Through the Wreckage
“Dantia!” I shouted as I reached the still flooded shore. I was doing everything in my power not to panic- I had to believe that she could still be alive out there. She knew how to swim, though I would imagine it would be difficult doing so amidst the debris that went with her.
When the waters finally receded, I immediately came to the beach in hopes that she might have stopped before reaching the sea, but it seemed that even the piers had collapsed. If she wasn’t swept out to the waters, then she had to be under the wreckage.
At first, all I could do was stare brokenly at the pile of wood, metal, and sea kelp before I rushed over to pull large pieces of debris out of the way. I prayed in my mind that she was still alive somewhere under there- all I had to do was find her. I was well aware that not many humans could survive having large structures collapse on them, but…
I could not imagine someone as strong as Dantia being dead. I did not want to think it! She certainly did not possess any physical strength, but she did make up for it in a strong will to live. She… she simply had to be alive- I could not bear to lose another loved one.
I remembered the urgency and fear I had felt back when Oria had been captured by her former elders, and the crushing pain that overcame me when I had learned of my first daughter’s death. They were both sensations that I did not want to experience again. Back then, I felt as if I had failed them- and it may not have been far from the truth. Had I acted differently and kept my emotions in check, they could very well be alive today.
But my mad search was not about my pride or my ability to be a father- Dantia was a living being who had her whole life ahead of her. I could not fail her now when she was so close to recovering from her past scars. As of late, her interactions with other humans had been much less violent.
I almost hesitate to admit that Satel might have influenced that change, either through pulling her out of her reclusive shell or by proving to her that even falucite could have similar faults as humans. I want to personally witness her forgiving her kind- and I would also like to see when she might come to decide settling down with my brother.
I continued to almost frantically shove aside heavy pieces of wood as I searched for even a tiny hint of her presence. After a while, I could hear more townspeople join me in their own efforts to find lost loved ones. I knew this matter was weighing heavily on me when I felt two warm trails run down my cheeks. The longer I had to search, the more I feared the worst.
“Where is she?” a voice inquired behind me very furiously. I took a moment to wipe at the tears on the sleeve of my coat before I stood and faced my younger brother. I was not surprised in the least that he was angry- anyone could easily ascertain what had happened by simply glancing at the damage.
I shook my head as a sign that I did not know before another bout of guilt hit me. This should not have happened- Satel may forever blame me for stealing away his chosen mate and placing her in a dangerous situation. “I do not know- there was a tidal wave, and she was swept away by the raging waters. I fear that she is either underneath the wreckage or out in the sea. …Forgive me.”
He tried to maintain his scowl, but they softened a little from my apology. He soon looked away, out towards the ocean.
“It’s not your fault- Maetira only sensed this coming just seconds before, right at the end of the ceremony. No one knew this was going to happen,” Satel admitted as he clenched his fists. No one knew- not even the Fates. That meant that someone must have acted without their guidance. That ‘someone’ was responsible for all of this.
“I believe there are sandbars a few miles off the coast. I’ll check them to see if I can find her while you search here,” my brother announced while heading towards the sea. He stopped to gaze at me from over his shoulder and added in warning, “If I find her before you, I’m taking her home- your concerns be damned.”
“Very well.” I agreed in a subdued tone. “All I wish is for her to be safe- but I beg of you to tell me when you find her. I fear that I will not be able to rest until I know she is safe and sound.”
I knew that if I did not see Dantia again, then the last image I had of her would be that scared look she had on her face before she disappeared into the water. That would forever haunt me.
“Of course I’ll inform you- I’m well aware of how much you care for her… and I know she wouldn’t want you to worry.” He was sincere with his words and I knew I could trust them. Satel then teleported off to nearby areas that he must’ve been to before.
I knew that if he should find Dantia before I, she would not be very pleased. But in all honesty, I would much rather have her safe in his arms than be subjected to more of this high-risk lifestyle. I would simply give anything just to hear that she was alive and well.
However, it was all a different matter if she was still here- depending on state of her body, I may have to give up custody so that she may receive medical aid. I would despise having her pass away on me only because of severe injuries.
I shook my head to clear it of such thoughts and resumed my search. I had to believe that she was still with us. I could not entertain the idea of her being among the casualties, even though it was a likely outcome. …I would not know what to do if she were truly dead.
After several hours into my search, I managed to find bodies of other townspeople- some were still breathing. But I had not found a single trace of my young charge and I feared that I would not be receiving help in my endeavor. The mayor made it very clear that they had no concern over her well-being, even though she did risk her life for their sakes. They simply believed that former criminals like her only redeemed themselves by such an act, but did not deserve their sympathy.
I was aware that isolated villages could not afford the luxury of trust and hospitality to all who come their doorsteps, but Port Sibest was in no such position and had no right to think the way they did. I could not figure out for the life of me why they would be as uncaring of other life like the Daedeleth clan. In return to the Mayor’s unfair judgment, I informed them that I would no longer aid them in the future- I had no use for creatures like them. Even Dantia learned how to forgive, though she might hold on to a grudge for a brief period.
The day was beginning to draw to an end and I knew I would have to give up searching soon. I did not want to, but I would not be able to function without adequate lighting. I regretfully stood and glanced up at the sky as I wondered what became of my second daughter. Was she truly under the debris? Or had Satel found her out at sea?
When I thought about it, she admitted that she was first found washed up upon this very shore, so it was possible that she could have somehow ended up on another continent. Reflecting on her unusual story further, I began to remember her nightly episodes. Could there have been a relation between her curse and the tidal wave?
Come to think of it, the ocean settled awfully fast not long after she was taken. If the theory that she was Erudian was correct, then perhaps one of the goddesses noticed her and summoned her back. I was not certain if that was good or bad for her, but it did renew my hope that she was still alive.
But if that were true, then what would happen if Satel found her first? Would he fight a goddess? Or would she bear a grudge against him should he be successful in retrieving Dantia?
I suppose there was little point in wondering about it now. I had no proof if that was indeed what was happening- and I still did not know her exact whereabouts. I was about to reluctantly head back into town when my foot knocked against something hard. I glanced at it and felt my heart crumble- there was a lone gun laying amongst the splintered wood.
Even in the waning light, I knew instantly that it was Dantia’s- her gun was unique because of the rotating cylinder that housed the ammo. I was honestly surprised she hadn’t sold it a long time ago. It was in an old prototype design of the modern guns being made today, but it was one of the first of its kind to be able to carry more than one bullet. Seeing it here made me wonder if she was under the wreckage after all. But there was also a chance that it simply fell out of her possession in the chaos.
But my fears were finally put to rest when Satel appeared before me once again and announced. “I found her- she was badly injured, but I patched her up and she’s resting in my bedchambers now.”
Relief flooded me when the information processed in my mind- she was alive and recovering. I momentarily forgot about how she was now in a situation she did not favor. I focused more on the elation of her simply being all right. “May I see her?”
There were other, more important questions to ask, like where had he found her or if he noticed anything unusual around her. I could not completely dismiss the idea that a sea creature of high authority might have wanted her for some reason, but I was more interested in seeing my charge once again. The forceful separation had frightened me more than it should have and I wanted nothing more than to be by her side and ensure that she was in good cheer. I could only imagine the emotional state she could be in at this moment.
“I’m afraid not,” my brother dissuaded me with a shake of his head. There was a rueful smirk on his thin lips as he fidgeted with his gambler’s hat. “I know you mean well, but I don’t want you to interfere again. ‘Tia will become my mate tonight and I made certain that you will not receive your powers before tomorrow morning.”
…I wonder who divulged the plan to him? It could not have been Garroe since he usually kept his word, and I was under the impression that Didra was still not on good speaking terms with Satel. I suppose it did not matter- he had Dantia and he was determined to have his way.
“Do you know why I interfered?” I inquired of him, hoping to have him realize his error before it is made. “Dantia wishes to come to you when she feels ready, and I do not think she is being unreasonable. Would it not be better for you if she chose to be with you without hesitation or doubt?”
“It can’t be helped. I know what ‘Tia wants, but there’s too much of a risk in waiting. You said yourself that part of her belongs to the sea. What if it tries to take her back before she makes her decision? I want to have a chance in keeping her if said day ever comes,” he countered with a shockingly valid argument.
My mouth refused to voice my inner worry. I believed that the tidal wave could have very well have been the sea attempting to take back its servant. Satel was right to be concerned- if he had not found her, then he would never have her for a mate. But would there be repercussions for Satel taking her? What if it was exceedingly important for Dantia to be returned to her master?
And yet, I still could not say anything. In a moment of selfishness, I privately decided to keep that information to myself- I wanted her to stay with us. But still… this was quite a complicated decision. In allowing Satel to do as he pleased, I was condemning Dantia to accept something she was not sure about.
I knelt down long enough to collect the gun and stored it away within my coat. I then stood and looked straight into my brother’s eyes. “You are aware that I have no grounds to stop you, but I implore you to seek a different path than what you are planning. If you force her, you will make her miserable, and in turn, you will become miserable as well.”
“There is no need for concern. I will not have to force her- she does want this and I’m confident she will come to understand in time. But regardless of the aftermath, I’m prepared to devote the rest of my life to make her happy. She will want for nothing,” he vowed, sounding completely serious.
In the end, he was still a naïve and arrogant young falcie. He was going to have to learn the hard way that Dantia did not think in the same way we did. …Though I regret that this would also affect her negatively.
“Speaking of which,” my brother continued as he took on a curious look. “If you still decide to take back your powers tomorrow, what will you do after? You said you wanted nothing to do with the clan, but …would you consider coming home anyway? I know it would make ‘Tia happy if you did.”
I had to admit that it was unexpected of him to ask such a thing. He usually respected an initial decision and did not try to press the matter further. But he did bring on a good point- Dantia could need me in this time of confusion and uncertainty. I was not certain if I could return home to those who allowed my parents to die and neglected to protect my daughter. However, I most likely could visit often if I so pleased- but would that be enough for Dantia?
“I will have to think about it,” I answered him. “I will most likely know my decision upon seeing her again tomorrow.”
“Very well. I do hope you rejoin the clan- for ‘Tia’s sake if nothing else,” Satel said before he dismissed himself, “I should go- I’m here with Garroe and the others to investigate this mysterious disaster. I’m sure someone will want to talk to you to get your views of the matter, so don’t be surprised if someone approaches you.”
And with that warning, he vanished to another location within the town. I let out a sigh as I placed my hand over the area where I had stored the gun. I wanted to be there for Dantia, but I was not willing to serve the clan anymore. Could I really forget the past for her sake?
It was a question of priority and when I asked myself the right question, it was easy enough to decide. Did I love Dantia more than I hate my elders?
I knew my answer, but I did not have time to really acknowledge it. In what seemed like minutes after Satel had left, someone seized my arm. I managed to turn my head in time to recognize one of my uncles, of whom I had not seen in over a century.
“You must come with me- we cannot let them find you,” he told me in an urgent tone, cutting me off from my inquiry.
I did not know to whom he was referring, but I did not have time to question further. I allowed him to teleport me away, trusting that he would explain himself later. The next thing I knew, I was no longer in Port Sibest. He had taken me to a hermit’s cabin located deep within a forest.
Just what was going on now?