Flocked JP 30
Ryan Watt
(11 reviews)
Once Upon A Time... kingdoms in trouble had to wait for a wandering hero to come along and save the ... Show More
Adventure, Comedy, Cross-Genre, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Fairy Tale, Guild, Magic, birds, curses, Champions

The Troubled Village

“Once Upon a Time, a young woman went out to the fields outside of town to pick some produce to bring home to her family. A man appeared, strange looking. He scared her at first, but her guard lowered as he spoke kind, gentle words. He said to her that something was hurting his back, and could she take a look. Hesitantly, she walked around him to see what was the matter…”

              The leaves of the trees around the First Threshold rustled, despite the absence of wind. Cyril stepped back to allow the tree to reshape into the entrance portal. Taree flew into appearance a moment later. She circled the clearing before coming to rest on Cyril’s hand.
“Any news?”
Nothing, she replied, head drooping.
Cyril had sent word to the Guild two weeks ago. Even factoring for travel time, or delays if they had taken a Call, they should have responded by now, he figured.
Any progress here? She asked. She had been gone since early morning, traveling with Vasilis the fisherman to the nearest town. Evening was just now beginning to fall around the adytum.
“Nothing yet. Oleg and Juma returned from scouting on that side earlier. I have been in meetings all day, so I offered to come meet you. I needed the walk to clear my head.”
Taree cocked her head to the side. “And is it clear now?”
Cyril lifted her to his shoulder. “No.”
After Princess Belinha had been found, and the brothers had departed, King Arjun had asked for Cyril and the others to stay a little longer. He hired them as extra security for his court while he tried to figure out a solution to the problem of the attackers.
“I feel like we should conclude business here, but Oleg is loving the chance to study magic with real fae. Juma and Safiya both seem more at peace here. But I am worried about the Guild, about the others.”
I am too.
“I trust them, but I worry. It’s a big world, and there are a lot of predators out there,” Cyril said. “Come on, let’s head back.” Taree did not protest.
              The cry of terror running through the palace pulled Cyril from sleep. A deep rumble sounded across the jungle.
He leapt from the bed in the chambers he, Oleg, and Taree shared. The young mage was not present. He hardly seemed to sleep lately here in the adytum, but Cyril couldn’t worry about that now.
“Taree,” he said gently as he slid his shirt over his wing and hurriedly buttoned up the other side. He would later realize that he had missed one button and used the wrong hole for another, but that wouldn’t matter.
Yes? Taree said, thoughts quiet in his head.
“Another attack. Come on, let’s find Oleg and go help.” He offered her his hand and she hopped into it. She could wake up as he ran, Cyril thought.
As they ran through the palace, they were met by Chetna, the peahen advisor. “Excellent, you are up.”
“Yes. Is Fai Arjun already out there?”
“In route now with master Oleg. I will send a messenger to tell him you are coming.”
Wasting no more time on words, the pair parted and Cyril began the long run to the portal. He still did not know where it led, only that through here some being was desperate to get into the Court of Refuge.
As he approached the Fifth Threshold, a shade burst through the tree line overhead. Cyril’s mind raced with ideas to try and hit it, but before he could, a shaft of silver white light pierced first the air and next the shade, which dissolved away.
Was that Oleg’s? How?
“Arjun provided him a bow before you arrived,” Cyril said, hoping that this did not upset Taree too much. He would need her help. “Unless he asks for you to help, can you provide us all with some guidance from above? Attack anything that tries to escape again too.”
They soon reached the battle. More shades flitted around the air, while larger shapes charged around the ground. Taree took off to a branch and began to broadcast broadly anything she saw that seemed to be missed by the other fighters.
Cyril slid into the fray, drawing his wing into his sword. It cut through a large tripedal shade that lopped near him.
The battle did not last long, and no surprises like the Dip arrived. Soon, Akuti and Bahula were busy securing the wards again while the other guards and fighters caught their breath. Oleg brought water from the river up to them to drink, suspended in the air in nearly perfect, wobbling spheres. The faeries found this odd, but Cyril was used to the trick by now.
As he finished his water, he approached the court’s ruler.
“Thank you, Sir Cyril,” the King said.
“Of course, Fai Arjun. This is why we are here. That said, I- No, nevermind.” Cyril caught himself. He wanted to do more than just play guard, yet he wanted to follow the client’s wishes. But blindly following a client’s wishes had certainly caused them many problems.
“No, that was something. Please, speak freely.”
“I suspect you know more about these attacks than you have said. While I know you are trying to investigate them, I was going to ask you to allow us a chance to investigate too. Allow us to find out who is attacking you.”
Arjun sighed and pinched his eyes closed with his fingers. He had never looked more tired. “I suppose you are right. Whether it is you, or my own people who find the answer, the answer is the important thing. I do know some, but not much. Call your people over, and I shall tell you.”
Cyril quickly called over Oleg and Taree over. Friday happened to be nearby and drifted over as well. The King rose from the tree he was propped against and led them back along the path to the palace.
“About a year ago, my last ambassador before Kanika, went through the Fifth Threshold to the kingdom of Segura beyond. I use that threshold to tether to areas I think might be possible locations for me to find brides. However, the ambassador did not return after a while. Instead, we were attacked by these creatures. Kanika managed to find out, well, she reported that she found a village, Alharabe, that was living in fear of some creature, but we have not learned what. I suspect it is the same creature summoning these shades and Dips to attack me. But I do not know why, other than to destroy us. I would simply move the Threshold, but the attacks have weakened it. I need time to restore its magic. Not to mention a new tether point. Thus, I need the attacks to stop.”
As Arjun spoke, something fell into place for Cyril. Arjun was not unwilling to let them help, but he was in a precarious place. He needed to prove not only to his own Court, but to the other Fai courts, that he was a strong ruler. Perhaps he felt asking for help from human adventurers would further weaken him.
“I have an idea then, Fai. As Juma has accepted your offer of refuge, send him out to Alharabe. Juma, as we are your friends, we would feel it our duty to accompany you and assist you.”
Friday grew a little scared at the thought, but Cyril caught his eyes and gave as reassuring and as pleading of a smile as he could.  Arjun, however, relaxed.
“Yes, that sounds like a fine idea.” Though his shoulders eased, he appraised Cyril with his eyebrow before ultimately smirking. “Clever.”
“Then we shall dispatch in the morning, by your leave, to Alharabe.”
They continued on to the palace mostly in silence, except Oleg who leaned over to Cyril and whispered, “I thought you said you didn’t have the patience for diplomacy?”
              The Fifth Threshold opened on the other side in a small grove in a rocky hillscape on a day that was already blisteringly hot. Cyril felt instantly relieved he no longer wore his heavy red cloak.
“Wow, if only this had more vegetation, it would feel like home,” Juma whistled behind him.
“Really?” Oleg said, hopping onto a nearby rock to survey, his new bow slung over his back. Taree had protested his bringing it, and was currently not talking to Oleg from a rock on Cyril’s other side.
“Taree? Can you fly around and see if you can locate the village?” Cyril asked. She flew off without protest and returned five minutes later with directions.
The walk down to the village took less than half an hour. It lay near a small rivulet, a tributary of some larger river, not far from the rocky hills. They seemed to be mostly an agrarian place, with many large orchards on its outskirts.
The village felt deserted. Streets lay empty of people, except for fresh garbage in some of the gutters, and market stands that stood open for business only lacking employees.
“Lingering traces of magic around,” Oleg said. Cyril had registered something with his wing, but trusted Oleg to get a better sense of it. “Feels a lot like the shades we have been fighting.”
“Not a sign I like, but one I will take,” Cyril said.
This street feels like it will lead towards the center of town, Taree said, flying to land at a cart at the mouth of a side street.
They followed her lead and soon heard a whimpering sound. Behind some rain barrels, they found a child, curled up with a cat and a doll.
“Are you alright?” Cyril said, squatting down beside the child. He looked Cyril over, and tensed as soon as he saw his wing. “Please, don’t be scared of me. I am here to help. I am a Champion. Have you heard of a Champion before?”
The boy nodded. “Are you part of the guild too?” he said.
Cyril looked to Oleg and Juma who both looked as confused. “We are part of a guild. The Guild of the Feathers. Can we take you somewhere safe?”
The boy took his time thinking this over, but ultimately agreed. The cat seemed rather compliant in her owner’s arms although they eyed Taree more than she liked.
“Where is everyone else?” Oleg asked kindly, offering the kid his hand while the cat climbed onto the boys shoulders and neck.
“In the town hall meeting with the Guild man. They were already meeting when he came.”
“Who came?” Cyril asked.
The boy tensed. “The Buzzard King.”
Cyril arched an eyebrow. That was definitely the name for a villain if he ever heard one. “Does he attack a lot?”
The boy nodded vigorously, paused, then shook his head tiny bit. “Sometimes. Feels like a lot. Once a month maybe.”
“What does he do?” Cyril asked. “He hurts people, takes things?”
“Takes people. He took my sister last month. I thought he was coming back for me, that’s why I hid.”
“We will protect you, little one. No one will be taking you,” Juma said forcefully. He practically snarled with anger.
Cyril kept to the far side of the group from the boy, realizing that a boy terrified of a buzzard might not take kindly to a man with a wing. Taree rode on his shoulder, to keep out of view of the cat. They arrived a minute later at the Town Hall.
The doors opened as they approached and people cautiously exited. A woman ran over to them and grabbed the boy.
“Jayme!” she cried, circling the boy. “Where were you?”
“Hiding from the Buzzard King, Mama,” he said, voice muffled by his mother’s grip. “I didn’t want him to take me like he took Anthona.”
“No one is ever going to take you,” a man said as he stepped from the exiting crowd. He stood a head taller than the others, with slightly fairer skin, tanned only somewhat by the sun. His hair was short and sandy brown, both on his head and all along his strong chin. He smiled warmly. “Thank you, gentlemen, for finding him. What brings you to town?”
“I am Cyril, leader of the Guild of the Feathers. We have been hired to locate someone who we think might be this Buzzard King.”
“You do not say?” the man smiled broadly. He looked at Cyril’s wing. “Indeed, you must be who you say. Hah! Well welcome greetings to you, Sir Cyril. I am Valdas of the Knights of the Fish.” He extended his hand.
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 5/9/2017 2:48:21 PM
  • J.A. Waters commented on :
    5/21/2017 3:15:08 AM
    Aww, poor Taree feels like she got sleighted some? I wonder if this will develop into her becoming even more independent? Could be an interesting catalyst for her and ... Show More
    • Ryan Watt Taree tends to have two roles, messenger/scout or Oleg's partner in a fight. She is wanting to reject one, but is freaked by losing her other role. Does make her development fun to explore. I'm pretty sure I know where each of the core five end up when Flocked someday ends, but hers is the one I am most excited to see if it works. -- And Valdas? Oh, you'll see. Not bad, just different.
      5/21/2017 4:14:06 PM
  • Jennifer Flath commented on :
    5/10/2017 11:53:52 PM
    I feel like I haven't read about them in forever. I wonder if Satu's story, Victor's, and the Buzzard King will tie together somehow. That kid is instantly adorable. He ... Show More
    • Ryan Watt *I* feel like you havent read about them in a long time! But glad you did. Nice to know you're trying to make connections.
      5/11/2017 3:47:59 AM