Plume of Down – Part 1

The Tower

“Oh Corvo, shut your beak, you know nothing of the lands beyond. No one is brave enough to venture there”, said the old, hobbling figure.

“Please Acarius, I don’t need your approval of such a thing. I was there, flew for hours and I saw a human tower”, Corvo responded.

“A tower?! You must be lying. None of the crow folk have ever seen human constructions. The ones we have heard of are mere legend”

The two crows continued their argument until another intervened and calmed them. Corvo was an adventurous young crow. In this world humans were a rare sight. The floating lands where these crows made their homes were far above and hidden in mist. From time to time, stories of human settlements would pop up, but later disappear. Humans were prone to conflict over territory or resources. The crows, in contrast, are a tight knit tribe that values exploration and exchange. They flew through the skies merely to appreciate the freedom that flight gave them. Magic and sword were things more favored by humans, but every now and then a crow would pick up something of interest, be it material or knowledge, and bring it for study. A group of elders studied human or other ancient artifacts to understand more about their world. It was always a wonderful mystery to study their home. The floating lands were perfect for their survival, especially since it kept them far from conflicts. As the elders widened their knowledge, they sought to teach others and keep most of their kind informed.

Acarius was worried. Although he was not entirely trusting of Corvo, the sighting of a human tower close to their home was troublesome. So he enlisted the help of his daughter, Vala.

“And you believed him?”, asked Vala. She knew Corvo since childhood and was aware that he could be a prankster sometimes.

“No, but he is both brave and foolish. If he did indeed find a human tower, then there is cause for concern. They might be drawing closer and I do not want to contend with those violent beasts”, Acarius said, his voice full of worry.

“Then I’ll set out at once. I’ll see you in a few days, father.”

History taught the crows that humans, descendants of the ancient apes, were very violent. Indeed, there was some truth to this. They were also ingenious and talented with the mystic arts. Magic in this world was accessible to all, but a disciplined mind was necessary to fully access the entirety of this skill. 

The crows, also known as the Crowmaran tribe, had some similarities with the humans. Their lower limbs had grown longer, could walk upright and their upper limbs were, of course, wings but with feathered hands that allowed them to grasp objects more easily. Indeed this was a common occurrence for all the beast folk. All of them retained most of the defining aspects of their race, but converged towards a specific form. The elders often expressed how this was deliberately done by the gods as a sign that they should get along. Sadly for the Crowmaran, the humans did not believe in the same deities.

Vala flew south of their beloved home in search of the tower mentioned by Corvo. Little did she know that in the distance Corvo was following her. He flew up high and then swooped down to startle her. Afterwards he settled to fly beside her.

“You jerk! I could have fallen you know”

“Doubting my abilities eh? Oh c’mon Vala, you know I wouldn’t risk hurting you. The wrath of Acarius is legendary”

“And now you make fun of father”

“I am guessing that he told you about the tower, is that why you’re heading south in a hurry?”

“Yeah, you know he’s worried about the humans finding us one day. They are aware of our existence, someday they might try to conquer us, the same way they try to conquer each other.”

“The elders would protect us, and besides, humans have yet to conquer flight the way we have.”

“Only a matter of time before they discover some new magic.”

“ I guess. Well, I’m not about to let you go see humans on your own, so I will accompany you to the place. That way I can guide you exactly to where I saw the tower.”

“Fine, but no shenanigans! Father will be worried knowing you’re not home.”

A small floating mountain was their refuge for the night. It was the closest place to the tower. Vala was impressed. Humans had been able to build this thing in a matter of months. She knew that the elders would put their city on high alert. As for the tower, its height was on par with the very mountain they had stopped at. Vala realized that the humans might be trying to reach that place. When the clouds cleared they noticed the foundation of another tower opposite of the one Corvo discovered. This placed the floating mountain right between them.

“So they are trying to reach this place. I wonder what they hope to find.”

“I would guess they are after the secret of what makes it float.”

“That would put them much closer to…”

The realization of what the humans were attempting ruffled Vala’s feathers. She looked larger, and slowly returned to normal when she calmed.

“We must go now. Come daytime they will be able to see us.”

“You’re not afraid of them, right?”

“No, but we have to inform the elders”

Without a second thought Vala took flight. Corvo followed not too far behind. He looked back and noticed torches moving inside the tower. The humans were there, actively working in the dead of night.

A threat was seemingly rising. The two adventurous crows hurried in the night to reach their great city in the sky. Learning that the humans might have access to their beloved home was a heavy burden, especially knowing that many of those humans were violent. Only the elders would know exactly what to do and how to prepare for the eventual meeting.

(Part 2)

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