Chapter XII - Family

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Notes: (Lanstiril, 2022-06-16)

XII - Family

Jena Year 2470
"So Belenor, have you been able to progress as you wanted to on 'The Sacred War' these past few months? You were close to the end, weren't you?"

Leaning with his back to the edge of the circular pool carved into the bark, his body half immersed in the cool water, Belenor felt his muscles stiffen. Melkiar, sitting cross-legged on the circular islet, stared intently at him while waiting for his answer. He was completely naked.

"It's coming along, yes. There are only a few chapters missing. I'm pretty slow, you know… Then I rewrote a lot of things in the last few months."
"How many years have you been working on the adventures of the Black Mask? I can't remember. Time flies so fast."
"For seven or eight years, I think… But that's not counting the long months of breaks, rewrites and new dreams I had."
"Yes, of course. My question was not a criticism, rest assured."

Leaving Belenor's gaze, the Fyros called out to Varran, whose ears and bare skull alone were emerging from the bath.

"Do you know when your brother is supposed to arrive, Varran?"

The towering Fyros poked his head out of the water and shrugged.

"He shouldn't be long. He went to train with Xynala after lunch."
"What about the others?"

Varran glanced at Belenor, who in turn shrugged his shoulders. Melkiar sighed. Having just returned to Fyre a few days earlier, after a long absence, the Fyros had arranged to meet his comrades at the baths. Indeed, the Imperial Army had been sent far to the west of the Desert in order to push back the insubordinate Fyros tribes, and had for the occasion called upon some qualified reservists. While the Fyros Empire had from age to age have to coexist with these rebels, they had been particularly quiet these two last decades. Recently, however, the tribe of Dune Riders had achieved the feat of subjugating several rival groups, becoming the Empire's de facto main enemy right within its borders. Wanting to mark the occasion, and to remind the rebellious tribes of his power, Emperor Thesop had decided to send his troops to 'talk' with the Dune Riders. Melkiar being from the Dragon's Tears tribe, the most powerful tribe subject to the Empire in the west of the Desert, but also the greatest rival of the Dune Riders, he had been asked to join the expedition in order to play the role of intermediary. The young prodigy had accepted the imperial order without batting an eyelid, which was an opportunity for him to see his family again.

His family… Belenor stared silently at his friend, now standing and deep in discussion with Varran. They had known each other for some years now, yet Melkiar had always shown himself to be particularly secretive. Apart from the fact that his father, the famous Tigriron, was the leader of the Dragon's Tears, Belenor did not know much about his family. Of course, his friend had mentioned siblings before. However, he had never named them. He only had a vague recollection of the time when, a little too drunk, Melkiar had mentioned the existence of a childhood friend from his tribe, whom he particularly liked. Only one time, then. It was quite obvious, the Fyros did not like to discuss his childhood, and quite often, Belenor assumed that his silence was hiding something. For a few seconds, he wondered if it was shrewd to take advantage of Melkiar's recent family reunion to ask him some questions. But at the same time, Tisse Apoan's voice rang out in the adjacent locker room.


The redhead, in her birthday suit, came storming into the room, jumped, arms out, over Varran and caught Melkiar's shoulders in flight. Both fell noisily into the water and almost drowned a Belenor lost in his thoughts. With his lungs full of water, the Fyros turned around and grabbed the edge of the pool, determined to avoid the next wave. But at the same time, the ceiling darkened. His heart stopped as he saw Garius, his legs curled up against his chest, levitating above the water. The tidal wave that followed was terrible and emptied much of the pool. If laughter broke out, Melkiar, back on his islet, tried to keep his composure.

"You are really children. You know how irresponsible it is to waste water." he said, trying not to smile.
"Yes, you really are kids."

Everyone turned their heads. With her legs slightly apart and her hands resting on her chiseled hips, Xynala looked at her comrades with a snide look. And like them, she was totally naked.

More than a social norm, the acceptance of nudity and gender mixing was part of a political strategy that was almost two centuries old. Indeed, before the foundation of the Empire in 2275, the Fyros were divided into a multitude of nomadic tribes competing for the territories best supplied with water and fire. When, after a long military campaign, Dyros the Great, the first emperor of the Fyros people, succeeded in subjugating many of these tribes, the will to unite them led the young sharükos to elaborate, with his advisors, the principles known as the 'Four Pillars of the Empire' which soon became the values shared by all Fyros: Truth, Honor, Discipline and Justice. For all that, Dyros knew that a simple motto would not be enough to contain the ardor of his new subjects, who were more accustomed to traveling and warfare than to living in peace behind gigantic walls. So the sharükos put everything on the army and education. The newborn military institution would be in charge of educating each offspring of the Empire, in order to make him a patriot convinced of belonging to the same great family. In the newborn cities, parents were obliged to send their children to local schools as soon as those reached the age of three. The tribes that were subject to the Empire but not settled in the city were given the support of imperial commissioners to educate their children. Of course, many families did not take kindly to the Empire's intrusion, as it tried to elevate its laws above certain traditions. However, the Empire never tried to erase tribal customs, as long as they did not oppose the great imperial project. Finally, when the children reached the age of seven, they had to go to a city that housed a subsidiary of the Imperial Academy, where everything was set up to accommodate them. These children, subjected to military rigor since their early childhood, were gathered in groups destined to endure for several decades. Everything was done to ensure that each individual felt close to his or her comrades and that no young patriot was rejected. This is how, under the aegis of the Pillar of Truth, nudity became an important part of the education of the Fyros people. It allowed for the desecration of differences while celebrating their power: the Fyros Empire would owes its glorious future to the combination of its individualities.

Xynala, still standing in front of her comrades, cast an affectionate glance at Melkiar. She hadn't seen him in several months, and Belenor knew how much she had missed him. His happiness was a joy to behold. A happiness that did not last. Tisse joined Melkiar on his island, grabbed him by the waist and stuck her generous chest against his muscular back. Shifting her head to the left, she smiled at Xynala. This one lost instantly her radiant air. Understanding her affliction, Belenor tried to catch her eye. In vain. A few long and silent seconds passed, then Varran spoke.

"Well, Melkiar, you wanted to tell us something? That's why you have gathered us here, right?"

Melkiar politely disengaged himself from Tisse's embrace and looked at each and every one of his comrades.

"Yes, that's right. First of all, I want you to know that I am glad to see you again. Secondly, I wanted to talk to you about the political situation west of the Desert, and the great war my father has been waging for several years now against the Dune Riders. The help provided by the Imperial Army has been a great help, of course. However, I think it is not enough. The Dune Riders are more organized and powerful than ever, and no matter how well trained the Empire's soldiers are, only those who have grown up in this region are capable of fighting there efficiently. The ground there is very unstable, with shifting sawdust and concealed cracks. Not to mention gigantic burning gusts of wind straight from the Root Primes, which often sweep through these inhospitable lands. Many soldiers have perished during our expedition. Therefore, to help the Empire and my tribe defeat the Dune Riders, I plan to join my family in…"
"Don't leave!"

All startled at Belenor's heartfelt cry. The Fyros looked at his comrades with a dazed expression, then blushed.

"Ex... Excuse me, I... I don't know what came over me."

Melkiar smiled and jumped into the half-empty pool. He moved closer to Belenor, hugged him and gave him a friendly pat on the back.

"... in a few years, Belenor."

Crimson, the Fyros was unable to know if the emotions running through him were related to the discomfort he had felt seconds earlier or to the touch of Melkiar's naked body. Luckily, the group's attention quickly turned to something else. One heard a scurrying noise in the hallway leading to the locker room, then a scream and a cracking sound. The "Ouch" that sprang then was followed by a few footsteps and a kind of long scrape. It is by sliding on the knees, arms spread and exposed anatomy, that Brandille dashed in the basin hall. The acrobat was beaming with elation.

"Hark, hark, friends girls and boys! Brandille has some incredible news for you!"

Garius and Varran bursted out laughing and Tisse looked up at the ceiling. Only Xynala, Melkiar and Belenor seemed to be really waiting for the next part.

"So, so! Do you want to know? Put a little more enthousiasm into it, come on!"
"We are listening, Brandille. What do you have to tell us ? I'm not very patient, you know."
"Ah, then I am not going to make you languish any longer, dear Melkiar!"

At these words, Brandille stopped for a few seconds. Melkiar frowned, the two friends exchanged glances, and finally, the news fell.

"The sharükos Thesop has been assassinated!"

Then so it was not only Belenor who gave a heartfelt cry, but the whole band.


And indeed, the Emperor Thesop had been murdered. Although the murder had taken place in the Agora in the middle of a public session, no one managed to get hold of the assassin. None of those present could explain how this black-clad person had managed to get past the imperial guard and cut off the sharükos' head. Yet, for many, one had not to look far: everyone wanted Thesop dead. For a long time now, many suspected that the heroic duel between Thesop the Builder and the tyrannical Emperor Pyto, forty-two years earlier, was nothing but a fable. A propaganda to hide the fact that Thesop had actually killed his brother, and perhaps even their father. The most surprising thing about this story was the length of the tyrant's reign. How could Thesop have stayed in power so long, despite the rumors and the Fyros' heightened sense of justice? That was the main mystery. An unsolved mystery that did not prevent the citizens of Fyre from throwing Thesop's body to the gingos. Straight after, his name was erased from the Sanctuary. Thus ended the reign of Thesop the Fratricide, youngest son of Abylus the Learned and eleventh sharükos of the Fyros people. Since Thesop had no offspring, the crown fell to Krospas, the only son of Pyto. Ten years old when his father died, Krospas had spent his life with his uncle, who saw him only as a propaganda tool. Now, at the age of fifty, the legitimate Emperor could take back his due. While waiting for his coronation, which would not take place before several days, the army generals decreed a great national celebration. And a few hours later, the shooki liquor was already flowing in the streets of Fyre.

It was in their favorite tavern, located on Arispotle Square, that the group of young adults met in the early evening. The square, already crowded under normal circumstances, was overflowing with revelers and onlookers. The spicy scents of Fyre were mixing with the fragrances of sweat and alcohol, and the hubbub of the crowd was mixing with the festive compositions of the street musicians. Belenor, yet known for his punctuality, arrived several dozen minutes after the agreed time. The scowl he presented to his comrades contrasted with the jubilant atmosphere of the city. Varran, already a little drunk, called out to the latecomer.

"Well then Belenor, you in a huff? You won't tell me that you're sad for Thesop ?"

Brandille made room for his friend who slumped on the bench.

"No, that' s not it… That's my parents. Well, my father. I think he was trafficking with Thesop's closest advisors. He's afraid of reprisals and wants us to move to Coriolis…"

The Fyros ran his hands through his mahogany hair and rested his forehead against the table.

"In the end, I may be the one who will leave, Melkiar… Someone bring me a shookie."

Around the table, everyone exchanged silent glances. Xynala beckoned to the tavernkeeper and Melkiar leaned over the table to place an affectionate hand on the shoulder of his comrade.

"What about your mother, Belenor? Does she agree?"
"No, she whishes us to stay, even though I can feel her worrying too." the Fyros muttered between his fingers. I don't care if they go, as long as they leave me the keys and Penala stays by my side. But I don't want to leave..."

At these words, a sudden impact shook the table. Everyone turned to Garius, whose massive fist had just left an imprint on the yellowed wood. The Fyros' face was crimson with anger and thick veins now marked his smooth skull.

"Hey Belenor, I'm just starting to like you, so you'll do me the pleasure not to let your father ruin everything, right? We hate him enough as it is."

Belenor looked at Garius with a stunned expression. He was liking him? It was true that their relationship had changed a lot since their first fights. For all that Garius had never verbalized their friendship until now. The colossus smiled at him and Belenor blushed slightly. At the same time, a waiter arrived with a tray bearing seven full pints.

"Smile youths! You, especially!" he said, pointing to Belenor with his free hand. "Today is a great day, we'll reflect on our worries tomorrow!"

Perked up, the seven comrades grabbed a pint, toasted, and began to drink. On this strange day, the shookie was particularly good. Xynala, who had just drained off her mug in one go, slumped slightly against Melkiar's right shoulder, beside whom she was sitting. Usually not much prepared, the Fyrosse wore a pretty red combination and had done her hair in several braids highlighting the pearly reflections of her blond hair.

"What were we talking about again? she asked, playing lasciviously with her hair. Ah yes, the assassination. We have several theories, Belenor. Tisse imagined that the assassin could be a simple angry Pytoist patriot. I find this reasoning too simplistic. Melkiar, unlike Tisse, has a more elaborate theory. Isn't that right Melkiar?"

Tisse, sitting to Melkiar's left, frowned, irritated as much by Xynala's tone as by her sudden closeness to the Fyros. Just as well dressed as her comrade, she wore a long green dress reminding the color of her eyes, and whose large cleavage was highlighted by her long red hair, resting voluptuously on her shoulders. Vexed, Tisse finished her pint in some gulps.

"I don't think my theory is any more consistent than Tisse's, Xynala, Melkiar answered. Besides, the simplest theories are often the best. I wondered if the assassin could be a spy from the Kingdom of Matia. We know about the age-old rivalry that opposes the Fyros people to the Matis one. For all thta, it has been over forty years since the Aqueduct War ended. So why now? Everyone has noticed that in recent months, Thesop has lost a lot of majesty and ferocity. As if something had happened to him. Or as if he felt stalked. Hence the idea of the Matis assassin."

Pleased with Melkiar's support, Tisse also slumped against him. The alcohol helping, she even dared to put her hand against the bare thigh of the Fyros, who for any reaction, finished his pint dry. A dark veil immediately covered Xynala's face, who straightened up and broke her contact with Melkiar. Belenor crossed her eyes and tried to send her a comforting smile. In vain.

"Have you ever met a Karavan agent?" Brandille replied without warning.

This time, all turned to the acrobat. Since the beginning of the conversation, Brandille seemed to be elsewhere. Melkiar, who was getting drunk, let out a laugh.

"What does this have to do with Thesop, Brandille?"
"Everything and nothing at the same time! In fact, as far as I can remember, Thesop has always exuded a strange aura. Terrifying and fascinating at the same time. A supernatural aura that reminded me of the Karavan agents."
"You think Thesop was a Karavan agent?" said Melkiar ironically.
"Oh, I don't think anything, you know. I simply sow ideas in the four winds… Ideas and messes." Brandille replied sarcastically.

"What Brandille meant, I think, was that Thesop was maybe linked to the Karavan, Belenor continued. And maybe benefiting from their strange powers. After all, it would not be surprising if the Karavan meddled… It would not be the first time."

"And so the Karavan would have helped Thesop to maintain his power all these years, only to at last leave him to serve up to his people?" Varran asked.

Melkiar, who in turn had placed his hand on Tisse's thigh, slammed his free fist on the table.

"I hate them! Who do they think they are? To answer your question, Brandille, yes, I have met agents before. One day, when I was a child, the Karavan came to my tribe. I remember vividly that stormy morning when three shadows descended from the orange sky with hands full of gifts and speeches full of promises. I remember their monotone voices. Cold. As if dead. As if their thick, black helmets smothered all traces of life. They offered us resources and protection. In exchange, all we had to do was follow Jena's commandments. They asked for nothing more. Of course, my father refused. Well, he tried... In truth, it wasn't really a given. For yes, I remember the strange psychic pressure they exerted. I remember the hesitant and disoriented gaze of my father. Thankfully my mother was there in support. When my father finally refused, many of my people thought our end has come: one of the agents, more insistent than the others, threatened us with reprisals. But my parents stood firm, and in the end the three strangers rose into the heavens and went returning to where they had come from. I hate the Karavan as much as I hate the Kamis… They think they are our masters… And that will last as long as we continue to name them 'Powers'! For as long as homins chain themselves to them, so long will they remain slaves in their eyes! As for me, I have already made my choice, that day: rather to die free than to live enslaved!"

Belenor, who was also starting to get drunk, did not let Melkiar's remark pass.

"Melkiar, you cannot compare the Karavan to the Kamis! The Kamis are an integral part of Atys, they are its guardians. The Karavan, on the other hand, wants to take over Atys."
"If they are so different, then why do both claim to be sent by Jena? I know that you have fallen in love with the Kamis, Belenor, but let's face it: the 'Powers' are only two sides of the same coin."
"This is not true Melkiar. Some scholars agree that the Karavan is alien to Atys, and that…"
"Is that your argument, Belenor? The endemic nature of the Kamis would make them 'nice guardians'? Guardians of a prison called Atys? At some point, we will have to fight the 'Sacred War', Melkiar sarcastically asserted. But not the one you imagined, Belenor. The only one worth fighting: the one that will allow the hominity to break its chains!"

Stung to the core, Belenor was about to retort. But Brandille intervened again without warning.

"Have you ever met a Zorai homin or homina?"

Belenor looked at Brandille, dumbstruck. Then his friend pointed in the direction of the opposite corner of the tavern.

"Over there."

Belenor turned his head, and, with a throat full of shookie, nearly choked. A member of the Zorai people was indeed seated at the counter with his back to them.

"Enor, let's go talk to her!"

Without waiting, Brandille grabbed Belenor by the hand and pulled him toward the stranger. The Fyros let her, though panicked at the thought of meeting a Zorai. If he had already come across some of them on seldom times in the streets of Fyre, he had never had the opportunity to talk to one of them face to face. Besides, this was the case for the vast majority of Fyros. Indeed, it was often difficult to approach the Zorai people, who had become particularly isolationist over time. It was told that the Zorai had never forgiven the Fyro armies for having laid siege to Zoran on a misunderstanding in 2328, believing that the Theocracy was the ally of the Kingdom of Matia. It must be said that the Great Library of Zoran, which at the time consisted of several thousand volumes dealing mostly with the Kamis, had been completely destroyed by Fyross artillery... This military error had convinced the Theocracy to extend the construction of its Great Wall to all the borders of the Jungle. A Great Wall that the Zoraïs refused to open to Tryker refugees when the Kingdom of Matia invaded Trykoth thirty-five years earlier and enslaved the Lake people. Enough to make many homins suspicious of the Zoraïs, then… Belenor, for his part, was far from these considerations, and ardently wished such a meeting. So much so that he had developed a form of frustration. For, by dint of writing about a people of whom he had never actually met a representative, he feared that his fascination was excessive, that it bordered on racial fetishism. When the two comrades arrived at the counter, they realized that the individual was actually a homina. Leaning against the bar, the Zoraï was drinking a soup through a strange straw. Instantly, Belenor fell captivated by her blue skin, but especially with her mask. Of elongated form and with asymmetrical horns, it was also completely white. If the Fyros was fascinated by its shape and color, one detail intrigued him more than anything else: its texture. At that moment, he would have given anything to run his fingers over that bony face, which was said to be warm and soft. To touch this sacred gift of the Kamis, of which the Zorai people were the sole and lucky owners. Realizing that his friend would not take the floor on his own, Brandille took his best Mateis and called out to the Zorai. For while there was no guarantee that she spoke Fyrk, the Fyro language, correctly, it was rare for travelers not to master Mateis.

"Hello, and sorry to bother you. We are not used to meeting Zorais here in Fyre. So we were curious to meet you. Would you have some time for us?"

The Zoraï lowered her head in the direction of the two youngsters and tilted her mask to the side. Brandille, at four feet tall, looked tiny against the stranger's six feet. Belenor winced, certain that her friend had been too abrupt. His inability to read the facial expressions of his bony-faced interlocutor only accentuated his anguish. But against all odds, the Zorai withdrew the straw from the lip slit of her mask and answered in Mateis.

"Hello. The Fyros and Trykers are definitely quite curious. What can I do for you?"

Without further reservation, Brandille climbed onto the stool to the right of the Zorai. Belenor, hesitant, remained standing. In normal circumstances, he would probably have fled. But it was without counting the disinhibiting effects of alcohol.

"Thank you very much! You see, my friend here is finishing writing a story featuring Zorais. But he's never met any of you people. I was thinking you might be able to help him make his story more believable. But you are certainly very busy! Besides, what are you doing in Fyre?"
"I'm on a trade mission." the Zorai replied, tucking her straw into the small pouch that was flanking her left thigh. "I buy the materials needed to make jewelry protecting from magic. In particular, I am looking for hooves belonging to these particularly rare rendors, which are said to hide in your desert regions… But the assassination of the sharükos changes many things, and unfortunately, I'll have to leave again soon. A story about my people, then? Interesting. I am listening, young Fyros. What questions do you wish to ask me?"

True to himself, Belenor blushed. He was fascinated by the mask of his interlocutor, who seemed to have a slight flexibility in his jaw.

"Th… Thank you for giving us a little of your time. To tell you the truth, I don't have any specific questions. I hadn't planned to meet any of your people today… I… I'm pretty caught off guard."
"So tell me about the story you're writing." the Zorai replied calmly. "And I will tell you what it inspires me."
"Ah… Heu… All right. It's a story about a Zorai from a tribe that worships the Kamis, but refutes the idea that Jena is the Supreme Kami. A tribe fiercely opposed to the Karavan, who decides one day to launch a great expedition in order to preach the good word and fight against the Karavan's minions. This is what they call the 'Sacred War'."
"Ah? This is original. And who would the Supreme Kami be?" the Zorai asked, crossing her fingers.
"The… The Supreme Kami would be Atys itself. Or rather its heart. I was inspired by a dream I had, where each Kami was actually a fragment of a gigantic entity buried in the center of Atys. Jena would be… a usurper."
"An interesting, if very heretical, vision. Fortunately for you, the Sages of Zoran are quite far from Fyre. I would simply reply that there are some tribes in the Jungle with pagan beliefs, as there probably are in the Desert. In that, your invention is coherent."

Belenor's face lit up. This simple comment was of great importance to him. The Zorai continued.

"I assume that the tribe you have imagined has some cultural particularities related to this heretical belief?"
"Yes, absolutely!" said Belenor, now very enthusiastic. I tried to respect as much as possible what I knew about the culture of your people, while inventing some things. For example, I know that the Zorai sometimes paint their masks. I imagined that this tribe did not use paint, but tattoos."
"Tattoos?! How horrible. To voluntarily injure your mask is a serious offense to the Kamis. Not to mention the terrible pain involved…"
"Yes, I am fully aware of that. But this tribe is said to practice unusual heretical rites, most of them very painful. Each tattoo added on the mask would be for example an honorary rite of passage. The ultimate honor would be represented by a full tattoo, that of the tribe's chief, the Black Mask."

Brandille's stool toppled over and Belenor narrowly avoided his friend's fall. The Zorai had abruptly stood up, for no apparent reason, and was now walking towards the exit with a determined step. Brandille, now standing on the rickety seat, raised her voice.

"Hey! But don't you feel well?! What comes over you? I…"
"No, Brandille. It's okay. Leave her alone, please" Belenor interrupted her, grabbing her hand.

The equilibrist, who was about to insist, glanced at her friend. He was livid. If Belenor understood Brandille's anger, only he could have catched the Zorai's gaze behind the gaps in her mask. As he mentioned the Black Mask, her eyes had filled with fear. And if he did not understand the reason for such a reaction, his biggest concern was not there. Because at this precise moment, hand tightened around the wrist of Brandille, Belenor wished only one thing: not to confront itself more with his interlocutor. He was taken of an unusual and disturbing desire. That of not wanting to know more. That of forgetting, forever, this strange and anguishing moment, and all its potential of meaning. By chance, his comrades gave him the opportunity to pass to another thing: Xynala had just risen abruptly, overturning the pints that Belenor and Brandille had forgotten, and had rushed towards the exit head down. Around the table, only Varran and Garius seemed to care about their friend's sudden departure. Melkiar and Tisse as for them were too busy kissing. Without waiting, Belenor dashed for the door. He was followed closely by Brandille and the shadow of his doubts.


In spite of the density of the crowd, Belenor managed not to lose sight of Xynala. However, he had to wait for them to move away from the living areas to catch up with her. When he finally arrived at her level, at the intersection of a small, quiet and isolated alley, Xynala instantly turned around and threw herself into his arms. She was in tears. At a distance, Brandille sat down on a bench carved into a bark wall and watched her two friends.

"Be… Belenor… how are you doing? You… You seem so serene… Whereas I… I can't do it anymore. I thought that these few months of absence would allow me to change my way of looking at him, but… but no. It's even the opposite, I… I love him more than ever. And then Tisse… I… I hate feeling all this animosity, this… this jealousy. I would so much like to move on, Belenor. And I'm so afraid I'll never make it… Help me, please!"

Belenor held Xynala tightly against him. He could feel the outline of her muscles through her clothes. He never thought he would see his friend in such a state of distress. She was usually so strong. So determined. So combative. A rush of emotion overwhelmed him and he felt the tears welling up. No. He shouldn't let his emotions get the better of him. Not now. That was not what Xynala needed.

"I totally understand how you feel Xynala, believe me. And if I seem so serene about Melkiar and Tisse, it's simply because, unlike you, I always knew I had no chance. Melkiar likes hominas. I like homins. As cruel as this reality is, it had the merit of preventing me from hoping.

"I'm sorry for you Belenor… I havn't been there enough when you weren't well."
"Don't apologize Xynala! I am fine now, thanks to you all. Now I want you to know that I am here for you. So, I want you to understand that what you are feeling today will pass, sooner or later."
"How can you be sure of that?" asked Xynala between sobs.
"Because everything passes, Xynala. The pain and the complicated episodes. The love and the good times."

At these words, Xynala tightened her grip.

"No, Belenor, the friendship that unites us all is eternal, I know that. We are one big family."
"I don't think so Xynala." the Fyros replied, stroking her hair tenderly. "One day, we won't be friends anymore, that's a certainty. The potential reasons are numerous: ideological differences, weariness, physical distance, or simply death. Everything passes Xynala. Everything… Sorry, I'm not the best at comforting. What I'm trying to tell you is simply that you'll get better, soon, and whatever happens. Such is life. So goes the time."

The Fyrossa loosened her embrace and straightened up. Her eyes were still misty with tears, but her bout of sadness seemed to have passed.

"Do you think you and I will ever fall in love with a homin who will feel the same way about us?"
"Yes, I am almost certain of it. You and I will live love. A love just as transitory as everything else."
"How can you remain so pragmatic, Belenor?" the Fyros replied, rubbing her eyes.
"It's Brandille. By dint of hanging out with her, I see the world philosophically." he replied in an ironic tone.
"Besides, where is he?"

Belenor turned around. Brandille had indeed disappeared.

"I don't know. I told you, everything passes, Xynala. Everything. Even Brandille. Or rather, especially Brandille. Because Brandille is the very definition of change. Of vitality. Don't you think?"

For all answer, Xynala smiled and kissed Belenor on the cheek. She took him by the hand and they both headed back to the tavern. She was feeling better. Belenor smiled back. Finally, he wasn't that bad at comforting.

  Belenor Nebius, narrator