Flocked JP 30
Ryan Watt
(11 reviews)
Once Upon A Time... kingdoms in trouble had to wait for a wandering hero to come along and save the ... Show More
Adventure, Comedy, Cross-Genre, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Fairy Tale, Guild, Magic, birds, curses, Champions

Her Mother's Tears

              Kanika held her cupped hands out towards the clustered trio of guild members. She smiled weakly.
“Friday’s is in bad enough condition as is without you interfering!” Oleg spat.
“Oleg,” Cyril wanted to grab the mage by the shoulder, but had no free hand while it was holding his wing up to support the parrot fae’s body.
“Please. I’m not asking you to trust me. Just to hear me say I am a fae. He is a fae. I have no desire to see him hurt and only I here am qualified to help.”
Oleg looked at her, eyes seething. Cyril was glad Taree was not around to remind Oleg more directly of the damage she could do to someone he cared for. Oleg looked back at Friday and then sighed. “She is right. I do not have the strength to conjure much, let alone Asclypius’s Sympathy.”
Cyril assented. He pivoted towards her and knelt down. She came over to him and picked up the body from off of the wing.
“Nice wing,” she jeered.
“Remind me to show you its sword form up close sometime.”
She paled slightly, then returned her focus to her patient. She mumbled many things, too low for an eavesdropping Oleg to hear. Lights sparkled in the air around Juma. She plucked a feather from her own cloak and brushed it over the body. The feather glowed and slowly dissipated into the gray plumage, which rustled.
The lungs of the parrot heaved.
“Alive. Barely. Are there any more fae fruits left over after that crazy stunt of yours, duck?”
“A couple harvest berries.”
She held out a palm. “Let’s have them. And be quick.”
Oleg grumbled, but complied. 
Everyone, save Valdas, jumped a little at the voice coming from the parrot. His eyes, open only a fraction, were locked onto Kanika’s face.
“You are of my kind. You do not deserve to die at the hand of a devil-spawn.”
Then… why?
She rolled her eyes. “I gave my reasons. That court is an abomination.”
“He would kill all of them there. All of those of your kind,” Oleg added, dropping two berries into her palm.
“He never would. They are fae. Though they be halflings and misfits, they will never fall to the like of a devil. This, if nothing else, will reforge them into the true fae they need to be.” She fed one of the berries to the parrot. He crunched the first one in two, slow bites. “Now this one I will charm. Do not eat it until after you transform next. Your cloak, damaged as it is, will use up a tremendous amount of aether. You will need to replenish. Do this as soon as you are safely in the adytum. Understand?”
She transferred him back to Cyril.
“So, you are on the side of Arjun?” Oleg asked, confused.
Kanika laughed. “Never. I am on my own side. The only side worthy of me.” She stood, brushed off her dress, and turned to walk away. “Do not try to stop me. I am at full strength.”
“In light of your assistance, I will allow you to go. As long as you promise to keep away from the Court of Refuge and the Buzzard King.”
“Gladly,” she said, not looking back. She pulled her cloak closed around her and flew off into the air, as a black tipped white ibis, into the fading light of the day.
“We should get him back to-“
Hurry! Anthona fainted! Taree shouted as she flew into the courtyard.
              It took hours to return to the village, as Cyril had to carry Juma carefully on his wing, while exhausted Oleg and Valdas took turns supporting Anthona to the village. Mostly, Valdas carried her on his back as she had been unconscious for the first third and last third.
They could barely bring her inside her house, as her mother could not figure out how to tend to her daughter and not stand directly in their way, but they made it and lay her on her bed.
“Surely this cannot be my daughter!” she said, looking at the malnourished landscape of her dirt stained face. But she believed it once Valdas told the story to an attentive Jayme, while the cat prowled around Cyril’s legs.
Maria cried over her daughter’s face. Cyril hated himself for thinking it, but he wanted her to stop so he could leave and take the other unconscious person to receive treatment. Juma had said little during the trip, and seemed to be stable, perhaps merely gathering strength.
“Cyril,” Oleg whispered, “allow me to take him to the adytum. I am recovered enough, and you do not need me here.”
Cyril agreed, and sent the pair off. Taree, flicked her head between Cyril and Oleg, but ultimately chose to stay.
“Mother?” a weak voice broke after another hour of crying. “Please, stop crying, I am home.” The last word croaked out of her as Anthona found her body squeezed tightly by loving arms.
“You three are an effective team,” Valdas said softly, coming up beside Cyril. “Juma wouldn’t work out in a guild, I do not think, but I see why your guild is so well spoken of. You balance each other well.”
“You are quite the fighter yourself, and yet also quite good with clients. Not often I meet hunters who excel at both.”
“Thank you.” He stopped talking, and rocked gently on his feet. “Although, I might have a thing or to learn about working as a team.”
Cyril sighed. “And I might need to loosen up a little. I used to be better at leaping into situations. It put the guild into a lot of danger too many times. I worry I have swung too far the other way now.”
“Maybe your group needs that in a leader. Maybe that’s your role on the team.” Valdas said, a smile in his voice.
“But is it caution, or is it fear?”
“Hmm, I do not know. However, I do know that without your group’s quick thinking, I do not think I could have defeated that bird on my own. I am glad you came along,” he turned and reached out a hand to Cyril, who accepted it gladly.
              Cyril watched Taree fly ahead to the Threshold in the mountains. How she was seeing in this dark, he didn’t know, but he was grateful Maria had insisted he take a jar of glow worms. They provided just enough illumination to help him avoid the boulders that lined the path to the small grove.
Here, Cyril, Taree declared. To your right.
He stopped and held up the jar. He could just barely see the tree. “Thank you.”
He set the jar down and removed the wax paper and string seal so the glow worms could escape, and together they passed through the Threshold.
The adytum was quiet on the other side, but much better lit by wisps hovering in the air. No cricket sounds accompanied them, nor any birds or wind in the air. Everything was still.
“Thank you for keeping an eye on Anthona. I hope that felt better than just reconnaissance or message delivery.”
It was alright. I wish I could have helped her more. I felt powerless…
“I can understand. But you are anything but powerless.”
Do you think Friday will be okay?
“I think Kanika did her best to heal him, and it will be up to Juma to heal himself now.”
Why did he do it?
“I think all he could see was the anger he felt towards the Buzzard King. I think it reminded him of his kidnapping from his family. And I think he hasn’t had the experiences in life to help him deal with those feelings.”
Like us?
“Hmm, do we each have those experiences? Or do we just keep each other’s anger in check?”
Taree didn’t respond. He assumed she was trying to understand what he meant, like he was. But the walk was lovely, and peaceful and helped distract him from his thoughts, until they reached the palace.
“He is expecting you,” Chesna said as they approached the stairs. She guided them to the Peacock King, standing on a balcony with Oleg.
“-it to me one more time. I think I nearly understand.”
“Alright. So deep sympathy. That’s really the core. Understand that and you understand the rest. You take something that people feel or think a certain way about an object, some aspect. And you pull on that with your aether until you make it more real than thought.”
“As in?”
“As in, the Harvest Berries are tiny, but produce a lot of flavor so they fill you up. They hold an entire harvest in one berry, is how they were described to me. I took that idea and multiplied the other fruit.”
“The stormfruit?”
“Yes,” Oleg said proudly. “Which has that shocking taste that makes the hair on my neck stand up. So I pulled out that trait, and magnified it.”
Arjun leaned against the balcony wall, resting his chin on his knuckles as he listened intently to Oleg. “That is incredible. And you thought of that all on the fly. I am impress- Oh, Sir Cyril, you have arrived. Welcome back.”
“Thank you, Fai Arjun,” Cyril said bowing. He looked to Oleg, “how is he?”
“Recovering. He doesn’t feel up to taking human form yet. The peahens are with him.”
“Fai Arjun, my report.” Cyril detailed their encounter with the Buzzard King, his nature, his desire, his fortifications. He talked about Kanika and what she said about strength.
Arjun rubbed his chin. “Do you think that is true?”
“I think you are trying to protect your people. You are on the defense. I do not really know what your goal would be if that wasn’t your primary concern. But I think you have reason to be defensive, and I think trying to find a way to rise above the Buzzard King will be your best chance to survive.”
“Thank you. Well, I think in many ways you have fulfilled your Call. However, might I add a task to it?”
“Certainly, Fai Arjun.” As soon as Cyril said the words, he realized he was being impulsive again. But how bad could it be? “What do you need?”
“Find the Buzzard King for me again. Find him, and help me to deal with him once and for all.”

Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 5/28/2017 3:20:56 PM
  • Jennifer Flath commented on :
    5/31/2017 11:25:59 PM
    I'm glad Valdas found a purpose as a pack mule. Hehe. Is targeting a mythical being within the scope of what the guild does? Normally taking down the bad guy is ... Show More
    • Ryan Watt Beings like the Buzzard King are something Champions have and do kill. I mean, Cyril had no problem fighting the sea serpent, until he learned it was a human girl, then he had problems killing it. This one he knows is a devil so he is okay with trying to stop it, although killing it he isn't sure he wants to do.
      6/1/2017 4:51:46 AM
  • J.A. Waters commented on :
    5/30/2017 4:28:24 PM
    I like that Cyril and Valdas came to a sort of truce kind of relationship. Like, I don't get the impression that they really like one another, but they do respect each ... Show More
    • Ryan Watt Definitely not the last of the Buzzard King. He's got a little more coming at least this volume, which is nearly done!
      5/30/2017 6:32:25 PM