A Nest-like Hut in the Forest's Canopy (and the Ground Below)
High on the branches of the RoseWood, where the canopy is thick and light is sparse, nestles a strange construction – half-hut, half-nest. It is made of leaves and twigs, eggshells and grass and bones. It is large enough to hold its owners, the twin harpies Samarsoe and Nankefe, as well as their occasional Uman-sized prey.
Those who walk on the ground below might hear the forest fill with the sweetest melody, a song as comforting and beckoning as they have ever heard. If they follow its charm, they will quickly find themselves ensnared by the sisters.
He walked as if in a trance, the wolf trailing behind, agitated he could not snap the stupid two legs out of the waking dream he was in. He made a strange sight, the handsome young man with his iron manacles and collar followed by a grizzled old wolf. Hawkeye was considering biting him but he stopped short and turned his good eye up to see the weird construction.
There was nothing good in there he was sure, nothing good for his two legged companion anyway.
A dark owl informed them of the lost one last night. Early in the morning, Nankefe and Samarsoe were already preparing in their hut high above and started weaving their song.
“Yew will see, twin-sister,” whispered Samarsoe.
“He will soon be here, sister-twin,” Nankefe replied.
And indeed, soon he was. “Handsome, twin-sister,” Samarsoe peeked from the hut and chuckled quietly while Nankefe kept on singing. “More than I had imagined, sister-twin,” the other harpy replied as her sister resumed her song.
The Uman was accompanied by a wolf. The dark owl neglected to mention that, but the harpies thought nothing of it. The lost one seemed already caught in their melodious web, and they were focusing on him.
“It is time, twin-sister,” said Samarsoe.
“Time it is, sister-twin.”
If Hawkeye continued to look up, he would see two winged hags leaving the hut, still singing but making no noise beyond it. They perched on a thick branch, each handling a crude wooden club in one hand. With their spare hand, they jointly held a large net. Swiftly, the net was thrown from above – aiming at their Uman prey.
He saw them alright, the wolf growled, baring his teeth. Talan stopped and looked about himself still in the trance, maybe fairies sang to him or sprites. Perhaps he would be spirited away to see a fairy Queen in her perfect palace.
Hawkeye kept his good eye on the two hags perched in their tree, and the net they held. They were going to take his two legs. The wolf darted in and caught Talan’s tunic and pulled, shaking his head. He really didn’t want to resort to biting the man-boy. The tug sent Talan sprawling into the moss and leaves.
He gave a brief cry and rolled, glaring at the wolf for interrupting the beautiful song.
”WHAT!” He snapped.
The net fell short of him, thanks to the Wolf’s intervention, and Talan rolled to look at it.
”I don’t think fairies use nets Wolfie.” He said slowly.
The lovely tune came to a screeching halt, and in fact turned into a frustrated screech, as the two harpies realized the wolf was on their prey’s side and their trap missed its mark. Since when did the beasts of the woods prefer Umans over the forces of the forest? Angrily, Nankefe and Samarsoe both jumped off the branch and glided down to the ground.
“Yew take the beast, twin-sister,” hissed Nankefe.
“And yew get our prey, sister-twim,” Samarsoe hissed back.
Extraordinarily coordinated, the two harpies turned to attack their foes. Samarsoe raised her club and with a high-pitched shriek leapt towards Hawkeye, aiming at its head. A similarly terrifying sound came out of Nankefe as she plunged towards Talan, her left-hand’s claws reaching towards his eyes. She will wait with the club till later.
Talan threw his arms up to protect his eyes from the foul thing that attacked him. The thick iron bands protecting his wrists. He rolled and tried to get to his feet and run from it.
Hawkeye moved quickly back to put some space between himself and the bird woman thing. Her club narrowly missed his head and thudded into a tree trunk. He growled and bared his teeth, circling her. He could not worry about the two legs until he deterred this one.
Talan felt claws rake his back and he cried out in pain, swinging about to try and dislodge the creature.
Nankefe shrieked in frustration and pain as her claws found iron instead of flesh. The Uman deflected her attack, but she was able to get his back, and she clung to him with her nails as hard as she could. He was fighting back, yet for a while she was able to dig her nails deep. However, at one point he was able to throw her off his back and she stumbled to the ground. Hissing, the harpy held her club with both hands. She flew a few feet above ground, raised her club and descended upon Talan.
Meanwhile, Samarsoe and the wolf were circling each other. “Come here, cub,” she snarled at it. “What business do yew have protecting Umans?”
Apparently, she was not really expecting a response, for immediately Samarsoe lunged at Hawkeye again, hoping to hurt it bad this time around.
Round Hawkeye’s neck the blue stone, The Tear of the Ahvinn, shone. It had been given to the wolf by a ‘Daughter’ of The Ahvinn, a water spirit. It was a powerful protection, his friend Inarion the Elf had one and it had held back a powerful Demon that wanted him. He launched himself at the winged thing, looking for canines and claws to make contact.
Talan wished he was not contained within the iron, he could have unleashed his fire at this nightmare. For now he would have fight, use his agility to avoid her blows. He turned to see Wolfie and the other one fighting. His back hurt and was sore from her talon strikes and he had no weapon of his own. As he backed up he felt something touch his foot, a quick glance down revealed the net. He dropped and rolled grabbing it, coming to stand and he swung it at the flying creature to trap it and hopefully bring it down.
Samarsoe recognized the energy emanating from the stone surrounding the wolf’s neck, and it alarmed her. As much as the harpy sisters enjoyed considering themselves to be an embodiment of the RoseWood’s essence, they in fact hated and were hated by many other denizens of this forest. The water spirits of the Ahvinn were a prime example. The harpy twins and the Daughters of the River stood at direct opposites as to what this forest was and represented. Darkness versus flow; death versus life. Both were born from the RoseWood, but each aspired to defeat the other. Samarsoe knew the power of the Ahvinn, and feared it.
“How did it find its way to yer neck, cub” The harpy wondered out-loud as the wolf lurched at her. She was quick to evade its attack, half-jumping-half-flying sideways, landing on a low branch. “We should leave, sister-twin,” she called out to Nankefe. Samarsoe had no desire to battle the Ahvinn. Not today.
Samarsoe turned her head to look for her sister, only to find Nankefe struggling in mid-air with their own net. While it had not trapped the harpy entirely, it did get caught in her wings and hindered her movement greatly. “It would be difficult to leave, twin-sister,” Nankefe cried back. “I need yer help, sister-twin.”
Furious, Samarsoe flew towards her sister, trying to untangle the net off her wings. It was not helpful that Nankefe was frantically thrashing them in all directions. “Hold still, sister-twin,” Samarsoe hissed. “I am trying, twin-sister,” Nankefe hissed back.
Hawkeye glared up through his good eye at the Harpy and gave a terse bark and then turned to look for his two legs. Talan had fallen back panting as he cast the net and was resting against a tree trunk, now watching the two struggling creatures try to disentangle the net.
Talan’s back was sore and smarting, his tunic shredded from the thing’s claws. Unscathed, Hawkeye licked the two legs’ hand and started to walk back into the forest. Talan went to turn to follow him but looked back to the struggling creatures.
”Ho there, if you land in the forest floor I will help you.” He called.
” I would have your word that no harm will befall me or the Wolf.”
“We need yew not, Uman,” seethed Samarsoe, while still struggling to hold her sister. Nankefe, however, was slowly calming down, and it would seem that between the two they’ll manage to return to their hut. Indeed, a few minutes later, both sisters were back perching on a branch high above, hurling profanities on Talan, his wolf and the River Ahvinn.
When turning around to face them, Talan could notice three feathers on the ground. Their dark mulberry hue testified that they belonged to Nankefe rather than the green-winged Samarsoe, and were probably plucked away during the fight. Depending on his education or background, Talan might also be aware that harpy feathers were rumored to contain rare magickal properties, and that wizards in great cities such as Amenee or Caradon beyond the Dare Mountains, or even one of those who dwell in secluded towers, will probably pay a hefty sum for even one of those.
Talan was still within eyesight of the two harpies, and harpies’ eyes are keen, so if he would go over to pick those feathers up, he will hear more screams from above: “Do not dare touch those, Uman! They are ours! OURS!”
”Watch’em Wolfie.” He called to his companion.
He walked to the feathers and picked up two and left one.
”I will take these two and leave one behind Ladies.” He called up.
He studied them in a patch of sunlight, looking at the iridescent colouring. He wondered how something so beautiful could belong to something so foul. He bowed to the tree and headed to where Hawkeye sat licking a paw, the blue jewel about his neck was no longer glowing.
”We were lucky there Wolfie.” He said softly.
Hawkeye growled lowly in his throat and offered a bark to the two Harpies, he was not one to be taken lightly.
The gesture of leaving them one of the three feathers clearly did not impress the harpies much. Nankefe cried in clear agony, as if Talan was plucking the feathers from her wings at this very moment. “Curse yew!” Samarsoe screamed at him from above. “May the curse of the RoseWood be on yew and yer cub!”
But beyond curses, the twin sisters did not descend again from the canopy. They did not venture to battle the Wolf and its Uman friend again. Instead, both flew even higher and retreated into their hut.
“We will get our revenge, twin-sister,” Samarsoe consoled Nankefe.
“Our revenge we will get, sister-twin,” Nankefe replied, caressing her own wing, grieving at her loss.
“They will pay, twin-sister.”
“One day, sister-twin, pay they will.”
Up amidst the tree branches, Samarsoe cradled her sister between her green wings. Nankefe lamented her stolen feathers for many hours before finally relenting and falling asleep. But her twin was still wide awake, listening the voices of the RoseWood by night, her eyes glaring intently into the darkness without flinching.
"We will take our revenge, sister-twin," she whispered, half-to-herself-half-to-Nankefe. "One day soon, the Ahvinn will be weaker, and we will take our revenge upon Him and His Daughters and His Daughters' Allies and His Daughters' Allies' Cubs. On the whole lot of them."
There was a long silence, with only the voices of the RoseWood by night fleeting through the darkness.
"For we have Allies too, twin-sister," said Samarsoe. "And we shall call upon them to join us in our revenge."