Tia Lian was born, as her kind were, in an eggshell watered with the tears of an unmarried woman and fertilized with the hopes of an unemployed man.
Or so she liked to tell people… and in her childhood, she was so small, so clearly fay, so touched by the other, that people tended to believe her.
The truth might have been more prosaic, but it was no less magical. Born to a fairy mother in the doorway of the Stanton Arms, gotten on that mother by a goblin line worker who couldn’t find work (the unions were going through an era, back then, where they didn’t like the fay), left on the doorstep of a church and from there taken to an orphanage, Tia was a midsummer baby, touched in magic and born in the mundane.
Although her mailing address was the Antwerp Orphanage, the place was only two blocks from the Stanton Arms in one direction and three from the church where she’d been left in the other, and a young Tia Lian ruled all and the places in between, running the small gangs of children and fay by the time she was old enough to spin a lie.
“Born in an eggshell,” she fibbed proudly, “blessed by my father’s hopes and my mother’s tears. As fay as they come and as wild as they can’t cage.” Her elders, fay, priest, and state, despaired of teaching her discipline. Her peers despaired of ever being as cool as she was. Soon, boys despaired of the chance of a kiss. She was as she’d made herself, fay and wild.
And then she met Bao Bao.
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