In a lost world, far away from human interference, an annual event takes place in a remote colony of birds. Sora and Jos are two fledglings who pair for life. Little do they know that the world they know, that many generations before them have known since the days of the first bird songs, is about to be turned on its head. A fearsome new menace, come from across the great sea, will change their world forever.
Chapter 1: First Flight
High upon a plateau, where creatures small and great have lived for many lifetimes, isolated from the world about them. They know no danger, they have no fear. They are protected from the great mountains to the East, the thick forests to the West, to the North are the Ice Lands and to the South is the great Sea. It is the only life they have ever known. Their lands are rich with beauty and plenty and though the wilderness is wild and sometimes dangerous, they are protected by the colony as they are encouraged and guided until they are old enough to leave the home of their birth, each from their own nest, carefully crafted from only the most tender of branches and covered in a bed of the softest of feathers. It has always been this way and as far as any of them knew, it always would.
“How do you do it?” asked Sora, her little legs shaking.
“It’s easy. All you have to do is leap,” said Jos confidently.
“But it’s so far.”
“I know,” Jos said with a grin.
With that he was off before Sora could protest any more. She watched him glide effortlessly across the chasm. As he did he squealed and screeched as if he were one of the Tundra Birds. Sora shrugged and took a deep breath. She dared not look down. She closed her eyes, crouched down and then launched into the air, pushing hard against the rocky outcrop on the edge of the chasm. She dared open her eyes, but kept them fixed ahead in the direction Jos flew. She was surprised to find she was able to manoeuvre by adjusting the position of her arms. Ahead of her Jos had managed to do a loop and came up right beside her.
“Isn’t this great?” he said with a cheeky smile. His eyes were wild with excitement. Sora could only nod. She was concentrating so hard that she was scowling. “Don’t look so grim. Relax, enjoy.” With that he collapsed his arms to his side and dived straight down for a good few body lengths, before spreading his arms and using his inertia to gain elevation again. Soon he was beside her again. “Your turn.”
“Go on.” Jos added, but seeing she wasn’t going to he then grabbed her arm and pulled her into a dive. At first she squealed, but then relaxed somewhat and started to grin. He levelled out and she mimicked his movements. Then he extended his hand and held her for just a little while longer, before releasing her and then using his momentum, lifted up above her, with her close on his tail. By this stage Sora was giddy with excitement, matching him squeal for squeal and before long she was copying all his tricks. Eventually the came to rest on the other side of the canyon.
“See, you’re a natural,” he said panting heavily. She smiled and blinked a glassy eye at him. To him she was this strange, beautiful creature. Her mantle was only just beginning to show and she carried her breast out proud and forward when she walked. Her beak was fine and even, with a hint of transparency that glowed orange whenever the sun shone through it and he was in a position to see.
“Am I?” she answered, pleased with herself.
“Yes, of course, I mean for a creature that was not meant to ever fly, that is.”
She smiled again at him and she thought she saw a hint of shyness on his face. She was starting to see him differently as well, not as the little boy Jos she had grown up with, but something much more wonderful. There was a growing awareness in her that had sparked a flame. All she now wanted was to be around him constantly. “Companions for life,” she remembered her mother had always told her. “When you meet the one, you will change and you will never be the same again.” it was what they called the awakening and it was now happening to her, to them.
With a whistle of glee Jos was off again and she followed him. The pair of them went swooping and diving and weaving and looping until they reached the other side of the crevasse again. Then, as the long day ended in the settling of the suns, they sat, perched on a rock and watched the moons rise. Their lives had changed forever. No longer would they stay under the protection of broad wings. No longer would they depend solely on the welcome offerings of doting parents.
But the world they had known since birth was about to change too and in a way none of them could have ever predicted. They began their life together in innocence. But soon, that innocence would be shaken, violently.