FREEDOM OF FLIGHT

One year. To some that amount of time would feel like eternity of self-sacrificing and greater pains for survival. It's been one year since the Great Genesis Tree was destroyed and with it, the era of the Seru. Many folks in Legaia believed it was the will of God that brought the Seru to the humans to make life easier and to have the strength to fight and govern over the beasts that roamed the land. Now, without the Seru, the humans remained confident that they can live on, except for one.

High in the sky flew a Soren by the name Nightengale, the last Soren with a Seru; the last human with a Seru. The same year the Seru began turning into stone was the same year Nightengale came of age and received his Soren Wings that he'd been waiting for, for the past eighteen years. To him, one year seemed to have come and gone in the blink of an eye. One year didn't feel like enough time with his wings, which have always taken him to wherever he wanted to go, whenever he wanted. His heart grew heavy every passing day as his Seru became more like a rock on his back than a living symbiote that kept him aloft.

Today he flew fast and hard, living for the moment. The wind blew furiously in his brown hair and the height he was at made him feel like the most alive human being in Legaia. The flight went on for half a day but it was only a breath to the young Soren. Before him was the moment, that he believed, to be the end of his life. In his sight floated the town of Buma on the water and the three Genesis Trees.

The trees were both a symbol of change and hope to all of humanity and it was there where Nightengale was to change and meet the Soren Chancellor, Grantes. Surprisingly as it was, Nightengale's Seru felt his sorrow as they descended to the land below. Grantes smiled warmly to the youth who appeared very torn. Both Sorens knew that this was going to be hard but it had to be done.

"I still can't believe a Seru is alive after so many are gone," Grantes said gently as he walked up to his fellow Soren.

"Please don't," Nightengale begged while turning his back to Grantes. "This is already too hard for me."

Grantes nodded at the youth's sentiment. To every Soren, this marked a moment of faith. Grantes didn't want to draw this out any longer for he knew it was tearing the boy up inside and to keep the Seru any longer meant that the host would also die. Gently reaching out, the Soren unlatched the Seru Wings from Nightengale's back. The weight of the Seru intensified as the creature died in Grantes hands, turning into stone. Nightengale sobbed and felt his tears roll down his checks.

Nightengale's eyes continued to burn long after his tears were all but dried out the moment he lost his wings all the way to the Genesis Tree on top of the monolith tower in Jeremi. He traveled with the chancellor and an entourage of fellow Bumans, to keep each other safe from the monsters that roamed the land. The journey was uneventful, except for Nightengale's sniffs and sobs in the middle of the nights as if he lost someone dear to him.

On top of the tower the air was very thin but living in the mountains for all his life however, Nightengale didn't even notice the discomfort. He missed being up high, even though it had only been three days since he had been grounded and the feeling of the wind in his face. The sensation of gazing beyond the tree to the great landscape beyond wasn't enough for him. Gliding to the edge of the tower, Nightengale peered down to the earth far below.

Then he felt it. Looking down to the tiny people of Jeremi, Nightengale felt alive once more. A sigh escaped his lips as he continued to yearn to fly again. Closing his eyes, the young Soren imaged the wind blowing through his hair and the life he wanted to live for so long. The yearning he felt begged him to jump, to experience life one more time. He would've done just that if a familiar voice didn't stop him.

"I know how you feel. I, too, had a time that depression held an iron grip on me," Grantes called out from behind.

"I imagine so, losing your wings so long ago. We all were proud once, superior to those beneath us," Nightengale said passively, speaking more to himself than to Grantes.

"Please only speak for yourself. We Sorens are bounded to the land now and even before then, we were not better than anyone else. The prospective of being above others only made us have the illusion that we were the better. The truth is, those below us fought the Seru while we just hid from the problems of the world," the chancellor said while walking to stand beside his fellow Soren instead of behind him. Grantes knew that his words got through to Nightengale and there was no chance he was going to have Nightengale think he was better than anyone. Standing beside him would make them equals.

"I just want to fly again," the youth said in such a melancholy voice, it made Grantes drape a comforting arm over his shoulder.

"What you're thinking will only be a momentary thing, which will accomplish nothing, except the loss of a bright young man," Grantes whispered, giving Nightengale a friendly shake.

"What am I to do?"

"If you wish to fly again, I would suggest that you quit dreaming and start working on making your dream a reality."

"How can I do that?" the youth turned to his confidant but Grantes was already walking away, leaving the young Soren with his thoughts and dreams.

Nightengale returned with Grantes to Buma. There he began to stabilize a foundation for a new life by getting a career as a fisherman and receiving free room and board from a house owned by the chancellor's wife Cara. Nightengale believed Grantes had much to do with his living arrangements but he wouldn't argue. Buma quickly became his home and the young Soren even enjoyed being on the water, while looking down in the lake, he felt as if he were in the sky again. And, if he wanted to, he could dive in and pretend he was flying.

Though he was settling into his new life, a part of him, a very large part, wanted to fly again. And so time went on with the youth working on the lake by day and by night he researched the only living creature that enjoyed the sky as much as the Soren's did; the bird. The flying creatures weren't recorded much during the time of the Mist, so Nightengale had to be careful when he caged the animals, for he didn't know if imprisonment could be deadly to the animals.

Watching the small canaries flapping their tiny wings and hopping upon the cage, the youth admired them dearly. To take to the heavens at will. His dream began filling his mind but only for a heartbeat. Grantes words kept him moving day to day and if there was a way to fly, Nightengale was determined to find it. No, he thought, he wouldn't dream anymore. Taking pen to paper he began drawing a canary at a side angle and then again at another angle and then another angle. Every detail, every feather had to be exact for the youth to understand their dynamics.

Days turned to weeks with Nightengale only making an appearance in town when he either worked or had to get food. His time was spent indoors with his canaries, studying and learning everything about them. Their wings flapped furiously to lift their bodies off the ground and by using their tails; Nightengale observed, helped balance and guide them in the air. But the more he learned the more of an impossibility it was for him or any human to fly. He needed wings at least twice his body size and he needed the strength to move those large wings with speed and accuracy to move two joints at once. It seemed to Nightengale, dreams don't come true.

The second spring after the Mist left the land of Legaia, Nightengale rested on his fishing boat, lost in a daydream of soaring through the air. So deep was that dream, that he lost the largest catch of fish of his life. It all didn't matter. It had been months since he had given up the impossibility of flight. Only his memories brought him comfort.

Even now, dreaming of the first journey he took it the skies, he wished that the Mist was still around and the Great Genesis Tree was still keeping the Seru alive. All was a fantasy, a dream that was his own.

A caw from above drew his attention back to the curse that was reality. Seeing the animal that caught his notice, a seagull, Nightengale frowned in envy to the bird. There it flew, on wings of liberty, able to stay suspended high above the lake and the depressed Soren. Its caws mocked poor Nightengale, as if telling the Soren that life is a meaningless thing on the earth. Nightengale lowered his eyes. A heartbeat later, the Soren shot his gaze back to the heavens.

The bird cawed some more and then Nightengale realized that his calls where not of a mockery but of salvation. The young Soren watch anxiously as the seagull hovered in the air without flapping its wings. As if laying on an invisible platform, the bird kept its wings outstretched, catching the wind between its wings. Nightengale had his answer.

Out he jumped from his boat to begin his swim to the dock and from there, to the place he called home. More than one Buman asked what he was doing; leaving his fishing boat in open waters but the Soren wouldn't be sidetracked. The very second he shut the door to his house, Nightengale went to his bird drafts, particularly his fowl skeleton pictures, and then he began slowly drawing the bone connections of the wings. Instead of creating a joint, the Soren drew one long bone and from where the head would be, he drew two long straight lines between either of wings and the tail. After connecting the lines in shallow arches, a plan began to form. Nightengale knew after looking at the quick sketch, he would fly.

It took less time than expected, three short weeks, for the Soren to create his flying device. The hardest part was finding bamboo long enough to create the frame but the polyester that was attached and stretched wide on the frame was in a commodity in Buma and Cara was kind enough to let him have all of hers without question. The wing was almost a triangle in shape, except for the four arches from the back tips and on top of the craft was a fin made up of more bamboo and polyester. It had to still be twice as wide as he was tall but if his calculations were correct, the wing would fly without him doing anything except move his body in a direction.

Standing before the cliff that ended at the mountain shown a beautiful, southern view of Lake Buma. Nightengale held the bar that connected to the wing above him and felt safe with the reinforced harness that he worn that was also connected to his wing. This was his moment. If the wing worked, his fellow Sorens would once again feel the freedom of flight. No, he thought, not just his clan would be able to feel that freedom but all people of Legaia would. Steadying his breath, Nightengale moved back to get the running start that the wing desperately needed. If he failed…

Fearlessly he ran to the cliff at all speed while hearing the wind blow between the wing top and bottom. With a great leap, Nightengale stretched out his legs while holding his weight with his upper body by holding onto the central bar. Below the Soren the lake glistened with the morning sun and the light was remaining steady from the altitude from where the Soren was at.

Nightengale began to feel once more the familiarity of the wind when the instant of fear passed. The memory of the wind against his face returned as he once again felt free. Free of the earthly bindings and to go wherever the wind would take him. Turning his weight to the left, the device followed but the aerodynamics weren't supporting him indefinitely. The slow descent was not lost to the Soren as he flew passed the lake and towards Buma's fishing hole. After twenty minutes of flight, the Soren touched down gently in front of the fishing hole.

It took a long moment for the adrenaline to leave Nightengale, both from the change in plans and the excitement of flying. Shaking his head as that thought came to him, he knew he didn't fly but rather he glided on the wind. Looking above him, the young Soren decided to call his invention a 'hang glider.' The first glide was a success but Nightengale felt he could improve on the glider and he needed to fly the glider many more times and under different circumstances, like gliding through hot air or rough winds, before he thought of teaching others to hang glide. At that moment, Nightengale felt for the first time, that humanity could survive and thrive without the help of the Seru.

Resting arm in arm, Cara and Grantes watches a silhouette of a man with a strange device fly over the lake and out of their vision to the east. Grantes nodded in satisfaction but Cara just jumped in front of him, wrapping her arms around her husband's neck and kissed him deeply and passionately. Holding his wife in a close and loving embrace, they shared that kiss for a long, long time. When the moment had to come to a close, Cara took a step back and gazed at her lover.

"He did it! How did you know?" Cara asked almost giddily.

"I didn't but I saw potential in him as I've seen in many who dreamt after the Mist. I did nothing but fanned a spark in him," Grantes replied with a smile.

"Like the dream you had when you fell in love with a human girl that was bound to the earth and that played a certain flute?" Cara wistfully asked with a mischievous smile. Her answer came with a rain of kisses. Soon they both were spiritually soaring in the other's warmth, feeling the love they shared for the other. Their spirits continued to soar and fly more freely than Nightengale could only dream about.