The darkness was not what one would call busy, but yet it would not be considered quiet either. Miniature works of art danced about in silver streams of frozen light. Deer crunched along softly as they filled their stomachs. An owl, dull and grey, alighted not too far away, startling a buck enough to make it look up.
A coppery maroon liquid spilled from the owl's victim, dripping down to stain the snow with an inaudible hiss. Some yards away something moved. Fire light skipped across the cloaked figure as it looked up as it caught the scent of blood. The cloaked one stood and walked towards the owl's perch wondering what the raptor had as it didn't look like any normal animal.
The owl called out, flapping its wings for balance, whatever it had caught wasn't quite dead yet. It could be seen struggling in the owl's talons and a dark flash from it startled the owl enough that it flew to another branch, it's would be dinner falling deep into the snow. The owl hooted again, as if telling its prey "that's what you get."
The spectator bent down and reached into the snow, and dug out the poor wounded thing. Their hunch had been right it was no ordinary creature. It was human, at least it looked human, but it was small, and definitely female. She was small, no bigger than a forearm and had a queer growth coming out of her back. It was tendrils of some sort of membrane but what they would be for was currently unknown.
It only took a moment to look the girl over, if she were to be saved, swift work had to be done. The rescuer said something; their voice was deep and soft yet reminiscent of rocks grinding together. As he hurried back to the meager campsite, he whistled. The Campfire sprang to life, twice as big and five times hotter, taking an avian shape. The fire started to sing, it was calm and soothing and yet so full of life that the trees surrounding them started to bloom again.
Unable to find bandages in his bag, the rescuer tore small strips off his own cloak to bandage her up. When she groaned he hurriedly rummaged through his pack. If she was regaining consciousness, she was going to be in pain lots of it. She gasped once or twice as he was opening a clear vial, her face contorted and her body writhed as a grievous scream burst from her lungs. The viscous fluid was supposed to be added to water but there was no time for that. Instead he let the droplets fall directly into her wounds as it was near impossible to get any into her mouth.
Her thrashing ceased after a few minutes and she attempted to look around. She soon found out that her thoughts were heavy; it was taking several seconds before her body would do what she told it to do. She thought she heard music but for all she knew her ears could have been ringing. The entire world looked like a painting with water spilt across it. She felt like she was moving but she wasn't sure. "Up" seemed to be calling at her from all directions so for all she knew she could be moving under her own power. She vowed to find out later as currently her vision was growing darker and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
Seconds later she heard voices. One sounded like a, she was sure she was hearing things because one of the voice sounded like the fire was talking. Whether or not that particular voice was real, the other truly was but the owner was speaking something she couldn't understand. She noticed that she was cradled against the speaker's chest, wrapped in corner of blanket. Her movement must have alerted him because he looked down at her but she could only see his mouth and the bottom of a thin scar, the rest was covered by the hood of his cloak.
He asked her something but must have realized she didn't understand when there was no response. He continued to speak and drew a symbol in the air where it glowed for a few moments before fizzling back into nothingness.
"Can you understand me now little one?" She nodded in bewilderment which caused him to chuckle softly. "Don't worry it was only a spell so you can understand me. You can now understand any language in the world as long as you're being spoken to." There was movement and he sat her down on his knee. "I was afraid it was too late, you've been sleeping for several days." She furrowed her brow in confusion. How could that be?
"But, I had only closed my eyes just seconds ago before I heard your voice." Her voice was what he pictured a breeze through crystal wind chimes would sound like. Subconsciously he pulled his hood down just a bit further.
"I assure you that it has been longer than that." A shrill cry came from the campfire, "You're right I am being rude, my name is Fa'kri."
"Oh, I'm sorry," her face turned red in embarrassment, "my name is Marta." He chuckled again and reached over to something with his free hand. Marta craned her neck to see but all she could see was part of a bandaged arm.
"You must be hungry from sleeping so long." His hand came back and with it a piece of flat wood with some meat on it.
Before she could answer the wind shifted and the smell of meat filled her nose. Her stomach lurched so violently in protest that Marta nearly fell. Fa'kri put the meat back as Marta's stomach realized there was nothing for it to exhume.
"I can see you're not up for that yet, we can try again later." He set her up right again as she shook her head. It wasn't that she wasn't ready for meat yet, it was just-
"My people don't eat," she hesitated, "that. Meat comes from the children of S'ra. Eating it would offend them." Fa'kri nodded in understanding and reached into his bag. He pulled out a piece of bread and handed it to Marta. It was the only non meat food he had at the moment. She took it and eagerly ate. It wasn't the best bread in the world and it was stale but it was comforting to have something in her stomach again. Marta ate until she felt like she would burst and quickly fell asleep again.
"I'll say it again; the wild is no place for an injured person to be recovering." The fire crackled. Fa'kri glared at it as he wrapped her back in the blanket.
"You know that I can't go into villages. I would be killed or captured on site. Anyway it seems to me that I've been doing a good enough job keeping her out of the cold." As he spoke the fire once again took on the shape of a bird. The fire bird harrumphed and ruffled what one would suppose would be its feathers.
"And just who do you think has been keeping you warm hm? I doubt that it's your tent or your cloak. If it hadn't been for me you wouldn't have even lived long enough to come across Marta." He stopped so Fa'kri could respond and continued when he didn't. "You know that there are things that one can only acquire from civilization. Such as clothes." The latter was said with a hiss of you know I'm right.
Fa'kri let out a defeated sigh, it was true. Marta's clothes were, well her bandages were covering more than the remains of her clothes was all that could really be said. Fa'kri finished his meat and packed up the camp.
Pain, white hot it woke Marta with a shriek. That is so say; Marta woke a sleeping Fa'kri with a shriek. Had his reflexes not slightly slower he might have even dropped her.
"My wings." She managed to gasp. Fa'kri fumbled for his pack for the vial he had used previously all the while trying to figure what she meant. Had she been dreaming? No, from the way she was sounded the pain was real. Then what had she meant she didn't have wings just- He felt like an idiot she didn't have a growth on her back. Well technically she did but it wasn't something unknown it was a pair of wings, or at least what was left of them.
"Drink this," He stated firmly, "it will help with the pain." Marta nodded and was able to be still long enough to do so. She didn't speak again until the pain had subsided.
"My wings," she weakly, "have been injured but, they never were in that much pain. No, pain is too soft a word. Anguish maybe is closer."
"Marta you," Fa'kri suddenly lost the courage to speak. He felt an ache in his chest as he forced himself to continue. "You don't have any wings. Not anymore. They," he had given worse news than this before without a flinch how could this be so hard? "The owl shredded them up pretty bad."
Marta shook her head in disbelief she had to have wings, it was a distinguishing feature of her race and how was she supposed to fly somewhere? She managed to hold back a sob but the next one and the one after refused to be ignored.