|Ability||Bloodbound Spell: Deal 2 damage to all enemies in the enemy General's Column.|
Bloodbound Spell: Deal 2 damage to all enemies in the enemy General's Column.
Players in the lower ranks play more often into her Bloodbound Spell which will cause their minions to be damaged or killed. But even if they play around the BBS, Faie's Warbird is strong because it deals 2 damage to the enemy general every second turn.
You can also use minions like Hearth-Sister to move enemy minions into the same column to deal damage to them.
Month of Erewhon
My instincts tell me something is deeply wrong, even before my eyes open. I feel dulled, as when I roost, head heavy with satiety after gorging on a swift kill, head tucked into my plumage. Only, I do not feel sated, or warm, or safe.
When I open my eyes, everything is blurry, and my head doesn’t move quickly enough. Instead of acute, pin point focus in my peripheral vision it takes an age to crane my neck around and focus. Something terribly unnatural is happening. I can see arms, and long, slender legs the colour of my winter feathers. Feathers I can’t ruffle. I scream, and the sound — coarse, wordless, far from my booming, harmonic Wolfenhawk screech — makes me scream more, and weep.
Later, exhausted, my eyes open again. My stomach lurches again, not from pain, but because I am thinking… in words. My body and mind is now slow, ungainly, and beset with feelings I shouldn’t know the names for, let alone have.
I lift my ponderous eyes and behold the thing I know in my gut has caused this, and I hate it with a roiling rage. It towers over me. Grooves in the bark channel the snow melt, giving it the appearance of shifting and pulsing constantly. Its roots cascade in a tumble for miles.
My instinct is to attack, but my new mind asks “with what tools?” I see fallen petals…just one or two, and they glimmer with an intensity beyond hoarfrost. I see that one looks half eaten. Some kind of sap leaks from the tear, and I realise in horror I know how it tastes.
‘Aperion’, the wind whispers into my still foggy mind. ‘Aperion, your mother, your master.’ And my mind is wrenched suddenly into a terrifyingly tactile void. It is memory.
I am coasting on the thermals, a long way from roost but the hunting has been good here — the prey abundant, careless. My brothers and sisters of the wing are barely bothering to coordinate, each engaged in something more akin to play. As First Talon I ate my fill first, and now I watch idly. Then — a beast we have not yet tasted emerges from a drift.
The Wing hoots with awakened hunger. They defer to my beak, my claws, willing me to make the first dive. We harry it up the mountain, where it becomes more exposed, and I do dive, senses afire. The beast pulls up, impossibly fast, as thought it had hit an invisible wall. And I miss. I make to wheel round but the current has changed, and my wings do not catch, my tail feathers offer no rudder.
My vision is suddenly obscured by a mass of bark and I smash against it, wings dragging, tumbling down. I can hear my Wing, but they are far away and cannot reach me. Something flutters to the ground near to my head, and it looks edible. It looks inviting even, despite it clearly not being meat, and I manage to pierce it with my beak. I’m surprised to find that it’s warm, the universe seems to pivot around me, and I remember no more.
Pt 2: Hawkenwolf
The Month of Seinar
I stumbled back into the town, dripping a long trail of crimson from countless lacerations. The Razorback lay dead at the beginning of that bloody line, its axe now clasped in my hand.
Some time later I choked down my pride and traipsed into the first weaponsmith’s parlour I could find. The old man spied the axe I brandished, and the crusted blood, and recoiled in horror.
“No danger. You buy this. Make me a proper talon. Look, I show.”
I grabbed a nearby piece of mostly blank parchment and a quill (‘stolen from one of my kind’) and scratched a rough diagram.
“This is…quite the outlandish design. Are you -”
The man took one look up at my face from behind his round glasses and changed tack quicker than a frightened shrew.
“The barrel blade I will need to refine with Draugur fats. Only the horn of a Rhyno will suit a stock strong and light enough. A lens ground from volcanic quartz will serve adequately as a sight.”
Quite the errand list. I picked up the chipped axe from the counter, grunted a promise and set to work.
The Draugar fat was simple enough. I tracked the scent of one of the reclusive giants from a sheltered ice cave I had some half-glimpsed trace memory of flying past in my other life. I tracked ahead of its foraging route and lay in ambush on the lip of a ledge overhead. I landed at the nape of its neck, and began hacking through the tough hide.
The beast damn near threw me off the side of the mountain in its struggle, but the grotesquely muscled arms could not reach the blind spot I had chosen. Remorse stung me, but all was prey when necessary to Faie. I carved out only what was necessary and left the rest as an easy feast for my old kind — or whatever else stumbled upon it.
The Rhyno were less solitary and much more dangerous. An ambush was needed, a shallow pit covered with a thin layer of ice and snow. The time came to spook a small herd and hope for the sure-footed beasts to put one hoof wrong for once. It took me two days, and another half-day still to carve the horn free of gristle and bone.
By the time I found a cave those walls glinted with deposits of volcanic quartz, I was half starved and colder than a Snow Chaser’s arse. My axe had nearly splintered entirely from its previous harvests and I considered the task of scraping enough deposit from the frozen walls with dismay.
As I chipped away, I became aware of a faint keening that I had believed at first was my blade’s distressing of the cave’s insides. I ventured deeper inside and found an injured Wolfenhawk, wing somehow trapped in a flash-freeze. The high pitched whine was wordless but it spoke perfectly to my mind. ‘My wing’ she cried, ‘what if I never fly again?’
I looked at what was left of my blade. At the calcified, ice-encrusted ore I would need for my new weapon. I thought of the battle I barely survived, and looked at the hawk, remembering in a vivid surge of emotion that I was no longer one of them.
And I set to sawing away at the ice that bound her.
By the time I returned to town, I was half mad with vivid flashbacks to a previous life at higher altitude and what may have on reflection been early onset hypothermia.
The shopkeeper seemed no less aghast seeing me and the even more fierce looking lady on my shoulder.
“This is all very fine but, but…, where is the glass?”
“I have something better now. Make the rest. And I will have a hunting Wing again last.”
Pt 3: Weakness of Man
23,402 - Month of Ashwood - Day 22
We’ve been hiking for a week now. The men complain endlessly about the cold, blame their weakness on some ‘entropic miasma’. Kara and I seem the only ones unaffected. How she sensed I had communed with the God-Tree I know not, but she claims it may yet hear my entreaty alone. She knows the way but has not been able to speak to it as I have. And so I accompany her.
She tells me I may be the only one capable of communion with it. I don’t follow her exact purpose, but now we are flock. And I want answers, or vengeance, or both.
The men look withered. They bicker like sightless chicks in the nest, clamouring for the next scrap of food. Some of them eye me with suspicion, furtively. Clumsy though this new form is, I do not miss their glances, nor forget their faces.
Month of Nagra - Day 2
We grow close, i can feel the whispers on the wind. There is a prickling at the nape of my neck, and I somehow feel stronger, as the party seems only to become more desperate, and mad-eyed. Kara looks tired, but I know she feigns it in solidarity. Her eyes glow with the same fire I feel in my belly.
A trio of the men forge ahead of the rest, towards us. I hear them without turning. Kara gives a yelp as two of them dive on her back and the third takes aim with his staff behind her knees. kara goes down on one leg, and more of the men from behind join the fray, emboldened perhaps by the rare admission of pain. One looks at me - beseeching me to either help, or not interfere perhaps? I knew they were not flock.
Hawkenwolf is in my hand. In a short skip I skewer the one who gave me the look, the blade sliding through his ribcage and lifting him off the ground with the force of my thrust. I kick his still-squawking body off the blade and take aim at the other face I remember best. And then it is unrecognisable, as my bolt sings through the air and sinks its talon deep.
Kara cries out, but not in pain.
“They don’t know their minds Faie! Show mercy!”
Kara has knocked two men senseless with her hands, but still more hold her down. I hop closer, and cleave one off her back with a scything cut. I bring down the bladed stock in a stabbing motion to impale another through the shoulder, and my gauntlet crushes the neck of a man who thinks he approaches unseen, with a backhand swing.
Kara knocks down the last assailant and stands, deigning not to look at me. I approach her and observe a few men are breathing. She means for them to live.
“They are prey now.”
“No, Faie, they are victims. This is my fault, to think they could traverse Halcyar unharmed, as we can. Aperion has become fickle, and we must save them. Them, and all of Vanar.”
“Kara, you are flock. These men are weak. Let us continue alone if you must, and not leave them to harry our backs.”
I raise Hawkenwolf, ready to stab the closest breathing figure with my stock-blade, but Kara shoves her gauntleted fist at me and I deflect it in the same motion, but stumble.
“You are flock, Kara, but you do not command me.”
“And these men are my flock, Faie, whom I have damned in my hubris. Fly if you must, but I will not have you take more of their lives. Here they remain.”
“Fine. Then let us finish this hunt.”
We continue on, though something has changed. Perhaps this is what I have heard called ‘doubt’.
Pt 4: Nature, Nurtured.
23,402 - Month of Frostfire
‘If not this..then…but…’
Logic didn’t come easily to Faie. The life and decisions of a Wolfenhawk were the pure consequences of nature. Factoring humans into the equation, and factoring being a human into it, complicated matters for her somewhat.
Conversations didn’t seem to help. Nor her restless meditation. She knew she hated Aperion for robbing her of her previous life, but she also thought of it as a mother, and there were advantages to opposable thumbs and the existence of alcohol. The Vanar had welcomed her, clumsy and stinking. Well, they were clumsy and stinking too, but they were flock. Only, where she was nourished by the floes of Aperion’s might, the others seemed to wither and retreat.
They did not heed her — or First Talon Kara. They did not believe in flock, they migrated, they became weak. Kara tried to teach her strategy and prophecy, where Faie only pined after the hunt, the claw, the prey.
Then, Skrymir brought her a message, gripped fiercely in her claws. It took her the best part of an hour to read the few simples lines she recognised as Kara’s.
She let the parchment flutter to the snow, and ground her heel into it. That was not her path, of that at least she was sure. No path. Stay.
Skrymir went ranging. Faie let loose her hair. She donned her armour. Skrymir would return with a sighting of a pack — frostwolves of the foothills — Dryads of the groves — and she would follow. She found the alpha of each, defeated and communed with them through the language Aperion had taught her, that she’d barely realised she knew. They pledged their allegiance, would follow her when the time came. Sometimes she used them to harry the Vanar settlements, hastening their cowardly exodus.
Eventually, her territory become more like a dominion. It wasn’t long afterwards that even the spirits sought to challenge her — those souls bound to Aperion like hers, willingly or otherwise. The spirits of the original Hearth-Sisters cloaked themselves over giant Borean bears, or Frosthorn Rhynos, and bade Faie prove her allegiance to and worthiness of Aperion once and for all. Each time she felled one, Faie felt freer, a purity of purpose settled on her like hoarfrost. The spirits were not vanquished, but they were subdued, and now willingly followed.
Flock was more than people. It was what needed you, where you could lead the most. People had Kara. Kara was a rival, but never would she be prey. What she didn’t understand was there was more to the Whyte Mountains — more to protecting what was pure — than people.
And so Faie roamed, Queen of her new dominion, Ur-Alpha and patient disciple of Aperion. Times were changing, but nature — and her nature — could not be denied.
Faie Bloodwing MKII
First of the Aperion Bloodbound, first of the Hawkwolf.