Medicating Will Never Heal: Exchange

Published Jan 18, 2022, 1:35:55 AM UTC | Last updated Jan 18, 2022, 1:35:55 AM | Total Chapters 1

Story Summary

"Self-destruct, spiral down,

Until your want becomes your need.

Please get up like I know you can,

Or forever love the fall."


Pilot, after returning from a fetch quest given to her by her mentor, Nexus, finds her mentor speaking with a strange figure. Rex, said figure, has come to fulfill an illegal deal Nexus had initiated with him. They exchange goods and payment, leaving Pilot stunned as to what just happened. Now Pilot must deal with the weight of knowing what her mentor is dealing in, but conflicting whether to out her or not.

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Chapter 1: Exchange

The wind whistled abruptly through the bare branches of the trees above the ground, startling the young gryph trudging through the deep snow on the forest floor below. She ruffled up her feathers against the incoming gusts and continued on.


Pilot had been out here for hours so far, searching for any herbs and bones she could find. Nexus, her mentor, had requested them since their supplies were running unusually low. Pilot had obliged, not wanting Nexus out here in the cold for this long, knowing how frail her body was. And, experiencing how cold it got at nighttime in this forest, Pilot knew Nexus would catch her death out here if she’d gone alone.

Pilot sighed, her breath shaky from the freezing winds, scanning her eyes across the barren wasteland of a frozen forest that was laid out before her, so familiar yet so foreign.

Pilot lashed her tail, creating shapes in the snow as she did so. She’d been out here for what felt like days, searching for stuff that was probably either wilted under the snow or had been picked off by scavengers already. But she couldn’t return to the burrow now, not with just a few soggy weeds to show for her efforts.

She let out another, more exasperated sigh, shaking the snow clumps from the feathers on her legs and continuing on.


Pilot was only able to keep up her search for about half an hour longer, finally getting frustrated and giving up. Nexus would surely have an earful for her when she got back. How was she supposed to do any better though? There was probably a few feet of snow on the ground, everything was icy, and any animals that were out had probably gone back to their dens for the night. Not to mention the fact that the ratio of dead animals to their search expeditions was not in their favor. They’d probably already gotten everything they could out of the natural deaths in the forest. Nexus tried not to kill just for her remedies, but sometimes it had to be done during hard times. Pilot always got kind of squeamish whenever Nexus had to dissect something, but she supposed it wasn’t too different from having to eat it while it was cooked. The flesh was just a different color, and there was usually little to no blood. Even when there was blood in Pilot’s cooked food, she always got a bit fidgety and lost her appetite.


Shaking the thoughts from her head, Pilot looked to the sky as something caught her eye. A shadow had passed over up ahead. Maybe Nexus had gone out for something? Pilot was surprised she could still fly, with how cold it was and how fragile Nexus seemed, it was hard to believe her muscles wouldn’t freeze up in this weather. Inspecting the shadow as best she could from afar, Pilot began to doubt it was Nexus. It seemed too… large, to be Nexus. Pilot couldn’t tell whether the wings were feathered or webbed from here, either. Well, if it was Nexus, Pilot might be able to chase her down and convince her that she’d done her best in the given conditions.


After quite a while of shuffling through the snow against the wind, Pilot made it back to the outskirts of the burrow. She suddenly spotted the shadow again. It had descended lower in the sky, close enough that she could now tell that it was not Nexus. It was much bigger, with feathered wings and a longer tail. She could just make out their eyes reflecting the moonlight from where she stood. The shadow landed next to the burrow’s entrance, shuffling around the rock that blocked the entrance. For a moment Pilot was ready to fight, figuring they were some sort of intruder. But just as she was about to charge into them, the rock slid to the side, revealing Nexus operating the pulley system that moved the boulder that kept their burrow hidden from the world. Confused, Pilot watched from the shadows.



“About time. It’s been a few days since your estimated arrival.” Nexus scolded


“I’m well aware. I had some… difficulties getting these for you, so I’m afraid I’ll have to raise our bargain price.” The strange shadow figure replies calmly.


Pilot heard Nexus scoff.


“A deal’s a deal. You promised me these in exchange for an already obscene amount of tokens. I won’t be giving you any more, any less.”


The shadow figure was silent for a beat before speaking.


“Then I suppose I’ll be returning home. No payment, no deal.”


There was a brief pause from both of the two at the entrance of the burrow.

Pilot could tell just by knowing Nexus for so long that she wasn’t going to budge on her end of the deal, whatever it was.


The shadow figure grunted, turning around and spreading his wings. Pilot noticed a satchel around his neck, presumably carrying his end of the deal.

Suddenly, Nexus spoke.


“Fine! I’ll bump my offer up to 5000.”


Pilot was shocked. What was Nexus doing?! Was she crazy? Not only was she going against everything she’d taught Pilot, but 5000 tokens? Pilot wasn’t even aware she had any tokens, let alone 5000! Unless she was bluffing…?


“Make it 6000 and you’ve got a deal.” The shadow figure folded his wings slightly, turning to face Nexus.


“... Damn you.” Nexus muttered.


The next thing Pilot knew, Nexus was heading back into the burrow, returning with a rather large, tied-off bag. She reluctantly handed it over to the strange figure, who took it in his talons and placed it in the snow, slicing open the cord holding it closed. He bent his neck low, seemingly to inspect the authenticity of the tokens inside. Where had Nexus been keeping that…? And why didn’t she use it at all prior?


“Pleasure doing business with you.” The strange figure shouldered the satchel off of his body, ducking his head and letting it drop onto the snow. The clasp to the flap clicked as it flopped open. Red smoke leaked from the opening in the bag. Nexus quickly stooped down to pick it up. Before she was able to stand back up, the figure spread his wings once more and took off.


“Pleasure doing business with you.” He called over his shoulder, disappearing into the dark sky.


Pilot watched, slack-jawed as Nexus hurried into the burrow, quickly sliding the boulder back into place, plunging the forest into darkness once more.

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