(Author's note: This challenge really worked too well to get me out of writer's block. So, due to my terrible planning, I'm posting the first part of what should be a full novel under this title for the contest. Hopefully, the rest will be posted under another title sometime later. Thanks for bearing with me.)
Chapter 1: Midnight
It was midnight, and I couldn't sleep. The crickets sounded outside my window, which showed breathtaking views of the city of Ataria. The more fortunate houses were lit by night lights, while the rest were illuminated by candles and magic.
I sighed and sat a little taller. I need sleep, I thought. Sleep! But no matter how hard I tried, I was just stuck counting pixies. My whole brain buzzed with anxiety. So much could go wrong tomorrow, and there wasn't much time left. This left me replaying every possible scenario out in my mind. My wings could never come. They could come on wrong. They could look evil or tiny… What if I can't fly? What if I permanently damage my wings the first day? What if the council turns me away for being a terrible faery?
Wait. That was too much. Father was on the council. He wouldn't let them turn me away. Besides, I thought, if Father's any indication, I'll be bursting with power. I got up and paced the room, finally leaning on the door.
Suddenly, the door opened, sending me crashing to the floor. "Aida?" Father asked, confused. I picked myself off the ground and gathered my dignity. "What are you doing?"
I sighed. "If I could be sleeping, I would be."
He gave me an exasperated look, folding his pitch black wings into his back before snapping them out. I squirmed. He was obviously busy, and mad at me for interrupting. I gave him my best puppy eyes.
"What do you want?" he snapped.
"Aida, for the love of the Goddess, you're fifteen. You'll be fledging tomorrow, and you want a story?"
"I won't fledge right if I can't sleep."
"Oh, fine. Which one?"
"Oh, fine. Sit down." I took a seat obediently on the bed. "There was once a villager. Her name was Lieta…"
The story went on. Lieta's parents and siblings were killed by elf raiders, and she was turned out by the village. Homeless and desperate, she made friends with a band of traveling faeries and swore to avenge her family. In doing so, she started the war between the elves and the faeries. By the war's end, all of her near and dear ones were gone, and she was homeless again. All of the people she tried to stay with turned her out once they heard her story. She began to wander, and was on death's door, when she found a cave deep in a forest. Here, a group of peaceful elves saved her life, promising refuge to all who needed it.
"Inside the cave was a city, full of all the kinds of people, from humans to dwarves to faeries. She asked the elves what their home was called. They replied that it was a name from their ancient tongue: "Carawynn, or Ca'wynn: the cave of the lost."
Father finished, quietly walking out of the room, leaving me yawning, my eyes closing fast.