Mor Dwa, in which the name meant ‘Sky Flower’ in Bathearian, was a town on an island named The Eastern Veil approximately 300 KM off the northeastern cost of the mainland, Toria. The harsh and destructive blizzard that parts the Miure Ocean and Koyra Ocean known as Ozamar’s Strait prevented ships and airplanes from traversing through as the eternal icy thunderstorm instantly freezes any which touches upon it. Thus locals and visitors go back and forth using the portal thereby sanctioned the Refter.
The town’s founder, whose name remains shrouded in mystery named the town after his daughter who was killed by the original inhabitants when she and her father had first arrived on its shore. A seaport town structured after the Bathearian architecture of a rough overall circular form if seen from a helicopter, with the town complex right in the middle like a nucleus in a cell. Although a small percentage of buildings influenced by the ancient Iarian architecture still exists within small sections of the town. However, the most recognizable and note-worthy point of the town was that it possessed a significant if not one of the largest concentration of Etherium in Toria which allows the deceased loved ones to return to the earthly realm, this event was called the Passage and the spirits which crossed over are called the Returned. Tonight was to be the next Passage and Hullen Ril was already late for it.
“Mother?” Hullen had asked his mother after the institute councilor first told him of the Passage. “How is it that dad could come back from the Beyond?” Sumner Ril was killed by a marauder while protecting his family from them in 1338, Hullen was only a toddler at the time. After Sumner was shot, Enoria hid with her son in the cellar before the Warrs burst in and shot dead all the marauders. Hullen was too young to remember much but the sound of his mother screaming, the crackling burst of shots, and the fear he felt stayed well within him.
Enoria Ril kneeled down and looked her son in the eye, “because my love, during the Great War of Existence, the Shepherd rescued the wife of the lord of the Beyond, Tulre from the Corrupted. The Shepherd and His Knights of Winds broke through the fortress of the Corrupted and returned her to her husband’s loving embrace. In eternal gratitude, Tulre promised that for seven days in the month of the Fallen Ways, and for every 75 years, the Shepherd’s departed flock would return and spend their days of seven with their still living loved ones.” Enoria’s sea blue eyes had always enchanted Hullen but her eyes during that brief few seconds flashed an electric current of absolute belief and conviction. Hullen remembered another thing the councilor said, “Mother, is it true then that some places would have more dead people coming back than others?” Enoria laughed at her young son’s innocence. “Yes my love, when the promise was made, Tulre created Etherium. You see, Hullen, the Etherium acts as a window in which the departed can see through, and no love, not all of Toria has Etherium. Tulre had placed Etherium all over Toria in a rather random manner and has seen fit to bless Mor Dwa with the most of it. Anyway, if the departed sees his loved ones waiting for them on the other side, then they would travel through.”
“Why couldn’t they just pass through anyway?”
“Because my love, if there is no one to receive them, the Gate Holder would not allow any of the Departed to return. But a better question would be: why would Departed return to this realm if there is no one waiting for them?”
“So I guess it also means that if the loved one is late then the Departed would think that no one is waiting and he would just go back to the Beyond?”
His mother had laughed at that, “Yes, Hullen. An absurd and unfortunate reason but it happens too.” Hullen had never thought that his childish question would come back and haunt him.
The section of Sebia Qa on the southwestern part of Mor Dwa was the location of one of the town’s jewels: the Hospital of the Martin which was built utilizing the Efversian knowledge of transmuting natural minerals into whichever properties that suited the purpose. The builders of the Martin painstakingly embedded the transmuted sapphire stones of Chericum individually into its outer walls. The beauty of Chericum is evident after sundown where the sunlight absorbed during the day reflects out after in pulsing serene blues of seas. The lights’ properties adjusts itself to the individual; from a distance, the lights were bright enough to emulate the intensity of the morning sky but as one moves closer, the Chericum reduces its intensity to a calm glow. The Martin’s towering structure along with the abundance of Chericum gave the building itself a brilliant azure which can be seen from nearly any part of the town especially during the soft intense rays of the sun during dusk and dawn. This unique building was one of the prime tourist attractions and fittingly, Honored Minister Ror designated the Martin as a town treasure.
It was 6:56 PM when Hullen parked his car on the opposite side of the hospital main entrance and waited impatiently for the flow of the vehicles to break before crossing over. Waiting at the entrance was Enoria Ril in her wheelchair and her nurse, Dennell was holding on to the handles. Enoria was watching her son come over with her patient but subtle annoyed look.
“I’m sorry, mother. There was an emergency, so I had to…” Hullen tried explaining before he reached them. Enoria simply waved him off. “Doesn’t matter, Hull, we’re already late. The Gate Holder may let your father linger for perhaps another half an hour. You can explain to both of us later.” Enoria said with her usual soft kindly voice but people who knew her would recognize that her speaking manner did not reflect her actual feelings then.
Hullen nodded instinctively and said to Dennell, “I’ll take her now, Dennell, thanks.” the 23 year old blushed and replied, “Alright, Hullen, but be sure to bring her back for checkups.” Hullen smiled and said, “Come on, when have I ever forgotten to bring her back?” Dennell looked down and said, “Urm, no. Of course you always did, I just meant…”
“Stop teasing Dennell, Hull, the poor dear.” Enoria said without looking up. “Alright, mother. I’ll see you around soon, Dennell.” Hullen pushed the wheelchair across the road. “Where are Sera and Lincoln?” Enoria asked after they crossed the road. “They’re going to meet us there, mother. Lincoln had a fight with the neighbor’s boy. So Sera has to settle it, at least for now.”
“Oh! Why would he get into a fight? He’s not usually that way!” Enoria looked at Hullen with worried eyes. “The neighbor’s boy said something about you and father, but please mother, it’s not something you would want to hear.” Hullen sighed as he said this. Enoria said nothing else and Hullen carefully lifted her into the passenger seat.
“How do you feel, mother?” Hullen asked Enoria after a silent 5 minutes of driving. There were very few vehicles now; most of them were already at the shrine, dusk was setting in and it was getting cloudy; if it rains, tonight should be a fantastic time to sleep, but I doubt we will be sleeping tonight.
“I’m fine, love. The doctor said my condition is improving. He didn’t say it but it might just be a temporary relapse.”
“He’s a doctor, mother.” Hullen said softly, “His job is to give people hope, even if he knows how it’s all going to end. What I meant was, how do you feel about seeing father again?”
Enoria gave him the smile that he fell in love with as a child. “Surprisingly, even though I have not seen your father for 20 years, it all feels like he had just been away on his usual business travels to the capital. Of course I missed him but it is not as strong as I thought it would be.” Enoria said while looking out the passenger seat. “Maybe it’s because I will be joining your father soon.”
Hullen said nothing for a while. His heart was still aching from the fact that his mother’s time would soon come, the worst was that nobody knew when.
The town’s Shrine of Aqurum was fortunately for them just a few distances from the hospital, more specifically outside the west Spiraling gate, on top of Brejen’s Hill. The road leading out of the gate ended with a forked road: the left brings them through the Swallow’s Path, and the right brings them up the curving and slopped hills of Brejen’s. The shrine itself was a relatively simple structure with a circular marble base with a diameter of exactly 15 meters, its sloping roof with a pointed end was supported by six pillars of 19 meters each. This design was a common tribute to Tulre and every shrine in Toria has the same aesthetics.
When Hullen was searching for a parking spot, he saw the faint green glow of the shrine and people walking back to their cars. Returneds are easily identifiable since they are translucent but lights must be focused on them in order to really see it, as of then, the lamps illuminating the parking lot revealed to Hullen who the Returneds were. Hullen remembered his mother saying with the exception of children, Returneds come back as if they died in their 30s, no matter how old they actually were when they passed on. This, Enoria had explained was because the Returneds represent the goodwill of the Shepherd who was commonly depicted as a youth of 30 years draped in black robes, untrimmed beard, and holding the Staff of Existence. As of such, they must have a part of his trait. Thus, from an outside point of view, it would seem to them that the 30 year old Returned woman accompanying the 80 year old man could be seen as his daughter, though it was actually his wife.
The Calling was almost over, but there were still people remaining in the parking lot. Hullen found a parking spot thankfully beside the steps leading to the shrine. The moment he stepped out he was greeted by the cries of the people as they stared at their deceased beloved with unbelieving eyes and some kept trying to touch them only for their hand to sweep through the ethereal beings. Even though they had spent weeks before preparing for this, the sight of their lost parents or spouse was still too much for them to bear, the Returned themselves however, wore vaguely flat expressions, they smiled and said some words that Hullen couldn’t hear, but Hullen guessed they were words of comfort. Hullen himself was not sure how he would feel when he meets his father for the first time after so long. Because Sumner died when Hullen was much too young, he did not have any specifically strong memories of his father and he was ashamed to know that if it were not for the family photo they took before he died, he would not even remember how his father looked like.
Hullen wheeled his mother up the sloping hill towards the shrine. There, a boy with curled chestnut hair with a few light bruises on his face went over to meet them. “Grandma!” The boy cried as he ran up and dove into Enoria.
“Lincoln, be careful with your grandmother!” Hullen scolded sharply. Lincoln gave his father a sad look, “Sorry dad. Did I hurt you, grandma?” The sad look would have fooled anybody outside his family. “Oh not at all, dear. Trust me; I’m much sturdier than I look.” Enoria and Lincoln exchanged mischievous smiles. Hullen had always noted how this facial trait was passed down from grandmother to grandchild.
Following behind Lincoln was a woman dressed in simple pale blouse, blue jeans and a white scarf around her neck. The ends of her hair only slightly touched her shoulders, with her soft brown eyes curving into soft crescents whenever she laughed. If one were to ask Hullen what was it that attracted him to Sera Yarui, it was her eyes but for him it was her personality and humble ways that he fell in love with “Could you hold on the Grandma, Lincoln?” Hullen stepped aside and held on to one handle. Lincoln’s eyes lit up, “Yes, dad!” He went to the back and Hullen gave him the handles, Hullen walked towards his wife and kissed her.
“How’s the Lincoln situation being handled?” He asked. Sera sighed and said, “Miria just wants us to pay for her son’s treatment, but other than that he should be fine.” She said in a gentle voice that had traces of disappointment and relief. Hullen touched her cheek, “Well, at least it’s over. Come on, we have to go now.”
“Hull” Sera said. “What about Lincoln?” Hullen kissed her again. “Don’t worry, I’ll talk to him when we get back, but the Gate Holder is keeping my father, so all of this would have to wait until we get him.” Sera gave a short chuckle.
“It’s just strange, knowing that I’m about to meet my father-in-law who was killed when my husband was still a child”
Hullen smiled, “Yeah, It is strange, the strangest part is that despite knowing this since I was a kid, I still can’t get used to the idea of it.”
“Well, might as well start now.” Sera said while holding his hand.
“Yeah, you’re right.”
Hullen looked back at his son and mother, “Let’s go, Linc. Your grandfather’s waiting!”