"Its a beautiful story.
The settings and the characters come alive in such a convincing way, that it becomes hard to believe that it is actually a work of fiction. 
Beatrice de Cecil is a master at bringing out the nuances of the other realm and adept at connecting her readers to her characters. 
Its an enchanting read."

- Shweta

     “Take my wings and make me mortal,” she whispered as tears filled her eyes. She wondered if She would answer and waited, listening. But all she felt was the gentle breeze as it brushed against wings that curled about her like a shield as she huddled on the rock overlooking the falls.

     They were home. After the brutality of the last mission, they were finally home. As she recalled the assignment and the horror they’d participated in, she knew in her heart she could no longer continue life as a Celestial. She was tired, exhausted by the existence. Ironic as it was, she wanted to return to that which she had lived and died as in many lifetimes before becoming a Celestial. A mortal. She craved ignorance of the darkness, something that only being a mortal could bring. It hadn’t been an easy decision to reach, and she’d been thinking it over for months, but she had nevertheless concluded she wanted to go back.

     No, she could no longer be a Celestial—she didn’t have what it took. As much as she loved her brothers and sisters, she didn’t have their strength and was, after all, just an emotionally frail human at heart and would always be so. Teahra didn’t understand how the others could simply switch off after encounters with the darkness, but they could. It was something she’d never been able to do. And now…now, as she looked down on them, she’d reached a decision she knew would change all their lives forever. But she wouldn’t tell them yet. They needed this, they deserved it. She smiled sadly, knowing this would be the last time she shared the personal sanctuary of the clan.

     They were oblivious to their sister’s thoughts and intentions. Sorcha and Abe swam in the healing and rejuvenating waters of the lagoon, while Nia stood under the tumbling waterfalls, washing away the stress and filth from her body and mind. Candra, Nuru, and Zoran had finished bathing and now lounged on the sandy beach shaded by the towering canopy of the surrounding forest. All were at peace now that they were home in The Realm and under the protection of She.

     Closing her eyes, she breathed the pure, untainted air, then opened them to imprint the scene of her beloved brethren before standing and spreading her wings wide to soar into the sky and seek She, their Creator and Mother. It was time to surrender her wings and become a Soul Wanderer in the mortal world.


                                                                                    Animus Vagus Ceremony


     Mother had understood, but then, She always did. She was the embodiment of all that was good and how everything should be. As for Teahra’s brothers and sisters, they’d done everything Celestially possible to change her mind when she’d told them. Candra and Sorcha had been devastated. Not surprising, really, given the three had been as thick as thieves since their birth as Celestials. Their transformation had taken place on the same day, and they had shared much as Fledglings.

     Once they realized she wasn’t changing her mind they’d stopped badgering her, and what little time they had left was spent in subdued harmony. They would have memories of her when she was gone, but for Teahra there would be none. And that hurt. It wounded her to the very depths of her soul. She was sure that on some level she would always feel that some part of her was missing. So many memories. So much she was losing.

     “Are you ready?” asked Sorcha, interrupting her daydreams.

     “Is it time?” “You can always change your mind,” said Candra hopefully.

     “No. No. My mind’s made up. Let’s go.”

     They joined the others at the edge of the Lake of Life, where the ceremony would take place. Many clans had gathered to see their brothers and sisters off, those who had also chosen to return to the mortal world.

     Nia was surprised to see the vast numbers returning. “Why do so many go? Why, Teahra?” she asked, turning to her sister, confusion written on her face. “I’m tired. I can’t do it any more, Nia. I’m not as strong as you. It hurts too much. I want to lay down and sleep without knowing the darkness. Perhaps it’s the same for them,” she said, looking to the many Celestials wandering nearby. Nia accepted her answer but still didn’t understand how any would willingly exchange the wonder of life in The Realm for life in the mortal world.

     Nuru took Teahra in his arms. “Be well, little sister,” he said, and kissed her on the forehead.

     “Look after them, Nuru. They need your guidance.”

     Zoran and Abe both hugged her without words, too choked up to say anything.

     “I’ll miss you,” said Nia, hugging her hard as tears fell. “We’ll meet again…one day,” Teahra said, brushing the tears from her face.

     The small, glistening orb appeared from nowhere and hovered over the water, throwing out a golden light that filled them with peace. Mesmerized, the tears magically dried as they watched the form of a beautiful winged woman grow within. She, their Creator and Mother, had arrived. Floating amongst them, She gazed upon her children.

     “Soul Wanderers, come to me,” she invited, her arms outstretched. Sorcha and Candra each held Teahra’s hands, reluctant to let her go.

     “Don’t,” they both implored.

     “I must,” she said, pulling free and moving forward with the returning Celestials to wade into the welcoming waters of the lake.

     Sorcha and Candra rejoined the others who stood with the many clans, who all looked on sadly as their brothers and sisters gazed up at their Mother.

     “You are our children, our beloved. The Realm is your home, and should you wish to return, you will know your way. May you find what you seek and return to us complete. Safe journey, my children.

     ” Sweeping her arms wide, glittering kisses of gold rained down on them, gently falling to the place between their eyes, leaving her blessing forever imprinted as they drifted upon the surface of the water in a deep sleep, their wings spread wide and floating. She waved her hand once more, and a thin gold veil shimmered from the sky so they were hidden from the clans.

     “Do not despair, Celestials. All have a destiny, and they follow theirs as you follow yours. Your paths will cross again,” she said, and she descended behind the veil.

     The clans stood waiting in silence. Then the veil shimmered and disappeared, and they stared. They were gone. Teahra was gone. 


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