Tributes and Tribulations - Chapter 1

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Tributes and Tribulations

by Ekian

Libraries: OriginalFiction

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Aller, Tudou and Vidar undergo their tributes to Dauis, Nokt and Galyx.

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Chapter 1, Daius Tribute

 

Logs, pitfalls, holes and other obstacles marked the start of the ground race, a test of dexterity and nimbleness. Then the racers needed to hop, skip and jump on moss covered rocks to cross the river, this tested their balance and agility. The final stretch of the race was hard packed dirt, a flat test of speed. The race for the land-bound stryx was no less dangerous and challenging than the one he flighted stryx would undertake, it was a true test of skill to complete it.

 

Tudou and Aller were both undertaking the race this year, nervous but strong willed, they both intended to perform well and please Daius, and hopefully not let their riders fall like last time they attempted the race.

 

“My name is Vidar, and this is my rider Ternen.”, The beautiful colour feathered corva, now known to Tudou and Aller as Vidar, Introduced himself.

 

“Nice to meet you, My name is Aller!, “And I’m Starlight, Aller’s rider, don't get too close to Aller, you’re likely to sneeze!” The black haired elf spoke, making a long standing joke at Aller’s expense, as the yellow frost on his feathers was the exact colour of pollen. Aller responded by messing up Starlight's neatly bound hair by using his beak to throw it on top of her head.

 

With the backdrop of Starlights ‘Ack, pest’ and general complaining Eluvien introduced herself and Tudou to their new acquaintance, “Tudou is a bit shy,” Eluvien explained when the soft brown Rhakos did not speak or look at Vidar or Ternen.

 

“Ah, it looks like the referee is calling us to gather,” Vidar informed the group as his keen eyes spotted the Gryph-referee waving and calling for all participants to get to the starting line. The sun would soon rise, and Daius’ eyes would be upon them. Vidar Tudou and Aller each maneuvered so that their riders could jump into their saddles easily. It was a short walk to the starting line, but the riders used the time wisely to get comfortable and double check their riding gear and seating. 

 

The Stryx meaning shuffled and performed last minute stretches in the gloom of the not yet risen day. Suddenly the faintest blush of red appeared on the horizon, and the bamboo whistle was blown by the referee. The sound pierced through the noise of the crowd into every racer’s ear. Almost as one the racers sprinted from the starting point, dust of the summer dirt leaving clouds in their wake, much to the chagrin of the audience, who coughed and spluttered. 

 

The balance, impact and weight shifting was completely different to when Vidar and Ternen raced in the skies. They’d practiced this for months, and it appeared to be paying off as Vidar nimbly dodge the pitfalls and awkwardly shaped branches placed in their path, as Ternen guided Vidar to more open areas, having to weave in between other racing stryx and the obstacles. Now came the river for Vidar, after a few jumps and a shaky start Vidar was  gaining confidence and speed in hopping across the moss laden rocks. But just as he was about to jump to another rock, a shock of freezing water hit his legs, and he tensed. 

 

With the sun not having fully risen the water was absolutely freezing and Vidar was not fully prepared for the feeling of icy needles on his feet and legs.  He almost slipped into the river, managing at the last moment to regain his balance. Vidar was about to look around and see what happened, but Starlight spoke, “A stryx and rider fell in, not Aller or Tudou.”, he assured. That was a relief, as Vidar did not need to unbalance himself to look around, his focus was now fully back on the race and he gave his full concentration to make his way across the rushing waters. 

 

Aller and Starlight were only a few strides behind Vidar and Ternen, Aller’s body type meant he just isn't as flexible or nimble as Vidar, and so stumbled and struggled to jump and dodge all the logs, bushes and pitfalls in the first section of the race, but in the end he just about managed to handle it, and now he was at the second part, jumping on slippery rocks to cross the river. With his large wide feet and good center of balance Aller found this part not as challenging, even managing to hop a little ahead of Vidar as they maneuvered across the river. 

 

Tudou had refused to have the long feathers on his feet tied back, as he was very proud of his plumage, being the only notable thing about him. But very soon after the whistle had been blown, he was swiftly regretting his choice, as he nearly tripped and stumbled on the long feathers multiple times while maneuvering through the obstacle-laden first part of the course. Luckily for Tudou Eluvien was a brilliant rider, and was able to steer and call out obstacles and paths to take quickly from her vantage point on Tudou’s back. With a bit of luck and skill Tudou managed to make his way to the river section of the race. Tudou was able to make up a lot of lost time, as with Aller Tudou was a Rhakos and so he had the benefit of large feet, legs and good center of balance, but also this time his long feathers managed to keep his feet dry from the splashing of water on the rocks, giving him extra grip compared to the other racers. So when he and Eluvien made their way across the river, Tudou realised he was actually ahead of both Vidar and Aller by a fair bit! With no time to watch the others Tudou immediately set off running on the last section of the race, a flat stretch of packed dirt, it was a pure show of speed on this section. Powerful legs moved at frightening speed as Tudou put all his effort into going as fast as possible, and hoped Daius would be pleased with him. But in an instant the long feathers of his feet were finally his downfall as one talon caught on a longfeather of the opposite leg, and he and Eluvien crashed to the ground. 

 

Vidar and Aller both hopped from their last moss covered rock at the same time, landing on the solid ground on the other side of the river and rebalancing themselves for the run. This meant both them and their riders saw Tudou and Starlight fall ahead of them, a plume of dust obscured both stryx and rider. Aller and Vidor both ran as swiftly as they could, hoping that their friend and acquaintance was not seriously injured. As the dust settled they could see that Eluvien was unclipped from Tudou, and was waving her arms in the ‘all safe’ manner the referees had shown them, meaning they were uninjured and would make their way off the track. Vidar and Aller were tpp out of breath to breathe a sigh of relief, but they were glad. With their worries assuaged both stryx and their riders put forth their full effort and focus into finishing the race as swiftly as they could. There were two other stryx ahead of them, and despite their utmost efforts Vidar and Aller could not catch up, and so in the end as they crossed the finish line, Vidar was third overall, and Aller fifth. Although they were not the best racers of this year's tribute race, they had surely done well enough to please Daius. The rays of the sun felt warm and welcoming, the golden orb now fully risen to bask all tributes’ with it’s glow. 

 

Vidar and Aller both made their way to the small stream that had a raised trough made from a large tree so the stryx could drink easily. Tudou had already drunk his fill and was nearby, so after Vidar and Aller had quenched their thirst and soothed their dry throats, they made their way over to Tudou. Eluvien waved them over, Tudou busy eating his sorrows away by gorging on a stryx sized skewer, spear-sized with large chunks of buffalo on it. 

 

“There is always next year, clearly Daius was looking out for us, we are uninjured.” Eluvien spoke, as Tudou was too crestfallen and still shy to speak to others. They had been very lucky, of the fifty stryx that had started the race almost ten stryx or their riders had been injured, with one very nearly drowning in the river when a branch trapped them under the rushing water. 

 

“Next year you will surely manage it!” Aller spoke enthusiastically, trying to cheer Tudou up.

 

“According to the referees you were the fastest of fifty across the river, that is something to be very proud of.” Vidar also spoke up.

 

“Just maybe next time tie up those feathers?” came the teasing suggestion, and at last Tudou smiled.

 

Next year for sure.


_______________________________

 

Stryx:

https://www.paperdemon.com/app/g/dracostryx/character/4386 

https://www.paperdemon.com/app/g/dracostryx/character/2605  

 

Riders/Other ARPG: 

https://www.deviantart.com/comments/1/637310866/4918942629 Eluvien (Tudou)

https://www.deviantart.com/comments/1/659121009/4918943356 Ternen (Vidar)

https://www.deviantart.com/comments/1/659119651/4918943038 Starlight (Aller)



 
 
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