I was barley paying attention to the concert, my mind too fixed on Kate. Things had been changing between us, albeit very slowly and very subtly. Kate was speaking to me occasionally, although never for very long, and she always made sure we were never closer than an arm's length, but it was progress.
We had also started sparring in the training grounds every now and then. It was a good chance for us to keep our swordsmanship up to par, and maybe work out a little frustration.
Or a lot of frustration.
And over the last few fights, I had begun to be aware of some kind of... synergy between us. Our sparring sessions had grown increasingly longer and much faster paced, with neither of us gaining an advantage for the duration of the practices. It was like... we were beginning to know each other on some subconscious level. Knowing how the other would act, where the other would strike, when the other was feinting and when the other was going for the kill.
Judging by the looks we were starting to receive from those who happened to catch us, it was a thing of beauty.
Looking around, I noticed that Kate and I weren't the only ones who were starting to change. The audience was no longer segregated like it had been at the beginning of our mission. Hawks and soldiers intermingled, chatted like old friends, and began to mutually respect one another.
I liked it. Why did we have to fight, when it was so obvious that we could have some semblance of coexistence?
I turned my attention back to the concert for the barest of moments, only to see Norida drop her flute and stare in horror at something approaching behind us. A few people turned to look and started yelling out warnings, while others leapt up and grabbed for their weapons.
A fae. A fae had wandered into our camp and it was dragging... some wolfish creature. I saw recognition in some of the Hawk's eyes at the sight of the dead wolf, but I had no idea who... or what... it was.
Bows were strung in moments, and arrows fitted seconds after. Just as the order was being given to fire at the fae dropped the corpse it had been carrying and sat back.
It was... grinning.
All was silent and still, the entire camp shocked into confused passivity. The fae made no move to attack, had made no threats, had done nothing except lug a dead thing into the camp like it was some kind of trophy.
Looking around, the fae seemed to notice our looks of confusion and nodded in gesture to the body it had brought in. It was proud of its kill and seemed to think we should reciprocate the feeling.
Some heads turned to Kate, others to Jem and the two leaders shared a long look at each other, tacit communication happening between them.
The two answers had come out simultaneously, each answer appalling the other. Kate turned to look at me for the barest of instants, then blinked and turned away with a frown.
The fae's eyes grew wide and it started to shaking its head furiously. It started scribbling on the ground but gave that up after a moment and continued to look around. Finding nothing of use, the fae started crying.
If that creature didn't posses the ability to kill quite a few of us, I might have found the situation comical but even now, we couldn't afford to underestimate. Then something began to happen.
The fur seemed to melt away in clumps, pale human skin showing underneath. The greenish hue faded as well, and the horrific creature shifted into something... almost as horrific. But not quite.
It was the demon girl, Ali, and she was still crying.
Weapons were dropped hastily and a few people ran forward to comfort the child, offering hasty apologies, but still being wary in case something inside the girl snapped.
I looked at Kate, a question on my face. She nodded.
"Jem," she called, "get Griever, Norida, and a few other principal members together. We need to hold a council."
Jem raised her eyebrows, prompting an explanation.
"We are no longer secure, and are fortunate that this wasn't worse. It's time we plan, take the fight to our enemy. This is a Council of War."
Jem nodded, and began to gather people up. I motioned to the Captain, bringing him to my side, and filling him in on the plans. His face brightened, the prospect of a good fight now very very near.
The Hawks were about to become birds of prey once more.