The story of the life of the wingless wonder, destined one day to be not only the best friend of a demigod, but also in her own right one of the greatest magic users the world has ever seen. This story goes through Aerie's life, from her childhood, shortly before she was captured, through the bad stuff of her being broken and sold on to the circus, meeting Quayle, Bentha, her early studies in magic, her prayers to Baervar getting answered for the first time, until it finally reaches the point when her story joins with that of Imoen and the others.

The character of Aerie was created by and belongs to Bioware.

Wings

Prologue

There shall be wings! If the accomplishment be not for me, 'tis for some other. The spirit cannot die; and man, who shall know all and shall have wings...

- Leonardo da Vinci


High above the world, amongst the clouds and the mountains, there once lived a young girl. She was fair haired, blue eyed and pretty. But, of course, we should never judge a book by its cover; on the inside, she was kind, gentle, and an explorer. She was, however, different from other girls in two important respects. First, she was an elf, with large almond shaped eyes and tapered ears that reached almost the top of her head. Second, she could fly.

On her white feathered wings she soared through the air, unseen by those on the earth below. Even if anyone did look up, she was at such a height that they would have mistaken her for a bird or other flying creature. But she could see far, even see the faces of the funny, round little humans who at first looked like just little black dots on the white, snowy landscape.

They hadn't been there yesterday, she remembered; they seemed to move their houses about on wheels, pulled by large four legged beasts. She wondered what their lives were like, and where they were going, or if they ever wished they could fly… in some ways, she thought, they might have more freedom than her. Imagine, just being able to move your whole house whenever and wherever you wanted! Whereas, she knew that with the sun going down soon, others would come and get her, drag her back to her own home set in the side of a mountain. No matter how much more she wanted to see, the mountain just wasn't going to move anywhere.

She had been warned, many times, to stay away from humans, or even from other elves that Aerdrie Faenya had chosen not to give the gift of flying… she wondered why the goddess thought the Avariel were so special. Also, her elders told her that the humans were dangerous, but she couldn't see how; as far as she could tell, they weren't that much different from her people, except that they couldn't fly and moved their houses everywhere. But, they had mothers and fathers who gathered meat and wood and cooked and took care of their children, who ran around and played games not too dissimilar from any of the games she played with her friends. They certainly didn't seem anything like the drow, whom she'd only ever heard the most terrible stories about; dark elves who lived beneath the earth, coming to the surface only to conquer, enslave and slaughter… just the thought of being trapped down there, in a place where you could never see the sky, chilled her.

The girl was circling above, when she saw a group of children running away from where the adults were chopping wood and preparing their meal. They were giggling and shouting and calling; she couldn't understand what. But it looked two older ones had taken something from a child much smaller, and were teasing the little one by throwing it between each other while he desperately tried in vain to catch it. Her felt for him; she knew what it was like to be smaller than others and bullied. She decided that, since they were moving away from the grownups who could do her harm, she could touch down gently in the high up branches and get a closer look…


A small boy, hair and clothing as brown as the autumn was before the snow came, huffed and puffed, his short legs struggling to clear the soft, crunchy ground with each hurried step.

"Give… g-give him back," he panted, but refused to give up pursuing his taller siblings. "If you break, I'll… I'll harm you! I will! Just… j-just you see…" he fell to his knees, needing to take a few breaths before pulling himself and resuming what seemed like a hopeless cause.

The older children just laughed. His freckle faced sister threw the toy to the eldest sibling, his brother, who started motioning for her to move away, drawing his arm back for a large… the small boy immediately sensed that this would not go well, jumping and bouncing, red faced and begging his brother to let it go… which he did. Unfortunately, he had greatly misjudged the distance between him and the girl.

The small boy ran forward, his eyes wide in disbelief and horror as he stared helplessly into the high branches. He pointed up, turned to his siblings, and snarled, "y-you… dummies! How am I supposed to get him down now, huh? How!"

The elder siblings looked at each other, simultaneously chilled by a moment of fear and doubt and memories of a slipper. "Let's… get outta here," the brother suggested, "'fore mom and dad catch up to us…" and so they ran.

The small boy remained, growling out his anger as he watched them disappear. When it was clear they weren't returning, he shook his head and looked back up. So high… and there were no good branches low enough for him to climb up. Still, he was not to be defeated yet; he would show 'em. He explored his surroundings for something he could use… there, a broken off branch! A stick… he wasn't sure it would be long enough, but… maybe he could throw it and knock the toy back down.

He went over to it, grumbling, "tupidbigdumbtupidbullies… oneoftheseIoughta…" he knelt down and put his hand on stick. He felt the breeze pick up a slightly and a shadow fall across his face. It took a moment to register how strange that was, since there hadn't been a cloud around a few moments ago. He looked up.

A fair haired creature with big, almond shaped blue eyes and enormous wings glided gently to the ground in front of him, holding out its arms toward him. It smiled sweetly, then spoke in some strange alien tongue.

The boy screamed. And then ran.


The fair haired girl was puzzled by the reaction. She didn't know what she'd expected; maybe that they would talk and become friends, and every day would meet somewhere in secret and share their different ideas, theories and perspectives on the world… she supposed it was a silly idea. Still, she'd only wanted to help.

Now she was stuck holding this toy and had no idea what to do with it. The first thing she decided was to examine it more closely; it was a rare chance to see what appealed to human children, after all.

It was a wooden carving of one of the four legged beasts they used to pull their homes, and sometimes they themselves rode around on… a horse, she believed it was called. But different from any horse she'd ever seen, as this one had wings attached… which both further puzzled and delighted her.

Before she could puzzle any more about what this meant about human psychology, she heard the voice of the boy again, but this time accompanied by the adults, and one other thing… as she turned her head and looked up at the peak of a snowy mound, another four legged creature bounded across. Smaller than a horse, but much more angry looking, with sharp looking teeth and a long, wet tongue dripping saliva everywhere… she'd seen this before as well, hanging around the humans. Usually, it seemed pretty friendly… but in any case, the adults couldn't be far behind.

She quickly decided to leave the wooden winged horse on the ground, where hopefully the boy would find it. Then, she had to worry about herself. She turned away and started to run, but the yelping, snarling, salivating beast kept gaining on her. Even as her feet kept pounding the ground harder, and harder, and faster, the beast kept getting closer, and closer, until at last it pounced. But by then, her feet had already left the ground. The creature snapped, but caught nothing but air.

The girl smiled, breathing in the sun as her long hair, white tunic, and the pink ribbons around her arms all whipped back and fluttered. She climbed higher and higher into the endless sky; her home, where nothing ever could hurt her and where she was always safe.


The elder brother scoffed, "you probably just saw an eagle or something."

Their dog continued howling and meandering around in a circle, while the small boy glared angrily, folding his arms across his chest. "It was a girl!" He insisted, "a girl with wings!"

"Oh… a girl with wings. Like an angel?"

The boy thought. "I suppose it could have been… but she kinda looked like an elf as well…"

His brother drawled, "right… don't be so bloody stupid. Why, of all the people in the world, are the gods gonna send an angel to watch over you? I mean, there's like floods and famines and wars going on, but… oh no, look! Little Bobby lost his toy horse… better send someone to take care of that right away."

"I don't know if she was an angel or not! But I know she had wings, and I know she spoke to me!"

"What did she say?"

"What?!"

"Not every day an angel speaks to you, so you must remember what she said, right?"

Little Bobby was almost entirely red, like he'd been holding his breath too long. "I… I don't know," he admitted, "it was all in foreign or something… but I still know what I saw!"

The elder brother just shook his head, looking to his parents with a helpless shrug. There was nothing in the skies but birds.

Even Bobby started to question. He knew he'd seen something, but he'd ran away so fast… maybe it really was just a big bird. But then, he saw Pegasus, whom he'd feared lost, standing upright in the snow… someone had to have placed him there…


The fair haired girl sat down and rested a moment atop a precipice. She tucked her knees into her chest and put her arms around them, the now setting sun still tickling her cheeks as she closed her eyes and allowed herself to dream.

She knew momma would be angry when she got home but, all in all, it had been another exciting day and she didn't want it to end. She didn't want to sleep either. Sleep was for sleepy people. She may have had her eyes closed, but she was wide awake, her head full of questions that needed answering.

The sun felt nice, but what exactly was it? Where did its warmth come from? How did it get there? She'd asked her teachers these, but none of them seemed to know. They said the gods had made it, but then, who made the gods? Did the gods make people as well, and if so, why? To worship them? Or were there people first, and then they made the gods to worship? She'd read once about an avariel who'd said that maybe, a long time ago, elves, humans, orcs, dwarves, had all been the same, but over time they split into groups and became different, and then gods and magic got involved as well… people had laughed at him because he found no evidence. But maybe there was evidence, somewhere, if only avariel ever left the mountain… the long haired priestesses never seemed to like it when she asked about all this. Why did women have longer hair than men, anyway? Lots of avariel men did have quite long hair, but not as long as hers. Did they cut it more often, or did hers grow faster? Maybe she would ask her father about it if he was in…

Fortunately, before her head filled to bursting point, she felt a firm but gentle nudge on her shoulder. Sighing, she raised her head from her knees, knowing what she would see. She wished she had longer to think of more questions.

A tall elven man with fine angular features, wearing gold armour, and with his wings outstretched. Next to him was a woman, arms crossed, similarly dressed in a resplendent metallic uniform tailored for her wings. The girl knew them quite well, by now; they were brother and sister.

The man smiled as he shook his head. "Get lost on your home way from school again, did you, Aerie?"

Aerie looked away, shoulders dipping as she grumbled, "poopie…"