Akmoya clicked his teeth commanding the feathered serpentine beast to take to the skies and it pushed off from the ground, its slender body hovering and tail swaying behind and cutting through the air like water. The arid plains stretched for miles before rapidly dropping off, a wall of green and rolling mountains in one direction and a sea of scorching sand in the opposite. At the center of it all, Viyo Spire, a massive sky-scraping construct jutting forth from a colossal man-made crater which housed thousands of homes all protected from the scorching suns by an enormous faintly visible shield dome. This was Eten Viyo, the birthplace of their clan, an interwoven utopia of climate controlled forest and industry.
A faint tingle washed over the trio as they passed through the dome’s field, it scrubbed the sand from their bodies and steadily cooled them to match the dome’s interior. Cec couldn’t help but ogle the luscious green, the vines, foliage, and hanging trees, as though it were her first time within the city’s limits.
Akmoya seemed unmoved, his mind elsewhere. They flew in silence for a time before he raised his voice against the wind. “I can’t make sense’a’why’ya waste so much time with that fool, Aggar, and his runt of a ‘pyr.”
The comment tore Ceccamun away from her wide-eyed awe. She furrowed her brow and turned her eyes on the surly man; though, she could see little more than the side of his woolen face.
“He’s part of my brood, for one,” she started; “besides, aren’t you the one who preaches cohesion? Blah, blah, excellence through teamwork, blah.”
“He’s beneath you.”
She retorted, “now yer jus’ spoutin’ dreg. Beneath me – what the hell is ‘beneath me’ eh? Last I checked they were talkin’ about groundin’ me if I failed my next test. Even Scrawny Skem’s been thrashin’ me in a scuff, lately.”
“Sparrin’s nothin’. Besides, that gutter-pup Aggar can’t even manage to control his own ‘pyr.”
She scoffed, “Oh, great. I’ll just let Khaliel deal with all my problems then. What a great warrior I’ll be.” She mumbled just as Taitama began a slow spiraling descent.
Below, a broad platform jutted from the sky-piercing spire; a lavish, hedge dotted meadow covered its face and a handful of etenpyr and riders occupied the terrace. Their carefully embroidered armor and feathered helms labeled them as seasoned soldiers, those decorated as Kaizragoons. Taitama touched down on the paved semi-circle near the rim of the platform and crouched long enough for Ceccamun and Akmoya to dismount. The elder etenpyr sat up proud, shoulders pushed back and his long feather-tipped tail draped over his taloned paws.
Two decorated soldiers made their way up the wide walkway until they came to the intersection of the semi-circle. They separated and made for either corner of the path, revealing a third, much slimmer, man draped in a viridian cape much like the one Akmoya wore however free of discoloration and fraying about the edges. His armor, too, was pristine and unscarred. A tertiary synthetic arm extended from his left shoulder and tapped away at a panel mounted on the half gauntlet about his left forearm. The lower left side of his face was likewise covered by synthetic augmentations.
“Well, it’s about time.” His smooth voice carried across the courtyard well before his brisk steps stopped him in front of the arriving pair.
Akmoya grumbled, “I’m sure yer the only one worried about a few fleetin’ moments, Gusar.”
“I wasn’t referring to your tardiness here.” His flat gaze turned downward on Ceccamun who couldn’t help but stare at his probing yellow eye. “Though, that being said, you are late.” His cloak whipped around him as he turned. Hastily, he begun down the path toward the spire leaving the others trailing behind him, hustling to keep up.
They brushed past and crossed paths with tens of restless and, in Cec’s eyes, impeccably sophisticated kinsfolk all without a frizz nor kink in their hair or wear; their armoring, too, bore no sign of practical use. They hardly seemed to mind the passing presence of Gusar and two sun-beaten soldiers following behind him but Ceccamun felt whelmed all the same.
The trio passed first through a set of impossibly large doors into a wide foyer mostly characterized by its five sets of stairs; two sets on either side, one winding upward and the other down; and a fifth set which slowly ascended and opened to a tapestry laden hall. The floor plan lay open, all the furnishings and decor were arranged toward the edges surrounding an arena of dissimilar tiles, bruised and scuffed, transposed a knees height lower than the surrounding floor. At the end of the hall, beneath the bleached skull of king etenpyr, stood the throne of Eten Viyo’s Kaizar, an ancient authority carved of wood and stone, accented with frayed feathers and withered bone. Just beyond that, the light of day poured in from an open balcony overlooking the city and the vast semi-arid wasteland.
Gusar stopped in his stride and turned half to face them. He lifted an arm to motion them to continue toward the throne then turned his flat gaze on Ceccamun once again, “favor willing we meet again. Eirnen’tu’jan.” He wished her luck then hurried off toward other pressing matters.