Chapter Five:

Pharau wandered the pathways that surrounded the Divine Bird Palace aimlessly. It had been a while since his last visit with his mother and father. The Queen had invited the three of them back to be present at a meeting with the Mikelos Clan. His mom had said that it would be a very important meeting for the safety of not only both of the Cosmos but for the territories surrounding them and the area called the Barrier.

He was excited to see everyone again. Since he'd last seen them, he had grown at least 12 cm. His light pink hair had grown as well, reaching down to the middle of his back now. His mother had told him that their kind grew faster than humans. He giggled and wondered if they would recognize him. He decided he had better get back to his mother and father so they could go to the throne room.

Stopping he looked up and around at his surroundings. He was...in a field? His wanderings had taken him into the middle of a large green field. He could just see the outline of the lake in the distance where the trees had formed a little grove around it. How do I get back from the lake, he thought scanning the area some more. The more he thought the more he came up blank. He couldn't remember. He was lost. Fear bubbled up inside him as he realized this. Sniffling slightly he headed toward the lake. He vaguely remembered that the lake was closer to the Palace than the field. His mother and father were probably worried about him. He ran the last few feet to the lake and started looking around. Trees silently stood around the edge of the lake. A sharp snap from a bush to his left caused him to utter a small squeak. He whirled around just in time to see a squirrel hop out of the shrub and up a nearby poplar tree. He sniffed again wiping furiously at the tears that were welling up at the corners of his eyes. He balled up his tiny fist and started walking along the edge of the lake. He'd just walk along the lake until he saw something familiar. The farther he walked, however, the less and less he saw that was familiar... and the more his fear grew. He clutched the hem of his gown and looked around. What if no one finds me? he thought in a panic. He shook his head trying to dispel the thought. No. They would find him. He had told his father that he had gone for a walk in the garden. When they didn't find him there they would come looking for him.

A noise from off to his right made him freeze. He focused large and frightened eyes on the spot in the darkness of trees that it had come from. Nothing moved. Then a figure started to emerge. As it started to walk into the light Pharau discovered it was a woman. She was dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans with holes in the knees. She wore a black tank top that had a phrase written in a language Pharau didn't recognize. Over her ears sat a pair of black headphones that had a cord that snaked back behind her and into the cd player she had stuck in her back pocket. Her short curled hair was a dark reddish brown and was pulled up into a little ponytail at the nape of her neck. Her eyes were obscured by a pair of dark sunglasses that rested on the bridge of her nose. He shifted back slightly when he saw her and his movement caused her to turn her head in his direction. She looked down at him as he stared back up at her. Finally she walked towards him her black boots crunching the leaves under foot. He gasped slightly and tried to back up but he couldn't move. His body shook as the woman came to a stop in front of him. Kneeling down the woman brought herself down to Pharau's height and peered back at him. Slowly she reached her right hand up and out towards him. Pharau shut his eyes tightly and flinched back. He was surprised, however, when he felt the woman's warm fingertips gently brushing away the tears that had streaked down his face. He slowly opened his eyes and peeked back at the woman in front of him. She was watching him a soft smile on her lips as she removed the last of his tears. Sitting back on her heels she moved her sunglasses up on top of her head. Pharau marveled at her eyes which were a bright silver and green color.

"Lost?" her voice came out as a warm and melodic sound. He nodded his head slightly and she smiled again. With the same kindness and loving motion as his mother, she brushed a few stray strands of hair away from his face.

"Would you like a lift?" she asked holding out her left hand to him. Pharau looked from the outstretched palm to her face then hesitantly took her hand. Gently she wrapped her right arm around and under him and lifted him cleanly off his feet and into a sitting position on her arm. His hands went out to her shoulders with a small yelp as he fought to steady himself. She didn't move as he situated himself. Finally when he was secured she smiled at him and nodded.

"Here," she said taking her headphones off with her other hand and placing them gently over his finned ears, "It'll help you relax." Soft music floated through the headphones as he straightened them on his head. It reminded him of the classical music that his mother listened to often. Soft and soothing. He grinned brightly at her his fear subsiding. She grinned back then turned and headed back the way she had come.

Pharau listened to the music for a little while longer letting the music drift through his mind. Gingerly taking the headphones off so as not to hurt his tender ears, he tugged lightly on a strand of the woman's hair.

"What's your name?" he asked tilting his head up at her.

"Eryn," she replied smiling openly down at him, "And what's your name?"

"Pharau," he said shyly, Eryn's dazzling smile causing him to blush.

"Pharau," she repeated rolling his name around on her lips, "that's a nice name. How'd you wind up all the way out here?" He told her of how he had been taking a walk and had gotten lost. Before he knew it he found himself telling her tons of things. About his parents, his friends here in the Sanctuary, and how excited he was to be seeing them again. All the while, Eryn nodded and listened, responding a few times. He smiled at her. She was nice to talk to. As they talked he leaned his head on her shoulder. Her heart beat steadily beneath him and the soft rhythm pushed away the last remaining shreds of fear.

After a few minutes of walking, Pharau began to recognized bits and pieces of his surroundings. Finally, the great fountain that sat directly in front of the Queen's Palace came into view. He gave a light gasp of happiness and Eryn chuckled causing her chest to vibrate under his head.

"Pharau! There you are!"

Pharau lifted his head in the direction of his mother's call and saw her and his father running down the pathway toward them. Eryn shifted her arm so that he was held out slightly in front of her. Sara ran up to the two of them and pulled Pharau from her arms into a huge hug.

"We were so worried!" she exclaimed smoothing his hair and kissing his face over and over, "Don't run off like that!" Pastha neared his wife and sighed in relief then smiled and placed his hand lightly on Pharau's head.

"I'm okay, Mother," Pharau said hugging her neck then pulling back smiling at her, "Eryn found me! Ne, Ery..." Pharau turned to look at his savior and stopped. She was gone.

"Where did she go?" he asked in disappointment. Sara and Pastha looked around as well. The young woman who had been there a moment ago had now vanished.

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Julious-sama strode down the paved path that led from his mansion to the Main Palace. The meeting between their Majesty's and the Mikelos Clan wasn't scheduled to begin for another half an hour but Julious-sama had considered punctuality to be one of the most important of virtues. A light breeze tugged gently at his long blonde hair making it and the white robes he wore flutter lightly. He tilted his head upwards at the blue expanse above him. There was nary a cloud in the sky today. Not that this was unusual. It was usually beautiful in the Sanctuary. Why was that? He had never really given the matter any thought before. He had always been too busy with the reams of paperwork on his desk and the list of tasks set for him to do each day to think of such things. But now that he was away from his desk and standing, he suddenly realized he had stopped walking, gazing up at the sky, he couldn't help but wonder...

"Does it ever rain here?"

Julious inhaled in surprise and turned to find a young woman behind him staring up at the sky. She was several feet away from him and, he noted with a frown, she was standing on top of one of the many stone tables that dotted the green landscape. He had never seen her before. Taking in her appearance he immediately surmised that was because she wasn't from the Sanctuary. Her clothes were comprised of a black tank top, holey dark blue jeans, and black boots. A pair of sunglasses were perched precariously up on top of her rich mahogany hair. Around her neck were what appeared to be a pair of headphones that were connected to a cd player she was holding in her hand. She tore her gaze away from the sky and looked into his cerulean blue eyes with bright silver ones of her own.

"Does it ever rain here?" she repeated with the same calm in her voice as before. He straightened and sent her a slightly disapproving glance.

"May I ask who you are? It is forbidden for those not invited to enter the Sanctuary," he stated formally watching her.

"Then that means I must've been invited," she said shrugging nonchalantly and leapt gracefully from the table to soft grass below. His shoulders tensed. She was toying with him.

"I ask again," he said his tone slightly more wooden than before, "Who are you?"

"My name is Eryn," she said bringing her hand up to her chest in a salute and bowing elegantly to him then straightening again, "And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?"

"Julious, Guardian of Light," he hesitantly said bowing his head to her in a politely stand-offish manner. She grinned coyly up at him causing him to stiffen.

"Well, Julious-sama, Guardian of Light, you didn't answer my question," she explained stepping forward a few paces to peer up at him. Her expression gave Julious the impression of a pleased feline. Why did he suddenly feel like a caged bird? Pushing this thought aside he answered her question.

"Yes it rains here but only occasionally," he said. Eryn's gaze softened as she studied him then she turned her bright and knowing eyes outward into the garden at their side.

"I see...Do you like storms?"

Of all the questions she could have asked, he was not prepared for this one. He blinked unsure of how to answer.

"Storms bring life giving water," she continued on her tone soft and wistful stirring something in Julious's subconscious, "They cleanse the air and bring a fresh new outlook to the world. Sunshine is wondrous and beautiful but...the raw power and excitement of a storm as it rages is...wonderful." Julious stared at her unsure of what to say. She turned her head back to him and looked up at him expectantly. He realized she was most likely waiting for his answer.

"I've never given it much thought," he replied slowly, "I've always seen storms as...almost as an interruption. They can cause severe damage when not prepared for but...I have never thought about the benefits they bring." He sighed and stared up at the sky.

"Next time one blows through, take your time to experience it. Who knows. If you blink you just might miss it," she advised knowingly, her voice sounding much older than she appeared.

"...Who are you?" he asked again only this time the tone in his voice was inquisitive and awed. She glanced at his expression and giggled.

"Who do you think I am?" the playful expression was on her face again. Julious frowned. She was toying with him again. He would not be toyed with so easily.

"Evidently," he began evenly, "you are not from here. Otherwise you wouldn't have asked your question." She nodded listening to him an undercurrent of amusement in her expression. His frown deepened.

"If we are finished with this conversation, I bid you farewell. There is someplace I have to be," he finished turning away from her.

"Where?" Eryn asked the curiosity in her voice evident.

"Somewhere you should not be," he said surprising himself with his own brusque-ness. He heard her chuckle.

"Is that so?," he heard her take a step, "Well, Julious-sama, Guardian of Light...appearances can be deceiving."

He turned an inquiry on his lips, only to find that she was gone.