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Of might and right

Chapter Text

Aserys had just arrived to the Eyrie, arriving to it felt like arriving into a death trap. The feathers hanged outside of it served as a stern warning of how tremendous the price of failure would be to any bird of the Eyrie. And in a way Aserys understood it, life wasn’t easy for birds nowadays, the proud dynasty of Erys was in shambles. Those dammed cats had taken advantage of the inner struggles of the dynasty to snap control of the forest from it and now only the Eyrie, with its sacred white groove, remained as the bastion of the house of Erys right to rule.

But Aserys had heard that soon their right to rule was about to get reinstated. Calderous, the standing regent, had issued a decree. The “Decree of Reclamation”, which demanded that every able-bodied bird should come to the Eyrie to prepare for a crusade against the cats and their awful sawmills, that threatened the trees very existence and with that the livelihood of the birds and their right to stand above every other creature in the forest.

The sight of the Eyrie, the mother roost, was awe inspiring. It almost made Aserys forget about the bloody feathers surrounding it. Its white body looked as pure as a snowflake, and the ensorcelled branches above it formed a labyrinth in the skies that was impossible for him to understand completely. Aserys knew that it housed thousands of birds, and he had also heard that inside of it laid another tree, created with the mother root, that was provided to Erys by the All Father himself.

Aserys left his hen along with the other hens that were stationed in a special section surrounding the eyrie and ready to ascend towards one of the many gates surrounding the ensorcelled branches of the eyrie. A bird standing in one of the branches that Aserys assumed was working as a lookout signalled to him to approach him. Aserys complied.

“Who are you?” asked the bird, a rather robust eagle.

“My name is Aserys, I’m from the Hemlock Groove, and I’ve come here to obey the decree”

“The decree was for able-bodied birds, you whelp…”

“I’m a woodpecker sir, my kind is the one that builds the marvels of the dynasty… You know what they say, Eagles fly, Owls see and Woodpeckers build”

“Alright, you seem to be a smart one, go to gate number 3, we have special accommodations for all woodpeckers that approach the Eyrie” said the eagle, in a way that Aserys found so automatic that it caused him to understand that this eagle had already pronounced this speech many times before.

Aserys was somewhat bitter about the way this eagle was treathing him, but he complied. Circling the eyrie was no easy feat, and much less when Aserys wanted to asses every single construction he found inside of it. Still he decided to try to focus and keep his eyes on the prize. After half an hour of navigating the Eyrie he finally found gate 3, a gate that looked rather unpolished when compared to other gated he had found such as the main gate or even gates 4 or 5, Aserys could distinguish a small woodpecker painted at its front and soon the gate was opened.

Aserys was received by a couple of eagles in gleaming silver armour, who looked cut above the eagle in the lookout, so Aserys could only expect an even worst treatment from them than the one he had received from the first eagle.

“Identify yourself!” said one of the eagles with a commanding voice.

“My name is Aserys, I’m a woodpecker from the Hemlock Groove, and I’ve come here because I want to help our glorious crusade”

“It is good that you have come Aserys of the hemlock.” Said the second eagle in a more welcoming tone “now tell me young bird, when the rest of your roost is coming to help?”

“Unfortunately the rest of my groove is too afraid to get out of the roost. The cats have made our village elder cower in fear.”

“Birds fearing cats? Do you understand how ridiculous this sounds?” said the first bird, whose disappointment was notable.

“Most of my roost is inhabited by woodpeckers we are builders not fighters” said Aserys trying to justify the perceived cowardice about his roost.

“It is no excuse, no bird should ever fear a cat. Your roost will be rightly admonished once we have kicked the cats back to the basement of the wood chain. At least you were courageous enough to come here eh, woodpecker. What made you heed the call?” said the commanding eagle looking particularly annoyed.

“Fear” answered Aserys with sincerity.

“Fear? That is an unusual answer, would you care to elaborate? Many have come out of greed, others out of hatred for the cats, and the best of us have come out of obligation to help restore the natural order of things. But fear, no bird has come here out of fear.” replied the guard puzzled.

“I fear for what the cats are doing to the wood with their sawmills. We woodpeckers work the wood, what the cats are doing to the woods is an abomination, they do not respect the lodge, the branch and the root, not like we do, and I fear for how their disrespect may lead to provoking the wrath of the All Father.” Said Aserys with conviction, understand that he needed to make the guards understand how dangerous the impact of the cats was for the woods.

“Enough of your religious banter, the root wardens give me too much of it already. Tell me can you offer this crusade anything besides religious talk, woodpecker?” said the guard clearly annoyed by Aserys exposition.

“I’m also a builder, I could build the weapons that can help us expel the cats from the woods”

“Ha, I had then woodpeckers say the same thing this week already. Woodpeckers, you fancy yourselves inventors, you are just birds that find ways to do what we eagles can do naturally only with extra steps” said the guard, barely holding his laughter at Aserys. “What have you built boy?”

“An engine, a weapon of sorts that could help us drive the cats into a stupor long enough so that our arrows can finish them.”

“Aha” answered the guard barely impressed

“Well at least it sound like a better idea than the one the crow who said he could conjure lightning had” said the more welcoming guard” I think that he might deserve an opportunity to prove himself.”

“True, at least his idea sounds sensible. Perhaps we should give him an audience,”

“Annoying the old bird is the most entertaining thing we can do nowadays, along with scaring the hens” said the second guard, now sounding less welcoming and much more amused

“In the worst case scenario, the old bird is hungry” said the first guard maliciously “Alright then, hey woodpecker, remember that you came here out of fear? Prepare to get really scared”.

The guards opened the door they were guarding slowly, Aserys went inside.