The Order of the Wing: A New Era Dawns

Contest Entry
🌙 This is my short story for the Raven Queen Contest. 🌙

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A New Era for the Order of the Wing

In the misty depths of the ancient Norkath Wood, perched upon a hillock of limber pine, stands a structure made of ashen brick and stone.

From this hallowed site, on a cold, windless night, it takes 8,439 wingbeats to fly to the Summoning Plains of the North. It takes 8,439 wingbeats to fly East to the Hall of Song. 8,439 to fly South to the Wishing Pyre, and 8,439 West to reach the Ghostwidow Shore.

Some search for leylines in these old crosshairs, and perhaps there is a deep power derived from the distances. But most simply accept it as the ritual and tradition of the Order or the Wing.

Emissaries from the factions of the Order convene at this site for a variety of deeds and schemes, but on this chilly spring evening, every representative is present. It is an occasion of great anticipation, of joy, of wonder.

Atop the ashen structure sits a stylized battlement—wider than any part of the tower, with merlons in the shape of outstretched wings. The Rookery. It is here that the Order gathers tonight, waiting for the sign from the Eye in the Night.

The red robed fliers from the Wishing Pyre have ignited a carefully arranged pile of eternal embers in the centre of the Rookery. Pale wisps of smoke curl up to join the floating mists.

Surrounding these embers are four stone birds, carved from the glittering sandstone of The Summoning Plains. Their makers stand behind them, ceremoniously holding jeweled tools in beak.

To one side waits the imposing flocklead of the ocean pact, with a crystal decanter filled with waters taken from the deepest parts of the Ghostwidow Shore.

Opposite the flocklead, with the embers between them, the Hymnmistress of the Hall of Song stands tall, weilding a simple stringed instrument.

They all wait for the sign. Still and silent, save the faint pop and crackle from the embers.

After some length, the skies above grow bright. Mists part, and the baleful and beautiful Eye in the Night shines down.

The stonecarvers step back as the Hymnmistress moves forward. She produces a bow, strung with material made of feather and forest root. It touches the strings of her instrument, and she plays a mirthful, yet haunting tune in the key of C minor.

The smoke wisps from the embers begin to pulse, rising then pausing to the tempo of the song. The sandstone bird carvings start to sparkle, the glitter from the fire and moonlight above mixing and flashing to the beat.

From everywhere and nowhere, a voice whispers—faint at first:

“... raven ...”

The Hymnmistress steps up her pace. The song builds, and with a fwompf! the fire exhales into a proper flame.

“Raven.”

The stone birds are not just sparkling, they radiate beams of light, throwing golden-red circles across the faces of the crowd.

“Raven!”

The voice grows louder, and now other instruments can be heard from the sky, the earth, from all around—a thumping backbeat, a rumbling bass, harmonic synth!

“Raven!”

At the moment of the song’s crescendo, the flockleader hurls the crystal decanter at the fire. It shatters, dousing the flame in an explosion of sparkling steam.

The music and light dies, and the mists smother back in overhead.

All is dark and quiet once more. The steam cloud lingers, no longer aglitter.

The gathered members of the Order of the Wing stare and hold their breath collectively. No one dares speak. They all wonder: Has it worked? Has the Era truly been reborn?

The steam cloud begins to fade. The Hymnmistress moves forward once again. She sees something within, where the fire once burned.

“My… my Queen?” she says, now sure that something stirs indeed.

The steam fades. With slow grace, the figure stands.

She opens her eyes.
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Thank you for reading. Also, Happy Birthday (in advance) to @ravenmus1c! Cheers to you and to @dibblers.dabs and the Pizza Guild for making such a fun event of this. The Raven Divider graphic was made by me, using a paid-for image.

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