Part 1 • Childhood
I started out my life much differently than how you see me today. The vast wilds that I call home now I would have never dreamed existed as a child, nor would I have ever thought I'd be much less living in such a place. I was born into a sheltered place, on a farm of all places. I was not born wild like most of those I've come to know through my travels, though by now I think I do a much better job of disguising it. Back then life was simple.
My mother was the lead mare to our small family herd of about 6 of us. She was a kind & beautiful creature, who taught me everything I know about being a proper young lady. The one thing she couldn't seem to teach me about was my freakish heritage compared to the others we shared the farm with. Even for being so young, I knew very early on that I was different. Her way of dealing with my questions was simply by brushing it aside as nonsense & always changing the subject with something else for me to ponder upon. Her favorite way of getting out of my questions was always asking me to play tag with her, which worked very well usually. I think she knew how bothered I was with all of my thoughts but just wanted to hold onto me as long as she could.
Her antics to hide the past from me only fueled my desire to know. I was the only equine around that anyone had ever seen with such a distinct striped pattern, & a pair of wings to boot. The older I became, it seemed the more I noticed how much others gawked at my differences as if I had some terrible disease, & the more I felt I needed answers... I spent more & more time alone growing up as each month went by, hiding for the fact that I was ashamed to be me because it wasn't acceptable by the animals on the other farms. Even though I had wings of my own, I envied the birds & how they could just fly far, far away into the sunset & never look back; away from all the disgraceful individuals & their unkind whispers & stares.
One day while I was confining myself to the far edge of our pasture, & watching the sparrows biker over left-over grain, something I found rather odd caught my attention. A strange, yet beautiful vixen had stumbled across my hiding place, but rather than stare for a moment & continue about her business, she actually started coming towards me! Being my well-natured self, in spite of bracing for an embarrassing encounter, I smiled in her direction, hoping to myself that she would just pass on by & leave me be. When she did not, however, & instead replied to my smile with one of her own, I was forced to greet her. Hello. I managed to spit out sheepishly. The vixen seemed to size me up & down, & in my head I was preparing for awkward questions & an embarrassing event. Imagine my surprise when it was not a return 'hello' or any type of question at all she presented me with, but rather a compliment. You're very pretty said the vixen. At this point I felt slightly confused, but I could see in her eyes as they smiled at me that she wasn't here to taunt me & that she was sincere. Thank you I replied, a bit embarrassed for being judgmental. Your parents must be very proud she remarked as she circled me as if to take in every inch of me from head to hoof. Yes, my mother is pretty pleased with me, I think I replied humbly. I knew my mother loved me so much, & no amount of whispers through the grape vine or harsh comments about my awkwardness could ever make her think otherwise. But what of your father young one? she inquired.
Up until that very moment in my life I had never wondered so strongly about the answer to that question. Well, I guess I wouldn't know... I could feel my face distorting into a vexed look as I replied, though I was trying to keep my pleasant smile a float. If it's any consolation, she started, I think you look a lot like him. A foxishly sly smile seemed to take over her face, as if she were full of riddles. She let out a small laugh as her grin grew bigger & then turned away & proceeded to leave me standing there without a single word beyond that mind blowing comment. Hey, wait! I cried out to her, What do you mean - How would you know? but she only continued to giggle as she pranced further & further away. How peculiar I thought to myself. When I found that I could not shake away the thoughts my mysterious friend had placed in my head, it seemed to me that maybe my estranged father was the key to filling the empty hole that lived inside of me & perhaps the tonic to ease my troubled mind. The first step to solving this mystery was Mother & that thought alone made me wince. I knew she wouldn't be of much assistance, but I had no one else to turn to so I had to try.
Mother, I began awkwardly one evening, can I ask you something? She paused from her grazing & turned her head up at me, Of course Sweetheart". I knew she could tell it was something serious to me by the tone in my voice & not knowing a better way to approach her with the matter, I just spit it all out. Mother, do I have a father? I bit on my lower lip & braced myself for her reply. Her face sank as if she had been dreading that very question her entire life. Well yes Sweetheart, everyone has a father, I could tell in her eyes she was searching for an answer to satisfy me that wouldn't draw out the topic. ...It's just that some of them don't stick around like the mommies do. I knew at that very minute she knew more than she was saying by talking to me in the way you would talk to a knobby-kneed foal. Mother, I'm not a child, I'm nearly two years old! I think I can handle a real answer... please? Inside I think she agreed with me, but she didn't take kindly to me pointing out my age to her. Don't get smart young lady, I know how old you are. Then why do you shelter me like a child Mother? My eyes began to sting with the forming of tears. Mother I love you, & no one else will ever take your place in my heart or be there for me like you are, but you have no idea what it's like to be the village outcast because your different from everyone else. I could feel the first tear drops fall as I started in again, You don't know what it's like to feel like you don't even know who you are. I could see on her face that she felt ashamed & it hurt me inside to bring my mother to that level. Please, I begged, I need to know.
After a long moment of silence, a faint smile seemed to make its way to the corners of her mouth as she too began to well up with tears. Please know that I only kept this from you because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I just didn't want to see you hurt by it, & I never imagined that it would actually hurt you by wondering about it all the time. She turned her head away in thought, as if remembering. His name is Zimbarii, she began, fighting to keep her smile & her voice from cracking as she spoke. I'd heard of him before I actually ever met him. Exactly why he came to these parts, I've never quite been able to figure out, since there aren't many of his kind around here... When our paths finally did cross, I rolled my eyes at him & kept my distance; I'd heard how grown mares would throw themselves at him & I thought he would be trouble. A small chuckle escaped her, He was very handsome, & though I told myself not to have anything to do with him, curiosity got the better of me that day. I wanted to know why he was in my part of no-where that day, so I mustered up the courage & asked him. When I asked him though, I could see in his bright blue eyes that he was very sad. He responded that he had traveled this way to start over & escape his past that tormented him so much... He seemed troubled & so lost in himself, & I felt ashamed for judging him from only the things I'd heard about him. Her face grew a more humbled look, His business here that day was simply to travel through, but after we got to talking for a while, he decided to stay a few more days, which turned into weeks. We became very close during that time, & he seemed like he was so happy... But then he left one day, as quickly as he'd wandered in; no good byes or anything. I could tell by the way she spoke of that moment that it pained her. ...Did he leave because of me? I questioned, preparing myself for an answer I might not want to hear. My mother snapped out of her daze & smiled softly at me, No Sweetheart. I know in my heart that if he had known about you at the time, he would have stayed... He left because he asked me if I loved him & I couldn't give him an answer... My mother's tone softened as she continued. In so many ways you look so much like him Kihanni. Finally knowing inside that I wasn't a freak after all, & that out there somewhere there were others just like me put me at ease, but a new void swept over me & left an even bigger hole than before - My Father.
Part 2 • The Journey Begins
From the moment I learned his name, my only desire became knowing him. I knew the only way to do that would be to leave home, & my mother, & go in search of all the answers I so desperately desired. On the eve of my second birthday, I broke the news to my mother, which naturally didn't go over very well. Please stay! She begged, but my mind was made up. I'm sorry Mother, but this is something I have to do... I want to leave first thing tomorrow. On your birthday? she cried mournfully. What better way to start the next chapter in my life than on my birthday? I remarked playfully. Besides, I began, the way you described him would have to make him a celebrity or something, so how hard can he be to find? Mother's eyes & voice overflowed with worry as she ran out of excuses for me to stay & she began to panic. You can't go! She cried, I won't allow it! By this time I was getting fed up with her reasoning with me. Mother, I'm leaving in the morning & that's that. This subject is non-negotiable. I held my head up high defensively to enforce my point. Mother gave a heavy sigh for the secret she could no longer keep. No Kihanni, you can't go... There's something I didn't tell you before. She looked away shamefully & could not face me with the words she spoke next. You can't go because you won't find him Kih... Zimbarii is dead.
I stared at her in shock, What?.. How? ...When? I murmured in a slur. In that moment I had literally felt my heart crush inside & sink to the depths. It was as if I'd had a glimpse at my heart's desire, then watched as someone stabbed it through the heart with a dull & jagged dagger, & heard the cries & felt the pain of it as it slowly began to wither & die at my feet. I'm not sure how he died. Mother began softly, I'd heard mention of him for some time after he left, & tried so hard to get in contact with him again... But I was pregnant with you & couldn't go looking for him in all the odd corners of the earth, & word through the grape vine is not very reliable, so I was never able to reach him. I suddenly noticed the tears that had been falling as she spoke of him. I tried so hard to tell him of you, & wanted him to know you more than anything in this world. You would have made him so happy Kihanni... By this time her tears had turned into sobs. This secret had haunted her for so long & speaking of it for the first time finally allowed her to openly mourn. Don't cry Mother. I begged as I nuzzled her & tried to wipe away her tears, though I wasn't much help because I was also crying. After a good long while of comforting each other, Mother spoke again, The last time I had heard anything of him was right before you were born Kih, but nothing since.
I wish I could tell you where to start Kih... Mother mentioned as she began to smile again. I looked at her halfway in disbelief. You're going to let me go? I replied in shock. She gave a nod, It's selfish of me to want to keep you here so that I can hold onto the past. It's not fair to you Kih... I've always known this day would come, & it's about time I accepted it. I had never been more proud of my mother than I had been at that moment. We both exchanged huge smiles that we both seemed to understand from the other. I knew it would be much harder than I originally planned upon learning of my father's death, but nothing could change my mind about my quest.
On the morning of my birthday, & my planned departure date, I said my 'good-byes' to all the other creatures on the farm, & told my mother not to worry. I'll send word home every chance I get! I shouted back to her as I started off. Take care! she replied, & be careful Dear!... Any other motherly words she advised me with that day I didn't catch, for I was too busy with the rush & excitement of my new-found freedom. Up until that point in my life, I had been raised for the purpose of a pet, like my mother & the rest of the equines in our small herd. Having this ability to go where ever I pleased & when ever I pleased was thrilling. The day of my birthday went on to be a very good day, but as night grew closer I grew more nervous. I was of size enough so most predators wouldn't think to mess with me, but there had been talk of cat sightings in the area, &
that thought sent shivers down my spine. I had never spent a night alone, nor a night in the wilderness, but there's a first time for everything I reminded myself, & tried to think positively about the idea. I'd crossed into a thickly wooded area a few hours back, & thought I would be able to reach the other side before nightfall, but as the sun sank lower & lower I became more & more nervous. Smart move Kih... I thought to myself. Being stuck in the woods at night is not something you want, & even I knew that for as naive to things as I was. You can't easily escape through the tangle of trees as you could in an open meadow or field, should something decide you look yummy. I knew I had no choice but to keep going & hope I would come to a clearing soon. Luck seemed to play on my side that night, as a full moon shown brightly down over a cloudless night sky, so at least I could see. I don't think there was ever a time when I had been more nervous in my life. Every noise I heard made me jump. I could hear the cries of a dog pack in the distance, but they were well behind me. I held my breath that another group wouldn't return their calls. That night seemed to drag on forever...
Finally a small ray of morning sunshine broke through the blanket of trees & smiled at me. I will never forget how relieved I was at that moment. I had survived a night alone & in the wild. I can really do this! I thought to myself. The forest was not as yielding in the morning light, however. I found as the day went on that it would break into small meadows & valleys, but there was no escaping it. Flying out of my tree prison wasn't much of an option either, because even though I had wings, flight wasn't exactly something that had ever crossed my mind as possible. The deeper I traveled into the forest, the less & less I saw of the small meadow openings & the more grim the forest became. The thick & rugged White Acorn & Black Walnut trees that had littered the land before now seemed to fade into harsh & pointy-limb trees with huge spikes protruding all the way down to their trunks. Even the harty Evergreens couldn't manage along side these merciless looking trees. The ground also became bare of life, only littered with broken limbs & decaying foliages. Even though these thorny trees bore no life upon them, their branches were so matted with one another that they cut off the sunlight from shining through. A being traveling through these parts had it far worse than rays of light. The trees were so clumped together that creating a path through them was nearly impossible, but somehow I commanded myself to continue onward_ The spikes on the trees would nip at me as I brushed through them, & tear off skin & feathers when they could get a good enough grasp on me. It was positively miserable.
As the sun began to sink, so did my spirit. I finally decided to give up with trying to push through trees, & managed to find an open enough area where I could lay without being pricked too badly. I knew it wasn't particularly wise to be resting, but after traveling for two days & a night without any form of rest, my mind was exhausted & sleep was something I could no longer ignore. I reassured myself that no sane creature would travel through these parts, so I had nothing to fear. By now my flesh was burning from the numerous slashes I received throughout the day, & I was so angry with myself for not thinking of going around the spiked trees when I first encountered them that afternoon. I almost wished something would come out of the darkness & eat me; at least them I'd be out of my misery. I quickly felt ashamed after thinking such a horrid thing. I knew my mother would never forgive herself if anything were to happen to me, & what would my father think of me? I gazed upward at the small rays of moonlight that managed to seep in between the twisted branches above, & wondered if he could see his offspring's pathetic attempts to survive the wild. Tomorrow will be better, I told myself, you'll see.... My lids burned as I closed them & I quickly drifted into slumber.
I awoke with a startle to the sound of branches snapping near-by. I jumped to my feet in a hurry, forgetting where I was for a moment & nearly bursting off into the horrid mass of trees that surrounded me on every side. I noticed that a thick fog had rolled it's way in along the forest floor while I had slumbered, & the few rays of pale moonlight that shown through seemed to illuminate the moisture in the fog, causing it to glow. Waking up to this setting was eerie enough, but my attention quickly turned to the reason why I'd been awoken, & my eyes darted nervously for it's source. Even though you could see slightly with the aid of the mist, it was far to thick to see beyond a few feet to see what creature might be lurking. I hoped that this disadvantage of mine would play favor to me & conceal me from it's grasps. Another snapping of branches made me quiver with fear & set off a rattling of branches hanging around me. I hoped the creature near-by hadn't heard my commotion, but I knew I was hoping for too much. I could hear the pounding of earth as the creature drew nearer, & the snapping of branches growing closer to me. A pair of eyes appeared through the mist, & I could see the creature's breath as it exhaled. It's shadow was large, bigger than me, & I could hear my heart pounding in my chest as fear consumed me.
Who's there? A deep-toned voice commanded with eyes glaring in my direction. At first I was unsure whether or not to reply, but I knew I couldn't out run my foe, or even hide from it, so there was no point in trying. I-I'm truly sorry if I'm trespassing, I began nervously. Please, if you would only spare me- The creature burst with laughter before I could finish my plea. Come closer. The voice requested. A little unsure of this gesture, I ever-so cautiously ventured my way closer to the creature, fighting through the tangle of branches. As I drew nearer to it, it's form began to outline.
Part 3 • Ghosts in the Darkness
You must be lost. Said the young stallion standing in front of me. His dark figure melted into the night, but I could make out the smile he wore as he looked upon the pity of a creature that was myself. I had never seen another like myself until that moment, & gazed wide-eyed at this marvelous being in front of me. My gawking was cut short as I quickly remembered how mangled I looked & where I was, & I turned away embarrassed. Yes, indeed I'm afraid I am Sir. I shyly turned back to face him. He seemed to find my misfortune comical, but I found it highly embarrassing. I wanted so badly to be able to fend for myself, like all the other creatures of the wild. The name's Merqutio, he announced, Or Qio for short. I smiled at his pleasantness & was so thankful that the creature in the distance turn out to be this charming fellow. I'm Kihanni, I returned with a polite nod, or Kih if you'd wish. Well Kih, he began, May I ask exactly what a girl like you is doing out in this desolate place? I could not bare to look him in the eye with my reply, for I knew my reasoning would sound so foolish to most. It's complicated. I began softly. Must be if you're out in these parts, he interrupted. It was the first time I'd met a stranger & didn't feel like I was being judged, in spite of looking as tattered as I did. I couldn't help but smile at him. I didn't mean to venture here, I continued, I just sort of ended up here... I can't really give you an exact location as to where I'm supposed to be because I don't know where to start. I knew my reasoning wouldn't make much sense to him, but to me it did.
Well since you have no where to be, Merqutio began, How about we get out of this ugly place? I let off an overwhelming smile at the idea, & could think of nothing more that I'd rather do. I'd love to! I replied happily. He returned the smile & then turned to follow the path he'd carved on his way into the forest. He occasionally still trimmed a few branches out of the way for me with his horn in the places that were a little tighter than the rest. I wish I'd of had one of those today. I commented, making mention of how useful of a tool a horn could be. It comes in handy. Qio replied with a grin. So, can I at least ask you were you came from? He inquired. I don't blame his curiosity, for it would be a tad peculiar to stumble upon someone like myself in a no-man's land. I started out a couple days ago from the farming communities somewhere behind me, I'd lost any sense of North, South, East, & West early on the day before, & ended up where you found me. I put out an eager smile, hoping he wouldn't think too awkwardly of me after learning that I was a former 'pet'. Well that would make sense, I guess. He replied, returning my smile without a second thought. I was so relieved that my answer didn't seem to phase him. ...You see, I left because I'm sort of looking for someone... Well, I'm looking to know about someone. I started awkwardly. Oh? He inquired curiously. I paused a moment before answering. I'm looking for information on my father.
You see, I continued, He passed away before I was born & it's always bothered me that I know nothing about him or if he even knew I would come to exist. I know I will never get to meet him personally, but Mother mentioned that he'd been pretty well known in his time, so I'm hoping to learn about him from those that might have known him. I sounded so sure of something that really made very little sense at all, but I was confident I could do this task, even in spite of the offset from the past few days. I wish you luck then. Merqutio replied, still holding his smile. ...What was his name? He asked curiously, but ever so politely. Zimbarii I replied.
Qio's mood suddenly turned very serious, yet slightly excited it seemed. You're Zimbarii's daughter? He returned, as if in disbelief of the fact. I stared at him, slightly confused at why he was acting funny all of the sudden. Is that bad? I asked cautiously, hoping that my father hadn't been the kind to win his fame in an ill manner. No! He laughed, yet still remaining serious, My mother knew your father, in fact they were actually quite good friends. My heart seemed to fly at that moment, for it felt as if my father himself had sent Qio to my rescue. What was he like!? I began excitedly. Qio's smile smudged, I never got to meet him. He disappeared shortly before I was born, but I don't think anyone knew he had passed... He paused respectfully before continuing. Mother would talk of him occasionally. He had a spirit as wild as the Eastern Deserts he came from, but was very honorably & kind... An all-around good guy. Qio smiled sincerely as he spoke of him. Though it wasn't much, Qio's mother's stories of my father at least gave me a place to start. How do I get to the Eastern Deserts? I asked curiously. Qio thought to himself for a moment, calculating the best way to aid me in his head before giving me an answer. It's a few days journey North-West of here, he said, but if you don't mind my company, I'd be honored to escort you there. I grinned from ear-to-ear at the idea, delighted to hear that he was willing to guide me. Thank you so much! I replied excitedly.
Over the course of the following days, Qio lead me away from the awful Thorn Forest, through a thick & swampy Marsh until the bog waters of the Marsh dried up & were replaced with hard Earth. The further on we traveled over the barren rubble of Earth, the less & less I noticed life. The size of the rocks & hard Earth seemed to shrink the further on we traveled as well, and eventually we saw the first signs of golden sand close to nightfall on the 12th day. It was a promising sign, for I knew that meant we were getting closer, but a saddening thought as well. I'd been thankful of Qio's companionship from the beginning, but as the days went on I noticed how much I'd come to value his friendship as well. It was a confusing feeling to be dreading, yet anticipating our destination. On the 16th day we traveled completely across a sea of sand - the first full day we'd been on official 'dessert'. I was excited, as well as saddened, but I did my best to hide my worry with only the happiness within me. There's a small village not much further, Merqutio began, I think they'll be able to help you there... We should get there by tomorrow afternoon if this lovely weather keeps up. I smiled at his humor, for the desert weather had been miserably hot & left us both drenched with sweat & our mouths dry with an unquenchable thirst. It was such a strange feeling, to know that my father had once roamed these lands - had once perhaps touched the very sands I treaded on now, and yet I felt as if finding his memories out here would be like finding a single grain of sand among all the rest... But surely there was hope, I reminded myself, looking back at the strange fate that had brought Merqutio & myself together.
We finally arrived at the first signs of life around early afternoon of the following day, just as Qio had predicted. It was both exciting & depressing knowing that I was one step closer to learning more about my father, but also knowing that I would have to say good bye to Merqutio. I held my smile firmly in place, After all, this is what you wanted I reminded myself. We both kept relativly silent as we traveled along that day, up until the moment we finally crossed into the outskirts of the village. We're here. Qio let out in a less-than-eager tone. He put out a smile, but I could see through his efforts to be pleased. He seemed to be just as emotionally twisted about our arrival as I was. Thank you. I replied humbley, returning the same sort of forced smile. We stood silent for what seemed forever, neither of us really knowing what to say to the other. I wish you good luck Kih, Qio finally began, breaking our akwark silence, I hope you're able to find what you're looking for. He smiled again, but this time it was not forced. Thank you. I replied, returning his smile. I felt so lost on what to say. Well, I best be on my way... Qio began, turning to leave me. Look me up if you ever need a guide again. He smiled his regular wise-cracking smile in an effort to ease his good bye. Where can I find you? I asked. Qio turned back to face me one last time as he replied Where ever the wind blows you! & with that Qio left, returning back to the desert haze. I stood on the ends of the village for a while staring out into the desert & pondering the last words he left me with. I felt so angry with myself for not saying more while I had the chance, but hoped to the heavens that I'd get a second chance some day.
Reality quickly sank back in once I finally turned back towards the small, isolated village I'd been so eager to find. There wasn't much to the place- a few worn houses here & there, a small gathering of booths that classified as a marketplace, & a broken fountain in the middle of the town that was far beyond it's glory days. Still it held enough water to quench a thirst, & it was a welcome greeting. I very politly bent over to refresh myself; I couldn't remember another time when I'd been so thirsty. The locals didn't seem bothered by my presence there, as it was mostly a trading port for the major cities to the East & the West & new faces were always passing through. Everyone I found to ask seemed to know nothing of what I was talking about, or had never heard of Zimbarii. All they seemed to be interested in was selling their merchandise. I'm getting no where! I thought to myself after spending the rest of the day asking vendors & buyers alike for any little piece of information that might be useful. I returned back to the broken fountain upset & confused as to why Merqutio would have brought me here if no one seemed to know what I was talking about. PSSST! My ear flicked around to the origins of the faint sound. PSSSSSSSSSSST! This time my entire head moved towards the sound as my eyes scanned the corners of the market for it's creater. Over here! Nodded a figure in the shadows of a crumbling building. Upon closer inspection of the figure revealed a beautiful ivory mare, her face blackened & her mane as flowing as a winding river. Are you the one looking for Zimbarii? She inquired before I even had a chance to speak. Well, as a matter of fact I am I replied. The mare smiled & gave a nod with my reply. I knew it! She declared, You look just like him. I tilted my head in confusion. I'm sorry! She blurted out, seeing my vexed appearance, I didn't mean to confuse you Deary, it's just that when I heard you were here, I couldn't contain my excitement! Her explanation did nothing for my confusion. What is your name Dear? The mare asked kindly. Kihanni I replied awkwardly.
Kihanni... She repeated, letting the name sink into her tongue. I couldn't take the confusion any longer, & her antics were beginning to frighten me. I'm sorry, but who exactly are you again? The mare panicked, realizing she'd forgotten to explain anything in her excitment. My name is Sajiee she replied. Think of me as an Aunt of sort. She smiled humbly at me. How did you know I was looking for Zimbarii? I asked curiously, since I hadn't asked her earlier that day. You see, she began, most people here who knew of him have long left these parts. This place was once quite grand, if you can believe it. Sadly the trade has turned to favor other ports than this one, leaving it to slowly die... Anyways, as I was saying, there are a few of us old birds who were here during the glory days, as was your father. All of her blabber did little to ease my confusion. But how did you know I was looking for my father? I repeated more urgently, hoping she would come to a point soon before my head burst open with riddles. Ah, right! She re-began. When I heard an exotic looking young mare had stumbled into town earlier today, I had hopes that it would be you. ...I knew what you'd be looking for. Sajiee chuckled. You have his same eagerness about you. Her comment made me blush, but also gave me a sense of pride. I knew one day you'd find your way here. Her happiness seemed to radiate from her.
Still confused, I replied But how would you have know anything about me? I asked her curiously. I didn't think my father knew anything of me. It was an upsetting thought to think that maybe he had known of me & just chose not to know me on his own. Sajiee smiled compassionately at me. Oh if only he'd have know about you! She held her smile, giving a respectful pause. Your mothers news caught up to me only a few days after Zim left this way. I was so excited for him, for you see, he was very upset in his later years... He never fully explained to me why, but I know it was from his broken heart. Her smile faded as she continued. That's why he was always traveling. He was always looking for something to fill the emptiness... poor thing. Her eyes lit up again as she began once more, Oh! But only if he'd have known about you! I know you would have filled his empty heart a hundred times over, I truly do! I think you were the piece of his heart he'd been searching for all along, but fate was cruel to your father & wouldn't even let him be with his one true happiness... I know he loved you a thousand times over, even without knowing you, just from how hard he went in search for what you would have been to him. Her words were so full of sorrow that I couldn't keep myself from weeping as she spoke. Even without knowing you Kihanni, I know he loved you.
Part 4 • Bittersweet Memories
Sajiee's words were not at all what I'd hope to learn of my father. Discovering his pain was heartbreaking, & even though it was no fault of my own, I felt responsible for his sadness. ...Do you know how he died? I finally managed to ask. Sajiee gave a sympathetic smile, No Dear, I'm afraid not. She paused before continuing. To my knowledge, the last place he was headed to was a secluded valley, one that isn't named on any map. It has a magic to it there, & it's the only place in this world that always held a piece of your fathers heart. She continued to smile as she spoke, To find it you must only travel at night, & follow the brightest star in the sky. Once you reach the countryside, follow the trails of the woodland creatures until you come to a small stream. Follow it upstream until you reach a meadow marked by a different air about it - you'll know it once you get there. Her smile disappeared as she began to speak once more. Kihanni, I know your heart only weeps with love, but take heed not to be overtaken by the same sorrowed curse as your father. He was a noble stallion indeed, but his sadness consumed him. She became very serious as she continued. Don't burden yourself with your father's pain. The past is done, & we must only ever look towards the future. She once again began to smile, & I too shot back a small grin. Thank you I murmured, fighting my tears with my small grin. I knew inside she was right & that I should not keep dwelling on things I couldn't change, but secretly I still felt responsible for his broken heart & couldn't keep from wondering if that was what killed him.
That very night, as soon as the sun had receded beyond the horizon, I headed out following the brightest star in the sky. I knew it might have been smarter to rest up for a day before heading out, but I wanted to get away from Sajiee & the pieces of the past I had learned of earlier that day. I almost wished that I'd never left my mother in the first place, & had never discovered the things I had. It was easier simply not knowing... I quickly shook those thoughts aside, knowing that I would have always regretted it if I'd never went in search of my father, & knowing I would never feel complete until all my questions were answered. The truth can be both liberating & yet so painful.
Traveling at night in the desert was much cooler than during the day, & much more lonely. I wished that by some miracle, Merqutio would appear to guide me once more, but I knew that if I were to ever become truly independent, I had to learn to do things myself. Still, it was a long & lonely trip. The mood lifted slightly once I was finally out of the desert & life began to form around me again. I couldn't tell you how much I'd grown to miss the green life of the world. I wasn't in the greatest hurry to reach my destination on this trip, however, so I took my time as I traveled along. I was half afraid of what truth I might find once I reached the end of my journey. What if he really did die from a broken heart? was the question that was always on my mind. I knew Sajiee had warned me against dwelling on such things, but inside I couldn't shake my guilt for being his child & never giving him the happiness he so desperately searched for.
The paths the woodland creatures followed were hard to spot at first, but after a morning of sitting & watching the wildlife soon had me a skilled tracker. It didn't take long before I reached a small stream, as Sajiee had mentioned, & I began to follow it upstream. I wondered about the next portion of her directions, on how the valley would be different, & how somehow I was just supposed to 'know' when I had reached it. I didn't quite understand what she had meant entirely, or what to expect, but I continued onward_ hoped I wouldn't miss it. It was nasty work traveling along the muddy shores of the stream, & it seemed to travel on forever & a day. I passed several meadows over the next few days, but inside I felt the need to continue on, so I passed them by. The width & depth of the stream would sway from day-to-day, but it never became too deep or too fast for myself to travel. The deeper I followed it, however, the more I started to question if I had past my destination yet or not, & I slowly began to lose faith in ever finding my father's valley.
As I settled down to sleep one evening, an uneasiness came over me. I felt the intense urge to continue on, even though the sun had began to set & the darkness had already set in. Still, with the fading light, I traveled on to the next bend in the stream where the trees just simply stopped growing & a huge valley opened up in front of me that overlooked what seemed to be the entire world, or at least a good distance. This must be it! I exclaimed inside. Somehow I just knew this was the place Sajiee had been talking of. Even with the fading light, their was a glow to this place, & your eye could almost go on forever. The winds suddenly began to rage, & a chill came over me as I stood at the valley's entrance. I turned my eyes towards the sky & it's fading light to see the clouds swirling in the heavens. It was truly a bizarre scene. I became frightened. I could feel my legs begin to twitch in an instinct to flee, but my curiosity wouldn't let me leave. Suddenly, a form began to glow in the sky above, & without even thinking I knew who it was - my father.
K i h a n n i the wind seemed to scream around me. The being hovered to gaze at me, for only a moment, then began to fly through the cloudy sky. I fought so hard to follow, reaching out to my father's spirit as far as my wing would reach. Wait! I cried out, but he only smiled at me & continued on. He would not speak, nor slow; he just continued to watch me with a warm glow in his eye & a smile on his face. He seemed at peace. I followed him as far as I could, but I was never fast enough to catch him & knew inside that I wasn't meant to. I finally let go of chasing him & watched as his spirit flew on into the night sky, & inside I felt my guilt leave with him.
Somehow, even after his death, he had managed to find his happiness. Even without words, most of the questions I had inside faded. I no longer worried about if his sadness had killed him. However he had died, it no longer mattered to me. I was at peace simply knowing that he had smiled at me. I gazed up at the sky for a while longer, until all the light had vanished & all that could be seen were the faint twinkle of distant stars. It was strange to think of what had just happened, & though others would think it was only a crazy dream, I knew it had been real... I had felt him fill the hole in my heart & finally felt at ease with myself. My quest had ended, though I would never stop thinking of him. I smiled as I turned to the sky one last time, knowing that he would always be watching over me, as he always had. I was his one true happiness.
I would later discover just how special this place had been to my father, & all the wonderful faces of his past & my future that occupied it. Though I still travel the corners of the earth, I always find time to make it back to the only place that holds a piece of my father's heart, & my own.