When Arin awoke early the next morning, she hurried out to the same strand of trees where she had met the bird before, and waited, barely daring to hope that he would return. After many hours, he did return.
“Ah,” he said, “I can see you anticipated my return. Well, I must say you look much less silly looking up at the sky than you did with your nose in the dirt.”
“What kind of bird are you?” Arin asked. “I’ve never seen any of your kind before.”
“I’m Raven,” he said. “I’m the only one of my kind.”
She frowned. “How can that be? Everything there is has more of its kind.”
“Maybe, maybe not. Maybe if you show me, I’ll be more inclined to believe you.”
“Alright,” she said, a glint of excitement in her eyes.
Arin ran back to the fungus she'd been inspecting the previous day and knelt beside it, gesturing for Raven to sit beside her, which he obligingly did.
"This is a type of mushroom called white button mushrooms, but once they're grown up people will start calling them mooncaps." As she spoke, Arins eyes and fingers absently sought out one of her invisible feathers, which she pulled from the air and ran her fingers across the vane, imagining the barbs shimmering beneath her touch as she recited the facts it held. "There are lots of them all over the valley, and they're perfectly edible, though when they're young they can be easily confused with another mushroom called the destroying angel, which is quite deadly." She paused for a breath and smiled. "In case the name didn't imply that well enough on its own."
Raven chuckled at the joke. "Indeed," he said, "Though it seems a somewhat cruel name to give something, even if it does paint a dramatic picture."
"What do you mean?" Arin frowned. "Should the names we give things not give us an accurate idea of what to expect?"
"Perhaps. But can the mushrooms really help whether or not they would be fatal for you to eat? It seems to me that to call them destroying angels gives you far more insight as to how they affect you than as to what they really are."
Arin furrowed her brow in thought at this. "I'm... not sure I understand."
"No," Raven sighed, "I'm not sure you do, either. Anyway, you said there were more mushrooms like this throughout the valley. That's a good start to your argument, but I'm not sure it's quite enough evidence to convince me that everything has more of its kind. Perhaps you could show me more?"
Arin's eyes lit up, but for the moment her curiosity outweighed her desire to share what she knew. “I would love to!" she exclaimed. "But first, can you tell me where you went after we met yesterday? Is there another valley outside of this one?”
Raven laughed. “The whole world is outside of your valley, and it’s much bigger than you could possibly imagine. I couldn’t begin to describe to you how much more there is to the world than what you know.”
The girl’s eyes went wide as she tried to imagine the scope of what Raven told her, but her mind balked from it.
"Could you show me?" she asked. "Do you think you could take me over the cliffs and show the world to me?"
Raven nodded. "Perhaps one day, Arin, but the cliffs are too steep for you to climb, and I can't carry you. Perhaps if you get a pair of wings of your own, I'll show you everything I can."
The arrangement sounded fair enough to Arin, and after a moment, they continued walking around the valley.
It didn’t escape the bird’s notice how the girl would often pull an invisible feather from the air, inspecting it in her mind’s eye when she was trying to recall something, nor did he miss the way each feather would seem to become a little more real after she had touched it. For Arin’s part, she was thoroughly enraptured by the things that Raven would tell her in turn. He liked to speak in riddles, and he seemed to think of the world and everything in a way she'd never considered before. Arin didn't always understand everything that Raven told her, but she loved every second of it anyway. When the sun began to set, Raven flew away again after promising to return the next day. That night, the girl still had many questions about Raven and his home outside of the valley, but they were set to rest by the joy of having someone who cared enough to listen to her wealth of knowledge.
The next day when the Raven returned, they spent their time much as they had the day before. Again before he left, he promised to return the next day, and he made that promise the next day and the next. After a few weeks, he promised to keep coming every day for as long as he could see ahead. They would talk about the things they knew, share stories about their lives, and sometimes they would talk about nothing in particular. Before long, they both began looking forward to the Raven's visits more than anything else in the world.
Author Notes: Here we are again, hopefully it doesn't suck.