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Home » Encyclopedia » A New Direction
A New Direction
A courier learns an important lesson.
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The Windswept Plateau had shed its namesake overnight.

The Twisting Crescendo, the massive cyclone that was the heartbeat and life of the Plateau, had ceased its eternal spin and disappeared.

Life on the Windswept Plateau halted when the winds died. The local clans stared in horror at the harmless clouds that made up the once powerful storm. The horizon, usually swept clean by gusts of cool air, was now choked with dark bands of smoke from the volcanic activity to the south, and swirling clouds of the pestilence to the northeast.

The ancient skyborn lairs of the Cloudsong still managed to hang limply in the sky, a feat that was only possible due to their reliance on the bladders and balloons tended by their patrons.

An emerald courier sat on the edge of one such platform. From here, the world reminded him of a painting, with all its colors forever frozen in time. Edgar always enjoyed this view during his trips to Cloudsong, or at least he did when things were normal and not...whatever this was.

There was palpable unease in using the walkway-connected platforms floating high above the ground. Edgar noticed a ridgeback floundering her way across the terraces on foot, clutching the sides of the walkway. She kept stealing scared glances down towards the ground.

“You have wings, you know!” he shouted over to her with a cheeky grin. “It’s not like we can’t fly if the bridges collapse!” The other dragon managed to look embarrassed before slowly moving over to the next platform. Edgar rolled his eyes. “Everyone’s so worried about the Twisting Crescendo that they forget they can fly.”

Flying through stagnant air was possible for most dragons, if unpleasant. As far as Edgar could tell, the lack of moving air and the oppressing silence that came with it had effectively paralyzed the dragons of wind.

With nothing else to do other than watch scared locals shuffle around, Edgar inspected the parcel he was supposed to deliver. I sure hope this isn't perishable, he thought, patting the small wrapped package. As he placed it back into his satchel, Edgar noticed it didn’t have a recipient slip on it. Eh, it probably just fell to the bottom of the bag. The delivery he was making would have to wait until the wind returned. Without a gulf breeze or an inland high pressure system, he wasn't going to be able to get anywhere. Flying distances through a windless sky was risky even unladen, and a walking courier was vulnerable to dangers such as land-faring beastclans, large predators, and even thievery from his fellows.

Edgar waited, reading twice through the only book he had with him. The courier’s thoughts wandered to his friends, I wonder if Pearl and Spitfire made their deliveries, and what they see in that distant blackened sky.

--


The wind didn't return the next day, nor the day after that. Stillness had gripped the world and didn’t appear likely to release its hold. For a month, the plateau and its dazed inhabitants settled into a sluggish routine. Edgar kept himself busy and, more importantly, fed, by running errands between the terraces for dragons too terrified of the still air to go outside.

After visiting some frequent clients, Edgar noticed a noodle-like shape twisting and looping near a platform hanging a few hundred feet alongside his own. Having lived in a world of frozen complacency for so long, this sudden rush of movement immediately drew his attention. He took off at an awkward waddle, pursuing the curling ribbon of color.

When he was close enough, he made out the form of a young spiral dragon dancing in the dead air. The youth's coloring was pale green, patterned in stripes the same shade as bamboo, and horns of dark green swept back from their wide grinning face.

“Hey kid! You’ve got some strong wings to be staying aloft in this weather!” Edgar shouted, waving to the youth.

The green dragon grinned and danced their way over to the platform. They formed a loose coil around Edgar, bringing their face eye to eye with his. The younger dragon looked at him curiously and asked, “Why do you walk when the sky is so open?” The spiral uncoiled and abruptly shot upwards toward the haze that was once the eye of the Crescendo. “Don’t you know? A dragon belongs in the sky!”

“Yes. Yes we do,” Edgar murmured, watching them disappear into the mists. He was done being landlocked. Spreading his wings, the courier prepared to take off, but stopped abruptly. “Right. I should get a running start.” He waddled to the other end of the platform, positioning himself on all fours. Taking a deep breath, Edgar rushed across the deck, launching himself off the edge. “Here we go!”

Following the cloud trails left behind by the strange spiral, he soon found them dancing near the center of what had once been the beating heart of the Plateau. The spiral winked at Edgar as they continued their undulating performance.

Edgar gave in to the simple joy of flight, attempting to soar in sequence his partner, but quickly grew tired flapping his wings without the lift of the wind to bolster him. Settling to rest on a small basket held aloft by a decorative balloon, he watched the young dragon dance alone in the windless sky. As he did, a profound sense of loss came over him. Without flight, he was empty. A dragon belongs in the sky.

Edgar began to understand the fear and despair that he had watched ripple through Cloudsong and the Plateau. He’d thought they were overreacting to a change in the weather. He was wrong. Without the wind, they had lost what made them wind dragons.


The children of the Windsinger were grieving.


The realization took his breath away. The residents of the Plateau wanted to dance again, just like this strange young spiral. Clutching his satchel against his chest, ashamed of his earlier behavior, Edgar shouted up to the dissolving mists, “Please, I want to help! What can I do!?”

A pulse of warmth pressed against his chest. Then another one. Another. His satchel! Edgar rushed to open it. He removed the unmarked parcel that had become unnaturally warm.

He looked at the package in his claw, dumbfounded. Was this a sign of some sort? He rummaged through his bag, searching for a lost recipient slip, but there wasn’t any. Then he looked up at the sky, at the spiral performing elaborate aerial maneuvers. He hesitated a moment, and then held the parcel out to them. "Hey, I think this is yours!" The spiral made no indication they’d heard him. “I know you can hear me!” The spiral continued their dance without pause. Edgar frowned. “Stay put, okay?” he called out to them. “I can’t fly as fast as you right now, but a courier always makes his deliveries!”

Edgar dived off the small basket into the stagnant air, ignoring the protest of the muscles in his back and wings. He closed the distance to his target, one agonizing wingbeat at a time.

The noodley dragon danced around the courier as he held the parcel out for the youth to take. After a moment of amused consideration, the spiral plucked the packaged from Edgar’s claw and deftly unwrapped its contents. After a moment, they cheered, looping around the struggling Edgar once more.

"I'm not supposed to ask this - client privacy clauses and such - but since this is a bit of an unorthodox delivery, and I’m dying of curiosity,” Edgar wheezed,” I have to know...what is it?"

The youth turned the unwrapped parcel toward him. Resting within the paper was a small carved idol of the Windsinger. "Oh." That’s a bit...underwhelming? Edgar sighed, then gave them a faint smile and a nod. "I guess it's time I get moving. Enjoy your statue."

As he turned away, Edgar realized he was in trouble. A month without any real flight, followed by the rather impulsive dance, had left the courier weaker than he realized. He couldn’t stay aloft much longer. Glancing around in panic, Edgar spotted the floating basket he’d been perched on earlier and began pumping towards it with his remaining strength. Deep breaths, in, out, in, out. Inhale on the down, exhale on the up. Inhale down, exhale up...

"Thank you!" called the spiral as Edgar struggled towards his salvation. The huffing courier looked over his shoulder to respond, only to find the young dragon had vanished. Before Edgar had any time to puzzle this, the stillness of the sky was destroyed by a thunderous crack. All around him, the monster whirlwind churned to life, filling his wings with a welcome buffet of warm air.

The kites and balloons around him lurched, pulled into the tornado's awakening. Edgar managed to stabilize himself, flying through the air with an exhilarating ease. As he let the winds carry him, he noticed something off about the floating structures caught up in the gale; not only was the Twisting Crescendo moving again, it was moving in the opposite direction!

Edgar watched as the lairs of Cloudsong and all the rest of the Windswept Plateau came to life. The children of the Windsinger took to the sky by the hundreds, singing and laughing as they sailed through the twisting torrent. Far below, windmills all along the plateau spun to life, bending under the pressure of the powerful gusts.

Edgar looked for the enigmatic green dragon with the Windsinger idol, but they were nowhere to be found. With a rueful sigh, he extended his wings to their fullest and let the winds sweep him away. He rode the stream for hours, until the floating crags of the Starfall Isles came into view. He grinned, preparing for his next delivery.

"Better late than never."





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