Sterla’s mother always told her she was star-kissed. On the night of her birth, she would say in her special story-voice, a star flew down from the heavens and kissed her head, sprinkling her face and hair with stardust that ate the color away. It was Sterla’s favorite story as a young child, but as she grew older it was not the only story she heard.
She was born into the river and the full moon’s reflection on the water grabbed her and saved her from drowning.
Her mother had courted with the Faceless One, who was paler than bone and wove webs in the treetops from strands of lost souls stolen from the river people who wandered too far into the jungle.
She had been touched by the finger of Wayfinder, the bright star who helped the river people safely reach home.
A demon had latched itself to her as a babe, sucking the color out and tarnishing her soul.
One moment, she was a blessed child. The next, a cursed. She grew up playing alone in the river with her watermount, Mystra, learning how to fish together and becoming nearly as adept at swimming as her amphibious companion. When she was old enough for the villagers to assume without guilt that she could care for herself, they drove her out. They could never decide whether she was blessed or cursed, but saints and demons both attract trouble in equal measure.
She didn’t blame the village for wanting her gone. Life was not terribly different on her own, though she never wandered too far from home. Her mother was doing poorly, as the people of the village who believed her to have communed with devils outnumbered those who believed her blessed by the gods, and their punishments, though subtle, were thorough. Sterla would sneak by night into the village and leave baskets of fresh-caught fish on her doorstep to help her survive the neglect and shunning.
Tragedy hit unexpectedly one night, at the hands of her own people. One of the nosier eel-hunters saw the fish appear every morning at her mother’s doorstep. Unable to explain their presence, she was formally accused of consorting with devils. Her home was burned, and she did not survive the blaze.
Sterla and Mystra watched from a distance. As the flames flared in the night, Sterla knew herself to be cursed. No star had kissed her on the day of her birth. She lifted herself from the river and onto Mystra’s back and together they turned from the village. If her father was the Faceless One or any of the other devils of the jungle, she would find him. If she was demon-cursed, she would find them. She would face this curse, or she would be killed by the monsters that lived in the darkness of the world beyond the river.
Less a story, more a brainstorming this time. Storytime Sunday is a weekly installment of short fiction or personal anecdotes. Some will be complete stories, others will be snippets of projects that have gone to the Graveyard of Tales Not Going Anywhere, and a few will be previews of upcoming publications. Basically it’s a sketchbook for writing. Feel free to send me prompts in the comments or on Facebook!