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"Wingless” by Pragnya: Mar. 2024 1st Place

The kingdom of Alara celebrated. “It’s a girl!” the royal messenger said, gliding out of the castle. The kingdom cheered, spinning around the children and tossing them into the air, where they hovered for a second before flying back down. Suddenly, the king flew out of a window, his expression silencing the crowd. “The Elders must come to the castle now.” Whispers spread as seven Zie flew to the castle. They all had frail wings and wrinkled faces. They descended into a room. The king flew in circles, and the queen sobbed. Everyone gasped upon seeing the baby. The child had dark skin and hair. She was a beautiful Zie. None of the elders stared at her flawless features. They were looking at her wingless back.


“What? How?!” chirped Briara, the brightest of the elders.


“What do we do?” barked Horara, who always had a plan.


“This is bad!” panicked Deiara, who stayed calm in the direst situations.


Everyone turned to Velara, the eldest. “I know of her kind.” she croaked. “Once in every millennium, a wingless one is born. They belong in a land far below.”


The queen looked up. “But why?” she cried. “Why must she leave?”


“She’d bring great misfortune. She has powers that don’t belong here. She must be in a place where she can live. Where she can walk.” Velara said solemnly.


They all burst into chaos.


“Walk?” Rinara bellowed, outraged.


“That’s impossible! Zie can’t walk!”


“She isn’t a Zie.” Velara said.


The room became silent.


“These wingless ones are something else entirely. They’re called Hue-mannes.”

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