Once upon a time there was a Christmas party going on a planet called Eceon. A species that was called the Cédai was enjoying it or as they call it “Spirit Festival”. It was snowing for the first time in a decade. It was the year 193 BD. Four kids were talking. They had skin tones ranging from human skin color to turquoise. The adults too. The room had a long table with platters of food for a nice dinner. Chandeliers were hanging from the ceiling giving out floods of bright light. A large tree with beautiful lights was placed in another room. “She’s not real. It’s just a story.” “Some people like to believe she does,” Azura said. “I’m not one of them,” A boy responded. “Rich people don’t believe in her, Viktas,” Azura replied. “Be careful of what you say, it might land you in Skaule,” Viktas responded. They all laughed. “We don’t speak that name. That name is no laughing matter,” An adult said. “It was a joke,” Viktas said. The adult kept looking at him before leaving. “They’re just kids, Rammir. They don’t know any better,” Another adult said. “They should know the consequences. They could get in trouble,” Rammir responded. They continued their conversation for a few more minutes. “Azura, can you get the foxes? It’s almost time,” An adult said. “Of course,” Azura said. She got up and headed outside. Four arctic foxes were waiting outside. “It’s time to play, guys,” She said. They came towards her. One was lagging behind. “Blizzard, come here. You don’t want to keep Syfas waiting,” Azura said. Blizzard came towards her. She went back inside and the foxes followed. Once they got inside the foxes headed towards their owners. “Blizzard’s acting strange. He doesn’t seem to listen to me only when I mention your name,” Azura said to Syfas. “He’s getting old. I’ve heard that some don’t do it because they have a special connection with their owners. This only happens during their final years,” Syfas explained. “I’m sorry. It must be hard,” She responded. “Thanks. You’re great with animals, by the way,” He replied. “I wouldn’t say great,” She said. “You are. They always listen to you,” Syfas replied. “I got it from my mother. She worked with animals for a few years,” She responded. “She’s a great woman,” He replied. A bell rang and the kids stopped talking. They all looked at the bell. “It’s time everyone. Gather ‘round,” Viktas’s father said. Everyone gathered around him. They started to talk quietly for a few minutes. They sat down at the table and began to pass the food around. The foxes were enjoying their berries. All of the adults were sitting together and the kids were sitting together. They started a small conversation. “ Lyra, how is your father?” “Good. He’s adjusting well,” She replied. “To what?” “Can I be excused?” There was a small nod. She left the table and the room. Silence fell. “Viktas!” “What?” “Why did you say that? Haven’t your parents told you anything?” “What’s wrong with it?” Azura explained it to him. “I didn’t know,” He said. The rest of the dinner continued on and when everyone was done the dishes were going to the kitchen to get washed. The kids were playing with their foxes. One of the foxes was lying down. “She’ll be back, Crystal,” Azura said. “I’ll get her. She’s having a hard time adjusting. She’s my niece and who wouldn’t listen to a dear old aunt?” Crystal started to head towards the stairs. “Foxes aren’t allowed upstairs. Sorry, Crystal,” Viktas said. The fox headed back and layed back down. Lyra’s aunt managed to find her. She sat down next to her. “You’re gonna miss the rest of the party. The others miss you,” Her aunt said. “I’m not in the mood,” Lyra said. She put her hand on her arm. “Your mother was a great woman and an amazing sister. She will be remembered.” “It doesn’t feel right…” Lyra began. “It’s the time to honor our dead. Remember those we’ve lost. You have a special connection that most people your age don’t. Itia, the spirit guide will watch over you and your mother,” Her aunt interjected. “She’s just a myth.” “She is very much real. It is said that she will appear when someone has suffered a great loss. Today might be your lucky day. Let’s go downstairs.” They went downstairs and Crystal came running towards them. She settled down a few feet from the others. Her fox layed down on her lap. “She’s getting tired. When are we going to the ceremony?” Lyra said. “They’re discussing it. There’s a smaller one by the Hereram river and the local one which is by the ocean,” Syfas responded. “I don’t want to do it without my father,” She said, quietly. The adults came back. “We’ll take Crystal home then go to the ceremony,” Lyra’s aunt said. “She’s part of the family. I don’t want to leave her.” “She’s too young. She needs to rest.” “We’ll be by the ocean,” Another adult said. Lyra picked up Crystal and followed her aunt to the door. They put on their coats and went outside. Everything was covered with snow and it was almost midnight. Her aunt turned on a flashlight and lit the way home. It was a 15 minute walk. Lyra set Crystal down on a small furry bed and left the house. Her aunt turned the light off. They headed towards the ocean. They didn’t speak the whole way there. They met a few families along the way. When they got to the ocean there were torches along the edges, illuminating the area. Lots of people were there. They walked around until they found her father. “Thought you weren’t gonna make it,” Lyra’s father said. “We weren’t going to miss it for the world,” Lyra replied. “Having fun with Aunt Zaria?” He asked. “Very.” “There’s a spot open. Let’s go,” He said. They walked towards an area which was clear of people. All three of them knelt down. The father placed a small mechanical boat on the water. “Let your spirit wander and find the way back home. You will be remembered,” All three of them said in unison. One of them started the boat and it went across the water. As Lyra watched it sail across she noticed an apparition floating above. It was her lucky day after all.