This is a fun fantasy short story. I created the picture below to help share my inspiration. Enjoy!!
All Hallows Eve Adventure
The sky shimmered as the veil between the planes was inundated with the magic of All Hallows Eve. My feathers swirled the cloud vapors, gathering droplets before they could fall to swell the waterfall that sent lifegiving magic through the realms.
I was going to pass through this time. I’d been forbidden before, but now nothing could stop me. I had transformed into an Earth creature and could blend in. Tonight I was going to have an adventure. Skimming past the clouds, I turned toward the waterfall. Its invigorating spray misted the air, and I briefly lost the ability to see where I was flying. Magic thrummed through me, and I trusted the ancient beat sending my wings up and down.
A well of power caught me and sent me higher, until I broke through the clouds to skim the kaleidoscope of colors making up the veil. I coasted through, my wings angled to sweep as much power as possible.
Then I dove. The air ruffled through my feathers, penetrating the down, chilling me. For a brief second I hit the weightlessness of void that made up the veil, but the magic pushed ahead of me by my momentum kept me going until I passed through.
I made it! I hooted my triumph. The air was different here. Heavier, the scent of man and machinery thick, even above the clouds. What would their cities look like? I had to see.
A pink glow lit up the clouds, but its color had nothing on the veil I could still see above me. This light was made up by the glow of many different lights, but they didn’t blend the way the magical curtains did. Lines of bright dots covered the ground. Some moved and some didn’t. Some were steady and others blinked.
Then the sounds hit me, paining my sensitive ears. I swerved away, repelled by the noise. Their cities were nothing like ours. Their busy chaos contrasted with our industrious quiet, and I didn’t like it. I moved away from the lights, flying above a river, following the path the moon made as it rose above the mountains in the distance. Not even that was pure.
What had these humans done to their world?
Maybe the mountains would hold some trace of untouched beauty. I veered to the right, crossing a flat black strip with vehicles on it. Something large with a single light barreled down on me, a rhythmic racket and screech covered the sounds of the other vehicles. I stroked downwards, forcing my bird form to go higher, to get away from the human machine.
I finally found some peace gliding above fragrant trees. A few waterfalls—none even close to the majesty and magic of the great falls—dotted the rocky outcrops that jutted out here and there. I flew for hours, extending my senses, until I saw another one of those black ribbons. This one was smaller, empty, and I couldn’t resist the lure of following its tight turns and switches to test my agility in this form.
Everything felt so different here. At home magic permeated the very air. Here, the air was devoid of all but the slightest traces of magic. There was just enough to pull from to sustain my form. In some ways, it was a relief. At home I was sensitive to the paths and absorbed magic so quickly I had to spend it or risk becoming overwhelmed, which was why I could transform so young, but that wasn’t an issue here.
It was like a pressure against my skin that I’d grown used to until it suddenly disappeared. I closed my eyes and let my wings extend to their fullest, luxuriating in the sensation.
A break in the air current startled me. I jerked upward, but it was too late as something smooth and hard struck me. My tiny body rolled up and over it, momentum sending me back into the air. I shrieked in pain, nothing in my life preparing me for the agony as my fragile bones in one wing shattered.
My good wing fluttered as I tried to stay in the air, but I couldn’t stop my fall to the ground. I hit hard, spinning head over tail feathers. I landed on my back, my tiny heart beating in my chest so fast I thought it might explode. Healing. I had to heal.
The ground under me was rocky, hard. I couldn’t feel the pulse of magic from deep inside the planet except for the barest of filaments reaching through the cracks. The bones in my wing withdrew into the skin, which healed over, but there were too many cracks and breaks in the tiny bones to heal. There was no way to fold my wing. I couldn’t even get up, much less fly. I strained to find more magic in this bereft world.
Pain faded and then swelled again to consume my focus as I strained to gather enough to heal myself. I’d never lived through anything this agonizing; at home I healed instantly. A loud, rumbling noise got louder, covering my cries as the rocks beneath me shifted. One of their vehicles was coming, and I was on their traveling surface.
I flapped my good wing, trying to get up. My feathers beat against the air, but the broken wing dragged on the ground. It was no use.
Was this how it would end? As a bird in the human realm on my first journey through the veil? I’d been so sure this form would keep me safe. Silent wings, keen eyesight, agile body, sharp claws and beak for defense… but there was no protection against the humans’ metal machines. My own inattention, something my mother despaired ever curing me of, would be my undoing.
A high-pitched squeal covered the machine rumble, and an acrid stench of chemicals obliterated the traces of my blood in the air. The machine had stopped. A rhythmic ding accompanied a light that broke through the darkness.
“Oh, my god. You poor thing.” A human stepped out of his vehicle. He was young, close to my age, with light eyes that shone in the night. “Shh. I won’t hurt you,” he crooned. He took careful steps toward me, pulling off his outer covering, then crouched down. “Let me help you. Don’t hurt me, okay?”
I stilled. Out of everything I expected this night, getting this close to a human wasn’t it.
“Don’t bite me.”
Like I would, no matter how much pain I was in. I hooted softly.
“That’s right. We’re going to be friends,” the young man said. “I won’t hurt you, so please don’t hurt me. I’m going to help you.” He dropped the cloth over me, and I couldn’t see what he was doing after that. My instinct was to struggle, but if I did, he might leave me there. I stayed quiet and still, even when my broken wing shifted as he gingerly scooped me up. The pain was nauseating, and I was glad I’d snuck out before the All Hallows Eve feast. Vomiting in bird form wasn’t an experience I wished to gain.
The dinging grew louder, so I knew we were moving to his vehicle. “Okay. I’m going to put you on the seat with the coat covering you to help you relax. Then we’re going to my office.” He shut the vehicle door beside me, and it took a few seconds for him to return. He kept up a steady patter of reassuring murmurs.
His vehicle rolled on the ground, and the hum blended with his voice was vaguely soothing. The night was nearing its peak, and the veil was at its thinnest before it would begin to thicken and separate the realms again.
I needed to be on the other side before that happened.
The hum slowed, and then we stopped. “Okay, little bird. Just a few more minutes.” The human moved away and then a draft of air shifted the cloth covering me. “Okay. Just remember, I’m helping you. No biting or clawing me.”
Lingering pain made it hard to focus as he picked me up, no matter how gentle his grip was as he cradled my body to his chest. His rocking gait slowed, stopped, something beeped, and then a light filtered through the cloth over me. “Here we are,” he crooned.
A smooth surface cradled my body, but it was something I’d never encountered before. Not made of the earth, I couldn’t feel a speck of magic in it. I suppressed my frustration, lying still as the cloth slowly lifted. If I didn’t get enough magic to heal soon….
Large brown eyes stared down at me. I looked back at the human, watching his every movement. He began to touch me, but his fingers were so careful it didn’t hurt until he neared my outstretched wing. “Okay, Mr. Tito. That’s what I think I’ll call you. Mr. Tito. You seem to be okay, other than this wing. Don’t worry, Dr. Brennen can fix it.” He seemed to be referring to himself.
He could? Relief swamped me. I was so afraid I wouldn’t be able to heal in time to fly back through the veil before it closed.
“First we’ll get an x-ray. You’ve been so docile up till now, so let’s keep that going. I really don’t want to sedate you until I’m sure you don’t have any internal injuries.” He scooped me up and supported my wing. “You’re so tame. Are you someone’s pet? You’re not banded. Maybe you’re just a good bird. Or maybe you really like me.”
For a human, he was pretty nice. My mother had warned me, over and over, that they weren’t to be trusted. They’re callous disregard of nature had obliterated their connection to the natural magic of their land, losing their ability to even feel it as it flowed through them. It appeared he had skills with the animals of his world, so he was perhaps a healer. I had to trust a healer here would have sworn to do nothing to harm others as they did on my world.
I stayed still as Brennen put me down again, keeping my hoot soft and my pained flinches to a minimum as he spread out my broken wing. He stepped away, leaving me alone on the surface, his shirt still under me. What was he doing? A light came on over me and the machine clicked. The abrupt shock of poison invading my cells sent me into a frenzy. What did he do to me?
“Oh shit! Tito, calm down. You’re going to flop off the table.”
That was the point, so he couldn’t poison me again! I kicked my talons against the fabric under me until I tipped over the edge and began to fall.
“No!” Brennen lunged, and I fell into his soft hands instead of the hard floor. He landed with a strangled groan as his body slapped against the white tiles. This was the first time he’d touched me with his bare skin on more than the tips of my feathers. His fingers made their way past the down on my chest until both thumbs were touching my body. “Please be okay.”
He sat up, cradling me closer as he crooned.
It was extremely risky, but I had no choice. My wing was still broken, and he’d just poisoned me. Probably not on purpose based on how close he came to being hurt to catch me, but there was no more time to waste. I reached out to him, like I did to the magic in the earth, and opened a conduit between his body and mine.
Oh! This human might not be able to manipulate the magic of his world, but he was full of it. He had a close connection to nature, and he truly cared about the natural beings of this realm.
I latched on to that care and connection, pulling on it, drawing the magic from his body and into mine. The bones grating together in my wing straightened and smoothed. The hollow tubes that were chipped and cracked spread thinner but stronger to form new connections where they’d broken before. The torn muscles inside swelled with healing blood that swirled with the magic.
Brennen was a good man. I could feel him on a fundamental level, and it humbled me. I’d been so secure in my bias. I’d wanted to see the human realm, curious about their callous disregard of their home and full of pride that my realm was so superior. But while we each had a close tie to the earth magic of our realm, close bonds between us were few and far between. Not like how Brennen was tied through many, many strands, each one a tiny link that made up a powerful whole.
He did nothing but try to connect with his patients. I could feel his need to protect me, to heal me. And he did.
A high-pitched hoot escaped me when the magic flared, flowing two ways as a loop formed between us. My form shimmered, and the magic overlaid my normal body in an astral projection above the owl I’d turned into. Brennen’s eyes widened, and he gasped.
While he was rigid in shock, I squirmed out of his grip. I skittered back, my talons clicking on the hard surface of the floor.
“Who… what are you?” His voice was barely above a whisper. He crouched, frozen as he waited out an answer.
“Grateful for your help.” My astral body projected my voice so that he could hear me, but the magic was beginning to wane now that we were no longer touching. My spirit form was only semi-corporeal and growing wispier by the second. I had to get out of there. “You are a good human, Brennen.”
I reached down, and he reared back, but not before I touched the tip of one finger to his forehead. It was instinctual, the magic guiding me once again as the connection between us flared and then winked out. Before I lost the use of my astral form, I moved to the window and willed it open with both hands.
“We will meet again,” I said.
My astral form faded completely, and I once again saw through the large eyes of my bird form. I was healed, but the night was fading. I flapped my wings and hopped toward the counter. I had to gather myself for two more short hops before I was high enough to reach the window, but I made it.
I paused on the sill.
“Who are you?”
My astral form had faded, but the connection between us hadn’t. I willed him to hear my voice as I spoke my true name. “Eligyan Feath.”
There was no more time to waste. I spread my newly-healed wing and took off. I glided a few feet and then began to truly fly. I used the power I’d gained from Brennen to help propel me higher. The magic of All Hallows Eve had almost passed, and the veil between the realms began to coalesce into the shimmering colors again. Once they were fully opaque, there would be no passing through. I fought to make it in time, determined my first adventure wouldn’t be my last.
Tingles spread over me as I entered the shining yellow, orange, pink, and purple outer limits. I’d risen high above the veil gathering its magic before rising above it, and now as the moment of truth. I needed enough height and magic to drill through the thickened seam, but there was no way to tell if it was enough until after I was falling.
It was a danger that had to be faced without delay. I tucked my head and turned downward, letting gravity take me. Just as the upper rim of Earth’s moon fell below the horizon, I entered the veil and punched through. There was a tug against the connection between me and Brennen, but I didn’t let it distract me. I had to stay focused and make it through the edges and back to the waterfall. He would be there next year when the veil thinned.
We would meet again, just like I promised.
I hope you enjoyed this Halloween short story!