Many faerietales are told in Ealisia. Most bards shy away from such tales as legends and songs reap more coin. Some will take the time to entertain young and old with fantastic feats, most likely of the imagination. Most likely, but not certainly.
The skies are hers! A cloud hides the world, then she breaks free of it, gazes up at the stars — there are so many! — if only for a moment, before the world pulls her down.
Far below lies a sprawling settlement of the Vanran. None of the Alys are fond of the Vanran. Not anymore. She scans her surroundings. If they spot her here, above land they have claimed, they will hunt her. But Greatoak is her friend, and she will drop by. She promised. Besides his acorns are the sweetest in the whole world.
She plunges towards the landscaped territory, ignoring the frosty air that creeps between feathers to bite her skin. Her heart drums harder, faster.
She spreads her wings as wide as she can, and, calling upon the wind to carry her on, her fall bends into a glide. The world stops rushing up, instead, she swoops over rooftops, around towers, and descends into the din of a people on dusty streets.
She spots it from above. A disc that hums and groans, part spinning, part still, with its strange glowing eye that sees without looking. She shivers, then dives to gain speed, away from the dahrone, the buzz of its unnatural flight fading as the distance between them grows. That was close.
Greatoak stands, surrounded by bushes and grass, kept short by machines the Vanran use for such things, protected by a barrier of steel and stone. As if this tree is some fiend from the Nether. Vanran tell their young strange tales. She swoops down onto its thick branches.
How do you do it? she sings to Greatoak, skipping back and forth on its sturdy arm.
Ignore this terrific noise and the pungent smell.
Greatoak laughs, its leaves bristle, but says nothing, though its branches droop, just a little. They talk for as long as they can, but she must get home, or mother will be angry.
I went up, far up, above the clouds today!
You. Are. Brave.
Thank you, I believe I am.
Be. Safe. Young. Breezer. They. Hunt.
She picks one of its acorns, hops off its branch, flaps her wings, once, twice, and takes flight once more. Let them try to catch her. Up and up, but the winds are strange here, warped and twisted by man’s massive towers. She struggles to rise, and a sudden, strong gust pushes her, nearly into a wall.
The unnatural hum overtakes her. Over her shoulder, she sees the dahrone, race closer and closer. Its furious eye a message that sends a chill down her spine. Rapid wingstrokes carry her up, a sharp turn left, skimming a wall, then right, and up again. The acorn wobbles and she bites down on it.
The dahrone catches up with her, spits fire to scorch her wings, but she rolls around it, the world turning upside down, and back, before she pulls up into a steep rise.
Come on, she thinks, just a little further. Strong winds cross, beating her left and right, and one gale rips the acorn from her her beak. No! To save it is folly. She keeps going.
As the dahrone’s buzz fades, she circles the sky, and watches her hunter wobble, lose momentum and tumble away.
Today, she wins.