“Ok, you wanted remote and uninhabited. I have it on good demon authority that this is as far from any human or Fey settlements as we can get without risking stepping into a different world.” Risa pushed a small stone with her foot, watching as it tumbled over the side of the ledge and into the chasm between this mountain and the next.
It was free-falling for quite a while before it disappeared into the mist coating the mountain range. It was a while longer before she heard it knock into what sounded like a large boulder and then proceed to knock into many more stones, stirring more small rocks into cascading down the mountainside. She waited for the sounds and echoes to stop before speaking again. “Just do me a favor and watch your step.”
Aubrey was leaning over to look, though Risa wasn’t sure how well she could see while standing so far from the edge. “Maybe you should push me.”
Alistair sighed as he stepped out of the office of the man who’d been in charge of the Guard mission his sister had helped with that morning. The man had had some choice words to say about his sister’s behavior. Apparently she had “misunderstood” the instructions and had thought that bringing the escaped domestic drake back dead was what they wanted. Of course, all of them knew that Friday was lying. The smile on her face as she stood down the hall waiting for him was enough to convince him of that. Not that he needed more convincing.
He gestured for her to walk with him. “Let’s go for an aerial patrol.”
“Should you really be rewarding me like this? Am I not going to be disciplined for my silly mistake?”
“I was under the impression that you were to attend the planning session this morning.“
The only part of his body that Zephyr was awake enough to move in response was the tip of his tail. Not that that twitch was likely to be enough of a response for Amaryllis. He forced himself to lean to one side and stretch a front leg out. Then he curved his neck and cracked an eye open to look at the drake next to him.
She was in her true form, the sunlight making her feathers look painfully bright as his eye adjusted. Though she was also laying down, her posture was far less relaxed than his. She looked ready to bolt at any moment (as was often true of Swift Drakes, he’d found) and her head was turned so she could look out over the whole valley. Although, he supposed that she had a good reason. The twins were out there chasing each other, climbing on the rocks, and generally enjoying their chance to romp around. With their parents out hunting, that meant that Amaryllis was solely responsible for their safety.
Chrys skidded around a corner and pressed her back against the stone wall of the corridor as she fought to keep from gasping for air. In the hallway she’d just vacated, she could hear the echoes of angry shouts and curses. She kept her attention focused on that corner as she shuffled against the wall. She kept one hand against the wall so that she could feel the next corner before she got there. She had just slipped around it when she heard the angry mob running past the hallway she’d ducked into.
And, despite what anyone else would say, three people was totally a mob. They were Fey. Every one Fey was, like, two or three humans or something. So really it was like she was being chased by at least six people. And they were all pissed. So mob was totally the right word. Too bad they didn’t have pitchforks. That would really make it a mob. They had swords, though. That counted, yeah?
She held her breath for a few moments longer, listening to the fading echoes of the footsteps. After she couldn’t hear them anymore, she stretched her senses to make sure that the mob was no longer in the same part of the castle as her. Then, she burst out laughing. That. Had. ROCKED.
It was a nice morning. Above her, the sky was a bright blue. Below, she could clearly make out the landscape of the Overcurrent. She was flying higher than she should have been if she was planning to land in the lab. Perhaps it was a habit from traveling with Nine so frequently. That one enjoyed making daredevil dives from great heights directly into the big central room that served as their home in the lab. Sometimes even while the glass skylight was closed. She’d use her magic to melt a hole in the glass or she’d just break through if no one was down there for the glass pieces to hurt. Though the researchers seemed to resent having to replace the glass often, the skylight was a necessity to allow the Angels to come and go while also providing some protection from the weather.
Twenty-four wasn’t interested in causing more trouble for them. She shifted her wings and tail so she could make a smooth turn to the left. She started descending as she made a slow circle over the forest and the lake. The sun’s light reflected off of the surface of the water with the same brightness as the reflection on the skylight of the lab. That reflection on the glass was too blinding for her to see any other details about the building, but she could picture it clearly. The two stories full of sleeping quarters, offices, and research labs that ringed her home were still mostly a mystery to her. The Angels were only allowed in certain parts of the building and only under certain conditions, such as an experiment in progress.
Zane stretched out on his side, relishing in the feel of the snow in his feathers. Before these past few months in the Northern Mountains, it had been quite a while since he allowed himself to play in snow in his true form. There was rarely a good opportunity to do so. Most of the time that he was around snow, there were other individuals with him (assorted Fey in the Borderlands, humans in the Mid-grounds) that he didn’t want to show his true form to. Besides that, most of the places he went didn’t have enough snow accumulation to make it worth it. It didn’t make sense to go out of his way to find a location that did, because then the options for food became too limited. Really, there were just a lot of factors stacked against him enjoying himself.
Factors which were largely removed by being in the Northern Mountains. There was more than enough snow for him to roll around or play pounce in. He’d already spent a significant amount of time in his true form around these humans while he was healing, so he had no reason to hide it from them. Finally, there was enough prey in the area to satisfy him. Hell, he was still enjoying the remnants of his meal in the nest. With some supplementation of a few drakes here and there that they were mobilized to assist with. For the most part, things were quiet. The majority of the drakes had moved on to other parts of the mountain range and were wary of coming closer to the humans, choosing instead to focus their hunting on native fauna and the one Fey village that was up there. That left Zane with quite a bit of free time to enjoy the snow.
(Note: 4.25 is going to be the last scene of Quest 4. There was a natural break where it switches from Risa to Zane so, since I’m not quite done with Zane’s bit, I decided to split them to get something posted for you guys before I sleep. Really, I should have made this decision hours ago, since the first part was actually done on time. Anyway, Part 2 will be up later today, so stay tuned!)
Finding her siblings was actually extremely easy. Far easier than finding her socks the next morning on the odd occasion that she fell asleep wearing them. Her feet couldn’t be satisfied just pulling those things off. No, apparently the socks were always so offensive that her feet needed to kick them as far away as possible and in different directions so that they wouldn’t get together to plot revenge. In any case, she didn’t have to look under a dresser or behind Zane’s box of orphaned electronic chargers to find her siblings.
Alistair and Friday were actually waiting right outside when she and Aubrey got out of the Council Hall onto the street. Conveniently. She would have had to spit the word out through grit teeth if she’d attempted to say it. Seeing her sister was one of those things that, no matter how hard she worked to convince herself that it was necessary and wouldn’t be a total disaster, she still wound up feeling like what she really should have been doing was burying herself under several layers of thick blankets and rolling around until she was in a cocoon. Like visits to the doctor back when she was still human. Was having to deal with her sister worth not having to go to the doctor anymore? Debatable.