Chapter 1: Daius
The clouds of the night were now stained a variety of purples and oranges, just as the sun began to rise over the mountains in the distance. The sunlight streaked through the gaps in the tree canopy of the forest below, dappling the soft forest grass with splotches of light.
Athena yawned from her resting place, nestled beneath the entangled roots of multiple large trees above her. Her adoptive sister, CloudChaser, was perched atop the trees her sister had been sleeping under, munching on something she’d recently caught.
“Mornin’.” Athena rubbed her eye with her wing-thumb, yawning again.
“Morning.” CloudChaser responded, refusing to look down at her sibling.
The two weren’t exactly on great terms at the moment. Things weren’t going well for either of them, despite their previous relationship to each other. Athena had insisted on accompanying CloudChaser after leaving Faraway city, to which CloudChaser had revolted against but was ultimately unsuccessful. She begrudgingly put up with her sister’s constant presence as they set out to find… something. Athena wasn’t sure What CloudChaser was after at the moment, but if it was important to her sister, it was important to Athena.
Athena was snapped out of her thoughts by sudden loud rustling somewhere nearby. She could sense CloudChaser tensing up above her. Athena quickly stood up and peered out from her place under the tree roots in the direction of the approaching footsteps. CloudChaser crouched down, balancing on the thick branch of the tree she was previously resting upon. Her feathers ruffled up, but she stayed silent and still. Athena growled as the bushes across the clearing rustled, ready to pounce at whatever emerged.
Before Athena could do anything, a large, regal silken harpia pushed the leaves aside, his crimson plumage shimmering in the splotchy sunlight. Behind him trailed a smaller, equally as flashy hawk, one much lighter in color. Athena became more puzzled than afraid, wondering what anyone was doing out this far into the forest.
Before she could ask any questions, CloudChaser leapt down onto the hawk, pinning her under her talons and secondary set of wings. The hawk screeched in surprise while CloudChaser attempted to incapacitate her. Before CloudChaser could do any damage, she was knocked off her feet by the silken’s thick tail. He snarled at her, while the hawk leapt to her feet, the harpia attempted to swipe at CloudChaser with his sharp talons. The hawk, now ready to fight back, opened her mouth, a high pitched hissing sounding from the back of her throat.
Before the shard of ice could be launched from the hawk’s mouth, right at CloudChaser’s chest, Athena stepped in.
The hawk snapped her beak shut, while the harpia turned abruptly. CloudChaser leaned in to bite the larger silken, but Athena stopped her.
“Quit fighting, we mean no harm!”
The silken stood in front of the hawk protectively. “Doesn’t seem that way. Why don’t you call off your little four-winged pest?” The harpia’s voice was low, but assertive. Athena had to practically drag CloudChaser away from the other two.
“You snuck up on us, what’s that about? Why’s anyone with good motives out this far?”
The two shimmering stryx looked to each other, sadness suddenly painting their faces. The harpia sighed.
“Look, we’re not here to hurt anyone, we’re just looking for our daughter. She’s been missing for days now. We live not far from here, so we’re checking nearby first.” The harpia stated.
The hawk stepped forward to speak. “If you’ve seen a young hawk anywhere around here recently, could you please tell us what they looked like?”
Athena shook her head. She kind of felt sorry for the two, now confirmed to be a couple. Athena had never had children, but she could only imagine how it must feel to lose someone close to you.
The hawk looked away dejectedly. The harpia sighed again.
CloudChaser snorted, turning away. “Well, we’ve got things to do, places to be. Come on Athena. We don’t have time for search and rescues.” CloudChaser began to trot away, turning back around after realizing that Athena wasn’t following her.
Athena lashed her tail at her sister. “Don’t be stupid, CloudChaser. We have absolutely nowhere to be right now, and nothing to really do. I don’t even think you know why you’re out here.” She retorted.
Athena turned back to the couple across from her, who didn’t seem too pleased with CloudChaser at the moment.
“We’ll help look for her, your daughter. Where should we start?” Athena asked.
The harpia turned to his partner and nodded.
“We should start by getting to know each other. Makes it easier to work together. My name is Crowley.” The harpia, now known as Crowley, introduced himself.
“I’m Euphoria. I’m sure you already know by now, but we’re partners.” The hawk said.
Athena nodded, motioning for CloudChaser to come closer. Her sister stayed put.
“I’m Athena, and this is my sister CloudChaser. We’re… not sure what we’re doing out here, but we’d be happy to help you find your daughter for now.”
Euphoria smiled, while Crowley eyed CloudChaser suspiciously.
“Great, come with us. We know where to start.” Euphoria motioned for the sisters to follow her. Her partner Crowley waited until CloudChaser had reluctantly followed behind Athena to close off the group.
Athena and CloudChaser followed Euphoria for what seemed like hours, CloudChaser beginning to grow tired of wandering and attempting to depart from the group. Athena kept reigning her in.
After a little bit more walking, Euphoria deemed their location fitting for them to stop.
“Here, take a look.” She stepped aside and allowed the sisters to look over the edge of the cliff they had stopped at.
The cliff looked out over the forest they had been walking through, the sun still rising, meaning they hadn’t actually been walking for that long. The sun was casting its orange glow over the forest treetops, making everything bright after the darkness of night.
Finally, Euphoria spoke.
“We’ll split up from here, Athena and I will go one way, CloudChaser and Crowley another.”
Crowley scowled at the mention of the four-winged harpia, but said nothing. Athena followed Euphoria once more as she leapt off the cliff, beating her wings to get herself into the air. Athena followed quickly after, nodding to her sister as she left.
Crowley grunted at CloudChaser after Euphoria and Athena had flown out of sight.
“Don’t try anything, kid. You’ll regret it for sure.” He snarled. CloudChaser growled at him, but merely turned her head away in defeat. Crowley took off from the cliff, leaving CloudChaser to follow.
“Your sister’s a real piece of work, y’know?” Euphoria broke the silence of flight between her and Athena. “Why so aggressive, anyway? She had no reason to attack me after all, we were just looking around.”
Athena honestly didn’t know much about her sister’s motives. Why did she attack them, when they seemed so peaceful?
“To be honest… I don’t really think she even knows.”
“Could you slow down, big guy?” CloudChaser panted from quite far behind Crowley.
“I figured with four wings you’d at least be able to keep up with someone.” Crowley stopped to hover in front of CloudChaser. CloudChaser growled again, earning a smirk from Crowley.
“... Race you.” Crowley said before whipping around and ascending higher into the sky.
CloudChaser screeched and burst forward, following after Crowley.
“You hear that? It sounded like…”
“CloudChaser. Maybe they’re in trouble?”
Athena coasted off of the flight path Euphoria had set for them to follow, heading in the direction of her sister’s cry. Once closer, she could see two shapes flying higher towards the clouds. She quickly followed, Euphoria right behind her.
The four of them raced to be the first to reach the other, Crowley being the first to break the cloud barrier. CloudChaser next, then Athena, and lastly Euphoria.
“Whats going on? Someone in trouble?” Athena asked.
“Oh, nothing wrong, just a little… friendly race.” Crowley chuckled, causing CloudChaser to scowl at him.
“Come on Athena, let’s get out of here. This guy’s a joke.” CloudChaser took off without looking back, putting as much distance between herself and Crowley as possible.
Athena looked at Euphoria apologetically, then flapped after her sister.
“Hey CloudChaser, wait up!”
CloudChaser ignored her sister’s call, concentrating on her destination; nowhere.
Athena finally caught up with CloudChaser, forcing her to stop.
“Hey, what’s wrong? You’ve been angry at Crowley and Euphoria for no reason all morning. What did they do?”
CloudChaser huffed. “What’s not to be angry about? Ever since he showed up he’s been trying to put me in place. Well I’m not going to stand for that. It’s probably better you stopped me from doing some real damage to his little girlfriend, that hawk there.”
Athena frowned. “Come on now Bluebird, they’ve got a good reason to be out here. Can’t you have a little sympathy?”
CloudChaser froze up at that nickname. Athena rarely used it to refer to her, usually only during tender moments between them.
“...I just wish things were different.” CloudChaser looked away from her sister.
Athena had no words. She had nothing left to console her sister with. Instead, she got an idea stuck into her head. She suddenly raced past her sister, turning back to shout at her.
“Come on, I’ll race you! First to the mountains wins!” With that, Athena shot off like a rocket, leaving CloudChaser in the dust.
CloudChaser sighed, charging after her sister.
The two harpias raced through the clouds blocking the ground from view, performing various aerial tricks, dodging each other’s playful attacks, and spitting joking insults back and forth.
“Come on Athena, let’s get lower!”
CloudChaser suddenly swooped down to grab her sister’s talons in her own, then pulling the two of them into a plummet, spiraling downwards faster and faster.
The two of them laughed in the midst of the exhilaration, adrenaline coursing through their veins. They broke through the cloud barrier, revealing the golden lands below. They left wispy streaks in the air where they dragged cloud trails with them during their descent, still falling ever faster.
Just before they reached the mountain treeline, they both released their talons and snapped their wings open, splitting apart just as their tails touched the treetops as they soared back upwards.
Breaking the cloud barrier again, the siblings came to a hover above the mountain range, although it was out of view up this high. The two continued to laugh, eventually petering out into giggles as the adrenaline faded away. Soon enough they merely hovered in each other’s presence, feeling refreshed and unburdened.
The shout caught both their attention, whipping their heads in the direction of the call.
Crowley was heading in their direction, Euphoria trailing after him. CloudChaser restrained her expression for once.
“Where’d you two go? We just saw CloudChaser leave suddenly, then Athena followed after.” Euphoria exclaimed.
The two siblings looked at each other for a moment. CloudChaser silently signalled for Athena to speak.
“I hate to leave you two alone in your search, but I think it’d be for the best. For now, anyway. We’ve got a lot of things to sort out together first.” Athena explained.
Crowley looked to Euphoria and nodded. Perhaps it was because they thought it was just an excuse to leave, or perhaps they truly believed what Athena had to say. Either way, they didn’t object.
“Well, we wish you well, maybe we’ll meet again someday.” Euphoria said.
“To you as well. I hope you find your daughter.” Athena looked apologetically at the pair hovering next to them.
Crowley nodded, silently taking off in the opposite direction, Euphoria following behind him. The siblings watched until the pair were mere specks on the horizon, eventually fading into the sky.
“Come on Bluebird, let’s head on our way. I think there’s somewhere we need to be. Somewhere you can find a purpose again.”
Total= 48 AP
Total= 48 AP
Total= 41 AP
Total= 41 AP
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