Disclaimer : I don't own FE. Last I heard, the paperwork belongs with some guy called Intelligent Systems. What sort of name is that, anyway?
ToThe Winds, Sing
The last of the spring flowers wilted away not so long ago, a few weeks if she was not mistaken. It was easy to confuse the flow of time when one was trying to carve out a life with more than a dozen children and two very lost young men. Sometimes you got mired in questions, exhaustion and regret to ever concern yourself with the passage of weeks and even months, and before you knew it, your child had turned into a woman.
Before you knew it, your children had waved their goodbyes and ran off to war, with the confidence of youth that everything would somehow be all right. Sometimes she thought of it as blind faith, a curse that prevented them from seeing the harsh truths that blanketed this world, how fragile life is. How easy is life spilled from a person with a slash from a blade, the spilling of blood, the choking of breath. How difficult it was to prevent life from slipping. But again, sometimes she saw it as a blessing. The children knew enough to know that the world is not beautiful, but they were also young enough to see in it the wonders that far surpassed beauty, and the stones glimmered like stars in every road they take. She wished she could have a return to that existence, nestled between the mountain and the lake, before the fires and the screams woke her up. She still retained her youth then, her blind faith, until the day everyone died. Everyone that mattered, at any rate.
So when her son took up his father's bow and her daughter asked for her staves, she only smiled and waved. And told them to be careful. And spent the next two years worrying and worrying, praying for their lives, hoping for their survival, daring to dream of their victory. It was the sort of foolish things mothers do. The wounds from Barhara had never fully healed, so she couldn't go with them even as she dared to hope for it. No use dragging a cripple along when you were fighting for your own life. So all she could do was pray.
And then the retainers came. To take her home, where her children were waiting, and their cousins too. Suddenly all the old visions came back to her again, blurry and colorless, like an old picture on a soaked canvas. The mountains were like fog, the lake was blue and lifeless, an opaque sheet of the sky upon an equally lifeless stretch of green. Home was an alien word to her, although her heart did flutter a little bit as the rekindling of old memories, when life was still young and the world still moved along like scraps of dreams.
The wooden cup sat before her, its content steaming in the summer air. It was warmer than she remembered, and the tea better than she thought. The bakers' call as they prepared their wares before dawn still ring through the city, same as before. Nothing has ever changed, aside from the battle-scarred walls and the parapets. The streets weren't the same when her carriage entered the city as well, and the change bothered her somewhat. Somehow, however impossibly, she still hoped Jungby would never change from when she left it, kept in a magic coffin that opened when she arrived, welcoming her again. Now all that was left of home was the greyed out image on the blurry canvas.
"Has Jungby changed much from what you remembered?"
Edean looked up from the cup, slowly, meeting the eyes of the man who used to be a boy. "Greatly and not at all. Has Chalphy?"
"It is good to be home," Oyfaye's answer was evasive, and in his evasion he had answered more than he did in his words. He was so young and so earnest, and how weary he looked. The war was won, but the battle was not.
She took another sip from the cup, trying to recall the afternoon tea she used to have with her brother, before he quarreled with Father. It was pathetic, this groping in the dark for pieces and scraps of memories, but it was the most precious thing she had. "Forgive me for my rudeness, but would you be so kind as to open the windows? Some fresh air would do us good, but my legs aren't in agreement with me anymore, I'm afraid."
Oyfaye nodded, getting out of his chairs and flinging the windows open. The air rushed in like water. Sometimes like blood. It was a recurring scrap of memories she wished was not there, but it was ever present, even if she wanted to remember something else.
"It's getting warmer," Edean stated. "Warmer than I remember. Is it the same in Chalphy?"
He chuckled, settling back in his own seat. "It's actually colder than I thought there. Somehow I kept thinking the summer sun as harsh as the one in the Yied desert."
"It's all the same. The sun's the sun, you know."
"The wind's the wind, but the wind in Silesia and the wind in Thracia is very different. So's the sun, I gather," he paused for another sip. "How's your children?"
She had to smile at that. He rode all the way from Chalphy to check on them, the two birdlings forced to soar the skies before they could even learn how to test the winds. "Lester's doing fine, and Lana too. My son's been grumbling about the massive amounts of paperworks, though, and my daughter's going to be married in a few months."
Oyfayed laughed softly. "We've all heard about that. Young Skasaher made quite a commotion about it when he professed his feelings. We were all very surprised."
"Lana told me he was just beaten by Lakche, things happened, and the next thing she knew he was saying 'I love you'," Edean said, laughing softly as well. "He's a nice boy, Skasaher. I can't imagine it yet, but he'd make a good father. Maybe not as good as a ruler, since he's so impulsive, but Lana could rein him in a little bit."
"Your daughter always has a good deal of common sense. A lot of things wouldn't happen without her."
Edean put down her teacup. "I'm going to miss her. And worry."
"Skasaher's a good boy, Lady Edean."
"That's why I worry. They're really good children, but the world's a cruel place. And they're going to..." a shiver ran through her. "...Dozul."
The man who was once a scared boy put down his teacup as well. "Johan and Johalvier are also there. They'll take good care of them, show them the steps. Dozul's a tricky House to rule, but they're going to have a lot of help."
A smile crept into her face as she thought of the strange pair of brothers, dashing her fears away for a little bit. They'd known of their little hideout for a while, but the secret was always safe with them. Love at first sight was how she'd choose to explain it. "And has little Lakche gotten out of her one fine mess yet?"
That got a real laugh out of Oyfaye. "Apparently not. Last I heard, Celice sends her letters every other day, Johan tries to serenade her from her balcony, and Johalvier likes to make surprise ambushes from the ceiling."
"Some kind of deal they made, I think. I didn't really meddle in their affairs," he said, again taking another sip. "After all, youth is a short thing."
"A short and precious thing," Edean answered, somewhat wistfully. "Is Delmud doing all right? I thought he'd go to Lenster with Sir Finn and Nanna, but he didn't, did he?"
"He didn't. The boy went to Nodion with young Aless. I wished he'd make some kind of peace with his family, but..." Oyfayed sighed. "That's youth, too, I guess."
"Aless? The son of Lord Eltoshan, isn't he? Is he a good boy?"
"He's decent enough, but he's also proud and stubborn and not very amicable. He'll make a good ruler, but not so popular as a king. I figured that's why Delmud goes with him...you remember that one summer when Lakche and Skasaher had a fight and wouldn't talk with each other?"
"Of course I do."
"I nearly had a heart attack. You never know it, since he's a quiet boy and all. But once he opened his mouth...I've hardly ever seen anyone being so moving. Must've run in the family. I've heard plenty of things from Sir Finn and Lord Leaf about Lady Nanna's verbal gifts."
"Words that can move the heart and inspire," she mused aloud. "Lady Lachesis had it too. The way she could made Lord Eltoshan reconsider...the way she talked to the troops. I didn't know her really well, but I remember all that. Though, sometimes I wish I didn't tell so much about her to Delmud." The boy used to sit at the top of hill for days, looking to the south. At one point he stopped looking, and started perfecting his skills with that strange, oddly balanced Conote sword Beowulf used to wield as he tried to safeguard her toward Isaac. Too many people died, with only instruments of death to mark their passage.
"He has his problems. Especially with that message from Sir Finn, before Alster was taken," Oyfaye sighed again. "I never really understood why he specifically stated that he was not to be mentioned, even if Lady Lachesis never reached us. I never really understood why he specifically asked for a lot of things."
Sometimes Edean thought she understood. "You've never had children," she pointed out.
"True. And I don't think I'll ever have."
Edean smiled. "Tomorrow is tomorrow, today is today. I didn't know when I fell in love, Lord Oyfaye---"
"Please, just Oyfaye. I'm not really comfortable with the title."
"But you'll just have to learn, don't you?" she said, smiling knowingly, a little sadly. "Everything changes. You, me, the butcher down the street, the seamstress near the West Gate. Sometimes you must walk down new streets…" she looked out the window, the grey landscape full of colors. "…as must I."
There were words unspoken, but she knew that he understood. Time flew past your fingers, and soon all that was true slipped away like so much fine dust. The only thing you can do is give up and let it pass by, or race after it once more. She wasn't so sure she could do either, but he was too young to miss giving life a full life a chance.
From her seat, Edean looked out the window, seeing the songs of memories carried on the winds. The laughter of her little self, the grey world she saw in brilliant colors. The grey sky that was strangely blue. Life is a song, one only known to the old gods of the winds, all that remained in the end were just the songs of memories, each of their lives carrying a piece of it into the sky. Into the grey but strangely brilliant sky.
"It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"