Had an idea for this series that wouldn't go away. Therefore, it got written instead. Enjoy :)
She crept down the all too familiar hallway. Many years had passed, but relatively little had changed about the décor. It was late; her eyes rested upon the large grandfather clock in the middle of the corridor. Just past 4 in the morning. Everyone was asleep; not even a servant would be up this early. Footsteps crept behind her almost soundlessly. She turned her head to glance back, and received an encouraging smile from younger blonde girl and a thumbs up.
They drew closer and closer to their destination. Before long, they stood outside of a large mahogany door, etched with curving vine leaves. She rested her hand against the door for a moment, feeling the coolness of the wood against her fingertips. She looked to the knob, tarnished, but still a soft golden color.
"You're sure, Neviril?" whispered the girl behind her. She rested a hand on Neviril's arm.
"I'm sure. I just… can't explain why I know." She shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. Her heart was racing. If she was wrong… no. That wouldn't make sense. Maybe it would. Maybe her gut feeling was wrong. It wouldn't have mattered though. She wouldn't have passed up what might possibly be her last chance.
"Do you want me to come?"
Neviril shook her head. "I have to do this alone. Please, wait here for me. No one should be up now so you'll be safe." With those final words, she turned away from her pair and placed a hand on the door knob. Mentally, she counted to five before she turned the knob and slipped inside.
A sliver of moonlight crept through the parted curtains. Her eyes followed the path of light until they rested upon the simple bed. It was not the same bed she remembered from her childhood. This one was very low to the ground. She noticed the large wheelchair tucked neatly beside it, and realized that over the years, his health had declined rapidly.
Hesitantly, she stepped closer. Behind the wheelchair was his nightstand, upon which rested a small metal box with a speaker. She realized that this meant for him to contact any of the other staff members if he needed them. A few vials were beside the box. His medicine… pills I don't remember him having before. She couldn't believe that things had changed so much. I should have come back sooner.
Knowing that she'd have to turn around eventually, she took a deep breath. But Neviril could not prepare herself for the sight she saw before her. A tired face greeted her. His hair, or what was left of it, was grey with patches of white. His skin was wrinkled, and his breathing was shaky.
"Fa… Father…" Tears pricked at the corners of her eyes. He was so different than the man she remembered. Where was the strength that he had exuded before? In both actions and words, he had always been strong. Of course, she hadn't always agreed with his ways or his ideals, but what did that matter now?
Neviril knelt by his bed, and took his hand in hers. She rubbed her thumb the back of his hand gently. "I should have come back sooner, father. I'm sorry that I didn't. I…" She wasn't sure what to say. Should she tell him about the Emerald? The places that she and Aaeru had been? The changes she'd seen?
"N-Nevi…." Her father whispered before he began coughing.
Neviril watched, surprised and shocked at being seen, as her father's coughing finally subsided. She wasn't sure what to do. Instinct said to leave, but she couldn't do that. She couldn't leave now.
"Is that…" He took a deep breath. "Really you?"
His eyes focused on her, looking her over. He raised a hand, reaching for Neviril's face. His fingers touched it gently, and she felt them shaking. She leaned into his touch and smiled at him. "Yes, it's me. I came back… to see you. I… I'm sorry I didn't come sooner. After Aaeru and I figured out how—"
"You're still with that girl." It was a statement, not a question.
"And she has… treated you well?"
"Always, father. Always. We fly well together."
"I never cared much for her at first. She was not… was not…" he paused, searching for the right words.
"Who you would have picked for me?" finished Neviril. She immediately thought of Amuria, the girl her father had selected for her, and then later Mamiina, her father's choice of Sibylla to replace Amuria.
"Yes. She was not the ideal Sibylla at all. But… I think, she has been good for you in the end." He smiled at his daughter.
"I don't think she would be the ideal Sibylla now, either," replied Neviril.
"True, but perhaps Tempus Spatium knows why she still excels. We are not meant to know everything, even if what we see doesn't make sense. If she has been there to support you and care for you, then it doesn't matter what type of Sibylla she resembles. As long as she cares for you, I'm happy."
Neviril hugged her father, feeling his arms wrap around her. She kissed his cheek. "Thank you," she whispered as he returned her kiss.
"Is she with you?" he asked, eyes looking beyond Neviril toward the closed door.
"Aaeru is waiting in the hallway for me."
"You should join her. I'm sure you two have many places to go. Dawn is coming."
"We do, but I don't have to leave right away. I can stay. I—"
Her father cut her off. "It's not necessary, Neviril. I enjoyed your visit, but you don't have to entertain an old man in the wee hours of the early morning. I want you… and Aaeru… to explore the worlds that we cannot imagine. Perhaps you'll find a way to help Simulacrum on your journey." He smiled. "Besides, the servants will be rising soon, and someone will be in to help take care of me. I'd rather them not know that my daughter had returned from the dead." He chuckled softly, and ended up coughing.
Neviril hugged her father once more. "I shall, father. I… I love you." She stepped back, but still kept hold of his hand.
He squeezed her hand gently. "I love you too. Nothing makes me happier than to see that my daughter has found a way to achieve her dreams."
Slowly, Neviril released her grip on her father's hand. She turned, crossing to the doorway. She looked back over her shoulder and saw her father smiling back at her. She committed the image to memory, not wanting to forget the way her father looked just then. She stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind her.
"Are you okay?" asked Aaeru, stepping out from the shadows. She searched Neviril's face, looking for any trace of what had transpired between Neviril and her sleeping father.
"I'm fine," whispered Neviril softly. "He… he woke up, and we talked." She looked up at Aaeru. "He said you were good for me and…" She trailed off, looking to the door behind her. "That I should keep achieving my dreams. Let's go, Aaeru."
"I… all right then." Aaeru wasn't sure what to say. Halconf wasn't supposed to awaken, but she supposed it was better for Neviril that way. "Back to the Simoun, then?"
The two girls crept down the hallway, leaving as quietly as they had come. No one would know that they had come and gone in the night, or see the Simoun that had been carefully shrouded deep in the gardens. Everything was as it should be.
And as the Simoun took off in the first rays of the dawning light, tired eyes watched the holy craft form the lines of the difficult Ri Majon with easy. Pale lines of green curved and looped before the Simoun disappeared in a flash of light. The sky returned to normal, as though nothing out of the ordinary had taken place. His eyes closed, a smile upon his face. He could rest easily now, knowing that she was safe. With that final thought, his tired soul passed away quietly, seeking Tempus Spatium's final place of rest.