Baashirah sat back, clicking his beak as he waited. Kirin, his brother in every way but blood, rested at the lip of the cave, his feathers rising and dropping slowly as he took deep breathes.
(A still Kirin wasn't a thing. Resting quietly never did sit well with this rambunctious stryx whose entire MO revolved around causing trouble).
Baas sighed as a rattling cough surfaced from his friend. Yet the corva remained asleep.
(Where was she?)
The face of Nokt hung in the sky as her creatures whispered and crept silently through the night. Whether she was watching them at this moment, he didn't know, but neither did he get that restless feeling that usually accompanied the solemn gazes of the deities.
(That prickly feeling that unsettled him, as if he had rolled in an Edgehog's nest.)
Tonight wasn't any different. Baas found himself casting his gaze and heart upwards, beseeching the night goddess to impart some healing onto his friend. He wasn't particularly worried and knew Kirin hadn't contracted anything fatal, but he hated seeing his mischievous other half so unlike himself.
Kirin gave another wheeze along with a faint grumble as he stirred slightly.
Baas would've felt better if he could've gotten him into his nest, but sickness that Kirin had passed off as fatigue struck suddenly and swiftly.
(The flew swiftly through their territories, chasing the fading lights of dusk. Kirin lagged behind the hawk, who had always been the fastest of the two, except his chest was rattling and he found it harder to breathe. He asked his brother for a brief rest, and the hawk, upon banking back around to check on him, saw the paleness of his beak and the feverish gleam in his eyes. He was quick to usher the slightly larger stryx down to the ground and over to a long since abandoned burrow, large enough to fit Kirin comfortable while Baas worked his mind on what to do).
A large shadow blocked out a swath of stars and Baas loosed a breath in relief. He felt like a failure, not knowing anything about medicine or herbs, but Cider did.
The burnished gold and creme harpia had been on her way to join them in their evening flight when she noted the two on the ground.
Now, as she alighted in front of them—
(Kirin still didn't stir).
—Baas felt the coils in his chest loosen just a bit. He'd swear up and down that he wasn't mother-henning, just concerned a bit. Ok maybe more than a bit.
In her talons was a bundle of something long and purple, yet grassy in appearance. From her beak, a clump of white and blue flowers fell down.
"Sorry for the wait. I almost wasn't sure if these plants grew in your territory or not."
Baas covered his worrying with a lift of his wing. "No need to apologize. What do we do with this?"
Kirin let out breathe of air through his nostrils, curling up tighter and away from the noise.
Cider ambled closer, much larger than the two males. She started shredding the purple grass with her talons. "I'll soak this in some water for him to eat. The water helps release the tannins and break up the medicinal properties. Basically it'll work a lot faster than eating this dry."
The reddish-brown hawk peered over her feathers to watch. "Anything for me to do?"
"Yes." She nudged the pile of flowers with her beak. "Can you mush this into a paste. Putting it on his chest will help with his coughing. I saw humans do it once."
This was out of his realm of expertise, so he didn't question it and set about chewing up the flowers into a bluish paste.
Cider looked over to check his progress and couldn't help her laugh.
"What? Am I not doing it right?"
She shook her head with another chuckle. "It's staining your beak blue. I forgot to tell you."
Baas rubbed his beak along the inner curve of one wing, leaving a patch of light blue feathers. Rolling his eyes with a chuckle himself, he finished up his task. He felt bad, needing to wake Kirin when rest was probably the best thing for him.
Keeping quiet, the smaller hawk nudged and pushed against the corva with his side, shifting the sick stryx into a more accessible position. With Cider looking over, he applied the paste with his beak and gingerly rubbed it in. Kirin's cream feathers were quick to turn a more saturated blue.
Kirin gave a shaky inhale but his exhale wasn't as rattled. Pushing closer, Baashirah could hear that his lungs did sound a little clearer.
"It won't do much to heal whatever it is he caught. But that paste will make him more comfortable." Cider explained. She nudged a leaf filled with water and purple grass. "Do you think he'll wake?"
Baas considered it as Kirin's panting picked up, a sure sign of his body fighting the infection. "I don't think so, but I've got this."
He begun to preen the feathers at the base of Kirin's neck, right underneath his lower beak. Sure enough, Kirin's mouth parted open as he tilted his head in his sleep, trying to evade the ticklish sensation.
Cider poured the brew down his gullet and he swallowed.
Proud of her work, she took her tail and swept away the grass and flower cuttings. "Well then, I'm sorry to see he's not feeling too good."
Baashirah settled down next to her as Kirin rested, his previously furrowed brow smoothened out. "If anything, I was usually the one to get sick when we were chicks, even though Kirin's always been the more free-spirited one."
Cider hummed in acknowledgement.
"So you learned medicine from humans? Do you...have a rider?"
(He felt awkward broaching the subject.)
In all the time he's known her, the harpia has never alluded to having a human or having interacted with them. There was actually a lot he had yet to know about the mysterious stryxess Kirin brought into their circle.
(Flights under blue skies and above golden fields, a swell of feeling bubbling in his chest as Daius blessed all three of them in his tribute.)
(The spray of salt, glittery waters, and coarse winds trying to tug them from the skies.)
Of course, if she had a handler, that wouldn't change how they interacted. It didn't matter to him whether a stryx had a rider or not, only that it wasn't for him.
(He only hoped that what he asked didn't dredge up regrettable memories. In case maybe she did have a human at one point in time.)
Cider in all her spiritedness only laughed, her eyes twinkling. "Ah, that 'is' the question, isn't it?"
(She paused. A certain dark-skinned and blonde-haired duke came to mind, bright smiles and golden eyes.)
"To put it one way, no I am not bound to any human. To put it another way, I 'have' met a human who I visit from time to time, and lend him my help. I've actually helped to take him places—if I was headed in that direction of course—. But I come and go as I please."
Baas blinked in surprise. "And he doesn't mind?"
Cider thought back to the carefree man and his beatnik ways. "No, not at all. I have a friend who receives the same treatment. Not to mention he already has a partner that he's raised himself since he was a kid."
The Duke of Drayham was untamed and unabashedly himself. The love his people had for him was proof that he was what they needed.
(She had met him entirely by accident, having just finished crossing the Gael Peninsula after she felt an unmistakable pull to the island of Drayham. Daius and Messna never led her astray before.)
(Despite living on an island, the boy had recognized her instantly as the harbringer of autumn, Messna's herald. She recognized him as a human who had received Daius's blessing. He had been in need of her help, for his people had been suffering from a bad harvest.)
"I helped out his people for a time, and he respected that. Never asked anything more of me. I did stay for a bit and learned a bit of medicine."
Baashirah took this in stride. He was indebted to her.
(He admired her yet again.)
Nokt remained silent, swaddled in her blanket of stars.
(She looked to be squinting at them, unapproving of Cider's blatant connections to Daius while under her skies.)
Baashirah felt a cool breeze and fluffed his feathers up. Behind him, Kirin gave a snort and started to rouse.
The cold wind felt like a breath of fresh air as it combed through his feathers, pulling away the last vestiges of his fever.
(Nokt would never overlook a suffering creature of hers.)
Kirin parted his beak in a wide yawn and shifted to his weight to his other side, content to remain where he was while he hacked out another cough. He felt better than when he first went to sleep. "So, any food?"
"About time you woke up." Baas chirped, reaching over to grab the remnants of a stag deer he had hunted earlier.
Cider sent the hawk a mischievous grin. "Oh please. You should've seen how much he fretted over you. He was practically a mother hen."
Baas spluttered, his wings raising.
"Awe, you shouldn't have. You're so kind Bassy."
"Bassy?" Cider tilted her head.
"Why do you still remember that?!" Baas all but screeched, feathers ruffled. "You know what, you can go back to sleep—"
While the two brothers bickered and bantered, Cider felt warm and full. Tilting her head in Nokt's direction, she gave the moon goddess a wink and her thanks for watching the two brothers.
She could've sworn the sudden gust of wind that was sent her way was the equivalent of being flicked on the forehead by a goddess.
Wordcount (1671) +32
Personal Art +3
Total = 39 AP
Wordcount (1671) +32
Personal Art +3
Total = 39 AP
Cider 7784 (companion)
Wordcount (1344) +26
Personal Art +3
Total = 29 AP