Rise of Glie Chapter 22
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 21: Cold Dawn
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 22: A Troubled Youngster
It is spring. The first warm day of spring. Old Home still looks like the university/hospital it once was. Aware took the relatively risky job of going up onto the roof to push snow. Today he felt like going on a stroll through the halls of the east wing. Just for the heck of it, checking each room for the first time in an entire year. After opening this one he stops dead and drops his flashlight.
After realizing the significance of what he sees, he looks about, and notes that this must be the children's ward. The third floor, he suddenly remembers. How long? How long? He frets, fidgeting nervously. How long has it been here? How long does it have to go?
The five foot tall cocoon gives him the worst possible answer: it starts to turn from the pale blue of growth to the warm grey of hatching time.
"Crap!" he blurts out loud. Realizing that its occupant might have heard him, he says to it, "I'll be right back." He picks up his flashlight and runs out. As he gets to the kitchen downstairs he almost crashes into Bahitsu, "I thought you were working at Stone Mill," he gasps.
"Oh," Bahitsu says, as though that was the last thing he expected Aware to say, "Uh, the generator ... we put it in the stream today-"
"We haven't opened the valve to the river," Aware says quickly.
"The snow melting is providing enough flow," Bahitsu says, "but I'm here because the Communicator sent me."
"I was just on my way to see him," Aware says, "What'd he say?"
"<<Take this to Old Home,>>" Bahitsu pulls from his bag what looks like a frying pan wrapped in grey cloth, "<<Hurry!>>"
"The halo mould?" Aware gasps, "looks like you did all the rushing for me."
The two exchanges smiles. Aware starts gathering bedding, "It's still pretty cold up there. And he's going to be wet when he comes out."
"Oh?" Bahitsu asks. He hadn't realized what he was carrying back from the Temple, when he does, he starts squealing excitedly, "A cocoon? A new haibane? A new feather companion?" He jumps up and down, "Oh my!"
Despite the adult's rushed pace, Bahitsu has enough energy to run circles around him all the way to the third floor. Aware has trouble finding it again, checking in three rooms before encountering it.
When they get there, the warm grey cocoon has a crack in it already.
"The cocoons always are larger than this," Aware says, "Why is this one so small?"
"Don't ask me!" Bahitsu whines, "You're the elder." Bahitsu soon finds himself holding everything while Aware kneels in front of the cocoon.
After a couple of minutes, the cocoon's side busts open with several large pieces. A child bursts out with a large splash. Aware picks him up immediately. He can't be older than five years physically, with a few inches of blonde hair and the typical white hatching robe.
He squirts up the cocoon fluid and groggily feels about as Aware wipes his face with the towel Bahitsu just handed him. His cheeks are unusually high and round. The newborn squints and starts bawling, "Mommy! Mommy!" in a startlingly high pitch. His eyes are wet again instantly after Aware wipes them off. He curls up helplessly in Aware's arms and passes out.
"He's odd," Aware says quietly.
Seeing the way the hatching robe has settled between the newborn's legs, Bahitsu has the explanation for this haibane's unusual characteristics, "She's a girl!"
"That can't be," Aware says, then, after a moment, realizes that he must be right.
It is very surprising, since Aware had seen seven haibane hatch before this one, and, adding his own, all had been older teenage boys.
Roku, the would-be hero of the battle, was a girl. Why should he be so surprised? He turns to Bahitsu and asks sheepishly, "Uh, could you go to Janice's please? ... We have nothing for her to wear."
"Um ... yeah," Bahitsu nervously answers, and then takes off. It is unusual for him to utter such a response; he always has some way of spicing it up with sarcasm or, on occasion, another form of humor (when answering Shiden, he'd often say, "Back in a flash!") Bahitsu's energy seems to know some bounds after all.
Aware lays her gently on the room's bed, in a recovery position. Even in her sleep, she still cries softly. Four hours pass with her in this state, Aware guarding her. She pulls her hands up near her face, contorts her eyes into a grimace and leaps into wakefulness with a blood curdling scream.
"It's alright, it's alright," Aware assures the little girl, "You're safe here."
He finally sees her eyes are brown, full of fear and dread. "Da-" she starts to utter, then relief fills her face as she looks around, seeing his wings and halo. She leaps on him in embrace and bawls, "Angels! Finally. At last, it's over ... it's finally over."
Aware softly comforts by far the most troubled hatching he's ever heard of, "Haibane," he says, "Ashfeather. You're one of us now."
"Really?" she asks, pulling away out of the hug and looking him over to make sure he's really there, and that the wings and halo are really there.
"Really," he says, "Your wings will grow soon, and I have your halo right here. Are you ready for it?"
Anticipation fills her eyes as she sits squeemishly on the edge of the bed, watching him open the halo mould, revealing the glowing ring inside, revelling in the moment as he picks it up with the tongs.
"Careful, it's hot," he warns, "you mustn't touch it until it has taken its hold."
"Okay," she says softly, gratefully.
Aware extends his hand slowly over his head, holding the halo in the tongs. "Feather - oh," he realizes, "Well, the name can wait. Welcome to the Ashfeather Federation, may this halo be a guide to your journey here." He measures the lift upon the halo before letting it go, assured that it won't drop on her head.
The girl starts giggling, "It tickles!" It rotates about and revolves around the crown of her head in an elegant libration pattern. "Oh, thank you, Mr. Angel," she says with a grateful smile. Her face stretches as she comes to understand what he has said about it, "My ... journey here? Isn't this heaven?"
"No, sweetie," he says warmly, "We're not sure what it is exactly, but it is our world, and we are quite happy for it. Welcome to Old Home."
"What was your dream about?" he asks, then indicates her cocoon, "I mean before you hatched?"
She seems relieved that he amended the question, rather than asking her to share the obviously painful nightmare that she had woken from in the bed.
"I don't remember anything about that dream right now," she says softly, honestly.
"We are named by the dream we had in the cocoon," Aware says, "My dream was of a sad world, upon which the first of a new type of bomb was dropped. I met a friend, a companion in this world who emerged ten years before I did. It took a while, but we found that we were both different people in the same dream. His name was Flash, after the brilliance of the bomb exploding. My name is Sorrow, after the sad world in which we lived."
"Kanashii-san?" she tries tentatively.
"The other way of saying it," Aware clarifies.
"Aware-san," she says softly, "Thank you for bringing me here."
Aware takes her small hands and clarifies, "I didn't bring you here. You were brought here by the One who made the world."
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 23: Reestablished