Private Tales Have you heard there's a rumour in Alliria?

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Gawyn

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Gawyn gave a husky laugh of disbelief and ran a hand through his hair. Their stories were different sides of the same coin. Was it just the luck of the toss that had meant he had ended up with a home and a people who relied on him and not on the streets? He was a soldier after all and they had been in the midst of war; there had no doubt been plenty of his kind - his brothers and sisters in arms - who had been left on the wrong side of the gates of Thyasari. Where were they now? Dead? Ornaments above a fireplace? His fingers fisted in his locks and then slowly released uncurled.

"They abandoned my people, too, when they left. I am trying to decide whether it is worth re-forging the bonds we had centuries ago," he rolled his shoulders in a non-cholent manner. It wasn't the whole truth of course but it was enough of it that he didn't feel particularly bad about leaving out the rest of the information. His eyes skittered away from her face and instead followed her gaze out to the ship she was staring at.

"I guess I am undecided still, but either way I would rather not bump into one of them who might recognise who I am."
 

Althea

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Thea's gifts were centred around emotions, in that she could alter them, but in her many years of practice she was also adept at reading them when body language and expression went unchecked. The eyes told tales too that the lips did not, and the trouble and worry that he felt was crisp and clear. It tugged at her curiosity, and her head tilted as she listened to him explain.

She stared at him for a long moment. If he thought the avariel might recognise him, then perhaps she might too if she tried to, and her brow furrowed uncertainly. "Who, are your people again?.." she asked cautiously.
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn managed to stop himself before he answered. But why? What made him hesitate? Nobody would recognise the name of his city unless they were avariel or had an odd obsession with dusty books on Avariel history. Yet he couldn't shake the feeling... His eyes narrowed briefly and then he plastered on a fake, charming smile that was spoiled somewhat by the scar down his face.

"You wouldn't have heard of them I'm sure, just a tiny little town out in the sticks," he waved his hand out over the water in the general direction of the Spine. He ran a hand through his hair and quickly changed the subject. "What about you, what's next in the cards? Stealing from more Lords to try and bring them down a peg or two?" he raised both brows despite his efforts to not let his expression show just what he thought about that idea.
 
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Althea

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"Oh.." she answered quietly, her grey eyes bright as though they captured the light of the moon and shone it back at him. She supposed that he was avoiding the question, no doubt because he believed her untrustworthy, and how could she blame him. Still the feeling sank to the pit of her stomach, as it always did when she thought on how far she'd fallen.

She sighed sharply at his teasing and lifted a shoulder in a shrug, her nose wrinkling in disdain. "Well it hardly worked on you so maybe I'll try new tactics from now on." she sneered and looked out toward the sea.

I guess I'm stuck here for now, she so dramatically thought to herself. Her fingers idly toyed with the ribbons tied around her arms and she glanced around before deciding it was safe enough to lower her hood.

"It's not that bad." she answered begrudgingly as she sorted her snowy hair over her ears and huffed a few strands from her face. Who was she trying to convince?

"I should get back, but, if you want my opinion. You're better off without the avariel. They don't care about anyone other than themselves, and I'm sure your people deserve better." she shrugged and stood from the barrel.
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn didn't hear a thing she said after she pushed her hair back behind her ears. It was hard to ignore points. Why hadn't he noticed them before? His mind raced back through his memories but every time he recalled her face her hair or cloak hid them from view. How else would he have known she wasn't human when she dressed so plain and carried herself inwards like a door mouse? Now, though, he noticed the other subtle tell-tale signs. Sharp cheekbones and the tilt to her eyes which he had put down to ancestry or features of a distant land were now obviously elvish. As was her frame even if she tried to hide it.

"You're not human," it came out like an accusation and he stood to catch a hold of her wrist. "Tell me how you know the Avariel, you went to them for help. Why? You're not human so it makes a little more sense but most elves thought we were gone--"

The words were out before he could snatch them back.
 

Althea

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Her cheeks heated and she frowned at him as he gripped at her bound wrist, unable to help but wince slightly. As defiant as she tried to look, there was a flicker of fear in her eyes as he bore down on her with questions, holding her like that. Her chest heaved in panic.

Why did males think it okay to treat her the way they did? She was tired of it, and her eyes were glossy with the tears of anger that gathered as he too was proving to be no different.

"Let go of me. I had nowhere else to go and they wouldn't help me." she growled, and yanked her arm in attempt to free it from his grip, but his slip up caused her to freeze.

"We?..." she frowned, a breath huffing incredulously from her lips. "You're Avariel?" her head shook. "What kind of fucking games are you playing exactly?! What is it that you want from me? Let. Me. GO!" she shoved in attempt to leave.
 
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Gawyn

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He was angry at himself for the slip-up, he was angry with her for not telling him the truth he knew was buried between the lines of what she said to him. It all boiled up inside of him to the point he wanted to break something, yet he managed to let go of her wrist. He couldn't stand that look in her eyes. It was how she had looked at Sol, how those eyes in a male face had looked at an enemy on a battlefield who had caught him off guard before Gawyn had saved his life. I suppose it was about time you had a chance at saving my life, he had laughed. Ghosts! Ghosts were haunting him.

He let go of her wrist in frustration.

"Yes. I am. But not from there," he spat the word with all the venom and hatred that had built up over the centuries. "I'm from Oriasa. You look too young to remember what or where that is," he tore his eyes away from her and turned with his arms folded to look out over the sea. "You went for help and they turned you away? They turned their back on our entire city when they shut their gates. Twelve hours. Did you know that's all they gave Avariel all over the world to come home? We were in the middle of a war. I had injured men, civilians - people I couldn't get back in time and they knew that," he dragged in a ragged breath. He hadn't meant to unload it all but he couldn't stop now he'd started.

"I'm not playing any games, Thea, I'm trying to work out if it's worth putting them through pain again by letting them know we survived, despite them cutting us off like a bad limb. I thought humans would give me a straighter answer - they never seemed to like our kind."
 
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Althea

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Thea took a few steps back, holding her wrist against her chest and rubbing at it. Like most of her race, her bones were hollow and brittle, she bruised and broke easily, and so she stayed out of his reach as she listened to him explain.

Oriasa? She had never been, but she knew of it, her brother had gone on several occasions, but he'd been within their walls when the gates were closed. She hadn't thought any of them had survived, but now that she knew, she found herself wishing that her brother had been with him, with Gawyn in Oriasa, and he'd have lived. She blinked away the pooling tears and passed them off as rage.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you." she snapped. "They left you for dead. You want my opinion? Let them feel the shame of knowing you survived and sneer at any invitation to return. Be your own people." she frowned. "And leave me out of it."

She turned away from him and strode back along the pier.

This night had not gone at all as planned.
 
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Gawyn

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Her words echoed his own conclusion from his visit here.

Oriasa would be a free state or he would die fighting for that right. The thought made him uncomfortable; many of the people he had fought alongside during the dwarven wars had managed to get back to Thyasari before the doors shut. They would no doubt be in the front rows of the armies that came to his cities gates if they chose to take Oriasa back by force. Despite that fact made him feel sick her words sealed the decision in his mind. He gave a sigh and rubbed at the scar on his cheek. Sometimes, when he was stressed or angry, it itched as badly as it had when he'd first taken the bandages off.

Leave it...

His fingers dropped before he begun to pick at it but he knew that voice was talking about her. Leave her. Don't walk after her like he so wanted to. He'd hurt her enough - physically and now it seemed mentally or emotionally to.

"This is why Aodhin doesn't let you out on your own,"
he muttered to himself.
 

Althea

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Thea paused as she heard him muttering. Aohdin, she knew that name. Her brother had fought with him, which meant he had probably fought with Gawyn. Her heart ached in her chest and she swallowed, looking at him over her shoulder. He was, for some reason, one of the most infuriating people she had ever met. Her gaze was a simmering storm as she turned back to him with a huff.

He wasn't one of the ones who'd turned their back on her, he'd suffered a similar fate, and yet she still couldn't bring herself to tell him what she was. The shame she'd brought upon herself was eternal and they had broken her for it. Once he knew what she was, he'd know what she was, he'd no doubt look at her in horror and disgust at her mutilation..

"That you consider your people's best interests proves that you're already better than they are. Sounds like they have everything they need. They might open their doors to you now, but you'll always resent them, and they'll expect you to forget about it and move on. You survived without them this long, you don't need them." she frowned, hugging her arms to herself.

"Fuck 'em."
 
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Gawyn

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By the Saint did that look in her eyes make him want to grip his sword hilt. He could feel every slice across his flesh as if it were a blade and he stood rigid before the onslaught without a defence. He swallowed and tried to relax his fisted hands; at least he had stopped short of actually grabbing a hold of his blade. Her words surprised a bark of laughter out of him and he scratched at the days old stubble along his jaw as he contemplated what they actually meant.

"You sound like an old friend of mine," and had that same cold look too, he thought in the back of his mind. "The problem is," he sighed and sat back down on the barrel. "Is that, if we announce ourselves and declare independence we would be starting a war. Thyasari won't give up what they believe to be their lands so easily and my people don't deserve another war. They've had..." he paused and then huffed another laugh. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I am boring you with the details. It's clear you hate them - us," he corrected with both brows raised. "I'm sure it would suit you just fine if we destroyed each other."
 
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Althea

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Thea watched him closely as he sat back down, listening to his explanation with a frown, her jaw rigid with tension, but the latter comments caused her to let out a huff that she'd been holding and she turned to take a few lazy steps back toward him and lean herself against a dock post.

"It's not like that.. I'm sure there are many of them - you, that are decent, I just.." her head shook. "Why should the ones in charge get away with what they get away with? They shut their doors on you, letting you all die for all they know, and then they'd start a war if you don't return?.." her head tilted. "You can see how mad that is, right?"

Thea snorted. "Fuck, I had better chance of being taken in by a gang of cutthroat criminals than I did by a race who claim to be righteous. If they don't know you survived, perhaps it's better that way." her shoulder shrugged as she folded her arms and crossed her ankles.
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn mulled that over quietly. Again, no matter what angle he turned what she said he couldn't help but agree. And yet...

"You still haven't told me why you went to them..." he didn't turn to face her but rather looked at her from the corner of his eye. It made a little more sense why an elf might turn to their sky brethren but even then... as far as he was aware even the elves had thought the Avariel myths or long since dead. What would drive someone to seek out a rumour, get it correct, and what on earth had she asked of them that they had turned her away? "You don't have to," he went on before she could rebuke him with that sharp tongue of hers. He wasn't sure he would survive another spa.

"But no matter what I think about my kind, I can't believe that you are better off with these... men than with them," a small frown formed between his brows.

"They might have turned down your ask for aid... but if you still need it. I would not."
 

Althea

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Thea laughed under her breath, but the sound was void of amusement and her pale eyes were glassy. "Let it go, Gawyn.." she muttered quietly, though her tone carried a little less bite than it had earlier now that he'd given her a choice rather than a demand.

"They didn't give me much of a choice in the matter, and now it's.. it's not that simple to leave my current employment... I have tried, you know.." she added in a low tone, and looked at him. Her brows rose slightly in surprise, her expression softening.

"Then, some of you are decent." she huffed a laugh and offered a grateful smile. "Thank you, but I think I've gotten you into enough trouble as it is.." she answered and looked over both shoulders. "I should get back before I get you into any more.."
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn followed her gaze over her shoulder and then shook his head in disbelief.

"Clearly you haven't tried that look on them," he mused. "You look so much like an old friend of mine when you do that and I know several soldiers who would swear the look alone made the enemy drop their weapons and run," he rubbed the back of his neck. All these memories he had buried long ago... why now? He hadn't thought of his time under the other General in centuries. The tiny smile disappeared and his face returned to its usual neutral scowl which seemed a lot harsher when he thought of the men she intended to return to.

"What do they have over you, Thea? If it's just a matter of getting out of here... I am leaving tonight. I haven't carried anyone for a while but... Oriasa is not known to many. They wouldn't find you there. Or I could take you back to your family..."
 
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Althea

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Thea's lips twisted as she tried to rein in a laugh, her gaze dropping to her boots as she slowly nodded and kicked idly at the deck. "Hm, so I've been told.." she answered in a sigh. She had the sickening feeling that he was speaking of Tobias, but she swallowed the painful question before it could fall from her lips.

Her eyes rose to find his face again, her brow furrowing slightly. "I don't have a family." she answered firstly, trying to keep her tone from biting despite how angry the words made her to say.

"Nik, gave me a way out of the life I was about to fall into, and trust me, that life would have been worse than what I have now. But, I will never not owe him for that. I am.. Useful, to him.." she shrugged and rubbed at her face before looking behind her once more, her moonlit gaze scanning the shadowy docks, but there was nothing other than the usual cats..

"I tried to leave. More than once." she said as she looked back at him. "At first, he took it out on me. Then when that didn't work he took it out on one of the bordello girls.." her head shook and she averted her guilty gaze.

All she felt was shame. Shame for what she'd done, for how far she'd fallen, of her mutilation. The thought of living amongst avariel again made her stomach churn. "I realise that I'm.. difficult. I know you're trying to help me.. I'm not used to that." she huffed with a tight smile.
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn barely managed to suppress the grimace that came when she bluntly told him she had no family. He hadn't wanted to assume but it was often a desperate person with nobody left to turn to that found themselves in a place like Thea had. It was the reason why places like that made his stomach churn and his anger rise; taking advantage of a person when they had no where else to go then making them feel as though that kind of life was a blessing? It took a vile person to do that to another and sleep well at night. His jaw worked in slowly grinding his back teeth down but he managed to keep himself from saying something stupid and think through his sentence before voicing it.

"Sometimes, we need to be selfish," Aodhan had said as much to him and would point out the hypocrisy of what he was saying to her now. "But... If it's what he would do to the rest of the girls that stops you leaving," he took a breath, the rational part of his mind screaming at him not to go through with his next suggestion... "I can probably get them out too. Would you leave then? You don't have to come with me just... Just get out of here," he frowned and arched an eyebrow, resulting in a frustrated and rather impatient look.
 

Althea

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"They won't leave. It's the life they know and they're happy enough with it. I've tried." her head shook and she rubbed at her temples. His offer was tempting, but fear anchored her to Alliria. She wondered if she'd subconsciously meant to be late for the smuggler's boat leaving the docks, if she ever really planned on leaving at all.

Thea watched him for a moment in silence, her lashes narrowing as she studied his face and then slowly shook her head.. "Why do you seem to care so much?.." she asked quietly.
 
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Gawyn

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He'd been asking himself the same question.

She wasn't going to tell him the story of her dealings with his people no matter how hard he pressed, yet that was the reason he told himself he stayed. He wanted - no - needed to know. He was certainly convinced it would be the final piece in the jigsaw or the feather that tilted his weighing skills more definitively one way or the other. Yet he wasn't asking her about that. He wasn't pushing like he should because even though he didn't like her temper he wasn't afraid of it and had certainly suffered a lot worse to get what his people needed. So why?

Her eyes...

Familiar eyes.

"You just.." he rubbed his face. "You remind me of someone I couldn't help before. I think he would want me to help you."
 
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Althea

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Thea hugged her arms and chewed on her lip subconsciously, the skin there already ragged and torn from the habit. If her suspicions were correct and he was speaking of her brother, then she knew that he would have tried to help someone like her. He had a penchant for helping people, they both had, but where had it gotten them?

She drew in a deep breath and let it tumble from her lips in a slow sigh, her lips tugging slightly before she started to nod and instead jolted at the sound of her name being called from further down the docks. Thea paled even further, if that was possible in the moonlight, her snowy hair falling over her eyes as she whipped her head around toward the one calling to her. But there wasn't one, there were three.

"You should go." she told him quickly as she stood from the barrel.

"She's with that elf prick again.."

"Meet me back here in the morning?" she asked him quietly over her shoulder, already starting to make her way along the pier.
 
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Gawyn

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In the morning...

His wings itched at the thought of another hour let alone more. His magic was wearing to its limits and if he didn't return by the sunset of the next day Aodhan would send out a search party. He didn't intend to worry his friend and his people unnecessarily. Not for a girl who didn't seem to want his help. She kept going back... It infuriated him. He wasn't blind, had seen the bruises that mottled her chin and the way she hugged herself and hunched her shoulders over. That any man would make a woman feel like that... The thoughts churned over in his mind like that, feeding into one another. First Aodhan and the need to return home quickly followed by the desire to not see her go back to them.

"Maybe if they think you haven't chosen to go..." he murmured softly, to himself more than her though no doubt her elven hearing would pick it up. He belatedly hoped so because he was already moving briskly towards her before she could get too close to him. An arm snaked about her waist and pulled her tight against his chest. "Scream, make a show of it," he murmured against her ear and let the spell finally unravel.

Two sets of blue wings unfurled from his back knocking over barrels in their way. They stretched and shook and he barely kept the groan of pleasure from leaving his lips at the sensation of air against his feathers for the first time in days. There wasn't time to luxuriate in the feeling however.

"I told you last time," he called to the others with their mouths agape. One was fumbling with his bow. "She owes me a debt," and then with one powerful downward thrust launched then skyward.
 
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Althea

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She did hear him, but she hadn't the time to contemplate his meaning before she felt his arm around her and the hard planes of his chest against her back. She tensed, her heart pitching to frantic as the two brutes on the dock drew weapons and started along the pier toward them.

"What are y--" she frowned, her hands clutching at his arm in panic. The sound of his voice by her ear gave her momentary pause as she realised what he was about to do, and she flinched as the wings knocked over the barrels at either side of them. Thea gasped at the sight of them and the breath caught in her throat. She'd known he was no ordinary elf, she'd known he had wings magically hidden and yet seeing them caused something in her chest to crack and her eyes to glaze over with tears.

"Wait! No!" she barked as the ability to speak returned to her, her head shaking as she tried to pry his arm from her. She didn't want to fly, but she didn't want Nik's men to reach her either, and still, she reached a desperate hand out toward them and let out a scream as she was lifted into the air.

Her eyes closed tightly. She didn't want to see, she didn't want to remember how the world looked from above, and yet there was no mistaking the feeling of weightlessness that came with being surrounded by nothing but air. Thea weighed about half of what she looked like she should, and he'd hardly feel he was carrying much extra weight, though he'd feel the rattling of her heart in her chest and her head turn and tuck against his neck, determined not to look.

"You bastard!!" she growled loudly over the sound of beating wings.
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn wasn't used to being thanked for what it was he did. He was a soldier after all and doing his job right often meant sticking a sword through the people he met and those who commanded him saw what he did not as a job but as duty, therefore nothing to be thanked for doing. Once or twice he had saved someone; a villager or another soldier. Orisa he had saved with a cohort of others and the people had been more than thankful. It was why he was so surprised when the woman in his arms whom he had saved returning to god only knew what judging by the bruises, swore at him with a venom he had only heard on the lips of enemies.

"You're welcome," he replied dryly and what tiny shred of pride he had felt at doing something good for a change shrivelled up into a dry husk. Gawyn eyed up the harbour below and debated just dropping her in the inky black waters below but, reluctantly, discarded the idea. Instead he beat his wings in quick succession and carried them higher towards the cloud line; the Thyasarian's might have announced themselves to the world again but he still had no intentions of being spotted flying if he could help it.

"Look, I'm not going to take you back to Orisa I know your feelings towards us," his lips twisted bitterly. "I'll drop you along the Falwood Road, there's elves there you I'm sure will help you."
 
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Althea

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She swallowed the lump of guilt in her throat at his answer. She wasn't trying to be ungrateful, she understood how it must have looked to the two on the docks and it was ingenious. But, she wasn't ready for this.. And she realised too that she had absolutely nowhere to go.

Anywhere had to be better than there...

"Thank you for helping me.." she muffled loudly, and said nothing about him dropping her in Falwood. She only hoped it wouldn't be from a great height.

The wind slowly soothed her enough to loosen her grip on him, her lashes fluttering open against his neck as she turned slowly to look. A choked sob escaped her the instant she looked upon the world way below and the clouds that surrounded them. Thea had never expected to fly again, and Gods had she missed it, but there was something so bittersweet about being in the skies again that even as she smiled she cried as though her heart was breaking.
 
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Gawyn

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Is she fucking crying?

He hadn't dignified her thanks with an answer. Her initial reaction had got his back up and he knew himself well enough that he knew if he opened his mouth nothing but sarcasm would come out. Instead he focused on his flight. The sky always soothed him and eased worries, stress and temper alike. It was the balm that healed all. Tonight was a particularly beautiful night too. The stars above them were the only witnesses to the path he cut across the dark purple and black clouds. They made the nightshade tinted feathers of his wings glisten in their unearthly light. It was peaceful, or at least it had been until she had started crying.

"Are... are you scared of heights? I'm not going to drop you," he hastened to add just in case she was. He sounded almost insulted at the thought. He'd carried men several times heavier than her. In fact... she was incredibly light. He hadn't carried many Groundlings in his time but he was fairly sure that they were heavier than this... The clogs began to slowly turn.

"Thea... what are you?"
 
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