Chapter 44: Without, Part II

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 1134

No one paid any notice as Zidane stood across the room, and within moments Lance could feel his impatience burning. Ezyta hummed a sigh. The servants broke away from their task, a slight panic spiking into them as Ezyta's hair floated down. Lance thought he saw slight curls of light—energy moving up the strands.

Ezyta didn't speak. Instead, Lance felt the emotion of her question as clearly as though she'd spoken aloud. Zidane tossed her an object and Lance watched it sail, guided in front of her face by energy towards the very end. Her eyes opened as the scroll did and after a moment of reading, she smiled.

Another pleased hum came from her as she sat upright, turning to Zidane. "What would I do without you?"

The crossbreed stayed standing, glare lightly etching into his face as Ezyta looked back, closing the scroll with a pinch of her hand. It vanished with a horizontal close of two fingers, but Lance barely saw this. His eyes were caught by Ezyta's ears; before, when he'd been this close with a clear view of her profile, the moon-lit orphanage room had made it too dark to see much detail. But now the piercings were more than evident, and even in comparison to the last memory of seeing her from a distance, Lance could tell the number of earrings had grown. There was some significance about all six of them, but what exactly he didn't know.

"Number of earrings represent life achievements," Zidane told him.

"Oh, right."

Ezyta turned to Zidane again, her earrings sounding against each other as her head moved. "There was another deal with this task, wasn't there?"

Zidane's expression didn't change, but the small brightening of his eyes was more than enough. Ezyta looked away, the slight smirk on her face telling Lance the relaxation was wearing off. "We're almost done with scavenging, so it won't hurt to begin the resurrection process. First, we need a memory. Close your eyes."

Zidane shut his eyes, listening as Ezyta kept speaking.

"Now think of her. Get a vivid image; the clearest one you can."

The seconds went by and the walls Zidane held around himself started to come down. The change was slight; only physically noticeable by the relaxation of his forehead and slight rest of his shoulders. His emotions, Lance sensed, were a different story; those barriers were sliding off, layer by layer. Every time Ezyta spoke into the silence, her voice was quiet and almost kind.

"Imagine she's here with you," she said. "Right here beside you. Take every bit of it in."

The pause was longer this time, long enough for Lance to feel the change in the room, feel how calm it had become. Zidane's emotions had grown louder; that sense of bliss radiated from him now. Lance felt a sting below his eyes.

Ezyta continued speaking, kindness dripping from each word.

"And realize she will always be gone."

Lance looked to her, seeing the smirk on her face and feeling his stomach plummet. This was the first genuine smile she had given Zidane and nothing about it was right.

Her words were still in the air, pressing down and still making it hard to think. Zidane opened his mouth, trying to form a question when Ezyta's laughter cut through.

"You actually thought it could be done!" she said. "That's what your first mistake was. The second was trusting me."

A muffled laugh sounded against her fingertips. Her hand flourished away from her face. "I almost wish there were more of you! Think of the work I could get done."

The realization finally caught up to Zidane. "There isn't a way?"

"Oh, of course not," Ezyta said, seeming horrified. "Do you really think the soul would want to go back after all its experienced? The simple fact we even got that much out of resurrecting someone was incredible."

"What are you talking about?"

"Nothing but intellectual babble for something so uneducated." Ezyta waved him off. "I know Gurenok was attempting to influence my emotions when I was about to make that 'deal' with you, but for the record there's nothing I feel close to sorry for. There's no reason for me to."

Zidane was silent. He stayed standing, staring at the ground close to Ezyta and not doing anything else. Ezyta slipped one of the rings off her finger, turning it between two fingers.

"You're no longer of any use for me."

Zidane shook his head after a moment, seeming to be answering some question inside his own head. Ezyta glanced at him and then, realizing he was still here, looked to her left. As if her gaze had summoned him, Gurenok appeared in a miniature tidal wave of fire, the flames dispersing at his feet shortly after the wave crashed down.

"Yes, Miz Ezyta."

"Get rid of him."

Gurenok looked to Zidane and to Lance's surprise, gave a soft smile.

"Of course, Miz Ezyta. I commend you on finishing your task of care."

Ezyta glared at him, and for the briefest of seconds, Lance felt a transparence of energy—quick lines darting between her and Gurenok. Gurenok just smiled.

"I realize this ordeal has been painful for you," he said to Zidane, giving a small bow, "but, thank you for sticking through. You've been a wondrous help."

With eyes darker than coal, Zidane looked to Ezyta, then to Gurenok. His mind was still two minutes in the past, still listening to the fact he would never see Kyrene again. He didn't respond.

"Leaving is in your hands now," Gurenok continued. "Think of yourself in the place you'd like to be, fully feel yourself there, and the energy will do the rest."

Zidane looked away, staring off to the side at nothing in particular. He didn't move, allowing Lance to notice Ezyta's anger rising. Zidane stood up on the balls of his feet, neck craned to the ceiling. Lance sensed the slash, sensed how it deflected away, the violent energy embedding into the wall.

Ezyta growled, and for a moment, Lance thought of Kyrene, that feral roar ripping through Lanquim's street. Looking at her now, the delicate features, Lance was sick to his stomach seeing the similarities. The growl faded into words.

"To think I'd care for something as disgusting as you. You're a product of idiocy—a flaw in our timeline. Death is the only thing you deserve."

Fire erupted at Zidane's feet, swirling around his legs and upper-body. Hiding the sight of mirth in his expression.

Lance was hanging between space and time. The moment was stretched, thoughts and realizations and seconds catching up to the present moment. And then in a flurry of descending fire Zidane was somewhere new. Lance briefly noticed a small apartment room before Zooka crashed into Zidane, the impact of her hug nearly causing him to fall over. He stumbled, instinct placing a hand to her back. Beneath the blank slate of his face, Lance sensed other emotions quietly buzzing through like static. Confusion, and something like fear.

Zooka gave him a squeeze, tightening the hold. "I'm so happy you're back!"

Zidane didn't respond, his hand didn't move, but his eyes shifted a few shades. In a way that was so subtle Lance barely noticed it, Zidane added the tiniest bit of weight to the hand against Zooka, moving her to him a bit more. Another voice broke their silence.

"You've found your way back."

Kazuo stood close by a doorway, kind smile on his face. Zooka's hold softened enough for her to rest her head against Zidane's cheek, grin beaming.

"He's back!"

Zidane curved his lips into a small smile, and Lance felt something from him that he hadn't before. It was slight; breaching out from a layer of stone. The feeling of belonging somewhere.

Submitted: December 04, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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