As the sun sets in Divu, and the market begins to shut down, Harbard returns to the market bonfire. He takes several specially treated logs he had been preparing for the evening and lays them on the fire. As they begin to burn, the flames dance about, barely touching the logs themselves, and blending almost seamlessly between the bonfire and the Aurora Borealis that itself is beginning to dance in the night sky.
This is the tale of the lost Aerie. All know of the hawks of Pulvi. Those beautiful creatures that soar through our skies, bringing messages from far off lands and nearby villages alike. The Namesake of the Hawktree line and the bird that symbolizes our harsh kingdom of Aera. But once, long ago, Aera was once known for a very different creature.
Ages ago, Before The Hawktree was even discovered, beyond where the Ironroots have ever grown, was a magnificent keep, known as the Aerie of Aera. High in the highest peaks of Aera, the Aerie's spires and walls rose far above even the clouds themselves, built of white polished stone walls and blood red roofs, the Aerie was said to be nigh impenetrable. Any army that attempted it would have to either fly or scale the mountain, for even the closest path would only admit travelers one at a time. You may ask yourself how they got their supplies, and why people would ever travel to such an inhospitable place, and you would be right to wonder. But I DID mention Aera was once known for a very different creature, did i not?
Within the Aerie were raised the most magnificent of creatures, The Peryton. Standing 28 hands from nose to rump, and 20 hands from toe to head, and with glorious racks of antlers reaching another eight hands again, the peryton
would just look to be the most majestic reindeer you have ever seen. That is, of course, if you overlook the wings. One hundred and fourty four hands from wingtip to wingtip, these beautiful beasts filled the skies of the Aerie by day, transporting supplies and letters and people, and filling roosts by night. If ever there was a finer mount, none could name it.
Now, as i said, the Aerie was incredibly defensible, and as such, was only ever attacked twice in all recorded history. The first time was the Barbarian Freeholds of ancient days, gathered together, and attacking both the villages at the foot of the aerie, as well as scaling the mountain. The attack went as well as can be expected once the calvary took the field. a thousand peryton mounted warriors attacking ten times that number of barbarians. The battle was short but glorious, i can tell you.
The second time the aerie was attacked... There are reasons we do not delve alone into the caverns that honeycomb our kingdom. There are reasons we do not delve to deeply. There are reasons that even the most traversed passages through the mountains are still considered so treacherous. There is a reason that every single Aerani citizen is considered a match to nearly any other kingdom's warriors. One of those reasons... are the glowfreaks... They came by night, when all were asleep. some cavern must have opened, leading from some secret nest into the keep. They tore through the aerie, slaughtering everyone before anyone could react, save one person, a small child, who managed to stay hidden and wait out the attack. The peryton did their best to defend against the onslaught, but were overwhelmed nearly as bad as the humans, and were forced to take flight. After the assault, that one child made their way to the top of the tallest spire, and whistled down one of the terrified peryton, who allowed them to mount the beast and flew them to the village below. That child's arrival gave the village enough o a start that they were able to flee when the glowfreaks descended upon them as well. They fled and became the valley dwellers which in turn became us.
Whether or not the Aerie still stands, none can say, though so well built as it was, i like to think it does. The peryton never came down again once the child was safely amongst the villagers. I like to think that, somewhere out there, maybe around the aerie, wherever it stands, the peryton are still there, making their homes amongst their ancient roosts, just waiting for us to come home to them.
The logs burn out, and the flames return to their normal coloration, a very occasional wisp of blue dancing along the top, almost like some great winged creature soaring amongst the mountainscapes of flame...