Free as a Bird

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Saren, Oct 19, 2014.

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  1. The sunlight of Ploma D'or was always bright and beautiful, though it beat on the backs of those working tirelessly. The trees were tall, but their leaves weren't enough to scatter the rays and stop them from shining down onto those doing hard labor.

    Aleta found herself lucky to be under the ground where it was cool, though there were always dangers to where she was placed. Mining was difficult work, and it showered dirt onto her wings, the ones bound to her abdomen to keep them from flaring when she felt panic or danger. There were only a few other winged people inside with Aleta, all of their wings contained in the same fashion. The Serpens told them it was a necessary precaution when working, and like everything else the snake people said, Aleta and the others believed them. She had to admit, it was nice when they were out of the way so she could pick gems and metals from the walls.

    Someone on the surface stepped a little too close to the entrance of the mine, and dust rained from the ceiling to stick in her silvery-gray hair and dark feathers threaded in those strands. They were woven into her thick braid easily enough, the hair pulled back so that it didn't get dirty.

    So much for that.

    Aleta sighed, slamming the sharp end of the pick into the wall. She was so wrapped in her thoughts of trying to rid her hair of dirt that she almost missed the sound of the metal tip clinking on something other than rocks. Leaning the pick against the wall, Aleta scrabbled her long, black, clawed fingernails into the dirt. Scraping enough of the wall away revealed a moderately sized sapphire. It was dark like the set of eyes staring at it, and Aleta wanted so badly to pocket the jewel and keep it for herself. However, she forced her hand to drop it into the sack at her feet. It wasn't very full today. Aleta saw only two little rubies and a chunk of amber. There was also a brick of limestone that another miner had given her for some odd reason. It was likely to get her in trouble with Vamilan, her Serpen superior, for being in the wrong mine, but Aleta had taken it anyway, not having the heart to tell the other Cloudi otherwise.

    Throughout the rest of her mining during the day, Aleta came across few other precious gems, but what she came across were thoughts. Mining was boring, but she dared not say that aloud. Vamilan was benevolent in most cases, but even he didn't tolerate words like that. He treated Aleta and the other Cloudis far enough, giving them breaks and water to help them through their day, but Aleta felt odd about doing so much work when Vamilan didn't. She didn't think she'd ever seen the Serpen even so much as glance at a pick axe.

    She said none of these things to her fellow miners, knowing they would be quick to silence her. She felt like she was the only one having these strange thoughts. The Serpens were kind, and they did have a lot of political and military work, so the Cloudis were doing them many favors by performing the harder work. But Aleta wanted to know what it was like inside Vamilan's grand house, the one with slanted roofs and lavish gates and freshly sprung grass outside.

    She hardly said a word to anyone, which wasn't out of the ordinary for her. Her thoughts were meant for her and her alone, for when she spoke of what she really wanted to say, the other Cloudis called her crazy.

    "Our lives are fine. The Serpens are our friends, and they treat us well. We do work, but they always thank us and are appreciative of the things we do for them,"
    they would say. Aleta know what they said to be truth, but as she returned to her small home with the bed too small for her tall frame, Aleta wondered what it was like to fly. She dropped her sack at the gate so the Serpens would know she was finished with her work and collect it. At least they did that themselves.

    "Hello, Aleta," her mother called, but Aleta only returned the greeting with a soft grunt. "Is something wrong, dear?"

    "No, Mami. I am just... tired." Contemplative was more like it. "I'm going to clean my hair." There was a thin disk of soap and a cotton towel sitting on the two drawer vanity in her room, and Aleta was quick to swipe and exit the house as her mother spoke her affirmation.

    The Serpens and Cloudis had crafted a large in-ground basin for washing, though the Serpens drew their water from somewhere else. At least the Cloudis weren't bothered by their serpent superiors down there. Aleta was alone, and she could see over the short stone fence that was attached to the rest of the city's walls. It was down in a lower section, just like all of the Cloudi homes. It seemed a strange way to set up a city if everyone was equally, but the architecture mattered little to Aleta. The solitude, however, was what did matter.

    Aleta unbound her wings, letting the two-toned bird wings hang at her sides. She stretched them out, almost feeling her bones creak from being confined so long. The basin water was cool as she slipped her hand into it, and she let it slide on her skin, relishing the quiet that surrounded her. Every day she came down to wash the dirt from her hair and wings, but she used it to think as well. She wanted to know more. Too much, Vamilan would say, she thought as she dipped one wing into the water to rid it of dirt.
  2. ((Blue's post))

    The trees in the forest of Dail'arian were impossibly tall, forever stretching upwards in an attempt to touch the heavens. The forest had stood largely untouched by the abusive hands of industrialism for centuries, and back when the Cloudi still had myths and legends of their own, the forest had been believed to be as old as time itself.

    Cerise flew higher and higher in the sky, expertly weaving in and out through the branches effortlessly until she finally breached the canopy formed by the arms of the trees and was welcomed into the warm embrace of the sun. The Dail'arian forest was the perfect place to hide, as the trees were far apart, but the foliage was so thick that the network of branches prevented a large portion of the sun's rays from reaching the forest floor and provided a darkness that allowed one to go about unnoticed. Yes, it kept Cerise safe from discovery, but it also made her feel isolated from the world and almost caged, in a way, that caused her a strong sense of discomfort somewhere deep inside of her being. Thus, periodically she flew higher than usual, soaring past the restricting branches and high up into the sky, the only place where a Cloudi could truly feel free.

    She headed east, soaring at a pleasant and leisurely place, as Cerise was in no hurry. She spotted the familiar tree down below her with minimal difficulty, for even though it lacked many unique characteristics with which to distinguish it from all of it's other arboreal brethren, Cerise knew the trees location better than she knew herself. Positioning herself over her target, she took a nosedive, quickly gaining speed as she darted through the branches. She laughed as she fell, the adrenaline fueling her rush while her wings kept her relatively safe. Once she existed the thickest area of the branches and into the area of about forty feet of open space above the ground, she unfurled her wings and adjusted the angle of her body in order to slow her fall.

    Her feet smacked hard against the Earth but it did nothing to dull the rush. She headed to the base of the tree, her hair in a disarray and a smile on her face, and she reached into a hole in the side of the tree which had long ago been hollowed out in order to create a rather efficient hiding place. In it rested around a dozen journals, each one faded and water-damaged, but they had otherwise stood the test of time. Cerise grabbed the one on the top of the pile, as well as a piece of charcoal from the bottom of the nook, and opened it up to the most recent page.

    Day 89,458: Nothing significant to report.

    The journals had been a tradition of years passed, one that Cerise now carried the burden of so that it wouldn't die with the others. Many different hands had written in these books, and many more filled journals were stored back in the village. There had once been many trees filled with these books all over the forest; now there was only twelve books left.

    Having fufiled her obligations, Cerise once again took to the skies, this time soaring towards the city of Pluma D'or. On Cerise's more honest days, she'd admit to herself that she was rather scared by the large city, so much larger than the little, empty village she called her home. But there was something about being near it, something about its proximity that quite simply thrilled her. Maybe it was the forbidden nature of it all. She had seen it and felt its presence everyday of her life, but she could never journey through its streets nor greet the Cloudis living there. Cerise was, for all intents and purposes, an outcast since birth.

    She knew what went on in Pluma D'or. She was not in any sense oblivious like the city's residents were, and she knew why she should never want to go there. But she couldn't help the longing she felt, the longing for complacency and ignorance, and, though she didn't let herself think about it, companionship. How long had she been alone now? Four years? Five? She no longer knew and was rather sure she didn't want to.

    Cerise stared out at the city, mindful to keep well out of sight. Her mother and her had sat in this very same spot all those years ago. She watched as various Cloudis- so, so small from her view perched up high in the trees- bustled about, completing their various duties assigned to them by their Serpen overlords. She envied them, truly she did, for while they had so little, less than they'd ever even realize, at least they weren't alone.
    #2 Saren, Oct 19, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014
  3. While Cerise longed for the companionship that their small districts held, Aleta often craved the imagined wind beneath her wings. As if they were ready to fly, she gave them an experimental flap, but her feathers were sodden with water, making for poor flight assistants. With a sigh, she pulled the braid from her hair to dump the wavy locks under the water. She cleaned her hands before her claws dug into her hair, never scratching her. She'd done plenty of that as a child while trying to rid her hair of contaminates.

    When she felt sufficiently less dirty, Aleta stood, rubbing her head with the towel to dry her hair so she could sleep. Not for the first time that day, her eyes caught the massive forest outside of Ploma D'or. It was truly a magnificent sight, one that the Cloudis adored from afar. Only a select few had been allowed on the outskirts to chop down trees. However, trees seemed to sprout like weeds, and the efforts made by the Cloudis and their axes never showed, belittled by the entirety of the forest.

    Something seemed different about it, but Aleta couldn't quite place her finger on it. Winding her hair into a loose braid again, she walked to the edge of the fence, staring out at the trees. She wanted to see what it was like, but she knew the Serpens would never approve of such a thing. Only the strongest of the Cloudi were selected to go out, and Aleta could never hope to match the strength of those male Cloudis who took after the largest and strongest birds. She was strong, but they seemed to be otherworldly in their strength.

    It made her sigh, her wings shaking liquid from the feathers. Her claws tapped the stone in careful and rebellious thought. Would anyone miss her if she went out, just for a short time? Surely the Serpens wouldn't notice. After all, she was done with her work, even though she hadn't found as many precious gems as she had before. The day was going to dwindle to night soon, and her mother would be calling her for a meal. Aleta's brow furrowed as she thought about what to do. What if she just went on the outside of the wall and didn't go anywhere? She could feel the grass under her feet but she couldn't say that she had strayed very far.

    She just wanted even a sliver of freedom. Surely the Serpens would understand that.

    It was that carefully planned thought that made Aleta look around to assure herself no one was watching before she bunched her legs and jumped over the fence. The long grass curled between her clawed toes and she smiled. The ground inside Ploma D'or was tramped down and dusty, but just a few inches away from the wall, it was gentle and wavy. How could the Serpens not want them to be out here? She knew outside Ploma D'or was dangerous, but was it so bad that they couldn't go around?

    She wiggled her claws in the grass, her wings flapping heavily. There was no breeze, but the grass waved beneath her feet from the whoosh of her wings. There was the plea in her mind to fly, but she didn't know how. No Cloudi did.
  4. ((Blue's post))

    Her perch up high in the Cayxam trees grew rather tedious in a short while, as Cerise was not one to stay put for any length of time. She tucked a few of the silver colored leaves into her pocket- they were highly useful as pain relievers when brewed into tea, so she tried to keep a supply on hand- before she prepared to head home. Before she could even takeoff, however, something caused her to stop her motions, and she turned back to face the city.

    Years from now, she still wouldn't be able to tell you why she didn't leave, why that feeling, so strong and so powerful, caused her to completely change her path, not only in location, but in life, though she didn't know it at the time. She'd always been in awe of the city, always curious of the nature of life inside its walls and enraptured by the day to day lives of its people. Yet, she had never wanted so badly to get closer to it, to touch its walls and peek in at its secrets, at least not before this day. But she did, she wanted it so bad, and the city was practically calling to her.

    It was reckless and it was rash, and more importantly it was just plain stupid, and Cerise knew all of this. She could list off all the reasons why she couldn't get closer: It was dangerous, she could get caught, but most likely was that she would never want to leave. If she flew too close to the sun, Cerise knew that she was asking to be burned. But that feeling, it was drumming deep inside her, pulling her towards an invisible end.

    Cerise was well aware of all of these things, but she was also impulsive; she never even stopped to ponder any of her reasons. The city was just so close, and damn if she wasn't careful. She descended down under the forest canopy and back into the smaller, second sky, formed by the branches of trees that stood dozens of feet above the forest floor. She flew low in the trees, so there was less chance of her being spotted but she could still maintain a better speed than she ever could have walking.

    She reached the edge of the forest, mere yards away from the walls of Pluma D'or, and she stopped and just stood there, gazing in awe at the larger than life walls surrounding the city. The majority of Pluma D'or was both protected and imprisoned by a large stone wall, though the front entrance sported an area of significantly smaller chain-link fence, there simply to allow easier access to the city for reinforcements in the case of a revolt. Cerise inched closer quietly, reaching her hand out to touch the stone walls, almost reverent in her ministrations. Suddenly she heard and slight jingling sound and a thud, and she quickly jumped into small cluster of bushes. Peering up, she saw the source of the noise, a silver haired girl who had appeared to have jumped the fence.

    Cerise was beyond panicked, and could literally hear the blood pounding in her ears. She forced herself to hold still and keep her breathing quiet. She had no idea what this girl would do if she discovered Cerise's location, and she really had no inclination to find out. She pulled herself deeper into the brush and quietly watched the girl in order to see what she'd do.
  5. Aleta couldn't keep the joy contained any longer. She laughed, taking a few more steps from the fence. The grass grew progressively softer and longer, curling past her roughened ankles and tickling her legs. It was so beautiful and wondrous, and she could never understand why her fellow Cloudis didn't want this. The few allowed to leave never talked about the gentle flora or how tall the trees were, scraping the sky and touching clouds. The Serpens never said how the wind in their hair was fresh and pure. It was lovely, and Aleta wanted it forever.

    However, it was not meant to be that day. She knew she had to drag herself away from the freedom she so desperately desired. The Serpens would find out she'd done this. They always seemed to know everything, even if any Cloudi tried to hide it. So when Aleta turned back and jumped back over the fence, it came as no surprise to see a slender, female Serpen waiting for her. She was quite the beautiful specimen, according to the other Serpens. She had long black hair, always done up in an immaculate braided bun. Her eyes were bright yellow slits, just like the reptiles her people hailed from. Her skin was tan and she had a long, deep red silk skirt paired with a thin, nearly see through top. Right off, from the outfit to the dark and questioning gaze, Aleta knew she was Vamilan's mate, Nasilla.

    "Hello, Mistress Nasilla." Aleta, like all other Cloudis, was to address any Serpen in such a way, even if Aleta disliked the title.

    "Aleta," she purred, a strange sound coming from a snake woman, "what were you doing beyond the fence?"

    "I just... wanted to know what the grass felt like, Mistress." Aleta, despite being almost a half foot taller than Nasilla, cowed under the bright eyed gaze as Nasilla stepped closer.

    "I see. It's very soft, isn't it?" Nasilla smiled, but it seemed a predatory expression as she watched the bird squirm under her gaze. "Have you had your fill of the outside?" She watched Aleta almost shake her head before rethinking it and giving another nod. "Good girl. Now, remember, the outside is a dangerous place, even from such a sort distance. You must be sure never to leave. I... We... cannot protect you out there. Vamilan and I would hate to lose you." The almost-touching sentiment was accompanied by a real touch on Aleta's cheek as Nasilla grazed her hand along the Cloudi's still dirty face. "Finish your wash, my dear. I was very pleased with your pull today."

    "You... You were?" Cloudis didn't receive praise often, and the idea that she'd done well was enough to chase away the thoughts of the outside, for now. It showed on her face, and Nasilla was pleased to see the innocence replace the longing.

    "Yes, I haven't seen a sapphire in quite some time. If you find more, perhaps we can arrange a... bonus for your hard work?" Aleta's eyes widened and her nod this time was vigorous. "Good. Run along and finish your wash. I am eager to see what you pull tomorrow." With that, she almost slithered into the night with the way her body swung while remaining silent as she walked. Aleta watched her, possibly a little too close, her head now filled with ideas of what bonuses Nasilla could give her. She didn't even notice the familiar, yet foreign smell of the nearby Cloudi, so engrossed was she in washing her wings and body.
  6. Cerise crouched down low, hidden in relatively safety by the dense shrubbery. She watched the silver haired girl with wide eyes, desperately trying to calm her lungs, which had panicked along with her. Though she was frightened- more frightened than she could ever remember being- she couldn't help but feel a deep longing at the sight of her. It had been so long since she'd made contact with another of her own kind. Years of isolation had taken their toll, and, though she was loath to admit it, there is little she wouldn't do to have but a chance to talk with another Cloudi, even for a mere moment.

    Surely there was nothing wrong with just approaching her, was there? Cerise was confident that even if the girl did end up ratting her out to her Serpen masters, she would be long gone before they could even begin to put together a search party. Besides, what's life without a little risk...?

    However, just before Cerise had managed to talk herself into approaching the Cloudi girl, she suddenly jumped back over the fence. Cerise was just about to follow her in when a Serpen woman appeared behind the fence. Cerise stiffened with a slight gasp, the slight intake of breath luckily not attracting the reptilian woman's attention. Cerise's senses were suddenly on high alert. She'd had many lessons drilled into her when she was a hatchling about what to do when faced with a Serpen, and now they all flashed through her mind at a break neck speed. She couldn't hear exactly what the two of them were saying, but she could hear the slight hiss that accompanied the scaled woman's every word.

    After what felt like centuries, the Serpen woman slithered off into the night, prompting Cerise to sigh in relief. She could leave now, as the threat of detection by the Serpen was no longer an issue. And yet, watching as the Cloudi rinsed the dirt off of her feathers, she found that she didn't want to leave. She was completely entranced; what must it be like to be Cloudi who had no fear of the Serpen, who didn't even realize that she should fear them? Cerise couldn't even imagine it. She moved out of the bushes, near silent as she crept closer and closer to the fence that would provide her with a long awaited close up glimpse to the streets of Pluma D'or.

    Throwing caution to the wind, she peeked through the holes in the metal, drinking in the foreign city and it's lone visible inhabitant. How strange it was to be so jealous of a prisoner, especially one who didn't even realize that she was trapped in a cage. Though Cerise wouldn't give up her freedom for anything, the longing to be a part of this city of caged birds burned hot and heavy within her heart.
  7. The thin lavender scent of her soap was enough to mask Cerise's scent up until the free Cloudi was up against the fence. Aleta finally noticed she was not alone after she stepped out of the water. Her wings beat the air in an effort to scare whatever was out there, but the dust only blew up small clouds. Weak from disuse, Aleta's wings had never been frightening to anything. Besides, part of her knew she was safe if she stayed inside the fence and she didn't need to use her wings. The Serpens would protect her.

    Still, if something was there, Aleta wanted to know what it was. "Who's there?" she called out into the evening air. The Cloudi dressed herself quickly, though she didn't rebind her wings. She let the multi-colored feathers hang, water dripping from the tips. She glanced back to make sure no one was watching her before she took a few steps toward the fence.

    "If you can talk, please answer me," Aleta pleaded, always careful to ensure she wasn't being watched. Of course, she always was, for the Serpen manors above the Cloudi shacks had views of every inch of the walled city. Nothing went unnoticed by the Serpens, not even Aleta's glances into the dark.

    "I'm Aleta," the Cloudi said with the hint of a disbelieving smile. She was talking to nothing! How could she expect the wind to answer her?
  8. Cerise froze at the sound of the other Cloudi's voice, but couldn't help herself from replying.

    "I'm- I'm Cerise." She replied, her voice cracking slightly from the long period of disuse. She felt a small thrill rush through her with the knowledge that she was finally able to talk with another of her own kind again.

    "Could you... come out here maybe?" She inquired, slowly backing up farther into the shadows. She'd seen how this Aleta girl had looked around before approaching her. That told her two things: 1) that there were probably Serpen watching, (she'd venture to guess that they were watching constantly), and 2) the silver-haired girl was aware of this fact. She found that extremely intriguing. She had always just assumed that the captive Cloudi were entirely unaware of all the Serpen's ministrations, yet Aleta appeared to have been proven wrong. She wondered if the other Cloudi ever questioned their constant vigilance of her life.

    She wanted to go in there with her, to see what it was like in there, to see what the other Cloudi was like close up. But she knew that she couldn't risk going in there, no matter how badly she may have wanted to. She couldn't put herself in danger like that, her job was to important. Thus she waited just out of sight, eager to see what the strange girl with hair the color of steel would do. She had no plan after that, no clue what she'd do if Aleta did come out. But, rather unsurprisingly, she really didn't care.
  9. Cerise. Aleta spoke the other person's name in her mind, too afraid to use it out loud. It was pretty, and Aleta felt like she would break the word if she spoke. However, at Cerise's inquiry, Aleta's feet shuffled back. Nasilla had already nearly punished her once for leaving. Could Aleta risk going over the fence a second time? It wasn't as if she'd done anything the first time. She hadn't lied to Nasilla the first time. She really had wanted to feel the grass under her clawed feet. The hard, gravelly dirt that served as ground for Ploma D'or was nothing compared to that which was beyond the fence.

    Aleta decided then that her desire for the outside was greater than the risk of Nasilla finding her again. "Y-yeah," she stuttered, her voice betraying the tiny fear that she would be discovered. She strode back to the fence with a new purpose, grasping the metal and hauling herself over. Landing with a light thump, she smiled as her toes dug into the soft grass. She didn't think she'd ever tire of the feeling.

    Looking up, her dark eyes settled on Cerise. In the dimming light of the sun, Aleta saw rainbow colors bouncing from the girl's wings. Wings? It's not possible... Another one of us, outside?

    "You... You're like me!" she exclaimed, then remembered she had to be quiet. "But... but how are you outside of the city? You should be in here with us."
  10. "Yeah, I am." She said smiling softly at Aleta's enthusiasm. Perhaps the other Cloudi was a little lonely as well.

    "But," she started, her smiling fading slightly, "I don't think that I'd much like living in there. The Dail'arian is my home."

    And that was the truth she supposed. Pluma D'or was a fantasy, a beautiful place quietly imprisoned and isolated from reality. She fantasized about joining them, of finding companionship and easing her loneliness, but when it came down to it, she knew that she'd never willingly give up her freedom. Her wings were her everything, and she knew that she could never bear to lose them, even if it was truly but a clever illusion. She had watched as Aleta had been forced to climb the fence, rather than fly over it as she would have herself. How the silver-haired girl was able to live like this, Cerise would never know.

    She stretched her wings out to comfort herself, and silly little reminder that they were still hers to use. She didn't like thinking like this. She gazed up at Aleta again, taking in her appearance to distract herself. She definitely looked like a worker, based on her build. Strange that she had left the city; she had never seen anyone from Pluma D'or do that before, save for the occasional wood workers that came out every so often. But she'd never seen anyone leave by themselves before, let alone by sneaking over the fence.

    "You're a strange one." She stated, eyeing Aleta quizzically.
  11. Aleta had never heard of such a place. All her life she'd known Ploma D'or as her home, and her home it would stay until she died. That was all Cloudis lived. So how was Cerise outside the wall with unbound, rainbow wings? Aleta had often imagined what the real world was like, and it seemed like Cerise had experienced it for herself. Aleta could never voice her opinions to the other Cloudis and especially not her mother, who worked closely with the Serpens in their home. Aleta's mother had always quieted her daughter when she asked why they couldn't fly. As rare as children were in Ploma D'or, the Serpens weren't above taking them into their own homes to properly train them.

    But Cerise was everything she had ever dreamed of. A Cloudi free of wing bindings and a job. Cerise was everything a Cloudi was supposed to be.

    So she couldn't help but give a disbelieving laugh as Cerise called her strange. "Me? You're the one who's... outside. Free." The word hung on her tongue like a sweet poison. "I don't understand. Everyone I've ever known who's like me lives in there," she explained, motioning to the city.

    Then she remembered why she never left. Her eyes widened and she looked behind her. "If Mistress Nasilla finds out you're out here, she might want to take you as her personal assistant." That's what happened to the best Cloudi females, and Cerise and her wings were pretty enough to be counted among the best. Aleta had never seen a pair like hers.

    But she didn't want the only free Cloudi she'd ever seen to be put to work in the city. "I don't think you should be here anymore." Aleta wished it didn't hurt to say that, but her heart cringed at the thought.
  12. Aleta was right of course, she knew that. Staying here was far too risky, even though she'd have loved to sneak over the fence and explore the city. Her curiosity and her common sense were definitely at odds. She'd have to settle for the glimpses she'd gotten. It was just so frustrating though, she finally meets another Cloudi after all these years, and their time is cut tremendously short. If only there was a way for her to stay with Aleta without signing her freedom away...

    At that moment, Cerise thought up a very stupid plan. "You could come with me." She said.

    There technically weren't any rules about taking Cloudi out of Pluma D'or, mostly because no one truly thought it was possible. Before now, that is, with the possibility just within her grasp. The Council would undoubtedly never allow it, but they could be dead for all she knew. She'd been following their orders for ages now, without any clear indication that their was anyone left to order her. It was high time, she decided, that she make some decisions for herself, no matter how risky that may be.

    "Come with me," she repeated, "and I'll show you the world. You could do whatever you want, go wherever you please."

    She'd hide the journals, there wasn't any point in them anymore. The Serpen thought they were gone; there was nothing to report. She could do it, she could really leave, but she knew she'd never do it unless she had a partner in crime, someone to give her the courage she currently lacked. She'd do whatever she could to get Aleta to go along. The girl was brave, most definitely. Not many were willing to defy the Serpen like she had. She seemed intelligent enough, and Cerise was willing to bet that she was a fast learner. She was certainly not lacking in the curiosity department. She was, by all accounts the perfect travelling partner. There was just one thing missing.

    "And, if you want," she said, stretching her wings out wide, "I'll teach you how to fly."
  13. When Cerise didn't give an immediate answer or leave right then, Aleta's wings dipped to the ground. She took a liking to Cerise because she was a free Cloudi, but she couldn't get attached. Cerise had to leave and Aleta would never see her again. That's how life was going to be and Aleta had to accept it.

    That was until Cerise blurted out the most absurd thing Aleta had ever heard. Go with her? How could I leave? she thought, but then another thought wormed its way into her mind. How couldn't I leave? There was nothing except her mother keeping her from flying. Well, that and the Serpen's rules stated that Cloudis were safer inside and that outside was too dangerous. There were creatures that would take advantage of a flightless Cloudi and slay them.

    If that was the case, how did Cerise survive? She can fly and I can't, came the immediate and internal response. Cerise would always have the advantage because she could take to the sky. So when Cerise offered to teach Aleta to fly, the Cloudi perked up. "You could?" she asked, suddenly breathless with the idea of flying. The one thing she'd always wanted was now within in her grasp.

    But she couldn't just leave her mother by herself. On top of that, Aleta was finally gaining recognition with Vamilan's family. She could provide for her mother and climb up the ranks. "I... I have to think about it," she said, though there was a hitch in her voice. She struggled with the conflicting ideas. "Come back tomorrow night. Please. I'll have an answer for you."
  14. Cerise nodded, her excitement deflating a tad.

    "I understand. Tomorrow then."

    That was fine, she could work with this. She'd need time to prepare anyways. She'd need to find a place to hide all of the journals, that was big enough to hold them all and was easily recognizable, preferably as far from the old village as possible. She should also see about gathering her things together, of which there was luckily very little of, and find a good way to carry them across potentially long distances. No matter what Aleta's choice was tomorrow, Cerise was determined to be prepared. It wouldn't take the Serpen long to realize that Aleta was gone, if she chose to leave, nor would it take them long to come for her if the other Cloudi let the secret slip. She needed to be ready to make a quick getaway at any moment.

    "Same time, same place. And remember," she said, moving forward to tap Aleta's nose, "let's keep this between us."

    With that, she spread out her wings and took off, leaving the edge of the city as fast as her wings were able to carry her. She had much to do, and little reason to remain any longer. She hoped that Aleta would choose to leave. She would never truly understand her decision if she were to stay, but she would not contest it. She imagined that the Serpen had taken away most of her choices for her whole life; this was perhaps the biggest choice she would ever have to make, and Cerise wanted her to get to make it all on her own.

    She flew higher and higher, until she finally breached the top layer of the Cayxams into the endless sky above. It was beautiful up here, and she wouldn't be able to live if she couldn't experience moments like this. Maybe tomorrow, if she was lucky, she'd have someone to share it with.
  15. Aleta blinked as Cerise poked her nose. No one except her mother, and now Nasilla, had ever touched her beyond a friendly clap on the shoulder. It was strange. Cerise seemed to have no boundaries... All except the metal fence that kept them apart. How could one six foot fence be the barrier to the rest of the world? Why had no one ever tried to leave, to see what other places had to offer?

    Aleta almost missed Cerise's departure, but she was glad she didn't. To see the other Cloudi flying high into the night sky was a beautiful sight indeed. All Aleta ever wanted to do was fly, to touch the clouds and see if they were real. Cerise had all of that and more. All it would take was a climb over the gate.

    The task seemed too daunting to do alone, but there was no way she could convince anyone to follow her. The other Cloudis wanted to be on the good side of the Serpens, and as far as they saw it, Aleta was just in their way. They wanted to work their way up to the elite Serpens to gain favor. That was all there was to life, even though the Serpens always treated them fairly and with few punishments.

    So why did she feel so wrong by staying?

    I can't do this..., she said to herself with a shake of her head. With heavy thoughts, she climbed back over the fence and hopped onto the cold dirt once again.


    The next day found Aleta doing her best to find nothing in the mines. If she came up short, then yesterday's pull would seem like nothing more than some lucky find. Nasilla wouldn't notice her and she could leave in peace. She'd made the decision last night laying in bed. Her mother had been here all her life, and Aleta loved her, but she didn't want to suffer the same fate herself. The more Aleta stepped back and really took a good look at her situation, the more she noticed how much she disliked it. She couldn't stay like her mother had.

    The sun passed over them uneventfully, and Aleta's pull was nothing to glance at. She dropped off her bag just like every other day, though the walk back to her home was quick. "Mami?" she called, but no answer came. Her mother was still with the Serpens then. With a sigh, she began to fold what few clothes she had into a cloth sack with a worn strap. She had wanted to say goodbye to her mother, but that wasn't going to happen. Aleta couldn't fool herself into thinking that her mother would let her go.

    Night fell shortly after and Aleta snuck through the door, not wanting to disturb the peaceful quiet that had settled over the collection of Cloudi homes. It wasn't so dark out that it would have been odd for a Cloudi to be walking around, but Aleta didn't want to take any chances. She followed the darkest areas leading up to the basin, not wanting to be seen by any unwanted eyes.
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