I believe the channels of the magical realm draw close with our own once more. Thus, the revival of a heavy use of magic is something I would highly recommend to you, Mr. President. It is true that magic is limited based on the supply of blood and the range of target, but there are plenty of tricks that can be performed to justify magic, such as powering machines that we cannot even fathom just yet. It is important that we do not shy away from the fear of the unknown or else we risk being left behind in the field of science! All I ask for is live subjects to use in my tests. If you give me enough time and support, I am confident I shall provide results that you will be most pleased with. So, please make the right choice. A few lives is a worthy price to pay if it means our advancement into a new age.
-Head Scientist Ozki, The Creation, Experimentation, and Purpose of Espers
Natalia hung her feet over the edge of the crate she sat on. She kicked them casually, the heels of her boots clicking together on occasion. The rising sun off to her left lit the sky a deep orange, light gray clouds promising more rain. From her vantage point on the crate, she took in the groups of soldiers going about their business, the occasional wagon of supplies being pulled by horse, volferd, or other pack animal. Beyond her immediate area she saw patches of grass that were brown and dying at the edge of the surrounding field of the encampment. The grass beyond was a dull green trying to grow in the cold and freezing rains that for the past few nights. The forest beyond had roads cutting through it from different directions toward the encampment. Her focus was on a particular road coming from the distant peaks of the Bosakil mountain range. The snowy tops hid the pass she had traveled on several days prior.
A gust of wind loosened a strand of blonde hair. She took hold of it and twirled the strand in her fingers before sliding it back behind her ears. Leaning back, she closed her eyes and just listened to the noise of the camp. The movement of supplies and weaponry for today’s assignments. The conversations of men and women about a variety of topics from small talk of the weather to discussions of being repositioned to the trench.
Come on, get here already. She nudged her pack that sat on another smaller crate beneath her. Leaning over she reached into a pocket for a black watch. Looking at the dials she sighed and placed it back into the pocket. “Almost out of time before the mission briefing.” She moaned and rubbed at her tired eyes. I wonder what my first mission as a gamayun will be? She glanced to the black talon patch sewn onto her coat’s right shoulder. Another breeze carried the smell of breakfast being cooked near the center of the camp. Her nose wrinkled at the spices mixed into the smell. “Soup for breakfast, what a surprise.”
She tightened her trench coat, securing the top buttons as another gust of wind blew in from the field set before her. Leaning forward she squinted her eyes at movement in the distance. A smile creased her lips as she recognized Revu among a group of several other volferd moving with a pair of trucks along the main road.
Taking care to not hurt her side, she eased herself off the crate. Once on the ground Natalia rushed off into the field, her braided hair bouncing, and boots squishing across the dew-laden grass. Her smile brightened as she saw Revu turn her head and let forth a loud squawk.
Revu tore away from the grasp of a handler and began to run towards Natalia. Another handler was dragged across the dirt before releasing their grip on the reigns. Another squawk filled the air as other volferds looked on with curiosity and let out their own chirps.
Laughing at the show, Natalia stretched her arms out and quickly wrapped them around Revu’s neck. “Oh, I’m so glad to see you Revu!”
With an open beak wrapped around Natalia’s right shoulder, Revu let forth a series of chirps, all high pitched and happy.
“Stop, that tickles!” She laughed at the touch of the rough tongue against the side of her neck. “Wait, not there!” Natalia pulled away as Revu neared her left shoulder. “Remember, I’m hurt!”
“Stop!” She commanded abruptly.
Revu titled her head and let out a sad chirp.
“Oh, now don’t be so sad. You just can’t be so rough. She smiled and took the reins to start to guide Revu back through the field. “I do have to thank you a lot, girl. After all, I’d surely be dead in that town without you!” She pat Revu’s side. “I definitely owe you your favorite snack tonight. Hopefully the caretakers have some fresh slugs.”
Revu chirped at the word “slug” and let out a deep throated purr of delight.
Nearing the crates, Natalia brought Revu to a stop by her pack. Strapping it over her back she waited for the caravan to come into the encampment. Spotting the handler covered in dirt, she waved her hand to the man. “Thank you! You have no idea what it means to have her back with me.” She nodded to Revu.
The short man grumbled and kept moving on, guiding the volferds. The other handler, a skinny boy with dark brown hair chuckled and gave her a smile. “Don’t mind him, he’s just stubborn. We’re both glad to have brought your volferd back. She was a delight.”
“I’m glad to hear.”
The boy waved his hand and kept moving along with the rest of the caravan. “See you around, miss!”