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2 [Year 503 Winter]








connemara pony


14.2 hh







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Year 503, Spring: There—a mourning dove. That was the first thought I had when I saw her beneath the willows, perched on the edge of a log like she was about to take flight any moment.

She was grey all over like one, soft pink dabs on her face and neck that melted into hues of hazy iridescence, dappled across her flank like fawn spots. Her hair, straight and silver as birch, fell to the ground like a river; half of it was done up in braids laced thick with feathers and beads and rich blue cloth that winked.

Her head was bowed over a basket balanced by her knees, overflowing with bundles of daisies. Their petals still dripped with dew. Her legs, tucked up neat, were thin as a bird's and smoky black except for one, white wrapping from her hoof to above the knee like a silk stocking. When a flock of grouse flew low over the swamp, she looked up from her flowers with eyes of a pale spring moss, shaded by a fan of blonde lashes.

Her name was Maybird, but I didn’t know it yet.

All I knew was that she was the prettiest thing I had ever seen.

For the rest of the afternoon, I sat beneath the cypresses and watched her pluck daisy petals until they blanketed her legs like snow.

a note written in the margins: if bird ever finds this journal, by oriens i pray her elder hasn't taught her to read. if she has, and you can, then i apologise for wishing you couldn't read, daisybird, and may you find it within your icy heart to forgive me. i am terribly embarrassed but—i'm sure you've known. i haven't exactly been subtle about it.

scribbled beneath the note in ink that smells faintly like berries: we aren't savages, crow. still deciding if i should forgive you. and yes, of course i knew.

* * *

Year 503, Fall: The mask is an entity all its own.

Made from the head of a crow that must've been as large as a griffin in life, the eyes of the mask, when worn fully over Bird's head, spring to life in a flare of absinthe and tawny pupils. It always feels slightly warm to the touch. Like it's not quite as dead as it should be.

When Bird's alone, she doesn't wear it, though her mother doesn't know this and she doesn't think I do either. It clashes horribly with the rest of her: coarse black feathers, dead staring eyes, giant cracked beak. The only part of Bird that could be likened to that mask is her tail, feathered just like a crow's.

I've asked Bird many times why she wears the mask. Was it to hide the symbol—alchemical sign for air, though she didn't know until I told her—inked on her forehead? Or was it a strange Ilati custom, where none but a husband could see his bride's full face? Would I find other animal-masked girls, frolicking like maenads, in the house across the swamp she warns me never to go to?

Her answers are rarely substantial and always evasive. She says she has nothing to hide. She says, dryly, that I'd seen her full face, and I surely wasn't fit to be her husband. (You wound me, Daisybird. I thought I at least had a chance.)

She says to leave it alone. So I pat her head, cross my legs, and promise that I'd think about it.

berry-juice ink again, though fresher than the last and smeared: stupid, stupid crow. i told you to leave it alone. i told you to leave. why didn't you listen?

Ma says that inside I'm a sweet child, but outside I just don't know how to act it.

Ma's always thinking the best of me. Elder says that it's because Ma bore me young, nothing but a girl-child herself. That Ma's soft on me because, when she'd had me, the world hadn't had its way with her yet.

"Like it has with you, Elder?" I'd asked. "You'd wish for that, child, wouldn't you," she'd spat, before a grin broke the panes of her smooth, elfin face into two perfect halves. "You do take so much after me."

Elder seems to think the best of me, too.

* * *

She shouldn't, of course, neither of them should, but I don't go around telling them that.

* * *

The other girls don't like it when I'm around. They never say it (as much as they look it they aren't really fools, or else Elder wouldn't have kept them so long) but they seal their lips peevishly and somehow always find a trail of ants to watch whenever I pass by. The boys, of which there are fewer and fewer of every spring, like an exotic species of deer, like me a little better. I don't squeal at the rabbits and marmots they cut open and dig the organs out of like a reverse game of doctor, for one (though they know better than to kill a crow), and for another Ma says that I'm very pretty.

Elder laughs, but she doesn't object.

* * *

Elder is beautiful in a way a natural thing shouldn't be. Her mouth is as small and ripe as a cherry, her face smoother than a mirror lake, free of blemish and wrinkles and any other sign of mortal decay. Her hair falls as a cascade of fresh snow, leached of all its color, though it never held color to begin with. Her eyes are a pristine robins' egg blue, and they look a bit like eggs themselves: oval, large, swollen with the promise of precious life.

There is nothing more beautiful than Elder. I haven't seen all of the world, but I am as sure of this as the snow geese are of the exact hour autumn chills into winter. It either is, or it isn't.

The world doesn't often disagree with me.

* * *

The other girls dislike me because I scare them. Most of the boys are scared of me too, but they can't dislike me for that because then they'd be admitting it. (I think they have merit to dislike me for that, though. Things are always so circular.) Collectively, they all scatter like sparrows at my approach and chitter endless falsities about me when I go.

Elder tells me to leave them be, but I think that a little unfair.

I never had any plans not to. I hadn't meant to scare them, because it makes them so cagey and prickly (like cats), but Ma grows lonely when I'm away from her for too long and this way they leave me alone.

Ma likes to brush my hair until it gleams, and she likes to take her time doing it. She braids flowers or pearls or butterfly wings into every silver twist, so tightly they never fall out. She tells me to never cut my hair short. She tells me that if I do, I won't be her little Maybird anymore.

Sometimes she pulls my hair so hard it hurts.

* * *

You save a boy once, and he thinks you're a saint.

I only did so because the last daisy petal I plucked happened to be a yes. (The question was: does the Goddess wish for him to live?) I told him this, that his fate had been decided by flower petals, but he didn't believe me. He said that I'd sat there plucking flower petals for hours, so I must have known which answer I'd get when I chose that five-petaled daisy to pluck.

I said I should've just left him for dead in the swamp. He laughed, pulled my braid, and told me he was happy I hadn't.

His name was Rook, so I called him Crow. When I told him my name, he called me Daisybird.

* * *

"Do you know the story of Dyani and Linus?"

Rook looked at me sideways, through his forest of lashes, as he arranged the petals I'd plucked into the shape of a bird. "No, but you're about to tell me." I sniffed haughtily and blew apart his bird. As a principle I couldn't be too nice to him, lest he get the wrong idea.

"I'm not Ilati—" he gave me a look that said yes yes I know "—but Ma used to tell it to me when Elder wasn't home. It reminds me a little of how we met."

And I told him the tale of Dyani and Linus. Of the prince, drowning in a swamp. Of the witch-girl, fetching her elders to save him. Of the prince, and how he paid her kindness back.

"But you forget, Daisybird, that you didn't want to save me. The petals made you." I gave him a look that said yes yes I know but sharper. "Anyway—I know why you told me about them. It's a warning. That I better not become like Linus?" I nodded, and added two yellow petals to his pile so he could use them as a beak. "But there's another discrepancy." I growled. I hated when he did that. When he picked apart my words with his Deluminian logic. It either is, or it isn't. But try and tell that to Rook.

"You didn't fetch anyone else, like Dyani did. I can't endanger your Ma or your Elder or your tribe, making me Linus, because I haven't met them and — I'm assuming they don't even know I exist." His tone implied that this bothered him, deeply, but I ignored it.

"They don't, Crow, and they never will." I couldn't tell him about Ma, and how sad angry I made her whenever I went home late. I couldn't tell him about Elder, and how she hated outsiders but especially Deluminians.

I couldn't tell him how, ever since the day I saved him, the other children started fearing me less, and less, and less.

So I only said, "We're not Dyani and Linus. It's just an Ilati story, one I only told you about because I feel so sorry for you that, even as a know-everything Deluminian, there are still stories I know that you don't."

He grinned, and I almost grinned back.

* * *

Ma says that I'm a sweet child because I say such sweet, pretty things to her and listen to her always. Elder spoils Ma on principle but I know that Elder thinks I'm just like herself. I too sharpen my tongue on a whetstone and smile until my face breaks cleanly into two. I too pretend to be clueless about things when in fact everything I touch yields like butter under a hot knife. I too see the world in blacks and whites and myself as something grey.

And Rook—well.

When I catch myself missing him as he was, I stuff my braid full of butterfly wings and remember how Ma had crooned.

"Maybird, Maybird. How silly he was for calling you Daisybird."

part one: maybird

My first words were not ‘ma’ but ‘we are not Ilati however much we may look like it.’

Maybe I am exaggerating but the point still stands. We are not Ilati, and saying that we are in front of Elder is like asking her to snap off a birch branch and tan you. You might as well do it yourself.

Elder doesn’t teach us much (she leaves that to our mothers) but when she does it is always about herself, because Elder sits at the center of everything. Her story, when she tells it, starts a little like this:

My name, children, is Mirage. That is why, when outsiders ask, you tell them you are a Miragian. An instinct I trained into each of you from birth, yes—you were all so malleable, just delightful really, when you were small.

But alas. Youth leaves us all eventually.
(I’d always thought this funny because Elder looked younger than some of our Ma’s—I’ve since learned that whenever Elder says ‘all’ she means ‘all of us with the exception of herself.’)

I was born many centuries ago as a daughter of the Ilati. Yes, (she’d say sharply—she’s touchy about her age), during Nahane’s time. I am assuming your mothers have done what I told them to do and you all know the history of the Ilati. (We nodded—we knew all about the Ilati. Elder made sure of it.) The Witch Doctor, we called her. For a time, I worshipped her just as much as the rest. She was our Elder before we ever had the tradition of one. We lived for her. We died for her. Yet—there was one thing about Nahane I could never understand. She stayed always the same, while we grew old and died.

To die. Children, you all must know what a horrific thing it is to do. Why must we die when we were born to live? Is it by the Goddess’ design? I asked myself this for many years. Yet—why was Nahane allowed to live? Were we not all the Goddess’ beloved children? Were we not all Ilati? Death, I realised, cannot be by Her design. To live—to live forever—cannot be myth, when there is Nahane.

We were a healing tribe. That is what the outsiders knew, and that is what they came for. I was among the best of our healers—if I was not, then I would not be able to achieve what I knew, by then, to be possible. I told no one of my knowledge. To tamper with “the fabric of life,” as Nahane put it, was blasphemy! We would do as much as we were able, but we were not gods. We could not snatch one from death, only save the ones dangling perilously close to it.

Hypocrisy, I thought. Such hypocrisy. Nahane taught us so many things, but she never taught us the only thing that mattered.

Elder would pause here, her beautiful face rapturous. Then, she would whistle a high, keening note, and a bird would fly down from the canopy to perch on the crest of her neck. She would draw the silver dagger from the sheath by her hip, and stab it clean through the bird's chest. It would fall to the ground gently, as if it were asleep.

All of the other children screamed, or worse, cried. I alone stared at the dead bird, with its puddle of red blood, and thought it just a little bit beautiful. Elder knew this. That is why I am her favourite.

Without even wiping the dagger she would whistle again, and again a bird would fly down from the canopy to perch quietly on her neck. Uglier, this time—she always made sure of that. A rook, to the dead robin. Then she would close her eyes, and when she opened them again, they were not robins-egg blue but black, all the way through.

Elder says that black is the very first color. Before there was anything, there was black.

Nahane would not teach us, so I taught myself. And do you know what I learned, children? Her eyes would blink, slowly, before tears began to leak from them. Drip, drip, drip. Her head moved until it was just over the dead bird's body. So that her tears would dampen its bloody breast.

There is life all around us. Death may take it, because Death is always jealous, but the Goddess loves us so much she always replenishes what Death takes. Slowly, the bird on the ground would begin to tremble, and the bird on her shoulder would begin to droop. The soul is eternal. The only thing that dies is the physical body. Why, then, can the soul not simply be plucked off, like a petal, and placed into another body?

I would nod solemnly. The other children would wipe the snot from their noses and lean forwards, ever so slightly, towards the robin on the ground, no longer dead but alive. It would hop up, glance at its bloody breast as if confused, and open its beak to let out a whiny, pathetic squawk. As if it were still a rook.

The rook, of course, was dead. But that wasn't it, exactly. It's soul had been emptied out. Plucked, like a petal off a flower.

That is only one variation, of course. As I learned so many years ago, there are options. A soul, at its core, is the purest form of life. Why would it not be possible, for example, to take one and layer it, like new skin, over a dwindling life? And then Elder would blink again and the rook in the body of a robin would drop one final time to the ground. When Elder's eyes opened, they were back to robins-egg blue and her dagger was in the chest of Amiya, because she had been the closest.

Before Amiya could even scream, though, Elder plucked her blade right out and all of us looked in wonder at Amiya's chest. There was not a mark. Red feathers began to sprout from her white fur.

It works best, Elder's soul-transference, if the life she uses to patch another's shares similarities. If not, then like it did to Amiya the old life leaves its marks on the new one. She is lucky in that on her, the red plumage is pretty.

Elder likes to leave her stories half untold. She never tells us the exact reason why she left the Ilati, though we all understand. It's either one or the other: they either shunned her, or she stole away to start her own tribe of religious zealots, with herself as the Nahane she always wanted to be.

It is likely the second. Elder is not one to be shunned, and then to take it nicely.

part two: marigold

My name is Marigold Hyacinthus Mirage. Mother calls me Goldie, but I suspect it is not because of my name (as she would like me to think) but because she had wanted me to have long, gold hair, a shade darker than hers, and my daughter would have long, auburn hair, a shade darker than mine, and together we would be like the three beautiful witch sisters with hair as long as riverbeds, white and yellow and red, everything as it should be.

My mother does not like it when things do not go her way. That is what power does to you—it makes you childish, apt to throw tantrums when things do not go your way. My mother is very powerful.

I am also very powerful.

But my hair is black, like a raven's wing, and Mother calls me Goldie to shame me about it. If she had not made me with such a weak constitution I would have screamed at her, on a day she least expects it. Which is everyday, because I always listen to what she says like a scared little mouse.

Why is it my fault? I know exactly what I am. I know my place. I am a piece of my mother's soul grafted on a femur bone she had taken with her, stolen really, when she ran from the Ilati to start her own tribe of maenads. The femur bone is Nahane's, supposedly. Mother implies (she never says anything, because she does not like her words being used against her) that she had been involved in Nahane's death. Directly or not, she had gotten a femur bone out of it, and she had been smart enough to figure out that souls of powerful witches like Nahane leave little bits of themselves behind, concentrated in the rich marrow tucked beneath pockets of bone.


I could very well be a shred of Mother's soul stitched together with a raven's (the hair), and a buck's (the antlers), and ten blue butterflies (the iridescence in my coat) and a mouse (the weak constitution). She is powerful enough to piece souls together like patchwork. But even she is not powerful enough to predict how they will mesh.

She had wanted yellow hair. Somehow I am a failure because my hair came out black as jet, instead of sunlight in a bottle.

She named me Marigold, because she so loves to laugh.


I ran away, just like Mother.

I ran away and then I got pregnant and then I ran back, because he did not really love me and had merely pitied me and then I killed him. It was not hard. I am powerful, just like Mother, and I did not really kill him, only diced his soul into fifty frayed pieces and implanted them on various things, whatever I saw as I ran, so that he would never become whole again, so that he would never go back to her.

Her. The girl he really loved. I did not touch her, because I am not that type of girl.

(I did not have time.)

Mother took me back in. She was not as angry as I thought. She merely stroked my head (how young she looked then—a child stroking the head of a girl swollen by womanhood) and murmured that I must have been so frightened, because she had made me with the constitution of a mouse.

(She did not really say that but I know she was thinking it.)

I looked at her and tears leaked from my eyes and I told her I loved her so much. She shook her head, sadness in her eyes, and said she was sorry. Sorry that my heart could not love, even though it yearned to, because the piece of soul she had torn from herself had been missing a piece of the heart. That happens, sometimes, she whispered. I cannot always get it right. It is not a science. That is why, after you, I made no more.

You were the first, and the last. I love you, my beautiful Marigold.


My baby was born dead.

She came out so blue, and so still. Mother (my stoic mother) cried. I have never seen her cry. She said she would do all she could but the baby had been so little it hadn't properly developed a soul. I did not cry. I merely looked at her, touched the blood blooming from my legs, and told her to fetch Skyweaver.

"The—your bonded?"

I looked at her and Mother stilled. "Alright." I think, in that moment, she was a little afraid of me.

Maybe, I thought, a piece of me was Nahane.


Her name is Maybird Dahlia Mirage, and her hair is as silver as a snow-fed river.

I look at her sometimes and cannot believe that she came from me. Me, alone. I had saved her because she was apart of me, and because Skyweaver (who flies forever in Vespera's skies) was my bonded. Mother never could have done what I did.

I look at her and think: My little bird. Mine, only mine.

I braid her hair every morning, and sometimes stuff it full of butterfly wings. Fourteen, for each piece of my soul.

part three: mirage

This time, it isn't about me. Bird has already written enough about that, and her mother, enough about herself (with me as the opener—constitution of a mouse? more like a snake, that girl). But this is Bird's story, is it not?

And the little one's story isn't complete without him.

His name was Rook, but she called him Crow. I liked him very much, despite what Bird thought (she always took my lectures a bit too literally, the poor child; I am old Terrastellan, and we were born hating Deluminians. no one ever took it very seriously.) Rook was the sort of boy that lived life as it came at him, spry as a cat; the sort that a girl like Bird could use like a balm against her wounds without him much minding. When you live long enough, you learn to tell such things from a glance.

The one Bird should have been careful of was never me, but Marigold.

Yet how can I possibly blame her? Blame either of them? They are both of my blood. Bird is a good child, truly. She loves her Ma, and to keep Rook a secret for so long was agony. Marigold tries to be what she cannot. I am the genesis of everything. To that end, I bear the blame.


I think Bird knew, towards the end. Knew that her Ma knew, knew that it was time to put a stop to everything. She'd whispered to me, one evening, that Ma had pulled her hair very hard. That it had hurt. I had touched her neck, where the braids started, and sighed when my nose came away bloody. I'll talk to your mother, I promised her, to which Bird nodded stiffly, before heading off at once to the swamp.

She warned him to stay away, but the boy refused to listen. I went to see him, after Bird left. He was easy enough to find, which was worrying; Goldie had her methods. She hadn't come looking because she knew what would happen once she did.

I like to think that Marigold didn't really want to do what she did. That she fought it, until the end.

I told Rook that he was making things difficult for Bird, and that he must keep himself away. He asked who I was, to which I replied I was a friend of hers. I knew he didn't believe me. Deluminians are always damnably smart when they shouldn't be, and obtuse when their necks are slick in the noose. Instead of agreeing he asked why Bird always wore that mask of hers, to which I replied that her mother had given it to her and that it was a very special mask because of that.

By the time I made it back, the house was empty.


What Marigold did to Rook is in concept quite simple. She transferred his soul to another body, another vessel, and sank the empty one to the bottom of the swamp. It was an easy enough tale to piece together. The swamp Bird had snatched him from came back to claim what it was owed.

In her own way, she was doing Bird a kindness: she had kept Rook's soul whole, and Bird would be kept from seeing the body he left behind. Bird would have accepted his death in kind, I think; she is not as averse to death as one normally should be.

Yet as I had warned Goldie—as I have always warned her—souls do not often transfer cleanly. Especially if the body had been alive, as Rook's had been. It is a different case entirely to cut the still-bound soul into fifty pieces, as she had done to her lover. The soul is already destroyed. Yet when Marigold performed the transference, she left behind shreds of Rook's heart. All the soul remembered, as it stretched to fill its new body, was snatches of memory and waves of insatiable emotion, the last one the soul had felt.

The last thing Rook had felt was anger.


The black stag came looking for Bird. And it would have killed her, had something incomprehensible not occurred. I had been there to see the soul bond slip into place.

Was it a cruel twist of fate? Bird had lived because her mother had killed her bonded. Bird would live again because the killer became her bonded. In all my years of life—I have never seen the Goddess' hand as clearly as she showed it, then.

I do not know how they will turn out. Bird is furious, and distraught, and grieving. She is quiet, but I have never seen her so close to tears.

She spoke to me, before she left, and said she thinks she will never come back. I stroked her braids and didn't say that in thinking that, she was just like her mother and me.

Active & Parvus Magic

Passive Magic

Bonded & Pets

rook, or what is left of him.
(melanistic whitetail)

He is a black stag, with antlers as white as the moon. Except for the outline of a triangle inked on his forehead, identical to Bird's but short a line, everything about him is ordinary. Melanistic hart; white tufted tail; large, inquisitive eyes. A mouth free of fangs.

Yet when you look closer, you begin to see that something about him is—amiss. His eyes, large and inquisitive, are milky, seemingly ridden with cataracts, yet he has no trouble seeing. Really, seeing. Around him, you feel as if you are always being watched. A deer, by the starving leopard.

Who is the deer? Who is the leopard?

Rook only smiles by way of an answer, and even without fangs it is chilling.


Is it by the Goddess' divine law that a bonded must love its master?

Rook would snarl if asked this, and then choke his laughter down in giggles that dissolve into hiccups. No. It is not by the Goddess' law. The only law that binds me, you see, is that a bonded cannot kill his master. However much he may like to.

Bird tells herself she doesn't mind his hatred. That it is her fault that he became this way, and while she has never been particularly honorable, whenever she thinks about leaving him behind a sickly feeling crawls down her throat and she begins to have trouble breathing.

Elder would say that it is guilt. Ma would say that it is nothing.

Yet for all he says to her he confuses her still with his volley of contradictions. He hates her and loves her in droves. He wants to kill her yet will kill for her. He is hopelessly jealous and smiles maliciously at any who draws too close to her. He remembers bits and pieces of their past, of the boy he was before, and on the days where memory assaults him he is quiet and heartbreakingly docile.

So Bird lets him rest his head against her every night, and vows that soon, when she finds out how, she will release him from his tortured existence. She does not like to owe anyone anything.

And to Rook, she owes him everything.

Armor, Outfit, and Accessories

enchanted crow mask
  • a mask made from the head of a real (griffon-sized) crow that covers Bird's head completely, if she pulls it all the way down. somehow she is able to see with it on, though whether or not it's because she's grown up wearing it and has somehow adjusted, or if she's just elegant at stumbling around blind, she'll never tell.
  • enchantment: while wearing the mask, if Bird taps the ground twice with a hoof she will appear as a regular-sized crow with a single white feather on her left wing, to anyone who lays eyes on her. (obviously since Bird cannot fly, the crow is effectively grounded and probably not able to appear on trees, unless Bird defeats gravity & physics and climbs a tree.) effect is lost, however, if she is touched, as the mask's enchantment is purely visual.
    • at night the mask's eyes become eerily clear, almost watchful, shifting from a dull black to a startling silver blue.

  • various things (feathers, butterfly wings, flowers) braided into her hair. different on any given day.

Agora Items & Awards

(View All Items)


if you want to catch yourself a Bird, leave out some (fancy) bread. 95% effective.

Played by:

rallidae (PM Player)


none    //   



Staff Log

Saved incentives/prizes:

07/30/20 Character application accepted; +20 signos for visual reference. Realistic Bonded approved and added to the Records. -SID
08/06/20 +6EXP for @rallidae's 1 & 2 year Novus anniversaries -LAYLA
12/27/20 Enchanted accessory approved and added to the Records; enchantment earned in 2020 advent calendar. -SID