2nd of Vhalar 719
The slave markets, around this time of year, were sparsely trafficked. The advent of the rainy season would be arriving before long, and with it, many avriel would retreat to shelter, for the most part, sending their servants and slaves to do their bidding in the misty mire that would result.
So as Kalortah stood outside In the drizzle of early autumn, he wore a special, cloth valance that covered his wings. This was done not only as a practical measure against the rain but was also symbolic. Across the city, as the Unfeathered were reintroduced to society, and allowed to roam free now that the Etherstorm Plague threat had been neutralized. This led many of the unfeathered to wearing a special cloth valance shrouds, to cover the devastation wrought upon their poor wings, which had their feathers stripped entirely. It assuaged the vanity of this avriel, to the point where they were able to walk among the public. Soon enough, the wearing of cloth valance shrouds became something of a fashion statement, and even the feathered began wearing it.
Most of those who wore them did so in solidarity with the sick who’d been stricken with Aloplumia. Kalortah numbered among those types, wearing the valance around his newly changed wings, in crimson silk brocade, with various cords tying them to his torso. On his body, he wore a sumptuous robe of Athartian silks of white silk and gold brocade, one that covered his body down below the knees. A pair of silk breeches as well. He’d perfumed the clothing and valance with the essence of lemon of vanilla.
He had been looking for inspiration on what to do next with his life. Residence in Athart, it seemed, was no longer an attractive prospect, with the plight of the Unfeathered and the strife that came with civil unrest. Many of the Feathered avriel, who was not sympathetic toward those sick who were allowed to roam free, had taken to bullying them, mocking the flightless Avriel as ‘Chicken Wings’. Meanwhile, Kalortah had failed and was no closer to uncovering the machinations of the Cult of Valtharn.
For his part, Kalortah tried to stay neutral in the grievances between the feathered and unfeathered, but as he wore the valance in solidarity to the Unfeathered, he became another target of their ridicule.
Nevertheless, he did what he could for his unfeathered people. He had plans to depart, aboard a ship he’d commissioned for building last season. It would be but a few days before it was ready for sailing on its maiden voyage. All Kalortah needed, was a captain and command structure to make sure the ship was run properly on the way to wherever he intended to go.
So as he stood on the abandoned stage in the Slave Market, he chanted wordlessly, while tapping his drum, waiting for a crowd to gather before he would commit to the song he had in his mind. It’d been too long since he busked in his native city, and he was looking to debut one or two songs that he’d written for the recent events. He just hoped none of the Unfeathered-haters happened by, to spoil the moment.
"Well, here goes..."
The performance went well at first. A gathering of avriel and humans alike began to form around him on the derelict slave market stage. He had a tune formed but no words yet. Until the beginnings of verse came to him in a wave of inspiration:
"From the Glorious Heights to the Unfeather...
His voice modulated in tone and pitch flawlessly through the verse, carrying over the air and into the crowd, drawing more to him. Then, it hit him.
A piece of raw fruit.
"Filthy Unfeathered scum! Get out of our city!"
Kalortah was stunned for a moment, the orange had hit him full in the forehead, nearly knocking him off of his feet. He was thoroughly distracted from his song, however, although he continued to hum a tune despite the sudden outpouring of hostility.
He didn't know where the fruit had come from, which direction, whether it came from an avriel or a human, although he presumed the former.
Several of the unfeathered gathered to Kalortah's side, in solidarity, which didn't exactly help optics if Kalortah was trying to pass himself off as a sympathizer and not a sufferer. "Stop! Come, we are all Athartian, are we not?"
Came the same voice, but Kalortah couldn't spot its owner. Another few pieces of fruit were lobbed through the air, tossed at the unfeathered as well as himself. Before long, it was a shower of fruit falling on them, in various states of rot and freshness. Kalortah had to retreat.
But he couldn't take it anymore. The hostile treatment of the afflicted, the horrible arrogance and savagery of his own people, the haughty dismissal of an affliction that those who caught it could not have prevented... He let his anger take hold, and he threw aside the valance, revealing his brilliant scarlet wingspan to all there. His eyes flashed with anger, and he screeched in his best savage vocalization.
The screech stunned them momentarily, as did the revelation of fully functional wings and the flash of a long flight saber on his hip. Yet before long they began throwing fruit again, still led by that strange voice in the distance, egged on by them. Kalortah lifted his voice, speaking to the Unfeathered who were being persecuted. "Come Unfeathered! We must find shelter!"
Another fruit hit Kalortah in the back of the head as he turned around, and began leading them away on the foot down toward the back of the slave market stage. A riot unfolded behind him, where human, avriel and unfeathered alike began fighting amongst themselves. Running was all Kalortah could do to avoid the worst of the fighting, and lead his own friends to safety.
He called out, leading them through narrow alleyways, that was flanked on either side by tall sandstone structures. The riot filtered out into the streets and began growing in intensity. Kalortah had his suspicions on what was drumming up so much chaos here, but he didn't voice them. There may be time later for speculation, but for now, he had to get his charges to the docks, where they would find a passage to Desnind.
Kalortah wound his way around the streets, his valance cloak flowing behind his wings as he caught a gust of wind and flew ahead of them. He scouted the area ahead, taking advantage of his superior mobility to check the turns and twists in the alleyways and find a way to get them to the northern harbor.
He saw daylight at the end of the street. Once at the corner, he waved over his cadre of unfeathered to his side, who slowly jogged up to him, their eyes weary and faces haggard with the horror of their own existence. Kalortah doubted many of them would be able to hang on to life long enough to survive the trip to Desnind.
There were many within even the authority that did not wish for these weakened and undignified avriel to be shown to the world. But to Kalortah, every avriel life had value, even if it was to live a sad existence. That in itself was worth a song!
They caught up to him presently, and he flew ahead to clear the way for them and make sure there were no ambushes in wait. Kalortah was nearly through to daylight, at the edge of the beach, when he was tackled on the wing.
They tumbled onto the ground, spilling and kicking up dust and feathers as they hit the floor of the alleyway. Kalortah cried out to the Unfeathered, "Go ahead! There is daylight ahead, and a ship waiting to take you!"
Kalortah had paid for their passage himself, a princely sum for their passage to Desnind.
The unfeathered swiftly jogged over and beyond the alleyway. And then Kalortah never saw them again.
He was getting beaten to a pulp by the avriel that had tackled him. He wore leathers and bronze armor and looked to be a warrior, at least more of one than Kal. Kal did what he could to fend him off, but was thoroughly smashed in the proceeding moments. By the time the assailant was done with Kal, he lied on the dirt of the alleyway, defeated and crying.
The leather-clad warrior spat on Kalortah, and sneered, taking to the wing as he flew out of there, over toward where the Unfeathered had disappeared to. But he wouldn't get to them in time. Kal had bought them the chance they needed to board the ship.
In the end, the avriel minstrel was satisfied. He stood within the break, to a sun falling behind the horizon, and dusted himself off. He was off to see his family, one last time before leaving Athart for good.