We were very late coming in because we were forced to fly out of the way of a number of snow-storm fists and lost a lot of air. Our flyers had to work hard to find rukamoy to get us height, in the hills below the Yeola-e mountains.
The flight of us were very high over the city and it looked like a glowing eye against the dark earth, the brightest high-light the spot that was the Marble Palace.
It was the smell of home that reached me first. Cooking stoves and beef in all its various forms,whiffs of tanneries just outside the walls, the stinks of industry, fading this late, sleeping, waiting for their renewal in the morning. Even through the dim rush of the street washing I could hear the ring of bells marking Kallijas’s return to the city.
Someone would have been watching for our kraumak’s lights on our wingtips and noses. We circled down to the people waiting on the Marble Palace roof. Was that…? Oh Ten! Oh Ten… they’re back they’re back early OH wonderful!
Gannara came to our landing circle… and Farasha… and my mother, holding what I assumed was my little sister… and Kyriala. She was wearing white and silver, her hair shining in the landing lamps. She shone like a Selestial messenger, one of the angels of the Ten.
I was vaguely aware of the rest of the flight landing as my flyer and I moved out of the way to let the last of the entourage settle. Gannara seized me in a hug, and Farasha, I was wrapped in arms and buried in their hugs. “I missed you, I missed you… oh, I missed you both so…”
What the Hayel… I kissed Gannara then because his face was closer the way I had my head turned… and then Farasha. Why should I not kiss my loves… the way Kallijas kissed and was kissed by his alesinas? Kyriala had her head tilted toward mother and our eyes locked and I was kissing Farasha and sparks were flying up and down my body and I had to close my eyes to pay proper attention.
“We missed you too, Minis.” Gannara was thumping on my back now and I came up to breathe.
“Hello, Min,” Farasha whispered in my ear. She let me go with a little push toward Ky, who stepped up to me, holding out her fan, and a smile. I didn’t have anything... my finger came out to touch the tip of her fan and I was blushing as hard as… as… when Gannara was kissing me… I was on fire all over... “Serina… thank you for being here to meet me,” I said breathlessly.
Her smile was sweet and she was wearing rose perfume, I was certain of it. She – very slowly, drawing my hand with it -- turned her fan around, bringing my gloved finger to rest, gently against the inside of her arm just above the wrist. It was as though I could feel the heat, the glow of her skin through both the silk of her sleeve and my kid glove. I was panting, trying not to show it, as heated as if I’d been running instead of flying. Thank the Ten I’m home… I missed you. I missed you desperately.
“Welcome home, Minis. I haven’t seen you in a whole eight-day.”
Now I wasn’t panting, I was light-headed, holding my breath and Farasha came to fling her arms around Ky in a way that I couldn’t do in public, but she held Ky with one arm and me with the other… and Gannara came up to hold us both the same way. Propriety was maintained and we could all be in a knot of hug hello.
“Welcome back my son.” My mother was behind Ky’s head and she didn’t even look disapproving, one of the easiest of expressions that Mahid could take. Everyone was nearly packed up and Gannara nudged me as I made my nod to mother. My sister was fussing and squirming in a way that I had never thought a Mahid infant would be allowed to, before.
I turned to see what he was pointing at and saw Laisa and Kallijas standing. Just standing by one of the great landing lamps, his seal-graced hand outstretched, barely touching the tip of her offered glove. She was still in her flying leathers, having just unhooked like the rest of us. They weren’t saying anything, just...standing, looking at one another as if they’d been apart, even though they’d just travelled together to Yeola-e and back.
Ky turned her head. “If my friend can be allowed accompany him to Yeola-e, I insist I be allowed to come on the next visit.” It felt as though my head were ringing like I'd been hit with a board. Perhaps a board with a nail in it.
“But would that be… um… proper? I’d love to show you Vae Arahi… but…”
“I have a chaperone who has learned to relay as well as fly herself. Don’t worry, Minis, tongues would flap with or without her.”
“Oh. Well, that’s all right then.” She insists on coming with me. She insists! Oh good, oh shen, oh good, oh Ten!