Sunlight Sonata: Part Nine
Part IX – Moderato Expressivo: Sunrise
It was over. It was all over. Coru sighed blissfully, closing his eyes. A normal day. He’d soon get a normal, boring, day. And it would be wonderful. All chirping birds and soft wind blowing through leaves, with the sun warming his fur. He’d stalk through the woods, practicing his skills for no reason than because he wanted to. It would be wonderful.
“You can’t sleep forever.”
“Shut up, Set.” Coru opened his eyes, looking at the Xweetok. “What do you want?”
“Proteus is holding a ceremony to reward all of those who helped take Faerieland,” Set said, turning to leave. “And he said you three could go after that.”
Coru nodded, his joy muted as he got up and followed Set. They hadn’t even been in this time very long, but it still felt like a home to him. The scent that had so bothered him when they’d first arrived was now barely noticeable. People he had never known before had become his best friends. Like Set. Little Set, who could be fiercer than either of his brothers. Coru smiled, looking at her.
But then he looked at the building Set was leading him to, and his smile faded. The Faerie Palace. The new headquarters for the Republic, and the staging area for whatever this ceremony was. The huge pink and purple doors opened as they approached, and inside, they were met by a young Light Faerie. She bowed and smiled, and led them to a room where Invi and Keben were already waiting.
None of them talked, yet there were some things that still passed, unspoken, between them. Keben’s hand was entangled in Invi’s mane, and the sunburst pendant shone like fire upon Invi’s dark breast. It gleamed, seeming to taunt Coru. It seemed to ask him what he would have done differently, if he had known its power. Coru looked away from it, not wanting to face what it stood for.
The door opened once more, and a Fire Faerie ushered Sayang and Az inside. The pair was unusually quiet, neither speaking. They weren’t looking at each other, either. They moved to opposite ends of the room, Sayang sitting by Keben and Invi, Az by Coru and Set. And still, nobody spoke. The silence was a sorrowful one, not an oppressing one. Everyone seemed to be utterly inside their own thoughts.
And when a knock came on the door, everyone stood at once. The door opened, and Damian stood there. Az perked up at that, a smile on his face. The Eyrie bowed to Az before addressing the room. “Proteus is ready for you. Please follow me.”
Silence returned as they walked, Sayang and Az slowly drifting back together. Coru wondered if either of them were doing it on purpose. He rather doubted it, after how they had intentionally separated themselves in the waiting room. Trying to distract himself from his own thoughts, though, Coru looked around him, trying to see all the details that went into the Faerie Palace, but failing. There was too much to take in all at once. It was all pink and purple, with silver and gold accents.
Soon enough another set of doors, seeming just as massive as the one that they had entered the palace through, loomed before them. Damian opened them without ceremony, and stood aside to let them through. Coru’s eyes tried to shut at the sudden light that shone from inside, but he peered in nonetheless. He stepped forward with Set, the wave of her tail clue enough as to what he should do.
His paws landed on soft carpet, so deep and smooth that it felt like he was in water. He tried not to look around, to see all the faces that watched him. He kept his eyes on the carpet, on the dark purple’s contrast against its golden edging and the silver stones of the floor. He could feel Set next to him, her tail swishing so that it hit his body. He couldn’t tell whether or not what Set did was intentional, but it didn’t matter too much right then.
The carpet ended. Coru ascended the steps, now unable to avoid looking at those at their top. Proteus and Fyora stood there, equals in their leadership. Both were smiling so much that it was hard to avoid reacting to them with joy. Coru smiled at them as he and Set reached the top of the steps and turned to their left, taking a few paces before stopping and facing the leaders.
To his side, he could see Az and Sayang come, turn to the right, and stop. And then came the dreamers. They seemed the most comfortable with what was going on, for some reason or another. Keben still guided Invi, though Coru wondered how necessary it was now.
“Friends and allies,” Proteus said, his voice ringing out over the silence. “We gather here today to give our thanks to the heroes who came from another time and those who became their closest friends.” Gesturing to his right, Proteus continued. “Let us start with those named the Planners. Coruscatus organized the mop-up of those robots that survived our initial assault and joined the Faeries in making sure that their blast had finished the rest.
“Setia Reficul, called Set, was the person who planned our initial assault. She was responsible for the attack pattern, for the timing, for the set up, and most of all, for being determined that it would work, despite the odds.” Proteus smiled. “And her faith paid off. Let them now be awarded the Brightvalian Crest of Knowledge.”
Coru stepped forward with Set, and Fyora set the crest around his neck at the same time as Proteus did so for Set. They bowed, and stepped back without turning. The crowd cheered, a massive wave of sound crashing down on them. Coru winced, wishing he could be outside once more.
“And now, the Dreamers.” Proteus’s voice cut through the cheering, which quickly faded. “Invidere, who activated the amulet that brought us our heroes. Invidere, who, though blind, braved the fields of war to help us find the Faeries as quickly as we could. Invidere, who deserves more thanks, but for whom I can think of nothing more to say.
“Keben Cian, our Dreamer of Dreams. He dreamed of our heroes. He brought us our hope that things would change, and change soon. Keben, whose quiet voice of reason has saved us many-a-time. Keben, without whose warnings I, and many others, would be dead. To them, let the Crown of Wisdom be given.”
Invi stepped forward, every bit as sure as Keben was. Coru watched, quiet, as the ‘crown’ was set on their heads. It wasn’t really a crown. It was styled after Altadorian fashion, with the laurel wreath wrought in silver, and five points, each topped by a different gem, peeking out from the top. The dreamers bowed, returning to their places as the crowd cheered.
Proteus seemed to wait longer before cutting them off this time. And when he did, it was with a raised hand, not his voice. Only once the room was quiet did he begin to talk. “I know you all wish me to continue, to give our praises to the warriors, the Catalysts. But first, let my thanks go to all of you. You are the heart and soul of the Republic, and without you, this would be no more than a fleeting dream in someone’s head.”
Applause, easily cut through by his voice, followed. “Now, let me thank the Catalysts!” Cheering, too loud to be stopped, and Coru grinned, looking over at Az. The Draik seemed embarrassed. Sayang seemed amused. The cheers were almost loud enough for individual calls to be heard, now. Proteus sighed and shook his head. Coru grinned at the Scorchio, amused. And when the cheers finally died, Proteus began again.
“First, let us thank Sayang. Her efforts to direct military action, both in this most recent battle and in others, have saved many of our lives. Her grasp of tactics is something to be grateful for, as is her knowledge of strategy. Her contributions to our dream have been many and varied, and all things to be thankful for.
“Last, but certainly not least by how you’ve been cheering him, let us thank Azimuth the Drake!”
At least he knows enough to stop there, Coru thought, and let the crowd shout themselves hoarse. It would be useless to try and stop them.
“He led you to battle, he fought your war.” Proteus spoke quietly, forcing the crowd to be silent. “He changed himself using magic that was lost to us. He was something to be feared by friend and foe alike. And he came through it without dying. He came through it with barely a scratch. And he is now to be known forever in our history as the Drake.
“Let the Catalysts be awarded the title of Knights Royal!”
Az led Sayang forward, both kneeling in front of Proteus. Coru grinned despite himself, seeing the bright steel of the sword lowered to his shoulders and his brow. And, most of all, at the tabard given to him. It was bright white, and had a white belt to go with it. Az bowed to Proteus, putting it on as the same ceremony was preformed on Sayang.
And then, once Az and Sayang were back in place, all six of them turned as one, to allow everyone gathered to cheer them, to shout for them, to celebrate the joy of winning a battle that they thought was impossible to win.
To be continued...