“You seem stressed today, Phovos. Is something bothering you?”
Lokmah perched on the roof, looking at the arena below. Phovos had stormed up there, all angry, and Lokmah wanted to know why.
“It is something, Phovos.”
Phovos grunted, then started picking paint off the ledge, a clear sign that she was upset.
“Phovos, please tell me what the problem is.”
The Raptor continued to ignore him. Lokmah sighed, then stretched his wings out, before hesitantly leaning towards Phovos. He never liked seeing her upset.
But recently, Lokmah had been seeing some unusual emotional patterns in the being he considered his closest ally. Too much time spent working late at night, signals of a lack of sleep, eating vast amounts of unhealthy, processed food… All of a sudden, these changes had made Phovos into a very unusual being.
“I can’t tell you, Lokmah…”
Lokmah sighed. “Phovos, you can tell me everything. You know I will never utter a single word to anyone else. I am your secret diary if you want me to be. Plus, it is often beneficial to air out your grievances, let someone else hear them so you can work together to fix them.”
Phovos didn’t say anything. Instead, she straightened herself up and stared off into the distance. Below them, past the small arena designed for one-versus-one battles, was the vast city if Palaestra. To so many beings, it was a multiracial, multicultural haven. No matter what species you were, as long as you followed Vriskeran laws, you were free to live and work in Palaestra and its outlying farming lands.
Apart from Portalia City, the planet’s capital, nowhere on Portalia was as progressive as Palaestra was. But it has cost Phovos dear. She’d built this city on her own, out of her own pocket. She’d protected it and nurtured it. For a thousand years, Phovos had run Palaestra and moulded it into her image.
Phovos kept her focus on the flickering green lights in the distance, marking the edges of the city.
“I’m tired, Lokmah.”
“Why?” Lokmah seemed confused. “Have you been working too hard lately?”
“I’ve been in charge for a thousand years. Running this city. I… I’m tired of it. Exhausted. I… almost want to retire or something.”
“Then why do you not do that?”
Phovos sighed. A long, desperate sigh. “Who would I hand this city to though? Would I hand it to someone I can trust? Should I do elections? Should I give the arena to one person and the city to another? Split it all up? Keep it together? There’s so much, I just don’t know…”
“There is no rush to do all of this. You have plenty of time to make your decisions, Phovos.” Lokmah could sense Phovos’s unease.
“It’s not just that though, Lokmah. There’s so much to consider, and so much people expect of me… And other things too. You know I met with Arkay yesterday. Such a pleasant change. Conflicting feelings, but nothing unpleasant. Now it’s back to work as usual…”
Lokmah grunted. “Perhaps you are just tired now. Perhaps you need a… holiday of sorts? Some time off work again, to recollect yourself and gather your thoughts?”
Phovos’s head dropped. She realised how high up they were.
“A holiday would be nice. I can’t though.”
“I have things to do. So many things. I can’t just put them all on hold!”
“You could if you wanted to. Just take a day off here and there…”
Phovos sighed again. “I guess. I’ll look into it. Thanks for listening…”
Lokmah nodded then flapped open his wings. “Always a pleasure, Phovos. I shall speak to you later.”