When I was young, playing in the gardens, I found a dying baby bird. It was too young and small, and someone or something in the course of their lives had knocked it from it’s place in the trees. I wanted it to live, so I rushed inside to bring it to my father, a strong, tall Farin man with the fair, rounded belly of an old soldier and a laugh so deep and merry none could help but smile to.
I remember him like that, the aroma of his pipe in a warm, comforting aroma around him, medical bag sitting by his foot while I sat on his knee. The only time he was stern with me was when I disturbed his patients or when I had made mother worry. He sat behind his desk then, reading papers and looking through his logs, ink stains on his sleeves.
“Papa!” I called to him, holding the little thing in my hands like it were a doll, wrapped in one of mother’s handkerchiefs. I run to the side of the desk and held it up to him. My best child’s attempt at a pleading gaze was given, paired with a trembling lower lip. “Fix it for me, make it better.”
He frowned, and with all the seriousness of a man comforting his only child, drew me up onto his knee. “We shall have to examine the little fellow,” He explains, face set gravely as he stroked his beard. An examination followed and he carefully peered over the bird with a magnifying lens, prodding with a single finger. I watch, those wide blue eyes that mark me as certainly not pureblood of my Father’s race peering over his wide arms to my patient.
“What’s wrong with him, Papa?” I asked, once he seems finished and begins to once more tend to his pipe. “What can I do to make him better?”
He was silent for a long moment. “We cannot save every patient, sunshine,” He reminds, quietly, pensively, as he looks down at me on his knee. “Sometimes the Lord calls to a creature’s soul, when they haven’t the strength to stay on Urth any longer.”
Tears fell down my face as I began to cry over the creature that could not be saved. Father pulls me against my chest, silent comfort given in his embrace even as my sobs begin to fade. My father was right that day, as he often was. As my tears dried and we looked back to the baby bird, we found that his little heart had ceased to beat.
Eight years later, I was heading off to the university. I had grown up around medicine and scholasticism, immersed in the environment I eventually grew to love, so even with years before my En Passant, I felt prepared to study beyond my tutor’s guidance. Petite child features and baby plumpness in my cheeks had long since given way to the well known bloom of growth in a Farin child, and although I would not reach the nearly seven-foot giants because of my Lithmorran blood, I had well surpassed my mother, and showed no signs of stopping soon. An awkward beanpole frame, lacking in the curves of womanhood or even a fraction of grace kept my confidence in appearance a minimum, but I did know my strength lay in the knowledge I would soon collect.
I once more stepped into my father’s study, showing off the stack of heavy tomes tucked under my arm and the blazing university insignia embroidered upon my tunic. To my mother’s dismay, I often tried to replace corsets and bodices with such things, even going so far as to borrow breeches from my male friends so I could ride astride during explorations of the nearby desert. “Father?” I asked, trying to rouse him from whatever focus he now held.
My father’s gaze rose to me, and his ebon eyes crinkled at the corners with warmth and pride. “Come here, my child. Let me see you one last time.” As I stepped towards him, he rose to meet me with the creak and pop of limbs worn down from decades of wear. Grey now streaked his hair, but his eyes held the same warmth and his smile the same deep, jovial strength it always had. “What will your mother and I do around here, without our sunshine?”
A smile touched my lips, shy and unsure, but not lacking in care. “I’ll be back, Papa,” I promise him. “It’s just for a few years. I’ll learn quick, you’ll see.”
He chuckled, full and bright, shaking his head as he pulled me into his embrace. “You have the wanderer’s spirit, my child. The same as what blows the desert sand around us and wills the clouds to roll across the sky. I’ve seen it. After you study, you will see the whole of this Urth. Change it even, if the Lord blesses you so.” A hand reached into his vest pocket, and out comes a bracelet of delicate silver links, holding a rounded, smooth stone of lapis lazuli, engraved with a cluster of tiny words upon its flat plane, and in an open hand, he offered it to me. “For you. To remind you.”
I took it from him, holding it up to the light as I struggled to read the tiny print and comprehend what it says. When I finally did, tears lined my eyes. “Thank you, Papa. I’ll keep it always,” I promise him. We spoke for a few moments more, once more moving to embrace, and then I turned to go.
I saw my father only one more time before traveling to Lithmore. Once more, as I always had, I entered his study. I was a fully fledged Physician now, also having studied law and battle strategy within the University. I had a medical bag in hand and a muddy traveling cloak around me from the rainy season’s roads. We did not speak long- the Reeves were expecting me to Lithmore, and before nightfall I had to have crossed the border from Farin to make time. He had become older, frailer, but he still kept to his work with all the joy he always had, and the jolly smile still touched his face with every greeting.
We spoke like colleagues then, discussing medical experiences, talking about new practices and methods of treatments. But once we had finished and it was time for me to go, he pulled me into his embrace and gave me one more piece of advice: “Stay whole for all who love you, and remember to care, Sunshine. When you stop caring for the baby birds, you have lost all that will make you great.”
So here I am. At my desk, alone. I am not certain what father meant, when he told me that, and I doubt that the tears currently brushing my cheeks apply, but all the same they fall. I fear for my future sometimes, and for the future of all those who look to me for control and command. I no longer follow orders, except that of the Queen and the Lord who guides us all. I am order. I am law. I am Justice. And while the scales will fall as they may, I will always seek their balance. I will always guide the kingdom to righteousness.