One day a long time ago, there was a little bird with feathers all of brown. It was always hungry, because all of the other birds were larger and ate all the food before the little bird could find it. Then, when the little bird was flying in search of food, it came upon a great castle in the forest.
The little bird landed in a window, and looked down on a great feast being held by the King. The King wore richly-colored robes, and sapphires were set in his golden crown. “If only I were a king,” said the little bird. “Then I could have all the food I needed.” This made the little bird sad, and it began to cry.
“Such a silly thing, to cry,” said a voice, causing the bird to jump in surprise. A person no bigger than the bird was standing on the window’s ledge, dressed in clothes made of a single leaf. “The little bird is sad, and small, and hungry. Such a silly thing, to be hungry!”
“I would not be hungry if I were as big and colorful as the King,” said the little bird. “Then all the other birds would want to give me some of their food.”
The little person rolled on the window ledge and laughed. “King of the birds!” The person teased. “There is no King of the Birds!”
“Then make me the King of the Birds!” said the little bird. “I would be brave as a dragon and kind as a mouse.”
“I believe you,” said the little person, mischief in its eyes. “Yes! Yes! All birds shall bow to the Bird King!” And so the little person raised its hands high, and its legs turned into tree stumps while stardust drifted through its fingers. The little person laughed, and each laugh was like a step stone that carried the little bird up into the sky. The little bird began to grow, and its feathers changed from brown to every color of flower. Blue feathers sprouted from its head and neck, bright and sleek as sapphires. Its tail grew long, turning into a fan of green and purple and yellow. It’s body began to change at the wing-tips into a burning orange, fading into red and then white.
But before the colors could finish spreading, a cruel wind blew out of the sky and hit the little bird on the back. “Ha ha!” laughed the wind, which looked like a gusty little person. “He makes you regal, and I make you serve! No further will your feathers change, and your heart will remain small enough to bear an elven rider!”
The little bird cried out, but it was too late. Now it was big and beautiful, save for a saddle of brown just between its wings. The little bird and its hatchlings became known as the King Pheasants, but no matter how much the birds of the forest came to love them, the King Pheasants always suffered to bear an elf whenever one appeared.