Hand of the Ixion

Left in the circle, surrounded my barbs and points, I looked up into the canopy of foliage, a tune on my lips. My quiet whistle pierced the silence in a strange way, clear to my ears even in its stillness. The origin eluded me, like so many other ideas and concepts, but it felt familiar. It felt somehow right.

The magician was visibly uneasy; eyes unblinking and fingers flexing.

“They’re coming,” she gravely intoned.

I sustained a single note, confused with her words. As far as I was concerned, they were already here, surrounding me. Unless…

“Ixion!”

The cry was almost lost in the sea of stomping hooves, a cacophony of crashing limbs.

I looked about the camp, trying to find the apparent threat. My efforts failed, as my eyes only fell upon dark trees and darker chasms between them. But a falling feather drew my eyes back up to the canopy, suddenly split to reveal the sky. Words failed me, my mouth merely making the movements of speech, breathless.

Is this their power?

A shape dove through the gash in the trees, a fluttering mass of white and gray. It seemed to fall from the sky, but was caught in the air by the extension of two great wings. It fell.

Like I fell.

She burst into my mind again, surrounded by trees, just as I was, but with the land laden in snow, white to match her figure, to match the creature before me now.

“Ixion!”

More shouts from the centaurs as they raised armaments against the invaders. Javelins flew, but dropped to the ground before reaching the Ixion. The magician was involved in the clash as well, summoning tongues of golden flame into her hands, tossing them at the feathered beings. She turned to me, yelling.

“Draw your weapon!”

Looking first at my empty belt, then at her, I reminded her that I had no weapon.

“Fool! You are one of the Guard!” her words were spat, out of fixation on her magic and contempt for myself. “Just reach for it as you would any common blade.”

With that she hurled a glittering flame, which exploded at the feet of the Ixion.

But I have no sword to draw.

A javelin flew past my ear, whistling away from the centaur who threw it. Like the ones before, it became suspended, then fell to the dirt. The figure before it had a taloned hand outstretched, obviously the force that had halted the missile’s flight. It was like a man, but covered in feathers, white like the snow I had seen in my flashes of thought. Two wings spread from his back, if I could assume him to be a man based on the bare chest, and the wings were tipped in gray, like the crests upon his body.

I recognized the general form of an aven, a fusion of man and beast just like the frenzied centaurs. Most were reminiscent of eagles or falcons, but the Ixion seemed modeled from owls.

His eyes fixed on mine, a presence I could well and truly feel in his gaze.

“Draw your sword, Guard,” he spoke to my mind, the subtleties of his voice unhindered by distance.

“I don’t have a sword to draw,” I found myself replying mentally, a phenomenon that came almost naturally.

His eyes twinkled, and I felt the implication of a grin, if his short beak could manifest such a gesture.

“Then I must force you.”

With those thoughts he flew at me, feet hovering across the ground, and a shining blade of silver stretched before him. A hand went to my side by instinct, prepared to draw my weapon. My fingers grasped a hilt, familiar in its feeling.

I drew.

The End

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