PG-18 Ino's Calling (IC) [hiatus not dead]

Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
Alex gave a nod to the both of them at the suggestion of stopping. The young man had noticed that his horse was becoming visibly tired due to the stress of two people, even though Matty seemed noticeably lighter and smaller in this new form. Additionally, the older brother could feel Matty shifting every now and then on the stallion since he was unaccustomed to riding long distances.

“That’s fine by me,” Alex followed up, “It’s probably best to make camp, and look for firewood and food while we still have daylight.”

Thought the younger brother wouldn’t express his relief outloud, Alex did hear Matty give a relieved sigh at the agreement.

After a few more minutes of riding, the group came across a patch of forest where the trees were a bit more sparse. Alex rode his steed over to one tree with a few low branches and a fair bit of grass around it. The older brother dismounted easily and then turned to help his little brother down. Matty grumbled in dismay at the assistance, but accepted the help anyway. Alex tied the horse securely, but did not remove the saddle just yet. Matty took this time to stretch his legs and wings while his brother started to survey the area.

Though Alex might not know all the wildlife in this new realm, the young man was fairly certain that the same checks still applied. He looked at the ground and the surrounding foliage. There were only a few small tracks in the dirt; one which seemed to be made by something similar to a rodent and the others what may have been birds. He then looked for any claw marks or other such signs of larger animals coming through this area.

After finding nothing of interest, Alex walked back to the group while stating, “I don’t see anything that would indicate that larger animals frequent this area,” He looked at Alvena and continued, “I’m not sure if there are any other checks you would like to make, but does this seem like a good spot to stop for the night?”
 

Robyn

The Phoenix
Staff member
Alvena nodded as Alex agreed. Steering the group towards a good spot, the woman looked around before stopping. The trees would provide some cover, there was water close, but not too close.
Deciding they were stopping here, Alvena dismounted, and watched as Senna did the same. She then let the dryad do what he did. He seemed to know his way around a camp, but that wasn't surprising. Or maybe it was... she again realized she knew nothing about these races, nothing that mattered at least. In the meantime she secured her horse and made sure Senna's was as well.

"Looks good. Most people make an overhand knot.. I thought you didn't deal much with animals?"
Senna shrugged at the question. It seemed a harmless enough question...
"I believe I said I didn't ride much, but it doesn't matter what animal you're handling. When you're securing an zeb.... well, anything, you want to make sure they're secure but easy to pull free again."

Their chat was interrupted when Alex returned to them.
"Thank you for making sure," Alvena said, "There's not much else we can look out for. Of course there are the smaller sized dangers, that won't show themselves until they become actually dangerous to us. but I expect few issues."
She looked around.
"This is as good a spot as any, let's get some firewood and get settled."

Senna looked between them. Matty could barely reach the horse and she knew nothing about fire-wood, or more, what made a good piece of wood. She knew not everything worked, though.
"If you two gather some wood, we can start taking care of the horses."
She petted her animal, thinking they deserved a good cleaning and a good night's rest.
Senna didn't wait for an answer and took the saddlebags off. The animal appeared happy to be rid of the weight. Going through the motions, Senna relaxed at the repetitive and calming act of taking care of the animals. The young woman started to whisper sweet nothings to the creature, thanking it for letting her ride.

By the time the horses were done, the fire was burning and a stew was already brewing. Senna regretted the horses were done and taken care off. The act had felt so normal, relaxing. Especially given the past days.
She plopped down on the ground with a sigh of relief, happy to sit, less happy to sit upon the hard ground, but smart enough not to complain. It wouldn't do any good, aside from making her appear whiny.

Alvena refrained from asking much, and instead observed whilst taking off her armor and weaponry. They had made it clear they didn’t want to talk with her and for now she would respect that. Yet, there was much to learn from simply watching. How they interacted with each other, how they spoke, moved even. So, she watched them while taking care of their gear and food.
Alvena quietly watched how Senna was tired, and scooted towards the fire and food. She saw Alex and Matthew settling. They looked happy and at home in the forest, Senna less so.

Alvena put her gear and other supplies away once the food was ready. She got them plates and handed them out.
"It's not much, but it'll do."
 

Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
Alex gave a small nod of thanks as Alvena handed him the plate of food. On the other hand, Matty gave a large grin when the woman handed him his dish and cheerfully said, “As long as the food’s hot and tastes good! That’s all that matters to me!”

On that note, the kid began to devour the meal. Alex gave a small chuckle, happy that the circumstances had not hindered his brother’s appetite, and then proceeded to dig into his own food. The young man was glad that Alvena had dropped asking questions about the groups past, even if he still felt bad about how he ended it. Alex did notice that the woman was looking over them while the group settled into camp. He knew that she wanted to ask more questions, but the silence was welcomed and lifted a bit of the stress from his shoulders.

After everyone had finished their meal, Alex gathered the dirty plates, and stated, “I’ll go clean these off in the river, fill our water pouches, and grab a bit more firewood for the night.” Guilt still tugging at him, Alex turned to Alvena and said, “Thank you for the food.” With that, the man turned and headed for the river, grabbing the waterskins and an extra bag as he left.

Once his older brother was out of sight, Matty looked at Alvena sheepishly and softly said, “I’m sorry on his behalf. He’s not a bad person. He’s just sometimes overprotective of those he cares about. I’m sure you can understand that.” Worried that he may have said too much, Matty turned to their bags and started to try to read the books Alex had picked up in town. He didn’t really understand the language that it was in, but settled on looking at the pictures in the plant guidebook Alex had grabbed.

It was fascinating the variety there seemed to be in this world. There looked to be quite a few that were similar to the ones back on Earth but, without reading the description of the plant, Matty couldn’t be certain they were the same. I’ll have to see if Alex and I can figure out a way to learn this language, Matty mused, And then I can read this guide and any other books that they have in this world. I wonder if they have any good novels. Matty then became lost in his own thoughts, thoroughly enjoying the idea of reading a fantasy book in a fantasy world.

-------

Alex had carefully hidden himself behind a large tree that was on the edge of the clearing where the river was found. It was a bit past dusk now, but he could still make out the outlines of a few small beasts that were resting along the bank. He tossed a small stick he found lying on the ground and the sound was enough to make them scatter. After seeing nothing else approach for a few more minutes, Alex walked over to the water and started to clean off the plates.

The cool river felt nice on his hands. On a closer inspection, Alex noticed that the vines that ran down to the back of his hand looked to be absorbing some of the water. He shivered and thought, I will never get used to this odd body and its weird biology. It’s almost closer to a plant than a human at this point. I guess I can see why some people would be wary. He pushed the thought from his mind and focused on enjoying the silence of the forest.

Once done, he placed the waterskins and clean plates in a bag he brought and decided to take a few gulps to refresh himself before leaving. As he leaned down, Alex heard a loud rustling of branches coming from the other side of the river. The young man bolted up and peered across. There he saw the mighty form of the porcupine-bear lumbering through the brush, its yellow eyes set on him.

Purely on reflex, Alex darted as fast as he could back to the large tree. The bear-beast roared and charged after its meal. The young man managed to roll behind the tree and heard a sickening thud as the creature hit the tree head on. Alex didn’t pause to see if the creature knocked itself out or was just momentarily dazed. He jumped to his feet and darted back to the camp. As he ran, he found that he could loosely detect where plants and roots where in the forest. This allowed him to avoid tripping on his way to warn the others. However, Alex almost fell over from fright as he heard the pounding of heavy steps and a not too distant roar following behind him.

With fear in his eyes and adrenaline spurring him on, Alex almost crashed into the fire of the campsite. He looked around wildly, making eye contact with each person and quickly saying, “That weird fucking bear thing is back,” he turned to face Senna and Matty, “Quickly get into the trees.”

Matty grabbed the two packs that were beside him and started to flap his wings. The boy only made it a few feet before faltering and almost crashing into the ground. Alex swiftly ran over to him, picked up the packs the younger brother had dropped, and rushed to the side of the tree. He placed his hands together and said, “Hurry! I’ll boost you into the tree!”

Matty dashed over to his brother and placed one foot in Alex’s hands. The young man deftly lifted his brother up who then grabbed the nearest branch and pulled himself into the tree. Alex then threw the packs to Matty, who placed them on branches, and then resumed the same pose. Another roar sounded much closer to camp as the older brother looked back at Senna, “Ok, you next!”
 

Robyn

The Phoenix
Staff member
Alvena chuckled as Matty admitted he only wanted a hot, good tasting meal.
"Doubt this is considered good food, but it'll keep us afoot. You'll soon get to taste some amazing food and drink, though, I don't think you'll find better kitchens anywhere than you'll do in Falios."
She dug into her own plate, and regretted it when it was empty. While she didn't particularly care for stew, it kept her alive. Being alive, she had found many a times, was her preferred state of being.

Senna mumbled a thank you before starting to wolf down the food. She grimaced for only a moment before deciding this food was better than no food. The woman quietly eyed the tense situation between Alvena and Alex. Both appeared on guard with the other. She hoped they wouldn’t come to blows, or worse and part ways.
She thanked Alex when he offered to their dishes.
For a moment she considered offering going with him and helping but decided against it. The man seemed to prefer solitude, if his behaviour towards Alvena was any indication.

Alvena smiled slightly when Matthew apologized for Alex.
"I didn't think he is a bad person. Tad short-tempered, perhaps, but not a bad person. And I understand.”
She didn’t push the conversation when Matty dived into their bags to pull out a book. She contemplated for a moment if she should talk to him about the book. The woman was curious what he was reading.
After a few moments of silent thought, Alvena decided not too and let him be.
Alex had made his stance clear on her trying to engage them.

She eyed Senna, who appeared a little lost.
She sighed as a question came to mind she hadn’t asked before but might mean the difference between life and death. Alvena thought she already knew the answer yet she had to double check
“Do you guys have any weapons training?”
Alvena’s attention was drawn towards the trees and swiftly got up, sword in hand.

Senna was about to answer Alvena when the forest got disturbed and Alex was yelling at them.
She froze for a second, torn between fight and flight. Alex snapped her out of it and she flew into the tree behind Matty. Holding onto the branch and finding one that would be able to hold her, she was scared for the two still on the ground.
Should she yell, or not?

“Go.” Alvena ordered them all.
Her face was expressionless as she calculated what the best course of action was. She moved to put herself between the group and the creature. It’s underbelly and chin were its weakest points. The quills were long and sharp and its best protection. It’s paws were deadly.
It tried to dash for her, stretching it’s paws and screaming.
“Let’s dance,” she whispered.
Alvena waited for it to come to her and for a few moments, time lost all meaning. Her eyes hardened as she got ready to move. Not too slow, not too fast… fluid. A sword was only as useful as the one who wielded it.

Seeing the beast come closer and start advancing on them, Senna couldn’t hold it anymore.
“Alex, get up here!”
She shifted to get a better look, and realized her mistake too late. She screamed as she plummeted towards the ground, grabbing for the branches but missing every single one. Senna felt something change for her as she reached the ground. Panic overtook her. Why did everything appear so big and far away.
The beast was coming right at her.
The young woman tried to run away. The ground felt weird under her feet.

Alvena heard Senna cry, and then the unmistakable sound of branches breaking. The creature was drawn to the same kind of ruckus. Without thinking, she dove for the beast. Slashing at it’s hind legs, she wanted to get it away from the she-bird on the ground.
She noted the creature turning around and it's paw coming from her. This was potentially her chance if it exposed it's underside or chin.
 

Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
After boosting Senna up into the tree, Alex took a minute to look at what was unfolding behind him. Alvena’s yell had attracted the monstrosity and every fiber of its being was solely focused on the knight. The man watched, entranced, as the woman unsheathed her blade, muttered something, and then weaved in and out of the beast’s wild blows. Though Alex had his reservations about Alvena, a new found respect welled inside him; not just for her swordsmanship, but also that she was true to her word and was putting her life on the line to protect their group.

The young man’s concentration was broken when he heard Senna yell at him to join them in the tree. Alex turned around just in time to see Senna shift her weight, causing her branch to snap, and fall to the ground. The older brother’s adrenaline kicked in again and he rushed over to her, but stopped suddenly in shock as he witnessed Senna shift from herself to that of a small owl. Once again, the roar of the monster shook the man out of his trance.

I’m a fucking tree, he thought, and my brother has wings. Not surprised that there are more weird things happening to us in this world. With that thought, he dove at the small bird and gently clutched her in one had to his chest.

On the ground next to him, Alex noticed Alvena’s saddle and, strapped to it, a long hunting knife. In one swift motion he drew the blade, hopped to his feet, and turned around to face the beast. As he turned, the man saw the knight slash at the quill-bear’s hind legs, right as the beast’s face was only a few feet away from him and Senna-bird. He took the second to locate a group of branches that were high enough from the ground, but low enough that he could reach. Alex placed Senna-bird in the grouping and then charged at the wild monster, hoping to give Alvena an opening.

After the savage slash to its hind legs, the quill-bear had turned on the knight, raising its left paw to swipe at her. Alex saw this as his chance. He ran up beside its left side, located the beast’s unprotected eye, and drove the hunting blade right through the squishy orb.Though he was past the longest quills, there we still a few short ones that pierced into Alex’s arm as he connected with the eye.

Both him and the beast cried out in pain at the same time. Alex ripped himself away, leaving the knife in the monster’s eye, and clutched his torn arm where some quills where still embedded in it. The monster lifted its head and howled at the sky, forgetting that it was now exposing its neck to the dangerous knight in front of it.
 

Robyn

The Phoenix
Staff member
Senna panicked as she felt her body change. If everything was off before, it was downright alien now. She started to crawl away, violently and fruitlessly flapping her wings. It wasn’t until Alex picked her up she calmed somewhat. The last thing the she-bird wanted was to hurt Alex. Still, his unexpected moves startled her and she panicked and clawed at him to let her go. She hopped onto the branch when he reached out. The woman still wanted to follow what was going on, and settled to eye the battle below her. The woman wanted to get higher up, away from the creature but didn’t dare move too much. It was idiotic, but she didn’t want to risk breaking this branch either, nor falling because she couldn’t reach the next branch.

Yet, Senna flapped her wings a few times and stretched out in a sad attempt to distract the creature some more for the two below. She cried out when the two went at the creature. She feared for them and while terror filled her, the woman wanted to help.

Alvena distracted the monster as long as she could for Alex to bring Senna to safety. The knight opted to ignore yet another strange thing in this group. At least for now. It registered that the bird appeared little more than a hatchling but now was not the time to get into that.
Right now, they had to take out the beast and get themselves into safety.

Between Alex and herself, Alvena noted were doing quite fine. It seemed the dryad was giving her the chance they needed. With her knife stuck in it’s eye, it became both easier to kill and more erratic. Alvena predicted its movements before he made them, thanks to Alex. In a swift motion, the woman positioned herself so she could stick her sword in its neck and take it out.

The creature fell down, spluttering and gurgling it's final breath. Once assured it was dead, Alvena looked over the she-bird and Alex while trying to catch her breath. The woman saw the quills and the blood, and it had to be taken care off. The quills had to be taken out, the wound had to be taken care off. She carefully looked at the injury
“They don’t seem to be in deep, but I’m going to have to take these out,” she smiled apologetically, “I’d say that this will hurt, but I know nothing about Dryad anatomy. Is there anything I should or shouldn’t do before or after I remove the quills from your arm?”
She turned to Matty, “can you start boiling some rags? I should have something you can use in my saddle bags. Take out some food from their cloth if you have too.”
She turned back to Alex as a rather important thought crossed her mind. She was treating this like he was human...
"I'm assuming this requires bandaging?"

Alvena then looked up at Senna as she hooted from her branch and ruffled her feathers.
“Is she coming down anytime soon, or transforming back? Presuming that she can she control it, or did she go full beast in both mind and body?”
She warrior looked over Alex’ wound awaiting answers. Unlike with the Dryads, she’d met a few beastkin and knew something about them. She knew some controlled it better than others, although she’d only met those who controlled their abilities fairly well or even excellent.
 
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Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
As the beast fell, Alex could feel the tension draining out of him and would have dropped on the ground right then, if Alvena wasn’t approaching him. He held out his arm for her to examine, the pain increasing as the effects of the battle wore off. While she looked, Alex also noticed that the ‘skin’ and leaves around the quills looked grayer and slightly wilted. Additionally, there was some translucent, light green liquid seeping from the punctured areas.

Alex took in a deep breath as he realized that the ooze was actually his own blood. He was never one to feel queasy at the sight of a wound, but the combination of the stress of the past few days, the recent sprint through the woods followed by the subsequent battle, and now this new revelation, made Alex ill. The man felt his head spin and he stepped forward towards Alvena. With his good arm, Alex reached out and steadied himself using her shoulder and took some deep breaths to relax. After a few seconds, he felt calm again and then he realized what he did.

“I..I’m sorry,” he stammered to Alvena and swiftly drew back his hand, “I think I’m just really tired from everything and need to sit.”

He found a nearby log and slowly sat down on it as Alvena started to ask him questions. Her voice seemed a bit far away and he looked at her with confusion at the first set of questions. They didn’t quite register with him so he just shook his head. He heard Alvena say something and then saw Matty shuffle down the trunk of the tree, flapping his wings to control and slow his decent.

The boy followed Alvena’s instructions and re-kindled the fire to start boiling water for rags. Matty took another glance at his brother, who clearly seemed a bit off. The younger brother set up a pot over the fire and filled some water in it, and then took one of the waterskins over to Alex. The older brother seemed to re-focus as Matty offered him the water and said, “I’m glad you’re ok.”

Alex gave him a small smile and ‘thank you’ before taking the waterskin. He drank a bit from it as Alvena asked him if the wound even needed to be bandaged. Not trusting himself to talk since he was not sure of the answer, he just gave a nod while drinking a bit more. He felt better after that and his head seemed to clear as the clouds in the sky parted, allowing the moonlight to better illuminate the surroundings. With the light, Alex now noticed the small bird that he had put in the branch only moments ago, though it seemed like an hour to him.

At Alvena’s mention of Senna, Alex shook his head and stated, “I don’t...I’m not sure. We haven’t known each other for long, so I don’t know how it works for her.”

Matty slowly made his way over to Senna, feeling a bit better now that his brother was conversing normally. He was still a little too short to reach the branch she was on, but stood on his tip-toes and held out his hands as if to catch her if she fell. He then quietly said to the bird, “If you want to get down, just jump into my hands. I can bring you over to the others.” Matty paused for a second before continuing, “Though, if you feel like you are about to turn back, just give me a sign or just hoot loudly. I don’t want to be crushed.”
 

Robyn

The Phoenix
Staff member
Alvena listened, glad to see Alex was slowly doing better. This was going to be a long night. As her own rush of excitement wore off, she felt that familiar sense of regret of having to take a life. Even if it was an animal trying to kill them. In the end, it'd done nothing they wouldn't have.
"Of course," she sighed,. "Also, it's quills aren't poisonous so it's just a flesh wound. Provides it doesn't get infected."
She caught herself treating this as a human wound again but decided not to ask. They were all tired. If Dryads weren't prone to infections, he'd tell her if he wanted her to know.

Giving the boys a moment alone, she made for the water Matty had put on the fire on her orders. Carefully picking out the bandages she wrung them. She’d preferred to have dry rags but it was what it was. Then again, if it were up to her, they’d have a skilled physician who magically knew everything there was to know about Dryad physiology with them.
Returning to the guys, Alvena crouched with them and looked at Alex.
“May I?”
Addressing the wound as much as he allowed, she offered to stand watch while they all rested. She was too wired now to rest and, while Alex had certainly held his own, their best defence.

As Alvena tended to Alex, Senna listened to Matty and wanted to let him know that sounded like a good plan, as well as that he was being obnoxiously loud. She spread her wings and flapped them a few times, hoping that got the message across. If not, there wasn’t much she could currently do. However, Senna was eager to jump into his arm and get down. The woman-turned-owl thought for a few moments on how this worked. Taking a chance and hoping it worked the same as for humans, Senna relied on her instincts. In a way, it was as simple as waving her arm.
Senna half jumped, half fell from the branch, right into Matty’s hands. She felt herself fall. The she-owl wasn’t sure if she was terrified or not. However small the distance, it felt like she was used to this, made to soar. Then again, this was falling, not soaring. She made a mental note to

Getting carried around by Matty had a VIP kind of feel about it, but Senna found she didn’t like it. Not just the fact she was being carried around like a child was bothering her. No, it was more than that. It took her a few moments to pinpoint her feeling of unease. When it hit her, it quickly became a dark blotch on an already eventful evening. She hated being this close to the ground. Looking about her, as well as testing how far she could really turn her head, Senna sound she wanted to be up there. Her vision and hearing seemed to have also changed… Everything was so much clearer, both visual and audio… She wondered how far these changes went an dmade it a mental note to

The moment she could, Senna hopped out of Matty’s hands, and over to Alvena. The woman had settled for the night but made it clear she would remain awake. If she could get on the warrior’s shoulder, she’d be much happier. Being able to overlook everything… Hear, see, smell and perhaps even taste everything.
Going over, Senna figured she couldn’t ask for the other woman to pick her up and started to flap her wings in an attempt to fly. Having studied owls up close for a while now, the woman thought it couldn’t be that difficult.
Launching herself into the air, and hopping around, however, was the best she was currently capable of. She was a little disappointed this wasn’t easier than it was. The woman stopped trying after that realization. Partly, because it was getting her nowhere, partly because she could feel Alvena stare at her.

“I take it you wish to perch somewhere higher?” Alvena mumbled. She held out her arm to Senna. The she-owl turned her head a few times.
“Get on, and I will assist.”
Senna hopped on, trying not to dig her talons into the woman’s skin. Instinct kicked in when Senna was lifted and she held onto the arm. She wished she could apologize when Alvena flinched. The moment she could, Senna hopped off the arm and onto the warrior’s shoulder. Carefully stretching, she felt a lot happier up here. The only way to make this better was if she had a branch to overlook the camp. Though, even if she could have, she couldn’t complain about the current arrangements.

The night crawled by quietly and slowly after that. Senna took a few short naps throughout the night, but Alvena remained vigilant throughout. Senna wished she could have seen Alvena’s face better, she would have loved the opportunity to study the other woman in a more concealed fashion. Instead, she settled and studied Alex and Matty instead. There was little else to do, other than watching the fire die. When that become boring, the woman tried to discover on how to turn back human. She assumed that was possible, at least. Somewhere she started to panic as the idea she’d be stuck as an owl forever become stronger and stronger. Unable to express this any other way, she stretched to her full height and flapped her wings a few times in quick succession.
Alvena immediately responded by taking the hilt of her sword. Startling Senna with the motion, it dawned on the shape-shifter this wasn’t the smartest thing to do and she forced herself to calm again.

As dawn approached, both ladies were happy it was morning. Alvena would prefer it if they ate on the way, as she was eager to leave again. However, Alex’ wound required check up and she doubted how much he’d really slept. Then again, as with everything else, she hadn’t a clue on how it worked for Dryads.
Going over once he was somewhat awake, Alvena crouched next to him, Senna still balancing on her shoulder and eyed the arm.
“How do you feel?”
If they felt well enough, she hoped to leave as soon as possible.
 

Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
Alex did not utter a word as Alvena bandaged his wound and simply gave a nod once she finished. The older brother looked over the newly bandaged appendage and hoped that this would be enough to stop the odd fluid and would allow it to heal. He gave a heavy sigh as Matty sat down next to him after dropping Senna, in bird form, next to Alvena. As he did, the younger brother seemed to deflate, as if all the action and excitement from the evening caught up to him.

I probably look quite the same, Alex thought to himself. He reached over, with his good hand, to Matty and patted his head before saying, “Thanks for boiling the rags and helping Senna out. Now why don’t we get some sleep.”

In response, Matty let out a yawn and slowly nodded his head. As the two of them laid out their bedrolls, Alex looked over to Alvena and noticed that Senna was now perched on her shoulder. Noticing the same thing, Matty turned to his brother and said, “How long do you think she might stay like that? What if she doesn’t turn back?”

Alex let out another heavy sigh and looked down at Matty, “I have no idea. I guess that’s just another bridge we’ll cross if, or when, we get to it.” Matty noticed that his brother was too tired to get anymore answers or observations from, so he just gave a nod before settling in for the night.

Once again, Alex’s body did not go into the sleep state he was used to when he was human. While not totally aware of every detail around him, the older brother could tell that Alvena and Senna were both keeping watch for the night. He could also feel the moonbeams shining on him as the night went on. Due to that, he noticed another odd sensation. As beams of light shone on him, Alex could feel the pain in his arm fade away. However, the man tried to put the odd feeling out of his mind for the night and resolved to check the bandages in the morning.

After a few hours of his meditative sleep, Alex woke up right around dawn feeling quite refreshed. He turned to look at Matty and noticed the boy was still asleep, a bit of drool running down his chin. The older brother chuckled at the sight before turning his attention to the bandage. He noticed that the greenish ooze did not bleed through the cloth during the night. Additionally, as Alex extended his arm, the man noticed that there was no ache at all. He then softly prodded the area and, when he felt no twinge of pain, he decided to remove the bandage all together to see what had occurred.

Alex was shocked as he saw that the wounds left by the bear-monster had been completely healed. There was no more green liquid, no more holes, and no other marks from his injury. Instead the holes had completely been repaired, thought the patches of ‘skin’ were a slightly lighter shade of green than the surrounding area. Additionally, small sprigs of what looked like goldenrod had grown around the area during the night.

As he was so enthralled with examining this latest development, Alex did not hear Alvena approach. He gave a bit of a start when she inquired as to the state of his arm. Alex took a deep breath and tried to hide the look of shock on his face, hoping that if she did notice it, Alvena would just attribute it to being startled by her appearance.

“Ah. Sorry. I didn’t hear you as you approached,” Alex said. He lifted up his arm and showed her the healed wound, “It’s fine now. I guess the moonlight was enough to heal it.” He hoped that the brief explanation would satisfy her since she also seemed unsure of Dryad anatomy.

“I think we should cook up some breakfast,” Alex continued on while rolling up the cot, “Matty will probably wake up once he smells food. Then we can…” He saw that Alvena seemed a bit antsy, “Or I can wake him up right now and we can get on our way.”

He packed up his bedroll on the saddle laying on the ground. Alex then went over to Matty and gentle shook him awake. The boy gave a loud yawn and then said, “Ya, I’m up.” After blinking the sleepiness out of his eyes, he focused on his older brother’s arm and asked, “How are you doing.”

With out a word, Alex lifted his arm. A small gasp and a ‘whoa’ escaped the younger brother’s lips before Alex put one finger to his mouth and quickly shushed the boy. The boy gave him a guilty look and whispered, “Sorry, but I’m glad your ok. Hey, now you know you have super plant-y healing powers. Now if only I can get the hang of these wings.”

The two brothers quickly packed up anything they had left out for the night before going back to where Alvena and Senna were. Due to being caught up in his own thoughts, it had just dawned on Alex that Senna still had not changed back into a human. As the brother’s approached, Alex gave a small nod and stated, “Everything is all set. Apologies for not asking earlier, but will the both of you be good to ride? If I’m not mistaken, both of you stayed up the entire night? And Senna is still in bird form. Should we tie her horse to yours, Alvena?”
 

Robyn

The Phoenix
Staff member
Alvena eyed the wound. Her brow drew closer together. This was one amazing ability, she had to admit that.
“I’ve heard healers tell all tales about the healing powers of the moon and waters … seems they are more accurate than I gave them credit for.”
She wanted to get out of here. Return home. Bring tidings of Morgan and these strangers. Sleep in her own bed again. Sighing, Alvena got up and thought for a moment. Tiredness would soon get to her, she knew that. A few hours of sleep would do her some wonders.

Satisfied with Alex’, the woman moved to help pack and ready the horses. Going through their things, Alvena wasn’t too happy with the state of some of it. They’d need replacing. At least the next town wasn't too far off. With some luck, it’d be in sight before the sun was down again. She was glad Alex saw reason to get on the road again. The sooner they left, the sooner they reached their destination.
First things first, they had to take care of the horses, and pack their things. As Alex started to pack, she went over to the horses.

When Alex posed his question, Alvena smiled. Once again she was reminded the Dryad way was not her own way.
"I did, but I can sleep in the saddle for a few hours while we ride. It's not very comfortable but it'll have to do. Tornac won't let me fall." She glanced at the Dryad. "Don't worry about getting lost, the next few hours it'll be just straight ahead and I have a map if you want it. Senna took a few naps, as is the owl’s habit. She’ll have to travel with you or Matty, though, if I sleep.”
The notice that he probably knew more about owls and their habits than she did nearly slipped through.
“As for the horse, we might as well. As long as Senna isn’t riding, he’ll have to stick with us somehow. I take it Matty will ride with you again?”
She continued readying the horses, awaiting Alex’ answers and suggestions.

It wasn’t long after, that they were on the road. Alvena got them on the right track, and quickly ate something before resting. Once was comfortable enough they wouldn’t get lost, the woman settled for a few hours rest. The warrior didn’t sleep deeply, and most certainly wasn’t comfortable but it was better than nothing. It didn't take her long to fall into a light slumber.

As they were going about, Senna found herself struggling to maintain balance on Alvena’s shoulder. She was happy when she was transferred over to Alex. Trying her best not to hurt him and dig into his skin - for lack of a better word - she kept as immobile as possible.
The day was quiet and long the way it was. With Alvena napping, and she stuck as a bird, it was … boring. She didn’t dare test her wings on the road, despite wanting to… a lot. Senna didn’t doubt she should have the ability to fly, even if she didn’t quite know yet how.

Senna also found herself a little hungry, and utterly unable to indicated as such. The small animals she heard around them sounded rather appealing. The woman would have gone for them, had she not been convinced was unable to catch anything. Or return to the group after.
The woman quickly settled for resting and enjoying the view. That didn't make the day go by any faster, though, nor alleviate her hunger. Once she was reminded how long ago it'd been since she'd had water, that on the forefront of her mind.

Alvena woke completely well after noon. Senna thought she still looked terrible and if she'd been up all night, but their guard didn't complain. Instead, she checked their progress with Alex and appeared happy with how far they'd come.
"We should reach the next town before nightfall. Do you wish to stay in town? We can find an inn to lodge. You'll be given the cold shoulder, but it'll be a bed, and a hot meal tonight. The alternative is we stay outside and I go inside to replace some of our gear and food tomorrow."
Alvena yawned as she awaited Alex' answer. Part of her hoped he wanted to stay in the town. Mostly for selfish reasons. A bed and hot meal sounded great, but she was well aware of the issues it might bring.
 

Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
Alex nodded along with Alvena’s suggestions for the route they needed to take and accepted the map she offered him.

“Matty will be riding with me, and I have no issues with taking Senna so that you can rest,” Alex stated. He held out his arm so Senna could hop over to him. As she did, he felt her talons dig in, but the odd Dryad skin seemed to be rather resilient to punctures, so there was no pain.

Once everything from the campsite was packed, and Senna and Alvena’s horses properly tied to Alex’s, the group was ready to head off. Before leaving, Alex grabbed a bit of bread for himself and Matty to eat for breakfast and slung a waterskin around the horn of the saddle. The two brothers ate while making their way to the town Alvena had mentioned. Not long after they had eaten and started the trek, both Matty and Alvena had fallen back asleep.

With everyone asleep or unable to talk, it made the trip a boring one. “I feel like a dad taking the entire family on a road trip, but now everyone is asleep in the car so I can’t play any music,” he muttered, letting out a small chuckle at his bad reference. For much of the journey, Alex gazed around at the local flora that lined the trail they took, making a note of unfamiliar plants to look them up later. It seemed like a lot of the wildlife around here was exactly alike, or very close to, the fauna on Earth. Even Senna’s form does not seem any different to owls I have seen while camping, Alex mused.

On that note, Alex looked at Senna who was still quietly perched on his shoulder. In this form, Alex was unsure what she was thinking or how she felt. She had not moved much since they started the journey, but he could tell something was agitating her by the way her feathers looked a bit puffier than before.

He thought for a minute, and then carefully grabbed a cup from one of the front pouches. Alex stopped the horse for a second so that he could fill the cup with water and then lifted it to Senna.

“Here,” Alex stated, “You’re probably thirsty since you didn’t get to eat or drink anything for breakfast. I’ll grab you a small piece of bread as well.” After Senna seemed to have sated her thirst, the Dryad followed up on his promise and broke off bits of bread for her to eat. Once she seemed satisfied, the Alex prodded the horses to take up their trek once again.

Several more hours passed before Alvena woke up. At the mention of hot food and a bed, Matty immediately woke from his coma. With a yawn, the younger brother said, “My vote is for staying in town. While camping is fun, I’d rather not be attacked by a weird bear again.”

Alex let out a soft sigh. He knew it would be better for them to stay in the town than spend another night outside, but Alex knew more people can also mean more trouble. But if we never enter a town, I’ll never pick up on how people act in this world or other idiosyncrasies of the locals. Granted, I might be able to claim some stuff on being a Dryad, but that will probably only take me so far. Additionally, I did get a hooded cloak at the last town so I’ll put that on before we get to our destination, Alex rationalized.

“Alright. We can stay in the town,” he said, “I won’t lie, a bed does sound nice after last night's events.” With his brother’s confirmation, Matty raised both of his hands in the air in triumph, but swiftly grabbed hold of Alex’s shirt before he fell off.

As the sun started to lower in the sky, the group could make out the shapes of houses and lit torches in the distance. Before getting to the edge of the town, Alex stopped the horses, donned his hooded cloak, and then untied Alvena’s horse from his.

Once Alex was settled back on his horse, the young man motioned to the town and said, “Lead the way.”
 

Robyn

The Phoenix
Staff member
Alvena struggled to hide her relief when Alex agreed to stay in town. She was also glad he donned his cloak. Alvena handed her own cloak to Matty. She hoped he could hide his wings with it. People would probably think he was a hunchback, or had an unusually small head for his body but there wasn't much they could do. While brining a Dryad to town would be cause for a fight, bringing a Fae would also attract unwanted attention. Right now, anonimity was their best defence and best friend. Alvena thought about where they should go. There were various inns in town, but not all would give them the privacy and … protection they would need. There were a few who would blatantly deny Alex and Matty entrance, and a few would allow them in but do nothing should it come to a brawl. One or two inn-owners might even make sure it came to that.

As they approached the townline, Alvena decided on where to go. The golden goose was probably their best bet. She'd stayed there before. It had various advantages. It was of decent standing, not known for it's brawls. The owner appeared to have a live and let live attitude. It was close enough to the barracks for local law enforcement to frequent it as well. Alvena figured they would respect her position, even if they didn't agree.
Having decided as such, she started to lead them into the town. The warrior tried to keep them out of sight and was glad it was already quite dark. While she wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed to travel with these strangers, she didn’t feel like inviting trouble either and hoped they understood.

Eventually, the warrior pointed to a sign of an inn, indicating that’s where they had to go. Once there, she dismounted swiftly. She was quick to fetch a stable boy and get their horses taken care off and their bags taken inside. Alvena also made sure to toss him a silver coin for his troubles, with the implied promise of more to come if he kept up his good work and made her happy. Slipping inside with the others, Alvena arranged a room for them and food to be brought to their room. Including some raw meat for Senna. She hadn’t a clue if she would actually eat it but it wasn’t like she could ask and expect an answer. If Senna didn’t want to eat it, she could leave it be.
Again, she tossed them a coin for their troubles and to remain undisturbed for the rest of the evening and night.

Leading up to their room, she smiled sadly once the door was closed behind them. She watched Senna clumsily perch herself up the bedpost.
“Money, it seems to get everything done these days. At least the food will be warm and nobody will disturb us.”
She then eyed Senna, curious when she would turn back human.
“When will you return to your human form? Or have you decided to keep watch from the skies for us?”
She coughed to hide the chuckle when Senna screeched and spread her wings. The she-bird almost sounded frustrated. Alvena figured she was reading too much into it.

She turned to Alex and Matty. Alvena thought it ridiculous they had to hide, because else they would be tossed out of town in the best case scenario. Alex would be chopped into small pieces at worst, to be used as firewood or part of some ridiculous bogus potion.
"My apologies once again for the way things are. In a perfect world, everybody would get along. Instead of killing one another for ... Money and power." She huffed. "In a perfect world I wouldn't have to carry a sword and Morgan would still be alive."
Realizing what she'd just let slip, Alvena composed herself and smiled apologetically. "It seems my emotions got the best of me for a moment. Forgive me. It will not happen again. Let us enjoy a hot meal and a comfortable bed."
 

Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
Alex kept pace with Alvena as she helped the group navigate through the new town. The older brother kept a close eye on his younger sibling. A little way in, Alex noticed that the boy kept fidgeting with the bag on his back. The older brother had told Matty to keep it slung over his back to flatten the boy’s wings, but the shifted pack was now bunching up Matty’s cloak. Alex walked up behind him and swiftly adjusted the garment before it exposed the younger brother’s wings.

Alex bowed his head and harshly whispered, “If you keep doing that, your wings will become exposed, and we will call unwanted attention to our group. You’ll be able to take the pack off when we are safely in the room.”

“But it hurts having them pressed down like this,” Matty softly groaned while rubbing one of his shoulders, “Plus they are sore since I didn’t have a chance to stretch them all day due to riding.”

“Like I said,” Alex continued, “You can take off the pack and stretch them when we are in a safe place. There is probably a good reason Alvena wants us hidden and I hope to never find out why.”

With that, Alex carefully guided Matty in front of him while the boy let out a soft sigh. I’ve spent two whole days in this world and still have not gotten use to my abilities or used them for anything cool, Matty thought to himself. He took a quick glance at his brother, who had kept his hand on Matty’s shoulder, and mused, At least he got to do something awesome. He fought a quill-bear with a bad-ass knight and doesn’t even have a scratch on him.

The boy let out another sigh before turning his head up to look at the darkened sky, the crescent moon just starting to peak out from behind the clouds. I want to be able to fight and be able to use these wings to fly, I just need to learn how to do that. He looked around and spied Senna, who was still perched on Alex’s shoulder, shifting her wings as well. That’s it, Matty thought, Maybe Senna has some bird knowledge that, once she gets outside properly, will let her know how to fly. Then she can teach me, and we can both sore together! A wide smile broke out on the boy’s face as he thought, Tonight I’ll see if me and Senna can sneak out for a bit and go train to fly.

With that resolve, Matty kept a close watch on the town and how it was laid out. He wanted to make sure they could slip thought the gate and not be noticed when they went on their excursion. The younger brother was so lost in thought about planning for that night, he would’ve walked into Alvena as she stopped in front of the inn, if not for his older brother’s hand guiding the boy.

Once they were inside the room, Matty quickly relieved himself of the pack and took off the cloak. He then stretched out his wings and gave a huge sigh of relief. As he did, Matty saw Senna perch on the bedpost and screech at a question that Alvena asked. He walked over to her, but before the boy could say anything to the she-owl, the knight turned to the two brothers and apologized.

“You do not have to apologize for things you are unable to control. Also, everyone is allowed to have emotions,” Alex responded. He hated seeing people beat themselves up for issues not of their making, especially when they were grieving for a loss of a friend. Alex wanted to comfort her more, but it was not his place since he had already set the boundary. Though he was very grateful that she had stopped asking questions and had saved their lives last night, he did not want to open the door again for more interrogations.

Alex continued on, “Though I do agree that a hot meal and a long rest will do everyone some good.”

As Alex and Alvena talked about food and what the sleeping arrangements would be for the night, Matty went over to Senna and laid out his plan for a midnight flying lesson.

“So what do you think?” Matty asked, waiting for an answer, but remembering she could not speak properly, “Uhhh…flap once for yes or twice for no.”
 

Robyn

The Phoenix
Staff member
Alvena inclined her head with a smile as Alex assured her he held nothing against her. For a second, the woman thought he had more to say but didn’t press when nothing was forthcoming. Alvena made a proposal for their sleeping arrangements for the night. They could all use the rest and the woman was happy to be in the safe confines of their room. It was big, it wasn’t fancy but the door had a lock.
Soon, a servant would bring them something to eat. In the meantime, Alvena decided that she might as well take care of their gear. Her weapons needed a deep clean after the fight, and she wanted to double check what they would need to replace the next day. If there was anything that could be salvaged after all, that was preferable. While her funds were decent, they weren’t limitless. Not to mention, the less she had to replace, the quicker they would be on their way again.

The warrior didn’t mind the silence that fell over them while awaiting the hot meal they’d been promised. She took the time to take care of her weapons and other gear in order to keep busy. They needed a proper clean and sharpening after the previous night and the last thing she wanted was to fight with a dull sword or knife. The routine acts worked rather calming, almost therapeutic as she went through the motions. So much so, the woman was surprised when food arrived. Thanking the kid on the other side of the door she once again made it clear they didn’t want to be disturbed. The servant, Alvena figured one of the owners children, was only too eager to promise they'd have their peace and quiet.
Alvena herself was happy to see they’d included the order to a tee, including raw meat for Senna.

Senna was quick to flap her wings furiously to indicate she was not going along with Matt’s plan. If she had been able, she’d give him an earful about all the levels of stupid his plan was. Alvena knew this land and she’d made an effort to keep them out of sight. It was not a good plan to go against her, least of all without knowing precisely why she wanted them hidden. Part of her wanted to get Alex’ or Alvena’s attention and point out to them Matt was going to do something dumb if he had a chance. Unable to voice her concerns to the other adults in the room, the woman decided to keep an eye on the kid after dinner and ready herself to go absolutely nuts if that’s what it took to get Alvena’s and Alex’ attention. In the meantime, the woman would enjoy the food. Senna was too tired and hungry to think too much about the fact that she was eating raw animal and gobbled up the pieces.

As nobody seemed in a talking mood, Alvena called it a night early. She hadn't slept well and fully intended to get a better night's sleep than the night before or even her nap on the horse. Settling to go sleep, the woman kept her weapons close. Some habits were hard to break, especially when travelling with strangers like she was. Senna, on the other hand, was still utterly unable to inform them about Matty’s plan. The she-owl wasn’t sure if he’d follow through without her on board but in case he would… The woman thought it best to test her wings herself, in case she had to go after him. After a few minutes of folding and unfolding her wings and moving them in various ways, she realized that having theoretical knowledge on how birds flew was a far cry from the actually flying.
 

Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
“Alright, Alright,” Matty said to Senna in a hushed tone, “I won’t go then. Calm down.”

As he turned, he double checked if anyone saw the interaction or Senna’s freak out. Matty almost let out a sigh of relief as he saw his older brother was absorbed in the botany book and Alvena seemed to be working with her weapons. Well, if Senna doesn’t care to learn how to fly, guess I’ll have to do it myself, Matty resolved as he sat down and waited for dinner.

The night rolled on without any issues after that. Matty eagerly chowed down on the food once it arrived and then was happy to curl up on a soft mat before drifting off to sleep. However, due to his excitement of what he was planning, Matty woke up after what he assumed was a few hours. The boy slowly looked around the room before getting up. He could see Alvena fast asleep in bed and what seemed like an unresponsive Senna perched on a bed post. Matty then cautiously turned over towards his brother. He could make out Alex’s still form under the blankets. To Matty, this was the green light.

Matty slowly lifted the blankets off and silently made his way to the door. He grabbed his shoes, but did not put them on yet. He wanted to keep the stealth that having socks afforded him. With his boots in one had, Matty carefully unlocked the door, slide out, and, as quietly as he could, closed it behind him. When he was a ways down the hallway, Matty slipped on his shoes and found the back way out of the building. Once outside, he stuck to the shadows as he recalled how to make it to one of the entrances that would lead him to the forest.

-----
Since Alex did not properly sleep, he found a good use for his new nighttime meditative state. He decided to read a bit before going to bed and then to memorize the important details while in the trance. This way, Alex hoped, he could learn and retain information about this world faster and be able to keep up the groups ruse. He was memorizing about a local flower named Slyphsbane, when he thought he heard the click of the door. Alex roused himself from his resting state and looked around the room. No one had seemed to come in and the door was still closed. He took another sweep and that’s when his heart sank.

Matty was no longer here.

Alex’s eyes swept around the room. He saw that his brother’s shoes were missing. He looked to the coat rack and noticed that Matty’s cloak was still hanging there. Without a thought, Alex grabbed the cloaks and his shoes, hastily threw them on, and then went out the door without bothering to see if he’d closed it properly. All Alex could think was that he needed to find his brother before something happened to him in this strange world.
 

Robyn

The Phoenix
Staff member
When Matty left, his movements woke Senna from her slumber. Unlike humans, she didn’t need to wake up. No, the she-owl was wide awake in an instant. She spread her wings again, debating if she should make another ruckus. Perched from where she was, however, there wasn’t much she could do. Making a snap-judgement, Senna decided to follow Matty. Once he’d arrived at his destination, she could fly back and and get the others. Nervous about her abilities, or lack thereof, she tried following him. The woman attempted a deep breath as she spread her wings, and tried to become airborne. She tried to visualize how the owlets learned to fly, and to mimic their actions. Senna outstretched herself to her full height, and spread her wings. She then started to move them to familiarize herself with how it felt. The she-owl knew she had to act quickly if she wanted to keep up with Matty, but also hoped her new senses would help to locate the kid.

It took her a few tries to take off and soar through the sky. When finally airborne, Senna found it rather tricky to fly in a straight line, and fought to remain in the air. Her wings would not flap in unison, and the woman felt herself wobble. She felt a slight panic bubble up.
Senna told herself she was a badass and that she could do this. She played with tiger cubs for pete's sake. As she made her way through the air, wobbly and uncertain as she went - Senna found it harder than she'd hoped to locate Matty again. She noted quietly her vision was absolutely amazing, as was her hearing but she struggled to untangle all the sensory input.

After what felt like hours, but could have been only mere minutes, Senna decided to land somewhere. It was getting too much for her, and this was going nowhere. If she couldn't untangle the mess that was all the sensory input, she might as well fly blind. Hell, even if she could make perfect sense of it all, she'd have to fly any one direction and hope she could locate the kid. The woman decided on a roof to settle on, but landing was not easy. The last few feet, it was falling more than landing. The roof got closer too fast and panic settled in her pit. Wildly flapping her wings, instinct took over as her claws grabbed onto the hard wooden bar. Senna took a few moments to calm herself, and then settled to untangling all the sounds around here. Despite it being dead in the night, there was much to hear. she could hear the nightworkers - or she assumed they were nightworkers. There appeared to be some small critters running around. The wind was blowing a gentle breeze, rustling some fabric, the trees. Somewhere a windowpanel creaked...
But these were not things she was after. She had to find the little idiot that had snuck out, and fast as well. God only knew what he was up, or what trouble he'd be otherwise... she found that hearing was easier than looking, and figured that wasn't strange... Barn owls were known to rely upon their hearing most. When it clicked that she would have to do the same, Senna felt like an idiot. Then again, at least she'd realised it now.

Senna once again stretched herself, and moved her wings around. There was no a feather of doubt in her there was much too learn, but it appeared she had to learn on the go. Instincts. That was what she needed.
Human logic would get her only so far. Her knowledge would get her only so far. Turning her feathery head to look around, Senna took in how her muscled moved, how the breeze felt on her feathers.
She could do this! Right?
The woman gave a few powerful flaps and then kicked off into the air again. There was no time to fail. She had to find Matty, and quickly too.
 

Izack

The Forever Tired Void
Staff member
Matty jogged around the corners and alleys of the darkened town. For once, during this whole trip, he was quite grateful for his shortened stature. There were plenty of hiding places for him to escape behind if he accidentally stumbled across anyone out during the night. The only people he seemed to find were drunkards, homeless people, or the occasional lovers who found excitement in exposing themselves in public. Lucky for him, these folks were too engrossed in their own lives to notice a small Fae boy dodging from alley to alley behind boxes and barrels.

As he retraced the groups steps, Matty noticed that there were more guards as he approached the entrance of the town. He started to become more and more cautious as he turned down various streets and made sure to stay in the shadows. He reached his hand back to throw his hood up but was a bit shocked when his hand found nothing. Matty slapped his face as it dawned on him that, in the boy’s excitement, he forgot to bring the one item that would give him advantage in regard to matters of stealth. With a sigh he resigned himself to that fact and decided to watch them for a bit while coming up with a plan.

Matty finally made it to the gates and crouched down behind several stacked boxes. He noticed that there seemed to be an increase in the number of guards that surrounded the gate than he saw earlier. The boy kept an eye on the patrolmen as they mill about and talk to each other for a bit. It seemed that most were in a circle and were passing around a flask which Matty assumed contained alcohol. After a bit of chatting and laughing it, one of the guards went to take a sip only to then look at the flask with a frown upon his face. The guard then motioned to his buddies and the group followed him into a building nearby.

*This is my chance!* Matty thought excitedly.

He looked around for any other guards and only saw one up in the tower, gazing out in the opposite direction of the boy. The only one left on the ground seemed to have nodded off in a chair under the gate. Matty carefully approached the entrance, keeping his eye on the building and the sleeping man. He stuck close to the shadows and the wall, trying to be as silent as possible. Matty soon realize, due to the loud snoring of the last guard, that slipping past the man was not going to be a hard feat. Once he was out of view from the tower guard, Matty abandoned his stealth and swiftly walked away from the gate and into the forest.

He didn’t dare go in too far, for fear of another monstrous beast, but stayed close to the forest and the town wall. Once Matty figured he was out of sight of any guards, the boy looked for a clearing near the stone wall and was able to find one quite quickly. He took in a deep breath and started doing some stretching. He also started to play around with how his wings worked. While he did some warm-ups, which he wasn’t sure would help or not, the boy also expanded his wings, moved them up and down, tilted them to feel the wind, and then pulled them back in.

*Alright, well, let’s see if this works,* Matty mused to himself as he flapped his wings, *Time to learn how to fly!*

---------

Not knowing where his brother could be off to, Alex frantically searched back alleys in the hopes of stumbling across Matty. After crashing into a third drunkard, the young man took a pause behind a building, looked up to the sky, and took a few deep breaths. The cool night air cleared his mind as he thought, *I can’t keep running around like this. If I do I’ll eventually cause a scene and who knows what people do to Dryads around here.*

Alex continued looking at the moon, hoping that its dazzling radiance would give him some answers. After a minute with no answers, Alex adjusted his cloak and hood, but before he could return to his endeavor, the young man noticed something small in the sky. He squinted his eyes and could see that it was some small bird apparently having difficulty flying. That’s when he noticed what kind of bird it was. A barn owl.

“Sen-,” Alex cut off his exclamation. He did not want to call more attention to himself. However, if that was Senna, she might also be looking for Matty. The older brother took one more deep breath, exhaled, and then started to follow wherever the were-owl might be headed.
 
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