Sitting atop a cliff overlooking a beach, an island Eyrie sat. His back leaned against a jutting rock; his wings were folded neatly to the side. In his paws was a large acoustic guitar. Its polished, dark brown wood shone even in the dim light produced from the setting sun over the ocean.
He did not smile as his fingers gently ran over the golden strings. He stared, unblinking, at the orange sky for several moments. His right wing twitched slightly, but his cold blank face remained emotionless.
Finally, without looking at the instrument, he began to strum the guitar along to the melody in his head. It started off light and slow, happy and smooth. The tune was all too familiar to the Eyrie, but he tried not to let the sound affect him as his song progressed.
His fingers seemed to have a mind of their own, and eventually the Eyrie's stony amber eyes fluttered shut as his song continued on.
The song was an old one; something he had written long ago. It told a tale of happiness, friendship, fate and regret. In his mind, the Eyrie saw everything the melody spoke of. He didn't want to, but his brain couldn't forget.
He had not come out here to reminisce; simply to play for the joy of playing what he felt. Unfortunately, what he felt reflected on what he remembered, and the music was simply replaying what he already had inside him. So instead of stopping, the Eyrie gave in and let the music and the memories consume him.
* * *
A silver Aisha: short in stature, yet large and formidable in character. Her eyes were sharp and her voice was strong. She knew who she was and she didn't falter in believing in herself. Despite her demeanor, she was still cheerful and friendly. She was also the oldest friend Tevlin had.
Her name was Sloane.
Close friends since childhood, the two had always been virtually inseparable, despite their vast differences. While Sloane was loud, confident and amicable; Tevlin was quiet and withdrawn. He much preferred to express himself in music than words, and if there was a lot on his mind, he would simply play his guitar for hours on end. His Aisha friend would sometimes sit next to him as he played; lying in the long grass at the top of the cliff where he loved to play. The wind would lift up the tune and carry it out over the beach and the water, travelling to places far-off where neither of them had ever gone.
The two spent many days atop the cliff, oftentimes with Sloane speaking of her hopes, dreams and her feelings, and Tevlin communicated his own emotions through his soft, sweet music. He spoke very little when they climbed up here; sometimes he would not say anything at all. This was the place where words were not necessary, not wanted. Even Sloane become quieter as his music filled her ears and surrounded them both like a warm embrace.
It was up here where he first wrote that song for her, though she didn't know it was hers. He played it for her, but she could never hear what he was truly saying in it. He didn't mind, though; he was just happy to be in her presence, and to share his creation with his dear friend.
* * *
The music cascaded through the wind and the open sky, echoing down across the sand and the water. The rhythm was slow, smooth. It told of peaceful, serene days spent together playing in the sand. Exploring new parts of the island and learning of strange, different lands they had not heard of before.
* * *
"Haven't you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to a different place and learn about what it's like to live there?" Sloane asked with a wistful sigh as she picked a strand of grass apart.
Tevlin shook his head as he tuned his guitar.
"Don't you think it'd be interesting? And exciting? We've already explored nearly every inch of Mystery Island... I think one day I want to do that. I'll travel to all different lands across Neopia and learn about them, experience them. Maybe we could go together! We'd just travel the world, two old friends living life to its fullest," she said, smiling dreamily.
Tevlin averted his eyes towards the grass below his paws, uncertain. He had never left Mystery Island in his 13 years; he loved it here, why would he want to leave?
"My father wants me to simply take over his shop, but what kind of boring, dull life would that be? I don't want to spend the rest of my life painting and selling seashells. I want something more exciting than that, you know?"
Tevlin was silent for only a moment.
"I like it here on the island," he responded softly.
"Well, I do too, but I want something different someday. I don't want to stay here forever, do you?" she asked.
Tevlin simply shrugged with uncertainty.
"Well, that won't be for several more years, I suppose. We still have to finish neoschool, and perhaps college. Afterwards, though, I think I may become a travelling scholar. I could travel all over the world for knowledge. And don't worry, Tevlin, I'd visit you here on the island from time to time to check up on the knickknack and seashell industry," she added with a chuckle.
Tevlin forced a tiny grin, but her words for some reason hurt him. Did she truly plan to leave him one day?
* * *
The pace of the tune picked up; the music became harder, rougher, filling with betrayal and anger and hurt. Beyond what it gave off was the essence of failure as well, a sudden and abrupt choice that left behind devastation and a broken heart. The Eyrie's closed eyes squeezed tighter; his eyebrows creased with a bitterness that came from the unpleasant memories carried by his song.
* * *
Sloane kicked at a rock that rested on the dirt path she and Tevlin walked on. They were not at the cliff; instead they were walking home from their school. The silver Aisha's features were bitter and cold, unlike the warm happy face that had been envisioned before.
"I can't stand the pets in our school, Tevlin. They all think they know everything. They think they have the right to judge me, to talk about me behind my back and make up lies about me. None of them know who I am. None of them are my friends. I thought they were, but clearly I was wrong. I don't mean anything to anybody here," she said bitterly.
Tevlin's eyes widened with concern for his friend. He didn't associate much with the pets in high school, and he didn't know what to say, yet he longed to help the troubled Aisha. He listened intently as she ranted on about how she felt. She seemed like she needed someone to talk to, only Tevlin did not have much to say back. How could he know what the right thing to say was?
"I don't belong here. Not in this school, not even on Mystery Island. I can't wait until graduation. Only two short years away, and I can live my dream. I'm going to leave one day and never come back. I don't need superficial friends anyway; all I need is the beauty of the world and the endless amount of knowledge that can be attained all across the lands." she said to herself, managing a smile.
"Is that what will make you truly happy?" Tevlin said, his solemn eyes locked on his friend.
"Yes, I know it is. It's the only thing that will. I have nothing else to look forward to," she stated sadly.
"Then just do it. I want to see you happy. I wish you could be now, but I don't know how to make that happen..." he admitted.
Sloane smiled gratefully.
"I know you do, but it's not your fault, Tevlin. Don't feel bad. I can't have happiness here, even with a wonderful friend like you in my life. I know I put a lot of my problems on you, and I'm sorry. I'm so lucky to have you," she replied.
Her words lifted the weight from his heart, and he smiled, though he still wished he could offer more. If only he could make her happy, but he knew that he couldn't. He wasn't what she needed, she needed something more; something he couldn't offer.
* * *
As the remaining light from the setting sun vanished over the ocean, the song picked up even more, the Eyrie's tan fingers tightened on the guitar pick as it swiftly strummed the gold colored strings. His breathing quickened, his wings twitched, yet his expression barely wavered as the song rose to its climax, bringing back the most painful memory stored in the back of his mind. He couldn't shake it off, couldn't push it back to the depths of his brain. It was here, and it wouldn't let him go.
* * *
"I've had enough of all of this! I can't stand it anymore, why doesn't anyone understand me?" she shouted to the open sky, pain and fury building up inside her.
Tevlin stared sadly at his hurt friend, his heart crying out for her, but he said nothing.
"We are only a week away from graduation, but I can't wait anymore, Tevlin. My father says he refuses to allow me to travel Neopia. That 'it's my duty' to take over his stupid little shop! He doesn't care what I want; he won't even allow me to attend a university. I was accepted to a school in Altador, but he won't pay," Sloane explained; her eyes watery.
Tevlin nodded understandingly, but remained silent.
"What am I supposed to do?" she shouted.
She needed advice, he was aware of that, but what was he to say? He didn't know what he could say to ease her anger, but he could tell she needed something from him, aside from his music, this time.
"Tevlin, you have to help me. I have some neopoints, but not enough to live off of. If you run away with me somewhere, we can find jobs for a while, get ourselves on our feet, and travel together just like we talked about a few years ago, remember? We can leave right after graduation, and we'll be free." Sloane managed a hopeful smile as she looked at him, almost desperately.
He hesitated, unsure. How could he leave his only home? If only Sloane loved the island as much as he, they could be together and be happy, but it wasn't enough.
"Sloane, I- I don't know..."
His uncertainty was enough to push her away. Her smile vanished and she glared at him.
"I see; you don't want to. You want us to stay here and live a simple life on the beach. You don't even care about what I want, do you? You always avoid the topic; you don't care, just like everyone else. Fine, I don't need you anyways. I'll leave by myself, and you can stay here and grow old selling useless merchandise and staring at the water with your guitar."
Her words stung, and the Eyrie was speechless for a moment, staring at the Aisha with a hurt expression that she didn't see. If only he could find the words to communicate to her that he did care; that he wanted nothing more than to take away all her anguish. He knew that he would take the weight of the all world's pain if it meant that she would smile again; but she didn't know it, and nothing he could say would convince her of that truth.
Tevlin was silent for too long, and Sloane turned away.
"Goodbye, Tevlin." And she left him.
He wanted to chase after her, form his conflicting feelings into words that would make her stay, but something held him back. Fear, perhaps, that she would reject him; or maybe hopelessness that it was a lost cause. He failed her; he couldn't help anymore.
He never saw her again. She avoided him until the graduation ceremony, and when it ended, she had disappeared. She had left to achieve her dream and forget about everything that had held her back, including him.
* * *
Finally, when the climax of the song finished, the music slowed to a slow, sad tune that brought back feelings of deep despair. Inner turmoil surged through his veins, and the Eyrie's body tensed as the song came to a close. He fought to keep his claws retracted, fearful that they would ruin his instrument, but it became increasingly difficult, and finally, as he finished off the last few notes, the emotions that were bottled inside him broke free and his claws sliced the guitar's strings, destroying all of them and effectively leaving an eerie silence following the destruction of his soul.
He sat there for a moment, his broken guitar beside him and his empty eyes staring forward. He had not played that song in years; he had tried, but always found himself unable to complete it. Even the sound produced from the guitar itself had caused him to refrain from creating new music in the three years since his loss, and now it was gone for good. Never again would he play that instrument, it reminded him of too much. The song would be forever lost, as was his friend.
Without speaking, he stood up and spread his wings, and he took off, flying away into the night, leaving the string-less guitar abandoned in the grass behind him.