Book II Chapter 27: The Blink of a God's Eye
"...by the elements, what's happened to you?"
The great eagle sat upon a tree branch in a warped forest; the trees cried out in confusion, in agony, pleading for a release from the alien torment they suffered.
She had flown over this place several times recently; each time, these voices tugged at her heart, and each time she had to offer them promises she wasn't certain she could keep.
We will heal you soon. Everything will be as it once was again.
This was a special sort of grief for her, grieving for a wounded ecosystem, all twisted and gnarled and mutated and wrong.
But that was business; even that was a different pain compared to seeing an old companion, an old consort in ruin and despair, and so Aqk gazed with pity down upon the bloated beast that lay below her.
Ironically, his voice was still the same as it had always been, clear and soothing like a silver bell; something about it sent chills down Kelan's spine, even as he held on to Aqk's feathers for dear life.
"You all have reasons to carry on like nothing ever changed. I... was not so lucky."
He was easily as large as Sasha, and had likely been beautiful once; a lion, white fur matted and dirty gray, his blue eyes reddened with self-pity, his paws and muzzle stained with man-made foods likely ill-gotten.
He huddled in the trees and tall grass to hide himself from view, though it did little to mask the poor shape the great cat was in.
"You could have found something, Dietri--"
"You're one to speak of finding things, Aqk! We're immortal, but it's not like the little ones like to say. Years don't pass in the blink of an eye for us; they drag on, on and on and on, just like for them. What kept you from trying to find me? Was I so forgettable once our masters had faded away?!"
Dietrich bared his massive teeth, though it was clearly a bluff. Kelan noticed the exhaustion in his eyes, the way he kept his head low like a beast in eternal submission.
"Stop that," Aqk rumbled, wounded. "I'm here now. What have you been doing all this time? Where have the griffins--"
"I tired of them ages ago," the lion sighed, covering his muzzle with his paws as if preparing for slumber. "I've no use for the company of beasts any longer. Go off to the place the man-kin call Liasse if you're so eager to see them; they fetched a lovely price from the magi." He rolled onto his side dismissively, his tail thumping against one of his flabby thighs.
But the eagle was having none of this. Furious beyond sense, she threw herself into the air, swooping over to swat at him with her talons, causing Kelan to bury himself against her feathers to stay on.
"You worthless, revolting pile of rubbish! You sold off our children?! To MORTALS?!"
Dietrich was not expecting the attack. Taking the swipe across his shoulders, he got to his feet with a thunderous bellow, shuffling off into the deeper wood.
"Selfish harpy! You should have come and gotten them by now if you were so concerned!" he roared before vanishing into the dark.
"He was such a noble thing once," Aqk lamented with more than a little pity and anger, perching to ensure the poor jostled elf was safe before taking wing once more.
Next Chapter: Book II Chapter XXVIII
Category: Book II | Story