Delia's Journal, Book 2

And so it has finally happened - the little journal that Ellik gave me on my tenth birthday has been filled. It somehow seems auspicious that it has happened just after my brother and I are reunited.

Kern stopped by the Fin last night with that odd bodyguard of his, the S'pht K'thias. I told him of my good fortune in having my brother in my life once again... he seemed genuinely pleased to hear this news.

He is wearing himself out with this magical fight of his to protect the S'pht, but it certainly is not my place to admonish him. It seems he has enough "mothering" from K'thias in any case. I did mention my concern, however, and it seemed to touch him that I should be thinking of him so.

So many things happening, so very quickly. First a visit to Ellik's ship that I did not know he had, and of course Ellik said I should have asked. Oh, sometimes I do want to throw something at my brother! (Something soft, of course.) His ship is the Goldeneyes, and it is very large compared to Jason's tiny ship. Because of the fear of a possible impending disaster, of which I will speak in a moment, I stayed aboard his ship that night far out in Cygnus space.

Last week, in our meeting aboard Captain Galand's ship, I learned of a vile terrorist named Thompson who was threatening to explode hideous nuclear bombs if the Council did not pay his ransom. As of three nights ago, only a day before Thompson's deadline, the remaining bomb had yet to be found. This is the reason the Goldeneyes, with Ellik and Delia on board, hid. His lady Kibra asked him to be safe... so of course, he must. Ellik wanted to be sure I was safe as well, though I had some sense of unease at this feeling of running away.

The next day, the day that Thompson was to set off his second bomb, Ellik did not go to the Council meeting. In fact, the Stormhaven Speaker, Rokhan, asked Ellik to convey his assistant to a safe place. While I ran com for Ellik, we took Lady Jessica back out to the safety of Cygnus space. She was even less pleased to be running away than I had. I like this Jessica Del Sol... we have made some tentative plans to meet some evening to talk.

And last night... oh, my! What a night!

First, I met with Kern again. I do not know what to think. When first I met him, I was content enough to flirt with him, but now... now I think I have become too serious in his presence. And when last night he laid his hand against my face... I did not know what to think. I am frightened, I think. I like him and do not want to lose his friendship, but I am afraid that he might think I feel more for him than I can. What do I feel? I just do not know.

Of course, as usual, we were interrupted... this time by his communicator. I think I am beginning to expect that when talking with him.

After he left, I went back downstairs, thinking that perhaps I would have dinner. As I sat thinking about what I might eat, I heard the leopard behind me speaking of Ellik. Why I did not immediately note when I came downstairs that she must of course be Ellik's lady, I do not know. Preoccupied with Kern, perhaps.

So many meetings to be had in the Fin! I did walk over to the table where she sat with a companion and inquired if she was, indeed, the Lady Kibra. Immediately, she recognized me from photos Ellik had shown her... I have not changed so much as I had thought in eleven years.

Oh, and such a meeting it was! Joyful, wonderful, delightful... so many good things! I can easily see why Ellik is so in love... Kibra is... ah, what words can I say? Perhaps it is enough merely to say I am overjoyed to have a sister such as Kibra. And even more wonderfully exciting news! Kibra will be having kits!

Oh, I think perhaps Ellik, in his inscrutable way, told me that some nights ago when he was speaking of children. Long ago, I could decipher his subtle and enigmatic words... too long I have been away from him, I think, to still be able to always understand when he is trying to convey some bit of information.

And I met so many other people... Gigan and Loki and Moira, with whom I had spoken once before, and Eimi. Such a wonderful group of friends Ellik and Kibra have! But this should not in any way surprise me... Ellik's friends always were very fine individuals. (Though in defense of my other siblings, I must admit that Delia was the only one to vex Mama with the company she sometimes kept.)

Ellik came in to join us after a time... such a noisy occasion this was! Hardly could I keep up with the conversation swirling around me.

Kibra left soon after, but not before we made plans to speak further and get to know one another better. Oh, it feels so very very good to have family again!

Oh, and then that Ellik! To speak in front of all about seeing Eimi and Kibra... the most excellent doctors, both, I am sure... it made me so angry. For him he wants me to see them, to help with the limp and the scars and the pain. So angry was I that once again Delia said words without thinking of their consequences, and I told him that if I did such a thing it would be for me. Oh, no sooner were the words out of my mouth than I regretted them. I could see the hurt in those gray eyes. Why do I always do that... say things I should not?

It is because Ellik is my brother and he is the one I trust more than anyone... to be honest with him. Better explaining I could have done, made the words softer so that he would understand and not be hurt to know that this is something I know needs to be mine... that I must take that step toward healing because I, Delia, wish to be whole... that doing this the right way is the only way to heal hearthurt at the same time.

And, too, I am so very frightened. What if these very excellent doctors, Kibra and Eimi, should say that so much damage was done by Toisu and infection that indeed I can not have children? Really, that is something I do not want to know... not now. I think knowing that truth would be worse than not knowing any truth.

All these ten years, I have tried so hard to be strong and brave like Ellik, and in this matter I can neither be strong nor brave. Almost funny it would be, if it were happening to someone else, to think I can face Toisu soldiers with more and better weapons than I... and I can not face the truth about this part of myself. No doubt Jason would find this amusing, though he would still have kind words to say to me.

Ellik left then, an errand to run, he said. Sadly I sat until Moira began playing her guitar and singing. Such a beautiful song she sang, so very full of love. Again, I wished that perhaps someday I would feel that way about someone.

And then, indeed, Ellik did return... with yet another friend, Isabeaux. Oh, but this sweet fur had been captured and held by slavers! So very angry I became when Ellik mentioned this to me. If there is anything to be called the most loathsome thing in all of space, it would be slavers. Though I only have just met her, I did say to her that should someone try harming her, I would be there and it would not bode well for the ones who would try to hurt her.

Far more terrible, I think, is her inner hurt than mine. For many moments, I even wished that Jason was there, because he would know how to help pretty Izzy. For all his incomprehensibility, he had insight into things I think I will never understand.

But at least the evening ended, and home I came to fall right asleep in my garden of a bed. And today, I sit quietly looking out my window at the gardens below... writing... thinking... wondering about the future.

A happy evening I spent this day. I went, as usual, to the Fin... it is, almost, an extension of my home, I think sometimes. And why not? It is the place where I have been the happiest, and the place I have found the most camaraderie.

Although Kern was not there tonight... and still, I wonder what I feel about him... I met Moira and Loki there, and later Ellik arrived. Ellik... oh, my brother has not changed, except that perhaps he is even kinder and more generous than ever before. It seems that Myra, who is a computer program... and artificial intelligence... and no, I will not even being trying to understand this... well, it seems Myra does not have a... a what? A backup copy of herself? Such a state of affairs seems catastrophic for a computer program, and yet... Myra is so real, she truly seems to be a person. As such, is seems... peculiar to have a backup. It was, of course, Ellik who brought this state of affairs to the attention of Loki and Moira, and together the three of them worked with Myra to find a way that should would be comfortable with such an archive. And, not surprisingly, Myra chose to keep this archive on Ellik's ship.

Ellik is so modest, saying only that he tries his best to be himself. He does not understand, I think, how much those around him value him, how much they care for him and respect him. I have always known this about Ellik, his selflessness when it comes to his family and friends. He simply will do whatever he must to help them. For instance, last evening Isabeaux made a comment that a friend, who she thought should remain secret, helped her and others escape from their captivity. I would not be in the least bit surprised to someday discover Ellik had a hand in that. And tonight, his caring for Myra... No, these things do not surprise me at all.

This is one of the things about Ellik that I love so much... and what I missed so much these past ten years. Though perhaps Jason might come close, there is no one else as unselfishly caring as my brother. He makes me proud to be a Shodi.

And perhaps here, at Dreamstar, I no longer have to hide the fact that I am a Shodi. As Ellik said this evening, these people stick together. I am beginning to understand that if there was, indeed, a threat to Ellik or even myself because we are Shodi... it would be short-lived and swiftly dispatched by any number of people at Dreamstar whose lives Ellik has touched.

I am doing it again, am I not? I have to chuckle at myself sometimes. I truly can not help feeling that Ellik is more wonderful than anyone else I know. I would have to think that at 22 years of age, I would have stopped this hero worship of my brother. At least I can keep it confined, mostly, to this journal.

And since I failed to mention this in my previous entry, I can not fail to do so tonight. Loki is a most outrageous flirt, with a wicked sense of humor. He does remind me so of myself before... well, before that day. And perhaps, someday, I will feel happy enough to flirt that outrageously again.

I feel as though I have done more writing in this journal in the past year than in all of the previous eleven. Certainly my reflections have been more substantial than a mere recitation of facts.

And so I come to another day of pondering. Captain Tora has still not returned from whatever personal business took her away from Dreamstar more than three weeks ago. I am beginning to become concerned.

I find it amusing, as I read over my journal entries, particularly from the past year, that I no longer write as I speak... not always anyway. This is Jason's influence again. A philosopher he called himself, but he was a scholar as well, and I suppose I absorbed some of his predilection for pretentiousness. (And this last phrase is no doubt an example of that.)

And my speech itself... at most times, quite clear and so-called proper as I learned from Winnie and the others in our small enclave, and from Jason as well... but when I am in Ellik's company I tend to revert, partially, to the dialect of our childhood. Not with so much of the accent as Ellik has, but certainly with the word patterns and cadence. Sometimes I find it sad, when listening to Ellik, that so much of my speech has been changed... for that dialect is more musical than the one I imitate now.

I do not know when, or even if, Captain Tora will be back. I suppose I should consider the possibility that I will need to find another job.

I sat in the park for a large part of the day - not the west side where most furs congregate, but the south side which is far more quiet. And perhaps solitude is not what I needed today.

I thought about Moira. She is such a nice person, and watching her and Loki together... well, they are just so happy. But Vixy - whom I do not know but if I was understanding the conversation last night is married to Lord Grey of Stormhaven - has said something inexcusably cruel to Moira.

I do not understand such things... to purposefully hurt someone like that. While it is true that I may sometimes open my mouth and inadvertently let out unkind words, I could never say something so harmful intentionally. And Vixy - supposedly - is Moira's friend.

It was not without considerable empathy that I listened to her tell of the incident - and no doubt Ellik was remembering our own similar experiences of being teased and ridiculed because, as wolves, we were not "real" Shodi. As much as those attitudes hurt me, they could only have been worse for Ellik as he was older and did his best to protect me from such things. Not real Shodi?! If Mama and Papa said Ellik and I were Shodi, then Shodi we were, and are!

This Vixy made a comment to Captain Galand, I believe (I admit to being somewhat confused by the personae involved as I was more concerned with Moira's state of distress) about Moira being a drone, or some such cruelly unthinkable thing. I could not believe anyone could say such a thing! Implying, even coming right out and saying that Moira is not a person? Unbelievable!

So Moira has this odd way of... well... I think she is actually talk to the computer. I am not really sure, and to me it does not really matter. It is something special that she can do, whatever it is that she does... just as I can hit a moving target at 50 paces without fail. To think that Moira is not a person... I simply can not find the words to express my outrage. She is kind and sensitive, she is funny, and to watch her and Loki together... well, it is simply obvious that Vixy is not worth the air she breathes to say such a thing.

Feh. I promised not to hurt her, and I would never break a promise. But that is one fur who needs to be shaken until her head falls off.

I walked for a while by the pond, watching the sun sparkle off the water and wondering what this melancholia of mine is all about. I am not sure I had any answers by evening when I went up to Dreamstar to see if Kern might be at the Fin.

Alas, there was no one there but Willy (who seems to take perverse delight in annoying Loki, I have noted). I was not sure what I wanted to do. I had been hoping to find Kern, looking forward to seeing him. I did not really want to be alone... although I was not entirely certain of that. I sat in the lounge for a while, just watching the stars, and the ships arriving and departing. For a time, I wanted to speak very badly to Ellik, but I could not remember where his quarters were... and in any case, I felt hesitant to intrude on his time with Kibra.

And so I returned to my own little room, to watch evening become twilight become night, and to write.

I am still no closer to understanding what troubles me. Perhaps I miss Jason and our nightly talks. I have become accustomed to getting my thoughts - and occasionally feelings - out and receiving feedback. I write more now, simply because I still need to get these things out, but I miss Jason's slightly amused look when he would say, "Delia, don't you think that's a bit silly?" or his seriousness when he would say, "Delia, I completely understand."

It is joyous to have Ellik returned to my life, but I can not expect him to make the time to regularly listen to his little sister. He has a job, things he must do, and he has a wife, and soon children, to whom he must devote his primary attention. I certainly do not begrudge him that. That is the way things should be. In fact, it makes me happy to know he has someone as wonderful as Kibra to whom he can be so devoted.

I feel sometimes that I would like to talk with Kern, but I doubt that is possible with the responsibilities of his life making our infrequent visits briefer than I would like.

I suppose one of the curses of shipboard existence - always seeing the same person day after day - might conceivably be a benefit in a circumstance such as this - that is, having a captive audience.

Since coming to Dreamstar, I have made a number of acquaintances, but not really anyone has become friend enough to lay the burden of listening to me at their feet - not really even Kern.

Perhaps, too, this distress of mine has something to do with seeing Moira and Loki, Kibra and Ellik. I feel so... out of place. It is not that they have made me feel unwelcome - quite the contrary, they have all certainly been most kind in making sure I do feel welcome. Perhaps it is a single person's natural reaction to being around happy couples, and perhaps it is simply Delia being foolish again.

I never thought I would admit this, but I miss Jason.

Last evening I received a message from Captain Tora. She has finally returned to Dreamstar, though she will continue to be busy and mostly unavailable temporary. She mentioned that I should begin acquainting myself with Swara, which she said was in the ITG bays; however, when I mentioned this to Ellik he said he did not see Swara there. How odd. In any case, I must ask Loki for permission to enter the ITG bays, which I will do today. It is not that I disbelieve my brother, of course, but I would like to visit the bay myself... to see with my own eyes that Swara is not there, before I inquire further of Captain Tora. Ellik also suggested that I might ask Shades Mckatt, as he has been doing considerable work on Swara.

Oh, am I never going to learn to stop saying the wrong things?! So distressing this night was!

Kibra and I talked of... my injuries. So hurtful it was to me to be talking of them, and yet kind Kibra listened so patiently as I cried. I think, perhaps, now I can find the courage to give them up, to find a better way to remember... to hold onto my family. I will at least let Kibra look at my legs. The rest... well, I am still not sure about the rest.

Afterwards, when Ellik returned from fetching the ice cream Kibra tactfully requested, somehow the subject of Kern came up... not specifically, but apparently both Ellik and Kibra noticed how my eyes searched the lower room of the Fin, and how I anxiously watched as each new person came in. So many people there were last night, and I was becoming more and more burdened by the cacophony in the room. Both Ellik and Kibra were so kindly concerned, and yet all I wanted to do was flee. I almost did, too... but I realized I could not simply walk out on my family.

And so when Kibra asked who it was that I was looking for, I only said that I could not say... and oh! How it stabbed my heart to see the hurt in her eyes! I wished I could have pulled back those thoughtless words! But no... they were said, and sitting between us like something distasteful. She left then, and I thought I might once again cry as my heart began crumbling once more.

Surely I could have said that I feared speaking his name, that the very speaking of it would serve as assurance that the budding hope in my heart should be crushed. But no... Delia always manages to say the wrong thing.

Then Ellik... he knew, of course, perhaps simply by the look on my face, how horribly upset I was… sang for me a song, as he used to do when I was small, and frightened. Only... only this time, it was a song he had written just for his little sister.

Words can not say how I felt. Ellik had said, so very very long ago, that a song for Delia he would write... but the Army called, and war came... and Ellik never had the chance. And now... now he had written this song, this promised song, for me. Lyrics so full of hope that even I almost believe that dreams and wishes can come true... Oh no, certainly words can not say how much I love my brother.

And if, against all odds, I should once again find family... could there not be the smallest possibility that I might also find happiness?

We spoke for a while, Ellik and I, before searching for Kibra. I did not want her to think I said the words I did because I did not care for her, because I did not trust her. And so we found her in the lounge... the very place I go when I have the most sadness in my heart... and I tried, in my clumsy way, to apologize, and explain that it was only my fears that made me say what I did.

I was able, finally, to say the name of the one who has planted the seed of hope in my heart... and Ellik, so amused, admitted to knowing of Kern. Why this surprised me at all, I can not say... I suspect Ellik knows everyone here on Dreamstar, though he denies it. It seems, though, that Kern's captain is a friend of Ellik's. This does not surprise me, for Ellik has always had so very many friends. It is his nature to be well liked.

To our separate homes we went, and I sit here now hoping that my words to Kibra were enough to take away the hurt of my earlier ones.

I believe my stay at Dreamstar will prove to be one surprise after another.

This evening, I met Ellik and Kibra for dinner at The Temptation. I learned that Kibra, too, is a magic user... though her sort is of a healing variety. This, of course, makes considerable sense, as she is a doctor. She spoke of the dangers of magic, to those close to the user, and it has made me more than a little concerned. Is my heart doing a wise thing by looking to Kern? Oh, probably not... when has my heart ever led me to doing anything wise and sensible?

I did promise Kibra, however, that I would be most careful. And I will, though I am not sure what it is that I need to do to be careful.

The first surprise of the evening came when I discovered Ellik has finally learned to dance. Well, no... I can not say that it surprises me that he has learned to dance, because I have every confidence in my brother that he could do anything he set his mind to doing. I think what did surprise me is how well he dances. It was delightful watching him twirling around the floor with Kibra. They are well suited to one another, that is obvious to me.

Kibra tired early - this is, I presume, a side effect of pregnancy - and so Ellik saw her home, then met me at the Fin so that we might chat a little while longer. We did not have much of an opportunity to do so, as shortly after we arrived his friend, Isabeaux, arrived as well. We, of course, invited her to join us. I was happy enough to sit quietly watching the two of them chatting... only occasionally joining the conversation.

And then I received my second surprise of the night.

Pretty Izzy is... well, I am not quite sure what the polite way would be to say this... but Isabeaux is a... is vampire the correct word? She consumes blood as her only source of sustenance.

She was concerned about what my reaction might be... as well she might, as this is quite the unusual sort of thing. (Though not really all that much more unusual than an android person or artificial intelligence person.) But rather than being repulsed, as Ellik apparently was at first, I found myself nearly bursting with curiosity. We did not have much time to speak of it, as it was getting late and we all needed to get home... but I do hope one day I can speak to Isabeaux about this, and that she would not mind telling me how such a thing came about, and what it is like, and all manner of other things. Of course, we do not know each other well enough now to be speaking of such personal things... but perhaps some day.

Ellik certainly has the most unusual friends!

Perhaps there is something wrong with me. For the second time, I have become quite distraught in a group of people - small distressing things seem to be magnified beyond all reason.

Last night, I attended the ITG meeting, nominally as representative of Swara. Ellik's first order of business was to request Keesha, of Chirikh, to teach me piloting skills to obtain my pilot's license. I was pleased both by his interest and Keesha's willingness to do so. No doubt piloting skills will be valuable in my employment with Captain Tora once she has fully returned to Dreamstar. I expect working with Keesha will be a rewarding experience, as she is a most delightful person as well as ITG's best pilot.

Talk then turned to medical coverage for ITG, as they have apparently recently lost their doctor. I confess I was not paying as much attention as I might have, but I believe the decision was made to contract with CSA for Kibra's services.

Ivver then arrived with her kitten, who is - like all babies I have seen - wonderfully adorable. I am afraid that at times such as this, I am disturbed by the very real possibility that I might never have children of my own.

Ellik then spoke to Ivver of his concern regarding her association with a Mr. Parden. This is the same Mr. Parden that Ellik mentioned to Kibra and myself only the night before, the one whom Captain Galand is obviously most distressed with. There are many things I do not understand about the situation, but Ellik seemed satisfied with whatever assurances Ivver offered.

Ivver fed young Kehah, and Ellik played a few moments with the youngster. It was most heartening to watch my brother with a child - I have no doubt that in addition to being the best brother, the best of friends and a wonderful husband (I can only conjecture on this point, but it would seem to be a reasonable assumption when watching him interacting with Kibra), he will also be a superb father. I mentioned the same to Kibra, who quite readily agreed.

Conversation then lagged amongst our family as Ivver and Keesha continued to discuss a number of things - some of which, I feel sure, are only amusing fabrications. I thought, therefore, to ask Ellik about flowers, as I have made arrangements to see Kern later in this week and had recalled Ellik's suggestion that flowers might convey to Kern the seriousness of my feelings (though I myself am still somewhat unsure as to what those feelings are). Ellik did mention again Oloth, and when I inquired about going there, he said he would be happy to take me there, though the Goldeneyes would be in drydock until Thursday, three days hence.

I was somewhat disappointed, I do admit, but thought to let the matter drop, as it is my hope there should be other opportunities for such a gesture. Despite my assurance that it was unnecessary for him to hurry whatever repairs he might be making to his ship, not only did he persist but Ivver, too, offered to obtain flowers for me. Suddenly I felt that a simple question had grown beyond all rational proportions, and I began feeling quite distressed. At some point Loki had arrived, and now I felt there were simply too many people around me. I wanted to scream at them to just forget the cursed flowers, I wanted to flee back to the relative safety of my room. However, for once, I held myself in check, recalling my last outburst that had upset Kibra so.

Though Keesha and Ivver left, I was still very upset, and wanted to leave myself. Ellik, however, in his so subtle way that I think I am once again beginning to understand, was most concerned and almost insistent that I not be alone. I was torn between my fears, my desire to flee, and Ellik's concern.

Isabeaux then arrived, amidst hugs as I was truly trying to leave. My distress was great by now... I only vaguely recall the next passage of time, but strangely I was left alone with Ellik. I did try to tell him of my distress, of there simply being too many people, saying that, perhaps, too long alone I had been.

Ellik has a kindness that has always helped me feel safe and secure. He took me home to his and Kibra's quarters, where he quietly but surely tucked me into layers of blankets on his couch. I thought perhaps that I would be fine and that sleep was truly what I most needed - until Ellik began singing the lullaby I had always loved most.

It took all my strength of will to keep from bursting into tears at that tenderness. But after my brother left, I cried - oh, how I cried! - until finally I fell into a fitful sleep.

I've always been so sure of myself, always seemed to know just what I wanted. No doubt that is one of the things that got me into such trouble as a child. I knew what I wanted and made no secret of whatever it was. Self-confident, outspoken, opinionated Delia.

And now... now I really am not sure what it is that I want.

It is Kern who is setting my mind into such disarray. I find myself thinking about him often when we are apart and on the rare occasions we are together, I feel so... what? Content? That does not seem to say what I wish to convey and yet I do feel content. When we are not together, I want to see him; when we are together, I never want to see the moment when he must leave.

Tonight we sat and talked for quite some time. What astounded me is that we spoke of things distressing to me and yet... it was so easy to talk to him. Even Jason had to practice infinite patience before I could speak of my home... and my fears that the Toisu will totally eradicate every royalist on the planet.

A disturbing thing happened as we talked, however. It was a magical thing, some kind of firebomb spell sent by one of Kern's enemies. It suddenly appeared beside us as we spoke. Kern cast some sort of spell to protect me - oh, how odd it felt to be touched by magic! - and some sort of spell to protect himself. Only... only because he needed to protect me as well, his own protection was weakened. When I saw him engulfed in flames - just like in my dream! - oh, how frightened I was! I feared so much for him - and there was nothing at all that I could do. I did not fear for myself. Such fear seems to be alien to me in the midst of a fight, which somehow my mind believed this to be.

As his spell countered the evil one sent by his foe, I could finally see that he was alive, though perhaps a bit singed. I wanted to fling my arms around him in relief, but I feared it would cause him pain. And then too I wanted to find this enemy of his and rend him limb from limb. My anger was great, and it surprised me very much, for the last time I felt such anger was when a knife-wielding Toisu stood in front of me preventing me from finding my parents and sisters.

By the many gods of which Jason often spoke... am I elevating Kern to the level of family?! Yes, I know what that means, and I am afraid. For too long, I think, I have been alone... because now I fear where my heart seems to be leading me.

Oh, what should I do?

Once again I find myself surprised by events. This evening I met with Kanon, whom I learned earlier in the week suffers from an intentionally inflicted aging disease. It is her intention to construct a research facility in Cygnus space to find a way to counteract the effects of this atrocity that has been perpetrated upon herself and others.

The surprise came when Kanon requested that I, of all people, should assist her in this noble endeavor! Several people, she said (no doubt my brother among them), advised her to seek me out, telling her that I am a responsible person. While it is true that I take responsibility quite seriously, it nevertheless startles me to think others besides Ellik already know this. I had not realized I had been here on Dreamstar long enough for anyone to know me well enough to see that.

I must request from Tsunami Tora to be released from my duties on Swara in order to assist Kanon, and I have already sent her a message to that effect. This truly is a huge responsibility, and I only hope I am up to this challenge.

I find Kanon's belief that she will not live to see the completion of this project to be somewhat upsetting. It is, indeed, a most realistic point of view, though it pains me to have to face that eventuality. And if it pains me this much, how much harder is it, then, for Kanon? What disturbs be is not so much the certainty of Kanon's death - while sad beyond words, death has been too common a happenstance in my life to upset me too greatly anymore - but the fear that I might have to fulfill her dream. It should be hers to see to its culmination. Moira works diligently to find a cure, and all who would call Kanon friend express their hope that Moira will succeed.

Except I. Kanon herself dares not hope, I think... seemingly resigned to the inevitability of her imminent death. For how long have I, too, lived without hope? Not the hope of life, in my case, but the hope of happiness. And so I know how biting the well-meaning comments of friends can be. It is now my job to assist her - and so I will support her in whatever way I can. And perhaps that includes something as small as not adding yet another minute weight to the burden she carries. Perhaps being a friend, in this case, means seeing as she does the short period of time in which she can accomplish her goals... and aiding her as best I can. And if Moira should succeed (as I hope she does), I will join in the celebration.

Kanon has much courage. I admire her greatly.

How odd it is... I did not have the opportunity to tell Ellik about this, yet instead of thinking to single him out for conversation, my first thought was to tell Kern. I have asked Kibra if she would speak with me tomorrow evening. Perhaps she can help me puzzle through these unusual things I am feeling.

This evening I spoke at length with Kibra, and while I find I still have apprehensions regarding my feelings for Kern, she has done much to set my mind and my heart more at ease. I can see now that I appear to be falling in love with him... and I do not think there is much time before I will not ever be able to turn away from these feelings.

Wolves mate for live... and should I allow my heart to proceed on this course, I will always be worried that one day one of his enemies will be more successful in killing him and destroy my heart again. Do I dare allow myself to face that possibility? My whole family has been torn from me, though Ellik has been returned... so much more entwined in one's heart and mind is a mate... could I face a future when he might be so torn from me as well?

If I walked away now, I would surely be sad. But should the worst happen to him, it would not destroy me. And yet... what if in all the worlds there is only one person meant to fill this place in my heart? What if I am considering walking away from that one person?

I do not think I can. Yes, I am afraid. But as Kibra said, I must either face my fear, or let it rule me. I have never let fear rule my life before... I can not do so now. I can try to proceed with caution, but I think... I think this path I just decided to walk has only one destination.

Kibra said the love is worth the hardships, and I can see how completely she and Ellik love one another. My sister would not lie to me, and so I will walk this path with hope.

Again this evening I spoke with Ellik, about children mostly. I know he speaks the truth when he tells me that if I should desire children, a way could be found for that to happen. But... for all my wild independence, I am somehow uncomfortable with the idea of children conceived and born not in the conventional way. Perhaps it is that I grew up on a world that did not have as advanced a level of medical technology as is found here on Dreamstar... or perhaps it is egocentric selfishness that I might believe a child not carried in my own body would be less... less what? Less loved? No, I know I do not believe that. I have only to look to my own parents to see that is not the case... Mama and Papa could not have loved Ellik and me any more if we had been their own blood relatives. So that is not what my problem is. As I sit here and ponder, my mind only goes around and around in ever more confusing circles on this topic… I only know that somehow it feels wrong, but I do not know why.

Still, it is not a concern I need dwell on today. It may be that I would never come to such a place in my life that it would be a wish of mine to have children.

We spoke, too, of Kern and some of my fears. Not surprisingly, Ellik was able to lay to rest many of those fears, if only for a short while. Though I still have some apprehensions, my brother reminded me in his quiet way that I am no longer alone, that I have family. Sometimes, still, it is too easy to forget that, having relied on only myself for so long. He and Kibra are here, they are my family, and no matter what it is that I face - whether good or not so good - I do not do it alone.

Trust your heart, Ellik said. I can do that, I think. I wonder sometimes about the rocky path down which my heart leads me, but when I look back at the five years I have been alone, I see that by trusting my heart I have somehow managed to arrive where I am today... on Dreamstar... with my family... and about to leap off a cliff (for sometimes that is what this thing called love feels like)... and I will just have to trust that somebody will catch me.

This evening, I discussed with Kanon a name for her research station, and we have come to the decision that it will be called Valiance Research Station. It is, I think, a name that exemplifies the hope inherent in her project, as well as conveys some small measure of the courage I believe Kanon demonstrates in her daily existence with her… affliction, I suppose would be an appropriate term.

We spoke later with Chastity and the CSA construction manager, Victry… or as she is pleased to point out, Victory Colleen Kahallan. (I must admit it is a most… musical name. Perhaps I would be more anxious to speak my name were it even half as melodious.) We, or rather, Chastity, Kanon and Victry, determined that the most appropriate location for the station would be at the Cygus 61 gateway. Vikky exhibited great enthusiasm for the project, and I would not be the least surprised if she left our company to begin immediately working on the plans.

I spent a restful and pleasant visit with Ellik and Kibra in the lounge as well tonight. We spoke of shopping, which managed to turn into a retelling of the Banana Hat tale. I have not been so relaxed and I have not laughed so much in far too long.

It is such a wonderful thing to once again have family. Everything seems so much brighter with family around. Perhaps it is as Ellik says - that dreams can some true on Dreamstar. I find myself more willing to believe that when I am with my family.

Tsusie - at our first meeting - mentioned TKI&I, a clothing store which I discovered is only blocks from my apartment. Tonight, I went there with Kibra and Ellik.

They do indeed have quite a collection of clothing, though Kibra noted that they did not have a selection of maternity clothes. I was not enamored with their assortment of dresses, however it would only be fair to admit I no longer find dresses very comfortable. I did find the most beautiful blue tunic with a golden unicorn appliqued on the front. Ellik mentioned that he fancied it himself, however there is something about the unicorn that seemed to distress him. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to ask him about it.

Kanon came in, looking first at an elegant black dress that she joked (though more than somewhat serious) would look good in a casket. A short time later, after I said my good-byes to Kibra and Ellik, I noticed Kanon seemed most disoriented and appeared to be having an episode of memory loss. I have no doubt this is attributed to her genetically-induced rapid aging. I did not become alarmed, as her wits seemed to slowly return after several minutes of gentle conversation. Another patron of the shop seemed concerned, though I attempted to indicate to him that there was no real cause for alarm. By the time Kanon left, she appeared somewhat more subdued than is her usual manner, though well enough.

I am more concerned than I showed, however. I wonder if this is something I should mention to Eimi or Moira. Perhaps it is merely an isolated episode, though even I am not certain I believe that. For some reason, though, I do not feel right about mentioning it to another. At least not at this time.

Stormhaven hosted a reception this evening, and it was not as difficult an event as I had been fearing. While a number of people attended, there was not such a sizable crowd as to make me uncomfortable.

Conversation turned at one point to uniforms, dress uniforms, and talk of such made me most uneasy. I can not say why. A glance a Ellik told me that he too was uncomfortable with the topic, though in his case I can perhaps guess at a reason. He was always so proud to wear the uniform of the Prince's service, and I think this night's conversation may have brought up memories best left dormant.

Kibra and Buran spoke of children and I found myself unsettled while overhearing snatches of their conversation.

Perhaps it was just the presence of Alois at the party that had my nerves on edge and made me most distracted. I know he is a friend - a good friend - to Kern, but I had not realized he was nobility. I am afraid I may have stared overmuch at his Lordship.

Again, I had cause for a moment's concern for Kanon, who was also a guest. She looked much better this evening than she has at any other time that I have seen her, and I must admit to hopefulness that Moira's research is bearing fruit. Moira did mention, when asked, that it would perhaps not be wise for Kanon to consume alcoholic beverages at this stage, and so when I later observed Kanon drinking wine, I became somewhat fearful. Perhaps it was not my place to say anything to her, but I would count Kanon among my friends and so do not want her to jeopardize this chance - however small - that she may have at recovery. I was most relieved when she did not take offense at my concern.

Ellik and Moira played their gitars and sang, as well. A most touching moment it was after Ellik sang a song he had written for Kibra - such a beautiful song, though I think my brother embarrassed his Lady wife with the singing of it in public (but Kibra was clearly touched). It was when I glanced at Kanon in that moment and saw how she looked at Moira that I came to understand that Kanon does have a reason to hope Moira's research will provide a means to reverse the effects of her genetics - it takes only a glance to see how much Kanon loves Moira.

I think Rokhan may have been somewhat... what? Offended? Perhaps offended that I had no appetite and could not partake of the fine assortments of food provided. I would have liked to eat... but I was truly not hungry. Nevertheless, despite my lack of appetite and obvious distracted state, I found the gathering enjoyable.

I have seen Kern several times now, and I have been left feeling emotions ranging from anguish to fear to annoyance to contentment... even happiness.

I have made no secret of my feelings for him during these meetings, and I suppose that it may be the reason - or a great part of the reason - why I have been tumbling emotionally. I have come to see that perhaps it was only shock and even an unwillingness to see the depth of my feelings for him that caused him to suggest we not see each other, though at the time I was not certain that my brittle heart would not fail me.

Since that day I was left sitting stunned and alone in Alois' establishment, we have talked several times again. Kern presented a number of reasons why I should attempt to convince my heart that it had erred in finding something in him that could not be resisted. Yet for all his rationalities, I could find more ways to counter them than to accept them.

Should I have enumerated all the ways in which I would not be considered an acceptable mate? I mentioned only one - my belief that children would be impossible for me to bear - because the thought it of importance to share with me the fact that he can not sire children. Should I have mentioned these terrible scars when he again praised my beauty? Perhaps it was well for me to hold my tongue on such a matter, for every day I seem to believe more and more in the reality of medical miracles that can be found on Dreamstar. If Kibra believes it is possible to heal my legs, how much easier should it be to minimize the scarring?

I am left now feeling more tentative and at the same time more hopeful, despite Kern's words of caution. "Why me?" he said. I can not answer that any more clearly now than at the time he asked. Because his eyes sparkle like emeralds? Because the sound of his voice makes me smile? Because he is kind and courteous? Because he is almost as protective of me as Ellik? (Though I do not believe I need protecting, it is somehow comforting to know someone is there - just in case.) I just don't know. All I know is what my heart tells me... and my heart speaks a language I barely comprehend. But I will trust this heart of mine.

What a terrible night this was! I attended the council meeting as an observer in the gallery. I do not generally pay strict attention to what is happening on the council floor, but this evening there was talk of attacks on the mail ships, which was distressing enough... but when it was made known that my brother was the first to arrive to assist the disabled ship, I could not help but find myself becoming angry with him. His ship has no weapons! How can he justify putting himself in such danger? I think not only of myself when I become this angry... but also of Kibra and their children. How could he risk himself in such a way when there is even the slightest chance that he would leave his wife without her husband and his children without his father?! And his sister without her brother again, though that loss is less heinous than the other.

And so I was quite angry at my brother when Kibra arrived. I am not certain quite what I said, but whatever it was, it caused Kibra to be quite upset. While I can understand that she would be upset with him as well, there was something that she said that made me feel as if my heart had been torn from my body and trampled. Can she really believe that Ellik or I would love her any less because she is feline? How untrue that is! What does an outer form matter? Kibra is family and I love her as such. Was my own mother not a fox, and did I love her any less than with my whole heart? I have seen Ellik with Kibra, I have heard him speak of her... There is no one who means more to him than Kibra. I think she believes, though, that his friends are more important than she and the children. And it does look that way, in this case, at least.

Kibra was very angry with Ellik and I came to feel it was my fault. Though Kibra finally reassured us that everything was all right, I can not help but feel everything is not all right. Perhaps it is only my own imagination, but I still feel very distressed by the whole evening.

I accompanied Kern to his quarters aboard his ship... for he felt the need to fashion for me some protection against the magical attacks of his enemies, attacks that are sure to come once his enemies learn of his feelings for me. Little did I realized at the time that I was to experience what has certainly become the most... unusual... event not just since arriving at Dreamstar, but of my entire life.

I know and understand nothing of magic, and so sitting within a rune marked on the floor, surrounded by sparkling crystals and listening to incantations was of only mild interest to me. However, when Kern caused an apparition to appear within the room with us, I can only say that I was astounded. To then discover that the apparition was one of Kern's goddesses... Mystra, the goddess of magic... it was almost enough to stretch my ability to believe to its limit. Yet this Mystra knew of my feelings for Kern... when she looked at me, it almost seemed as though she was aware of even my deepest secrets. It was quite an unnerving experience. And then this goddess touched me, and the most peculiar sensations seemed to flow over my body... she said that I was now immune to all magic save that of the gods themselves.

I am not certain how to take all of this, as I have never believed in gods before... Jason spoke of gods as though they were merely fictional characters from stories... yet now I have met a goddess, under whose protection I now live.

I hope this is the end to the wonders I have experienced since coming to Dreamstar, as anything more astounding than a goddess might be more than I could believe.

How many times will I be shocked by others' faith in my abilities? This evening, Tsunami Tora asked if I might take over the captaincy of Swara, as she has pressing duties elsewhere that will keep her away for an extended period of time. I did not quite know what to say, and expressed the concern that I did not know enough to take on such a task. She did ask that I convey to Ellik the message that Swara temporarily needs a new captain.

Of course, when I did so, Ellik seemed to feel I would certainly be able to handle such a task. He sent me off with Keesha on the mail run, so that I might learn more about piloting a ship. It was a most interesting trip, and I was able to see places I had not seen before.

And perhaps... just perhaps... I observed enough to consider that I might be able to learn enough to take care of Swara for Tsusie.

I chose to have a quiet dinner at the Fin this evening, only to be interrupted by one of Kern's... well, I might call her an ex-girlfriend, but after this meeting with her it is clear she is more of an enemy. She spoke at first as though she wished me to be an ally of hers... but it was quickly evident that she wanted only to harm Kern. Kern now holds such a place in my heart that this is completely unacceptable to me, and so I told this Illiara that I wished neither to be involved in her machinations nor to speak with her at all. At this point, she became obviously enraged, as she attempted to harm me with some sort of spell. It made her even more furious when her spells had no affect on me, thanks to the protection of Kern's goddess. No doubt I caused her even more distress when I walked out on her.

I am beginning to wonder if the entire universe is not already aware of my relationship with Kern. It certainly appears that enough of his enemies are aware of my existence. Again this evening, I was approached by one who harbors him ill will... one who has threatened me not to aid Kern. It is exasperating trying to determine just what it is these enemies of his think I am capable of doing. I no longer need fear their magic, but I now wonder if threats in the future may have physical manifestations.

I received a very disturbing message from Kibra tonight, say that she was returning to her quarters on the Darktower indefinitely. When I asked if there was anything wrong, she merely said I should speak to Ellik. She seemed most upset about something, and so I worry about her. She is family... my sister... and I no more like seeing her upset than I would my mother or my sisters, the daughters of my mother. She did not wish to speak of what disturbed her, though she said she may wish to speak tomorrow.

I then sought to speak with Ellik, but other than acknowledging my existence, he refused to speak to me. I do not know where he was, and I was becoming very frightened... if he and Kibra had some sort of argument, which I suspect is what may have happened, I can only imagine what his emotional state would have been at the time... and my imagination led me to think even more frightening things. Finally, as I sat in the lobby of the ITG offices trying in vain to converse with Ellik, Loki arrived to find me on the verge of tears. Loki is a true friend to my brother... he sought Ellik out and spoke with him, and even asked Myra to watch over him. Having Myra watching Ellik puts my mind much more at ease, for Myra, too, is Ellik's friend and would not allow my brother to harm himself. I do not understand the concern Loki expressed for me, as my emotions this evening are not such that I would do anything so drastically fatal as I suspect Ellik is capable of... my actions would only be motivated by fear and anger. I did reassure Loki that Ellik was the only Shodi who needed such worry this night.

Perhaps, if I speak with Kibra tomorrow, I will be able to understand why she is so distraught, and why my brother acts in such a way to frighten his sister.

This evening I flew Swara out to the Valiance Station, or what so far exists of it. I was pleased that I had no difficulties on the journey, and pleased as well to be able to speak with Kanon for a short time.

Ellik is still not willing to speak to me. If it were not for Loki's assurance that Myra is watching over him, I would almost feel compelled to track him down where he is hiding and shake some sense into him. I will practice my patience, however, and not do so until after I have spoken with Kibra.

He has never frightened me in such a way with his actions before. But... he has never been so in love before either. What alarms me more, though, is the fact that I think I would act precisely the same way if Kern were ever to leave my life.

Finally I spoke with Ellik this evening, and Kibra too, though I cannot say it was an easy evening. I accompanied Ellik as he delivered Victry's work facility to Despayre, and though he seemed dispirited, at least he is no longer sequestering himself. He feels Kibra does not trust him, and from my conversations with Kibra, I must sadly say I suspect he is right. I have known my brother longer than Kibra and know that Ellik would not even consider that any other female could be more than merely a friend to him. I can not imagine that Ellik encourages these other women, nor do I think he particularly enjoys their attention as Kibra believes. But I can not convince Kibra of this - she hurts, she has been hurt so much in the past that I think she finds it hard to believe Ellik will not hurt her as well. I know he would not, because I know Ellik would never hurt me... and he treasures Kibra even more than his sister, as it should be. Perhaps in time, she will see - and believe - what I know to be true about my brother.

I had wanted to speak with her - to reassure her that she now has family who care for her very much, that she does not need to be alone with these fears of her. But when I accompanied Ellik to their home, she seemed most displeased to see me. I felt - for the first time - unwelcome there, and could not find the energy to speak to her. When I offered to leave, she stormed out, leaving me feeling as though I had been struck. I was shocked to realize again that her words and actions had managed to cut me once more like a knife. I could only stand there numbly as Ellik followed her out.

It seemed an eternity later - though it could not have been more than perhaps a handful of minutes - that Ellik called and asked me to come to the medlab. I was quite reluctant to do so, fearing that I would only be facing Kibra's anger again, and I simply could not endure that again. Not this night. But Ellik urged me to meet him, and how have I ever been able to refuse my brother when he asked something of me so earnestly? With much trepidation, I went to the medlab.

There I found that my fears were largely baseless as Kibra seemed more herself and proceeded to explain how her hormone levels were quite high due to her pregnancy... and it seemed that wolf and feline is a hard combination on her system. At least now I feel perhaps I am not doing something wrong in my caring for her, and will keep her pregnancy in mind when next I feel so hurt. I am sure Kibra does not mean to say such things in ways that are so painful for me to hear.

Then Kibra showed us - Ellik and myself - the babies on the ultrasound. It was such an amazing thing to see the fuzzy little outlines moving and to hear their tiny heartbeats. For a moment I was nearly overwhelmed by my grief at not being able to experience this wonder myself, but I could not remain sad for long as I watched my brother's reaction to seeing his unborn children.

Oh, but when Kibra pointed out the gender of the children... a boy and a girl... to have been able to have a picture of that moment! I can only say that it is evident Ellik already loves his children so very much. Kibra and Ellik have chosen names for the children - Tarquin and Krysti. Tarquin, I believe I recall, is the name of Kibra's brother... Krysti, of course, was Mama's name. For myself, I am looking forward to the time when I can take little Krysti shopping.

Our joyful occasion was interrupted by a call from Myra, who requested Kibra's presence in the public bay, as a ship had been towed in with an injured pilot. Ellik and I accompanied Kibra to discover it was Kanon in Dire Straits... the ship was damaged and Kanon herself badly injured. Victry was there in the bay, and when I asked if she knew anything about the situation, her answers were most perplexing. She said she believed Kanon had been drinking because she, Victry, had stood up for herself. This made no sense to me.

I am most concerned about Kanon, though Kibra believes she should recover.

Today I experienced a pain more profound than any I had ever before known. The loss of my family and finding myself alone was a devastating blow, but today's news was even worse.

K'thias found me in the ITG offices as I spoke with Loki this afternoon, and brought me the news that Kern was so ill as to be lying near death. It is unknown how Kern came to be so ill, only that it is a virus with both magical and biological properties. Such a virus could only have been artificially produced and therefore must have been introduced to my beloved by one of his enemies. K'thias refused to let me see Kern, and would not even tell me where he was. Loki made suggestions of magic users who K'thias might enlist to help... though K'thias' concern is that other of Kern's enemies may take advantage of his illness to further threaten his life should it become widely known that he is ill. It was difficult for me to think of anything but being at Kern's side... for that is my place to be there. K'thias made excuses about being concerned for my health, but if I should lose Kern, what does my own health matter?

After K'thias left, had it not been for Loki's presence, it is unclear to me how I might have reacted. I could not think of anything except the pain I was feeling and how I needed to be at Kern's side. I know that Loki held me safe... after this past week of worry over Ellik, no doubt he had similar concerns for my safety. And as I am able to think about it now, I realize he would have been justified in his concerns.

How can I explain what was happening to me during that time? I had no knowledge of time passing... or the world around me... even Loki's many arms around me did not become apparent until later. I was caught in a place of unending torment, knowing that if Kern's life should pass from him, this torment would be my constant companion until my own life ended. Perhaps I thought then that a purposeful ending of my life would only be merciful. I do not know, truly, what I thought... or that I even thought at all. It was not until I heard Ellik's voice that I was able to pull myself from the abyss. Only slowly did my mind return to any semblance of clarity.

Ellik, as always, seemed to know just the right words to say... though this is a far greater hurt than any he has seen me endure, Ellik just knew what to say. At first, it was only the sound of his voice that called me back, but finally I was able to hear the words he was saying... speaking of strength, of not being alone.

And somehow, I must find the faith to know that K'thias and Kern's allies... that my friends and Ellik's friends... will do all that can be done to save the life of the man who means so very much to me. I can not speculate on the motives of Kern's friends... perhaps there is great affection among them... but I now have certain knowledge that my friends aid him for no political reasons... it is simply because they love me.

As I sit here this evening writing these words, I find myself not only overwhelmed by this knowledge, but again discovering my tears flowing freely. Only tonight... tonight my tears are those of gratitude, I think... to know that I am no longer alone... to truly know that I am no longer alone... and that I have friends who will help me simply out of friendship.

K'thias again sought me out today to bring better news that yesterday's. Though there is still no clear way to rid Kern of this virus that attacks his system, the symptoms presented by the illness can at least be addressed. He was not any happier today to hear my insistence on seeing Kern, but at least he did bring to me Kern's quarters on TFGR.

No, Kern is not well at all. It seemed as though he merely suffers from a respiratory ailment, such as bronchitis perhaps, but that would not fully explain the weakness that was more than evident. I felt so helpless, for all I could do was hold him in my arms and listen to what he had to say of the ailment. I do not understand the magical component at all, and I think I find that the most frustrating thing in this situation. Kern said he thought seeking out a priest of one of his gods would be necessary. I accept this as true, though I can not comprehend why it would be so.

I want to speak with Kibra about this... Ellik has said she knows healing magic, and perhaps she will be able to explain this to me in a way that I can understand.

Despite the fact that he is so ill, I found it a comfort to be at Kern's side. It is where I should be in his times of trouble, and again I found myself becoming angry at K'thias for gainsaying me that right yesterday. When Kern himself said it was his wishes that I not be exposed to his illness, I attempted to explain to him that it is a risk I accept. My heart, my life are his... no risk, no hardship is too great to endure for him. I doubt he yet understands what it means for a wolf to fall so in love... it is not simply that no other shall ever find a place in my heart such as he holds... but it also means that I place his welfare above all others... that for him, I would willingly risk even my life.

I encouraged him to rest, and it was not a suggestion he could argue against... he seemed to fall asleep within seconds of lying down again. I sat at his side for quite a while, until I remembered I had told Ellik I would try to attend ITG meetings as representative of Swara. As I watched him sleep, I could not help but see images of Danik in my mind... and I wished I knew how to pray and to which gods I should pray that he not suffer the fate of my small brother. Instead, I must trust the S'pht... trust that K'thias will find someone to restore Kern to health.

After the meeting, I again visited Kanon... only to find not only Kibra and Ellik there, but Moira and a number of security guards. I truly do not understand what transpired with her this evening, though apparently she attempted to leave her bed. Kibra told her that if she got up again, she would die. She seemed last evening to be at the point where she would welcome such a fate, and I wonder if tonight's incident was a manifestation of that wish. The guards where there because she had apparently gotten quite violent... I heard Moira mention Victry's name, but I did not feel it appropriate to inquire about the incident. Kanon is very strong... Loki mentioned that she had actually hurt Moira recently... and Victry is so very small. I hope Victry is all right.

I stayed with Kanon for a short while, speaking of things having nothing to do with the events of the past few days... hoping to ease her fears of being in the medlab. She said that she had grown up in a lab and I can well imagine her past would not be filled with pleasant memories. Unless my duties prevent me, I will try to visit with her each evening as long as Kibra has her confined to the medlab... perhaps if some of her fears can be allayed even in a small way, it will speed her healing.

I wish I understood all that was happening here... but I think it may be better that I do not.

It seems just the slightest bit odd to be sitting here writing in my journal and not be comfortably sprawled on my bed in my own apartment. Instead, I sit here on the floor beside Kern's bed in his quarters on the TFGR. It is late, and still he sleeps - as he did all afternoon while I sat by his side. I worry - though perhaps more than I should, for I recall that Winnie said I slept almost constantly for months after the Toisu attack on our village.

I spent several hours helping Ellik on a cargo run tonight. It was an uneventful trip... we simply picked up cargo at Xeria and delivered it to Victry's work site at Despayre. Victry was in high spirits, which was good to see after last night's concern upon hearing of Kanon's actions.

Though I had hoped to visit Kanon this evening, the late hour of our return to Dreamstar prevented me from doing so... I merely returned here to Kern's side, to write for a few moments before I fall asleep on the floor beside his bed again.

A week, perhaps less... this is all the longer Kern has to live unless some means of combating the virus can be found.

Illiara found her way into his room as we spoke this evening... claiming that she knew not only the individual who introduced the virus to Kern, but a means of curing him as well. She offered to share with Kern her information, for a price... that I must leave Kern. Even knowing what it would do to me, I think I could have found the courage to pay this price to save his life. But Kern himself refused to allow me the choice, saying that life without me would be a death sentence itself. This seemed to surprise Illiara immensely. Truthfully, I also found it surprising, though wonderful to hear... not so very long ago, Kern had said he feared he could not love.

Illiara left then, and once again I was alone with my love. I could hardly speak of my feelings, so overwhelming they were. We were not meant to have time alone, however, as K'thias appeared... at nearly the very moment Kern suddenly began raving... throwing a dagger across the room at nothing. Quickly, K'thias attended to Kern's medication... sending him once again to sleep.

He is building a tolerance to the drugs that keep his mind clear. His whole body chemistry is breaking down. I sent K'thias off again... I could not bear to let him see me cry.

I do not have time for grief. K'thias has not yet found an antidote to this virus, and so I must seek out Loki again. Perhaps he has more ideas.

I can not think about the possibility of Kern's death, for such an eventuality would destroy me. As my brother admonished me, I must remain strong. I must believe that somewhere there exists a cure, and that it will be found in time.

I will do whatever I must to save my beloved.

© Kelly Naylor