Submission (#21) Approved

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Submitted
20 August 2020, 00:56:10 PDT (1 year ago)
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1 July 2021, 14:41:47 PDT (4 months ago) by AliLV

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AP Comment: https://www.deviantart.com/comments/1/791963373/4719509249

Content

Crisp air gave way to the warm breeze that rattled the lanterns that were hoisted around the large tree. The last rays of the sun melted against the darkness of the night, the vibrant contrast giving way to the pale light of the rising moon. Under the warm glow of the lanterns, Faerindell waited with bated breath for the midnight of the new spring. The fabled Spring Equinox celebration had begun.

Loose among the celebration was the brightly colored elnin who darted between others to find her way to the large table overflowing with the early seasonal delicacies of the sweet variety. Above them, the twinkling of the lanterns reflected from the pale pink blossoms of the great tree, and the soft, warm breeze sent the petals dancing down under the moonlight, bathing the creatures underneath and met soft gasps of awe. Spritz was not immune and when a petal landed on her head, she let out a happy sigh. Her paws were already grabbing a cherry blossom tart and she shoved it back into her mouth. “Mmmm!” She spoke for her stomach softly, twisting her body around to grab another.

“S-Spritz!” A soft voice came from under the table, a tiny paw reaching desperately for a bite, but fell too short. The pale pastels gently reflected under the moonlight as Arwa reached to his tallest height, yet came short.

“Got it!” Spritz let out a soft “hiyah” and kicked the table, sending the tarts down on her younger sibling. “Oh whoops, sorry!” A few quick swipes, and shoves into her gullet, freed him from the sweet prison, but the other elnin was already on his back and flailing.

“Are we playing turtle?” Her tails wiggled as she lent down, tugging his tail to help pull him over.

“Ow, hey!” Arwa flipped himself and pushed the older sibling back with a groan, staring back at the carnage near the table. “Isn’t this wasteful?” He lifted an incredulous look back to her.

“No use in crying over spilled cherry blossoms!” Spritz nodded sagely, pointing above her at the larger cherry tree where the rainfall of petals continued as the moon climbed higher. Arwa felt a twitch of his eye, but said nothing as he pushed his tail up, walking ahead of her towards the lyre music irradiating from the town.

Spritz frowned, she’d made her smaller sibling upset. Not that Arwa was rarely upset, in fact he got upset a lot, but since their parents were more childlike than their kittoms it was up to her to take him around the little festival. It didn’t take a genius too see he wasn’t enjoying himself though. Spritz lived for parties; fun and games were her forte. Nobody should be grumpy at the start of spring though! She thought, trailing after him with a few bounds over other festival goers.

It pained her to see him upset, especially considering their background. The entire village under the tree was in full bloom with the rainbow colors of blossoming plants saturating every surface they were able to grow. The streets were lined with fresh, floral scents. Flower crowns were tossed around every head, while the butterflies stayed out beyond the dark to join in the festivities. Spritz was beside herself, shoving a flower crown on her head, grabbing an extra for her little brother. “Here!” She said between gritted teeth, using her teeth to hold it delicately as she draped it over his head.

And it fell off.

“I’ve got it!” Spritz reached for it, but she felt the loud sigh that escaped him and she stopped in her tracks with a soft frown, moving to lean against him, staring down at the lyre music which had since been accompanied by the large drums banging loudly into the night.

Arwa was still, unmoving despite the colorful and happy scenery. She was too stubborn to give up and slouched over the starry sibling. “Do you want to try a seven-legged race?” She said with a grin, each tail wiggling excessively at the thought of competition.

“No.”

She frowned and looked around. “Cherry blossom jelly eating?” She suggested again, grabbing his head in her paws and making him look at the hoard of people lining up.

“No thank you.” Arwa turned away and looked back up towards the tree, the moon escaping through the blossoms. Spritz thought she saw a glimmer of interest, but it faded as soon as a petal crossed his path. The grass she fell onto was delicate and soft when he moved away. She rolled over her back and followed him, “Wait up!” She said.

This is going down so fast…She thought, catching up to him quickly and she stared back at him. “Well, what do you want to do…? There’s the games, food, music… or we can sit here and watch the moon rise? Or the petals fall?”

His body heaved and he stopped, staring back at her, nose scrunched and his eyes looking down and away from her. Ears flat on his head was a telltale sign of how upset he was. Blue eyes stared back at the yellow hues of the other nin, but she pressed her face close.

“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.” She said, softly licking his cheek and she moved back, sitting in front of him to stare him down. Arwa looked up shyly, letting out a deeper sign of exasperation.

“I don’t like being around this many people like this. The tree is beautiful, the snacks are okay, the music sounds great and this ambiance is really nice. I just don’t want this to be like all of the other festivals where we spend too much, eat too much and then do too much so we feel sick and then fall asleep early.” A huff of air escaped after and Spritz looked back in bewilderment.

“We?”

“Okay, me. I.” Arwa thumped his tail against the ground. “I don’t even know why we’re celebrating this right now. Doesn’t it happen every year?”

“Not like this.” A hiss of a voice broke through the conversation.

The fur on her back bristled and she immediately moved between them, glaring up at the Dragonkit man who had manifested out of nowhere on a nearby branch of the large tree. Though his mane and head was covered in the pink petals from the tree above there was an air of danger. His horns peaked out from his dark cloak and his red eyes glowed softly to the small kittoms.

While Arwa was unmoved, Spritz stared at him and her three little tails swayed upwards angrily. “What do you want from us?” She spat back at him.

A chuckle left his lips and he looked at her. “You care for your smaller sibling, don’t you? But he is bored here. Maybe a story would help him?” His eyes moved over back at her. “Maybe help both of you.”

Slowly her tails calmed and she looked at Arwa. “Do you want to hear a story?” He nodded slowly and she sat where she was, still between the two but given the celebratory nature she decided to let the dragonkit speak.

Moving closer to them, he looked up with his gaze set on the pale moon inching closer to the middle of the sky. “That moon up there is no ordinary moon, it is one of the named moons of the months. It is the Worm Moon and for the first time in a very long time, it has coincided with the Spring Equinox.”

Spritz withheld a groan but her middle tail wiggled. “Worm…”

“…Moon?” Arwa’s voice was stronger and Spritz had to stare back at him since he was transfixed now. She was far less amused, hearing the distant drums growing louder and the cheers of the eating contest ringing over the flowered grass and up towards the high towering tree, flowers swaying as if dancing with them to the music.

“The time when the earthworms have thawed and begin to move, when the warmth returns to the world. Even in the ever-spring spell of Fariendell, they stir at this time to begin life’s journey. But there is another name.” His eyes were staring back at the two with a gleam behind them.

“The Crow Moon.” He said, and a breeze moved by him and as if awoken by his words, the distant cawing broke through the noise of the music and the black, feathered bodies of crows appeared against the sky, their wings sparkling in the light under the pale moon. Spritz stared in awe as they landed on the branches near them, their caws joining the music and they shook the branches, sending a heavy rain of petals over them.
She smiled softly. Maybe it was good timing, or a little strange dragonkit magic, but she grabbed at the petals, rolling over with one. Arwa had settled next to her, hungry for more of the story.

Khalim was more than happy to feed them more, feeling relaxed that the petals had worked their calming enchantment over them and the gathering crowd near him as he continued his story. “The most commonly accepted reason for the name is that the cawing of the crows welcomes in the end of winter. However, less commonly known but more mysterious is the love story between a crow and a fairy.” He leaned closer. “We all know how mischievous the fae can be. Absconding with kits in the night, or leading lost travelers to either safety or demise.”

“In this land, in an age older than memory, a crow fell in love with one of these fae. They say they are born when a plant is, and at the sparkling of a small sapling came a tiny pink fairy. However, the sapling had the misfortune of sprouting too early. Still at the mercy of the winter frost, the fairy took to huddling against the sapling, her bright color sticking out among the pale winter. Now crows have always been known for collecting baubles. Scraps of paper, rocks, discarded jewelry… items thought useless to others but colorful and shiny to the eyes of birds. One day, a crow happened on the clearing in the morning covered in frost. In the icy white, he noticed the pink color on a branch and moved to grab what he assumed a bauble.”

The dragonkit paused. Spritz stared back at him, now staring up at him. “He grabbed a fairy? Isn’t that dangerous?” She asked, sitting back up and sitting shoulder to shoulder with Arwa again.

Khalim nodded. “He did indeed, and she was not pleased. But the crow apologized in fear of angering the small fae. However, instead of taking any actions against him she pleaded with him instead to keep her sapling warm as the frost would surely kill it, and her. Amazed by her beauty, the crow agreed. But how could he keep it warm?”

Her ears flicked. “Sit on it like an egg?” Her head tilted one way and the other, trying to think. Arwa looked back too. “Use his feathers.” He said calmly.

Chuckling to himself, Khalim’s tail wiggled. “Yes, his feathers. Crows are not like those that spend their winter days in the south and his feathers had a soft, warm layer underneath. To combat the cold, he plucked his own feathers and circled them under the sapling, to warm the ground. The next day, the frost came back. The fairy grew weaker, barely able to move from the bark of the sapling. Concerned, he plucked more of his feathers. Slowly, over the days, he added just enough to protect the plant from the onslaught of the winter time, and thus save his new infatuation and his fae love. The fairy was able to leave her sanctuary and fly in the sky.”

The dragonkit paused for effect.

“The crow, having given up most of his feathers, sat at the base of the sapling, staring into the air but unable to join the fairy in her new aerial life. For days he sat, shivering in the cold while she moved freely, happy for her new found life. Feeling saddened by his sacrifice on her behalf and unable to see him suffer any longer, the fairy called to her brethren. She begged and pleaded with anyone she could. No one would listen.”

Spritz frowned at the story, staring back at Arwa and she curled up closer to him. The story reminded her of them in a way, even if they were siblings. How she was trying everything to make him feel better but wasn’t able to help him at all.

Khalim felt that the pastel rainbow elnin was understanding his words and he gave a barely noticeable nod in her direction and continued, “With the crow’s life fading, he told her to not worry. He was happy to have helped her and resigned himself to die if it meant that she could live. In her sorrow, she cried and in that moment the Moon had taken notice. ‘Why do you cry for this crow?’ Asked the Moon. ‘He will die and you will live’. The fairy cried to him and said ‘He has saved my life but he need not die. Twas my own fault that I sprouted early, not his’.”

He hummed, “The Moon was moved by her tears, as it was not often fae cried for a mortal. ‘I will bring forth the Spring’ it said to her. ‘How?’ she asked. Slowly, the Moon rose in the sky, filling itself full ‘I will reflect the sunlight to warm the earth. It will wake up the plants and chase the frost away’.

Adrenaline moved through her and her fur was on edge, staring up at the storyteller and she twitched. “Well what happened?!” She shouted excitedly, moving between her paws impatiently.

The red of his eyes were bright. “The Moon filled its promise and rose to the height of the sky, reflecting the sunlight to the ground and melting back the frost that was creeping over the land. Bathed in the gentle warmth, the crow sprang back to life, his feathers returning to him. He cawed in delight and joined the fairy under the pale moonlight, flying with her into the night. The Moon was delighted, but knew that the same thing would happen in the winter again and for many to come which would be hard for both the crow and the fairy. So, the moon made a promise. When the cold became too much to bear and warmth was needed, that all the crow need do is caw for its help and it would rise to welcome in the spring. After the crow’s mortal life came to an end his soul continued, living in the bodies of all crows. The fairy… stayed where she was and watched her sapling grow and grow and grow. All the while being visited by the crows in the winter, to keep her company and keep her warm. And always to bring in the spring. And thus the first full moon near the Equinox is known as the Crow Moon, where the caws bring forth the full moon to jumpstart the world back into Spring.”

Her paws were on Arwa, as the rest of the story was told she had found herself closer to him, hugging onto him and feeling so happy that their ending was a good one. For once in the evening, Arwa was smiling and he stared back up at the moon. Spritz joined him and smiled as it finally moved to the height of the sky as midnight was upon them. The village sprang to life with cheers, sending the multicolored petals of their crowns airborne, swirling up towards the sky and among the tall branches of the tree.

Spritz smiled and looked back over to Arwa, leaning on him. “I get it now.” She said to him. “You came with me because you knew I wanted to, but you didn’t. So we did all the stuff I wanted but you were hurting, right?”

Slowly, he nodded but smiled softly at his big sister. “Yeah…” He said. “But the story was something I liked and wanted to do.” Wiggling his tail back and forth he grinned back at her, feeling like a weight lifted off of him. “And I realized that it’s not fair to feel bad about it, because I care about you and if you’re happy then I can be happy!” Quickly, he ran off. “C’mon then, how about we do a race together and then can we just go stargaze?”

Spritz laughed as he bounded off. “Yeah, something I want to do and something you want to do!” Before she joined him, she turned back to the dragonkit who was preparing to leave. “It is warmer now.” She said slowly, walking over to stare back up at him. “You told that story for me and my brother, right?”

Khalim smiled. “Dear one, my stories are old and apply to anyone who needs them.” There was a glint in his eyes as he let out a rasp chuckle.

Slyly, he winked at her and she shook her head with a smile. “Well, thank you. Spring is really nice and this festival is too! My brother and I are going to go have a good time now, doing stuff we both want!” She lifted on her hind legs with a triumphant point to the heavens. “But…” She slowly moved down, her bright blue eyes staring back up. “You didn’t say what happened to the fairy and her sapling after it grew up?”

Wind howled between the branches above them and softly a petal landed on her head while he shot a glance upwards. “She became the most beautiful tree in all of Eyre.”

Spritz squinted past him and up at the pink foliage above them, her eyes widening in awe. “It’s really-?” When her gaze planted back where he was, he was gone and she turned in a circle around herself. “Where…?”

“Spritz come on! I’m going to win and winner gets a cherry blossom jelly!” Arwa shouted as he started running.

“Not on your life!!!” She called back, rushing after him in a flash. Cascading over the land, the petals swirled over the moon. A crow had planted itself at the top of the tree and while the two elnin kittoms made their way back into the Equinox Celebration, the whispers of an ancient story ruffled its feathers as it cawed a welcome into the new Spring.

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