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Blue-Black and Starshine
Wynne sighed as she hung over her windowsill, letting her fingers graze the smooth grain of the wooden walls below. As a child she had loved this place. It had seemed ethereal to her, the buildings that were really trees, and easy laughter of the beautiful adults that abounded. Even now, she could not help but recognize its beauty. From her window alone she could see other dwellings like hers, yet not alike; grown from living trees that would never die under the ministrations of her people. Fanciful curlicues bordered curiously-shaped windows, and beaded doorways beckoned to all who passed to enter as they wished. A stream ran through the clearing, running and diverging through several dwellings as it went.
The lithe footsteps of others in the Capital briefly captured Wynne’s attention as she watched them go about their daily business. Talking, laughing, flitting about here and there. Adults were fanciful, but they also played frightening political games. As a youngling, she had not understood. As an almost grown woman, Wynne now knew how dangerous a misstep could be.
As she grew, she was lavished with gifts. Songs and clothes, poetry and flowers. It was never ending. And all because she was a child. Children were rare, she was told. Of course she knew that, even as a youngling. There was no one her age to play with, after all. She was the only child to have been born in the Capital for almost two centuries, and her mother had been all but worshiped for her pregnancy.
It did not matter who her Sire was, for Elves loved where they would and were never thought worse for it. They could come together for a night or stay together for a millennia and it seemed to amount to the same thing. Now however, Wynne wanted the truth. She was different and she knew it. Sheltered here in the Capital, she was sometimes escorted to other cities to visit distant relatives. Since her mother’s death, she had been looked after by the State, and she sometimes wondered if she would feel more normal were she not in the confining clutches of royalty and nobility.
Gazing out the window at the sum of what her life would be, Wynne could not help but feel saddened by the lack of purpose that would consume her. Interrupted in her inner musings, she cocked her head slightly as the poplar leaves outside her window rustled suddenly. She started as a large raven erupted from the leaves with a loud caw. He perched on the windowsill and regarded her with beady black eyes. She could not help but speak to him.
“Well, aren’t you a beauty, sir?”
He cocked his head, in a move eerily reminiscent of hers just a moment earlier. His blue-black feathers glistened in the sunlight, and she had to temper her urge to run her fingers along his back.
“Yes,” she cooed lovingly “you must be a prince among ravens to be so handsome.”
The raven cawed as if in agreement and stilled to watch her once more.
“What is it you want from me sir,” she inquired curiously. “I am but an elf-child, though surely the nobles grow tired of calling me so. I am almost a woman grown and I have no chance of escaping this gilded prison that is my home.”
The raven looked at her for a moment before lifting his wings and coming to rest on the branch just below her window. Alarmed at losing him so soon, Wynne followed to the window, meeting his gaze once more. He shuffled further along the branch, still looking at her.
“Do you wish me to follow you?” She asked in amazement, not quite certain if this was a trick her mind had conjured.
She supposed that meant yes.
Glancing quickly back into her chambers, she hoisted herself up onto the sill before crouching and jumping at the branch. She landed rather loudly and froze, while the raven cawed with what she thought was amusement. She glared at him, and he cawed again, this time hopping closer to her on the branch.
Unthinkingly, she reached out a hand to touch him, and he recoiled, but not before her fingers met feathers, smooth and silky and suddenly, all was black.
No, not black. Shimmering blue-black like his feathers in the sun, but filled with a hidden kaleidoscope of color. She wasn’t floating or standing, she wasn’t anywhere really. She just was. She existed and did not think to question it. He was here too. The raven. She could feel his existence just as surely as her own. A caw echoed around them before turning into a deep chuckle.
Suddenly it was clear. In that one moment, her life seemed to resolve to a pinprick. Her mother, with hair of starshine, flighty and loving, not caring what others thought of her. Though Wynne was not quick to laugh like the other Elves, when her mother did so she could not help but follow. Her mother’s love of all creatures, of foreign places, of new languages, of different people. The haunting wordless songs that her mother taught her almost immediately before her death. Her mother’s death, deemed a tragic accident by Elfkind, the mourning that accompanied, none in black save Wynne herself. The odd furtive looks that others gave her when her back was turned. Those looks she could feel as well as if she had actually seen them. It all jumbled in her mind, screaming, singing, shouting for attention until suddenly it all wound to a stop as her voice rang out, synchronizing with the deep cawing chuckle that still echoed around them.
“You’re my father, aren’t you?”