Hazy, shifting Underhill sunlight filtered down through the trees around the Court of Stars. The Faerie Queen's gardens were in full bloom. A riot of color somehow made a grand harmony as each flower and leaf contributed its own brush stroke by merely existing. On this May morning, Gayle and Sheena walked with the Queen. Sheena's great iron wolf, Sharur, followed quietly, keeping watch as usual. Both of the mortals were dressed casually—Sheena in a white and blue flower-pattern dress that left the great wings on her back free, and Gayle in a simple green sundress the color of her hero costume.
The breeze blowing about Gayle was gentle, barely disturbing the bees that buzzed from flower to flower. It carried a tinge of something sweet and wistful as she looked at the little marker stones at the base of each plant. The stones bore the names of the fallen, engraved for as long as it took for weather to carry the carvings away into memory. And, she knew, that would be a very long time in garden of the elven court.
“Are these planted for everybody?” the heroine asked.
"For all who have given their lives in service of the Court, yes," Queen Gloriana answered. Her voice was like a choir, soft and sweet and melodious.
“Just elves, or other fey, too?”
"And some occasional mortals, as well." The Queen's face was somber and her gaze far away. "No matter where they have fallen, they are remembered here. Whether the cause was just or petty, their sacrifices were great."
They walked the garden paths in silence for a time. Sheena stopped in front of the bush of golden roses planted for Sir Vincent and knelt down. She touched the plant. Memories flooded her senses. Through the rose bush she could feel the forest beyond, and through the forest, all of the forests, everywhere. It was all connected, and at the same time, each was distinct. She stood again and asked, "What happens to fey when they die?"
"We are spirit. We go on until we are reborn where we are needed." The Queen answered. Then she smiled wistfully, one corner of her lip quirked up. "But in truth? We have no better idea of what really happens than you mortals do. But don't pass that on. It wouldn't do for the folk to think their queen didn't know everything there was to know about such subjects."
Sheena smiled appreciatively and Gayle giggled brightly.
"But we do remember the sacrifices," the Queen added.
"And that isn't so much different than what we do," Sheena observed.
"Yes. And you have many fallen heroes to remember on this day."
Sheena nodded. "You can say that all deaths have meaning, but those who chose to bear the risk and put themselves in harm's way carry a bit more. It's worth remembering."
"And definitely worth remembering what they gave their lives to protect," Gayle insisted. "Freedom for all, equality, fairness, the ideals of liberty and justice... When that's under attack, we fight to defend it."
"That's what we should remember," Sheena agreed. "So that we don't let the sacrifices of the fallen be lessened by the evil and pettiness. After all, that's why we're heroes, right?"
"Right!" Gayle nodded emphatically. Her breeze swirled around her with flag-rippling strength and the scent of fresh-baked apple pie. "And the world still needs heroes. More than ever, maybe!"
The Queen smiled. "Then the world is in good hands with you two and all of those who stand with you. Make your efforts count, and you shall never lack for allies to your cause."
"And we will remember," Sheena said. She fluttered her wings to settle the feathers disturbed by the change in the wind and nodded toward Vincent's rosebush. "There remains work to be done."
A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)