Wings of the Wind

Chapter 1: Falling

Daya stared at the ceiling of her room as she lay in bed. Her blanket was stretched across the bed tightly and there was no wrinkle to be seen in it or on her pillow. She tried to bore a hole through the wooden plank that made up the floor of the room above hers with her mind. Unfortunately she couldn't concentrate on it long enough. The sun had only been up for a few minutes but already its hot rays were making even her thin blanket almost unbearable. She pulled the cover to the side and swung her legs over the high mattress and let them dangle in the air for a moment before sliding down to the floor. Her feet made a dull thud that echoed across the spacious room as she walked to her closet. She pulled back the green drape that hid her clothes and pulled out a sleeveless, short cream dress and a blue apron and walked across the room, the same dull thud following her, to the tub and pumped the metal pump until crystal blue water filled it. She hung her dress and apron on a tall hat stand next to a soft white towel. She proceeded to pull her thin blue night dress over her head and toss it to the ground. She slipped first one foot then another into the bathtub and let the rest of her body settle down into the already warm water. She sighed lazily and slid down the side until her whole body was submerged. She held her breath and looked back up at the ceiling. She preferred the view of the world she was afforded through the water. The once boring, brown plank was now softened to a dream like worm that had shimmering silver spots all over it. She sat back up and took in a deep breath before she took the bar of soap from the little alcove into the wall next to the tub and started to scrub her body. She mango scent that drifted up from the soapy water filled her nostrils delightfully and she started to massage her scalp with it as well. While wet her hair was so dark it looked almost black but in places where the sun hit it the reddish tint of her maroon locks was visible.

A vulture screeched somewhere outside her window and she got out of her bath, its serenity now disturbed. With slow circles she rubbed the towel down her sturdy tan legs and along her olive arms. She put the towel back on the rack in exchange for the cream dress and apron. She pulled a horse-hair brush through her tresses that fell just below her shoulders in a sleek stream. Then she chose a midnight blue scarf from among her many and wrapped it around her head and hair so it hung down her back disguising the hair.

Daya slipped into a pair of soft cotton slippers and left her room. Her room was on the second floor of the six floored house and two sets of winding stairwells gave her access to the other floors, each step on the stairs more rickety than the next. She made her way down to the first floor and was directly in kitchen. It was a small room but held more than enough food for the three people that lived there. Daya suspected magic when she thought about it, but she had lived in this house all her life and nothing had really been different at all. The ice chest was always full of fresh milk and frozen fruits each morning as if she had never taken anything out; the pantry was stocked newly with grains, nuts, fruits, and herbs, even the meat stores were never depleted enough to be of any significance. But Daya didn't complain, it was plenty to be cooking all the time, worrying about having enough food would have been a mess. This particular morning she felt lazy and pulled out the bread she had made the previous day and separated it on two trays, three pieces each. She cut a plump mango into pieces as well as a handful of bright red strawberries and even some pineapples. She brewed two cups of tea and scooped some freshly churned butter into two cups.

Once the trays were full she balanced one on each hand and made her way up to the fifth floor. For nineteen years she had been at Manor Celeste and fourteen of those nineteen had been spent cooking and cleaning for the owners; by now she could perform a whole day's routine blind. There were only two doors on the fifth floor, one belonging to the Lady of the house and the other to her manservant, Thayrdard. One knock on Thayrdard's door and she left the tray outside for him to pick up, he was an extremely secretive man though not unpleasant. Now she moved on to the second door, that of Lady Esneskelina. Breakfast was the only time Daya ever set eyes on the bed-ridden old woman. The room was always dark and forebodingly quiet. Each footstep into the room sent a shiver up the girl's legs and through her whole body. A thick layer of dust as gray and ashy as the Lady's hair covered almost everything in the room. There were tables and chairs in the corners and across the finely woven rugs and a vanity mirror across from Daya reflected her dirty image. Tall red drapes covered the windows and Daya, in all her years, had never seen them open. At first glance Esneskelina looked to be only a small wrinkle in her large comforter but at a closer look there was a frail old woman; her white hair and brilliant green eyes giving her a confident air. Daya was sure that sometime in her younger days she was a vibrant woman with spirit to rival any man's. She walked carefully over to the bed, making sure not to wake the sleeping woman. She set the tray lightly down on the bedside table and proceeded to walk back to the door. The smell of the tea usually woke Esneskelina up in time to drink it so the girl never worried about it going cold. When she left the room Daya thought she heard the sleeping woman speak but when she turned around the only sound was that of gentle breathing.

Outside the door she almost ran into Thayrdard as he reached for the door knob. Every time Daya saw Thayrdard he seemed to have grown taller. He towered above her now, his piercing blue eyes staring down at her over his hawk-like nose. Daya smiled; if she hadn't known him for almost her entire life that look might have scared her. "Good morning sir," she said brightly and curtsied.

Thayrdard bowed in his long black suit until his smooth bald head was almost at Daya's eye level. "And good morning to you my girl," he said in a deep though aging tone. When he straightened Daya noticed wrinkles by his eyes and a sagging of his pale cheek she had not seen before. He moved past the girl into Esneskelina's room and shut the door quickly.

Daya jumped a little at the closing of the door it seemed to convey the message that Thayrdard wanted to be along with Esneskelina; with an emphasis on the alone. However Daya was an inquisitive spirit and recently she had been feeling slightly discontented with her life in general. She pushed the stray hairs away from her face and walked up quietly to the door and pressed her ear against it. The first voice she heard was unfamiliar in the waking world but she felt like she had heard it in her dreams. "The time approaches," was said with a creaking tinge but an undertone of youth and strength. It was definitely not Thayrdard's voice. Daya had never heard Esneskelina speak before and it sent chills through her body for some reason.

"You know the danger in letting her go," replied, who Daya instantly recognized, Thayrdard. "Prophecies can be spoken but their fulfillment rests in her. She is not ready, she knows nothing of the world, and it will devour her before she knows what is happening. She cannot leave."

"You've grown too attached my friend, it is unhealthy. We are not her family and she is no part of us. She must go to her destiny and do with it what she can. We have protected her thus far. For the sake of us all she must leave and it must happen before tomorrow. I have seen them coming and she will miss them if we wait any longer. It is time." There was an eerie sense of finality to Esneskelina's words and it made Daya's stomach turn violently. After Esneskelina's words a heavy silence fell only broken by a gruff reply Daya couldn't hear and then the heavy footsteps of Thayrdard as he crossed the room for the door.

Daya was down the stairs and into her room and locking the door before she realized she had even moved. Her heart was beating at an insane speed. She pulled off her head scarf and let her maroon hair fall over shoulders as she sat down on her bed. She searched her memory as best she could but she couldn't remember another person being in Manor Celeste her entire life. She must leave and it must happen tomorrow…Daya's mind reeled. "Can they mean me?" she asked the same board in her ceiling she had spent the morning staring at. She received in answer a sharp tapping at her window. She jumped and turned at the sound to see a dark shape continually banging against her window. She put her hand over her chest and sighed, "It's only a bird," she said almost laughing at her paranoia. She got up and opened the window to allow the animal in before it bashed its head in. As soon as she unlatched the window the bird darted into her room and to Daya's surprise another dark shape was heading straight for her. The larger shape took on a familiar appearance and Daya shut her window before the vulture could get in. She was shaken by what just happened not only because vultures never go after live prey but because the animal had screeched and glared at her with a flaming red eye before flying off.

The first bird was flying frantically around the room. It was much smaller than she had originally thought and instead of black it was a dark blue shade with a lighter grey on its head and belly. After a few minutes the creature finally came to a stop and had perched itself on the side of Daya's tub. It peeped twice and turned its small blue head so it could get a better look at Daya. She sat still on her bed trying not to disturb the bird as it blinked its little black eyes at her curiously. In a flutter of wings and legs the bird was on her bed standing next to her and it hopped its way onto her knee. Daya smiled and ran a finger down the bird's back and it let out a few soft tweets. "You're a nice little bird aren't you?" she said, "Come to take my mind off my problems?" And suddenly the little joy the bird had brought into her morning dissipated.

"Am I really to leave?" she asked the bird, "And what do they mean 'she knows nothing of the world'? I've been cooking and cleaning and learning since I was four. What world is there to know?" At that very moment something in Daya's mind broke.

It had taken a good deal of strength out of Esneskelina to remove the spell she had cast on Daya so long ago and as she sat back in her bed, silver hair sticking with sweat to the harsh curves of her face. She closed her deep blue eyes and felt a slight tingle as they returned to the hazel color they had been hundreds of years ago. Much of the youth that had still flowed through her veins began to dwindle and the old woman took a deep breath as she prepared to face her ending.

The breaking of the spell affected Daya physically and the pain in her right temple was unbearable as she slunk down on her bed and to the floor. Bright blue lights exploded in front of her eyes and a cold wind swirled around her and the bird. Thayrdard heard the snap as the mental leash that had been on Daya's mind since her arrival at Manor Celeste broke. "Damnation!" he shouted from the top of the stairs.

He ran to Esneskelina's room but the woman was just taking her last breath as her warm brown eyes turned on him. "I have done my part," she whispered, "Lord be with her." Her eyes shut and her chest never moved again.

Thayrdard yelled again when he examined her hands to find them unmarked. "Where are they?" he shouted angrily at the dead woman. "Where are those damned markings?"

Daya murmured as she lay on the floor and only the cold feel of the bird's beak on her face woke her. She sat up immediately and looked around. She yelped as painful images she had never seen before flashed across her mind. She saw images of a young girl, no more than four, almost asleep in her bed as a pair of large gloved hands wrapped around her. She tried to cry out for her mother but the hands clasped over her mouth wouldn't allow it. She saw, from the view of the young girl, rising above the trees until her mind went blurry when she had risen so far she could no longer distinguish land from sky. She saw a tall but thin man with dark black hair kneeling by a stream with arms open to her and a woman that walked up next to him, a woman with hair the same color as Daya's. Then she saw a girl take her hand and lead her into the forest to find flowers; a girl that was the mirror image of Daya when she was a child. "What is this?" she called frantically. Image upon image crowded into her head and she jumped up trying to shake away the memories she had never had before.

As she wandered around her room rubbing her head she saw herself in the small mirror that hung near her closet and gasped. Her eyes that had once been a dark brown almost black even were now a bright blue. A blue that seemed eerie set against her dark skin and hair. She put her hand to her face to open her eyelid more but the strange blue swirls that had appeared on her arms from the tips of her fingers to a space just past her elbow caught her attention. They were light blue just like her eyes and seemed to shimmer just slightly when she moved her arm, the nails on her fingers had also changed to a light shimmering blue as well. "What's happening to me?" she asked frantically.

As if in reply there came a loud knocking on her door. "Daya, Daya open this door," Thayrdard's voice shouted from the other side.

Daya whirled around from inspecting her hands. She normally wouldn't even have locked her door but the things she had heard outside Esneskelina's door scared her and she wasn't too keen on letting Thayrdard in. To her knowledge now she knew nothing about the man. She looked around her room for something to inspire her in what to do. Thayrdard still shouted at her from beyond the door and she started to panic when the sound of his large body hitting the door sounded. He was trying to break it down.

A shape on her bed caught her eye. A book. An unknown force drew her to it and once her tattooed hands touched it the book sang with a high tune that apparently Thayrdard could hear as well. "Daya put it down! It's not for you to see!" he yelled.

That shook Daya from the book's spell. She grabbed the book and thrust it into the large pocket on her apron and opened her window. The blue bird flew to her shoulder as she jumped out. As she fell she heard a splintering of wood and a flow of curses as Thayrdard discovered she was gone. He ran to the window and saw her land on the hot sand below. The bird flew off Daya's shoulder when she landed and she stood up a little dazed to see Thayrdard leaning out the window calling to her. With fear in her eyes she took off away from the mansion to the blazing orange dunes of the desert that surrounded the manor.

The bird flew ahead of her and Daya ran and ran for hours before she stopped to look where she was. Sand was all she could see in every direction. The manor was now a tiny speck for to the west and to the east, the direction she had been running, there was blue sky. Sky the color of her eyes. As she sat down to bring her breathing back to normal her situation set in. She was in the middle of nowhere having run away from, for all she knew, the only people for thousands of miles. She was in a scorching hot desert that dropped to freezing temperatures at night with no shelter and no companion except for a bird. The place she had called home for the past nineteen years was now miles away and as far as she could tell inhabited by two lying and dangerous sorcerers. But wait. She was being unreasonable. This was all probably in her head. Then she looked at her hands again and knew it wasn't. The strange swirling symbols were still on her arms though slightly less sparkling.

She took the book out of her apron and started to inspect it when the bird squawked and jumped on it with those beady little eyes glaring past her. A whoosh of air behind her told her what the bird what looking at and she saw a tall dark form appear out of a cloud of sand. She screamed and jumped up with the book tightly pressed against her chest and ran. She heard Thayrdard calling her from behind but with a voice that was much deeper. She looked behind her quickly and saw him gaining on her. It was hopeless he would be on her in a moment. She slid to a stop and turned to face Thayrdard. He was dressed all black with a long dark cape swirling around him as he put out a large gloved hand to her and she instantly recognized it from her lost memory. "No!" she screamed and took a step back just as Thayrdard repeated her cry and to her surprise she began to fall.

Daya screamed as she fell it was like she had stepped off a cliff but instead of falling next to the cliff she was falling near nothing. All around her was blue sky and above her she could just make out the tiny form of Thayrdard leaning over the side of what seemed to be an enormous floating island. Her stomach rose to her throat and she knew she was facing death as she clutched the book tight to her body. She started to loose consciousness in freezing thin air and she shut her eyes tightly. She heard a strange whirling sound different from the rush of wind past her ears and opened them to see the face of the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. But she wasn't a normal woman her face was much larger than Daya's and she seemed to be transparent. However, none of that distracted Daya from her shining beauty. Her eyes were a pale purple like the underside of a cloud as the sun set just before a storm; her skin was the color of a winter sky, blue but faint and light. Her hair was amazing, it was white like a wispy cloud in the spring and it fell over her shoulders like a white river. As Daya stared her eyes began to falter and just before she closed them and blacked out she heard a soft voice like the sound of the wind through a corn field whisper to her, "Be not afraid my child." And then she heard no more.