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Ever since I was a boy I had dreamed of the heavenly magic of flight,
the sublime knowledge of the pure freedom granted to those
whose feet have never been bound to the earth. I had never thought to
experience it beyond such idle reveries, until one strange day among
my captors. My master had seen fit to have me in attendance during a
skirmish, when his forces engaged a much more numerous beast herd.
He gave strict instructions that I was to be kept hidden among the
trees, but I yearned to witness the events of the battle first hand.
There is a class of knight among the Trewi who favour airborne steeds.
These enormous raptors appear to be grotesquely enlarged kestrels,
bred and trained for the single purpose of war. Their size and speed
make them terrifying foes, even without the deadly accuracy of their
bow-wielding riders, and I witnessed the psychological toll of these giant
creatures falling amidst the enemy.
One such knight had been left as my escort during the battle. I chafed
under her gaze, until it was suddenly drawn by the bellowing of a great
minotaur, riddled with arrows, on a directionless rampage through the
woods. Quick as lightning, my guard was on her mount and above the
trees. She rode while standing as though the fury of the high winds and
the lithe flitting of the bird were no more than a gentle rocking. I did
not watch to see her stalk and slay the beast, choosing instead to move
closer to the battle itself.
I thought myself stealthy as I moved towards the sounds of baying and
bloodshed. But suddenly I turned at the hideous sound of feral panting.
A man-beast was upon me, its great cleaver raised. Just as I believed
my end had arrived, a white-tipped shaft sprouted from the creature’s
chest. My guard had saved me with a flawless arrow to the heart. Moments
later, her kestrel took me in its mighty talons and immediately
we were aloft, spiralling to an unfathomable distance above the forest
and the conflict below, as the last of the beasts fell.
I gasped at the view. Closer than I could have believed lay Equitaine,
filling me with longing for home. I could see Corante itself and just beyond
the river Guêon glinting like the jewelled brow of the Lady herself.
We passed so low by the edge of the forest I could see the road we
had taken to enter these woods, what seemed like years before. Later
we crossed a clearing, dominated by a great stone carved like a boar and
with a stepped dais behind. I planned to ask more of this, until such
thoughts were swept away in the thrill of soaring.
My childhood daydreams were fulfilled and surpassed as we soared
among the clouds and swooped just inches above the treetops. Of all
my experiences among the fey, the glory of flight contained perhaps the
purest joy for me. It is this transcendent moment, above all others, that
I recall in times of danger to this day.
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