Arizeem was startled awake by infernal screeching and clacking. In his dazed state, he almost jumped out of the bedroll. A tick later, he remembered. His unwelcome roommate, the Shitbird, just managed to wake him up yet again. It must have been occupying this cave room in the Forest of Stone long before Arizeem moved in, given the amount of… let’s just say that Arizeem didn’t call it the Shitbird for nothing.
“It’s still dark, damn it! Do you ever sleep?!”, screeched Arizeem in Lorien, and turned to his other side to try and get some more shut-eye. The bird started again. That did it! Arizeem’s wing extended in a strong flap, as he tried to literally eject the bird out of his small cave room by a violent burst of air. The only response was sound of all his unsecured little items clattering onto the floor. Just as the room went silent again, a wary chirp came out of one of the many holes in the uneven ceiling. No success this time. The little bastard is getting wise to this tactic, Arizeem realized. What’s worse, he was now wide awake from the sudden physical exertion. One day soon, he is really going to wring the neck of that annoying noisemaker. Realistically, Arizeem could have killed the bird many times over, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to do it. Maybe because a bad company is was still preferable to complete loneliness to Arizeem, or maybe he saw some reflection of himself in this ugly songbird without songs.
Refusing to spend any more energy on the damn thing, Arizeem slowly rose and picked up all the fallen items from the floor. He was lucky that the feather powder bottle had a tight lid. As it already was in his hands, he immediately applied some. The powder was the cheap stuff and smelled the part, but it got the job done. After the spat with his merchant family, Arizeem’s living standards plummeted. While he found that he could easily survive without most of the luxuries, unpowdered feathers felt just gross. Arizeem stretched, then scrubbed his teeth vigorously to get rid of the aftertaste well known to those with an unhealthy appetite for booze. He spat out for the last time, turned around and squinted at a ray from the sun, which was now slowly rising above the Forest of Stone.
Arizeem’s gaze shifted back into the room, on a long row of bottles placed along the wall. All of them were empty, drained in his latest binge. He took it as a sign - today is the day. What constituted his life up to this point has now been thoroughly consumed, leaving nothing behind. A large part of him wanted to buy another row of bottles and prolong this limbo for few more days, in fear of what the future will bring. Arizeem cursed under his breath. No, either do it today, or never. Emboldened by his self-imposed ultimatum, he threw on his clothes, affixed the coinpurse to his belt, and launched himself off the balcony. His wings snapped open in a puff of loose powder, and cut into the fresh morning air. Arizeem angled them to fly north, toward the offices of the Dominion in the central Avriel Sector. The rock cliffs zoomed by, the air around their sun-kissed faces already warming and rising. Arizeem lazily helped himself to some of the resulting ridge lift. As the Dominion offices broke the horizon, Arizeem separated from the cliffside and glided down toward the Dominion office building.
He touched down on what looked like the main entrance balcony dominated by a large metal-studded gate obstructing entry into the building proper. The gate was guarded by statues: a duo of fully armed and armored Avriel in triumphant poses, some heroes of old, no doubt. If only the knew the about company they are now in, smiled Arizeem for himself, not even bothering to read their names from the statue bases. They are probably long dead anyway, with all their true struggles and deeds mangled beyond recognition by generations of minstrel wannabes. Instead, he walked up to the gate, used its oversized metal knocker, and waited. Nothing. It must still be way too early.
Arizeem turned around, sat on the balcony and watched Athart slowly wake up. The market still looked alluring, now more than ever. Maybe he should go there to grab a drink, hopefully the office will be open when he returns. Still, he stayed put knowing that once he leaves, he won’t return. He watched a ship leave, the distant calls of the sailors still somehow carrying over the wind. He watched guardrel exchanging their posts with the new shift. He watched- “You aren’t here for th’ view, are you boy?”, croaked an old voice behind him.