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Elegy for Eudoxia

Seeing through

By Alina ZPublished 2 years ago Updated about a year ago 20 min read
Runner-Up in Christopher Paolini's Fantasy Fiction Challenge
Dragon in the deep forest - Midjourney

The forest shuddered. At dawn, black starlings gushed from their nests by the thousands. They dashed over Lake Orlén in ample arabesques, twisted and spun. They swooped from the heights, whirled above giant boulders sprayed with tar darker than their wings, then folded in two waves. When the first glint of light fired up the sky, the two-pronged murmuration of starlings plunged into the clear blue waters.

In her dream, Eudoxia saw her face sculpted by starlings dancing in the air. She sighed. Never do the starlings dance in the morning. Never do they dance for the dying.

Then, on his burnt wing, an owl brought the ashes of a distant battle and the fetid stench of decay. A dry breeze swept through the pine trees. Eudoxia’s armored body flashed in the morning sun with green and golden iridescences. Someone had entered her woods. Someone who did not belong.

She opened her eyes—first, the horizontal eyelid, the unbreakable. Harder than lead, it shielded her eyes against arrow, claw, boiling oil, and stingers of all varieties. The second lid, a smooth and supple vertical membrane, more vulnerable, was the reason the Skehr scum hunted her kind.

Humans dreaded dragons. The only way the Skehr killed dragons–and it was always Skehr scum doing the abominable–was by overpowering one with great numbers. They ripped out their inner eyelids while the dragon was still alive, dried the skin in the sun for years, ground it, and bottled it in smoked glass. Orange as marigolds in bloom, the dragon’s lid powder was the only universal antidote against all poisons known on earth.

Eudoxia blinked a few times, adjusting to the fog that covered the right pupil. With the left eye, she could see everything. She got used to the missing right eyelid, but she hadn’t gotten used to the stiffness of her joints. Slowly, she uncoiled her gigantesque body from the warm lair under the pine trees. Gone were the times when she’d dash to the sky, in billows of white smoke, to watch the last shadows of the night slipping away from the morning sky. Simply waking up was now a slow, painful endeavor.

Like every morning, she trudged to find a few eggs and boil them to perfection with one breath. But her morning ritual had to wait. Little steps scurried her way. “Why would they walk? Why so early?” she wondered, happy that her hearing was still good.

A while ago, while tending to oak trees decimated by the bark beetle, Eudoxia had almost crushed these two little owlets under her heavy step. First, she laughed. Who wouldn’t have? Two frizzled bundles of feathers, with the tiniest spikes of ear tufts springing out like sunbeams, stared at her with huge, twilight-colored eyes. Overly bent beaks were encrusted on their little faces like ill-placed clothes hooks. Then, she saw their bruises. Maybe the loneliness had taken over, and perhaps the two pairs of orange-ringed black eyes had cracked her armor. They had stayed together ever since.

“You’re brave to venture here before I break my fast,” she thundered.

“For sweet Saint Sugarpine's sake! We need help, Eudoxia!”

She sensed the pain, the worry in the voice.

“Nikodhim and Antim, what wind brings you, my friends?” she asked both, knowing that only Nikodhim would answer. His brother Antim had never spoken since the day she saved them.

They belonged to the long-eared kind of owls but couldn’t be more different. Nikodhim was round and stocky, with prominent shoulders and short, bulky wings. For an owl, his chestnut plumage was bizarrely unspeckled. Often, he burst with spells of grumpiness that masked a kind-hearted soul. His twin brother Antim was tall and slender. Graceful legs ended in powerful, deadly talons. He dazzled among all the owls in the forest with his white-colored plumage sprinkled with golden spots. “Strutting like a pheasant, aren’t you?” scoffed a jealous Nikodhim every time Antim groomed himself. Majestic tufts of grey feathers adorned Antim’s sharp ears. He used his tufts deftly in a sign language known only by them.

Antim and Nikodhim - Midjourney

“Antim flew over the battlefield last night, and this happened,” scorned Nikodhim and lifted his brother’s wing. The skin had been burnt to the bone. Half charred, his wing remained with only a few feathers spared—luckily, the flying ones at the tip of the wing. “He knows the Skehr people set everything afire on their way, but no, Antim has to see.”

Eudoxia looked carefully, squinting her star-shaped pupils to a line. She could cure the deep burn only if she prepared the ointment quickly.

“On the Miracle of Maidenhair’s Tree, why, brother?” scolded Nikodhim. “Why do you fly there every night? What’s there for you? They’ve been at war with each other for years! It’s Skher from the North against Skher from the South, scum against the scum. Let them tear each other to pieces!” Furiously, he spat a small pellet with visible remnants of a rat.

Eudoxia gently patted Antim on his back. He signed with his left ear tuft–short twitch, pause, double flutter: pain—lots of it. Antim touched his beak with the healthy wing, signaling to his brother to keep his beak shut.

“Nikodhim, pick up some Poor Man’s Parsley, Black Sicklegrass, and two Whistler’s Hats. Just two, we want no waste.”

“What do the hats look like?” asked Nikodhim. “Don’t roll that foggy eye at me, Eudoxia! I don’t remember you asking for this mushroom before! Sweet Mother of Myrtle, you scare me. Is he going to die?” he asked, with the amplest ruffle of feathers an owl could dispatch.

“Antim will not die,” answered Eudoxia.

“Says who?”

“Says the dragon who brought you back from the dead when you ate sage-that-glowed-in-the-dark. Nikodhim, leave now if you want your brother to fly again!”

Nikodhim flapped his wings and soared quietly, vanishing through the trees.

“Now you, Antim, why do you fly there every night?” asked Eudoxia. “What do you seek in the middle of a fierce battle?”

Antim shivered. The cold had trickled onto his bare-boned wing and spread throughout his body, clamping the muscles with steel claws. He swaddled his injured wing with the healthy one, like a cloak, and dozed off, too exhausted even to sign. Eudoxia drew closer to him. She needed some answers but didn't want to scare the anguished owl. She touched him gently, and the owl gurgled with relief.

A long time ago, she had been gifted the power of seeing through. Nobody knew how or why this strange ability was given to her. It seemed to be the will of the forest. Whoever had this power could see mingled fragments of a person’s recent past, only by a gentle touch. She loved the strong bonds that seeing through built between herself and the owls, especially with Antim, the silent one.

Eudoxia closed her eyes and saw through Antim’s recent journey. First, she glimpsed a majestic and recently widowed lady owl nested in the Council Clock Tower of Khessim. Eudoxia smiled. Yes, that beauty deserved a hundred-mile flight every night! “Not a master of spoken language, our Antim, but glad his other talents flourished,” thought Eudoxia.

But more than the romance of a wordless owl, Eudoxia wanted to learn about the war’s progression. Khessim was a large town, home to many Skehr clans who lived in rancor and spite. What kept them together were the richness of the soil and the crystal-clear waters of river Ôr, which downstream of the town grew wider and formed Lake Orlén. For years, peace reigned in Khessim. The abundant crops and the waters brimming with fish ensured social balance. One day, the Northern Skehr people came down from their wind-beaten steppes, riding on short-legged horses. They asserted their right to fish, hunt, and gather the crops of Khessim. The land became barren in the North, and the waters dried out. Besides, they were all Skehr; why not share the richness? War ensued between the Northern Skehr and the Southern people of Khessim, and they were still fighting after two years.

Through Antim’eyes, Eduoxia found the Northern clans holding up rather well. Their cohorts, glued together by an ancestral urge to destroy all life the Northerners could not subjugate, weaponized nature. They killed the cattle, poisoned the wells, and axed the trees. And, as proof that good does not always triumph, the strategy worked. The dwellers of Khessim looked gaunt, hungry, spent. Buildings burned in the battle were left in ruins, the fields abandoned–unsown.

Antim asked a question with a flick of his left ear tuft.

“How bad is it?” answered Eudoxia. “They push the war towards the forest, Antim.”

Antim’s wing described a large curve in the air.

“Yes, the sunsets. They were a sign. We all saw it coming,” acknowledged Eudoxia. Lately, sunsets above the lake were unfathomably beautiful, with vast, red reflections arching across the skies. It was from the villages that Skehr set ablaze.

Nikodhim flew back with his over-patched frog-leather satchel full to the brim. He handed Eudoxia the precise number of herbs and mushrooms she had requested, all healthy and unblemished. With zeal, he took out of the satchel a fat, furry rabbit for lunch, a wordless testimony of brotherly devotion. They gathered around a wood fire, which Eudoxia ignited dutifully. She abided by this chore every day since she found them.

That first day, when Nikodhim and Antim had just realized they’d become two orphan owlets, uncertain of their fate under a gigantic dragon’s tutelage, Eudoxia found a way to make them smile. From moss, grasses, and spider webs, she had improvised a nest for the quivering owlets, too young to warm up by themselves. All covered in white down, they’d looked like two heart-shaped snowballs, resurrecting some ancient feelings of warmth and wonder in Eudoxia’s distant past. She’d gathered a pile of wood fire and started filling her lungs slowly, lifting her shoulders magnanimously, whipping a pine tree with her tail. She even roared for a dramatic effect under the frightened eyes of Nikodhim and Antim. She breathed in and exhaled with force, but the flame that came out was no bigger than a candlelight. The owlets screeched with delight. ”Again, again,” said Nikodhim, and since then, the campfire was the highlight of the day.

Later, after wounds had been tended to, and all three of them watched the fire burning playfully, Nikodhim took one more item from his over-patched, frog-leathered satchel. He threw it in front of Eudoxia.

“I found this. What should we make of it?”

Up and down hopped Antim, so Nikodhim passed him the object. It was a doll, roughly woven of red willow fibers and sumac grass. It could represent any four-legged animal, but on the sides, the owner had attached two patches of cowhide encased in corn husks, which resembled, without any doubt, a rudimentary set of wings—a toy dragon.

Eudoxia looked at it, turned it on all sides with her nimble-clawed wings, then murmured, “I knew a human entered the forest.”

“Humans entered the forest?” erupted Nikodhim. ”By the bitter bark of blackwood, Eudoxia, you were going to tell us when we’re all dead?” he shrieked.

“I don’t think it’s the big invasion we’re afraid of. It seems to be a lonely human. All humans are evil. We don’t want anyone who steps in our forest to let the outside world know we are here.”

“Well, the news has already been spread. Isn’t this a dragon? How do they know?” asked Nikodhim, and he lifted his inverted beak in the air. Antim expressed his own anger with chaotic wing flappings.

“All that Skehr scum know is that there used to be dragons here. The few who ventured in during the last hundreds of years, well, they never returned. For now, dragons are just Skehr legends,” said Eudoxia. ”There’s something else, my friends. A sign. Last night I dreamed about the starlings. In my dream, they danced in the morning above the lake. I saw my face in their dance, something I’d never seen before. I don’t know what to make of it. My ancestors say that if starlings show in your dream, you’ll have to take a big decision, a big, difficult one.”

The owls looked at each other. Antim pricked both ear tufts up in the air.

“Antim, Nikodhim, let’s go,” said Eudoxia. “Let’s see the starlings. Perhaps watching them could unlock meanings of my dream. And after that, Nikodhim will show us where he found the doll.”

And off they flew. Antim and Nikodhim climbed Eudoxia’s neck and fastened themselves on her scales with their strong talons. The dragon unfolded her giant wings, which gleamed like emerald gemstones in the sunlight. She stretched and smoothed the wings out cautiously with the delicacy of fireflies. She hadn’t flown in a while. Finally, Eudoxia took off and soared above the pine trees in a majestic flight, occasionally turning ungainly and wobbly. Antim thumped to the left side of her neck to make her turn left. To guide her to the right, Nikodhim screamed, “To the right!” as if she was deaf, not poorly sighted in one eye. They flew in the morning sun, miraculously avoiding most tree tops and the sharpest rocks. When they reached the clear waters of Lake Orlén, they first circled above, looking for signs.

“What do you see?” asked Eudoxia when Antim gently pulled her to the left towards the Moonfish Boulders, a little beach scattered with big, rounded rocks that looked like white whales turned to stone.

“There, on those boulders, do you see the black spots?” pointed Antim.

“Maybe it’s the tar that oozes from the lakebed,” said Eudoxia. Descending in large circles, Eudoxia noticed how today she couldn’t hear any starling whistle. When they landed on the shore, to their sadness, they found the bodies of thousands of starlings spread like a mourning veil on the warm sand, on the rocks, in the waters. Nothing moved. All was still and quiet as if the starlings took with them the buzzing of the insects, the lake’s ripplets, the breeze, and all the remaining birds' songs. The forest was grieving.

The dragon lifted two little inert birds from the water and sobbed quietly, eyes closed, claws scraping the white sand. Eudoxia pierced the air with a fierce shriek, then turned to the owls.

“Starlings have always been in the forest. They knew what was coming. They knew the world would change and refused to be part of it,” said Eudoxia. Nikodhim and Antim were astonished at how much her voice had just changed–from a warm, always reassuring timbre to a shaky, sorrowful pitch with dark inflections.

“Eudoxia, why did the birds perish? What is coming?” asked Nikodhim. Mirroring his brother’s unrest, Antim flattened his ear tufts.

“Remember how you always asked me why I was so alone?” asked Eudoxia.

“And you always tell us you are not alone, you have us. It always occurred to us you hid something,” confessed Nikodhim.

“I was not always lonely, Nikodhim. I never had children of my own, but my sister Pelagia had four. Three girls and a boy. We raised them together. We had a large lair beyond the lake, in the Pinnacles of Sérr,” said Eudoxia and pointed to the peaks at the horizon. The tremor in her voice heralded a mournful confession.

“We lived on mountain goats and deer and had the river close. We never mingled with the people or touched their cow herds or sheep. It was them, the Skehr tribes, who threatened us. They obliterated large stretches of our forest, pushing their pastures closer, always closer. They hunted us, ripped out our eyelids in our sleep, butchered our youngsters,” said Eudoxia. Her voice grew harsher.

“One day, when Pelagia and I went hunting, the Skehr laid a trap. They dislodged a giant boulder, suspended it above our lair’s entrance, and camouflaged it against the rock wall. The boulder was kept in place by ropes and by a tree stump. The Skehr people are loathsome but cunning and knew they’d lose in an open battle. The cowards entered the lair and captured the children. When Pelagia and I flew back with our prey, we heard their screaming inside our cave. I loved those children more than anything in the world. But I was not a mother,” sighed Eudoxia. “I screamed at Pelagia. ‘No, don’t go inside! They are gone!’ Who could stop a mother from running to her children? She rushed to get inside, and the men, hidden behind the rocks, cut the ropes. The boulder smashed her right there, a few feet away from her children. My only solace is that she was spared from watching as the Skehr slashed her children’s throats. If you can call that solace.”

Eudoxia sobbed. Louder, the sob turned into a bellow and swelled to thunder. Her dark green armored skin brightened. Howling, with wrath the owls had never seen in her before, Eudoxia rolled a torrent of flames towards the lake, incinerating the bodies of the lifeless birds. The Moonfish rocks melted, and the shallow water boiled and turned to steam. The owls trembled.

They stayed on the lake’s shore for a while. The sunset opened a wound in the sky. Ashes of the cremated starlings flurried in the air like an untimely first snow. From time to time, feigning a sudden urge to preen his parasites, Antim would wipe off his tears with the healthy wing.

Nikodhim broke the silence. He spat a rabbit jaw packed in a pellet.

“Should we search for the human who entered the forest?”

“Yes, Nikodhim, let's find out who lost that doll!”

Girl with red woolen dress - Midjourney

The owls hopped on Eudoxia’s back. Nikodhim guided her towards Mouresh Valley, where the forest’s canopy was so thick the sunbeams rarely touched the ground. They started to search the clearing where Nikodhim swore he had looked earlier for the healing plants at Eudoxia’s request.

“You two should search from above; I will check this spring upstream,” suggested Eudoxia. “The human who lost that doll needs water and will keep close to the source,” she added. With her good eye, well adapted to night sight, she looked under woodpiles carried by the water and inspected every rocky crevice. When she moved, the sand of the creek bed muffled her massive steps. Nikodhim and Antim scrutinized every shrub from above, peeked into the hollow trees, and searched the underground burrows.

Right when Eudoxia doubted that Nikodhim led them to the right place, Antim plunged in front of her like a white bullet and signed her to follow. They found Nikodhim perched on a rock, observing the base of a trunk whose roots protruded from the eroded silt. Half buried inside was an improvised shelter made of fallen branches. Whoever made it was better at hiding than at building. Eudoxia and the owls tip-toed closer and glimpsed inside.

The creature slept on a mossy patch undisturbed, breathing softly. Through the roots, Antim and Nicodim saw a nose smaller than an acorn and a tiny, unmistakably human hand. Eudoxia gasped at the wide leather cuff around the little wrist. She recognized the golden protuberances and scales pattern. The bracelet had been crafted of dragon skin.

A terrible rumble cleaved the quiet of the night and reverberated across the Mouresh valley.

“This human child dies now, by my claws!” thundered Eudoxia. With one paw stroke, she tore the makeshift shelter to pieces. The child, awakened by the deafening sound, shrieked sharply. Growling, Eudoxia breathed in with force, and her neck lit up from within. Her entrails seethed from the molten brimstone she concocted inside. The air around her tremored from the exuded heat. The little human, propped against the dense roots, had no escape. Eudoxia opened her mouth. Incandescent drippings fell on the ground and changed the silty soil into patches of glass. There was no remorse in her eyes. She was ready to engulf in fire the remains of the den and the creature within.

Antim zig-zagged in front of her eyes, flapping his wings so violently that plumes jumped out of his white cape, changing at once into ambers. Eudoxia stopped. Nikodhim stood on the human’s shoulder, his wings folded around the little human’s head and eyes.

“Eudoxia, stop! She’s just a little girl! You can’t kill a toddler!” yelled Nikodhim.

“You featherhead!” said Eudoxia and rattled her claws.“Elder or newborn, I will kill any human who comes my way! Skehr scum didn’t refrain from killing our children! Make way, Nikodhim. I hate the smell of burnt plumes!”

Antim joined his brother. He enforced the protective shield around the toddler with his own wings. The little girl shook uncontrollably.

“Eudoxia,” implored Nikodhim, preventing the child from seeing the dragon.“We are not the Skehr scum! You found us when we were hatchlings, remember? She’s just a toddler!”

Eudoxia howled. With her tremendous three-pronged tail, she pummeled the trees in her reach. With a piercing screech, an immense pine tree fell dangerously close to the rebel owls and the little girl. Harsh branches scratched Nikodhim and Antim’s legs. They flinched but didn’t move.

Eudoxia turned and disappeared. For a long time, they heard her roaring, flogging trees, and lighting the sky with rolls of fire. When her rage faded, the owls folded their wings, stepped back, and looked closer at the little girl. A sinewy child, her dirty cheeks plump nonetheless. Only two palms taller than Antim, the toddler was the shortest human the owls had ever seen. She had two gigantic ripe blackberries for eyes, a tiny, chubby chin, and a mess of dark hair sprinkled with leaves, sand, and now—feathers. She wore a red woolen dress that should have kept her warm had it not been torn and split and stiffened by mud. Something about her, maybe the minuscule nose, round as a button, triggered in Antim a sudden urge to caress her hand with his wing. The toddler whimpered.

The town of Khessim - Midjourney

“On Saint Basil’s belly! You are safe with us, child,” said Nikodhim. ”Here, I bet this is yours,” he said, handing her the toy dragon from his satchel. The little girl squealed with joy.

”I’m Nikodhim, and this is Antim, my brother. He talks with his ears; he’s funny like that.”

The girl looked straight at Antim, whose bright feathers were more visible in the dark.

“A-Anim” repeated the girl, pointing to him. He bowed to her, placing his healthy wing on his heart ceremoniously.

“What’s your name?” asked Nikodhim. Birds from afar announced the sunrise, but the night lingered.

“A-a-gaphía,” she answered in a soft, high-pitched voice that sounded like a question.” My name is Agaphía. Is the dragon away?”

“There, Agaphía, don’t worry. You are safe with us,” said Nikodhim.“How old are you, little one?”

She raised three fingers. “Tee, I’m tee!”

“Who taught you the numbers, your mother? Is she here with you?”

“No,” she said, sobbing." Mommy is dead, Daddy is dead, Yan is dead," and then came a litany of names. Everyone had died. Antim and Nikodhim exchanged looks. For such a short human, this toddler was fearless.

“Where do you come from, Agaphía?” asked Nikodhim.

“From Khessim,” she answered, blowing her nose in the dirty cloak.

“Are you alone?”

“Yes,” she shook her head, “I am lost. I stay here, under the tree.”

Antim rubbed his belly, and Nikodhim echoed his question.

“You must be hungry, child?”

She nodded.

Nikodhim took off. Antim guided the child toward the spring, owl wing holding her human hand. He picked out the twigs and leaves from her hair. Patiently, he washed away the dirt on her face under the curious look of the deer quenching their thirst nearby. They chased small fry and splashed in the cold water until Agaphía pointed at something above them and screamed in terror, “It’s back! It’s back!”

Nobody heard her creeping in. Eudoxia towered over them, grim, scalding froth oozing between her bare fangs. Instead of radiating with cheerful glitters of green and gold, her armor was now opaque, dark like venom. She pinned Antim down to the ground with her right paw. With the left claw, she snatched Agaphía and brought her closer until she looked straight into the child’s horror-stricken eyes.

“Guess what I’m going to do with your skin?” hissed Eudoxia. “A nice little bracelet!”

The child struggled for air. Eudoxia clenched her claw even more. Against her will, she saw through the little girl.

The Northern Skehr had breached the fortress of Khessim. After fighting off and killing the troops, the Northerners gathered all the elders, women, and children they found and crammed all of them in a barn. They locked the doors and the windows and set it ablaze. Old women, their clothes burning, begged from inside to be killed faster, by arrows. The soldiers laughed and cheered until the barn turned to ashes. The Northern Skehr left without loot; their only purpose was to destroy and oppress until the dwellers perished or fled. Agaphía was the only one to survive in a family of seven.

Humbled, Eudoxia returned the girl to the ground and freed Antim. She couldn’t put into words the destruction and the massacres she witnessed. In a way, she and the child were alike. Both had suffered immense loss from the Skehr scum and, against all odds, prevailed.

Antim consoled the sobbing girl.

“I am sorry I scared you, child,” said Eudoxia, with her old, soothing voice. ”I am not going to hurt you.”

“I knew you weren't,” said Nikodhim, stepping out from the forest.

“I hadn’t known I wouldn’t. There’s nothing in this world I hate more than humans. You were right, Nikodhim. I don’t kill children. I’d be just like the Skehr scum,” said Eudoxia.”I hope you brought some food in the satchel, Nikodhim?”

He unloaded berries, eggs, and mushrooms.

“We need a fire, don’t we?” grumbled Eudoxia. Under the little girl’s scared eyes, she huffed, inhaled with force, swelling her cheeks, and then puff!—out came the tiniest spark, lighting up a small branch fire. The little girl smiled, and so did the owls.

For years to come, the four gathered around the fire every night. The owls built a little hut for Agaphía, and every night, she slept on a fresh bed of moss and white burdock. Eudoxia taught her the secrets of healing plants and how to cure ailments and sickness. As the dragon grew older and weaker, Antim, Nikodhim, and the girl stayed together and tended to her.

The Skehr people continued to chop down at the forest but never attempted an invasion, absorbed by their wars. Slowly, the dwellers of Khessim rebuilt the town and became more resilient and defiant against the waves of barbaric Northerners. Agaphia, now a young woman, shared her time with the owls and the Skehr in Khessim, healing and caring for the sick. Nikodhim and Antim remained in the forest, and Eudoxia showed them how to revive the parts depleted of trees, what seeds worked better on each type of soil, and how to care for saplings.

On the day of her death, Eudoxia touched the girl’s hand and confessed.

“That day when I saw through you, I wanted to revenge your family and your town. My first thought was to follow the convoy of Northern Skehr troops and incinerate their entire army, horses and all. I didn’t want to leave flesh and bone unturned into ash,” said Eudoxia, barely breathing. “Would that kind of peace, brought by a dragon, through fire, have lasted? No, Agaphía. Skehr people must learn how to make peace by themselves. Or perish and let another race rise.”

Agaphía watched as Eudoxia’s inner light dimmed, and the skin became colder than ice.

“Child, instead of revenge, I have a better gift for you,” heard Agaphía, but no one spoke the words. She closed her eyes, saw through Eudoxia, and had a vision of herself—Agaphía, sobbing, holding tight to the dragon’s claw. When Agaphía opened her eyes, the dragon took her last breath.

Agaphía used her power of seeing through wisely. She healed unspoken pain and cured plagues unheard of before. The Skehr people honored her, by issuing silver coins stamped with a girl and an owl on her shoulder. Soon, from the most revered healer, Agaphía was enthroned as the rightful ruler of Khessim. During her reign, the town of Khessim became the most prosperous and peaceful land in the South.

And once every year, the same day Eudoxia had died, Agaphía, Nikodhim, and Antim met at Lake Orlén. The starlings flew above the clear blue waters and would form, just for a moment, the shape of Eudoxia’s face. The three friends cheered, and with them rejoiced the forest.


About the Creator

Alina Z

Alina likes psychological thrillers that happen up there, on the orbit. She lives in South California, loves to read and prefers writing in third limited.

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Comments (9)

  • J. S. Wade2 years ago

    Beautifully written. I like your voice. Love your story. 🥰

  • Congratulations on being a winner. Well done

  • Dylan Crice2 years ago

    You have very beautiful prose and it is very evident in your descriptions of your environments and characters.

  • Well written piece. I enjoyed the element of “seeing through.” Thanks for sharing.

  • Test2 years ago

    Your writing is so rich and vivid, and really helps bring this story to life. I absolutely loved the relationship between Eudoxia, Nikodhim, and Antim, and I especially appreciated the thought and care you put into so many elements of this story — Antim’s manner of communicating, the physiology of the animals, and some of the herbalism, to name just a few. Really well done!

  • Morgana Miller2 years ago

    What a beautiful story about choosing to love. <3 And such a lush feast was that opening paragraph, it completely drew me in and I was held from start-to-finish.

  • Rachel Fikes2 years ago

    You had me at murmurations. What a beautiful, heartwarming story! Absolutely loved your swoony prose, the lush worldbuilding, and Nikodhim and Antim may've stolen the show, heh. Adorable!

  • Gina C.2 years ago

    Hi Alina, I really enjoyed this story, and loved the concept of the starlings! Your writing is really rich with beautiful descriptions! Very nicely done!

  • Max Russell2 years ago

    I loved the characters! Those owls had a lot of heart, and your dragon's conflict was a great drive to the story.

Alina  ZWritten by Alina Z

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