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Leave What's Heavy

#1
Brook Offline
Similarly to a few others in their motley little flock, Brook didn’t particularly care for the conservatory. But unlike Arch and Echo, whose shared, shallow displeasure stemmed largely from their clicking jealousy of whoever (or whatever) demanded Aurelia’s attention, Brook simply found the indoor space to be too loud, too cramped, for his liking. The rows and rows of enclosures, suitable and necessary as they were for their inhabitants, unnerved him.  
 
He enjoyed the surrounding park though: the miles upon miles of quiet trails, the glistening lake, the lush foliage. As the summer season slowly surrendered itself to autumn, the world began its annual smolder. It’d started quietly at first, just a browning leaf here and there. But finally, halfway through October, brilliant crimsons, deep burgundies, and electric yellows swathed the trees, the grounds…
 
Until Aurelia was done with whatever needed doing in the airy, domed center, Brook was happy to entertain himself by fly-hopping rather absentmindedly around the pebbled shore of the lake. A few empty canoes rocked rhythmically in the shallows. Overhead, goldfinches, black-capped chicadees, and cardinals danced in the skies. Deeper into the dense woods, the distinctive drilling of a pileated woodpecker hammered through the otherwise quiet air. The crows, having spotted something shiny through the distant leaves, had flapped off not too long ago. And Viv, buzzing with unceasingly restless energy, was shooting laps around the lake. 

In their rare moments without Aurelia, it wasn't an uncommon for Brook to find himself set slightly apart from the others. Firmly rooted in their flock as he was, he oftentimes welcomed a break from all their twittering... 
Witch

Played by: Meg

Age: 26

Species: Witch

Power: Avian Mage

Posts: 5
#2
Aurelia Offline
Sweat rolled down Aurelia's face into the neck of her modest work shirt, staining the pale fabric in an unattractive ombré ring. The feeling of wet cloth against her skin didn't bother her as she worked through the daily task of cleaning cages. Remove soiled straw, bag the towels to be laundered, replace each, scrub, rinse, and leave the door open to air dry. Repeat. 

Several young Canadian geese followed her around as she moved from enclosure-to-enclosure, honking conversationally. Stuck here until they healed from various injuries following a freak storm several weeks ago, Aurelia fascinated them, having never met a human like her. Correcting their mistake at naming her human proved fruitless–they only set up a racket of goose-laughter the first two times. After, she abandoned further explanation. 

Finishing her final cage of the afternoon, she left the large building to take some air by the lake. Autumn had appeared overnight, it seemed. Admiring the colors with a cheerful look, wiping residual perspiration from her face with a clean cloth, she took a groaning seat on the edges of grass in front of the lake and enjoyed the breeze on her overheated skin.

Several ducks ambled by with their offspring, stopping to greet her with familiarity. The ducklings were hardly ducklings anymore. Aurelia smiled as she touched the last spots of fledge on their backs, wistful of next spring already. 

Checking on her own flock, she felt Viv counting of her circuits of the lake and Arch and Echo fighting over a shiny rock on the opposite bank, making quite the show of their lover's quarrel. Brook was nearby, she turned to look in his direction. 

"It's a nice day. You should join Viv," Aurelia thought to Brook, seeing the purple and turquoise streak as it passed overhead. She glanced away, watching Arch and Echo battle with wings and beaks and raised an eyebrow, sending out a wave of disapproval. "Or, go take the rock from those two. They need some comeuppance."
Witch

Played by: Nary

Age: 28

Species: Witch

Power: Avian Mage

Posts: 23
#3
Brook Offline
Turning one unnervingly unblinking crimson-ringed eye in Aurelia’s direction, Brook shook his wings out with what could only be perceived as disdain – even to onlookers without her particular skillset. It’d been an odd thing to get a handle on in the beginning: the seemingly impossible task of portraying emotion with scarcely any flexibility for facial expression. Beaks couldn’t curl, twitch, or stretch the way lips could. but there was an impressive amount one could do with a full set of feathers.
 
Viv doesn’t need a reminder of how fast she is,” Brook thought pointedly, fly-hopping from rock to rock. Soon enough, the hummingbird’s buzzing ego was going to outgrow her pocket-sized frame and she wouldn’t be able to take to the skies at all.
 
And our favorite plunderers are going to accidentally peck each other’s eyes out eventually – something I have no desire to witness. That’ll be enough comeuppance for them.”
 
Brook, who blended in quite perfectly with the gray, pebbled surroundings, closed the remaining bit of space between them with a few half-hearted flaps of his wings. He perched himself somewhat precariously on Aurelia’s shoulder, his disfigured leg hooking into the folds of her collar to provide what support it could.
 
Besides, there’s a greater charity case in my midst.”
 
Head bobbing forward with all the grace only a common pigeon could muster, Brook nipped away at the sprinkling of straw and feathers woven into Aurelia’s hair. “What were you doing in there?” Beak full of another bird’s fluffy down, he nestled closer. “Clearing out the cages – or rolling in them?
Witch

Played by: Meg

Age: 26

Species: Witch

Power: Avian Mage

Posts: 5
#4
Aurelia Offline
The frenetic buzzing returned to Aurelia's ears as Viv reached the other side of the lake, sound traveling clearly over the water. Hummingbirds all had a Napoleon complex that the man himself would envy. There was no explaining that to them, of course. 

Aurelia's objection had no effect on the crows' behavior. Black feathers fell in the air around them, buffeted by the wind over the lake and the furious beating of wings as they leaped up and down, neither gaining the advantage. Arch picked up the rock in her beak and threw it into the lake. The pair fell to the ground, stalking each other with wings outspread, beaks open. Aurelia shook her head slowly, lips in a line.

When Brook lit on her shoulder, one hand went up, ready to catch him if he fell. Still amazed by his ability to manage the mangled limb, she let him run his beak through her wild curls, picking the remains of work from coarse strands. Laughing and tugging on the goose down stuck between the halves of his beak, she stroked his head with a finger, leaning into his snuggle, thoughtful. The down released to the wind, she watched it tumble away on a strong gust.

"It's both, and you'd know that if you stayed with me longer than the walk to the door," she thought with a subtle tilt of her head. Lifting him off her shoulder, she moved him to her lap, absently running experienced, gentle fingers between his shoulder blades, preening. "Today, the geese might have listened if you told them I wasn't entirely human." The implication didn't usually bother her. 
Witch

Played by: Nary

Age: 28

Species: Witch

Power: Avian Mage

Posts: 23
#5
Brook Offline
He’d been inside the conservatory exactly once.

It’d been on one of Aurelia’s first visits to the place, early on in their move to Syracuse. Back when Brook didn’t venture far from her side. And while the conservatory certainly fulfilled its mission in aiding Syracuse wildlife, especially those of the avian variety, it resembled his childhood home in too much of a way to be anything akin to a comfort. Enclosures in every direction, the constant rustle of wings, and the unending choruses of chirps, shrieks, and coos...

I’d rather be outside,” Brook thought simply, unhooking taloned feet from Aurelia’s shirt in anticipation of being plucked from her shoulder. “No one’s paying me to spread straw. Besides, I don't know how you can stand the smell.”

He settled quickly in her palm, in her lap, anywhere, really, that was on her.

Might have?” He scoffed, leaning back into her touch. With long, practiced movements, Aurelia ran her fingers down the nape of his emerald neck, between the feathered groove of his wings. Reflexively, his head dropped with pleasure. His tail feathers fluffed and spread. "They didn’t listen today, like they didn’t listen last time, and just like they won’t listen the next. They’re geese, Aurelia.
Witch

Played by: Meg

Age: 26

Species: Witch

Power: Avian Mage

Posts: 5
#6
Aurelia Offline
Speaking as she did to most creatures of the air, Aurelia knew how much they loathed confinement. When your primary extremities were built to carry you in flight, being unable to spread them was close to torture. Still, this place did important, needed work. Aurelia spared a glance behind her at the enormous structure. The human parts of her thought there were worse places to spend a few weeks or months. Afternoon sunlight flashed off the metal struts holding the panes of glass in place, and voices called back and forth on the far side of the building. Volunteers prepared the thick polyethylene cover to spread over the glass in preparation for snow.

Ducks and a few of the healthier geese settled into the grass nearby to watch the spectacle. 

Aurelia smiled at Brook's dismissal of his feathered cousins, fingers steady in their work. She plucked a trailing feather from his back and thrust the quill into her bun, the pale grey of the vane stark against her dark locks.

"You're right," she admitted. "They're never here long enough for my magic to influence them." A blessing, in her opinion. She feared for the crows, Viv and even Brook, wise as he seemed to be for a pigeon. The bonds were strong–the crows had been with her since she returned to her parents' home, and Viv shortly after.  If something were to happen to her, they would be free to wander again. 

Doubt and fear escaped her control to drift through the air. Her birds were too far away to feel it before she got control, but the nearby birds came down from the trees or waddled over from their positions in the grass to sit closer. A goose laid his head on her shoulder and honked down at Brook in clear admonition.
Witch

Played by: Nary

Age: 28

Species: Witch

Power: Avian Mage

Posts: 23
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