Horribly dull life lately, so it’s been quiet.
Pretty cool, right?
The Spire Clan
The lightning illuminated the sky, and Korin could see the spire rising like a prayer to the gods in the distance. She took a deep breath, pushing into the storm, her wings aching but still pounding furiously. Behind her, the last remaining members of her clan straggled and struggled to keep pace, battered by the heavy rain as it fell from the heavens.
They were almost there.
And it was almost time.
“Hurry!” She shouted over her shoulder, the winds ripping the word away before it fully left her lips. “The gates will be closing!” She didn’t wait to see if they had heard her voice before redoubling her efforts against the pouring rain. Sure enough, the fence surrounding the spire glimmered into view, each post sparking at the top with its ethereal internal light. Korin feared deep in her core that it was futile, this effort. The gods had pulled their homes, their families, their very life away from the village in a single blink, but she had to lead them through the ceremony with the rest of the survivors.
If there were other survivors.
Just in case.
A wail of pained fear cut short as it echoed against the leaves overhead and Korin stopped, her wings buffering her head from the onslaught that drenched the group even through the trees as her feet settled onto a thick branch. As she turned, her clan rushed to cluster around her, save one. Far below where they huddled, a body lay motionless, water pooling in the hollow at the shoulder where one wing had been ripped from his body by a wind-borne missile. While the unseen projectile had long since disappeared, taking the flight-brother’s soul – and wing – with it into the inky blackness of night, there were dangers still ahead. Korin took a deep breath and looked at the survivors huddling around her.
“We can’t save him,” she whispered, knowing none could hear her over the shriek of the wind. A heavy knot settled in her throat and she coughed, trying to clear it. She raised her voice, hopefully loud enough for the rest of the clan to hear. It would do no good to remind them of the obvious now; to draw more attention to the fate of the still figure beneath them.
“We will return for him. If we do not-” Korin swallowed again, cutting herself off as the sentence finished in her head.
If we do not get to the spire, we will all share his fate.
“If we do not push on, we will not be there for the ceremony, and his death will have been in vain.” The clan around her murmured and nodded as one, dozens of wings stretching to full width in unison. They were listening to what she said, she realized. They were looking to her for guidance.
Like a leader.
Korin was no leader. That distinction fell to her brother, and her mother before him. Korin had been content to stay in their home, falling into the easy pattern day by day of cooking and laughter, of scavenging at dawn and song at dusk. The same every day, stretching back into the past as far as she could remember. It was routine, and familiar, and safe.
The rains had changed everything.
She shook her head, clearing the thoughts, and took a last glance at the faces of the clan members around her. Flight-sisters and -brothers stared at her, fear but earnest belief etched in their eyes. They trust me, she realized. They believe I can do this.
“For the flight-brother! For the clan!” Korin didn’t recognize her own voice, even as she said the words. It sounded older, deeper somehow. The clan cheered at the benediction, wings beating together and pushing the rain away from them with their own wind. A small breath caught in Korin’s throat as she watched them, carrying with it something she had not felt since the rains started: hope.
Wings pounding, the entire clan rose on the winds and turned toward the spire. Its pearly tower rose, illuminated with every lightning strike overhead. Nearer than they had known. Korin smiled, raising a fisted hand into the rain and wind, and each soul behind her repeated the motion. As one, they moved. The wind and rain pounded down, battering their wings, but the clan would arrive.
Korin knew they would survive.