The soldiers and magicians partied long into the night after finally completing their grand task. There was still that feeling of exhilaration all the while: they had actually removed the black mist surrounding Atlantis! There was no reason not to party.
Seeing as they were a part of the exploration team, Kakane and Serena couldn’t stay long, but they were present for Kai’s congratulatory speech and a huge thanks from Mira. The blond woman was practically crying, but she was doing her best to remain composed throughout the celebrations.
Kakane, however, did not seem to be enjoying the festivities as much as Serena thought he would be. Instead, he remained towards the back of the crowd, not eating or drinking much. He was very quiet for the most part, which Serena found disturbing. She knew Kakane to be a rowdy, boorish, and hot-headed person who threw himself into any commotion without thinking twice. Actually, wasn’t he also like this during the mist removal and even before that?
It was concerning.
Grabbing his hand, Serena led Kakane out of the banquet hall and into a quiet room. He didn’t argue, yell, or fight her. That wasn’t like him at all. Serena knew Kakane would struggle and bare his fangs at anyone who dared challenge him. Was he holding his tongue because the one dragging him away was Serena? Highly doubtful, considering the time at the Bannaanka Weyn when he was grumpy over her tending to his injuries. After closing the door, Serena turned to Kakane with a concerned look, biting her lower lip.
“Kakane,” she said, “I know something is wrong. Don’t even try to hide it,” she added when he opened his mouth. “This isn’t like you. I’m worried about you. If there is anything I can do, please tell me. I want to help.”
“If you don’t feel well enough to go on the expedition tomorrow, I understand. There are plenty of soldiers, and your spot can be replaced. Just don’t exert yourself, please.”
“It’s not that,” Kakane said, running a hand through his hair. “Look, I’ve said this before: I’m fine. I’ll go on the damn expedition tomorrow, okay?”
“If you don’t want to𑁋”
“I said I’m going!” he snapped. His scar burned for some reason. Maybe he had been rubbing it too much as of late. “I… I’ve just been thinking about stuff. That’s all. It won’t distract me during the expedition, I promise.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” Serena asked, figuring King Kai probably played a part in all of this. “I’m here if you need me.”
“It doesn’t concern you,” Kakane said coldly. Serena blinked and he sighed. “I’ll be fine, for the last time, Serena.” The way he said her name was slightly melancholic, and it made her frown. “It’s late, and our day starts early tomorrow. I’m hitting the hay.”
Serena said nothing as Kakane passed her and left the room. The door slammed behind him, sending vibrations throughout Serena’s body. Without him, the space felt cold and lonely, and it wasn’t just because she was the only one in it.
Wasn’t there anything Serena could do to ease whatever internal struggle Kakane was going through? He said his inner turmoil wouldn’t affect his performance during the expedition, and Serena could only hope that he was right. Serena couldn’t help Kakane if he didn’t let her, or if he wasn’t willing to tell her about his problems. He was right; she couldn’t force assistance on people who didn’t want it.
When Serena turned to an open window, the stars somehow seemed dimmer. She couldn’t see any constellations from here either. It seemed even Mother Gaia and Creator Ouranos had even deemed this situation hopeless. Their disappearance from the night sky gave Serena that much insight. If the nurturing nature of Gaia or the wisdom of Ouranos couldn’t help Kakane, then maybe nothing would, not even Serena. But perhaps there was another way.
Serena knelt by the window and began to pray to Gaia and Ouranos, two of the first New World gods. Mother Gaia was the great goddess of nature and fertility while Creator Ouranos was the heavenly god of the sky and of innovation. In addition to those prime features, Gaia was known for being a motherly soul who guided people who had lost their way. All those unsure of what to do or what was to come implored Gaia for help. Ouranos was a figure of wisdom. Those who sought answers consulted Ouranos to open up the path.
Gaia and Ouranos were once mortals, just like Serena and Kakane, and unlike the Old World gods. They were the king and queen of a small, ancient kingdom lost to time. They were granted divinity out of their selflessness and love for each other, and for their children, the subjects of their kingdom. Upon seeing their sacrifice, the Old World gods immortalized them from the heavens and placed their image in the stars. And then their descendants painted great murals and spun tales to honor the legacy of their ancestors and patron gods, who became known as Mother Gaia and Creator Ouranos. To them, the goddess of fertility and nature and the god of the sky and of innovation, Serena prayed for the answers to Kakane’s problems, for the strength to open up his heart, and for the guidance necessary to help him. If he had lost his way, then Serena begged the gods above for the power to bring her friend back on the right track.
The day had started out so well, but how much worse were the coming events going to get?