Flight of the Five Swans

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Feathered Chapter 20

The Swan Princesses

It is light.

It is light and there is pain.

There is pain in our wings and our feet and our bones and our feathers there is pain in our eyes and our beak and our minds there is pain and pain and nothing but pain.

And then it is over.

The day begins and the flock is walking once again, walking through the forest where owls call. The flock longs to spread our wings, to rise up and out of the forest, and to soar over the trees and above the clouds in the clear blue sky. The flock is like lightning in the sky—swift and graceful and free. But on the ground, the flock is slow and clumsy when walking, and the path is hard and rocky underneath our feet. The flock was not meant to walk all day long. The flock was meant to fly.

But the flock cannot fly, for to fly is to be seen by Bad Others or the Dark Other. To fly is to be caught, to be captured, to be caged. And to fly is to leave Raia Our Other behind. For Raia Our Other is Our Other, but she is still Other, and her wings cannot fly. Raia Our Other is grounded.

But she will not be grounded alone, for the flock will remain together. The flock is strong together.

The flock moves ever west, away from the sun that rises and towards the sun that sets. It is through this way that they will reach Good Others, who will help the flock and help Raia Our Other to reach the Homeland again. And so they walk on under the trees and through the forest where the owl calls. Slow and clumsy the flock may be on the ground, but still they continue on their way to reach help and safety and the Good Others.

Raia Our Other’s eyes and wings are busy as they walk, making the important clothing for the flock. And so the flock takes care to care for her while she works, to make her work easy and to help her make the important garment. Cliodne Who Leads chooses the best paths for Others—the paths that are easy for Raia Our Other to walk on. She chooses the clearest paths with tall trees and firm footing. The ground is hard and tough and hurts the flock’s feet, but the flock is strong. It is more important that Raia Our Other will not stumble and will not fall while she is making the important garment.

Raia Our Other has no need to look for food, for the flock provides in that as well. Callia Who Knows forages for plants that are good for Others to eat. She remembers learning these plants, and the book, and the game with Raia Our Other and two Kind Others. For a moment, Callia Who Knows is sad to remember the two Kind Others and their game. Then she sees more food for Raia Our Other, and has no time for sadness. She goes to fetch the plant.

Petra Who Steals is not sad, for she has found Other dwellings just outside the forest where the owls call. Other dwellings are easy to find and easy to reach, though she must fly a little to get there. But Petra Who Steals is alone, and no Other will see her—and there is lots of food for Raia Our Other to eat. There is bread in the window, and a garden near the dwelling with carrots and beans and beets and more. Petra Who Steals does not feel guilty, for the Other dwelling has much to spare, and Raia Our Other has none at all. Raia Our Other needs the food more.

Eurielle Who Honks walks beside Raia Our Other. She watches her hands, which are always busy, always busy. She keeps close to Raia Our Other to get comfort and to give comfort. Raia Our Other cannot fly, cannot speak, cannot communicate with the flock at all. And so Eurielle Who Honks walks with Raia Our Other so that she will not be alone. So that Raia Our Other would never be alone.

Thaleia Who Fights searches the forest where owls call for possible danger. She sees many small beasts and is unafraid, for they are no threat to the flock. A fox approaches Eurielle Who Honks, but Thaleia Who Fights hisses, and the fox is gone. Above all, Thaleia Who Fights looks out for Others who would capture Raia Our Other or harm the flock. She looks out for Bad Others who would bring Raia Our Other to the Dark Other. But she sees none. The forest is quiet, and so far the flock has been safe and alone. Yet still Thaleia Who Fights looks for the danger. She knows that it will come soon while they walk or while they rest or maybe while they sleep.

The sun starts to fall, and the flock feels the pull deep in the bones, an ache to return to the Dark Other’s lake and to become Other once more. It is hard to push against the pull, but not so hard as before. Raia Our Other needs the flock, so the flock will not leave her alone. The pull of Raia Our Other is stronger than the pull of the Dark Other’s magic.

The pull also shows that is time to stop and sleep for the night. The flock stops to makes our nest, sometimes in a safe cave like the first night, or sometimes on the soft grass off the forest path. There is always a rock or a log near the nest for Raia Our Other to sit and work. The flock eats and then gathers around Raia Our Other, to lie our heads down on her legs or lap or feet, and to watch her hands, always busy, always busy.

And then it is dark.

It is dark and there is pain.

There is pain in our wings and our feet and our bones and our feathers there is pain in our eyes and our beak and our minds there is pain and pain and nothing but pain.

And then it is over. The pain has stopped and the flock remains.

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