Fly Away Home
TITLE: Fly Away Home
GENRES: Fantasy, drama, mythology.
SUMMARY: What happens when two destinies meet.
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2002.
LENGTH: 2300+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: None.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Ocryx and his "species" are © the Haunted Theatre of Mackinac Island. Certain characters are from Ojibwa mythology. Although aspects of this story are loosely based on Ojibwa mythology and culture, artistic license has been taken as this is a FANTASY story. Please take note that this story was written around 2002 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the Manitou Island serials listed above; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This story tells about how Red Bird and Tal Natha first met. Don't a girl and her wolf demon make a cute couple?
SHE WALKED SLOWLY through the woods, carrying her basket at her side; she knew the trail so well by now that she barely needed to pay attention to where she was going, and her gaze dwelled upon the ground as she walked. If the trail had suddenly disappeared, she would have fallen off the end, she was so absorbed in her thoughts.
She liked the times she could spend wandering the woods, away from her home. She felt even more uncomfortable there the older she grew. She sensed the fear of her father from what few others like herself that she met, and she didn't like this. They feared her as well. Why should they fear her when she had never done them any wrong? She knew they were afraid of her only because of her parentage, but this was part of what made her more and more reluctant to return to the dark lake where she lived beneath the surface. She didn't like being a frightening thing. It was a lonely life, and she hated being lonely.
Not only this...but now she was beginning to sense the distrust from her father, as well. That hurt more than anything she had ever felt. If he didn't trust her...then who was left?
As she walked her step slowed yet more and she sighed. She preferred it out here anyway, where the sun was bright and the leaves so green. She wished she could stay out here forever, away from everyone, yet not from nature. Perhaps she would.
A faint rustling noise caught her attention, and then a voice, speaking in her mind. Red Bird.
She gasped and jumped, dropping the basket so its contents--seeds, nuts, berries--scattered upon the ground. She whirled around but no one stood in the path behind her. Her eyes scoured the woods until something caught her attention, and froze there. The branches and leaves were not all she could see.
Something dark--and large--loomed among the trees. She couldn't make it out clearly; it seemed almost like merely another shadow, only darker...and ominous somehow. Red Bird wished she had a weapon, no matter how small. Her father had warned her about wandering off by herself. His warnings were one reason she kept to the lake as much as she did. This person...thing...looked large enough to overpower her easily should it wish to, and Red Bird knew she could not fight well.
Something flickered, and she blinked. She could now make out what she hadn't before...eyes...glowing red and green eyes, so familiar to her by now, and yet so strange, set in this face. For this wasn't the face of her father.
The rustling came again, and it moved, taking a step forward. Large carmine wings flared and then gently lowered again. A long gleaming snake tail slid silently along the ground before retreating back behind it. Its fur was the color of blackened ashes and its muzzle tapered like that of a fox, long curving horns rising from its head. It stared at her as she stared back, her own eyes wide.
But...there were only three that she knew of. Her father, the female, Ocryana, and the young male, the son of the medicine woman. And this was not one of them!
She began slowly backing away, up the trail, keeping her eyes on it. It continued to stare at her with its strange slanted eyes; she'd never seen eyes like that before on an Ocryx. It seemed more foxlike than wolfish. She caught sight of her spilled basket and briefly considered gathering it up before deciding against it. She could always find something in or near the lake to eat. It had been a mistake to come out here in the first place.
She took another step back and readied herself to turn and run, back for Devil's Lake.
She froze. The creature tipped its head slightly to the side, a curious look. She swallowed and balled her fist against her stomach, trying to keep herself from shaking. She remembered what her father had told her about Ocryxes as well. He was the only one she could trust. Any others she should meet...they were to be considered as deadly as any poisonous creature which might bite her, even more so.
An Ocryx was the only creature that could kill an Ocryx. She was only half so, yet she felt those horns would do the same amount of damage either way.
One of its ears flicked and it--he--tipped his head the other way. Red Bird. Please do not be afraid.
Red Bird swallowed. Her throat was dry. "How...how do you know my name?" she whispered, uncertain if he would hear her.
I hear, the demon said. I listen. I have known your name for a time now.
"Wh...what do you want with me?" She continued edging further up the trail, one tiny bit at a time. "I don't have anything you would want--no gems, no jewels."
I have no need for these. Why should I want them?
"M-my father desires them, often."
Oh. His mouth twitched now. This much I know...
"Please, if you let me go back, I won't tell him of you. I'll pretend that we have never seen one another." She glanced over her shoulder and found herself longing for the dark murky water, for a change.
A light snort. He already knows of me. Or at least, he will soon. Though this will change little. He placed his hands against the ground and stepped out from the woods, upon all fours. Red Bird gave another tiny gasp and leapt back as nimbly as a deer. He gave her an odd look but merely walked past her several paces, before sitting, doglike, wings folding behind his back. She blinked at him. She'd never seen an Ocryx sit like that.
"I'm...I don't know what you want with me."
You were returning to the lake?
She gave a small nod.
You should not return there, Red Bird.
"But...it's my home."
I know what you yourself have felt. His eyes met hers and for some reason she couldn't look away. You fear it there. The older you've grown, the more uneasy you've become. There are reasons for this, perhaps ones you do not know. Yet they are valid reasons. You cannot continue to live beneath the lake. You will not be safe there.
"I'm not safe out here," Red Bird said softly. "Everyone...everyone I meet is afraid of me. My father says they can hurt me."
You must not distrust all of them. There are good people, upon the Island. Some of them merely do not know you for who you are.
"And how do you?" When he stood she gasped again and clutched at her chest. "My father says I shouldn't trust your kind. He's never lied to me."
He has not lied to you, but neither has he told you the entire truth. I know you because I have bothered to watch you. You could not always see me. But I know who and what you are, inside and out. The more that you hide, the less that others will know you or trust you. He paused, then added, If you do not trust my kind, then you do not trust yourself, either.
"I'm--I'm only half Ocryx!"
This does not matter. You yourself claim that the Islanders refuse to accept you. You feel safe only beneath the lake--
"No." When he gazed at her she flushed, suddenly realizing the word had come from her own mouth. She touched her hand to her lips as if to silence herself, but, as if of their own accord, the words haltingly came out anyway.
"I...I don't feel safe...anywhere."
He stared at her for a while before sitting. She couldn't think of anything else to say.
You do not feel safe beneath the lake?
"No...my father...I sense he doesn't trust me. The way he looks at me sometimes, when he thinks I don't see. I think he's...I think he's afraid of me."
And you do not feel safe among the Islanders?
"No...they don't trust me either." Her vision grew blurry and her voice shrank to a whisper, sticking in her throat. "No one trusts me..."
He tipped his head. All she could hear for a moment was the sound of birds in the air. She didn't want to cry...to do so just proved her weakness...but she couldn't help it when a few tears escaped her eyes. She quickly brushed them away.
I trust you, Red Bird.
She froze. Then her head bobbed up and she eyed him warily. "Why would you trust me?"
Because I know you.
"I'm not...I'm not normal, like the Islanders are."
And neither are you strange, like the Ocryxes are. He lifted one wing in what might have been a shrug. You are simply you.
Red Bird stared at him for what felt to be a long time. His eyes didn't waver. They stood in the clearing like two odd statues, two forest creatures frozen, on first meeting, in a moment of wonder. She wasn't quite certain what she was feeling, but for once it wasn't fear, or loneliness. She felt she had to go somewhere, yet she didn't want to leave. The tears dried from her eyes, yet she wasn't certain what to do or even why she remained.
You may come with me, if you wish.
She blinked. He still stared at her. Her fingers tightened.
"Go with you where?"
To my home. Near the top of the Island. You would be safe there.
Yes. You will be with no one who distrusts you. Neither will you be forced to stay. You may leave at any time you wish, if it is what you wish. And you may return at any time you wish, as well.
"Why...why do you want me to come with you?"
Because I want you to know who you are. His voice was gentle, like a soft stream swirling around her. You cannot learn this where you are now, nor from the Islanders. There is so much that others deny you, and that you deny yourself. You do not deserve to be denied so much from your life, Little Bird. You have a power within you. You may not believe me, but this is true. I wish for you to see it for yourself. To know that you need not be weak. To know that you may have and be everything you have ever wished for, if only you could trust and believe in yourself.
His image began to blur. At first she thought perhaps he was disappearing, dissolving into the air like some strange dream. Until she blinked and felt the wetness against her eyes again. There was a knot in her throat, and she swallowed to speak.
"Why...why do you trust me...?"
He had been sitting, again; when she asked this, again he stood, and approached, upon all fours, until he stood a foot or so away from her. She didn't back away. His eyes never left hers.
Because we are alike.
Red Bird sucked in a small breath. The tears streamed down her face. She wanted to disbelieve him--He's wrong--there is no one like me, anywhere--I will always be too different, and no one will ever understand me--yet, for some reason, the look in his eyes told her that what he said was the truth. He cocked his head, then reached up to gently wipe the tears away from her eyes so she could see him again. She blinked and his image cleared. She let out her breath.
You will come with me...?
She started to take a step forward, only to stop and pause, and look back over her shoulder, in the direction she had been heading. Back toward the lake. She thought of who still lived there, the one who had given her life and had raised her as his own, all these years. The tears threatened to rise in her eyes again. She didn't want to leave him. Not without him knowing. Yet the unease was there as well. She had sensed for a long time that she no longer belonged with him, that sometime soon, she would have to fly. She had never known where she could fly to, before now.
He will know. He will never disown you, Red Bird.
The sting disappeared from her eyes. Her fingers loosened their grip. She took a breath and let it out, and turned back to him.
"Your...name. You never...you never told me your name."
He appeared to be a bit surprised that this had somehow escaped their conversation. Then he offered a slight smile. She realized, he did seem to be a little like her.
Tal Natha, he replied.
"An Ocryx name," Red Bird said, with some surprise. She was so unused to hearing others besides her father use the language. She repeated it in her head, and puzzled over the sound and meaning of it.
Yes, he said. It means exactly what you believe it does.
For the first time, she smiled at him. A small, timid smile. His eyes gave her a bit of courage she'd never quite felt before. He bowed to the ground and spread out one wing. She took a step toward him before glancing one last time over her shoulder. She bit her lip, and her fingers clutched at her clothing once more, a final tiny surge of anxiety passing through her.
Red Bird turned away. She approached and grasped the fur at the base of the creature's neck, pulling herself up between his wings. He rose to his feet and pushed himself up, the great feathers flapping at the air. She buried her face against his nape and clung to him tightly as he rose from the earth, the wind whistling around them. She shut her eyes as they ascended in flight.
She thought of a new home.