Total Posts: 12
Member No. 1924
Joined on 25-February 15.
Joss, Mary & Owl
Owl twisted, wrenching his gaze from the world that lay below – every feature so small and seemingly insignificant from this height; even the great pines that towered from the mountains of the Pass no longer appeared so mighty. The thought brought sorrow with it, for Owl felt trees that had lived hundreds of lives, anything that had weathered wind and rain and human corruption for so long should always be respected, always be protected, preserved. Maybe Otylia had seen this dampening of his spirit as she looked down on him, because Kezey’s words came as a surprise.
Looking at the older, somewhat grizzled man now (at least, as much as he were able to look at someone sitting behind him in the saddle tied to the back of a great beast flying through the air with all the grace of a bird,) he saw that there was a power to Kezey, not so unlike Aryeh A mightiness that was owed respect. Occasionally, Owl had found his eyes drawn to the white-chested bat-creature that kept pace with them. He couldn’t really look at Kezey easily, and Aryeh, well, something about the great scaled neck and his crown of spikes and great, leathery, sunset wings made Owl nervous, despite the fact that he knew the salamence would never harm him. And Blackbeak, Blackbeak was with Otylia, and where the tiny little bird was, that’s where most of Owl’s heart was these days. He glanced up as the noivern flicked her tail and leaped over them, as though she were a milotic – an elegant and beautiful creature that Owl had heard about in one of Michel’s stories – leaping out of still, moonlit water over a rugged and well-built boat sailing out to sea.
The fletchling was safe, held firmly, (gently,) in one of Otylia’s terrible, scaled feet.
Kezey, Owl had quickly learned, was not a man of many words. In a way, it made the boy feel comfortable, because it meant there were fewer one-sided conversations, and little chance that he’d be made to feel helpless and stupid because he had tried and failed to explain what he thought, or what he wanted. The scruffy dragon-rider surely knew what he was thinking right now – Owl could see from a glimpse of his face, his eyes, that he felt the same about the world below. But why then was Kezey asking him to close his eyes, and shut it all out?
“Ye gone deaf now too, lad?” the man rumbled in his ear, gruff and perhaps the tiniest bit amused. He reminded Owl a little of Tam. Something about them both gave Owl the impression that they’d seen too much of life. But where everything seemed to weigh the healer in the tunnels down, Kezey was different. He wasn’t tired of the world. Just of the people in it. Maybe that’s why he was a quiet soul. Made it easier to push people away. But not Owl. Now, Kezey let go of the thick leather strap that connected to a harness around Aryeh’s muscled neck so that he was only holding on with one hand. His arms, bare to the elements, strong and scarred, had been liked walls on either side of Little White Owl, and now he wrapped one around Owl’s torso, pulling him close so that Owl imagined he could feel Kezey’s heart beating faintly against his back. Aryeh rumbled, and Kezey responded with a shrill, two-note whistle. “Close those eyes, Owl,” he urged, his words a frantic, almost savage hiss. Kezey was like his dragons, Owl thought, as he obliged. Otylia must have taught him how to hiss like that. He wondered if, hoped that, maybe someday he would be like a brave, tiny little bird he knew.
And then he wondered nothing at all, because Aryeh folded his wings and they all fell from the sky together. There was nothing but the darkness – fear made Owl close his eyes ever tighter, and all around him, the wild, rushing wind. It snatched at his hair and clothing savagely, dashed against his skin until he felt as though he were burning from the cold. The roar of the wind in his ears was almost deafening, and then, a caress of warm breath on his cheek, and Kezey raising his voice, telling him to “listen!” So he did.
Beneath the roar, or above it, around it, around them, there was a rising and falling of sound, and somehow beyond these, there was a creature howling. It took Owl a moment to realise that it wasn’t a creature at all, but still just the wind. Just the wind? It was frightening and it was glorious, and when Otylia joined in the keening, and a long rumble crawled up Aryeh’s throat, and Owl faintly heard and sensed Kezey humming -- deep in the hidden hollows of his chest – the boy knew that he’d never hear anything as pure or beautiful as this storm of sound that wrapped its arms around him and whispered a promise of never letting go.
He was still trembling, even though they’d been on the ground for some ten minutes now. Shivering like a leaf (though the rough woolen blanket Kezey had bundled him up in was helping a little). Owl turned away, nose streaming, and tears leaking from his eyes when he closed them. Kezey was beside him again, sniffing and holding a blanket together with a fist resting against his chest. With his other hand, he held out a steaming mug of freshly brewed tea. Owl shifted, turning again, wiping away tears with numb and tremulous fingers.
“They be precious, tears,” Kezey said softly, moving with Owl, and offering the hot drink again. “Because they taste like the sea, and there be nothin’ so beautiful an’ dangerous as the sea.” He fell silent, and only spoke again when Owl reached out to take the cup. But Kezey wasn’t quite ready to let it go. Instead, he released his hold on his blanket and placed his hand over Owl’s, steadying, warming. His dark-bright eyes roamed over Owl’s face, studying the feather earring when Owl reached for it. He moved his hands, surrendering the chipped mug and stretching to catch the edges of the boy’s blanket just as it began to slip from Owl’s slim and shaking shoulders.
Owl drew in a shaky breath, and grounded himself in the present by meeting those hazel eyes with blue-grey ones, made brighter by the tears caught in dark lashes. It had started with the wind, rushing against his face as it had, and the burning cold. It had been beyond his control, that his eyes began to water. But the tears on his cheeks, the ones currently blurring his vision and threatening to spill over, they weren’t from the wind. They came from something deeper – a fresh sting of betrayal, and something older that Owl hadn’t even realised had been with him all these years.
How could he think anything was more beautiful than the music Michel made? But he could not lie to himself. The wind, the wind had reached deeper than a blind minstrel’s music ever could. He had cried back then, when he’d first heard Michel play, and he cried now, feeling as though he’d suddenly become disloyal to the one he perhaps loved the most. And then there was that other feeling, the one Owl did not have a name for. He’d heard Kezey humming, deep where the wind must have touched his heart. In the dark, hidden hollows of himself where only a precious few would ever belong. It made the mute boy feel empty and bereft. He was sure the wind had touched him too, for he felt changed in some insignificant and mighty way. Like the great, ancient pines, he thought, his concentration suddenly scattering. In the moments before Otylia had begun to sing with the wind, he had been sure – in the gaps between the beats of his heart, he was sure he’d heard a voice.
“You’re not crazy,” Kezey said, startling Owl. “I hear it too.” And despite the intensity of the gaze Owl fixed on him, the bearded man would say nothing more, not yet, and just gestured for Owl to come back to where Aryeh had settled. There, leaning against the salamence’s side (it rose and fell gently in the flicker of the firelight, deep, deep breaths that calmed the boy who suddenly felt very lost, even though he’d only just left home), Kezey warmed his cold hands, and then rose, fetching more icy water from a small stream, only settling down when both dragons (and one little firebird) had drunk their fill and the old dented kettle was full again, hanging over the dancing flames.
In those few minutes, Owl waited and wondered and watched and wanted. He’d never seen pokemon like Otylia or Aryeh before, but they didn’t look like they were part psychic, from what experience he’d had with psychics. He couldn’t be sure though, but he was certain he’d felt nothing brush his mind, the way Resh and Foss did… He snuffled and felt sorry for himself for all of thirty seconds (was he really that easy to read? De la Roche had said as much, but Owl had always assumed that the merchant had spiced his words up a little, as he spiced everything up) but then Blackbeak had come to him. The way she hopped and fluttered over the iron-cold ground, how could he not smile for her, his bright little spark in the night?
“The blue voice of the sea,” the words came out of the dark, and Owl heard the crackle of the fire, and looked up, to find all three watching him. Aryeh’s eyes were like pools of midnight, but Otylia’s gleamed like the sun, and for a moment, Kezey’s did too. Owl stared, waiting for the man to speak again, almost convinced that he’d see pointed teeth between those dry lips. But silence settled like dew, and the boy shook his head. It was silly, thinking that way. But Kezey’s words, they struck a chord, and the echoes… “It’s everywhere,” Kezey murmured, leaning back, his eyes half-closed now. “In everything. You just… Have to listen for it.” Owl’s own head dropped, his shoulders slumping as he fought a sudden wave of exhaustion. “Come ‘ere, lad,” Kezey gestured to the empty space beside him, and Aryeh curled his tail towards the fire as Owl rose and moved to settle against the curve of the salamence’s belly.
‘Owl, always keep those eyes open from now on, ye hear? And listen…’
The echoes would go on and on, forever resonating within him. Maybe one day they’d lead him back to a place he’d belonged, once, and might again.