I didn’t know where I came from or how I became this way. I didn’t know if I was born like this or if it had been a freak accident. In truth, I didn’t know much about myself at all. I knew that sixteen years ago, I was born, but I couldn’t have told you the month or day. I knew that for fifteen years I had been shuffled through the system from one foster family to another. I knew that one year ago something changed and my foster family had sent me away to an institution for my own health and safety. I knew that two weeks after arriving at that institution I flew out the window. The one thing in my life that I was completely sure of was that no one had ever been out there looking for me before. The one person who was had already found me. Now there were supposed to be eight people out there who needed me and that needed to locate me.
Soaring swiftly through the lush green trees of springtime, descending gracefully beside the oblong man-induced lake, I landed without a sound. This area had been deserted for months – ever since I got here. Through the dense trees there was an opening, a hill above a small town. On that hill there used to be a castle, it was pretty and sometimes I would perch on the window ledge, but that castle burnt to the ground. At least the majority of the structure was engulfed and destroyed by the flames, one tower still remains standing.
I still fly over to the opening from time to time because I like to people watch. Humans are fickle creatures that bicker and argue because they cannot decide what they truly want. Birds are simple creatures that glide through the air to reach their destination. Outlining their days and nights by the rising and setting of the sun, they act for themselves and for survival. I dread the day when I have to join with the humans and fulfill my fate. A year ago, I met my very first living relative. Some time ago, my entire life changed.
*****I was perched on the window ledge of that castle tower, when a young man came into the room, slammed the door, and threw a book upon the ground. I watched as he cursed and seethed with anger. From what I could gather, a girl had disappointed him in some vital way. He stomped around the room for half an hour before settling into an overstuffed plush chair.
“What am I supposed to do now?” He shouted at the empty room. “They’ll never realign and when they do there will be no one to replace me!”
Taking a chance, I flew into the room and landed on the arm of his chair. Startled, he jumped up. Frightened, I flew out the window and didn’t stop until I was by the lake again. Perched on the edge of a wooden bench, I spread my wings out wide and stretch my body as tall as it would reach. Five seconds later, I was standing beside the wooden bench, a naked girl exposed to the world, but with no one around to notice.
The very first time I shifted from human to bird, I scared myself and the few other people around me who then proceeded to send me to a mental clinic. The change comes naturally now as long as I focus my attention. Each time I shift, the process becomes easier. For me it’s not so much a physical experience of changing from one shape to another, but rather a magical one. For years, I thought I was a shape shifter. In a way, I am.
That was the first human interaction I’d had in a couple months and it was like the relapse of an addiction. Once I’d had the taste again, I wanted more. A couple days passed and I went again, getting a little closer to the angry man and then flying away. I repeated this process for about four weeks. The final trip I made to the castle was life altering.
Without stopping to land on the window sill, I flew straight in, landed on one of the numerous tables and twittered loudly. The young man, who had introduced himself during one of our interactions, come over and shook my claw.
“And how are you today?” He asked, sitting himself down on the desk chair.
I chirruped a response and flew over to him. Pecking him softly on the hand, I obtained his full attention. Multiple times I soared around the room, then stopped on the ground in the middle and flapped my wings in a rapid action and then disappeared behind one of the large chairs. Trying to stay focused, I concentrated all my energy on the transformation. A blinding light flashed before my eyes and I stood up behind the chair. Lucky for me, the chair had an extremely high back so the only parts of me that were exposed were my shoulders and head.
“What the…” The young man stood there, stunned, but not completely in shock.
“Hi.” The first word out of my mouth in a year was rough and foreign sounding to my ears.
“You.” Cocking his head to one side, his eyes seemed to be formulating an explanation for what they’d just witnessed. “You’re a Carialle.”
“A who?” I asked baffled by his lack of alarm.
“You don’t know what you are, do you?”
“No.” I confessed.
Shaking his head, the man said we had a long day ahead of us and went to find me some clothes to wear while we talked. When he got back, I put the clothes on, feeling awkward and wondering if I’d done the right thing in sharing my secret. He gestured toward a chair opposite from him and I sat down.
“I’m not sure where to start.” The young man admitted. “I have a few questions first if that’s okay with you.”
“Where are you from and how old are you?”
“I’m sixteen but I don’t know where I’m from. I don’t know much about myself.” I said shrugging my shoulders.
“That’s fine. I’m going to tell you some things that might startle you. Are you prepared to keep these things secret forever?”
“Yes. I don’t have anyone to tell.” I informed him matter-of-factly.
“Magic exists in all different forms and ways. What you just did, I can do that too, but not for as long because I have less Carialle in me-”
“Carialle?” I interrupted him, curious about the word he kept saying.
“Yes. Carialle. This is the edited version to save time, but some of the magic in this world originated in another world – Aurum, but it accidentally made its way into this world and now those responsible can’t find a way back to Aurum. A Carialle, what you are, is kind of like the legendary shape shifter except that a Carialle can choose to be any being; they aren’t just humans who can become different things for a limited amount of time. Does that make sense? Any questions at this point?”
“What are you?” I asked him, relieved to know that I had finally found someone who wouldn’t run screaming from my deficiencies.
“I’m a mixture of things. I can shape-shift and astroproject amongst other things.” He said with complete honesty.
“Wow.” I was stunned.
“You seem to be taking the idea of magic existing without much hesitation.” The young man observed.
“I kind of figured that magic was real. Or that I had been in some freak accident.”
“So what else do you want to know?”
“Can I use some of these books for research?” I asked him pointing to a shelf behind me.
“Sure, but one at a time because other people are using them.” He offered.
Picking out a general book, titled Magic, I left the castle and returned to my home by the lake. I spent the next four days reading every book in that tower that I could get my hands on. When I was returning the last book, my newfound friend had even more that he wanted to share with me. Under no circumstances could I have foreseen what I was about to learn.
Descendant by Crystal MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.