I’m not sure where I wanted to go with this, and I don’t know where in any established time line this might take place, but it’s Celita and Tarenthal from QUEST TO KARANTIRI, sometime in her first visit to the elven woods. As usual, prompt is taken from Lyn Thorne-Alder’s Thimbleful Thursday, and I love her dearly for having this place to share fiction.
“Do you have a story like that, of the ugly duckling?” Celita tilted her head at her guard.
Tarenthal tilted his head side to side, uncertain. “Not by that name, but it does not mean that we do not have a similar tale. Will you tell me?”
Celita nodded, tucking her feet up under her. “I don’t remember all the specifics anymore, but they’re not important. The story is mainly about the baby of a family who is all surrounded by beautiful brothers and sisters, with lovely feathers and colors and all, but they’re drab and grey and sad. Plain. And everyone else makes fun of the poor duckling but it isn’t until the duckling grows up and becomes a glorious snow white swan that everyone’s put to shame.”
“Mmm. I think I could sympathize.” He tucked a strand of hair behind his ear, and Celita noticed him trying to hide the fact that he’d brushed his fingers under his eye.
I know you understand, Tarenthal. We’re so alike in that… “But I’ve always felt a bit like the ugly duckling in my home kingdom. It’s not even that I think I’m ugly, just…plain. Boring. There’s just nothing to me, and I want to believe that some day I’ll get to be the beautiful swan…but it just seems so unlikely. That doesn’t happen in real life, only in fantasy tales.”
“Lady Celita.” Tarenthal shifted to face her properly. “If you have taught me nothing else of the way you think, and how the humans might view the world, you have taught me that for the determined person, nothing is impossible. Even if one looks at a fate such as mine, where every element of who I am serves to work against me and what I try to do, if I have the strength, I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. That is what you have been encouraging me to believe, yes?”
Her eyes misted up. “Yes, of course.”
“Then why can you not see that same potential in yourself? If…” He paused, but seemed to make a decision and continued. “If I am entirely honest, Lady Celita, the only reason I can see that gives you any reason to believe yourself something else…is that you are already that breathtaking creature, and you have the entire sky at your disposal. Your path is not necessarily up, but rather anywhere you choose.”
Celita could feel her face burning. “Tarenthal, I…”
“I do not know yet if I have the strength to fight as you would have me fight. But I know, more than I know anything else in my soul, that you have the strength to fight enough for the both of us, should you so choose.”