Out of the four that followed Spack, Strix was the only one to keep her composure. Not much of a surprise; she was always able to keep a cool head, even in the worst of situations. Take the whole issue with Olivier and Squall, for instance. Everyone else was wanting blood, acting on raw, unadulterated emotion, while she had to be cold, hard, remind them that it was folly to let their actions be swayed by such. That’s what got Olivier in trouble in the first place, bending to the will of another’s emotional onslaught, but she didn’t fault him for that. It’s what made Olivier who he was. The fault lied solely on the one who manipulated him, his life on her head.
But this wasn’t about Lam Berel or Olivier. This wasn’t about that short-sighted fishwoman, either. Those things were in the past, and should be kept there. They were now in Agutrot, roaming its copper streets, pressing their way through the crowd. Even as a Natorei, she found herself shoving aside Zephyrians, so tightly packed it was a wonder none were slowly starting to unwind and snap, yet they didn’t seem to care. They didn’t mind behind shoved against, didn’t mind as Claire clawed her way through or Spack ahead shoved and shouldered them, still cooing and squawking away without a single care in all the world.
Gilded gliders flew over head, rumbling, warbling the droning air, turning it to awes as they did such spectacles. Alas, those gliders were what caught Avin’s eye, ogling their flips, their twirls, their coordinated run-by’s and collisions, leaving behind such intricate shapes with their exhaust in the sky. She had to keep shoving him to ensure he didn’t completely lock up and become a part of that mindless assembly.
Fili, meanwhile, seemed blind to all of it. Her attention was focused ahead, on Spack. Normally, Strix would be appreciative of this level of diligence from her, but she had a bad habit of conjuring a lichtspeer, ready to take down whatever may have blocked her view. For the most part, it was the newest contraptions made by the Zephyrians, what they called balloons, thin membranes blown up with a gas that was supposedly lighter than air and held by children on a bit of string. They always made a peculiar popping sound when struck by her lichtspeer, and then the child would start crying, attracting attention.
Thankfully, though, it had been a few blocks since Strix even saw a child let alone a balloon, but it didn’t excuse the fact she kept that weapon ready, in a crowd of easily thousands, if not millions. Though they appeared docile at the moment, Zephyrians could snap at a moment’s notice, and they would be overrun with barely a word to react... Claire, meanwhile, well, a leopard can’t change its spots anymore than a cheetah can’t stop cheating. It was a wonder she didn’t snap her own neck with how fast she was whipping her head around. Her tail flicked with it, trying to find a tavern, a tent, any place that dealt cards. Much to her dismay, however, there were none. On this side of town at least.
“I swear,” she grumbled. “Once we are done with our business with Spack’s friend, I am going to hunt me down a tavern. I’m craving a game.”
“It’s not much further,” Spack said. The road had changed as they walked, from the green at the beginning to that brilliant copper then back to the green, walking well over a mile. There was more to walk, as well, but it had split into a four-way. Spack headed towards the right street, which the difference was night and day. The crowd practically disappeared on this street, trickles of it here and there making its way in, but, the further they went, the wider the distance before the last person until, at last, there was no one. Another cross roads laid ahead, this one a fork, which he took the left, leading to a sharp hook of a route. “Just around the corner here.”
“Such strange architecture,” Strix said. “I presume it’s because of the need for space to craft.”
“And you would be right. Behind the buildings are wide spaces so as to have plenty of room to build... as well as potential, though rare, catastrophic failures.”
Though he said “rare”, Strix had a feeling it was three-to-four every day, and that was still being generous. Spack reached the corner, started to walk around the golden wall- but retreated back. He held up his hands to the others, stopping them, and held his finger to his lips. However, that didn’t really stop Strix. She flew over his head and looked around the corner to see for herself.
There were only six doors, six “houses” along that street, each property gated off from the other by tall, thin slivers of copper. Each “house” was more glass than metal, slabs of it, covered in white sheets, but you could see the cranks that could open them inside, either individually or all at once. One could easily see beyond those “houses”, see the plots of land, the acres beyond, and how they were bare of all crystal, scorched, singed to a fine, almost mirror-like black. There were also platforms, stands that rose almost to the heights of those glass domiciles while others actually did, creating wide porches, garages on their tops. Gilded gliders and the makes of one were strewn up there, glistening in the sun, quickly setting in the west.
Halfway down the “houses” along the other side of the street, there were three Zephyrians, one in a doorway. They had rather plain plumage in comparison to Spack, but that didn’t take away from its brilliant white luster, visibly ruffled, annoyed by the two, black Zephyrians before her. Their feathers had a reddish gleam, as if reflected off her eyes, though Strix couldn’t make out what was being said. Also, unlike the white Zephyrian and Spack who had a rounded beak, those two darker Zephyrians were pointed.
“What’s going on?” Strix inquired.
“Business as usual,” Spack said, wincing as the white Zephyrian squawked at the others. “She always did love to antagonize the Mordos- oh dear. Here we go.”
The white Zephyrian, Swelabeth Strix presumed, ducked back inside the house. It was only a second, a breath at most, but the Mordos weren’t giving up. They climbed the steps, readying to barge- when she returned in its arch. Lightning crackled through the street, the Mordos to the left crying out, twitching and convulsing on the ground as the lightning arced through him, trailing from the copper gauntlet on her right arm. Blue runes burned along its length, flashing with each fresh lance of lightning, aiming it towards the other Mordos.
She made a miscalcuation, it seemed. She expected the Zephyrian to simply be frozen there, in awe of what had happened. Instead, it appeared the Mordos was used to this and promptly pushed her arm up, sending the lightning towards the sky. She struggled, squawking loudly, but went silent as the Mordos shoved her head against the doorway. With that, the gauntlet faded, slipping off as he slung her over her shoulder.
He walked down the steps, kicking his “friend” in the side as he did, waiting for him to stand, then the two simply walked away, not a care to be had. Spack groaned, pinching his brow, and shook his head.
“Of course she’d get captured,” he grumbled. “Can’t make my life easy or anything.”
“We’re going to help her, right?” Avin blurted.
“Finally decided to pay attention to what’s before you?” Strix said.
“I was paying attention the entire time. I can multitask after all.”
“How many balloons did Fili pop, then?”
Spack shook his head, heaving a weary sigh.
“I didn’t expect to help her,” he said. “We simply need her tools.”
“That’s just cruel!” Fili shrieked. “We should help her.”
“Why? Do you forget she has a crystal like mine? This isn’t the first time she’s been captured and won’t be the last.”
“Is this how you really treat your friends?”
“‘Friends’? I wouldn’t go that fa- where do y-”
“Get back here, young lady!” Strix boomed after Fili... and Avin. Both darted around the side, giving chase after the Mordos. Strix rubbed her forehead, groaning. “Those two are going to be the death of me, I swear...”
Somebody tapped her, Claire clearing her throat.
“Aren’t we going to follow?” Claire said, tail flicking as she trilled. “Call it stereotypical, but I love a good cat-and-mouse.”
“I suppose we are now... and Spack is going to help, too.”
“Sadly.” He stated, and they gave chase... but not before he stopped by the door, obtaining that lightning gauntlet. “Yes. Finally.”
“You don’t know how long I’ve been wanting to use this. She’s been holding it over my head for years.”
It seems “Friends” was really pushing it, Strix thought, and she, Spack, and Claire tailed after Avin and Fili, still tailing the Mordos to who knows where in the city.