Midnight Song

How many times have I come here? I can no longer count the days, months or years. The passage of time has no
effect on me. I remember when I would come to greet the rising sun. Dawn reflecting hope in the brightening
sky and warming earth. Now, I am banished to the nadir of night; when all is dark, and hope only a dream.

It was a year ago, perhaps two, when the priests came and laid their blessing on this place. This small valley was
sanctified and made anathema to me, or rather to what I have become. Despite this, I am still compelled to come.
Each night I sit beside this stone marker and sing of my sorrow. The moon and stars listening to the pain in my
soul as I tell them about the loss of my beloved Adairia. I take some comfort in the silence of the night. A silence
that only listens and does not judge.

My song awakens the priests and they stand at their small windows saying prayers for protection. I shake my
head at the sharp, bittersweet smell of their fear and hatred.

Tonight, as I sit here and raise my gaze to the moon, I feel a stirring in the air. Something is happening. Nothing
like this has ever occurred before. My spine tingles. The hair along my neck rises. My claws grasp at the dirt. I
whine softly. Looking closely, I see a shimmering before me. A shape is forming. It is wispy. Not wholly there.
My nose only detects the dustiness of the earth and the biting scent of the trees surrounding this area. The shape
begins to solidify. Suddenly, the perfume of heather fills the air. I inhale deeply. Heather was always her favorite

It is her! I have not seen her since that horrific night--so long ago. The night the curse struck and she vanished
from my life.

She is much as I remember her: Tall, with dark eyes and dark hair. Her delicate features highlighted by the glow
surrounding her as she stands next to the stone bearing her name. Her eyes meet my own and there is a deep
sadness reflected in them.

A soft creak comes from the door of the small church. I see one of the priests step outside. Startled I rise and
turn to flee. She begins to fade.

"Wait," he calls. "Please stay. I am Father Gregory, I mean you no harm."

I glance up at her and she nods slowly, so I sit back down and look at the approaching priest. He is an old man
whose eyes, even in this darkness glow with an inner light. Despite the hesitation in his steps, there is a
confidence in his stance. As he approaches, he holds out both hands to show he is carrying nothing. I smell his
fear, but it is accompanied by something else. A fragrance both soft and strong, the smell of flowers in a
meadow, of rain, of a sunrise; the scent of love, compassion and hope.

Father Gregory glances at her, then at the stone marker with its single word scratched into its surface. "Adairia?"
he asks.

She nods. Glancing at me, Adairia smiles that small wistful smile I have not seen in so long.

I nod my understanding of her unspoken request. Closing my eyes, I concentrate on triggering a change I have
not experienced since that day.

The change comes slowly, and I whimper as I feel my limbs lengthen and my nose flatten. I find myself
stretched out on the ground as my senses return. Slowly, I push myself into a sitting position; every joint in my
body feels as if it is on fire. I had forgotten the pain involved.