The villagers were out in full force tonight.
The creature knew better than to stray too far out of the forest. It was dangerous there, infested with ferocious humans and their swords and spells. He'd already lost all most of his family to their kind.
But he was starving, and the cattle in the fields smelled too delicious to resist. He'd tried to be quiet. He'd tried to just nab one of the ones that wandered away from their pack, swoop in, swoop out, head back to the forest and enjoy his prey. But he was seen, the beasts cried out, and the humans sounded the alarm.
"SkREE!" He screeched when the fireball hit a wing, and plunged to the ground, blacking out upon impact.
There was no telling how long the creature was unconscious. Could've been moments, could've been days. When he awoke, the sky was the same color as it had been, but there was no angry mob in sight. Every twitch was excruciating, but the more he recollected, the more necessary movement seemed. Wings lifted and a takeoff was attempted to no avail, only serving to send him loudly crashing back down barely a few paces from his starting point. With a sigh, he examined the damage more closely.
The right wing had certainly seen better days. It'd been a direct impact, and the only feathers left were burnt and useless. As he was now, odds were he would never fly again. That is, if he was even lucky enough to last another day.
Preoccupied as he was, he didn't even notice an intruder on the scene until they were barely a pace away. The far too close crunch of leaves and sticks nearly made him cry out. His eyes darted around and zeroed in on the culprit.
They looked human, but he'd never seen one that small before. A fledgling, perhaps? Yes, that had to be it. They awkwardly waddled towards him with no real speed or force, stumbling every few steps. There seemed no threat, so he preened his singed wing, as though that might heal the damage and let him take to the air once more.
He stopped when he felt the fledgling on one of his talons. He looked down curiously at the tiny thing, who was leaning on that limb and reaching up as high as their little appendages could reach. They kept reaching again and again, occasionally falling down and having to pull themself back up again, constantly staring up at him with wide green eyes through brown head fur. It was oddly entertaining, and distracted him from his injuries for a moment.
But then, after several repetitions of this, the fledgling simply gave up, fell to the ground, and cried.
They were whining much too loud for such a small thing. If they kept crying like that, they might alert other more dangerous humans. He had to stop this commotion now, so he quickly leaned forward, opening his beak, and-
Just as quickly as the crying began, it stopped. The little one got back up and reached out again, but the bird pulled back, only for the crying to begin anew, somehow even louder this time. He went forward again, this time close enough his beak practically touched the ground. This seemed to do the trick. The fledgling reached up again, leaning on the beak and awkwardly patting it. After a moment, they started making noises again, but not the loud ones, so he allowed it. Then he felt the magic, and he had to stop himself from jumping back.
This fledgling was teeming with raw magic, like nothing he'd ever felt before. The human magic he always encountered was controlled and hostile, but this, this seemed soft in comparison. Soft yet powerfully safe, like being nestled in the feathers of his mother. Though initially startling, it soon felt calming, and despite the regular painful jolts from burns and broken bones, he found himself slowly relaxing. Did all humans start out like this, soft and friendly and non-threatening? The fledgling had stopped patting and was now just leaning there, murmuring. Before long, he was drifting, only vaguely aware of the fledgling settling in beside him…