Thankfully, it wasn’t that long in Professor Klan’s, but the infirmary was quickly becoming like a second- third- fourth home for him, right behind Daisy’s then Benjamin’s then his own room. Though, to be fair, it was a tie between Benjamin’s office and his. He got his face patched up to its normal, ugly self, then parted ways with Daisy. Though parting was such sweet sorrow, it was for the best. For his own health. If having an erection for four hours was worrying, what about sixteen?
Once more, he felt that same sense of excitement and dread as he lumbered to Professor Torrid’s, but all that quickly faded once he was at his desk. Professor Torrid greeted him back with equal parts cheer, dour, and Wrestlemania, but he could only manage a lukewarm response in return. It wasn’t long before he threw an S at the beginning of his lumbering and didn’t notice as the other students came in and class began... Oh, and Saliim, as well.
It wasn’t as if he was missing anything important, anyways. The first couple of months were explaining why restoration magic was important and how it could be just as dangerous as primal if used “improperly”. There was always one key principle of this type of magic, however: you cannot use it on the common mass, the “normies”.
“Their bodies cannot handle it|Their natural energies are too frail|It’ll be like a mallet to a watermelon!” He remembered Professor Torrid telling him initially, robbing him of the joys of this kind of magic all too long ago. Professor Molly did a magnificent job the week before explaining that a certain holy figure didn’t have true magic but a magic relic. Because relics were fine for the normal people, but actually laying hands and curing diseases? No... So he slept, a more practical use of his time, but it wasn’t long before something was tapping his shoulder.
“Mel,” Saliim hissed into his ear, still tap, tap, tapping away. “Wake up.”
“Is it the weekend yet?” He mumbled.
“Then five more minutes... No, wait. The other word... days.” He groaned, and shoved her arm away, nuzzling into his sleeves deeper... but it only returned in greater force. “Quit it!”
“Mel. You really should wake up.”
“Is it time for personal practice?”
“Is the Institute on fire again?”
“Then it’s your average Tuesday... I already heard and wrote all they said in my notebook.” Technically in triplicate, he thought, remembering how he actually did keep three notebooks and wrote down what every single head said... Remember the fire question? So now he kept only one, knowing that it was the raven-haired side that wrote the tests but based it off the right side’s lecture. The middle really was for show... probably gave the best O-face, though. But she kept tapping, kept pecking at him, so he gave another groan and sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Fine! I’m up. Are you h-”
She was not the one poking him.
As he rubbed the last of the crust from his eyes, he could see a glowing pair of ambers before him. It took a moment for his mind to catch up, but it recognized them and the black feathers, though he didn’t remember them looking so... rustled? Even the sounds they made sounded absolutely annoyed, which perplexed him. He hasn’t even talked to her yet.
“You,” it crowed, fading into a warbling squawk. “You lied to us.”
“You said your name was Rizoli... We summoned Rizoli. You weren’t Rizoli!”
“What are you talking about?”
They gave an angry caw, taking a step towards him.
“The phenomena. Over a month back. We- I found you. I returned, told Matriarchs... They summoned Rizoli. You weren’t Rizoli.”
“Oh... that... Yeah. I’m not New Jersey.”
“You. You LIED-”
“Back it up for a minute, Penny-”
“Penny? I am Hilde.”
“I didn’t lie to you; my grandfather did.”
They gave another, agitated caw, feathers ruffling loud enough to make the air seem like a thousand wiffle balls were passing through it. They were so close that they had to crane their head to the right just so they can see him in at least one eye, mirroring him in their amber basins, seeming to swirl with fire.
“Hilde was mocked, ridiculed by the Clan. ‘Ambitious’. ‘Scheming’... ‘Liar’.”
“So... I take it things didn’t go well with New Jersey.”
“Assaulted Matriarch. Moving hands, explaining his situation. Brushed Lua’s face in non-intimate manner... Made tasty treat for most of tribe. Hilde denied because of you!”
“Again, I didn’t do anything. My grandfather told you the name.”
“Don’t play coy... Lying by omission is still lying. Harpies sent back out, scour all dimensions again. Hilde had to stay back, even though Hilde knew where to find you. Nobody believed Hilde. Nobody believed it was magus realm. I sneaked away, came here, waited to find you. Wait long time, but wait paid off.” They crowed again and their hand lashed out, grabbing him by the wrist. Harpies are surprisingly strong for how lithe and streamlined they seemed, and he was pulled right out of his chair. His head almost hit the ground, but he could see under the front desk that Professor Torrid had been knocked out cold. The giantess was covered in cuts, slashes, and so many feathers, as were the rest of the students... but not Saliim.
Speaking of the succubus.
“Let him go,” she exclaimed, wrenching at the harpies shoulder, but the bird girl simply shrugged, the oils in the feathers sliding her off with ease. “H-hey! Get back h-”
The harpy stepped out of the room and fanned her arms, catching Saliim on the chin as she did, knocking her on her rear. Her wings gave a hefty push, dust billowing from their force, and by the third they were airborne. Saliim grabbed Mel’s leg and held on for dear life, but the harpy managed it with ease, too fueled by pride and zeal to show failure now, flying towards the stars above. One twinkled so bright, growing, darkening as they neared it, and it turned out to be a rift.
As Hilde rose in the heavens, her beats became more frantic, her mouth frothing, eyes glittering with such determination to get through, and that didn’t change as they did. Gales of wind beat down on Mel and the succubus, rippling the very void around them until they broke into soft, green skies. Far, far below crimson grass and golden trees tried to reach those lofty eyes, speckled with nests upon nests, condensing as they continued to laze across those warm heavens. Even at their height, it felt almost tropical, with areas that became desert-levels of heat, pushing up on her wings.
It wasn’t long before other harpies joined them, squawking and crowing and some even hooting as they approached on brown wings, white wings, sharp wings, soft wings, large wings and even larger wings. They all had amber eyes, though. Some were more orange, others more red, but they were all that rich, glorious, burning color. And, of course, they were all beautiful... in appearance, at least.
“Well, well,” one of the larger winged ones mused, hooting after. “Hilde returned. Prodigal daughter decides to show her face.”
“Another failure? What delightful morsel did you bring us this time?” A sharper winged one inquired, and Mel expected them to start chanting “Mine!” at any moment. They dove a touch, face-to-face with him, and he could see that her teeth were pointed. “He looks... and smells delicious.”
Hilde squawked and lashed out at her with her feet. One of the talons managed to find flesh as the harpy tried to recoil, blood raining down onto the grass already well-fed by it.
“He goes to the Matriarch.” Hilde stated.
“But what about this one,” Hooter asked. She had lazed down to Saliim, turning her head side to side and almost completely upside-down.
“You can do whatever you want with it.”
“No you can’t!” Saliim shrieked, clinging harder to Mel’s leg... and it started to bother him that he couldn’t feel anything in it.
But Hooter already shook their head, climbing back up and matching Hilde’s flight.
“No... no...” They said. “It’s a succubus. Taste terrible.”
“What was that? I’ll have you know I am a delicacy! I would be the best meal you ever had. Isn’t that right, Mel?”
“I wouldn’t know. I never tasted you.”
“When we get back home we’re fixing that!”
“Don’t you have wings, little succubus?” The short, thing winged one said, making a coughing racket that Mel assumed was it trying to laugh. “Why do you cling like a tick? Don’t you have any of that legendary succubus pride?”
“That went out the window by the fourth bottle of whiskey in a row,” Mel said.
Saliim scoffed, and let him go, matching the harpies with ease. Sadly, that meant Mel’s leg woke up, and it tingled and screamed against the wind that buffeted him. They started to descend, their target most likely the large nest at the top of the giant tree that all of the nests lead to. In it were five dark dots, growing fast and revealing to be the grandest and most extravagantly-feathered (and the most beautiful) of the harpies. They were, also, the most filled out of the harpies, host of easily HHH-cup breasts and booties that put Daisy to shame, but they didn’t seem like they would fly, anyways. However, that did not mean they were slow; Mel blinked, and they were already circled around Hilde as she landed, reaching out for him and for the black-winged harpy.
“Impertinent child! You dare show your face to us?” The one right before them, the one with green eyes instead of amber, cried out. Her voice seemed to summon the flock, the entire ridge of the nest filled in moments, harpies of all shapes and sizes glaring down on the three of them. The harpy pulled Mel out of Hilde’s grasp, looking him over with those glittering blue eyes, and scoffed as they shoved them back in Hilde’s arms. “Another mage, and you brought a succubus, as well?”
“She was not brought,” Hilde grumbled, almost spitting her words out, as if they were bile and aimed directly at Saliim. “Unwanted hitchhiker.”
“No way in the seven levels was I about to let you blue-plate-red-light combos take him without a fight,” Saliim said, black fire rising from her hands.
Snuffed out with a wave from the harpy furthest on the right.
The center harpy huffed, shaking her head, such... sorrow etched into her brow.
“This dissonance shall not go unpunished, Hilde,” they said. “Your aspirations have lead you to your ruin... All those years, I tried to stem it only for you to fail me again and again.”
“Mother! Please! Listen to me,” Hilde said, squeezing Mel’s shoulders. “This time I am certain. This was the one that created the phenomena. The one I told you about.”
“There is only one way to know for sure.” The harpy raised her hand, slowly, and before it had even unbent at the elbow an egg was deposited in it, the harpy that delivered it back on their roost before she lowered it once more. Her hand glowed gold, covering, blanketing the egg before it reached out to Mel. No sooner had it touched his nose then it turned green, and all the harpies started to sing their songs. The other, larger harpies in the nest started to crow and caw as well, silenced as the harpy in the middle swiped her hand. They handed the egg off to the harpy to their right and clasped their hands, approaching Mel and Hilde. Though her face still had so much annoyance, there was a spark in those blues, a bit of... pride? Happiness? Was it relief? “Well done, Hilde... You earned my forgiveness.”
Mel didn’t even see her hands move. They were clasped together, then, the next moment, there was a sickening crack behind him and something heavy dropped down on the nest and he no longer had a cushion against him. The harpy’s hands were on his face, caressing it, her eyes shining even brighter as they seem to pull him into their pools –deja vu?
“You’re the sire of our race, then?” She said, turning his head this way and that. He simply obliged; he could feel the strength behind those clawed tips, even as she simply prodded him to turn, humming, crowing a bit. “Good bone structure. Strong chin.” Was it drafty, or was Mel suddenly naked? Again, he didn’t even see her hands move, but his robes were little more than ribbons on the ground, her nails digging into his chest, taking in more of him. The other harpies’ eyes had already gone someplace else, starting to sing again until the one before him swiped her hand again, though crowed a bit herself as her eyes laid upon the promised land. “Very good genetics, indeed... Yes. You are indeed the father of all our newest children. Our Patriarch.”
“Patriarch,” the harpies repeated around the nest, turning into a chant, mingling into their songs as they were finally allowed to sing to the heavens... So... does this count as fucking up his good mood or not?