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An unsung hero

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Chapter 1; A difficult choice


‘Come on Callum, it will be fun.’
‘I told you, I don’t like plays.’
Rayla rolls her eyes again. She has been trying to convince him to come for almost two days and every time he stubbornly refuses.
‘There is going to be a full moon tonight. There will be performers from all over Xedia and mages. It is going to be beautiful. If you don’t go, you will regret it.’
He gives her a look which is both irritated and curious.
‘Are you saying that there might be magic?’
‘There will definitely be magic.’
For a moment Callum is silent.
‘Fine I will come.’
Rayla her cheer is loud enough to startle the birds on the roof.

That evening Rayla and Callum are greeted by two familiar figures as they decent the stairs.
‘I thought we were going by ourselves?’
‘Well it is the adult version and everyone under eighteen must have a guardian.’
‘So you thought it would be a good idea to invite your guardians to supervise us?’
‘It is most definitely a good idea.’ Says Tinker with a warm smile. ‘Runaan and I haven’t been abele to go to a play for ages.’
‘And because I am still recovering, I can finally spend some time with my mate and our adoptive daughter.’
‘How is your arm Runaan?’ Asks Rayla before Callum has a chance to say anything.
‘Much better with the binding off. In another week or two and I will be as good as new.’
‘You are in a good mood.’
‘Let’s just say that I have a lot to be grateful for. I am no longer trapped in a coin, my binding is gone, the dragon prince is reunited with his mother, to name a few things.’
‘And you are finally home again.’ Says Tinker lovingly.
‘Most certainly my beloved mate.’
Runaan and Tinker kiss as Rayla and Callum decent the final stairs. They wait a minute, then another and after ten minutes Rayla decide to interrupt the pair.
‘Eh Runaan, Tinker, the play starts in an hour. If you keep this up, we are going to be late.’
They give each other one final kiss before they look at Rayla.
‘Lets go then, I wouldn’t want to miss the opening theme.’
Callums sigh is rewarded with a big smile from Tinker.

 

The theater is unlike anything Callum has ever seen. The building is circular, with walls that appear to be made of white clay and huge windows with wooden shutter. What surprises him most is that the theatre has no roof. When he asked Tinker about it, the only answer he got was that he would soon see. Not that he really has the chance to ponder about the strange architecture, the theater is packed with elves and not all of them are happy to see a human in their midst. Finally, after a lot of dirty looks and whispers, the group manages to secure some seats on the balcony next to some Startouch and Earthblood elves. Callum is the lucky fellow that gets to sit next to the Startouch elves, which coincidentally is as far away as possible from the Earthbloods.
Then, finally, the lights dim and the curtains open. A single Moonshadow elf is standing in the spotlight.
‘Lady’s and gentleman! I welcome you here tonight on this evening, in the light of the full moon. Tonight, we are going on a journey back in time, a journey of love and hate, through lands far and wide, with unknown dangers hiding behind every corner. But with a spark of hope at the end.’ He pauses, giving everyone a moment to let his words sink in. ‘Long ago, when Xedia was still one land, before the founding of the high council, in a time when both the elves and humans where divided, a nobody made a choice that would change the course of history. A choice that allowed the world to go down a path of peace. Let us begin.’

The speaker steps back into the shadows. Suddenly Callum is no longer sitting in theater, he is in a Skywing city.
‘Calm down, I believe I told you this would happen.’ Rayla sounds quite irritated that Callum has jumped out of his seat. ‘It is an illusion. So, relax and enjoy.’
As he sits down, two actors appear on stage, there wings are raised high and their clothing is the beloved white of the Skywings.
‘Dear Mica, it has been too long.’ The woman with the brown hair says.
‘His lordship has been keeping me busy running errands.’ Mica replies laughing, ruffling his short black hair.
‘Nonsense! The lord would never keep company with a lowborn elf like you!’
‘And are you much higher in the food chain? My lovely Nica?’
‘I am always the most noble highborn Skywing elf that has ever existed when I am with you.’
They smile and kiss. A bell tolls in the background.

‘That is my signal, I guess I must go.’ Mica has a sad look in his eyes.
‘Let me accompany you to the gates, we can catch up while we fly.’
The scene changes as they fly, from the busy streets to a steep path towards a huge castle.
‘Have you heard?’ Nica starts after a short pause.
‘Heard what?’
‘It appears the Eartbloods and the Sunfires are finally going to negotiate a peace treaty.’
‘Really?’
The biggest Earthblood clan and the biggest Sunfire caste have been at war for what seems like an eternity. With other elven nations being dragged in the conflict along the way. So far most of the flights of the Skywing nation have been to busy fighting each other to be really involved in the conflict.

The effects of the dragged-out war can however be seen everywhere. From the populace of most major city’s to farmers on the field, wherever you look there are humans. This is a big difference form before the war. Back then the human populace was relatively small compared to other elven nations. Since the start of the war thousands upon thousands of human refugees have poured in the Skywing nation. With refugees eager and willing to switch sides and swear themselves to a flight. And with Skywing lords and ladies eager to accept them in order to stock up on labour and armed forces to change the power balance in their favour. A luxury most elves don’t have. Bound as they are to their race for support and acceptance, it is quite hard to switch sides.
‘It has been all over the news these last few day’s. Every newspaper is full of speculation. How is it possible you haven’t heard?’
‘I was out running an errand to a vassal flight.’
‘Again? I thought you where just delivering a report or something.’
‘Same here, I guess his lordship is planning something big.’
‘Something you won’t be around to see if you are late. Gerrard is probably waiting for you.’
‘Guess so, shall we let him wait a while longer?’
Hovering a few feet in front of the gate they kiss passionately.

‘Come down here you little lovebirds! Some of us are actually trying to work!’ The gruff voice of the human guard is laced with just a tiny bit of amusement.
Nica and Mica look each other in the eyes one last time before she flies of.
‘If you hurry up you might make it in time.’ Says the guard not unkindly.
‘Thanks, have a good watch.’
‘And you a good flight.’
 It is quiet in the common room of the couriers, most of then are already out flying errands across Xadia. But there are always a couple of them in the common room, by order of his lordship Sihnion Master of the Flight and Lord of the Earie, to stand at his beg and call to deliver messages the moment he sees fit. It is part of being a royal courier and is considered a day off by most since the last mayor dispute was settled more than year ago. Mica, who is on standby, settles in for a lovely game of cards with a couple of his colleagues his thoughts already home with Nica. Plans that disappear the moment Gerrard, the clerk responsible for pretty much all the paperwork in the office, walks in with an ashen face.

‘Mica get your gear and clean up. You have been summoned by his lordship. You have ten minutes to prepare. Don’t waste them.’
Somehow Mica manages to redress, wash and comb his hair in the granted ten minutes. In his lords tower he kneels in the center of the chamber and waits to be noticed. After what seems an eternity a couple of polished boots come in his field of vision.
‘In name of Lord Sihnion Master of the Flight you will deliver this proposal to the caste Lord of the Sunfire elves. Now read.’ The Seneschal holds a letter in front of the young courier who clumsily tries to grab it. There is no need for him to be nervous thou, his lord has not stopped looking out of the window since he entered the chamber.
With a growing feeling of dread Mica reads the letter. He swallows, he needs to know the content off such letters. It is his duty as a royal courier so in case that the letter is destroyed, he can still deliver the message. And in this letter is a proposal that will start an all-out war.
‘Finished?’ Asks a resonating voice.
His lord looks impatiently at him, not realising how shaken the young courier is.
‘Yes, my lord.’
Still on his knees Mica returns the letter with both hands and his head bowed as is expected of a lowborn. Lord Sihnion snatches the letter out of his hands and proceeds to seal it with red wax and the mark of his flight. He brushes some loose strands of is dark hair out of his face as he addresses the courier again looking at Mica with his famous dark blue eyes.
‘I expect the reply in a week or so. The talks should not take much longer.’
He then leaves the room without a backwards glance. Mica waits on his knees for a full minute before lifting his head and carefully taking the letter from the attendant.
‘You shouldn’t keep his lordship waiting.’ Says the attendant with a small smile.
Mica smiles back at the attendant. ‘I know.’

It takes Mica almost two days to fly all the way to the spot where the peace conference is taking place. The gardens of the Earthblood palace are in full bloom. He lands not far from the main entrance where he is directed to the chambers where the meeting is taking place. Only to wait in a waiting room as the discussion inside continuous.
‘It sucks, doesn’t it?’
Mica, sitting, and sulking, looks up at the joyful comment of the Earthblood elf who is sitting next to him on bench.
‘What? That they keep us waiting?’
‘For instance, and that they don’t give us any snacks to help to pass the time.’
The block of nerves that Mica has become in the last few days crumbles as he laughs so loud that the guards on each side of the door look a bit startled.
‘Oh, you are right. All they seem to care about is sipping fancy wines and talking about the weather.’
‘Or about war.’ A voice says.
The moment of peace is gone, as a young Sunfire elf enters in the waiting room.  

‘How to end it or how to continue it?’ Ask Mica.
‘I hope the first.’  Says the Earthblood.  ‘I am tired of this war.’
‘Everyone is.’  The Sunfire sits down on the opposite bench. ‘There seems to be no end to all the fighting. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like. I hardly remember it.’
‘What does what feels like?’
‘To wake up knowing that today I don’t have to kill. That I don’t have to fight for, whoever it is I am supposed to be fighting for. How does that feel Skywing?’
It takes Mica a moment before replying. ‘It feels natural. Relaxed, it is hard to explain.’
‘Please try.’
‘Peace is, for me at least, a sense of safety. To life without a constant fear. And to be able to just be, to bring your children to school, to go barter at the market, to go out of town for a picknick and to be able to do all these things without having to be afraid. To be able to do all those little things that in war just seem impossible. To just really be allowed to life and appreciate the beauty and value of life. That is what peace is to me.’

And as he says it, he realizes that it is true. That is what peace is all about and he is supposed to take that away from them? From everyone? From himself? They continue talking, not about the war, just about the simple life and simple pleasures. How the Earthblood hopes to propose to his girlfriend when the war ends, about the brothers and sister of the Sunfire and how Mica hopes one day ride a dragon. The sky outside begins to darken, soon the talks will be over for today and everyone can deliver his or her message.
First the Earthblood goes, he exits almost immediately after delivering his message. Then the Sunfire, there is a long pause before she leaves. When even the guards next to the door leave, Mica just sits there alone. All he can do is wait and wait and wait while his mind scrambles around in circles. Then, on an impulse, he makes his decision. He grasps the letter his lord had given him and rips it apart. As he looks down at the scraps on the floor, he picks one up and puts it in his mouth. He chews and swallows, then another piece and so on till only the seal is left. It is crumbly in his mouth. He has made his choice, finally he is at peace. That is the message he is going to deliver.

The curtains close.

End of chapter 1

 

Chapter Text

It has been three weeks since Mica his return from the Earthblood capital. His lordship was not pleased with the reply of the Sunfires but does not seem to ponder to much about it, everything seems to be alright. But some things are not to last. Maybe he should have gone on a very long hunting trip or something like that. Now, with a party of ten soldiers at his front door, he knows it is to late.
‘Mica, you have been summoned.’ Begins the sergeant.
‘By whom?’
‘The elf you betrayed.’
That is the sign for the other soldiers to grab him by his arms and drag him back to his lord’s tower. This time he does not have to wait.
‘What have you done?!’
‘Nothing my lord I…’
Lord Sihnion backhands him across the face.
‘Don’t lie to me!’ Mica spits some blood out on to the polished stone floor. Somehow it helps Sihnion regain his poise.

‘Bring her in.’ He orders to some of the attendants.
A tall beautiful startouched elf with long white hair enters.
‘Seeress, could you please show us your vision again?’
She nods and draws a complex rune in the air. The vision shows him the precise moment he decided to destroy the letter and prevent the alliance between his lord and the Sunfire elves.

The scene switches to a courtroom. Mica is on the stand, tied down with ropes and wearing nothing but a pair of trousers.
‘Do you deny the charges made against you?’ Asks the judge.
‘No your honor. I am guilty on all accounts.’ Please he thinks, make it quick, you promised in exchange for my confession and cooperation.
‘So be it. I hereby sentence you to death by beheading, the sentence will be carried out…’
‘Wait!’ The voice of the lord of the earie cracks like thunder. ‘I hereby overrule the sentence.’
A surprised murmur goes through the hall.
‘You will not be given the freedom of death.’ He announces. ‘You will be earthbound like the thrash you spared!’
The crowd on the stand cheers, on contrast to the silence of the public watching the play.
‘He took our future from us!’ He calls out. ‘In exchange I will take your wings.’ The public now roars, drowning out the cry of horror coming from the condemned.
The next scene does not immediately make sense to Callum, Mica is chained spread angle on a wooden cross. His wings spread out on either side. On the platform stands an announcer who is saying something. Callum can’t hear with the blood pounding in his ears. The lord of the earie appears to consent to something. The masses part for someone dressed in black clothes. Before he climbs the steps, he bows before his lord. Mica struggles even harder against his bonds.

The big male Skywing elf holding a big metal rod approaches the chained courier. He lifts the rod above his head and then two hand cover Callums his face and ears.
‘Don’t look. You will regret it.’ Callum smells the musky sent of the Startouched elf as he whispers in his ear. In the moment that the hand was away, he hears sounds he will never forget. The screaming of an elf and the creaking of bone. The silence that follows when his ears are once again covered is welcome in comparison.
For what seems to be an eternity, there is only darkness and the sound of his blood pumping through his ears. When he can see again, he almost wishes that he had kept his eyes closed.
Mica’s wings are covered with bloodied white bandages and stand in a forced unnatural angle. Blood and feathers surround the disgraced courier, as the lord of the aerie complements his executioner on the work done. But it is the look on Mica’s face that shocks Callum the most. His face is ashen and sick, the light and love in his eyes are gone and replaced with a look of pure fear and hate. It is impossible to tell which emotion is stronger. Without thinking, Callum grasp the hands of the Startouched elf.
‘Don’t let go. Please.’
The purple hands stiffen for a moment, then intertwine with the pale human hands.

‘Take this piece of earthbound trash out of my sight.’ Begins Sihnion lord of the aerie with a booming voice. ‘Dump him in the woods so he can become one with the earth he so loves.’
After all the insults Mica had endured, this one is the final straw.
‘I don’t love the earth.’ He say’s with a voice laced with hate and pain. ‘I love peace! And that is something worth dying for! Something you don’t seem to understand!’
Sihnion turns around once more and looks down on the former courier.
‘But you are not dying for a world of peace, you are going to live in a war-torn country. Knowing you have destroyed our chance of creating permanent peace.’
‘You don’t create peace by meddling in foreign affairs and invading other lands! All you do is create hatred and violence!’
‘And an empire that would have lasted a thousand generations.’ The lords voice is cold and laced with hate. Hate towards this pitiful lowborn elf who has destroyed his chance of conquering the Earthblood scum and uniting the other Skywing flights under his rule. ‘You are not worthy of my attention. So, I don’t think I will let you live in the woods. Throw him in the river!’ The last part is said to a couple of his honor guards.

They grab Mica by his arms and start to drag him towards the edge of stage. The scene changes and takes the form of a cliff with a five meter drop down to the river. A crowd of both Skywing elves and humans has gather at the edge of the cliff murmuring excitingly as Mica and lord Sihnion appear.
‘This is what happens to those who oppose the prosperity of our nation!’ Lord Sihnion bellows. ‘This is the fate of all traitors!’
The crowd cheers and shouts. Excited in the prospect of a public execution.
‘Clair a path for the traitor! And let him, as he walks towards his death, feel your hate and disappointment!’
Mica stand at the edge of the hedge of people. Then suddenly the scene zooms in on the hands of the condemned. One of the honor guards loosens the ropes a tiny bid. Enough, that with a bit of trouble, you can free a hand form the biding and puts a smile knife in the hand.

‘Start walking!’ The honor guard shouts with a push.
Mica tries to run, but the ropes binding his legs make it impossible. The crowd starts throwing rotten fruit and animal dung at him, aiming for his damaged wings. He stumbles, he tries to protect his head and wings, the people stop throwing filth and switch to rocks. The ten meter he must walk seem like a thousand miles. He falls, the honour guards pick him up, the throwing continues, he falls again and so it goes on till he is on the edge of the cliff.
‘Any last words?!’ Someone from the crowds calls out. ‘Yeah! Let’s hear what he has to say! How sorry he is for letting us all down!’
Soon the crowd is silent. Waiting, impatiently what the condemned has to say.
‘You owe your lives to me. All of you! I wish that I go back in time! So that I could see you all die in an unwinnable war! You ungrateful bastards!’
The people start yelling again. Lord Sihnion says something to his honour guard and they approach again.
‘And I will not let myself be tied to a pole and be burned!’
With a final act of defiance Mica spits on in the dirt and jumps in the river. Everyone, including the honour guard, rushes to the edge. When they look down, they see nothing but the swirling water below.

The scene changes again, the crowd, the honour guard and lord Sihnion have disappeared, they are replaced with a river bank in a lush green forest. On that bank, a wet and tired Mica appears. He crawls on the shore, his hand still clutching the knife that has saved his life. For a moment he just lies there, catching his breath.
‘I am not going to die like this.’ He whispers. ‘I don’t care what I have to do, how far I have to travel but I will reclaim my place in this world.’ He stands up and looks to the sky. ‘And I will see you ruined Sihnion, by the sky and all the other sources I swear this!’
As Mica walks towards the forest, the scene darkens once more. The announcer appears again, telling everyone there is going to be a thirty-minute break before the play continuous. The public begins to murmur and move to the exit for a breath of fresh air and a snack. All this is lost to Callum. He simply sits there and stares while Rayla and Runaan are arguing if they should get something to drink or go outside.
‘Everything alright?’
With a shock Callum looks up in the concerned face of the Startouched elf.
‘I guess.’ He does not dare to look up until the elf grasp his face and forces him to meet the elf his eyes.
‘You are not, you are shaken to the core of what you just saw. This is your first play with illusions, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Go talk to your friends, say what is bothering you. They can help you, locking your feelings up won’t.’
Callum looks the elf in the eyes, he finds no pity there just an unnatural calm and compassion. He mouths a thank you towards the elf. Than he joins Rayla and the rest of the group in their quest to find the bathroom.
End of chapter 2

Chapter Text

The play opens where it left of. Mica is walking through the forest. The scene changes, or more accurate, the seasons change. Mica also changes, with every step he looks more miserable. When he finally leaves the forest it is dead winter, the field is barren and cold in the light of the full moon. He takes a couple of steps, the wind slicing through his rags like knifes, then he collapses. Looking up at the moon hanging low in the sky, a place he can never reach as he is now. He closes his eyes, maybe in death he will can fly again. He sees someone approach. Mica does not know who or what it is but if his recent experience has thought him anything, it is to be weary of strangers. But it is so hard to care, all he wants to do is lie here and sleep. As soon as his eyes close the moonlight elf sees him. This fallen Skywing in the snow.

It is warm when Mica wakes up. How? He ponders, it is winter, I am never warm.
‘Awake aren’t you lad?’ A female voice calls out. ‘Don’t try to get up, you were in pretty bad shape when I found you.’
‘Who are you? And what do you want from me?’
The woman turns and looks at him with something close to pity.
‘It seems someone has lost his fate in elf kind. But to answer your first question, my name is Liara. To the second question, let’s just say that I am very curious about how a banished and disgraced Skywing has managed to get here.’
‘O, so you are just curious to my story? That is alright, just one question. Are you going to rape me before of after I tell you?’ He pretty much spits the words out.
‘I have never raped anyone, and I am not going to start now. Now eat and talk. It is lonely out here.’ Liara puts a bowl of soup in his hands and sits next to him. ‘Go for it, eat.’ That is something Mica has no problem doing. Between the bites Mica tells her about what occurred. Liara has heard about the incident, just not all the details.
‘So now you are searching for some good Earthblood archmage to heal your wings?’ Liara summarizes.
‘I need to, without my wings I can’t fly. Then I am no better than the earthbound scum Sihnion says I am.’
‘Do you really believe that?’
‘What do you mean?’

She looks at him with something like compassion in her eyes.
‘That because you can no longer fly you are worthless and shouldn’t be alive.’ It was meant as a question but comes out as a statement.
For al long moment Mica is silent. ‘I don’t know.’
‘Has anyone, since your wings where broken, truly seen you?’
‘What?’
‘I am asking if someone has ever taken the time and effort to learn to see past your broken wings and to the elf you really are. Because I don’t think so. They just look at appearances. But there is so much more than that to you beside your physical appearance. Do not let others who don’t see you as you truly are judge you.’
‘Stop!’

Wild eyed Mica tries to jump up. He trips, stumbles and when Liara comes closer to help him up again, he recoils.
‘You don’t know anything about me!’
‘You are right.’ The complete honesty of the answer comes as a surprise. ‘I don’t know you, but I would really like to.’
He is flabbergasted. ‘And if I would want to leave? Then what?’  
‘I would say my goodbyes and point you in the direction of the nearest town. Not that I would recommend leaving now. The weather is turning, in an hour or two we will be in the middle of a snowstorm. But the choice is yours, I won’t force you to stay.’
‘Do you want me to stay?’
‘My relief will not arrive till the spring so yeah. I have been lonely up here.’
‘Relief?’
‘You are near the Moonlight border. The Broken Mountains and in one of the closed passes to be exact.’
‘The ones that are nearly impregnable during the winter.’
‘Right in one. Mostly abandoned, with the exception for the unfortunate moon mages who need a lesson in humility and solitude.’ To Liara’s credit, there is not the slightest hint of bitterness in her voice.
‘Like you.’
‘Yeah, like me.’
‘What did you do?’
‘Sit down and I will tell you. It is kind of stupid really.’
‘Try me.’

They sit and talk. Exchange stories tell jokes while the weather worsen. The wind and snow howl around the small house but inside, it is warm and cozy. The days go by and Mica has no intention of leaving. Everything is alright, till the night of the full moon.
‘Hey is everything alright?’ Mica ask while cleaning some dishes. ‘You seem a bit jumpy tonight.’
‘The moon is rinsing.’
‘Do you want me go upstairs?’
‘I want you to watch.’
She then grabs her coat and runs out of the door into the clear winter night. Mica has heard stories about the effect of the full moon on moonlight elves. How they completely change into monsters or ghost. He could not be farther away from the truth.

Liara stands in the light and changes, she seems to shine, like she absorbs the power of the moon in her body. Then she starts to dance to the sound of a pipe unseen. It seems like time and space stop, there is only Liara dancing and recovering her powers. Becoming, no being one with the moon arcanum for just this short period of time. Mica watches the entire night, hardly blinking or breathing. She seems to fly, seems to be free from the chains of this world, of this reality. A freedom that he has lost not so long ago. It hurts to watch, but it hurts even more when the sun finally rises and Liara stops dancing.

 

For a moment she simply stands there, then she re-enters the small outpost.
‘How was I?’
‘Amazing.’
‘Good to hear.’ She sighs. ‘Let’s get some breakfast.’ 
So, it goes on for the next two night, Liara goes out to dance and Mica watches from the outpost. They don’t speak about it. Both content with the knowledge that for the next two full moons the ritual and their current life will stay the same. Then spring will come and the relief party that will reman the outpost. What will happen when the relive comes… well Mica try’s not to think about it.
The next full moon he also watches, but the second night, when the moon nears its peak, he walks out the house. They dance together, lift each other up, hook their arms and turn around and round and round. For one moment it seems they are flying.
But everything must end. This one does once the sun shows its face.

‘That was amazing.’
‘Yeah, it was.’ Liara sounds a bit short of breath.
‘It felt like flying.’
‘It always does.’
They kiss and every following night they dance again. They dance every night regardless of the size of the moon. Till the next full moon. Halfway during the dance Liara suddenly stops.
‘Mica, I have to tell you something.’ There is something death serious in her voice.
‘What it is?’
‘Your wings are not going to get better.’
‘No, your lying. The Earthbloods can heal, so can the Sunfires. If I just can find some archmagi who have mastered both sources, they can help me.’
‘They can’t.’
‘No!’
‘Please listen!’ The plea echo’s through the mountain cliffs. ‘I know some healing magic and when you first came to me, I did a quick check. And your wings, the broken bone has healed over time but those hard bumps in your wings are bone. They destroyed the joints and the bones did not properly mend. You should have been treated immediately after the break. But they were not and now…’
‘Now my wings are one big ball of distorted bone.’ Mica finishes. ‘When did you realise?’
‘There was confirmation yesterday. I sent a message to an avian expert. He told me to put the bird down, because it would never get better. Even if all your bones where rebroken, the damage could not be undone. I am sorry.’

There is a long moment of silence.
‘Know what? What do I have to life for? All I want is to be whole again.’
‘You can still be whole. I can help you!’
‘How?’ Mica screams. ‘You are not a healer! You are an illusionist!’
‘I am and that is how I can help you.’
Some part of him knows what she is about to offer but still...
‘I can craft an illusion for you. A really good one.’
‘And then I will be a Skywing elf who has wings but can’t fly.’ Oh, the bitterness in his voice.
‘I never said you would be a Skywing. I love you. I really, really do. But I can’t marry a Skywing, I can marry a Moonlight elf. It is something you can become; through my illusion you can be whole again.’
He opens his mouth, but no words come out.
‘Please, I have been so very lonely. I did not even realise till you arrived. Please stay with me my love. Let us dance under a beautiful moon and fly away from the boundaries of this mortal plane together.’ She grabs his hands, giving him room to pull away, but he does not. He pulls her in an embrace content to stand there for the rest of his days together.
‘Cast your spell, I don’t ever want to leave you again.’ He whispers in her ear.
The curtains close.

In the next scene, Mica and Liara stand atop a mountain. The moon shines bright overhead. Mica is looking in a small mirror.
‘It has to be done tonight.’
‘I know.’ Mica whispers. ‘Are you sure it will work?’
‘I am, I will bind the spell to the tattoos so that it will never fade.’
‘And not even I will see my former face.’
‘Yes, but otherwise someone may sense the illusion. And if an archmage senses it he or she may try to break the illusion. It is a risk we can’t take.’
He puts the mirror down.
‘So now I just have to completely redraw your wings and lie down.’
‘Yes.’
‘Will I still feel them?’
‘I don’t think so. But they will still be there.’
‘Even with the illusion preventing me form unfolding.’
‘You are going to be a Moonlight elf, not a Skywing. Your body will be tricked in to believing you have no wings. That is why you won’t feel them.’

He breathes in and out.
‘Lets just get it over with.’
Mica completely redraws his wings into his body. A process that should be quick and painless but now takes endless minutes and him shouting in pain. He lies down on the smooth stone, with a face full of conflicting emotions.
‘Are you ready?’
He gives a quick short nod.
‘You must verbalise your consent.’
‘Do it. Cast your illusion to make me look like Moonlight elf forever. Now! Before I change my mind!’
Liara complies. The ritual seems to take forever. With her casting spells and biding them in his skin and blood. Tattoos cover parts across his entire body, his former facial markings are replaced with blue ink, there are spirals on his chest, on his back there are small circles, his arms and legs are decorated with blue lines like veins.
When she is finished, she says one final spell and lifts her arms to the moon. A flash of light occurs and then, there is no longer a Skywing elf lying on the stone but a moonlight elf.

‘Is it…’ Mica his voice is no longer his own. His accent has changed.
‘It is over my love. Please, look in the mirror.’
He complies. His hair is now so white as moonlight, his skin a sun brown as someone who is outside a lot, his horns are heavier and purplish, he is no longer a Skywing elf.
‘I am a moonlight elf now.’
‘Yes, forever.’
‘Forever.’ He sobs then smiles. His sobs grow louder, Liara embraces him. Making smoothing sounds while he cries with a dazed look on his face.

The curtains close again. It takes a moment before Callum is aware of the elves around him, so occupied are his thoughts. But no matter how long and hard he thinks; he still doesn’t know if he should be happy for Mica or not.

Chapter Text

There is a moment of silence while the curtains stay closed.
‘What did Liara mean when she said they couldn’t marry?’ Callum ask Rayla. Out of all the disturbing things he has just seen, this is the thing that bothers him the most.
‘It is a thing from ancient history, like we were called Moonlight back in the day instead of Moonshadow. Back in the day, elves from separate races where not allowed to marry and have children. It different now.’
‘So are there elves who are half Earthblood and half Sunfire elves?’
‘Yes and no. Lets say that a male Earthblood and a female Sunfire have a child, than if it is a girl, it will be a Sunfire if it is a boy, it will be an Earthblood.’
‘So, gender is the deciding factor.’
‘Yeah, but the child will still look like both parents. It just the arcanum.’ 
‘That is a relive, it would have been really creepy otherwise.’
‘That’s for sure.’
‘Quiet you two, the play is continuing.’ Hisses Runaan.

Mica and Liara are walking in a moonlight city holding hands. It appears that a couple of years have past, if Liara her swollen belly is a good indicator. They pause in front of an doctors office. Where Mica, with his new moonlight face, carefully touches the swollen belly.
‘It is going to be a girl. I am certain of it. The healer guaranteed.’ Whispers Liara
‘A beautiful Moonlight elf.’  
‘I am so happy that we are finally going to be father and mother.’
‘So am I my love.’
They kiss then enter the office.

An older moonlight elf dressed in green robes greets them.
‘Congratulations miss Liara and mister Aliat. I see that the fertility treatment has worked.’
‘Thank you healer Evian. We are so happy that it has. When we learnt that I was carrying the disease, I feared that we could never have children.’ Begins Liara. As she carefully sits down. ‘But my husband still doubts this solution and why our children have to be female.’
She looks at Mica now called Aliat. ‘You really should have come to the previous consults.’
‘I couldn’t, I had to work.’
‘I know, that is why we are here.’ She kisses him on the nose. ‘So that the healer can explain.’ She looks at Evian. ‘I hope it is not an issue.’
‘It is all right. That is why these consults exist in the fist place.’ The doctors begin to smile. ‘Let’s start at the beginning. You are aware that a woman has two X-chromosomes and a male has an X and a Y-chromosome?’
‘Yes.’
‘You also know that a child is borne from a X-chromosomes of the mother and an X and a Y-chromosome of the father?’
‘Yes, I had some biology at school.’
‘Please calm down honey, the doctor is just doing his job. And it is very important that there are no miscommunications over such matters.’  Liara carefully squeezes his hand.
‘You are right, I just got a bit carried away. My apologies healer.’

‘Apologies accepted. Well, the disease that Liara is carrying is a hereditary disorder that only comes to expression through a submissive gene on the X-chromosome.’
‘That means?’
‘Here it becomes a bit tricky. Do you know why Liara is healthy? Even with the disease she is carrying?’
‘Because she has two X-chromosome. One with a dominant gene without the disease which comes to expression and another one with a submissive gene with the disease.’ Mica looks like he has finally figured it out.
‘Exactly.’ Evian nods. ‘Now a boy only has one X-chromosome, which he receives form the mother. If you where to have a son, there would be a 50% chance that the boy would have the disease.’
‘And because this disease will kill the child in the womb and the mother it is a risk we can not take.’ Mica/Aliat finishes.
‘Precisely. Luckily, we can prevent that from happening. The pills you took make certain only sperm with the X-chromosome survives. So that you will have a daughter who is healthy.’
‘But is there is still a chance the pills won’t work?’
‘The chance always exists. I am going to check the gender of the child with a simple test. If the pills work, it will be a girl if they didn’t well…’
‘Aliat and I would have to decide of we will take the risk or end the pregnancy. But I hope it won’t come to that.’ Liara smiles softly. ‘Shall we find out how good the pills worked? It makes me nervous talking about solutions for possible problems while chances are there aren’t any.’
‘Of course, madam.’ Somehow the healer manages to sound both professional and a bit embarrassed.

It takes the healer less than two minutes to draw a rune and make the diagnose.
‘It is a girl. Congratulations.’
‘Thank you.’ They both say before kissing.
Soon after the consult is finished, and they return home.
‘I am not certain that was a good idea.’ Mira begins.
‘It was our only option. If one our children where to be a boy it would be a Skywing.’
‘I know, it is just… none of my children will truly see my face.’
‘Hey, we talked about this. We will simply explain when they are old enough to understand.’
‘It is still lying.’
‘And we don’t have a choice.’ 

She firmly holds Mica his hands while speaking. ‘There is a civil war in the Skywing nations. All the flights are fighting each other and as it seems the Startouched elves are going to be involved. If that is the case, the Moonlight elves which means we, are going to be drawn into the conflict in support of our ally.’
‘It is not certain.’
‘Don’t lie to yourself. If not today then tomorrow, if not tomorrow then next year or next decade, time means little to the Startouched. All we know is that they see opportunity. What it is I don’t know.’ A bit out of breath she gives Mica the opportunity to speak. He does not take it.
‘And when war does come it will not matter that you love me or have lived hear for so long or that you can’t fly and have been banished. All that matter is that you are a Skywing, the enemy. And I can’t lose you like that.’ She kisses him. It takes him a moment to start kissing back. ‘We just have to keep this up and it is all going to be alright.’
‘Sometimes I wonder when, when…’
‘What is it? You can tell me.’
‘When I have forgotten what it felt like to be a Skywing.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘Well, how shall I put it. Do you remember telling me that you could craft a lie for me?’
‘That I could not heal your wings but could make an illusion?’ She asks.
‘Yes, you called it a lie. And I have been living this lie for almost two years. In this illusion I am no longer Mica but Aliat. And I just wonder… when will it stop being a lie but truly become me. Then it will be no longer a lie but who I am. And I want to be this. This life is good. You are good, you are carrying our child I don’t want to lose all this.’
‘You are not. We will make certain of that.’
They embrace once again. The setting changes, Liara and Aliat go stand next to another, holding hands. Liara belly becomes bigger and then suddenly smaller. A young moonlight elf comes standing next to Liara whose belly is getting bigger again. Soon there is another moonlight girl on the stage. Both aging rapidly while Liara and Aliat also age a bit.

The Liara and Aliat start to dance and while they dance the surroundings chance to what seems to be a fair. Humans and elves alike are watching, laughing and clapping for the couple. Their feet are hardly touching the earth, turning around and round as if they are flying above this mortal world towards something so beautiful it can not be expressed in words. Dancing in the moonlight, together.

The curtains close. A sigh of disappointment goes through the audience. Callum his eyes are fixed on the curtain.
‘Is this the end?’ He whispers, his voice a hush.
‘Not yet.’ The Starouched elf whispers back. ‘But soon.’
They intertwine their hands again. ‘I promise you; it will be worth the wait.’
Callum wipes the tears out of his eyes again and sniffles.
‘Lets get it over with then.’
End of chapter 4

Chapter Text

Chapter 5; A chance of justice

‘It appears the civil war between the Skywing flights has ended.’ A random Moonlight elf says to Aliat.
‘I wouldn’t be so sure. It is always the same with the flights. They never stop fighting.’
The elf shrugs and lifts another crate.
‘They also say that a lord of the Aerie has been arrested.’
‘Really? Which one?’
‘Lord Shin I believe. Or was it… lord Shanio? I don’t remember.’
‘Lord Shirion?’
‘Yes, that was it! How did you know?’
‘Just guessed.’ There is little indication in Aliat his expression or tone that conveys how shocked he is by the revelation. ‘What is he arrested for?’
‘War crimes and treason.’
‘Really?’
‘Yeah. But it seems he is going to walk.’
‘You got to be joking right?’
‘I am not. No real proof. They just know that he banished some courier for not delivering a message. He then supposedly destroyed a couple of villages because he thought the courier was hiding there. But somehow there are no witnesses. Strange isn’t it?’
‘I guess so…’

No, it isn’t so strange. He was in those villages and he does know the content of the letter. The proposal in the massage is politically very damaging. Especially with the peace talks that where underway, but treasonous? No, if that was the case, Shirion would never have allowed Mica to life. The moment he returned he would have simply disappeared. He wouldn’t even know the contents of the letter in the first place. But what is it then?
These questions keep going through his mind the entire day while setting up the stage.
‘It is Aliat his turn to decide what we are going to do.’ A human says to the Moonlight elf who just helped Aliat with the crates. ‘Ask him.’
‘So what is it going to be?’ The elf asks. Aliat keeps looking at the sunset. ‘Hello! Anyone there?’ He waves his hand in front of Aliats nose.
‘Sorry, I was just lost in thought. What is it?’
‘Well all our visas have been withdrawn and we must cut the tour short.’
Aliat looks just a little bit shocked.
‘No of course not. I just want to know what we are going to do tonight. It is going to be a mixed public.’
‘Lots of cheerful music.  And I and a couple of others are going to be dancing to get the crowd in the right mood.’
‘So just the usual.’
‘I have never preformed in Sunfire territory, neither have you. This tour will take us through the entire country, I want to start of with a good impression.’
‘Fair enough.’

Soon the sun sets. The entourage, consisting of a dancing group, a band, a catering service and some mages for the special effects are all in place for the closing of the fair. The music begins to play, elves dance, humans drink and then dance all is going swimmingly. Aliat is dancing with a human, she is doing quite well. The music changes, he takes another partner, his job is to dance with everyone. To keep the crowd moving and entertained.
A happy crowd is a paying crowd, that is all that matters. He keeps repeating the mantra in his head.
A lie, on a personal scale the dancing has another purpose. All he needs to fulfill it is a wordy partner, one that is not easily obtained. It is a desperate search, a futile one. For no one here can give him the sensation he so craves to satisfy his addiction, even if it is for just a little while. It does not stop him from trying though.
The performance is nearing its end and Aliat is slowly giving up.
‘Still some energy left?’ It is a female Sunfire elf, about his age, lovely horns, seemingly strong hands. This may be interesting.
‘But of course.’ He whispers.

She seems wordy, she is wordy and because of that he gives her his very best performance. Not in bed in case you are wondering. On the dancing floor, for one moment Aliat is flying. It ends to soon. Always to soon. Even with the applause and the cheering for his performance. Aliat tries to smile, his lips move in the right direction, but the spark does not quite reach his eyes.
‘That was amazing.’
Moving of the floor together, Aliat tries to regain is composure.
‘Thank you miss…’
‘Frijay.’
‘Nice to meet you miss Frijay. I am glad that you enjoyed yourself.’
‘No problem and what’s your name?’
‘Aliat.’
‘Aliat… haven’t we met before?’ She pauses. ‘Somehow your face is familiar.’
Her eyes search his face for clues. Aliat suddenly realizes where he has seen her before. In a different life, just before he decided… No, he can’t allow himself to think about the past. There is nothing there apart from shattered dreams and pain. But still, would Frijay remember him? They talked in front of the doors leading to the room where the peace talks where taking place about how he wanted to ride a dragon and she about the pranks of her siblings. He was so innocent back than. It is half forgotten memory of a life that is a million times death.

‘Aliat do you have any family in the Skywing flights?’
‘Not that I know of. Why are you asking?’
‘Those marks, I have seen then before. Long ago.’
‘Really? Where?’
‘There was this Skywing courier, he was delivering a message. His marks where the same as yours.’ There is something in the way she looks at him, that irks Aliat.
‘Just be plain please. What is the matter?’
While talking they have crossed the better part of the fair to a quieter part.

‘Just that I know that facial markings are a great identifier of race and that yours are pretty much classic Skywing. Even with the couple of Moonlight touches. So, tell me Mica, what are you doing here and how did you manage to obtain this illusion?’
‘My name is Aliat.’ There is a strain in his voice.
‘Stop pretending please. You have not changed that much from our last encounter. Now please answer my questions.’
Mica stays silent. In his head he is already calculating how long it will take to kill Frijay and where to dump her body.
‘I am not planning on disclosing your little secret. I just want to talk.’
He simple keeps looking at her, his face carefully blank of emotion. She decides to try something else.
‘Your calculations will have shown that it will take to long to kill me and dispose of my body before you are found and have to go on a mad run towards the border. Even if manage to cross the border, it is not assured that you will not be evicted to prevent a diplomatic crisis. You have nothing to lose if you talk with me. Quite the opposite, you have something to gain.’
Mica tills his head to the side a bit.
‘And what do I have to gain?’
Frijay smiles.
‘Revenge. Justice. On someone who deserves to have his neck stretched for what he did to you. But will walk if not for your testimony.’
The expression on Mica his face has not changed, his voice is a bit softer though.
‘How long have you been looking for me?’

‘Since it became clear that your testimony would be necessary.’
‘How did you find me? And do not pretend that this meeting was an accident.’ That part is a bit more heathen.
‘It took three Startouched elves the better part of two moons to find and locate you. They also wish to complement your mate on her skill on illusion. The one she used on you is quite close to perfect, considering the lack of wear and its flexibility.’
‘Keep my mate out of this!’ He hisses. ‘What do you want?’
‘I believe I am quite cleat about what I want. I want you to come with me and testify against your former lord.’
‘And how is that going to happen? This is a permanent illusion. I have a life, I have two daughters, a job I can take pride in, why would I risk it all?’ There is a softness in his voice that was not there before.
‘Tell me, Aliat. Has a day passed without you longing for the freedom of the sky?’

Something changes subtly in Aliat his bearing and eyes, Frijay knows she has succeeded.
‘I will testify against him.’ Frijay smiles triumphantly. ‘But I will not abandon my family.’ And her smile falters again.
‘Time is of the essence.’
‘I understand that, but I will tell my family what is happening, and I will say proper goodbyes to my team.’
‘They won’t understand.’

‘That is my problem not yours. So if you would excuse me, I have some things to do before I can come with you. I will see you here in three days at sunrise.’ He gives her a curtesy bow before turning on his heel and walking back to the encampment.
The scene changes again. Now Aliat is sitting in a room with a Startouched elf who seems quite amused.
‘What did you tell your group exactly?’
‘It does not matter.’
‘And your mate?’
‘The truth.’
For one more moment the Startouched looks in the eyes of Aliat. ‘So be it. You do understand the consequences of this procedure?’
‘I know that breaking the illusion, which is now somehow possible, will severely shorten my life expectancy, I know that it will hurt a very great deal and that I must use different illusion when this trial is finished. One that will have many complications.’ His voice is heated. ‘Just get it over with.’
‘So eager.’ His voice is just loud enough to be heard. ‘Please lie down, I will try to make it as painless as possible.’ 
It is not painless. The illusion sleeps out of his skin together with blood and ink. It takes hours, or it feels like hours for Callum. He sees a man who has hidden behind an illusion for so long, it is… unnatural. Everything that made Aliat look healthy as a Moonlight makes him look sick as a Skywing. An image only made more disturbing when he opens his wings again. It has been years, decades since they where opened and it shows. Most of the feathers are gone, the skin looks blistering and the form of the wing is even worst than before. A part of Callum wishes that Mica would redone the illusion again. He is not the only one.

‘Would you like me to hide your wings?’ The Startouched asks, with something like dread in his voice.
‘No let them see what has happened to me.’ His voice sounds strange, his accent is that of a Skywing again.
‘As you wish.’
‘Just tell the judges that I am ready to testify.’
‘I will.’ The mage stops in the doorway. ‘Please know that what you are doing now, is for the greater good.’
‘It won’t get my wings back, nor will it keep my family save and fed. On the contrary, it endangers them all.’
‘Then why are you doing this Mica?’
‘My name is Aliat and the answer to the question why? I swore an oath that I would see lord Shinion ruined, like he had ruined me. I have lived long enough as a Moonlight that I will keep my oaths, no matter how impossible they are.’ He sounds almost bored.
‘I will tell the judges that you are ready.’ The robes of the Startouched archmagi swirl as liquid around his feet as he exits.
End of chapter 5.

Chapter Text

The courtroom becomes silent almost immediately after Aliat enters.
‘Please make your vow.’ The human clerk manages to say.
After Aliat has makes his vow he calmly walks to the witness chair. Everyone in the courtroom follows him with eyes filled with pity and disgust. The ten meters he must walk towards the witness chair seem like a thousand miles.
‘Please state your name and occupation.’
‘My name in service of lord Shinion was Mica, I served as a courier of at his court till my banishment.’ The chair is he sitting in is made of black hardwood with some cushions to make sitting a bit more comfortable.
‘Was Mica?’ One of the three judges ask.
‘I no longer call myself by that name.’
‘I see.’ The judges exchange a couple of looks. ‘As a courier you where sworn to never reveal the secrets of the contents of the messages you carried, is that correct?’
‘Not anymore. He relinquished that right upon my banishment. Ask away and I will answer if I know the answer.’ Aliat/Mica says without a spat of hesitation. The judges appear to be taken aback by his brutal honesty.
‘You know it can be considered treasons to reveal…’
‘I am already banished, my wings are already broken, there are very few things they can do to me now.’
For a moment the judges are silent.
‘So be it.’ They finally say.

The interrogations take the better part of two days. The lawyer, the prosecutor and the judges all have a chance to question Aliat/Mica. His testimony is damming, it pretty much confirms the prosecutions theory about how Shinion was planning on using conflict between the Sunfire and Earthblood elves to help crush his opposition and become the leader of all the Skywing flights. This is directly the opposite of the oaths he had sworn and the treaty’s he had signed.
‘Why were you banished?’ one of the judges finally ask.
‘I did not deliver a message.’
‘I know, but why did you not deliver the massage? It was your duty.’
‘Because it was the right thing to do.’
‘Obviously you lord did not agree.’
‘He is not my lord and yes, he did not agree.’
‘And lord Shinion did not have you executed?’
‘I was first to become his pet, with broken wings and all as a warning. However, I spoke boldly after the breaking and he decided to throw me in a river. Luckily, I can swim, and I managed to undo my bonds.’
‘You where very fortunately.’
Aliat/Mica manages to swallow his reply.
‘You are dismissed. Please return to your quarters. You may be summoned again before the end of this trail.’

He is not summoned again. He is left to wander the halls alone during the day, while sitting on the roof at the night looking at the sky. Ten days after his final testimony the trail ends with Shinion being sentenced to death by beheading. Aliat watches the execution, it leaves him feeling dull. Was this it? He asks himself.
‘Happy now?’ It is the Startouched who had broken his illusion.
‘No.’
‘Well, at least you are honest.’ He looks down on Mica and extends a hand. ‘I believe we haven’t been properly introduced. My name is Aaravos.’
‘Aliat.’ They shake hands.
‘Tell me Aliat, how does it feel to have your one reason to life be taken away from you?’
‘Excuse me?’
‘You hated lord Shirion. His death was all that mattered. Now he is death, what are you going to do?’
Aliat smirks just a tiny bit but his eyes don’t laugh.
‘You are wrong about me.’
‘Oh? Am I?’
‘I don’t just have hate and revenge as reasons to life. I also have love. But you are right though. There was a time where all I did and could was hate.’
‘How was that?’
‘Curious?’
‘Both to the how and why.’

Now Aliat smiles.
‘As you wish. Hate is a funny feeling, it burns you from the inside out, scorching like a coal, destroying all other emotion till it is the only thing you have left. It keeps you warm but does not satisfy, all you once loved becomes absolute and everything you hated becomes necessary.’ He takes a deep breath. ‘But in the end, if hate is the only thing you have left… hell it is still better than to have nothing at all.’
He turns and looks up at Aaravos.  
‘Does that satisfy your question?’
‘How did you get out?’
The smile reaches his eyes.
‘Found someone who managed to look past my pain and hate into the desperation and fear that haunted me since the breaking of my wings. She saved me and I will return to her.’
Aaravos sketches a star rune in the air and opens a portal.
‘Go then before the law shows up.’
‘Excuse me?’
‘You do now to much and you are the result of a failing system. They can’t let you return to your family. They can’t let you become the symbol of pride and willingness to do the right thing. So, they will dispose of you. Please, go back to where you belong.’
‘Thank you, Aaravos. I will not forget this.’ He says before he steps through the portal.

 

Home is just as he left it. Liara makes him swear on all the sources to never leave like that again and his grown-up children now see their fathers real face for the first time. The reunion is tearful but full of love and the moment the moon rises the entire family helps in the making of a new illusion. Aliat returns to his dancing group, who he had told that there was a problem with his passport, and everything seem to be normal again.
It is not to last. The breaking of the illusion has taken a tremendous toll on his body. Five years after his return he dies. Leaving his wife and two adult daughters behind.
‘I never knew mom.’ Says Lela the oldest.
‘Neither did I.’ Begins Jenna the youngest of the two. ‘Why did he never tell us what he did? He is a hero!’
‘He didn’t want people to know.’ Their mother looks saddened at the body of her husband. She has finally told her children the truth about their father.
‘But people do need to know!’ Lela screams. ‘This system is unfair and if we just keep hiding and don’t speak up nothing will ever change! And it needs to.’
‘Yes it does.’ Liara whispers. ‘Get my cloak children.’ She rises.
‘What are you going to do mom?’ Asks Jenna.
‘What is right.’

Liara, with help of her two daughters, wrap Aliat his body in a shroud.
‘If I don’t return, go stay with your aunt.’ She says, holding the body of her husband.
Her children nod. ‘Good luck.’
Liara steps through the portal unto the temple of the moon nexus. A huge festival is taking place, with humans and elves of all races. She climbs the stone steps up towards the altar and lays Aliats body there to rest. With magic Liara amplifies her voice and makes certain everyone can see her standing on the altar and the body of her death husband. She takes a deep breath, and then speaks with a voice so clear you cannot block it out.

‘My husband was an unsung hero. He prevented something, something very imported. He prevented that the flames of war reached the timber. And in the following fire the earth would be scorched, the ocean would boil, the air would be polluted, the smoke would block out the son, which would close the eyes of the stars and prevent the moon from shining till there would be noting left to burn which would cause the fire to die out.’

Now she has everyone attention. Men and elves alike look up to the Moonlight elf with an almost predatory interest.
‘For he removed the air which would relight the coals, who would reach the timber and burn in all out war.
It gave the stars time to open their eyes. The stars convinced the moon to shine and under the light of the full moon the waters rose. Which caused the timber to drift away and the spark of war to be extinguished.
All that by simply not delivering a massage.’
For a moment Liara is silent.  

 

‘He swallowed the massage, he ate it, knowing his fate. Knowing that his lord would find out about his choice and that he would be punished accordingly. For he had committed the greatest crime of all in Skywing society. He had thought for himself.’
The crowd recoils from her words, as if they are physical blows.
‘They broke his wings, banished him from their land and left him to drown in a river. He vowed to live. He survived by begging for scraps, eating garbage and wandering far and wide in search for a cure to heal his wings. That is how I found him. After almost a year of wandering he stumbled upon my little outpost in the mountains. I could not, can not heal his wings. I could however give him al lie.’

Liara waves her hand and suddenly half of his appearance is that of a Moonlight elf and the other half is that of a Skywing elf. The crowd utters a murmur of disapproval upon the revelation.
‘I fell in love with this broken Skywing. But knew, that he would always need to hide his face behind an illusion. I crafted a lie for him. A good lie, one he would wear when our daughters where born, one he used to dance with me in the light of full moon, one he held on to at work and one he was faced with each time he looked in the mirror. He missed the freedom of the sky every day, every moment, but he never complained, nor did he feel regret.’

She turns and looks upon the body of her mate.
‘For he had realised something very important. That you could fly as high as you would like but can still be bound by concepts of honor and duty who would not let you do the right thing.’
Liara taps her staff to the ground. The spell causes the body of her husband to scatter in thousands of shining pieces.
‘Rest easy my love. That you may find the freedom of the sky again in death and that we may reunite and dance under the moon once more.’
She turns and faces the public. No one dares to breathe, in fear of missing a single word.
‘He broke his chains. Now It is time for you to break yours.’

The light dimmest and the curtains fall. For one moment it is still quiet, then everyone is on there feet, clapping and cheering. The actors, while holding each others hand, march on stage again and bow. Which causes the public to cheer, if possible, even louder. 
Callum is also clapping and cheering, not noticing that there are tears dripping out of the corners his eyes.

‘Callum!’ Rayla asks. ‘Is everything alright?’
‘Yes.’ He sniffles. ‘Let’s go home.’
The End.