The Birth of Rysdei
A Griffin Storm Before the Series Book
The marvelous phoenix floated on gentle wings. He flew above the griffin territories, feeling free. The Phoenixes lived among the griffins, but they chose not to live on the ground. Indeed, most Phoenixes spent their time in either the treetops or the open air.
He heard someone call his name, but he refused to look for the source of the voice. All he wanted to do was to keep flying, flying, flying...
Bayen's eyes flew open, and he nearly fell off of his perch on the pine branch. His older brother, Keikou, was hovering beside his left ear, positioned to scree in it again.
"Okay, okay, I'm awake, Kei!" Bayen grumbled. Keikou was painfully aware of the fact that he was smaller than Bayen. It annoyed him to no end, which meant he did everything he could to make Bayen's life miserable. And that included screaming into his ear.
"Mayki made breakfast this morning." Bayen and Keikou's mother, Mayki, was known for her incredible meal-making skills, but it was rare for her to actually prepare a meal for her family. Mayki was a very busy phoenix. "I just thought you should know." Keikou stuck his beak in the air and turned to go back to the hollow. Suddenly he looked back at Bayen over his shoulder. "And happy hatchday, I guess."
Bayen mentally kicked himself. Why had he forgotten? It was the day he had hatched from his egg! That had to be why his mother had been cooking. "Man, I'm dumb," he muttered. Bayen quickly combed his beak through his feathers and flew down to the hollow.
The male bird was still blinking sleep from his eyes, so he nearly jumped out of his feathers when his father's face appeared in front of him. "Happy hatchday, Bayen!" Sprankataurin, better known as Spranks, screed in his deep voice.
Bayen hovered for a few more seconds, shocked, then pushed past his father with a grunt. Spranks flew beside Bayen for a few more wingstretches.
"Come on, son! Is that any way to treat your father? If it weren't for me, after all, we wouldn't be celebrating your hatchday at all!" he said, with an almost embarrassed ring to his scree.
"Yeah, sure, thanks," Bayen mumbled as he struggled to keep his wings up. Now that the initial shock of Kei's alarming wake-up call had faded, Bayen felt tired and heavy once more. All he wanted to do was sleep.
That is, until he saw the dining knob! In the back of the hollow was a knob that stuck up from the rest of the tree. It made a decent table. Normally the knob was adorned with pine needles and whatever they were going to eat for the meal, but today it was almost overflowing with food! Bayen was sure that if there was anything else on it, the sturdy knob would collapse from the weight! Leaf cakes and bark wraps and- Bayen's favorite- snail stuffed with crushed-up flower petals were piled onto the dining knob.
Mayki's face slid out from behind the mound of food. She looked incredibly young for a phoenix of thirty-nine. Bayen constantly had to remind himself that Mayki was his mother, not his younger sister. "Hello, Bayen," she screed in a gentle voice. "Happy fifteenth hatchday!"
Fifteen. Had it really been that long? Now that he was fifteen, Bayen would be able to go out from the hollow and take a mate. Just the thought of it made Bayen's heart race. There was a particularly sweet female phoenix that he'd had his eyes on since he learned her name--
"Bayen, y'still in there?" Keikou screed noisily. He lifted a wing to knock at Bayen's beak. Bayen slid away in irritation, glared at Keikou, and went over to the dining knob to pick out as many snails he could find. Behind him he knew that Keikou was glaring at his back.
If looks could kill I'd have been dead fifteen years ago, Bayen decided as he cracked open a snail shell. Sliding his tongue into the shell to get at the snail itself, he redirected his thoughts to the female phoenix.
Sahla, her name was. Once, when Bayen started up a conversation, she had told him that 'sahla' meant 'beloved one' in the ancient Phoenix language. Bayen thought that was interesting, but he really wanted to know what she thought of him. He didn't have to think twice about what he thought of her.
Sahla's feathers seemed even more bright than any other phoenix Bayen knew. Given, he only knew his family and the neighboring phoenixes, but even so, that was quite a few phoenixes. Her eyes were a majestic blue. Bayen would give anything to see her burst into flames and then rise back from the ashes. He was sure even her ashes would be beautiful.
Sahla stretched her wings. The cramped space under a bush her family called home hardly gave her enough space to spread out now that she was growing bigger.
"A bush isn't a proper Phoenix home, really," she murmured as she got started on combing out her feathers. Her thoughts drifted to a young male phoenix she had met a few months back. He lived the life she would give anything for. He lived up in a tree, which was a huge addition to the pangs of wanting. He had a young, beautiful mother who was good at meal-making. His father was the kind of bird who could get anyone smiling with some lame joke or another. And that phoenix's brother, well!
Sahla didn't have any siblings. It was just her and her parents. Sahla desperately wanted a sibling, although then she would have even less space under the bush. But the male phoenix had told Sahla all about his older brother. He was always messing around and played a lot of pranks. He moaned so much about his small stature that the male phoenix had sworn half of what he had heard in his life was just that. No matter how annoying Sahla had to admit that would be, she still thought it would be great to live the life of that male phoenix.
"What was his name?" Sahla asked aloud. She couldn't remember, no matter how much she tried to. If she could find the tree he lived in she could just ask him. But even so...
Sahla knew a bunch of female phoenixes who never stopped chatting. It would be embarrassing if they found out she was visiting a male phoenix. No matter what she told them, the news would be around to every phoenix in the area in seconds. Sahla had had her fifteenth hatchday just last month. Fifteen-year-old phoenixes were allowed to go around to find a mate. That would just be too embarrassing any way she looked at it.
"I won't look for him," she screed strongly as she looked at her ice-fragment mirror. Perfect. Or it was, until she saw her mother coming towards her in the reflection. She whirled around guiltily.
Agdey had an amused expression on her face as she floated forward. "Who's the he?" she screed slyly. "Could it be the male phoenix you had a flight class with?"
Sahla's whole being fell limp. "How did you guess?" she whined.
"Thought so!" Agdey said, voice overflowing with churring phoenix laughter. "He was a handsome one, Sahla, I'll give you that. I don't blame you for wanting to go out and mate him!"
Whaaa-? Sahla's eyes brimmed with tears. "I'm not ready to go that far!" she protested with a sob. "All I-I wanted to do was find out his na-aame!"
Agdey switched her expression to embarrassed and sorry, but Sahla could see her eyes still glimmering. "Oh, yes, I'm sure that's it." There was a hint of meanness in her voice too. "Well, I'll just leave you be to your guessing of his name." Agdey floated out of the area.
Sahla was confused, upset, and hurt. Why can't she understand? Agdey of all phoenixes! Why? She felt a tear roll down her feathers. And at that moment she decided to go out and find that male phoenix.
The only thing she didn't know was that Bayen was scanning the skies for her at that exact moment.