"Ooh… wow, Avion! You look bee-oo-tee-full!"
The Eagle laughed, loving how her young companion pronounced each "big word" carefully. Several people working on the lake looked up and smiled at the Colossus' laughter.
Avion peered down from her perch into the water, studying her reflection.
"You are right, Arna! Your necklace heightens my beauty at least ten fold!"
The girl that sat on Avion's shoulder grinned. "Really? You like it? It took me hours to make, since it takes a ton of flowers to make a necklace for a Co-la-soos."
The Eagle laughed again. "Colossus, dear, Colossus. Well! Thank you very much for this gift. I will wear it as long as it lasts."
Arna smiled before looking up at the sky. "Avion? What time is it?"
"A little after noon. Why?"
The girl began to appear panicked. "Today is a special day at Quadratus' beach! Celosia and Celobia are coming, and all the children are going to be there! There's going to be an ob-stee-cool course, and races, and other stuff! And I'm late!"
Avion shook her head, marveling at how Arna could pronounce the names of Colossi perfectly, but had a hard time with other words. Sometimes she barely understood why the girl was destined to be someone of importance.
"Well then, I will just have to get you there myself! Hold on!"
Arna gripped the moss on Avion's shoulder tightly as the Eagle took off, flying up and out of the canyon containing the Lake City.
The girl relaxed as the flight evened out, Avion gliding on air thermals.
The girl fingered the hem on her grayish-green dress, looking nervous.
"I was wondering… why were you chosen to be my childhood guide?"
The Eagle stared back at her companion. "Because we had a bond. And we still have one."
Arna nodded. "I know that, but… why?"
Avion thought carefully for a minute before answering. "When a girl or boy is destined to be someone of importance, they become drawn to a Colossus. That Colossus teaches them the ways of the world, and is a friend for life. Only one Colossus can have a child at any time."
The girl's eyes widened. "I'm going to be im-pour-tant?"
Avion nodded. "Yes. We can not be sure how, just yet. But I will be with you every step of the way, as is my duty and my wish."
Arna grinned. "I know you will. Can you sing me my song?"
The Eagle laughed. "Of course, dear. Ahem…
There once was a princess
So sweet and sure
With hair of black
And teeth of white
Her clear complexion
Was pure perfection
With barely a pimple
As Avion continued with additional verses, people working on the farms and in the villages looked up, smiling at the Eagle's beautiful voice. Arna giggled, adding to the sweet melody drifting down on the land. With perfect timing, just as the song was finished, Avion landed on Quadratus' beach. Many children ran over, greeting Arna and her guardian happily. The girl jumped off of the Eagle and began to play tag with her friends. Avion watched for a minute, highly content, before looking up to see Celobia walking up to her. Celosia was slightly in the distance, playing gently with some older children. Quadratus was nearby, laughing heartily as little ones climbed on him. Just as Celobia stopped before Avion, a child sprinted over and leaped onto his back. The boy waved his hand in front of the Lion's eyes, grinning ear to ear.
"Tag! You're it, Celobia!"
The Lion chuckled. "I don't count, Turo. Try tagging Arna, she's got sky-legs from flying."
Turo jumped off and began to chase Arna, who screamed with laughter. Celobia looked up at Avion.
"Hmm… nice necklace."
The Eagle laughed. "Is it not beautiful? Arna made it for me. They're the last blooms of spring, I think."
Celobia glanced over at the girl, who was now "It", and was chasing the children alternately.
"She's going to be a priestess. I can tell."
Avion scoffed. "You can not be so sure, my Lion. There are other positions in this land that hold potential for greatness."
Celobia shook his head. "Have you noticed how attentive she is to the Colossi? She visits all of us, even Basaran! And that old Tortoise usually hates company! It is a sign of a high priestess in the making, I think."
The Eagle chuckled. "We shall see, Celobia. We shall see."
Celosia chose that moment to run over, kicking up sand in her wake. When she stopped, the Boar gazed up at Avion, her eyes a bright, happy blue.
"Avion! Are you going to join us? We were about to set up the obstacle course, and having another Colossus around would be helpful."
The Eagle nodded. "Of course, Celosia."
The festivities lasted long into the evening, and when the last race had been won, all the children were slumping over in a sleepy fashion. The parents of little ones came and retrieved them by horse-back, while older children walked home themselves. Anybody who lived too far away to walk was placed on Celosia and Celobia's backs and carried off. Arna walked up to Avion, who was talking with Quadratus, rubbing her eyes sleepily.
The Eagle looked down. "Yes, dear?"
Arna yawned. "Can you take me home?"
Avion nodded and leaned down so the girl could climb back onto her shoulder. Saying goodbye to Quadratus, the Eagle took off. Trying to be careful with her sleepy companion, Avion flapped as slowly as possible. After gliding through the night sky for a few minutes, the Eagle landed in the village that sprawled along the sea-cliff edge outside of the Lake City. She walked up to the house that belonged to Arna's family and gently nudged the girl onto the ground with her beak. Arna's mother ran out and picked up her daughter. Looking up at Avion, the woman bowed.
"Thank you, Great Eagle."
With that, she went back into the house, leaving a tired but content Avion standing outside. The Eagle took off, careful not to hit anything, and flew the short distance to her column perch in the center of the Lake City. Tucking her head under her wing, Avion drifted off to sleep, her dreams full of happy days like the one she just experienced.
The Eagle stared at the stone.
One of the many now worn and non-noticeable stones that stood in the green fields of the south-east. Long ago, there had been writing on the stones. Writing that was maintained every so often so it could be readable. Now though, there were no people to maintain the stones, so the words had eroded away. But Avion remembered very clearly what had been written on the stone that stood before her, as she had visited it everyday.
Here lies High Priestess Arna
She who lived 96 years
She who was respected by all
She who was guided by the Great Eagle
She who will be remembered as long as this scripture remains intact
For her heart now lies in stone
Avion shook her head.
"No. She will be remembered much longer than that. Much longer."