Birdcage in the Sky
Sora’s Lost Days
13th Midyear 4E208, Governor’s Palace, early evening…
Another page was crumpled in a ball and shoved from the mirrored desk, joining a litter of three other failed attempts at finding words for something that was impossible. Daro’Vasora slumped down on the desk, staring back at her reflection and her emerald-coloured eyes over her forearm flat against the surface. Had she always looked this tired? She wasn’t sure; she wasn’t sure of anything anymore.
It had been days since she’d seen Latro or heard from Sevari, and she had held out hope that her lover was safe and Sevari would return with information, but word of neither arrived, save for the news that the convoy that was heading to the prisoner transfer was assaulted by insurgents, and many of the Ministry of Order’s men were slain in the ambush; Sevari and Latro were nowhere to be found. Daro’Vasora had tried to tell herself that it meant that they were safe, that Latro had escaped and found the others, but she couldn’t lie to herself so readily and she had cried herself to sleep.
To the Governor’s credit, her daily visit was a short one that was sympathetic. A new dress and sweets were provided, and the governor herself took off her necklace, leaving it with the Khajiit. It was a malachite pendant housed in a Dwemeri alloy harness covered in the simple, bold designs that the Dwemer seemed to favour. It was a pretty thing, and didn’t seem to fit someone of Razlinc’s station. The Governor smiled and explained that it had been her mother’s, the stone a gift from a Chimer suitor. That alone made the necklace more valuable than anything the Khajiit had ever found in her life, and yet it sat on the desk, unmoving with the now melted chocolates for two days now.
She pulled up another parchment, free of words, and stared blankly at the page, knowing that the words she committed to it could potentially ultimately either be the salvation of her companions or their doom. A speech, something to placate the populace. The publically humiliated terrorist leader publicly denouncing the violence and her part in it while exalting the virtues of her captors and how well they treated her and what they could offer Gilane and Volenfell. It was a lie, a sham, and every time she put words to the page, she either felt like she was consigning people she cared about to death or about to sell her soul for a little more time for them. After what she’d seen lurking far below the palace, however, she knew horrors awaited the streets in Gilane. Words weren’t going to prevent that, nothing she could do would.
All she was was a single, stupid girl in a foreign city who got in over her head and in trying to lead people to safety away and ended up bringing them into some overzealous insurgency that she didn’t even know if it was altruistic or opportunistic. Did it matter anymore? Did any of it? She stood up from the desk and headed to the balcony to clear her head. She was falling in love with the early evening breeze of the city, how Magus shifted ever so slightly as the hours ticked on, revealing more colours hidden within the city streets. She knew that somewhere down there, her friends were waiting, probably scared shitless about what had happened to her and Latro. Her mind lingered on Judena, and how she never told her how much she meant to her, and how the Argonian would wake up every single day for weeks wondering where Daro’Vasora was, and then re-discovering that she was gone forever. The constant anguish of the thought made the Khajiit choke back a sob. Megana would almost certainly be doing everything to try and find out where she was, even if it got her in trouble… Raelynn wouldn’t be able to do anything, not the way she was, broken and terrified. Did she blame herself for Roux’s death, Daro’Vasora wondered.
A breeze rolled by and prickled her bare arms, and for a moment she allowed herself to imagine it was Latro’s reassuring caress, like when she awoke from the nightmares. She had never allowed herself to believe she could ever be loved by anyone, nor feel it in turn, but ever since her and the Reachman had been trapped below the Jerall Mountains, hunted by Falmer, she felt a bond to him, a bond that had only grown stronger, even when she had feared he died in Imperial City, and when she foolishly nearly squandered it in Anvil. He didn’t look at her fur or pointed teeth with disgust, her slitted pupils with distrust, her tail in mockery. He looked at her like she was the only thing in the world, and that he’d found something in turn he no longer needed to hide in the shadows from. They loved each other, and it was the most pure and reassuring thing Daro’Vasora had ever experienced in her life, and it meant something. They’d never be able to have children, and society would frown on their union, but none of that mattered.
Nothing mattered anymore. The future she’d dared dream of was torn from her, the beautiful rose only she’d been able to grasp had been torn from her and only barren soil remained in Latro’s wake. It was too late to save him, but it didn’t mean she had to bow and submit to those who took him from her.
“You never wrote me that song.” she whispered to the golden sky. Her eyes widened with realization, and Daro’Vasora hurried back to her desk, and for the better part of an hour, the quill danced across paper, words coming to life before her eyes. The page filled, and she held it up to dry, watching on as the ink took to the paper to bond together like lovers. She smiled at the thought.
I’m like a stupid girl again.
The Khajiit returned to the balcony, humming a melody as she read the words over the page, trying to find a tune. It had all been so quick and spontaneous, she knew it wouldn’t be fine work and she certainly wasn’t a bard.
Still, she knew it was something he would have loved. She stood, staring at the amber-hues of the sky, perfectly preserving the moment in her mind like the fossil that took its namesake.
“I’ve never been good at this,” Daro’Vasora said to the sky, her voice carrying somewhat past her balcony. “You never had the chance to write me that song that you promised, and it was something I know I loved to tease you about, Latro… I just wish it had a chance to come true.
“You know, ever since I was young, I always had a fascination with singers and songs, how they could whisk you away to far away lands and tell a story that leaps out into your heart more than words on a page ever could. When I first laid eyes on you, with your dark hair and those eyes I could get lost in for hours, I fell in love with your voice. It took a while, but the rest of me followed suit. There’s days where I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but you’ve been the best thing that’s ever happened to me, Latro de Couteau. I’d hoped one day to fall in love with your voice all over again when you finally sang me that song that was just for me, I couldn’t think of a greater gift.” she grow silent, wiping an errand tear that had rolled down her cheek away.
“Now I realized that the greatest gift of all would be to have you back, and I was too stupid to realize that sooner. How many times have I lost you, only to find you again, to promise that it would be different this time? This time… you didn’t come back. I feel like it’s stuck this time, and my heart shatters at the thought, but you don’t need me to be crumble now. To the love of my life, who I fear I’ll never see again, I will say goodbye to you the same way I laid eyes on you, with a song.” she smiled, sniffing as her eyes welled up with tears and she inhaled deeply and sang, her voice high and light, the melody carrying from her lips well, even if she didn’t have a range to express herself,
Forever lingering among the stars
The view is ever far
Up above the moonlit high
There sits a birdcage in the sky
I waited here so long and brave
Isolated from people in a grave
Made up of my soul and mind
No thoughts for those I left behind
But here you are, not letting go
Among the stars all alone
Finally hearing a song that wasn’t mine
In this birdcage in the sky
You unlocked the cage and picked my lock
This beautiful thing quite the shock
I hesitantly took your hand
And when I leapt my life began
It felt like we fell for hours but even so
Holding hands I was no longer alone
The ground came close and though we’d die
You freed me from my birdcage in the sky
But you spread your wings, and we were aloft
You saved us from perilous drop
Soaring into the great unknown
There was no telling how far we would go
We’d finally found what we’d been missing
A song from someone who was listening
Though one day we would say goodbye
You saved me from the birdcage in the sky
Her voice trailed off, and she listened to the sound of rustling palm trees and the sing song of birds, taking in everything as if for the last time, for tomorrow everything would change. She had hoped that wherever Latro was, he had been listening. She smiled at the sky above. “Goodbye, Latro. Thank you for finding the best of me, for not giving up on me, for showing someone who didn’t deserve it the most genuine love and compassion she’s ever felt. Though we part ways and our souls may never meet again, you will always be with me. Always.
“I love you Latro, to the moons, to the Sands Behind the Stars, and when it all comes to an end, my heart will always yearn for you. You made me realize who I could be, who I wanted to be, and who I will be for you. I’m not ashamed of who I am anymore, of what I am. I don’t feel like I am in the wrong body, or that I’m carrying a mark of shame. At the end of it all, at the end of this trail, and though I no longer feel your embrace, I know you are with me. Thank you, for showing me my own moonpath. Thank you, for being the light of my life and freeing me from my cage. I hope you felt the same way; I feel it in my heart.” she said, clutching her chest. She looked down for a moment before looking at the moons above. “Give me strength for these final steps I must take, and I carry you in my heart; may your roads lead you to warm sands. Daro’Vasora knows in her heart who you were, and she will always find you when she looks to the stars.”
She walked away from the balcony, gripping the railing one final time, her touch lingering as she stepped away and returned to the desk, carefully folding her song and placing it gingerly on the desk. Producing another parchment, she set down to write what was effectively going to be her eulogy. Tomorrow, she’d have to give her speech to the crowd, and tomorrow, she would tell the truth to the gathered masses knowing full well the consequences of defiance. She would even wear the Governor’s necklace while she gave her speech. Glancing over at the balcony, two songbirds danced and fluttered along the railing, prompting a sad smile.
She would never see an evening as beautiful as this one again.