Rise from Embers
by SkyFire

It was a clear, warm night in summer when all of the creatures of the forest gathered
together to hold council. The clearing where they gathered was circled by many thin
white birches, their silver bark gleaming eerily in the sharp, cool moonlight, giving
the appearance that the meeting was guarded by benevolent spirits. A samll stream
gurgled its way along its course, passing near the edge of the small glade. Due to
the gravity of the conclave, the natural order of things had been put aside- predator
sat shoulder to shoulder with prey, neither eating nor being eaten by the other, but
sharing for once a strange bond, a restraint cast upon them by the solemn occasion.

In the center of the clearing, nestled in a deep nest of myrrh, the last of the
phoenixes lay dying, her red-, gold-, and blue-plumed body pierced by a human
poacher's shot. Fired from hiding, the small bead was now lodged deep in the
fire-bird's guts, poisoning her as she bled to death.

all of the creatures in the clearing prayed the sun.

If the sun heard the plea, or even cared, it gave no sign; it didn't rise any faster
because of it.

A dozen pristine, white doves descended from the sky bearing bread and leaves full of
sweet clover nectar for the sorely wounded daughter of the sun. A handful of brown,
beady-eyed field mice brought her some of their winter supply of dried corn. She
drank the nectar, nibbled at the food, then, her energy spent, she lay back down in
her nest, resting her head on the fragrant myrrh leaves.

Finally, the starry night sky lightens, slowly paling with the coming of the dawn.
Small morninglarks start to sing high in the ghostly branches of the gray birches,
piping in the morning with their joyful chorus, blissfully ignorant of the plight of
the fire-bird.

The morninglarks' morning song turned out to be a mourning song, as well; the death
song of the phoenix. She breathed her last as the sun neared the horizon (which was
visible along the stream's course). So passed the last of the majestic sun-daughters,
the phoenixes.

The great orb of flame cleared the horizon, its heat igniting the dead phoenix'
fragrant funeral pyre. Many long minutes the forest creatures watched, the wolf and
the deer, the fox and the rabbit. Even the tiny linnets looked on, their natural fear
of fire momentarily overcome. Eventually, the pyre's flame died, having no more fuel
to burn. The heavy stench of burnt myrrh and scorched phoenix permeated the dewy,
foggy morning air of the forest glade.

The many living creatures of the forest, animals and dryads, sylphs and naiads, looked
upon the bed of live embers to see the charred and blackened body of their friend, one
of the only constants they had known.

Then the charred bird stirred, a charcoal-black wing folding out, then stretching,
showing a faint hint of iridescence. It lifted its blackened head and gazed around
with eyes that sparkled like diamonds. Beneath it were its feet, twisted and scarred
by the fire's power.

"Caw!" it screeched. It looked at the forest creatures, seeing the clear revulsion
they had for its new form, then stood and launched itself into the air, flying away
from them, forever to be a solitary creature. "Caw! Caw!"

And thus was the Raven born from out of the ashes of the Phoenix.

END