Festival of Frost 2021
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Chapter 1, Shipwrecked - Part 1
Prompt: Festival of Frost (Shipwrecked)
The strike of lightning split the world above in half, the roaring thunder following right after. Kira could not remember the last time she saw clouds so thick and dark, like dull mauve shadows surveying from overhead. With the raging ocean, a fall from this height might be catastrophic, if not lethal. The ear-piercing wind billowed and cautioned against farther movement deeper into the storm, and yet dozens of bright coloured stryx defied the warning. A couple of them bore saddles, small shapes perched on the backs of the dragons. Few humanoids dared to volunteer for the risky rescue mission, and yet there was enough. For most of the stryx, it would not be the first time - to fly through a storm, but for many of their companions, the ordeal might prove much more dangerous.
Kira turned around to glance at the coast, but her hair flared wildly on the wind, concealing the view. The rider grumbled something incomprehensible, regretting her decision to not tie up a ponytail this morning. The slight figure on top of the majestic harpy seemed almost meek and useless on contrast, but the rider held herself with almost feline grace, hinting that she was not a stranger to heights or stressful situations. Tonitrus, the white and golden harpy with a well-known attitude, glared at the girl, obviously unhappy that he had to carry a rider. Kira returned the look, trying to over shout the storm, “I’m not awfully happy that I was paired with an arrogant bag of feathers either, so quit giving me the death glare. The only reason I am here with you is that Azeryth is still recovering.”
Tonitrus only let out a disgruntled rumble, flaring his head feathers in annoyance. The human was bound to be nothing but an inconvenience, a frail girl who was too weak to be much of a help.
Kira squinted, peering into the clouds above. She could swear that she saw the shape of a hull, for a second outlined by the bright flash of lightning. The rider turned around, shouting and waving her hand to the others. “Over here!”
Her words were drowned by the raging storm, but she hoped the other riders took notice. She pulled on the bridle, guiding the hesitant harpy towards one of the ships above. Most of the flock would move to help the others, but Kira hoped she and Tonitrus would not be the only ones helping this crew. The once-grand ship was now practically torn to shreds, with barely any sails left. Merciless lightning left scorching marks on the wood, and a chunk of the left hull was missing. One of the crew members was waving wildly to the stryx and the rider, calling for their attention.
Kira was about to spur Tonitrus towards the ship when a thunderous sound pierced the air. The flash of light blinded the rider, the booming sound stunning her for a few seconds. Tonitrus was quicker to recover, and suddenly Kira found herself practically in freefall as her insides made a wild loop. It took her a split second to realize that the harpy slipped into a rapid nose-dive, but she needed even more time to apprehend the reason for the manoeuvre. The lightning struck the ship they were trying to help, the impact throwing the crewmate off its board. For once, Kira was glad that Tonitrus was not a keen listener, for by the time Kira would have taken notice, it would have been too late. The frenzied wind sent shivers down her spine as the rider clutched to the saddle. They fell, and fell, and fell, and soon enough Kira lost any sense of distance and direction, the lack of light and the mottled palette placing her at disadvantage in terms of visibility. Suddenly, Tonitrus opened his wings with a loud snap, instantly stopping their fall. However, he was not able to do so in time, and had to soare, before with a light splash landing onto the surface. The storm was yet to reach its full strength and the ocean in these waters was not yet violent, the waves only rocketing the stryx as he spread his wings to stay afloat. Kira threw aside her worry, hurriedly searching the black waves for any sign of the crewmate.
Nothing. Seconds ticked by, but nor the rider, nor the stryx were able to see the fallen human. Kira suddenly clenched the reins, sensing echoes of foreign minds. Many minds. “I don’t think we are alone…” she murmured, gazing into the deep darkness that was bound to swallow them if they did not hasten.
The surface exploded with a flurry of water. Tonitrus let out an alarmed cry, preparing to churn the waters for a liftoff. Suddenly, Kira tugged on the reigns, forcing the stryx to stop its useless struggles. “Look.”
The colossal neon green and black creature gazed out of the waves, several spines protruding from the waters. Its reptilian face bore no signs of aggression, more harmless curiosity, although Kira found the carnivorous form of the draconic creature slightly alarming. But most importantly, the crewmate latched onto the neck of the aquatic beast, clutching its spines and coughing heavily. He looked alive, at least. A dozen more heads popped out of the water as the rider and the stryx watched the dragons in bewilderment.
“Huh… thank you,” was the most that Kira was able to master as the neon drake moved towards the stryx. She helped the crewmate to the harpy - the poor man was barely conscious as Kira swiftly fastened him to the saddle. She turned around just in time to see that dragon submerge into the water, disappearing into the depths after its friends. Tonitrus looked worried but acted quietly through the ordeal. He suddenly felt an upward push from the water and acted purely on an instinct, flapping his wings and using the gained velocity to lift from the surface. With the ocean increasing in strength, it was too dangerous to stay close to it any longer. At first, the wingbeats echoing through the storm were heavy and drained, but soon Tonitrus was able to gain the momentum he needed. Kira threw a parting glance at the ocean far below. “It seems like we found the help we needed,” she murmured as they set course to the coast.
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