The iridescent feathers of Vienne’s familiar tickled her neck. Idly, she stroked the breast feathers of Sarris as the pair of them watched the sky. There was something different on the air. Something to the west was changing.
“You sense it, too, don’t you Sarris?” Vienne asked her familiar. In response, the eagle bobbed it’s elegant head and tightened its talons upon her shoulder. “It can bode nothing well,” she said again.
Sarris quarbled in agreement, his head bobbing once more.
Vienne nodded. “I agree,” she murmured, replying to the eagle on her shoulder. “You don’t mind going and taking a look?” Sarris burbled again, nudging his beak against Vienne’s hair. “Alright, alright,” Vienne chuckled, raising her hand to her shoulder.
Sarris hopped from her shoulder to Vienne’s raised, gloved hand. When his weight pushed down against her arm, Vienne pushed Sarris up into the sky. Her heart caught in her throat, like it did every time her familiar took off, as she watched his dangling feet waggle in the air as he found his stride in the air.
Sensing her thoughts, Sarris let out a scolding screech in Vienne’s direction. She chuckled once again, shaking her head after the silhouette of the retreating eagle.
Vienne crossed the open grassy plain to a boulder jutting out of the grass. She clambered up its sloped, craggy surface and perched herself atop the pinnacle of it. Her knees pulled up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them, Vienne rested her chin upon her folded forearms, facing the direction in which Sarris had flown off. The warmth of the sun was to her back as she watched Sarris disappear into the clouds to the west.
The mountains around her hummed with a deep, melodic magic that thrummed through Vienne’s bones. This valley was her favorite place to be. She felt at peace here; her magic was at its strongest, her mind its clearest. Every tree that surrounded the small glade had a story to tell, a whispered history only those with the skill to listen could hear. Vienne loved to come here and listen to their tales for hours at a time as a girl. It was not until she passed her Summoning that she understood the weight of power of which this valley held to her.
She could perform magic everywhere, any type, any spell. But here, in this place, this valley, her magic was at its purest form. Its most stable. There was no chance of spell failure, or splatter, in this valley. Her magic was at its strongest here. She was at her strongest here.
And so, after passing her Summoning and upon the arrival of her familiar, Vienne had left the village in which she had grown up and built herself a small hut in her valley. She had not left her village far behind, it was just on the other side of the ridge, to the east. It was not lost on her that she was now the only thing that stood between where her childhood still lived and whatever was arising out of the west.
The sun was beginning to dip below the rocky crests of the mountains by the time Vienne heard the frantic call of Sarris. It was not his normal call. He was alarmed, bewildered by something. Perhaps even frightened. It was a very rare thing for Sarris to become frightened.
Vienne jumped off her rocky perch in one fluid movement, jogging toward the west where she expected Sarris to emerge from the cloud cover at any moment. Finally he did, bursting forth from the clouds as though it had taken him some effort and more than one attempt. He dove towards Vienne and she held out her arm expectantly. But he did not stop. Instead, his talons released something, and he continued on his way, towards where their home stood back in the trees to the east.
Scrunching her brow in confusion, Vienne watched Sarris flee. Very unlike him indeed. She moved towards the thing that Sarris had dropped. It took a few moments to find in the tall grass, but finally Vienne found it. She knelt to pick it up. It was a strange, reddish white rock. She turned it over and over in her hands, wondering what in the worlds it could be. As she rotated it one last time, her heart stopped. Letting out a shriek, she dropped it to the ground and jumped up in revulsion. It was a twisted, malformed skull.
Inktober 2022, Prompt #11: EAGLE
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