"I know a place where we can go
That's still untouched by men
We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind..."
-"The End of the Innocence," Don Henley and B. R. Hornsby
The field was emerald, waving with a gentle cadence under the urge of the morning breeze. Each blade in the sea of green swayed smoothly with the others, housing between them tiny drops of dew. These reminders of the misty night shone with the brilliance of the stars, tenderly kissed by the sun's first rays.
Above, the sky stretched out to infinity, and the last pale traces of the moon were still visible in the delicate blue of early morning. Tufts of white, so faint as to seem illusory, lingered high above head, promising shapes both full and enchanting by the time the sun reached far into the sky. Already the great orb was peering above the horizon, spreading golden rays across the meadow as tiny rims of purple traced the skyline.
A peaceful silence ruled the picturesque moment, as though nature itself held its breath in anticipation for something yet unknown. Only the quiet susurration of the grass lifted in the sweet morning air, and not a single human voice intruded upon the serene tranquillity.
Slow moments passed; the sun crept higher in its heavenly arc, and the sky grew brighter as the day dawned warm and brilliant. The grass continued its quiet sway, scarcely interrupted by the foot that paused momentarily on the ground, sending a spray of crystalline droplets in a forward arc as it moved onward. Its sister limb followed as swiftly, sharing the load of the first as they cantered through the meadow.
A great bird belonged to the feet, golden feathers caressed gently by the light of early morning, feet silvered with dew. Its neck was strong and proud, supporting a head held with dignity, and its limber bob lent to its movement a rhythmic grace.
The passenger it carried was a noble youth, fair hair cut short to fall unevenly about his boyish face. His heavy armor was dented and worn, as though recently emerged from a battle, and a slight smear of blood marred his placid countenance. A sword hung from his belt, present but obviously dormant, now and forever. His young face was touched with the sadness that comes with something irreversibly lost, and the weight of it lingered in his eyes. There was a kind of hesitant joy there, too; it was the freedom of lifted responsibility that mingled with the loss within him, projecting itself miraculously in the fleeting seconds before he was carried onward.
Before the last of the newly disturbed dew had been given time to settle, a second bird followed the first, equally graceful, equally splendid. Its tail feathers formed an arc of gold as it trotted along after the first, and its feet carried it along with a steady flow.
This second bird lifted a girl, and she swayed with it in its gentle motion. A strand of ribbon bound her flaxen locks, and her simple dress drifted down to her ankles, brushing fine feathers along its journey. Her face, too, was touched by a melancholy that seemed unfitting for one so young, and her eyes, once a sparkling blue, had lost the sweetness of true innocence. But hidden in the sadness was a deep and righteous pride, and the painful knowledge that all things received are not the same as those deserved.
A break descended just before the great birds pushed forward, a hesitance in mid-step as the unseen heroes paused, suspended. The lapse was brief, though, and as they moved on, carrying with them the tale that would remain untold for years to come, it seemed a great sigh was drawn up from all around them.
Padded footsteps traveled the soft grass of the field with agile grace, and the time was short before they began to sink below the horizon. A second more and they were gone, disappeared as surely as if they'd never been at all, and once again the only sound was that of the wind beneath the new day.