Aryl's forced escort from Maite back to the border town of Sila.
|Maite took the breath of onlookers away. It was massive in scale, a modern city without walls. With canals carrying water inland, the Chao desert wasn’t a fearsome beast to the citizens of the city. Wooden buildings made up most of the city, though stone structures weren’t rare. The most recent of protests was still being cleaned up, leaving littered streets and a feeling of abeyance as daily work was carried out without a pause. A Keep sat in the middle of the city, an archaic structure that was kept up for its offered protection, and a reminder that its protection was only for those loyal to the Crown.
It was a rare thing to see surprise flit across the king’s face, and Tyrion felt a muscle in his face twitch to pull at his lips at the memory. Kaetlyn had held her ground, an angry fierceness resolvent on her paler than pale face. It was apparent that Lestros hadn’t thought Aryl would reappear to take out the Princess so abruptly; Tyrion certainly had had no assumption that the small female would lash out after having so recently failed in the same endeavour. He found it interesting, the differences in reaction between the Princess and the Kings’ reactions to having friends die around them. The Princess had certainly needed no defence, standing her own adamantly against the lethal blade welded by the Baelish.
Tyrion had made no notion that he wished to speak to Aryl at all, and the new Princess wondered why he had even followed her. Kaetlyn’s expression echoed across her mind, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to keep any conversation with the Winged Demon had he made a motion to do so. Kaetlyn had always made for a decent sparring partner, though Aryl had always had to remind her once friend that Kaetlyn had more qualified trainers. There had been no Philippe or Galduhr urging the fight onward this time. The Demon king had barely twitched. The so called Violet Guard had seemed disinterested. Swyft’s dull eyes looked on with the same indifference.
Maite was larger than Divinus, having no border walls to contain its growth outward. Tyrion had led them along the Haya though, and Divinus’ prized walls could easily be seen for their grandiose height and ports. It had seemed larger than life when their small ambassorial group had initially arrived, travel weary, but now, from her viewpoint backed against the colossal magnitude of Maite, Divinus seemed an old vestige of what once was. Much like the Malum Portus, it would no doubt see a change in leadership some time soon. Despite the Violet Guard’s words against the view, the number of riots and protests would surely seek a larger scaled change.
Aigua was a relic of a city, unknown in age. Probably started as a trading post, the city was one of the main crossing points of the Haya, and the easiest path to the Letum Mountains or to Sila. Situated at the southern most end of the Haya Lake, Aigua had the unique opportunity to be the largest fishery south of Maite, and the smell of fish, both roasted and raw wafted through the air uninhibited. The Riu Port was connected to Aigua by a hefty boardwalk, the solitary mountain covered in fir took up the Eastern view, casting the two cities in shade once the suns had past noon.
Crossing the boardwalk was easily done, most creatures this side of the Lake not wanting to cast stones first. Aryl’s beastly riding companion had been stalwart through the year of journeying and was the only thing that kept her from completely casting off the Deformaere as a kingdom of monsters. Aigua reminded her of Baraka with its less than quick paced citizens. Time seemed to not matter here, though vendors had been quick to get Tyrion his roasted fish, which she had watched him scarf down in horror, flinging the wooden spike the fish had been spit on back into the Haya.
“Won’t the Violet Guard kill Kaetlyn?” she found herself muttering as Tyrion pulled one of his wings in front of himself to rearrange his plumage.
“Why should they?” growled Tyrion, his patience was null with Aryl who he sought to leave in Alnihaya, furthering her distance from the Deformaere Crown before anymore foreign carnage could be had.
“She has no purpose here. Her own people have abandoned her and have sought leadership with my father. Is she not a threat to your security?”
“You all had asylum once you crossed the Almawt basin. Until she can safely return to her Crown, she will have her dignity here.”
“It’s not her Crown. She lost that when her kind decided to invade what was never theirs!” Tyrion rolled violet eyes at the little creatures anger.
“I am one of those who you seek your little vengeance against. Slynt, who has never done you any harm, is one of such creature. Kaetlyn, the Alatus you seek dead, has defended you more than any other, offered her own life for your own, and what do you do? Attempt a foolish endeavour in assassinating that same creature. It is her birth right. Just as yours is to curl up in your underground mines and wile away thinking of what might have been.” They talked no more.
The Aljunun Mountains were perilous anytime, but none more dangerous than the path taken by the Sila through the Almawt basin. The Haya and the Almawt rivers crashed into each other, creating great waves that threatened the lives of any traveller brave enough to attempt an unaided crossing. Alternatively, it seemed the Balawis utilized the same underground routes for trade. Sounds of creatures were deafened by the roar of water as it broke down rocks, and demolished low lying pathways. There was little vegetation other than the rugged, needle like grass that rose to hip height off the cobbled Sila. Tyrion and Aryl would take the bridge work to safely cross.
The hawk that had been sent by Galduhr, upon the crossing of the magnificience stone bridge, had taken to the sky, beating his wings rapidly to distance himself from the tumultuous rapids. He vanished into the southern sky over the coinciding set of Aljunun on the opposite end of the basin. His presence would be missed by Aryl, as the little bird had reminded her of home. Though, she supposed, she wasn’t truly returning to her own home, but to a stolen lot that she had once detested. Briefly, she wondered of the fate of the Nymffau that had congregated near the Portus or the libraries they had kept.
Tyrion had never liked the Aljunun with its propensity for hiding places. Argos had once been retrieved from somewhere near Sila’s intersection with the basin; Slynt had brought the sickly northern child, the victim of a kidnapping, back to Divinus when he himself had not been seen for centuries. A Vespertilio could be seen clearly on the side of one of the cliffs, hanging on with a bared, clawed hand, face unmasked in the shade of the mountains, as the creature kept watch over Tyrion and Aryl’s crossing. Tyrion’s watchful eye knew that if the one Vespertilio was so in the open, others of his sort would be scored across the same cliffside.
Finally nearing the end of the lengthy bridge, a silvery child lay crying against one of the pillars nearest the Almawt. While Aryl began urging her beast closer to the much smaller creature, Tyrion found himself grabbing ahold of her reigns, forcing her to his own beast’s side despite her angry yells. With his actions, the little child’s crying had ceased in turn for a snarling face and piercing eyes. The Balawis must be bored if it was looking to snag a stray traveller so near the Bellum. Then again, there hadn’t been much battling between Bellum and Deformaere as of late, so it was possible the creatures in these parts were bored of the peace and sought to create their own action. Tyrion didn’t release Aryl’s reigns until the male child had slipped back into the rapids, a mist of silvery hair winding its ways to the depths.
Alnihaya was everything Tyrion had ever expected to see out of the Bellum’s border town. Pretty signage marked their entrance while some sort of beast lay on its side by the road, panting its last breaths, abandoned by some caravan. Pinkish hues burned down from the suns overhead, the mist from the rapids dissipating whatever gas hung in the atmosphere. The small town was the last refuse of the Bellum’s earliest days and was the product of needing a trading town while the country had yet to be established. Early on, it had been necessity to finish the Almawt crossing, the need for ammunition and soldiers meaning that relations between the two countries had been fast and cohesive. Now, though, travelling along the border was a feat few attempted without a caravan for security. Tyrion himself would not be taking the same route home. The sky was his domain and was a safer alternative to the cobbled road.
Not surprising to Tyrion, were the riots in the streets of Alnihaya. A mutiny would have thrown the trading post for a loop, releasing whatever tension had held the town together from its tethers. One of the docks had been broken and floated out to the middle of the Haya while children screamed for guidance. It was more like the Deformaere than perhaps the townspeople would like, but with a mainly Alatus population, it wasn’t too astonishing that they would want to solve their dilemmas with war.
“You will have to make your own way from here,” stated Tyrion as he nodded to the crowded Sila. “You’ll reach the border only a click south of here. I don’t suggest you take the gate.”
“They’ll know who I am,” she said imperiously. Tyrion only chuckled at the silly creature.
“You are small and insignificant in all these creature’s eyes. No one cares whom your father is or what clan you hail from. There’s turmoil here, and your kind are kindling a fire that hasn’t even begun to spark. You think you can handle a Crown? You are no leader, little beastling. Have care where you try to garner sentiments. You fight like an Alatus, but remember that you are not one of us.”
Aryl wanted to scream at the mere guard that insinuated she had so little sway in her own home country, but the Winged One released his beast into her care and took to the skies in a flurry of greyed feathers. Tyrion would watch the little Baelish creature make her way out of the town, heading southward. He’d make sure she stayed away from the Bellum guards that were imperiously stationed. Briefly, the Captain of the Guard wondered how long it had taken word of the mutiny to reach just this far north.