“We’ll be okay,” he tells me.
I nod and keep my eyes locked on his calm, broad human chest. My father’s words play through my head with a vigor that’d crush any flute.
He is a forbidden creature. This is the way it must be.
He reaches his hand out and grasps mine. His fingers are delicate stubs, inefficient for hunting in nearly every way, but of course, that is not his profession.
“Are you prepared?” I ask, my voice quavering. I can’t help but shrivel at the thought of him leaving for good.
“You needn’t worry.” He tucks a loose curl behind my ear. I love it when he does that. His words make me feel safe. I don’t know whether I’m tricked into believing so, or if I know this on my own, but his words feel truer than anything.
My father sits next to me on his throne. I’m on my throne beside him. Mother is gone, as gone as she has ever been.
A servant enters, as was rehearsed last evening. “My humblest regards, King Matrion.” At the mention of the king’s name, the servant, guards, and townspeople all drop to a knee and bow. “And princess Cecilia.”
I give no acknowledgment.
“You may rise.”
The servant rises. The crowd follows.
“Ahem. I am pleased to announce word from our sorcerers’ that the Spectral Comet will arrive in precisely one hour.”
My father grunts. “It is our time,” he says. His goblet clashes onto his jewel-encrusted armrest.
Bitter hatred brews like a storm in my stomach, and I turn my head away. Real profound, father.
“Bring me the weaver,” he says.
My hate is replaced by angst.
He can’t do it. I’ll stop it all.
I love him.
The guards closest to me embrace their weapons as my love appears within the crowd, escorted by more of father’s men.
He looks so handsome with his garish ceremonial clothes, and for a moment I consider how lucky I am.
The group of men reach the front of the crowd and the guards disperse to reveal him. Nobody speaks. We study him.
It’s almost everyone’s first time laying eyes on a human. It’s supposed to be mine as well.
He stares into my father’s eyes. I don’t know if he realizes this is a display of disrespect.
My father sips from his wine. “You do your people a great service by sacrificing your name.”
Blood flows to his tan cheeks as he nods his head slightly.
“Get on with it then,” my father says, reclining on his throne. “It is almost night.”
The crowd and guards mimic my father, shifting and making themselves comfortable.
I stay on the edge of my seat, wishing and hoping the weaver’s words from the night before are true.
At the center of the courtyard, he surveys the onlookers. He raises a hand to his chin in a particularly human gesture that I have learned displays curiosity.
Inhabitants far and wide came to see his ceremony. He is not familiar with them. They came for him though, to hear the story of the Spectral Comet. A story known and told by humans since the beginning of time, shared once every eighty-seven years. They also came for what happens after the event. For the weaver’s sacrifice.
My father has been tense since my birth. Since his birth, I imagine. He has tortured himself in anticipation of this ceremony. The harvests of the following eighty years rest on his ability to conduct the ceremony correctly. He drove my mother away.
He clears his throat, that little ball distinct to human males jumping in the middle, and he begins.
At first, his voice is soft. So soft, I have trouble hearing. But I do hear, and what he speaks of has the undeniable rhythm and soul of the ancients. Of time before time, when nothing but soulless forms streamed in the sky during the brother moons’ thousand-year reign. If his voice were played with a flute, the song would be one of joy and happiness and peace. All this washes over me with the gentleness of his affirmation, we’ll be okay.
I can see the audience feels the same. I look to my left. Yes, even father’s shoulders are relaxed.
His voice quickens, and he looks at me. That change in pace is meant for me. His elegant words sink through my skin and grip my very heart.
The crowd listens. The guards listen. My father listens.
The human weaver tells of the trials of our world, and I feel the pain and the lessons, a thousand years and a thousand lives over. This is what it took for us to get here, his words say, and I don’t simply hear them, I know.
In the crowd, someone cries out though I don’t hear what they say. They scream with enough volume, but I choose to only hear his words.
The comet blazes into the sky. Its bright tendrils echo his words and they say yes, yes. This story is truer than you know. They guide me to believe.
The crowd is moving, swaying side to side, and the guards and my father have drooped far into their chairs.
I have not. His words have the same control over me, but instead, they inspire. He is not selfish with his power. He doesn’t induce me to sleep, he gives me life. He fulfills my trust. With every word I anticipate, I’m rewarded ten-fold.
His words are drums, beating the comet through the sky. I always heard it streamed fast, that if you blink you may miss it. Yet the glossy white figure hardly moved. It melted. It reminded me of a spell my mother had once shown me. She paused the rain in the sky, and the drops of water hung like chandeliers.
I was as amazed back then at my first introduction to magic as I am now at this gentle human figure, outlined by the lustrous blue of the comet.
His words end and I feel jolted. Clearer. My heart picks up in my chest and my breaths gain weight.
I look around me.
The guards are asleep. The crowd, too. My father is next to me, lying back on his chair. His eyes are sealed shut, his lips pursed, and I guess that he was trying to say a word that would be quite familiar to me--weaver.
A hand touches my shoulder. I turn toward the weaver. I jump up to him and for a moment it’s just us. Everyone else around is stuck.
The world is ours.
He hugs me tight and over his shoulder I see the comet pause, illuminating the sky, brighter than any star, and I feel this moment will last for all time.
He separates from me and stares into my eyes. His hands hold my arms and I fold mine under his. He’s warm. His smile and dimples, his deep, noble eyes--I have seen them before but they strike my heart as if it's the first time I’ve ever loved. Perhaps, this is true.
He bends to a knee in front of me and rests my hands in his. He looks at me from beneath the glossy sky. A pool of tears lies at the bottom of his eyes. A silent stream breaks free down his cheek.
Streaming. Inviting. Inspiring to love. We are going to be okay, his tears say. Safe.
“Where to?” As he speaks these words, the comet fades away with lightning speed and night shifts to day, then back to night, and this happens over again in a never-ending series.
It’s just us.
The changing sky, Spectral seasons, and us.
“I-I have nothing to say.”
He stares into my eyes, and I feel for the first time in my life that this is exactly where I should be. “Nothing,” he says.
I believe that there is no flute that could mimic the love in these words.
The Spectral Comet flickers once more in the night sky as it cycles into day.
He closes his eyes. I close mine.
He gives me a kiss that holds the energy of the universe and continues on forever.