Total Posts: 12
Member No. 1924
Joined on 25-February 15.
Joss, Mary & Owl
GoalsOn the dawn of the first day
-- Introduce Blackbeak, and name her
-- Start developing the bond between Owl and Blackbeak
-- Increase friendship
Somewhere just outside Marchton
A tiny bird takes to the sky for the first time
The darkness that surrounded me was gone, in the space between one beat of my little lion heart and the next. I blinked, and for the first time in my memory I saw true light. I had heard about this phenomenon from others who I had been caged with, and I dreamed of the world above the tunnels. The idea of such a thing sustained me, even when I was left alone, especially when I too, was taken like all the souls me before had been, when I was forced into an even smaller cage. In there, the air was stale, unmoving, dead. And I felt my spirit flicker within me, because I am not meant for darkness and places without wind.
Then the lock on my cage was opened, and I was free.
It was like the sun had been waiting for me, perched as it was upon the distant horizon. I breathed in deep, and stretched my wings, drunk on the sweetest breath of wind I’ll ever taste. Higher and higher I climbed, because the tunnels were below me somewhere, and I would die before I went back there. The clouds above me were edged with fire, and the spark inside me flared to life and pulled me up, up and away from the earth. And it was so beautiful. But something else was pulling me back, holding me tight. A powerful down stroke and my feathers flared, dancing in the updraft. I looked back down, and everything seemed small and yet infinite. My heart wanted me to return, and my spirit wanted me to soar, to leave the tunnels and the cages behind and never look back.
In the end, though, I grew tired of the war waging within me, so I tucked my wings and fell to the earth with eyes closed, so that I wouldn’t see the sun continuing to rise without me, so my soul would not waver. I needed it to be strong, because I did not know what awaited me. I only knew that if there were going to be more prisons and darkness and lifeless air, I would set my world on fire, because it would be better to die today in the light of day, wrapped in a coat of licking flames and quavering, salty breezes, than to go out in a cold and dank kind of blackness. I dove towards the earth – a spark of light shot out of the sky.
A sound pierced through the whistling of the wind; a high-pitched keening and the world tilted; I knew not where I was going anymore. My wings spread and I spiraled – this time, I fell without control. I heard a voice carried to me by the wind – it was rough and rasping, but there was a lyrical beauty to it none-the-less. The soul who was speaking to me would never sing as I could, but her voice, it was other-worldly and ancient, in a way that mine never could be. ‘Open your eyes, Firestar, and do not be afraid. Your wings, they will never fail you. Trust them, little one, and you will fly over mountains and oceans, through dense canopies and sand-swept plains.’ So I opened my eyes, and the world turned into a kaleidoscope of colours, and I tried, I tried to trust my wings. But they were small, and not used to such freedom. It wasn’t fair. I had been born behinds bars, hidden away where the air was dank, the tunnel walls carved by trickling water, like I was something dirty, a mistake, not worth a second glance.
‘I – I cannot. Please, please, I just want to see the sun again.’ All of my misery spilled out into the light of the rising sun in the form of a meek and mournful cry. There was an edge to the wind now. It cut through the shafts of my feathers, sheared them away completely. I mourned their loss instantly – they had never really had a chance to feel the sun upon them, nor the wind whistling through their vanes. ‘Be not afraid, Firestar, for whenever you fall, there will be someone waiting to catch you. This… I… Vow…..’ Even sound no longer reached me clearly. I was suspended above the earth for one glorious moment. And then everything came crashing down. I felt my earthly tether wrap its claws around me, and press my wings tight to my sides. Even if I could fly, could trust my tired and bedraggled wings, there was no breaking free now...
My world was dark again but there was a brightness to it, as though any moment the sun would rise and paint the clouds with a brush dipped in embers. And it was warm, and I was not alone. I could feel my heart still beating, and there was a wave of warm breath on my face. I was still alive, but I had death on my mind. This, this was how I wanted to die – warm and safe and free, in the embrace of one who knew the meaning of love. This ancient and beautiful soul, she loved me, and I knew not what I had done to deserve such love. I had heard it in her voice though, and it was more real to me than anything else. ‘Wake up now, my Firestar. I have you. Your heart beats with mine, can you feel it?’ Yes, I could, and I knew then that there would be no more cages. ‘I am Otylia, bright little spark, and I will help your wings grow strong. ’ Otylia. Otylia was my sun, and she promised me that we would rise together. Otylia had released me from my days of darkness, and I knew that I would never be alone again. I just had to… Had to try and… ‘Open your eyes, Firestar, and face your future without fear.’
Storm Eyes, he was the first thing I saw. He leaned close, and I was alarmed by the proximity. I shrank back, and there was a noise at my back, a thrumming that touched me deep in my hollow bones. I looked up, and through a shaggy curtain of white fur, I saw eyes that glowed like pale fire, pools of sunlight gazing down upon me. Otylia. She nudged me with her red-tipped nose, and I thought it was strange, the way her voice flowed like honey from between soft lips and ivory teeth. She was so different from I, and yet I had heard her chittering and chirping like one of my own kin. A nudge forced me forwards and away, and I opened my wings to catch my balance, felt the gaps where feathers were supposed to be. The human creature had yet to speak, he just smiled down at me, and I felt the dragon-bird’s breath on my back. I wondered if she could hear the racing of my heart, with her ears that stood proud atop her head, flared like great, cupped wings.
‘What does he want?’ I asked of the giant winged creature who loved me. I stared at his skinny, featherless limb. He had extended it towards me, and I could see that it flattened out and separated into thinner, curved shafts, but there weren’t nearly enough of them. ‘Poor thing. You’ll never fly with these.’ I pecked at one, curious and apprehensive at the same time, and fluttered my disheveled wings when he drew back quickly. Behind me Otylia made a noise of amusement and spoke, her words rasping and guttural, so that I couldn’t quite understand them. And then the very ground was trembling, and the air, and I thought that the sky would crack and begin to come tumbling down, just like I had. There was a great shifting, and suddenly I could no longer feel the gentle warmth of the sun kissing my feathers. A great shadow was cast over us, and I pressed my tiny, quivering body into the fur around Otylia’s neck. ‘Aryeh, you’re going to frighten our little spark to death. She’s seen enough shade. Close your wings and introduce yourself.’ The great beast rumbled again, but knowing now that Otylia loved him too, I was not afraid. I felt awe for the first time in my life. If any creature were to ever blot out the sun, it would be him – the great fire-and-sky coloured dragon, who was larger than life, and the most gentle of souls, despite the scars that covered him, and the absence of one of his forelegs.
No sound had yet come from Storm Eyes, and I searched for him again, only to find him some small distance away, lounging in the coil of Aryeh’s tail as if he belonged there. And who was I to say he did not? Around me, Otylia was motionless, and though I was aware of her and Aryeh both, it was upon the silent human that my attention was focused. What I had taken to be curved shafts earlier were now wrapped around a bundle of sticks. They were not featherless wings then, but dull claws! Intrigued, I hopped closer, the wall that was Aryeh’s body sheltering me on one side. What did the human want sticks for? He raised them to his mouth, and for a moment I was sure he was about to eat them. But he breathed out, and he finally spoke! Granted, his song was unlike any I’d heard before, and the sounds he made had no real meaning, but it was beautiful, and though it didn’t quite sound like love the way Otylia’s voice did every time she had chittered to me, and growled to Aryeh… It held no traces of unkindness, and spoke neither of darkness nor cages.
When his song finished, again he extended his soft and pale claws to me, and this time, I did not hold back. Otylia had told me to face my future without fear. He raised me up, my delicate toes splayed against the flat plane of his skin, and watched me close with his head tilted to one side. He narrowed those deep, pale eyes, fixed them upon me. A crooked smile lit him up like a beacon – it was sharp and spoke of clarity. He had nothing to hide. Slowly, and with great care, he touched the tip of one of his soft claws to the point of my beak. My bright eyes caught sight of the red mark where I had stabbed at his flesh. My gaze shifted to meet his, and what I saw there startled me as much as it confused me. I hadn’t heard love in his song, but I saw it there in his eyes, shining brighter than the very sun that watched over us from above.
I understood that Otylia could love me – in our core, despite our vastly differing physical forms, we were the same. She had spoken of flying, and she belonged to the sky, just as I did. But he, Storm Eyes, he was from another world, one that would never know freedom as I did, would never hear it singing to the beating of his heart. At this realisation, I wanted to pity him, but how could you pity one who seemed so pleased just to feel the sun on his skin, and drew such delight from the wind that rushed past his face? He knew that it was happiness to lie back against the tail of one many would consider a monster and a beast, and just be content to be.
I blinked and realised that he was flapping. Gesturing, rather. Directing my attention to something. He stood, and I instinctively spread my battered wings, balancing myself upon his claw. He stood at the belly of the beast we both called friend, and laid a hand upon the worn, dull black object that seemed perched on Aryeh’s back( though I did not understand how it stayed there). I cracked open my beak when Storm Eyes touched it again, and then the dark shape, and then my beak. I did not understand many things. Aryeh rumbled again, and there. There was something I understood about the human. He was moved by the great scaled beast too. And then again. My beak, and the dark shape, my beak.
‘I do believe Firestar, that he is telling you who you are to him.’ I turned to Otylia, my head tilted, just like the human’s had been earlier. ‘We all of us have many names, little spark. To me and Aryeh, you are Firestar. To him you are… Shadow… Dark… No, Black. Blackbeak. Blackbeak.’ I ruffled my feathers, and ruminated on her words for a few moments, before I chirped, and nibbled at his fingertip the next time he brought it close. He smiled, and it was like a revelation. He loved me. Somewhere to my right, Otylia was thrumming in her throat again, and I half-closed my fever-bright eyes at the sound, closed them completely when Storm Eyes brushed the tiny feathers on my chest with the back of one of his warm claws. If this was my future, belonging with these bright souls, then perhaps, perhaps the half-life I had lived up until now, in darkness, in cages where the wind couldn’t dance over my outstretched wings, and the sun couldn’t kiss my ash and ember feathers… Maybe it had been worth it. And maybe I would have suffered it all again, so long as I had Otylia’s vow to keep my spark lit. Her vow, and Aryeh’s rumbles, and Storm Eyes with his song of not-quite-love, and his gentleness and his claw, pointing. Black and beak, black, black…
Needing me to know who I was to him, because knowing was the beginning of belonging.
I belong. There is a certain spot, just to the right of Storm Eyes’ face, where I perch, nestled into him. His fur is strange, it isn’t fluffy and warm like Otylia’s. I found a single feather while I rested there. Just one, but it is a beautiful feather, strong. Otylia says it has been blessed by the stars – that if I look close enough, I’ll see them glinting back at me, caught in the spaces between the barbs on the inner vane. I tell her that there are no spaces in the feather’s barbs, and that there are certainly no reflections of stars. She just smiles at me, and bares her pointed teeth in a wide and startling grin. Even Aryeh opens his inky eyes and looks at me, wrinkling his great, scaled nose. ‘I promise you they are there, Firestar. You just have to look at him from the right perspective. And then they both watch over Storm Eyes; they go quiet and still, like they’re waiting for something to happen. No, that’s not quite right. They seem to be looking beyond Storm Eyes now, and I try to do the same, but all I see is him, and his clumsy claws, always moving. It’s like he was born to move, built to do and to go.
He reaches up and touches his lone feather often. He smiles each time he runs those thin claws down the leading edge of his feather, brushing the outer vane. It’s like it reminds him of who he is, because when he touches the feather he loses that look he wears so well – the look that makes me think he knows of darkness and cages too. Maybe his soul isn’t so different from mine. Maybe he has a drop of freedom in him after all. I would give him a feather from one of my wings, but all the good ones are damaged, and none compare to his. It’s larger than any of mine, and dark, but not quite black. Again I perched on his shoulder and I tried to find out where it was attached to him. But when I nudged at it, he shook his head, and made that humming noise in his throat. It was different from Otylia’s – her hums are rough and rasping. His was almost melodic, in a way. With eyes half-closed he cupped my small, warm body in one set of claws, and set me softly upon the earth, in the circle of Aryeh’s tail. Next to me, he set down a berry.
It is not within my nature to hesitate – I am bold and fierce in my desire to defend my freedom, I long to experience all the good that life has to offer. But in this moment, I held back, because my spirit flickered within me. In my short life, caged in the dark, I had been fed seeds and grain, and occasionally slivers of an old bruised berry, soft and cloying, that was worth nothing any more. And yet here, here was a young human, who had no song, and only one feather, he had set me free, and now he was giving me, me, a whole berry to myself, one that was fresh, one that he could use for something else, give to someone more important than I. I stared at it, and then at Storm Eyes. His face fell, and I felt like I had before, helpless in the air. ‘Firestar, do you not want it?’ I trilled, but the song got caught in my throat. ‘I do. I do. But I want him to know that I love him too!’ I fluttered my wings, twitched my tail, the melody of my words rising and falling like the cool breeze. ‘I need him to know this!’ Aryeh snorted, and Otylia translated: he knows, child.
And knowing is the beginning of belonging.
I peck at the berry then, and as I break through the skin, and come away with fresh juice on my beak, I can somehow discern the way things will be between Storm Eyes and I in the future that we’ll face together. I will love him, and he will love me. There is no space for hesitation between us (just as there are no spaces between the barbs of a feather), and I pause in my feasting to look at him with my head angled differently. I haven’t found the right perspective just yet, but I study his feather a little longer, and I wonder about the stars the dragon-bird who loves me claims to have seen there. The berry is the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted, strangely cool as I swallow it down, though Storm Eyes doesn’t seem to agree. I offered him a strip of the fruit’s flesh, and his flat mouth went small, and his pale nose crinkled.
There’s a humming in my own chest, and his expression shifts immediately at the sound of my warbled laughter. He bares his teeth the way Otylia did earlier when she was happy and loved dripped from her tongue. His are blunt, though, just like his claws. Everything about him seems soft, except for his smile, sometimes. It’s like he needs to crow, because there’s so much inside him that longs to be free, but he doesn’t know how to let it go. So it keeps on coming, layered, overlapping like the feathers on my wings. One feather alone is beautiful, especially if it is one like his. But many feathers together become a masterpiece. Redirect air, repel water, reflect sunlight. That’s what his smile does.
When I’m finished with the berry, having eaten until I can eat no more, I offer the rest to Otylia, because I noticed her glancing at it often out of the corner of my eye. Storm Eyes is again at ease with Aryeh’s tail wrapped around him, and I sit on one of his claws. He is tapping me gently on the beak, and I chirp at him. Then he is holding something, a small object that is pale, like his skin. He touches it gently, and then drops it and presses a claw-tip to his chest. The strange carving, and his chest. Otylia is close behind me, I can sense her leaning close. ‘Find his name, Firestar.’ I flag my tail. ‘But he is Storm Eyes,’ I say, confused. ‘We all of us have many names, Firestar, Blackbeak. To you he is Storm Eyes, to me he is Star-blessed. But to himself, he is something else…’ She trailed off, and drew away, leaving me to discover this for myself. He had stopped motioning towards himself, and had leaned back, with the little carving cradled in his claws.
I rested one foot against the carved shape, and saw that it had the likeness of a bird. There was a beak, and a pair of large eyes. Even feathers, and I blinked my eyes, studying the hallow grooves carefully. Stonebird. Is that who he was? I hopped up to his shoulder, and sat there, nestled into his neck, with his silky fur on one side, and the star-feather on the other. I wasn’t sure if it was stone – I had only known cages of wood and metal, tunnels of earth and damp rock. But Stonebird seemed to fit him, and he seemed to be content having shown me the strange little figure that he wore around his neck. He would always be Storm Eyes to me, though, in the way that I would always be Firestar to Otylia and Aryeh.
The sun hung low in the sky when we parted ways with my heart’s kin. Otylia circled above us, long after Aryeh had disappeared from sight, and I sang farewell to her, until the breath was stolen from my lungs because the sky was on fire again, and it was so beautiful. Storm Eyes waved, his mouth wide and grinning, but silent as always. He had no voice, no wings. But he had love, and so I would gladly be both for him. I had a purpose, and I had my freedom, that was what Storm Eyes would be for me. He had shown me the second, smaller prison in which I had been contained, and then, before I could begin to doubt him, he buried it in the depths of the pack he carried, and his eyes spoke of a promise, rooted so deeply within him that there was no denying it came from his heart’s deep core.
I sat on his shoulder, glancing at Storm Eyes’ feather every now and again. I had fallen in love with the stars as soon as the sun had set, and it filled me with a savage kind of pride to be the one sitting on this humans shoulder. Otylia called him Star-blessed, and surely that meant he was destined for great things. I was eager for the sunrise, because it would bring another day, one that I would spend with him who loved me. In the days to come, my feathers would grow back, and I would grow stronger. One day, I would be wings for my Storm Eyes, and I would carry him on my back. There would be no more darkness then, and no-one could be able to cage me. I’d fly, and we would be forever free.
‘You are like-souls, you have stars in your spirits, always remember that. You are Firestar, and he is Star-blessed. Look after him, and you will never find yourself in thick shadow again.’
There was a fire in him too, I sensed. In the stillness of the night I saw his soul flickering in his eyes, thriving in the air that tasted ever-so-slightly of salt. He closed his eyes and turned his face so that the next breath of wind washed over him like water. I closed my eyes and did the same, half-spreading my wings. And the wind whistled through the gaps where feathers were meant to be. It felt good though, even if it meant I couldn’t fly properly for a little while. After all, they’d grow back in time. Sleek and strong.
And maybe one day, they’d even reflect the stars.
((So, I hope this reads alright. I keep finding little things that I'm not happy with, but, for the most part, I love it. Blackbeak stole my heart, okay, and she just wanted to sing. Um, she's not had much experience with humans, and so she is funny with some of her words. Doesn't know what fingers are, silly, beautiful bird. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this weird experimental piece written in Blackbeak's voice <3))