Lady of the Winds Picture

And so the story of a new character begins... (because I love designing elemental characters)

ARMA virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit
litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto
vi superum saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram;
multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem,
inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum,
Albanique patres, atque altae moenia Romae.
Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso,
quidve dolens, regina deum tot volvere casus
insignem pietate virum, tot adire labores
impulerit. Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?

A loud trill interrupted Minerva’s mental recitation. She looked up to find the familiar silhouette of Meifeng circling above her. The Feng’s bright eyes sparkled down at her, as if reminding her that a proper sentinel would be watching, rather than absentmindedly reciting ancient poetry in her head.

Can heav'nly minds such high resentment show,
Or exercise their spite in human woe?… Indeed

They had already banned having books out on duty, so she decided to memorize them. But even now, Meifeng was reminding her she had more important concerns.
Minerva sighed. Tightening her grip on her sentinel’s bow, she closed her eyes and reached inside for the gift that was her people’s legacy – the connection to the breath of the world. She slowly exhaled, letting the raw shifting power fill her, connect her to something transcendent. And then the awareness came. Awareness of the shifting breezes surrounding the sentinel’s precipice, and the knowledge they carried. Voices from distant lands. Laughter from the markets of the Wind Capital. Quiet murmurs form the high council’s chambers. Romantic whispers from lover’s point. Rumbling strength from the Earth Capital. But there were other sounds. An eerily cold silence from the Ice Capital. Whispers of war from the Fire Capital.
Many elementalists would claim that their gift was the best – but none of them had anything on wind elementals. Wind was life. Wind was everywhere. And so were Wind Elementalists. The Wind gave them knowledge, the greatest power in the world.
Minerva broke her connection with the winds. The Wind Capital was safe. Her people were safe, and all was well.
Another chirp. Instinctively Minerva stuck out her hand, and the Feng landed softly, affixing Minerva with her intelligent stare. It was as if the bird could read the nagging doubts in her mind. “But all is not well in the world, is it Mei?” Minerva sighed.
Her people were intelligent and loyal, it was true, but they could also be extremely proud when they wanted to. The Ice Capital fell because it was inferior, because it lacked the strength and the cunning to outwit its attackers. So said the council. And she had agreed with them too. At least, until she found Meifeng and Salem.
Stroking the Feng’s elegant plumage Minerva reflected on that day four years ago, when as a young cadet after running an errand, she had somehow gotten lost in the twists and turns of the marketplace. Frustrated, because she must have memorized an old version of the marketplace map, or else she wouldn’t be lost, Minerva entered a nearby shop.
A bell tinkled lightly as Minerva opened the door. The first thing she noticed was the smell. It was some sort of ancient incense, strong, powerful, and mysterious. The items lining the shelves were just as strange, and just as ancient. Art, pottery, china, from all of the nations, from every different century filled the room. Walking cautiously, Minerva called out a cautious “Hello?”
A small chirp answered her, and an enormous bird of some sort descended from the ceiling to perch on Minerva’s shoulder. It was an absolutely gorgeous bird. The dark green plumage fading to white as it ascended up the bird’s body, accented by gold and blue patterns and delicate red designs. But it was the eyes that startled Minerva – they were a luminescent gold, filled with a soft intelligence. They weren’t the eyes of some dumb creature. Minerva let the bird shuffle down her arm, stroking it, still held enraptured by those intelligent eyes.
“Her name is Meifeng” An old voice said from behind Minerva. “And I believe she likes you” Startled, Minerva looked up. An ancient, wrinkled man had come into the room, and was leaning on the sales counter. Minerva had been too caught up with the bird to notice. “You must be special. She doesn’t show herself to most people”
Studying the man closely, Minerva noticed a gentle glowing aura around the man. He was a Wind Elementalist, like her. “I guess you could say that. I am a Wind Elementalist after all.”
The man looked at her with a knowing grin. “So you’re pretty clever?”
“I’m the top cadet at the academy. I can recite most poetry in the ancient language in my head, can do complex figures, and so on.” She said without hesitation “The smartest of the smart. I guess your bird likes intelligent people.”
The man chuckled. “I don’t think so. If Mei liked intelligent people, she’d be out in the city now, swooping at every Wind Elementalist she met. Most Wind Elementalists are clever. No my girl, she sees something special in you. Maybe something that’s not there now, but something that will be eventually. Something even more importance than intelligence”
“Like what?” Minerva asked, incuriously.
“Simple potential” the old man replied with an enigmatic smile. “The potential to be wise.”
“Wisdom and intelligence are the same things,” Minerva responded, hesitantly.
“Are they?” The old man replied.
Minerva stopped. “I don’t know,” she sighed.
He smiled. “And in that – you are truly wise.”
“I sure do miss the old man Mei” Minerva sighed. Every week or so after that, Minerva would visit the old man, Salem, and Meifeng. They would talk about the world, the different nations Salem and Meifeng had traveled to, and the politics going on there. Stories of the brash Fire Elementalists, the enigmatic Chronos Elementalists, and the fragile Ice Elementalists. He would show her secrets he had learned about using Wind Elementalist energy, and question her view of the world. Salem had seemed unconquerable, even in his old age, and when he told a story, his eyes lit up with untold youth. Until that day, almost one year ago, when the old man passed away, peacefully in his sleep. The old man left her a letter in his will.
To my dearest Minerva
If you’re reading this, I’ve moved on to the next great adventure.
Do not feel sorrow for me, dear child. I am at peace now.
I leave to you my legacy. The stories I have told you, the lessons
I hope I instilled.
I also entrust to you the care of Meifeng, and this last secret.
Mei is no ordinary bird, as you know. She is a Feng, a creature as intelligent
or maybe even more intelligent than you or I. She is immortal, and looks no
older than the day I received her from my teacher so many years ago. She is
a bringer of luck, and of happiness, and is only said to show herself in times
of great change. She is the spirit of the sky, and the six celestial bodies, and a
symbol of loyalty, and honesty. Listen to her guidance. I believe that the time
to change the world is upon us. She is with you for a reason.
May you be more than just an intelligent Wind Elementalist, Minerva.
May you be wise, like the great lady you were named for.
Salem Reyes

It was almost a year since Salem’s passing, and Minerva was still sad about it on the inside.
Distracting herself before she lost control of her emotions, Minerva stroked the Feng’s long tail feathers absentmindedly. He forgot to mention you’re also the essence of femininity, she thought, watching Mei preen herself. But then again we’re two of a kind, you and me, glancing at her own flowing green warrior’s outfit. She’d never admit it – but she loved the way the skirt cascaded around her as she manipulated the wind, how her straight cloud colored hair flowed in the wind, and the Wind Elementalist crest on her chest outlined her figure. Vanity, Minerva thought, my worst flaw.
Remembering what she had heard earlier, she became serious again. But who can afford vanity in times like these? Mei fluffed her tail, as if to say “Immortal legends can.”
But then Mei was suddenly alert, and took off with a little “good bye” chirp, soaring off into the sky.
A rustling of air swished behind her, and her replacement sentinel dropped onto the ledge. Sentinel duty was over for the day. If only Minerva could put her mind at rest just as easily.

Yay! I’ve had the picture done for a while, but the accompanying writing I procrastinated on. And then the deadline was extended. So I procrastinated some more.

But I hope you all enjoyed the story of Minerva and Meifeng. I borrowed the setting (hopefully with some accuracy, though with probably a lot of artistic liberty being taken) from