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Bonding prompts for Kira and Azeryth.
Chapter 1, The Escape
Prompt: Soul-Bonding 1
Featuring: Azeryth (referred to as ‘the beast’ and ‘it’), Kira (rider)
Kira had a feeling that this would not end well. Perhaps she could even go as far as to admit that stealing from a cult might not have been her brightest idea. Things weren’t looking that well, and everything that could go wrong had dutifully gone ahead and gone awry. Although, she shouldn’t be even that surprised, considering her luck.
Kira sighed and stood up with a grunt. The darkness was so thick that she could barely see past her nose, but judging by a damp, wet smell and the coldness, there was no way out. The thief rubbed the bridge of her nose, trying to remember what one of the cult members said before throwing her into this hole. Something about a feast?
A low rumble echoed from the far corner of the cave. Kira tensed. No, not a feast, unless she was supposed to be the supper - which frankly speaking wasn’t that far off anyway. The man talked about the beast. Kira squeezed her eyes shut, trying to drown out the pounding headache. She hit her head. Hopefully, that won’t mess with her abilities.
A second growl echoed, now definitely closer. Kira hurriedly made a step back, nearly tripping over something. Upon closer inspection, the ‘something’ was a very real bone, and of considerable size to that. The thief nearly sighed. Great. Another prop to add to the repertoire of this morbid place. A part of her realized that the apathy at the current dire circumstances most likely have been caused by the shock from the fall, but she couldn’t exactly do anything about it.
Suddenly, something surged forward, with a dry flap spreading its wings and towering over the girl. She had just a moment to glimpse its feathers, mottled and dirty to the point where it was no longer possible to distinguish the markings. It was ready to strike. A piercing roar reverberated through the cavern, and for a split second Kira locked eyes with the tyto beast. But a split second was all she needed.
Almost on an instinct, Kira flared the meagre energy reserves she had. The runic symbols, carefully hidden by layers of clothing, followed right after. Kira pushed with all the power she had left against the beast’s mind, forcing it to listen to her. “Stop!”
The tyto took a step back, more confused than disturbed by the sudden pressure on his mind. But Kira still could sense the rage and the pain, simmering and swelling everywhere around the tyto, just on a brink of another outlash. Kira held her breath. She was drowning in the sea of emotions, and it was about to swallow her. Slowly, without losing focus, Kira crouched down before the beast. “It’s… it’s alright, I can help you,” she murmured.
The beast hissed, alarmed at what was happening. His captors brought only prey, but this prey talked. He halted, a moment of hesitation growing into doubt. A part of him wanted to resist the human’s blatant intrusion into his mind, but the months spent in a blind frenzy had stripped him of his pride and control.
Kira closed her eyes, delving further into the tyto’s mind. Past the layers where the information from the stryx’s senses was transmitted, past the brutish emotions, right to the place from which everything stemmed, the wall of primal fear, anger and pain that blocked everything else. Kira let her imagination do the work, allowing her to use her energy and direct her abilities just in the right way. The thief touched the red mind barrier, allowing her abilities to drain it.
The tyto watched her with a careful eye, not willing to look away. The girl opened and locked her eyes with his. In the instant, the pain and rage left him. Their echoes remained, but Azeryth could finally think clearly.
For a few seconds, it seemed like time had stopped. The thief could feel the characteristic exhaustion building up, her abilities not without a cost. Yet for some reason, as she gazed into the stryx’s lilac eyes, she was sure that it would not take advantage of her weakness. Of all things, she felt secure, safe. Kira straightened up, gingerly touching the stryx’s fur. “Well, that could have gone worse…”
The bird answered in silence. Kira glanced to the side of the tyto, noticing the strange shapes of its wings. Or his, if she was not mistaken. The thief heard the sinister rumours that the Steel Rose cult conducted alchemical experiments and actively sought out stryxes which were more malleable to potions, but never acknowledged them. Perhaps these were not just rumours. There were no bindings on the tyto, but old scars on the claws told other stories. Learned helplessness. A nasty thing - hard to get rid of even with clarity of thought.
Kira raised her eyes back to the stryx, who surveyed her with a similar mixture of curiosity and apprehension. Suddenly, he dipped his head, a spark of intelligence flashing in his eyes. “Azeryth.”
“Azeryth,” echoed Kira, still partially connected to the tyto’s mind. She walked to the side, taking a better glimpse of his state. “Can you fly and take me with you as well?”
Azeryth longingly glanced at the light emanating from the hole of the pit far above. “I haven’t seen the sky for a long time.” He spread his four wings, showing a mottled mess of feathers, ripped membrane and protruding bones. A part of Kira pitied the poor stryx, but there was simply no time. The monks could return any moment, and if they see that the beast had not destroyed her, they would finish the job instead. Not to mention that they will probably get rid of a creature unwilling to do their bidding.
“Fine, do you want vengeance?”
Azeryth turned back to look at the thief and something flaring in his eyes. “Yes.”
“Then we will fly.” Before the stryx could doubt himself, Kira slipped onto his neck, tightly gripping the feathers. It suddenly occurred to her that she was about to fly - for the first time in her life - on a stryx who was probably more likely to crash than soar. Strangely enough, she was not worried. For better or worse, she trusted Azeryth.
Azeryth opened his wings and made a few control flaps, before jumping into the air. The heavy wingbeats reverberated through the cave. Suddenly, the tyto heavily leaned to the side, brushing a wing with the rocky wall. Gritting his teeth, Azeryth used his claws to push against the rocks, levelling his flight. It wasn’t easy on him; the tyto was severely out of shape and weak, nor did the old wounds and the terrible state of feathers help.
Kira leaned forward. It was easy for her to keep her balance - the years she travelled with a performing troop not going to waste. “I believe in you,” she murmured, eyes fixed on the light above. With a sudden powerful stroke, Azeryth lurched upwards. A second later, they flew past the edge of the pit, light spilling all around. Kira still was adjusting to the lighting when a bloodcurdling roar pierced the air. A primal call of a beast thirsting for vengeance: a promise for spilt blood.
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