By Jenny Dickinson
In myth, the hummingbird as a spirit-animal, is quick, always happy, a messenger, and able to stop the flow of time itself... it is also a symbol of love.
Sun dappled the grass and flowers outside the door. Butterflies and hummingbirds had been flitting about seeking nectar for a few hours already in the warming summer sunshine.
This very garden, sat outside a small carefully built little cottage, and the house and garden both sat within the confines of a vast city called N'rah, which in turn rested inside the Shadowlands, home to the nightrider people.
Nightriders were a vastly different set of races, all with similarities of red or blue eyes, and black or dark brown hair. The creature at the house's garden door was one such being. Red eyes watched the flight and dances taking place among the avian and insect population of his garden, all the while sipping at a warm mug of chamomile tea. Unlike the rest of the Shadowlands, where darkness and twilight reigned, this garden was filled with a normal lifecycle of sunlight and darkness, like any human garden should have had. The garden was not the most important feature to the house, but it WAS the most impressive.
The figure turned, brushing lazily at a wisp of bangs that had fallen into his eyes, to the pump-affixed sink to wash out the mug, and begin his day.
Soft-skinned white hands, tipped in pitch black claws scrubbed a stuck tea-leaf from the mug's bottom, only to again push that annoying bit of hair away from his eyes again.
Tyme Ravenna sighed, and looked out his front window to the gloomy forever-dusk beyond it, watching the citizens of his homeland come and go. They all wore black, or dark blue, or blood red, or grey. They dressed as dimly at the day outside the window. Tyme on the other hand, liked white, and bright cheery reds, and silver. It showed in the garments he wore today. A white shirt, a long black vest with bright red trim and silver piping, and black leather pants... since white leather was so bloody much more than he could afford currently.
It was likely, though he would open his shop today, that he would be without customers. After all, very few Shadowdancers got sick enough to need his skills, and even fewer carried watches... which he repaired on the side.
There was a soft sighing twitter from his bedside table (as the cottage was all of one room, the "facilities" being in an outbuilding in the garden) and Tyme glanced at the half-clamshell sitting there.
It was made up like a tiny doll's bed, with pillows, mattress, and blankets. What stirred and clambered out of was no doll. With a yawn, and another happy twitter, Tyde, Tyme's ever-present faery companion flew to his hair, her usual post. Well, there, and in his hand. She was lavender, with pale dragon-fly like wings, and long hair that went well with her skintone, and the tiny dress she wore. She had three-toed feet, rather like a bird's, and these feet and her tiny hands gripped his hair tightly as she clung to him.
"Well, good morning to you, my sweet. Have a good rest?" She tittered at him, and though he hardly spoke her language, he mostly understood her tone.
"Me too... so... want some breakfast?" Another titter confirmed it. So, a shared slice of jam-smeared toast later, Tyme opened up his shop on what would likely be a slow day for the Ravenna Apothecary.
He was sitting at his desk mid-afternoon when the bell of the door tinkled, and he glanced up. His eyes widened in a bit of surprise.
Tyde yawned, and looked too. He smiled, which was polite to do when an old friend came into your residence.
"Great Lord death, it's been forever, Racelyn!"
The bardling smiled, and his bright blue eyes sparkled. Though over eighty years Tyme's Senior in appearance, Racelyn tipped the age scales at around four hundred eighty... and that put him someplace around ancient... whereas Tyme, if he hadn't lived outside the stream of time because of his powers, would be more than three times that. The power to alter time itself DID have some good advantages.
"Hah... Tyme... you know very well it's been MORE than forever... more like three forevers and two decades." Tyme stood, and moved to give his friend from adolescence a proper greeting hug.
"Care for some tea? I've water heating. Do have a seat... Race... we've a whole world worth of time to catch up on."
Racelyn smirked again, and dusted off his soft leather pants and blue silk shirt. The ever-present leather case that held his flute hung at his hip next to his money-pouch.
"Well... You remember Adeian?" Racelyn started.
Tyme nodded, he recalled the pretty blond assassin Racelyn had fallen head over claws for. She was one of the fabled gen-X assassins, genetically bred beings made from the crossbreeding of Shadowdancers, and Adenan bloodlines. She alone had not gone the way of her bloodthirsty brethren, and defected, traveling with the bard, and their strange furry-skinned slith friend, Ruelette. The cat-like slith were confusing enough, and besides, Tyme reminded himself, this wasn't a cultural lessoning, it was a visit from a dearly missed friend.
"Yes, I do recall her... you're smiling... so I take it nothing is amiss with you two... so what news?" the time-keeper asked, sure he knew the answer.
"Well, we're getting married... and I wanted you to be my best man... if you would? And Tyde can be the ring-bearer if she wants to. My godfather will be the one performing the ceremony... and I'd really like you to come even if you don't want to be in the wedding party...."
Tyme cut him off.
"ME? Not be your best man? Race... have you gone daft? Of COURSE I'll come! I wouldn't miss such a joyous event on my life! And I won't even be late."
They laughed, because back in highschooling... before they two had each fully mastered their powers, Tyme had always been late to EVERYTHING. Once he'd mastered the flow and ebb of time, he was on time, or minutes... sometimes hours early. And that alone wearied and confused his teachers to no end. In fact, he could be two places at once, so long as he never met himself... which made him able to take double the classes, and graduate in a quarter of the time it had taken the bardling.
So plans were made, and things discussed, including the all important "bachelor party." Racelyn, however, firmly stood on the grounds of "no leggy dancing girls."
The pair talked and joked and caught up on life well into the darker night, until Race declined to spend the evening there, and went off to assemble the rest of the wedding party.
The timemaster looked at his faery companion and grinned, flashing a set of sharp cat-like teeth.
"Well, Racelyn marrying. I would never have thought it would come to pass. Funny... I feel so very old all of a sudden. Everyone I know is either married, dead, dying... or gone too far to get ahold of. And here I am now, alone with you as my only friend. But then, I've always been a hermit, neh?" he chuckled, and made ready for sleep... changing into his nightshirt and tucking Tyde into bed...she would have rather sleep in his soft hair, but he was always fearful he'd roll over in the night and squish her.
The hour was well past midnight when the front door crashed open, and the bell crashed to the floor.
Tyme sat bolt upright in bed, and reached for his soulblade... and readied a pause spell if things came to that.
Someone had broken into his shop, and they were about to get a nasty surprise.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Hummingbird's Child © 2001 by Jenny Dickinson
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