It was a golden afternoon when the mysterious gemstone appeared.
I was waiting for our messenger raven, Barnabas. I always waited for him before sundown. He spent the day travelling all over the continent, delivering and receiving messages for my parents. I had to know that he’d returned safely.
My sister would laugh if she knew, of course. “It’s just a bird,” she’d once retorted. “It can’t love you back.”
We were just children when she said it, but I remember her words well. It had broken my heart back then, to know that he couldn’t love me. And yet, he was still my Barnabas. Every sundown there I would be, waiting for him.
When his inky silhouette appeared against the sky my heart leapt. He was safe. And he was early. He swooped down toward me, but instead of alighting on my shoulder as he usually does, he placed himself at my feet and bowed his head.
There was something shiny in his beak. I reached for it and it clattered to the floor – a gemstone of the very palest blue.
Neither my parents nor my sister knew anything about this strange delivery. There was no note, no return address. And in the ten years we’d had Barnabas, he had never misplaced a delivery.
I didn’t have many pretty things, so I kept it. I threaded string through it and wore it as a pendant. Whenever I greeted Barnabas he would nudge at my chest, almost as if to make sure it was still there.
It was a strange stone. It seemed to light up at random and I could never discover where the light was coming from.
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