In loving memory of my father. May he soar through the skies above in the comfort of the Creator’s arms forever.
No matter where or when I am, in this life and the last, it always calls me back to the place that resides in my hearts. One day, I will return home.
I gaze into the distance, the soft golden glow of the sunset kissing the gilded rooftops of the Romanesque city. The lower half of the buildings are a pearlescent white with prismatic shimmers, glimmering from the brilliant cerulean blue shards of mana-infused crystals adorning nearly every corner. From the palace rooftop, the view is grand, and it takes my breath away.
"Isn't it beautiful, Kayden?" a woman's soft voice beckons my ear from nearby.
There's a figure of a woman, the glow of the sun painting her figure with an ethereal golden halo. She has her back turned, her hands peacefully nestled behind her. Her flowing soft white dress wafts as her long curly brunette tresses dance in the breeze.
I look around, confused yet in awe, barely able to look past the woman. “Where are we?” I ask.
“You don’t recognize it?” The woman turns slightly, only her lips visible beneath the hair flowing gently across her face. “We’re in Vask, silly.”
A soft smile spreads across my lips as a wave of familiarity settles in my mind, as if I knew exactly where I had been all along. My eyes shift focus to her, a deep yearning in my hearts reaching out.
She smiles broader as she turns around, but her face is still just barely hidden.
I miss that smile.
My yearning deepens as I am just mere moments away from seeing her clearly. The anticipation of gazing into those emerald green eyes lingers in my core as I reach out to her. “Felicia…”
I’m so close—she’s just right there….
She looks up, her hair suddenly blowing harshly into her face, completely obscuring everything all at once.
The loud blare of my alarm jolts me, abruptly ending the dream. I sit up, sighing into my hand as my long ebony hair settles over my face. My crimson on black eyes peer through my bangs, scanning the room as if in vain hope of seeing her visage.
“Felicia?” No one else is there but me. My gaze lowers as I fret.
I just want to see you again….
Walking along the corridor of the ship, my bare feet make soft thuds against the cold metal floor.
Moving to the kitchen on the lower level of my ship, I begin to shift in size, scaling down from my towering natural height to a more manageable size to accommodate my furniture. I reach for my favorite dark red coffee cup, its worn handle fitting comfortably in my hand.
Peering inside, I notice a faint coffee stain from the day before and groan, quickly rinsing it out under the tap, the water splashing against the porcelain.
The air inside the ship feels heavy, almost viscous.
It’s so fracking empty after all this time.
But then, the sound of soft paws padding against the metallic floor slices through the silence.
Lil Manx, a singular cyclopean feline anomaly, appears at my feet—a compact being of gray and white fur, crowned with a bulbous blue mana pom that pulsates with otherworldly luminescence. Its enormous blue eye, within a dark blue abyss, meets mine.
“Good morning, old friend,” my voice imbued with a fondness that’s so rare these days.
“Chiip,” Lil Manx responds, springing onto the counter with a feline grace that defies the ship’s artificial gravity.
A flicker of a smile touches the corner of my mouth, vanishing as quickly as it appeared. I extend a hand, scratching Lil Manx behind the ears.
“Missed the quiet moments, didn’t you?” I ask, my tone skimming the surface of an emotion I can’t quite name.
Lil Manx chirps in agreement, “Chiip.”
Bypassing the generic pre-packaged nutrient packs, I reach for the French coffee press.
First priorities first.
As I scoop the dark, coarse grains into the bottom of the glass cylinder, the aroma of freshly ground coffee fills the room. I pause, allowing myself to be cradled in the fragrance, the aroma comforting even after all these years.
Can’t start the day without my first cup of coffee.
I activate the boiling mechanism, forcing hot water through the coffee grounds. “This was always her favorite roast,” I say to myself, my irises pulsing a shimmering red as I drift in thought.
With a sigh, I open the ship’s fridge. Ignoring the sundry vials of nutrient supplements and synthetic meat packets, my eyes fix on a slice of cake—its colors an standing out against the sterile environment, encased in a shimmering force field.
Frack yeah, I’m glad I didn’t eat it all in one sitting like last time. Got me a slice for today, score.
I deactivate the protective barrier around the cake, laying it next to my cup of coffee.
Before tasting, I close my eyes, folding my hands for a fleeting prayer.
The dessert meets my tongue, and a quiver ripples through me. My eyes mist over, my senses touched by the taste.
“Frack, I must be low on mana, feeling like this over cake again,” I murmur, hastily wiping away the moisture from my eyes.
“Chiip,” Lil Manx offers softly, his glowing mana pom dimming as if in solidarity with my own shift into momentary confectionery bliss.
I smirk, eyeing my companion. “Still, maybe being low isn’t always a bad thing. Makes you appreciate what little you’ve got.” Man, I’ve still got to work off last week’s cake. This slice could be the final push that gets me after a year of training it all off.