In a far away land, a young hunter stood on the shore of a beach, the sunlight slowly sinking beneath the waves, the spray of salt on the wind dancing through his golden feathers. He breathed in this moment of the world, watching the vestiges of light die over the horizon, feeling something awaken in him that he had always tried to fight - something desolate and quiet, gnawing deep in his gut. His eyes remained ever against the sea, the waves crashing in gorgeous sprays of red and orange, the water as warm as blood against his slate-colored scales. On the body of the hunter were painted stories. They were the stories of his life, and the life of his ancestors and comrades. All of his triumphs and all his promises carved in gold and blue, shades of green and red to play against the grand tales. In the darkness they seemed to glow, never once accepting dullness or defeat among their scope. Only temporary defeats or promises of ‘until next’ for the comrades whose faces he had begun to forget since their roads parted. He still carried their stories. He would remember, lest the world forgot. The warrior sighed, his tail dragging against the warm sands as he stepped away from the edge of the endless ocean, its potential and its danger beckoning him as it had always done. Back to a city called Regalia, where he had won so much honor, celebration, riches, savagery, pain, and love. A place where grieving was rich and the stories flowed as deep as the glasses people drank from. He directed himself back to the tree line, and the small hut at it, away from the city and lined with its own dock, his fathers’ old ship floating against the walkway. As the light faded behind him, the stars breaking in the clear sky, the Allar stepped into the comfort of his home, closing the door behind him, unable to hold back the dam in his heart. Though he passed by his bed, hiding himself in the confines of a small room, cleared out for the purpose of a small structure, the pungent smell of incensed alchemies burning in his nose, a list of names on the board - well, two names: one ancient and one as fresh as the rains that began to fall over the ancient land. It was the second of these names that the Allar focused on. And it wasn’t grief that first met him, but again disbelief. The question that maybe there was a chance, maybe their paths would cross again and they’d drink and laugh this whole tragedy away. Maybe if he was there, he could just find the clue to make people realize, to make the world see that the story wasn’t done. That there was no death to report, only some grand strategy. Exactly, it was all a strategy… but he knew it wasn’t. He couldn’t lie to himself. And that was what broke him. He tried to blink away the tears that filled his eyes. The way his heart ached, filled with the grief and sorrow that he had always ran from. But it was here, as present around him like a shroud, smothering his breathing and ripping haggard, great breaths from him. He collapsed onto his knees, his head hanging as he bared his fangs, letting out all his shame, weakness, and frailty. He wanted to go back, to make sure that he could ensure a final goodbye, to make it matter, to have been brave enough to feel. But it was too late for that. The ending of that story would forever be left unwritten. The young hunter turned his eyes back to the memorial. With tears still burning hot in his eyes, he pulled out a small bottle of purple paint, faintly glowing in the darkness of the closet. All the stories that would never be told or sung, all of the stories that were lost… they were all his to bear. More than anything, he missed them. He missed what he wanted to become, which felt far and foreign from him in this moment of abandonment. He was alone… but he was only ever truly able to grieve when he was alone. Dipping two claws into the paint, he traced over the image of three Maz-Allar right next his heart, branding them with the rich honor, lighting their raised weapons in the royal shade. Right beside it, he carved a new memory, drawing the image of a familiar Allar warrior as nobly as he could over his heart, layering him in the patterns of life and the stories that would never be told. His tears began to still, his hand becoming gentle as he dug the paint deep into his scales, burying the tattoo into his skin. The rest of the dye he surrendered to the memorial, painting the image of that noble warrior right next to the alchemist, stoic and life-loving, always carried in the eternity of stone when the warrior’s own body could no longer carry the memory. There were few things he feared, but loss was one. And no matter how much he could try, he was unable to hold onto everything. He only wished that he had been given a little longer… just one last goodbye, one final moment to lay out all he wanted to say. But he had to bury it deep, accepting that the moment was gone. That he was gone. Lloxern didn’t sleep that night. He grieved, his heart bleeding dry, until the sun rose. As dawn touched the shore once again, the Allar set off, sailing into the sea, trying to run into the freedom of uncertainty.