There were tales of Vogelmänner; humanoids with magnificent bird wings that ruled the skies. According to legend they were divided into tribes that happily traded and even interbred with humans. Stories are unclear as to what happened to the Vogelmänner. Some say that they were wiped out while others claim that they had only ever been stories. Yet others claimed that they had gone into hiding, that something happened between them and the humans that had forced them into the deepest wilderness. Not many truly believed that the Vogelmänner were actually out there, but the few that did scanned the skies whenever they were in the forest and hoped for a glimpse of the fabled bird men.
Little did the believers know, their quarry was out there watching for them as well.
Border watch was an important job and he didn’t mind it, but Aster hated it when he got the rainy shift. It wasn’t like any sane human would be outside in this weather; at least he hoped they wouldn’t. Aster didn’t mind doing patrols normally. It meant that he could get out and stretch his wings. However, flying in this weather sucked. If it were a light rain he wouldn’t be so against being outside right now. The water usually didn’t have a chance to mat down his feathers with only a light sprinkle. When it was an all-out thunderstorm like this, things were different. Water made his feathers stick together and made his wings overall heavy from the weight of the it all. Not to mention that grooming them later took forever. Thankfully there were shelters to wait out the worst of the weather in. After giving the border an initial pass, Aster hunkered down to dry off a bit. If it weren’t for the continued presence of humans near their borders they wouldn’t have to do patrols quite as often. Really, humans had their own towns and cities to live in, why couldn’t they just leave the forests alone?
[center Because they were humans.]
Humans had taken everything from them. A very long time ago they had apparently coexisted with humans; until they were driven close to extinction due to reasons that weren’t completely clear anymore. The only consistent themes in any of the stories were fear and greed. Now there were only a few clans in the area- all within different countries. This made reproduction a bit more difficult. There were only so many marriageable candidates within a clan before they had to branch out and trade young people to diversify. If things continued like this, they’d have to travel even farther out and risk exposure. Risking exposure meant the risk of extinction. Even if it was a pain in the ass, they couldn’t let that happen. So, when humans were spotted near their territory again, they set up regular patrols. It was normal to see humans out in the forest “camping” as they called it.
Whatever the reason, it meant that he didn’t have to loiter around the village all day. That meant he could avoid the eligible bachelorettes. Even though producing a new generation was important, Aster simply wasn’t interested in doing such. It was well known that his preference tended towards males and the village leaders respected that. Unfortunately, the women of marrying age did not. Until they saw him married off to a partner they were going to hound him relentlessly. It was almost enough to make him set off on his own. He had the skills to survive; it wouldn’t be that difficult. The only problem was that he would miss his family- particularly his sister. He’d always be coming back to visit and run into the girls anyway. Ah, the insignificant problems he faced.
Something not so insignificant was a signature rumbling that he heard in the distance. Aster peeked out of the shelter and scanned the horizon- Ah! There. In the distance he could see the last few rocks falling in a rockslide. Prey sometimes got caught up in rockslides, so it was usually worth checking it out and even if nothing had been killed, it was good to report it back to the village just in case. He glanced up at the sky and debated for a moment. The weather [i had] let up considerably. If he just went out to check it out he would be fine. With his mind made up he set off to check out the damage that the rocks had done.
By the time he reached the area, the rain had almost let up completely. [#c05035 “Thank the gods.”] He muttered with a shiver. The last thing he needed were more rocks coming down on him. Aster surveyed the area quietly. It didn’t look like any animals had gotten caught up. In fact, it didn’t look like anything other than rocks and mud was here. He was about to take off when he heard the groan. [#c05035 “!?!”] He whirled around and scanned the rocks again for something he’d missed. …There! Sticking out of the rubble was a hand. He hadn’t noticed it at first since it was covered in mud. There was a moment where he considered the facts, being: This was definitely a human, they would die without help, and if he did nothing it was akin to murder. At least the rain had let up…
With a sigh he got to work. His poncho was already wet, what was a little mud? It was difficult work. The rocks were slippery and his fingers started to go numb from the cold at one point, but eventually he cleared enough rocks away from the human to get him clear of the rocks. He lay the man down and got a look at him. Dark hair and pale skin, if he had wings he would undoubtedly have raven coloring. It looked like he was wearing a ranger’s uniform; so this was someone that would be missed. Probably a good thing he’d decided to save him. Aster lingered for a moment to study his features. It wasn’t like he’d ever get the chance to see one this close again after all. He had seen them from a distance before and struck him how similar they were. Humans just didn’t have any wings. They could even be quite attractive. At that thought he recoiled and decided to wrap things up. The man was safe, great, now he just had to get away before he woke up and his good deed would be finished.
Except the man woke up.
Before he could even stand up, the man opened his eyes. Green; a strange hue that he’d never seen before, almost gray, but not quite. He appeared to be having trouble focusing, so maybe he could get away with it. [b “Oh my god…”] Aster froze up and looked at the man as he spoke. [b “…I was right.”]
The man passed out again, but now he couldn’t leave him here. [#c05035 “Fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!!”] What kind of luck was this? Now he had to either kill the man or take him back home. He’d just saved him so fuck killing him. Man… The elders were going to chew him out. Aster scooped up the man and took off. Although the man was tall, he didn’t weigh all that much; or at least he was feather light compared to a deer. It made getting him home easier at least. One of his fellow patrollers spotted him first and swooped in to ask him what was going on. As the two descended Aster did his best to give the abridged version to him. They gathered quite the crowd as they entered the village, and everyone had questions. Thankfully Aster was good at dodging questions and got in to see the elders easily enough.
After he explained the situation, they agreed that he couldn’t have just left him there. They weren’t happy that there was a human in their village, but they did agree that they also couldn’t kill him. What were they going to do with the human? [#c035b8 “Make Aster take care of him. He’s the one that brought him here. He should be the one responsible for him.”] From the other side of the room his sister spoke up. Somewhere during the explanation, she had managed to get in. [#c035b8 “He’s more than capable.”] Aster shot her an irritated look as the elders began to discuss the possibility and she smiled serenely in return. In the end, he was given the role of human caretaker.
Caretaker meant that the human was going to be living with him. It also meant that he was going to have to get rid of his clothes and other items and cleaning him up. It was a slow process because the mud had dried, and he literally had to peel the clothes off of him and clean him up on top of that. The man was also injured and that had to be taken care of before he disposed of the man’s belongings. By the time he finished everything, it was night time. Not ideal for flying so he tossed the clothes in the fire and put the other items into his satchel to dispose of later. Now that he was finished taking care of him, it was time to play the waiting game until the man woke up. Whenever that was. Considering that he’d woken up once already, Aster was on edge and watching him like a hawk. It was a wonder that he hadn’t woken up earlier.