2020 GH: The Phantom
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Dracostryx The Great Harvest Event: Harvest Chase Entry
It was a decently warm autumn night as the wind blew through a young red adolescent Harpia’s feathers. His rider was holding on tightly to the reins of her seat she attached to him whenever they flew together. The sky was filled with dense clouds which blocked the moon's rays from lighting up the landscape below. He revelled in flying low over the tree tops and swooping over the different altitudes the land below created before flying high in the sky once again.
Azriel, his rider, was a short, pale skinned woman with dark curly hair and wore bright red lipstick. Her eyes were icy blue yet held so much warmth when directed to him. He has seen her with people and other stryx; if he did not know her well he would be terrified at how distant she could be. They often travelled together in silence, with her only letting him know she was getting cold, tired or saw something of interest. He liked that about her.
He was used to seeing the stars shining brightly in the sky; tonight however they hid their guiding light so he was pleased his rider was with him to help navigate. Every so often the clouds would break and moon light would brighten the forest below. The foliage was thinning out as the leaves fell from the trees, but most was still attached to the trees. In the day time it looked as if the land was on fire, but at night he could still see their bright colours.
He loved this time of year though fall made it harder for his rider to stay warm. Sensing she was getting cold he flew up to a cliff side of the mountain nearby. Human’s like fire at this time of year so fire she will have!
The red Harpia landed on the outcrop before grabbing the fallen tree nearby and positioning it so nothing else would catch fire. His rider got his meaning as she patted his neck feathers and spoke to him praise. Focusing on where he was going to start the fire he breathed deeply before letting a jet of flame ignite the wood.
He squatted allowing his rider to dismount before standing back up again. She moved closer to the flames rubbing her hands together to warm up. He happily watched the flames while she enjoyed its warmth. They sat there for what seemed like hours but was only minutes before a screech of another Stryx caught their attention.
A lone creature plummeted from the dense clouds above towards them. “Inferno!” his rider called loudly, his name he knew, while she scrambled to climb up onto his back. He did not like the tone in his rider's voice; uncertainty? no fear.
He did not wait for her to tell him she was ready like she usually did. He knew she held on tight so with one great flap from his wings the fire was put out and they jumped off the cliffside, Inferno descended the mountain for a few seconds allowing gravity to put space between him and the stryx before he levelled out and flew away from the creature.
It smelled like a stryx, he noted, but it did not look like a stryx. The creature gilded effortlessly on its four speckled see-through membraned bat-like wings. Long thin spines ran down its body from head to tail tip. Its body was thin like that of death and large enough to be a gryph. An odd wisp-like red glowing light protruded from its maws, wrapping itself around its body down to its tail.
It was in pursuit of them as he dove once more trying to lose it. Inferno took a sharp turn and through a tunnel to trees to try and lose his chaser. Unfortunately it was just as agile as he was for its size and took the sharp corner as well. It was gaining on him so he did the only thing he could; turn and fight.
Inferno quickly flew upwards making sure it was still following. It was of course so he quickly rounded himself to face it; talons outstretched. When they collided his handler screamed at him but he could not tell what she was yelling about. He was just glad she had managed to hold on.
The strange stryx had not expected him to turn and fight. It barely had time to lift its feet to grasp Inferno’s before they went tumbling down. Round and round they spun in the air, their talons locked in a death grip. Neither of them letting go or else they would be the loser.
While their talons were locked, they snapped at each other's neck and chest. A few feathers were plucked out and he was mindful to not allow the creature to attack his rider. He was growing weary from spinning so much in the air.
It was not until Inferno picked up a word from his rider's desperte screams, “fire”, that he realized he was not the brightest bird. No pun intended. While he retracted his head from his last jab at the beast Inferno breathed in deep. When it went to return the favour he let out a jet of fire in its face. Its red glowing eyes widened in fear as it realized its mistake.
This did the trick! The fire swirled all around them forcing the creature to release its hold. Inferno recovered barely in time before they would have hit the ground. The creature landed not far from them and screeched at them. It seemed to fear the fire. Sensing they had an advantage, Inferno let out another jet stream of fire towards the stryx.
This time it screamed in terror and took to the skies. Its four wings carried it off, as quickly as it appeared from the dense clouds above, it disappeared once more.
His rider's heart was racing just as fast as his own, filled with adrenaline. They flew towards a thicket of trees and hid for a while looking for any trace of the creature while they calmed their nerves down. “What was that?” his rider questioned. He knew it was a question but he did not have an answer so he nudged her, rubbing his beak against her in a smoothing motion.
Azriel his rider chuckled. “I am glad you had fun” she stuck her tongue out at him. She was being rude, so he huffed at her before shifting his weight to signal he thought the coast was clear. Azriel agreed, so they flew home.
It was not until a few months later that Azriel had heard a tale in one of the pubs she frequented about specter like creatures being created by “the Wraith”. Another tale to be told she was sure.
When she returned to Inferno she told him the tale she had heard from the group discussing it over their drinks. Inferno tilted his head in thought. It seemed plausible that this was the one they encountered. Azriel patted him on the beak before heading back to the house, to bed. “A true Phantom” she mumbled to herself as she wobbled away. Inferno could not agree more.
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