By: Valeria Posted on: June 25, 2006

As the autumn daylight melted into dusk in the city of Cyrene, a small crowd gathered at Centre Crossing , murmuring with curiosity, to await the recital of a recently arrived member of House Ty Beirdd, a Tsol'aa Magi named Valeria Sparrow. Friends and fellow citizens alike greeted each other cheerfully, exchanging hugs and bows as they waited for their latest aspiring poet to begin her performance.

At last, with a nervous cough, Valeria stepped forward and cleared her throat. Quickly, the audience quieted into an expectant hush, all eyes focusing upon her.

"Thank you for coming to attend my recital, everyone," she said, softly but clearly. "This poem is called 'Homecoming.'"

She raised her arms into the air and whispers a soft incantation, invoking the elements to aid her in her art. All around her, the air crackled and sparked, and the sound of rushing water filled her listeners' ears; a cool wind blew across the square and the earth beneath her feet gave a low rumble as she called fire, water, air, and earth to her command.

Weaving strands of fire and air together, Valeria gestured grandly. A glowing mirage swirled into being above her head, depicting human villages in Sapience, quaint and lovely: Thera, Shastaan, Petra, Tasur'ke, and others.

"So many years have passed to let me learn and grow
Yet still I remember my childhood home from so long ago".

To the gasps of the onlookers, the mirage suddenly flickered, now depicting the floating city of Arcadia and the snowy village of Genji, where the winged Atavians resided.

"The golden memories of my youth have never left me
When my heart was bright and I dreamt of what I could be."

...now it portrayed the isle of Ulangi, home of both the Grooks and the Horkvali... now the swamps of Kasmarkin, where once dwelt the troll race...

"Long ago I left, to try my hand at the adventurer's life.
But after a lifetime of only struggle and strife."

...now the mirage showed the looming Siroccians, home to the dwarves...now the tunnels of Moghedu, guarded by towering Mhun guards...

"I longed to come back to where I lived in happiness.
In those days when I knew neither pain nor loneliness."

...now the mirage depicted Valeria's own childhood home, the verdant Aalen, oddly juxtaposed with a beautiful castle in Shallam.

"Now, wiser and greyer with the passage of time
I returned to my former home in the glow of my prime."

In the image, a younger Valeria stepped into view, staff in hand, clearly an accomplished Magi. Her expression is one of wonder and joy as she gazes around her.

"Oh, the memories! How they overwhelm me as I crossed
The threshold between what I have and what I lost."

In the mirage, a dark cloud fell over the forest, causing Valeria's face to fall into sombre shadow.

"And yet, though my return wraps me within a joyous glow,
Yet within my heart still remains a trace of sorrow."

Outside the mirage, the present Valeria gazed at the trembling mirage, a tear travelling down her cheek as she let the image slowly dissolve away.

"All these years I carried visions of my childhood in my head
My home remained the same; it was I who changed instead."

With a curtsey, Valeria lowered her arms, letting only the echo of her final words remain.

A moment passed, filled with the pregnant silence of the audience's own memories of their inscrutable individual pasts. In a few, answering tears trickled down the cheeks of those whose memories echoed the bittersweet verses; in others, sympathy and kindness shone in the eyes of those who regarded Valeria. Then, in a burst of clapping, the audience broke into cheers and applause, their appreciation ringing against the hollow of the darkening, star-studded firmament high above.