Chapter 1: Chapter 1
“The hell do we do with this thing?” Orca huffed at the lost hatchling on the cavern floor in front of her. Lyse and her rider, R’dan, were still holding the empty wisp jar across from her in disappointment. Orca prodded the stryx chick with her talon, earning a squeak from the frightened hatchling.
“We should try to return it to its mother. It’s clearly a new hatch, so the nest can’t be too far from here.” Lyse said, approaching the chick carefully, glaring at Orca as she continued to poke at the chick.
“Hmm. Maybe. But let’s be honest, how many stryx have we seen nearby at this time of night? None. How many stryx would just let their baby wander out of the nest under their watch? None. How many stryx would leave their child unattended if they just so happened to go on a walk with it? None.” Orca stamped her foot in defiance, startling a cry from the chick.
Lyse tried her best to stand at eye level with Orca, who was significantly bigger than her, despite both of them being harpias. Orca looked down at Lyse, waiting for her response.
“I won’t let you take it with you, Orca. I could bullshit you and give some brittle excuse, but to be honest I just don’t trust you with anything as frail and impressionable as a baby.” Lyse growled. R’dan fiddled with the jar in his hands, clearly uncomfortable with this encounter.
Orca stood her ground, huffing a plume of sparks into Lyse’s face.
“And you think returning it will do what exactly? Make you a good person? Will the parents just welcome you with open arms? That they won’t get hostile at the sight of a stranger, two if you count pipsqueak there,” Orca gestured vaguely to R’dan seated on Lyse’s back. “In possession of their child?” Orca retorted, holding back a snicker.
Lyse narrowed her eyes at Orca, but didn’t reply.
“Orca, if you’re going to take this thing back home, at least let us accompany you. We can make sure you don’t run into trouble.” Lyse sighed. Orca smirked at her.
“What, you don’t think I’m capable of handling myself under pressure? I’m not stupid.” Orca laughed. “I just think you don’t trust me. You think I’m such a dangerous monster, one incapable of emotions or caring, right? Newsflash for you; I’m more than just a heartless asshole. I have my motives, you have yours. I’m taking this thing back with me, you don’t need to know what I do with it.” Orca spat. With that, she snatched the hatchling up in her talons and bolted out of the cavern entrance, chick in hand squealing in fear.
Lyse shook her head as Orca disappeared into the distance.
“What a piece of work.”
Orca finally arrived back at the place she called home, landing in the nearby clearing with the hatchling, who was still crying out for help.
“Be quiet, dude, you’ll bring something to us that I’m sure you don’t want to meet your end to.” Orca looked down at the chick, her words seeming to be enough to keep it quiet as she made her way to the hollow her and her sibling called home.
“Back so soon?” A voice chimed, startling Orca, which she did her best not to show.
“Hello sister. Yes, I’m back. We were unsuccessful with the wisps I’m afraid, but I did manage another prize.” Orca said to the yellow-eyed gryph who had approached her from their designated sleeping spot. She held up her fist containing the hatchling, which still looked no less terrified than when Orca had taken it.
“So you’ve resorted to abduction to make a quick buck, I see?” The gryph cocked her head at Orca.
“Oh shut it, Pandora, you don’t have to act all high-and-mighty all the time. You’d do the same given such an opportunity, I know you would.” Orca addressed her sibling by her name, to which Pandora didn’t respond. She simply bent her head to investigate the hatchling Orca was holding.
“Hmm, too young to determine anything about it. Where was it found?” Pandora asked after a moment’s observation.
“Cave. One quite a ways away. My wisp hunting partner tried to return it to its mother, which was nowhere to be seen.” Orca chuckled.
Pandora returned upright, standing a bit taller than Orca in this stance. Before either of them could say another word, the chick latched onto Orca’s toe with its beak, biting down hard. Orca grunted, immediately releasing her hold and dropping the chick. Luckily the drop wasn’t far, and the chick was able to upright itself in time to scurry away into the undergrowth of the hollow.
Orca made a move to chase after it, but Pandora outstretched her wing to stop her.
“Leave it. There’s no way it’ll make it too far, it’s already so worn out from struggling. We can deal with it later.” Pandora folded her wing back as Orca made no further move to go after the hatchling, which was now shaking the grass it was hiding in with its trembling.
“Fine. But please, don’t interfere, Pandora. This isn’t your business to deal with. If I choose to hand it over for cash, so be it.” Orca glared at her sister, who nodded in reluctant agreement.
“As you wish.”
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