Gems for Avira
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Mocha and Parra are tasked to look for special gems for their flock's armor improvements.
It was another gentle spring day that was coming to an end. The sun had given its last rays when the fireflies began lighting up the grass that surrounded Wyvera, and the nocturnal creatures had begun to come out from their nests and burrows.
The calmness of it all looked like it could last a lifetime, but it was interrupted by a pair of wings that soared silently but rushedly just above the forest canopy.
“Where is she… Oh Galyx where is she?” The worried Tyto lamented himself as he flew, anxious eyes darting to anything that could possibly resemble whom he was looking for.
His flight grew faster with every passing second, and after a minute of pure panic, he stopped in full. “Parra!” He let out frantically, resuming his flying to catch up with a lilac Tyto whose most prominent features were a collar-like mark across her neck, and a beak and talons fluffier than usual.
The Tyto was about to step into a burrow large enough for both of them to enter, and turned around with an eye roll that didn’t seem too annoyed. “Come on, Mocha, this way is faster.” Her calm and low tone contrasted with Mocha’s high-pitched worried one, and so did her body language.
“Faster but not safer! Avira’s in no rush to get these gems, we don’t have to put ourselves in danger for them!” Mocha landed a meter away from her and approached with a careful step.
“You only have to stand watch!” Parra chirped, her tone friendly. “If the badger isn’t home we won’t have an issue. And if the badger is home, they won’t notice a thing.” She raised a talon— the claws almost entirely hidden by feathers— and waved it a bit before bringing it back to the grass and padded on the same spot, as if to prove a point. “Fluffy means no sound, remember?”
Mocha’s worried face didn’t change. “A-and if the badger notices you?” He looked back up at Parra, fear clear in his eyes.
As if on cue, Parra’s fluffy talons clenched to let out sharp, black claws that shone under the moonlight with a glaring threat. “Then we come back with extra dinner tonight.”
Mocha stared at her for a few seconds before sighing and nodding his head slightly. “... Alright. But please be careful.”
Parra smiled with slight tenderness in her eyes and nodded before stepping into the burrow; Mocha had a way of making even the most cynical of hearts melt a bit. The moment Mocha lost sight of her, anxiety started gnawing at him again. “Oh Galyx, what have I done.”
He tried staying still and standing watch as Parra had instructed him— funny, he thought, since he was boss Avira’s right hand and second-in-command, while Parra was still a newbie in the mafia— but after a few minutes he decided pacing was a better coping mechanism.
As he paced around, a strange twinkle caught his eye. It wasn’t too far away, only a few meters, but his mind still rushed with horrible thoughts of how he’d lose his new recruit and friend, so he tried to stay close. As he kept pacing, though, he noticed it twinkled from different angles, and it intrigued him. What could be causing so much light in the middle of the forest? There were no water sources nearby, and the fireflies shone a constant, gentle glow. Could it be? No, he had to stay close in case the badger was home.
But what if it was? Mocha knew these gems weren’t easy to find; Avira himself had told him. He had explained how they’d be a great addition to the warriors’ armor, but how finding them would be no easy task. The one piece of it that Avira had found had been taken from this same forest, though, so maybe— and just maybe— Mocha had had the same luck. What if it was?
And he wouldn’t need to risk Parra’s life.
Mocha stepped towards the twinkle slowly, then more hastily, quickly. If it was the stone he would call Parra, come out he’d say, I found the stone, we can go now. He rushed to the shining object with wings slightly open, ready to fly to the rock, nearly taking off in sheer anxiety, we won’t need to fight the giant badger, I found the rock, and they’d take off and fly back to the mafia, back home.
He was closer, almost on top of the shining gem, when he heard a soul-shattering screech come from the burrow.
Mocha’s feathers stood on end as he turned to see a flash of lilac dart out of the burrow with a big, shimmering gem between her talons. The situation made him notice immediately that the badger was home, but his panicked and disoriented eyes took a moment to register that there were two of them. One exhausted and its face visibly wounded, and one with wrathful vigor and bloodthirsty eyes.
It was after Parra’s gem.
He had heard about the badgers before. He knew they were big. He knew they were vengeful.
Fear rooted him to the ground, talons buried among grass and flowers as if holding for dear life. But the badgers hadn’t seen him; they had seen Parra.
He rushed back to the shining object. It was one of the gems. Avira only needed one for the time being.
Mocha grabbed the gem with a talon and shifted it around, silently praying that Nokt would have the moon be in his favor this time.
After a second, the gem caught a blessed ray of moonlight and shot it right towards the badger that could still see, and it froze it in place, before letting out a shriek.
Now it was after Mocha.
His wife and daughter would’ve laughed before that, after the ordeal in the Haunted Woods, Mocha would be braver and less fear-driven. But the fear Mocha felt when he could feel the giant beast’s wrath in the trembling ground, see it when he looked into its hollow eyes, Mocha thought proved otherwise.
Another one of Parra’s screeches snapped him out of it just in time for him to dodge a claw that would’ve made the mafia mourn its purest heart, and instinct had Mocha breathing out a beam of plasma that resembled a bright, polar aurora. Whatever it was made of, it hurt enough to leave the badger too breathless to scream in pain, and hurt enough to give Mocha the time he needed to grab the gem and take off.
He breathed again when he reached the sky above the canopy again, away from the badgers.
Parra noticed how shaken her mentor seemed, his eyes wide and distant, fixed on past terrors. She decided to fly close enough to comfort him with the reality of the present without scaring him.
“Thank you.” She cooed softly after a few seconds of calm flight.
Mocha blinked a bit, as if taking it in, and nodded, still a bit out of it.
“Do you think these will be enough?” She tried again, caring more about distracting him than about the answer.
It seemed to work, with Mocha taking a second before glancing down at the gem between his own talons, the surface twinkling gently under the moonlight.
Parra saw his eyes finally soften. “Yeah, I think they will be.”
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