three, Fae stepped onto the platform with her six companions.
Immediately, they were elsewhere. No fanfare, no transition, no exciting display of magical power, they just… were.
The dome was gone, the starry sky of the Garden of Memory was gone, all where they’d been was left behind.
And yet this new place was strangely familiar. A floating isle of rock in a sea of clouds and stars, of swirls of light, eddies of mist, glittering whorls, and strange shapes, like cubes and spheres, that gleamed and shone before vanishing like a magician’s trick, reappearing somewhere else.
“It’s like when we met Soryu,” Mercury said in a hushed voice. The colors were different — Soryu’s place was bathed in blues and silvers, while here were pinks and yellows — and the texture of it all was different. Soryu’s had been harsh, with fuzzy interchanges as shapes popped in and out of existence, like static on a TV. This place was peaceful, calm, the movement of all this wonder and inexplicable magic gentle and soothing. But even so, there was no mistaking the style of it all, the atmosphere that hung in the air, the power that seemed to rumble at Fae’s feet, never fully idle.
“So we wait,” Fae said softly. “And handle it just like last time.”
Thankfully, “last time” had been described to Madeline, Olivia, and Sonya. Because the time for freely talking was over, as a shape moved in the clouds. There was no time for speaking now, and Fae found herself taking a deep breath as if to bottle her anxiety.
Once again, she would be in charge of speaking. It was far too risky to let multiple people speak, and the journey to meet the Spiral Dragons was Fae’s, part of the magic that called to her, that inspired her drawings.
The great bulk of this next Spiral Dragon, Kokoryu, spiraled above, below, and all around the island of stone, so great, so vast, so impossible to fully comprehend.
“ ‘Handle,’ ” came a voice. “You believe you can ‘handle’ a meeting with a Spiral Dragon, Fae Greyson?” The voice was, as Soryu’s, so difficult to describe. It resonated from all directions, and yet spoke directly to them. It was as if multiple voices combined together to form something impossible — childish yet mature, airy yet full, gentle yet bristling with unspeakable power. It seemed like a woman’s voice, much as Soryu’s seemed like a man’s, but it was unlike any woman Fae had ever heard or imagined hearing.
Still, Kokoryu kept her face hidden in the mists, her shadowy, impossibly huge body spiraling round and round the tiny rocky island. For quite some time, she didn’t speak, and still Fae waited.
“Interesting,” said Kokoryu, and nothing more. Silence — as much as there was in this place — stretched on.
I’ve waited longer than I ever did for Soryu. I should be okay to speak. But this makes me nervous every single time.
Sweat beading on her neck, Fae took a chance. “If you’re anything like your brother, then you see much, and know how my meeting with a Spiral Dragon went previously,” she said, then clamped her mouth shut, to be safe.
Kokoryu laughed, and it wasn’t nearly as rumbling, frightening a sound as Soryu’s laughter. There was a lightness to it, a sort of joy. Fae thought she could hear the Dragon smiling.
“Indeed I know, Fae Greyson,” Kokoryu sad. “Though I do not see all. You vanished from all our sight for a time there. I am very curious as to where you went.”
Fae paused, even after she’d waited the usual amount of time.
That’s sort of like a question, isn’t it? She didn’t phrase it as a question, but you can never really know if a Spiral Dragon is posing a Riddle or not.
Another laugh from Kokoryu. “You needn’t be so nervous around me, dear,” she said. “Though I don’t blame you for not believing me. Spiral Dragons are crafty, treacherous beings, after all. And often oh so mischievous. In order for you to be able to tell your tale, for you to ask questions — and your friends to ask, for they have very important questions, too — I will be silent for a time. When you are prepared for me to speak again, when you have said and asked all you wish and need, tell me. Do not fear I will forget what you say or ask, either. A Dragon never forgets.”
For a long time, Fae waited. And then…
She still waited. Where did she start? What could she say, what could she ask? And how did she bring the others into this?
Madeline nudged Fae softly. Looking over, Fae saw her write on her hand with her finger: “Go ahead.”
Okay. I’ll try and say all I need to, and then bring the others in.
How will she react to the news of Wasuryu? And how —
No. Just talk. You’ll find out soon enough.
So Fae began, telling of Wasuryu and his laboratory, of all that he’d said to her, the tale he’d told of the Spiral Dragons and the “Silver Star Witch.” She walked through her rescue of Olivia and their escape, as well as their time in the Fault Line Dungeon and escape from there, as darkness overcame it.
“I only have a few questions, I think,” Fae said after she’d finished her story. “Do you know who’s calling me to this journey? Do you know why? And… why to you? Why to the Spiral Dragons? That’s…” she sighed, nodding, “that’s all from me.”
It’s not. I have a lot I’d like to ask. But…
They should have their chance. And Soryu said I’d learn the full story in time. I need to be patient.
She looked to the others, nodding encouragingly.
“Olivia, you go first,” Mercury said with a smile. “Your questions are the most important.”
“Me?” Olivia asked, surprised. “I…” But everyone looked at her with encouragement, so she nodded. “Okay.” She looked towards the mists, towards the spiraling form of Kokoryu. “I’ve lost so many of my memories. I remember so clearly all that I did as the Sealed Vessel, but before that…” She shook her head. “The Guardian said my memories are sealed, and the seals are breaking. Perhaps I just have to be patient, but… he said you’d know more. I just… want to know who I am. What my life was.” She nodded. “That’s… all.”
“Anybody else before us?” Neptune asked.
Sonya opened her mouth, a hopeful look in her eyes, but she paused. Slowly, she closed her mouth, shook her head. “I’m okay,” she said softly.
“I’m good,” Madeline said, looking to the Star sisters.
“Okay,” Neptune said with a nod. “We’ve been searching for the Silver Star Sanctuary, the only link we have to our lost memories. Now one of your siblings, Wasuryu, mentioned a ‘Silver Star Witch.’ Is she connected to the Sanctuary? To us? All we have is a pendant with a photo, and… echoes. Fragments, just wisps of memories. Do you know where the Sanctuary is? And is it the secret to reclaiming our memories?”
“That’s all we got,” Mercury said, a serious gleam in her eyes despite the lightness in her voice.
“It’s all we’ve ever wanted to know,” Jupiter said, so softly Fae barely heard her.
“That’s it,” Fae said, looking out into the mists. “Whatever you can tell us, whatever you know… without tricks, please.”
There was a rumbling, the kind Fae hadn’t heard before. It wasn’t laughter. It rose in intensity, the air itself quaking. Fae felt it in her bones, and she gritted her teeth, struggled against the vibrations running through her body — discomfort, working its way towards pain.
Suddenly, the rumbling stopped. The mists swirled, shapes scattered, and a great shadow came forth. As it came right up to the stone island, it ceased to be a shadow and gained color and texture: the side of a massive face, mountainous like Soryu’s, glittering with pink-and-gold scales. And a great eye, shimmering with pink light, edged with gold, gazed at the girls.
It was an angry, ferocious look.
“Wasuryu,” came Kokoryu’s voice, bristling with rage. “So he uses his exile, his banishment, to enact wicked, evil deeds. We paid him no heed, thinking he could do no harm locked as he was in a metaphysical state. What fools we were! We underestimated his villainy, his rage, how vicious he could be. Just like that man, that vicious man, the Halfchant. He must be the one who brought about this change in Wasuryu’s circumstances. Always working his plots, hatching his schemes, weaving evil wherever he goes. If only we could quell his wickedness.”
“Half-Human, half-Enchanted,” Kokoryu said, and Fae’s eyes widened. “Ah, forgive me, dear girl. Each of us Spiral Dragons has our own ways, our own abilities. It may seem as if I can read your thoughts, but don’t be too frightened. Only when a thought sticks out, so clear and isolated in your mind — when it’s both loud and clear enough, those are important factors, minds are such messy, busy things, after all — I can hear it.”
Better not think too loudly or clearly, then.
“And forgive my outburst,” Kokoryu said. “But we three and our Mother strove long and hard against our vicious brother, and prevailed… or so we thought. So Fae Greyson, Olivia Quinn, Sonya Marlow, I hope that you will forgive us. What Wasuryu has done to you is our fault, for being naïve about what our brother would be capable of.”
So much kinder, and so much more forthcoming, than Soryu.
Fae wouldn’t have spoken even though she had the time to, for she was so surprised by the difference in demeanor between the two Spiral Dragons she had now met.
“As for his terrible words about the Silver Star Matron, she is no witch,” Kokoryu said. “He hates her, as he hates his entire family for what we did to him, for we could only do it with her help. She…” But Kokoryu stopped, trailing off, her thoughtful humming coming as low, gentle rumbling. “Perhaps you will see. Truly, none of us have had contact with her in a great long time. But the Silver Star Sanctuary, yes… your journeys will take you there. In a way, all you are doing is drawing you to that marvelous place. For you, Star sisters, and for Fae Greyson, and your newest companions, all of you are a part of this quest, and there is no coincidence about it. The Sanctuary is your goal. And it will have some hope for your memories, Neptune, Mercury, Jupiter Star. But… I do not know how much hope. Certainly not all of it, I would think. Yours is a very curious case, one I do not have the full knowledge of. I believe there is only one who does, and even then, they might not fully know what it is that happened that fateful day.”
Kokoryu paused, and there was a sound, like a great gust of wind through a valley, and Fae realized…
It was a Dragon’s sigh.
“For you, Olivia Quinn,” Kokoryu continued, “I have a bit more hope. Patience is your greatest ally in recovering your memories. But trauma, time… they have been heavy burdens upon you, burdens you should never have had to bear. And they will be great obstacles in reclaiming your memories. You must find healing, the kind of healing only found in the Enchanted Dominion. A great place, a place forgotten to time, at the edge of the universe… that is where you will go. That is where your final hope awaits. The Lady Miora can tell you more. She is a marvelous guide. As for you, Fae Greyson…”
And suddenly Fae felt as if she knew exactly where that gigantic Dragon eye was looking, and it was straight at her. She felt a pressure, a power in the air that could not be contained, even in so great a creature as a Dragon. And yet…
It felt almost like an embrace. There was a lot of power, but the bearer of that power was trying to say “I know you’re scared, but you don’t need to be. I won’t hurt you with this power.”
“There are three major components to the truth of your quest,” Kokoryu continued. “As you’ve already suspected, the full answers cannot be given to you. You must discover them, and every step on your journey brings you closer to the full picture. While all of the pieces that have come before and have yet to come are vital in this regard, there are three that are of the utmost importance. The first is the one who is waiting for you on the Celestial Shore.”
Someone’s waiting for me?
The Celestial Shore… that’s another Core Location.
And… it’s where some people think that he…
“The second is within the Silver Star Sanctuary,” Kokoryu said. “And finally, there is that book that the Fates gave you, the book that you cannot yet open. As they hinted and you suspected, that book holds the final clue. After all else is discovered, the book is your final piece, guiding you towards the conclusion of your journey.”
The Celestial Shore. The Silver Star Sanctuary. The book.
Before Fae knew it, she had a sketchbook out and was drawing notes in her own shorthand, far faster than writing words would have been. And, as she’d drawn on several pages lately, a word, a recurring word throughout her journey that Kokoryu had now also used: “vicious.”
These were things she could not afford to forget.
“There is more, however,” Kokoryu said, and Fae felt the pressure remove itself from her. “For there are questions that have not been asked, desperate longings that have not been answered. I will not pry, nor expose things you wish to keep secret. But to the first — you know who you are — power, the power you fear, is transforming. The sooner you banish your fear of it, the sooner you can understand it, and see what that power — and you — are becoming.”
Fae looked around the group. Who could Kokoryu be addressing? And what did she mean by all this talk of a feared power?
“To the second — as you have suspected, there is a greater purpose for you in this journey. You — and this goes for all of you — are not here by coincidence. Fae is not the only one who is being called. And there is something valuable for you in this, a hope you’ve longed for.”
Fae smiled, just a little.
I’m surprised to know you were worried about that. But I’m glad she recognized your unspoken questions.
“Do not be too surprised that I’m different from my brother,” Kokoryu said. “Soryu is the most prominent, most proud, of us Spiral Dragons. All three of us are different. There are no Riddles here, Fae Greyson. But I cannot guarantee the same will hold true for the other Spiral Dragons. Take care when you meet the third, and take care when you see Soryu a second time. Your caution and cleverness are the most valuable tools you have in dealing with me and my kin.”
Fae simply nodded, thinking loudly and clearly: Thank you.
There was a soft sound — soft for a Dragon, at least — that sounded contented, and happy.
And then the Dragon’s domain was gone. Fae and her companions were back in the dome in the Garden of Memory’s central building.
Fae stared at her sketchbook, at her newest notes, for a moment before placing it back in her bag. Retrieving the doorknob, she turned and placed it in the air, opening the door to Eventide Archive.
The journey continued.