Tributes | An-Yue & Olympia: Nokt Tribute | Caretaker

Published Aug 2, 2023, 7:22:32 PM UTC | Last updated Aug 3, 2023, 11:19:51 PM | Total Chapters 3

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Chapter 1: Nokt Tribute | Caretaker

The silver light of the full moon illuminated the jagged cliffs as Olympia soared through the night sky, her moon-white and charcoal-black wings spread wide. Far below, the dark sea churned against the rocks, but she felt no fear of the dangerous heights. For Olympia, the glittering night sky was a home gifted by the goddess Nokt.


Beside her flew her dearest friend, another harpia named An-Yue, whose iridescent feathers of blues and purples shimmered beneath the moon. Together they wheeled and dove through the salty air, at one with the goddess's domain.


"The hatchlings will experience this for the first time tonight," shouted Olympia over the wind. "I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they taste the wind for the first time."


An-Yue gave a trill of enthusiasm, the usually quiet and reserved stryxess cooing with excitement. An-Yue was slightly smaller than Olympia with a more delicate frame and gentler features that reflected her calm and nurturing nature.


As the swooped closer to the water, the mainland fast approaching, An-Yue casted her gaze to the dark shape huddled on the other harpia's back.


An-Yue wasn't quite sure what to make of her friend's and the human's relationship. It had been established that the small boy wasn't her rider (personally An-Yue found it impressive that the guarded female even let a human into her life), and that it was his older sister was a stryx handler instead.


She remembered his name was Dyera, his white hair blending in seamlessly with Olympia's feathers.


Apparently his sister thought him two young to be handling stryx, so his friendship with the silvery-grey harpia was kept secret as he often snuck off to chat with her.


An-Yue found the whole thing perplexing.


From what Olympia told her, the boy was rather closed off and didn't have many human friends, which only drove them closer together.


Dyera nodded to Olympia's earlier statement, blinking sea spray from his eyes. "I know you'll teach them well! Their first flight will be a joy to behold."


He was also capable of understanding them, a gift seemingly bestowed by Galyx themselves. She knew his sister didn't possess this gift.


The cliffs fell away as the pair soared inland.


Before long, the forest opened up into a moonlit glade, revealing a sprawling complex of open-air pavilions and grassy paddocks. Young stryx of every size and color darted about, shrieking playfully, while a few older ones who hadn't, found homes yet and were unable to leave, dozed off nearby.




The aged Loftmaster, Isolde Graywing, idled near the fence line, keeping a careful eye on the five bouncing bundles of feathers and fluff.


Among them, Cassius and Quill quivered with anticipation, their feathered crests raised high. Their first flight was a rite of passage, marking their growth from nestlings to fledglings. Soon they would soar high above the world, masters of the goddess's realm.


Yet doubt flickered in Quill's violet eyes. Timid by nature, the lavender stryxess feared tumbling from the sky.


Cassius sensed her hesitation.


"Stay close to me," he whispered. "I'll make sure you don't fall."


Reassured, Quill offered a grateful smile. They turned expectantly toward their mentors, who alighted on the soft grass and greeted their aging caretaker.




An-Yue alighted on a rocky outcropping overlooking the secluded glen, Olympia landing gracefully beside her. Below, the young stryx hatchlings looked up at them with eager eyes, ready to learn under the tutelage of their mentors.


Cassius and Quill stood together, a study in contrasts. Cassius' crimson-red feathers were bright and vibrant, while Quill's downy plumage was a soft purple. Yet both shared the same glimmer of anticipation in their jewel-bright eyes.


Loftmaster Isolde inclined her head in greeting as Olympia and Dyera joined her. "I'm pleased you've come. The young ones have been asking me all day you lot."


An-Yue smiled warmly at the hatchlings. "Tonight, you'll dance among the stars and soar into your futures. But first, we must teach you how to ride the winds."


She beckoned to her silvery friend perched nearby. "This is my friend, Olympia and her human Dyera. She will help guide you on your maiden flights."


Olympia spread her massive wings and cried out a greeting. The hatchlings shuffled back nervously at the sight of the giant raptor. Sensing their unease, Olympia sheepishly settled back down, softening her piercing marine gaze.


"Come, little ones," called Olympia gently. "With practice, you too will master the skies."


One by one, she and An-Yue helped the young stryx to take flight, steadying them as they wobbled on uncertain wings.


Dyera played a cheerful tune on his flute, helping to calm their nerves.


Soon the hatchlings were wheeling and diving nimbly, albeit a bit unsteady, testing their newfound abilities. All but Cassius and Quill.


"They're doing great," Olympia said, her voice filled with pride. An-Yue nodded in agreement.


As the young stryx continued to fly, An-Yue's eyes fell upon one in particular. It was a young male, his feathers a bright crimson that shimmered in the setting sun. He seemed to be struggling with his flight, flapping his wings desperately and barely managing to stay in the air.


An-Yue glided effortlessly over to him, spooking the youngin' for a second.


"Don't worry," she said softly. "I'll help you."


Cassius hesitated for a moment before nodding hesitantly. An-Yue stepped closer and reached out, running her beak gently through his feathers.


"You have let go of your fear. Believe in yourself and your abilities."


The young male looked at her skeptically, but An-Yue continued to encourage him. She showed him how to glide through the air effortlessly and how to use his wings to catch the wind.


Slowly but surely, he began to improve, his movements becoming more confident and graceful.


"Quill! Look at this! I'm actually in the sky!" He hollered and chirped excitedly


His friend, the young female, gave him an encouraging smile and warble.


Emboldened by her friend conquering his fears, she looked to the older midnight harpia who gave her similar instructions and showed her the right angles to hold her wings to maximize lift.


"I'm scared," she whispered. "What if I fall?"


An-Yue gave a rumbling coo, nuzzling her cheek briefly. "I'll stay right beside you. We'll do this together."


Drawing up her courage, Quill nodded firmly.


Olympia alighted beside them to watch, smiling warmly. "Trust your wings, and have faith."


With Olympia on one side and An-Yue on the other, Quill took a deep breath, spread her lilac wings, and leapt from the cliffside.


Quill's wings caught the updraft and she soared upwards, Cassius close behind her.


"I'm flying!" Quill cried joyously. She executed a graceful banked turn, reveling in the feel of the wind beneath her feathers.


Cassius let out a whoop of delight as he tested his speed, streaking past Quill in a blur of crimson. His enthusiasm quickly overwhelmed his novice skills, however, and he began to wobble dangerously.


"Steady now, keep your wings level," coached Olympia, swooping beneath the unsteady hatchling to support him. "You've got quite the speedster here, Isolde!" she called down to the Loftmaster watching from below.


Isolde nodded, shading her eyes against the bright moon. "That Cassius is a bold one. Fearless, though a bit reckless."


The other hatchlings were slowly gaining confidence as well under the guidance of An-Yue and Dyera, the human doing his best to help with instructing them on wing exercises that would strengthen their flight.


An-Yue noticed one azure-feathered stryx lagging behind, struggling to stay aloft.


"Flap those wings, feel the difference in the slightest dip in temperature! Focus on the warmer drafts." An-Yue cried encouragingly as the hatchling started to sink. She dove beneath him, providing a boost that kept him airborne.


"Well done, little one, well done," An-Yue praised. The hatchling trilled happily, rewarded by his success.


Dyera smiled as he watched the young stryx test their limits.




Quill glided tentatively along the cliff's edge, already tiring and feeling anxious to join the others wheeling and diving above the valley. Her lavender wings trembled as she fought to control her flight.


"There's no need to rush, fledgling," An-Yue said gently, coming up beside her. "Why don't we try some nice, easy circles to start?"


Quill nodded, grateful for the patient mentor's reassuring presence. Together they rose in a slow spiral, Olympia providing an air current for the nervous fledgling to ride as she felt out the air.


As they circled higher, Olympia felt Quill relaxing, her turns becoming smoother. "You've got it now! Just feel the wind, let it support you. Don't focus so much on pushing against the air."


Below, Cassius was attempting daring loops and rolls, emboldened by his early success. But his bravado soon failed him. Halfway through a particularly ambitious maneuver, he stalled and began to plummet.


Olympia shot beneath the falling hatchling, allowing him to grab onto her back. "Got ya!" She carried Cassius safely down to solid ground.


"What were you thinking?" An-Yue chided as she too landed with Quill.


Cassius scuffed the ground with his talon. "I just wanted to try the tricks you showed us," he mumbled.


"Those advanced moves will come in time," An-Yue said kindly. "For now, focus on mastering the basics."


Cassius looked to Quill, who had landed beside An-Yue, her eyes bright. A touch of jealousy flickered through him. Why did flight come so naturally to her, when he had to struggle for every bit of progress?


Sensing the hatchling's frustration, An-Yue drew him aside. "We each learn at our own pace," she said. "Comparing yourself to others helps no one. The only competition here is with yourself, to become the best stryx you can be."


Her words resonated with the fiery male. He thought back to how nervous Quill had been earlier that day and realized he was thinking foolishly.


Over the next few weeks, the mentors worked tirelessly with their charges. As predicted, it was not always easy. There were tantrums, tears, and no small amount of danger. But gradually, almost imperceptibly, progress was made.


One day, Cassius found himself gliding effortlessly through a series of complex aerial maneuvers, no longer plagued by doubt. Nearby, Quill executed a graceful landing, her once timid demeanor replaced by a quiet confidence.




Cassius and Quill soared through the sky, reveling in their newfound mastery of flight. Below them, the forest spread out in a tapestry of green, the Lackadaisy Loft a distant speck.


"Can you believe how far we've come?" Quill trilled, looping playfully around Cassius.


"It's incredible," he replied. "I can hardly remember what it was like, back when I could barely get off the ground without crashing into a tree."


Their delighted laughter rang out, echoing across the valley. The two young stryx were no longer bound to the earth. The endless sky was theirs to explore.


But as exhilarating as flight was, an even greater test lay ahead. Today, their mentors would take them out to hunt for the first time. Survival in the wilderness required more than wings - it demanded razor-sharp talons and an eagle's eye.


Cassius' giddiness turned to nerves as they returned to the loft. Dyera smiled reassuringly, picking up on the hatchling's anxiety.


"You've come so far already," the human said. "Plus you'll be hunting small game, nothing that can seriously fight back. You'll do great."


Beside Cassius, Quill stood tall, a fierce gleam in her eyes. "We're ready for this," she chirped. "Let's show the wilderness what we can do!"


With their mentors' guidance, the two young stryx navigated the dense forest. Their keen vision scoured the undergrowth for any signs of prey.


Suddenly, Cassius spotted it - a flash of brown fur darting between the ferns. Talons extended, he plunged into a steep dive. But at the last moment, his nerves failed him. Cassius pulled up sharply, the rabbit escaping unharmed.


Hot shame flooded through him. But Olympia was quickly at his side. "Courage, fledgling," she smiled. "Your hesitation is natural, but you can't let fear master you. Remember what we taught you, and try again."


Taking a deep breath, Cassius steeled himself. When next he spied a rabbit, he didn't falter. His talons found their mark. With a triumphant cry, he emerged from the ferns, prey clutched tightly in his grasp.


At his side, Quill too had succeeded, making her first solo kill. She rushed to Cassius, and they celebrated their victory.


An-Yue trumped out of the trees with the other three of their small class behind her. One had managed a catch, but the other two had turned up empty-handed.


The four returned to the loft weary but jubilant. There would be many more challenges ahead, but today, they had proven themselves capable hunters and could fly unassisted.


As the full moon rose over the loft, they gathered together once more. Quill began a soft melody, her voice ringing out sweetly in praise of Nokt. Soon the others joined in, their voices blending together in perfect harmony to Dyer's lute.


An-Yue rested near her companions and couldn't help the swell of pride at how utterly adorable the stryxlings were, and couldn't wait to see where they went next.


[2,319 words]

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