The light of the two moons cast a dim light over the small village. While the outside
temperature was not unbearably hot, the villagers kept all their windows open to take
advantage of the sporadic cool breeze.
The streets of the small village were empty. However, if anyone had been roaming the dirt
paths, he or she would have seen a small figure standing at an open window on the second
story of the local inn. Occasionally, the figure moved to pace restlessly, but mostly, it
was seen leaning onto the window frame, studying what lay beneath.
Thea sighed and stared at the bare ground below her. Only a little further, she
quietly told herself. Just a few more days...
A small noise came from behind her, from the doorway. Without turning around, she knew
exactly who was there. "It's late, you should be asleep," she said, softly.
"So should you." She heard faint footsteps on the wooden floorboards, and before she knew
it, he was directly behind her, close enough to touch.
"I'm not tired," she truthfully told him. "I didn't mean to wake you up."
"It's okay, I wasn't sleeping either." She felt his hands come up and rest on her hips,
but she didn't look at him. "Are you worried about tomorrow?" he asked.
"Not really. I just hope we find what we're looking for," she said.
"I do, too."
Now his arms were completely around her waist and his chin was resting on her shoulder.
She closed her eyes and leaned back into him, inhaling the faint smell of sweat, grass, and
other lingering scents resulting from weeks and weeks of trekking through the world of
Draconia. There was something else there, as well, something else that was undeniably him,
something she would know anywhere.
She liked to think she knew him better than anyone else. As his second cousin, and part
of the royal family of the neighboring town, she had been his childhood companion almost
from day one.
She knew his secrets. She saw what his parents couldn't, or refused to, see. She had been
there whenever the other Layan children had taunted him, scorning him for being half
Orakian. However, he never complained once to Rhys and Maia. Even when he was younger, Ayn
knew that his parents believed that their marriage was a truly noble thing, that they were
the ones able to overcome the hatred that had separated Orakians and Layans for one thousand
years. Perhaps partially blinded by their self-righteousness, they failed to see that not
everyone in their kingdom was willing to forget the past.
For all these years, Thea had silently watched Ayn become more and more embittered
towards his family. He loved them, yes, but she wasn't sure if that love was anything more
than an obligation.
She frowned slightly, but he didn't see. Sometimes she wondered why he...why they were
even on this mission. He had no reason to avenge the destruction of Cille and Shusoran, and
as for finding the legendary Satellite for a safe haven for the rest of the Layan people, he
could care less about their fate. She felt that investigating the original attacks had not
been much more than satisfying his strong curiosity.
Unless it was all for her. She loved him, she was sure of it, but she had never known if
those feelings were reciprocated until the day he had rescued her from Lensol's castle.
She wasn't sure how many days she had been held captive in that horrible cell - it was
difficult to tell day from night in her windowless prison - nor was she even sure why she
was there. Curled up in a ball on the cold stone floor, she had thought she had heard
footsteps, but at this point, she wasn't sure what was real and what was the result of her
mind playing tricks on her.
The door had then slowly opened, accompanied by a high-pitched creak. She squinted into
the darkness, unable to see anything...until he stepped out of the shadows. She
stared at him for what seemed like hours, wanting to be sure that it was really him and not
her imagination. Finally, she jumped up, ran to him, and threw her arms around his neck.
"Thank Laya you're here!" she cried into his shoulder. He didn't say anything, just held
her close in a tight embrace. When the sobs had subsided, he gently lifted her head up off
of his shoulder and brushed the few remaining tears away from her eyes. Still without saying
a word, he lowered his head to gently press his lips against hers.
The memory of the kiss abruptly brought her back to the present. She was suddenly very
aware of Ayn's hands around her waist, his lips on her neck, and his long, light blue hair
brushing up against her arm, the faintest sensation...
She turned around, slowly, to face him, staring directly into his pale blue eyes just as
she had on that day he had come for her. He brushed her hair back away from her face, moving
his hands first to the nape of her neck and then slowly down her spine, back to on her hips.
She closed her eyes and let him come to her, anticipating the soft touch, the slightly salty
taste, the warmth of the contact. Leaning into him, she sighed, a peaceful, inward sigh.
They belonged together. She knew that. From an early age onward, she had always known
that there would never be anyone else for her, there would never be anyone else she could
love completely and selflessly; aside from her father (and, to a much lesser extent, her
aunt and uncle), she cared about no one else.
Ignoring the fact that they had a long journey ahead of them the next day, she pulled him
closer, closer, never wanting to leave him again.
* * *
Thea picked up a handful of dirt and slowly let it fall through her fingers. Wiping away
the beginnings of a few tiny tears with her sleeve, she stepped back from the grave, feeling
the stares of her four companions.
Fifteen and orphaned, not to mention homeless. What a plight. However, she refused to let
herself think of where she would go in the future; for now, she had to concentrate on the
She turned around to face Ayn. "We can leave now," she softly told him.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." She picked up her slicers and dusted them off. In the distance, a small cluster of
buildings was barely visible. She hoped that once they got there, they would find some
That night, Thea found herself in a small room incredibly similar to the one in which she
had spent the previous night. This time, though, she could see the ocean from the small
window. Captivated by the reflection of the two moons on the dark water, she didn't even
hear the footsteps behind her.
"I didn't think you'd want to be by yourself tonight." The voice startled her. "I only
wish he could have lived long enough to see your people find a new home."
Normally, Thea would have flinched at the word "your" instead of "our", but this time,
she let it go by. "What if there is no 'new home', Ayn? What if we don't find anything
tomorrow? He would have sacrificed his life for nothing!"
He silently strode across the small room so he was standing right next to her,
uncomfortably close had it been anyone else. "Your father died in an effort to save his
family, his kingdom. Even if we are not successful tomorrow, it was still a noble thing to
do and he won't ever be forgotten because of it."
She stood there for a moment, unable to say a word. Finally, she let him take her into
his arms yet again, seeking comfort in a familiar place. He held her close to him and
stroked her hair, letting her cry as much as needed.
"I've never felt so...alone before," she wept.
"You're not alone," he whispered to her, kissing the top of her head. "You'll never be
* * *
She rested her palms on one of the many windows, feeling the cool, smooth surface on her
sweaty hands. It was over. It was finally over. There would be no more desperate searches,
no more tiresome battles, only peace. Peace for the Layan people. For her and Ayn.
Beneath her, the stars swirled against the intense black of the sky, making her conscious
of all she had learned that day. Never had she imagined that her home was part of a giant
spaceship, endlessly travelling across the universe, or that the moons she had always gazed
at were man-made satellites. But they were here now, on the blue satellite Azura, and the
Layans would soon come to their new home.
Soon after they had defeated Siren, the group had split up to explore the satellite and
see if it would make a suitable place to live. To their surprise, parts of it had already
been somewhat developed and Thea had wandered into one of the larger "rooms" to try to
organize her thoughts.
She picked up one of her slicers and absentmindedly ran her fingers over it, feeling the
nicks and scratches that had resulted from countless conflicts with the renegade machines.
Turning it over and over in her hands, she continued to look through the strong panes of
glass at everything that seemed to be spread out before her.
"It's incredible, isn't it?"
She had been expecting him. "Amazing," she replied, turning around to face him. "It's so
beautiful and serene, I can't wait to bring our families here, not to mention the rest of
the survivors. I'm sure we'll all be so happy here..."
He didn't say anything, only stood in the entrance to the room and stared at her. Unable
to interpret the expression in his pale eyes, she broke the silence. "What's wrong?"
He ran a hand through his fine blue hair, searching for the words he wanted to say.
Finally, he opted for simplicity. "I'm not staying here," he told her.
She cocked her head to one side, not understanding. "But Ayn, where else can you go?
Cille and Shusoran lie in ruins, there's no way anyone could stay there," she said, stating
He looked past her, eyes fixated on some unknown point behind her, refusing to make eye
contact. "I'm going back to Landen." He paused. "With Sari."
Thea's eyes grew wide with shock, but he didn't see it. "After all these years, I can
finally correct all the mistakes my father made. I can go back to Landen and reign over the
people he abandoned when he wed my mother. By marrying Sari, I can begin to fix all
my father destroyed."
Again, silence dominated the room. "You don't love her," she said, the words barely
"You don't love her." She turned to stare out the window again, unable to look at
him. "How can you turn your back on your own family? On the other people you nearly died to
"You mean the people who ridiculed me for my entire life."
She ignored the interruption. "The people of Landen don't know you, Ayn. Nor do they need
you as a leader. We need you, now more than ever. You say your father abandoned his
people to rule the town of Cille; if that's true, what makes you any different?"
He didn't answer right away. "I've already made up my mind to go, I'll be leaving in the
morning." He hesitated for a moment, waiting for her to speak. When there was no reply, he
turned around and left, without saying a word.
She waited for him to come back. She knew he wouldn't leave her this way. Closing
her eyes, she waited for the sound of the footsteps, the sound of his heavy boots scraping
against the worn stone floor. Eventually, she realized he wasn't coming. One tear slowly
fell, followed by another, and before she knew it, Thea was sobbing uncontrollably, curled
up on the floor. This time, however, there was no one there to brush the tears away.