The Word of the Day is
the invariable or characteristic accompaniment or companion of a person or thing.
- the dark central portion of a sunspot.
a phantom or shadowy apparition, as of someone or something not physically present; ghost; spectral image
Here we go:
When I was young, still living under my mother’s wing in the Morrigan slum, she told me how to stay alive in a hostile world: “Never stand in the light,” she said.
I didn’t know she meant it, then. Like all Morriganna, it was already my inclination to wake at moonrise, and my mother always put me to bed long before dawn. Light was of little issue in a world ruled by inky night. Giggling, I said, “Okay, Mum,” and, magic crackling ecstatically up my spine, I let the Wings take over. Now a small raven, still top heavy, I fluttered unstably around my mother’s head.
She drew herself up tall, her silver-white face—her True face, not the one she constructed for the mortals—stern, iridescent wings snapping behind her. “Eimhear,” she said. “Heed this.”
I Shifted back. “Alright, Mum,” I said. “But why?”
She sighed. Suddenly she looked ancient under the weight of her burden. “Because you are a Morrigan,” she said. “And you won’t cast a shadow.”
That was long ago; I have not been a child for centuries, though little enough has changed.
The human soldiers tasked with searching the Morrigan slums are like every human I have ever seen: tan skin, pale hair, colorful eyes and clothes, and a scowl of revulsion each time he sets his gaze on one of my kind. We stand in an uneven line, our very existence contrary to mortal life: each of us tall, pale as the winter moon, our eyes and hair black, our lips colorless, black wings hanging limp behind black and grey dresses in varying states of raggedness. Though we squint against the light, can feel the sun burning our flesh, no umbrae cover the ground behind us.
“Death witches,” murmurs one guard, shuddering.
Dorcha starts forward, snarling, her wings trembling with her rage, but I hold her back. “Stop,” I murmur.
She is young still; like the young raven, she wants to fly but hasn’t learned the value of caution.
“Which one of you killed the old man?” asks one man.
We stay silent. We know by now that if the humans come into the slums, it is because they’ve decided another one of us needs to burn. We’ve never been able to stop them before. We won’t be able to now.
“As though the fir scáth have any power over the raven,” Dorcha snarls beside me. It’s quiet, not meant for man’s ears, but one of the soldiers hears it anyway.
“It’s this one,” he announces: humans are quick to believe the Morriganna are killers, though I’m sure no one here has ever seen the man who died, much less murdered him.
I don’t think; I act. “It wasn’t her,” I say, my voice rough and deep like the raven’s song.
“How do you know, witch?” taunts the guard.
I bite my lip. “I did it,” I say.
He reaches for me, but magic snaps up my spine like a whip, and I Shift, raven’s wings beating, pushing me towards the sky.
One of my feathers drifts lazily to the ground, and that is all that is left of me for them to catch.
Confession: I went over fifteen minutes. Can you tell?