January 11th, 2018

dungeons & discourse // no. 2, avian.

This is part of an ongoing series: (no. 1, saltwater)

//

The boat. Why hadn’t they gotten on the damn boat?

Instead, her compatriots decided to dismantle said boat, hide the pieces to protect a potential getaway, and high-tail it over to the lighthouse which sat one mile up the beach. The overarching idea being that someone was operating the thing and it was up to them to discern: friend or foe.

“But we could just leave. The Kraken’s Tooth is only scheduled to dock in Seacrest for another day and I fear they may have already left us,” Osiria had insisted.

To be honest, she was quite done with this island filled with living decay, cursed children, and more secrets than she could hope to discern in a lifetime. She was also incredibly anxious to find Archimedes, whom she had sent back to the mainland with a message the day prior. The shore was only an hour’s flight away, and she knew he wouldn’t have willing stayed gone without some sort of trouble.

Off they went. Two boobytrapped doors and some poison darts later, the foursome was staring down a half-dozen, white-feathered Kenku pirates. After dispatching three of the creatures, a truce was called. The remaining three were bundled off into a closet with the bearded dwarf, Roondar, guarding the door.

The inside of the lighthouse had been transformed into a ghastly nest. Feathers, droppings, and what they kept referring to as “shinies,” covered the floor. The bunks, originally intended for humans, were now outfitted for their half-bird inhabitants, the bed sheets whirled into a rather impressive cocoon of leaves and dried seagrass.

“Love what you’ve done with the place,” Osiria called brightly, dropping her bedroll onto an unblemished spot on the ground.

She largely ignored the other creatures and settled in to read the naturalist tome she had taken from Frogon’s cabin. As she read, she absently braided dried sea grass and adorned it with random beads she found on the floor, “shinies.” Osiria liked to keep her hands busy, especially when she was feeling anxious. Eventually, she tied the braided ornament into her hair and settled into a restful state — that place between sleep and wakefulness the elves inhabited.

When the sun broke over the horizon, Osiria was already awake. She sat, alone, inside one of the smaller nests — it stank, but she didn’t mind — considering her worries about their being abandoned in Seacrest. Not that she particularly minded the town, snow just wasn’t her particular forte. She missed the rugged woods of Evermeet.

A loud snort tore through her meditations.

“The birds, they said there are more coming,” Roondar announced, by way of alarm clock.

Osiria hopped out of the bed and approached her friend.

“Today? Perhaps we can use your spyglass to observe any potential intrusions?”

The dwarf sometimes forgot he possessed the thing and she gently nudged him.

“Two ships,” he acknowledged, peering through the glass. The correct end this time, she noted proudly.

The paladin, Heph, provoked into a rage by this new information, threatened to execute the Kenku prisoners if they didn’t provide more information. Osiria was about to intervene — she’d seen Heph’s temper overflow into hastily considered executions before — when one Kenku, who identified himself as Ki, offered to broker a truce.

“Please,” he clicked his beak in broken Common. “Spare us and I will get you off the island unscathed.”

“Deal!” Osiria shouted. The others agreed as well.

Thus, the party departed: three Kenku tied together by a hempen cord and led into a rowboat by Heph and Roondar, while Osiria and Duma hurried to the lighthouse on foot to prepare for a potential ambush. They were pirates, after all. Artemis circled overhead, until finding a tree to stealthily roost in, and Osiria once again felt a sharp pang in her chest for the missing Archimedes.

Elhenestra, let this go quickly, she silently prayed.

Fortunately, Ki was true to his word and negotiated a hazy truce. The Kenku pirates would bear the displaced group back to Seacrest and then disappear, but only if they were not to be pursued in return. Agreements were made. Hands and talons shook upon it. And they were off.

Osiria, Roondar, Ki, and the pirate leader Ko, plus two additional birds Osiria didn’t know, took off in one ship. Heph, Duma, and the rest of the brigandes were placed in another.

The mid-morning sun bathed the deck in a blue-gold glow and the boat began to rock rhythmically with the waves as they departed. Roondar, still enamored of floating in the water, peered over the side. Osiria sat down and allowed Artemis to go aloft. Her blood hawk had startled the Kenku initially. Osiria was worried they might see her as some sort of bird-controlling menace, but they actually appeared rather astonished by her companionship with the creature.

The Kenku clamored all over the deck, speaking in a series of beak clicks she could not follow. Instead, Osiria hummed a few notes that were caught in her mind and toyed with the sea grass braid again. However, this time, she noticed Ki watching her — well, not her.

“Shinies,” he clicked.

“Oh, yes.”

She looked into his hungry eyes, black and beady — not menacing, but not exactly a comfort either. She unfastened the braid from her hair and held it out to him. He snatched it hungrily and turned his back to her to better admire his new prize. Then, as if by afterthought, Ki turned his head and quickly bobbed an almost imperceptible bow. Osiria nodded back.

Then, she turned her eyes toward the shoreline. Almost there.