Electrical currents in the air, which were once sluggish and dormant, shifted and were displaced. Something moved through the clear blue sky with unnatural flight, saturating the area with vibrations that ruffled the feathers of a resting Thunderbird, making her wake from her nap with a sudden yelp and look up, squinting toward the disturbance. The blue and yellow plumed Monster studied the distant shape before grumbling to herself and going back to sleep. Always so noisy that one was, disturbing the peace of the sky with those metal wings.
The figure flew above the peaks of the secluded mountain range, not noticing the cold air as it slid about her form. Underneath her a vast and verdant wilderness spread, untouched by the hands of humans and populated by a variety of creatures which had for centuries called the mountains home. Tuning her auditory sensors up, she could discern the calls of small songbirds and even raptors, though these were not the kinds of bird she was looking for. She listened on a little longer before frowning and returning her auditory receivers to normal levels.
Her path took her to the largest peak of the small mountain range and she stopped in mid-air, hovering over the land to survey it. With a thought, her visual sensors zoomed in and scanned over the rocky cliffs below. A myriad of creatures scrambled around the rocks, from lizards to goats, and even some odd looking snakes. Again, these were not what she was looking for, and she began to grow incredibly frustrated before she noticed her target of interest, a Monster with blue and yellow wings, lounging about just inside a cave entrance. Sighing, she willed her visual sensors back to normal and activated her propulsion system again. Mana-particles sparkled off adamantium aetherwings on her back and they propelled her through the sky.
The lounging Monster barely had time to react before she hit the floor at the entrance of the cave with a solid impact, causing the winging creature to squawk and fall onto her rump in surprise. They flailed for a moment before jumping up to their taloned feet and glaring daggers at the intruder while a nimbus of electricity crackled between their outstretched wing-arms.
“WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT FOR! I’ll fill you so full of fucking electricity, you’ll be shitting sparks for…a…week…”
The Thunderbird’s anger trailed away as she took in the intruder for the first time. Before her stood a being of average height with the appearance of a slim female of moderate curves. It was obvious however that the intruder was not alive, as their unclothed, bright purple skin was actually metal plating and her face, unchanging and emotionless, had softly glowing green eyes. Despite the machine’s appearance it still sighed and put a hand to its forehead before speaking in a decidedly feminine voice.
“I wouldn’t have scared you had you been paying attention. Aren’t you on guard duty Electra?”
The Thunderbird, who was shorter than the construct, blushed and tried to cover her human-appearing face with her wings, which still faintly crackled with electricity. She stuttered out, “C-Come on Harmony, I knew it was you coming, I didn’t need to be worried.”
Harmony huffed, an odd sound coming from one who couldn’t show emotions, and she held her finger out before the Monster, wagging it. “You should still be on your guard! What if some other Monster had snuck in here? Or what if you felt the electrical pulses of a construct with a similar mana signature to my own? You could have been killed like that!” She pressed in closer, her metallic form intimidating the Thunderbird. “What something dangerous was here to threaten the nest? If you didn’t warn the others, all the hatchlings could have been hurt!”
“I didn’t mean… I just… gah!” Electra said, rubbing her head and causing her spiky blue hair to stand up with static electricity. “Damnit Harmony, you’ve been scolding me like this my whole life and I’m still not used to it!”
“Clearly, I’m not doing a good enough job.” She sighed and then pat the Thunderbird’s head gently, despite the metallic fingers. Electricity played in soft waves off her hand as she said, “I’ve known you since you were an egg little one. I know you have sharp eyes and good judgment, but you lack discipline.”
“That’s what Mom always says.” Electra sighed, looking abashed. She fidgeted for a moment before asking, “You’re here to see the Queen, right?”
“Correct.” Harmony said, nodding her head and looking further into the cave tunnels where soft light played from deeper in. “Now, you get back to guarding, and if I catch you sleeping again, I will have to discipline you.”
The Thunderbird gulped and said, “You really do work with kids. I bet those two you nanny are the most well behaved children in the whole of the world.”
Harmony’s face didn’t move but a sharp bout of laughter escaped the auditory speaker on the faceplate. “Please. I couldn’t keep those two in line if I tried. Only Chaika has that power.” She sighed. “At least their elder sister turned out alright.”
“I… see.” Electra said, frowning. “Well, the Queen is in her chambers I think. “Harmony nodded and turned to go when Electra asked, in an embarrassed voice, “Do… do you really think I have a sharp eyes?” Though she could not see any change to her expression, Electra could have sworn that Harmony gave her a smile before turning around and heading through the tunnels.
Sounds of metallic feet on the rock floor of the tunnel echoed around Harmony as she traveled through the caverns, the dim light down the end of the tunnel becoming brighter the further she walked. She paused as the sound changed, and she looked down to see that her foot had landed upon a plush red carpet. The edges had been frayed from constant travel by taloned feet, but it still had a regal, if dulled, appearance to the otherwise boring tunnel. Shaking her head, she continued forward into the main chamber of the nest.
The nest, a term for the Thunderbird colony which wormed its way through the heart of the mountain, was a large, nearly impossible to navigate mess of tunnels, side chambers, and caverns. It had always been this way though, for generations upon generations, centuries upon centuries. As far back as Harmony could remember, the caverns, which had expanded over time, had matched the eccentric nature of their occupants, the Thunderbirds. They were explosive, short tempered, and prone to cause electrical disturbances at the drop of a hat. But they were also loyal, proud, and driven, if a little bit scatterbrained at times. She loved them all so dearly.
The faint light from before reflected off the exposed metal of her joints, causing the source, lanterns hung around the walls, to bounce around in their illumination through the large chamber. She surveyed the room, which had also not changed in ages, as she stepped inside from the side tunnel. The inner sanctum of the nest was a massive room with a high, naturally formed domed ceiling that let in light via holes in the roof. Multiple tunnels, some natural, some dug out, criss-crossed the room at all angles, looking like the turn-tables of a leyway station back in Sanctifrond. The main draw however was the large amount of ostentation the room had.
While the Thunderbirds were generally a trustworthy sort, they also liked helping themselves to plunder ever now and then. Despite the changes that the current Monster Lady had made, Thunderbirds out looking for mates, or just flying about, happened to bring in whatever they could find. Sometimes it ranged from refuse to the carpet under her feet. As it stood, multiple fine chairs and couches dotted the chamber as Thunderbirds lounged about, or had their heads stroked by their husbands who relaxed as they did in the afternoon sun trickling into the cave which the lanterns augmented. Multiple portraits lined the walls of men and various other Monsters while other, less interesting but still gilded, artifacts lay strewn all about.
Harmony shook her head again as she viewed the clutter. No matter how many times she scolded the birds, they would not clean this place up. Not even their Queen would listen, though in truth she was just as messy as her subjects.
Her presence did not go unnoticed long, and as she stepped into the room a group of young Thunderbirds, no more than eight or nine years, flapped up before her, waving their little arms as they cried, “Harmony’s back, yaaaaay!”
“Hello Camille, Thundara, Nelly.” The construct said, rubbing each girl’s head in turn. They giggled and ran about, causing other Thunderbirds to give off warning sparks as they ran past. Harmony inwardly smiled before noticing another Thunderbird, an older one in her forties, walk up with a smile appearing on her mature face.
“Oh hush Raita, I am no one’s Queen.”
“Mmm, well, you act more of a Queen than the actual Queen.”
“She has come a long way since I first started speaking with her.”
Raita chuckled, “So she has! Gods, haven’t we all?” The older Thunderbird looked over the assembled Thunderbirds, especially watching the children playing. “I remember when Harmonious promised us she’d bring us mates, through force if necessary. We were all so gung-ho, ready to do anything to help our failing nest, and now look at us.” She turned her gaze back to Harmony and said,
“I’d like to thank you for bringing sense back to all of us. I can’t imagine what things would have been like had your wisdom not been present, your Highness.”
Harmony looked down, expressionless face betraying no emotion, though her audio output decreased. “Please, I am not the Queen to which you refer. What you have done, you have done through your own merit, and hers. I have merely advised you.”
“Ha, so modest!” The Thunderbird said, slapping the construct on the back. “Well, she’s waiting for you in her chambers. Have a ROYALLY good time, my Queen!”
“I’m not-” Harmony cut off as the other Thunderbird did a flying hop away, cutting the conversation off short. She mentally frowned before shaking her head and continuing through to the Queen’s chambers. None of the other Thunderbirds challenged her or gave her odd glances as they were very accustomed to her presence over these past twenty years. The thought gave her some pause before she chuckled and shook her head. A drop in the bucket.
The travel to the Queen’s chambers was short and down a familiar curved tunnel. Red ornamentation heralded the entry, and despite Harmony’s counsel, the Queen was STILL fond of ostentation. Another red carpet lay before the door of the chamber, a gilded (painted gold) door which was closed before the construct. She sighed, remembering when it was just a small red curtain, before knocking on the door.
“Hmm? Gah, uhm, one moment!” A feminine voice called from within. Harmony crossed her arms and tapped her foot as a shuffling of wings and clothing was heard from behind the door. A few moments later the door opened with a little too much urgency and a breathless Thunderbird stood before her, red cheeked and panting. “H-Hello Grandmother!”
Harmony, whose face could not show emotion, gave a sense of intense displeasure as she said, “Harmonious Desalo Filado the IXth. Were you masturbating?”
The Thunderbird’s face went ashen and she gulped before shaking her head. “N…no, of course not. Why would a Monster of my station need to masturbate?”
“Is it because your husband is on a trip to Cair for business and you’re lonely?”
“P-preposterous! I am the Queen of my people, I am above such petty things as getting horny thinking about my bare-chested husband ravaging me and filling me with his semen so an egg can form in my womb!” She chuckled, a sound which was very forced, “No, of course not!”
Harmony stared at her in the way only a machine could, and eventually the Thunderbird Queen sighed and hung her head. “Yes… I was masturbating.”
The construct shook her head before placing a hand on the Queen’s shoulder.”Honestly, you know I don’t care about such things. Harmonious the Vth did the same thing multiple times, although she didn’t have a husband at the time.” She cocked her head and said, “Although what would you have done if it wasn’t me knocking at the door?”
Harmonious chuckled, “Dear Grandmother, you know that the others don’t knock!”
They both laughed at this before Harmonious stood straight and cleaned up her flowing white dress some before holding out a wing-arm to the construct. They both headed inside where the Queen sat down upon a large, red, plush bed, the mattress bouncing a little. Harmonious sat in a cushioned chair in the corner and crossed her legs as she took in the Queen before her.
Harmonious Desalo Filado the IXth was a Monster of above average height with a lithe and perfectly muscled body. When Harmony had first met the Queen, she was a young, impetuous Thunderbird with a personality that was far more refined, and yet just as reckless as her subjects. Over these past twenty years however she had grown into a beautiful woman with long, flowing golden hair and had blue and gold feathers that crackled with soft, blue electricity. The silver tiara on her head which proclaimed her royalty only served to magnify her refined beauty.
Despite her majesty, she bounced upon the bed like a child, giggling softly before sighing and waving a wing-arm toward Harmony. “Well, beyond that embarrassing encounter, what brings you here Grandmother?”
“Please, you have to stop calling me that.” Harmony sighed, shaking her head. “You know I am not your anywhere near being your Grandmother.”
“But you have the memories of Harmonious the Vth and her personality. In all things, you are essentially my Grandmother. Or well, great-great-great… something, Grandmother”
“No. I am my own person.” Harmony said, voice projecting a frown. “Child, I may be created from the spirit of your Grand- of your ancestor, I am not she. Haven’t I said this enough to get it into your thick skull?”
“Mmm, you speak like a Grandmother though.”
“You better be thankful you’re a pretty little Queen or I’d spank you so hard they’d hear it in Cair.”
“Mmm, I’m sure my husband would appreciate that.”
Harmony sighed in exasperation while Harmonious giggled. She eventually held up a wing and shook her head, controlling herself. “I jest, I jest. You know I act this way merely because I feel so comfortable around you.”
“I suppose.” The construct said, shrugging. “I understand what it means to be at ease around someone when everyone else has expectations of you.”
“That Wizard of yours, right?”
Harmonious laid down on the bed, staring up at the ceiling where a chandelier was affixed, though it didn’t seem to serve any real purpose in the room. “It’s hard sometimes, keeping my subjects in check, providing for them.”
“I know.” Harmony said, nodding her head in empathy.
“I almost can’t believe how much things have changed though since that cat took the seat of the Monster Lady. We never had much to do with the Monster Nation but with her new laws and your help, everyone has a fair chance at a husband, at happiness. The nest has never been this large before, and even I have found a lover, and have children!” She chuckled and craned her neck forward to look to Harmony. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“No need to thank me, I have merely given you counsel. You did this yourself.” Harmony said, her voice projecting a smile where her face could not.
“Hmm. Perhaps.” Her head hit the bed again and she sighed, lifting up a wing. “I wonder how things were back in the past. How the specter of war hung over your… I mean, Grandmother’s head.”
“It was difficult to keep the hot-blooded Thunderbirds from flying out to the Monster Lady’s side with the promise of mates. She knew that the Invasions never ended well for her people and that staying away from such things would be best.”
“Is what why she gave a feather away? Is that why she created you?”
Harmony was quiet for a long time, completely motionless. In the silence, Harmonious lifted her head to see the construct staring off into space. She didn’t question it though, knowing that Harmony was thinking over her answer before speaking. It took some time, but eventually Harmony said, “I never told you the story of the fifth Monster Invasion, did I?”
Interested, Harmonious sat up on the bed and crossed her avian legs. “No, I don’t think you ever did. I was always curious but, well… you know.”
“Of course.” The construct said, nodding her head. She looked down at her metallic hand before sighing. “Before I was given this body, before I was the staff, I was part of Harmonious Desalo Filado the Vth. She was a regal creature, much the same as yourself, but with hard eyes that spoke of desperate times. She ruled her small flock of Thunderbirds who had migrated here to these mountains merely a generation before after the Fourth Monster Invasion.”
“She saw firsthand the woes of her Mother, the pain from being so rebuffed again from the lands of humanity. Possessed of rare insight, she saw that the humans feared the Monsters, but did not truly hate them, at least, not until after the sixth Monster Invasion where entire species were slaughtered.”
“With this in mind, she paid her penance to the Monster Lady, played at being subservient, but didn’t fight in the war. Instead, she did her best to provide for her people, bringing them scraps from the sidelines of the battles, the refuse of the war. This worked for a time, until a sorcerer appeared with an entourage of Order Heroes.”
Harmony paused before continuing. “Gregory was a gruff man, short of temper, but quick of mind. He was a Fulgromancer who understood that this Invasion would not be won so easily as the last, that they needed any power where they could get it. He had managed to stall the Order soldiers from assaulting what they considered a forward garrison of Monsters up in the mountains. In truth, he had studied the Thunderbirds, found their behavior odd, and investigated.”
“Question!” Harmonious asked, throwing a wing into the air. “Why didn’t the Thunderbirds just rape him?”
Harmony nodded. “They tried, unsuccessfully. Though but a sorcerer, his command of electricity was astounding, and even our wings were clipped by his power. Harmonious saw the strength of this man and knew that if he chose to make true battle he would have had the Order soldiers following him slaughter the Thunderbirds when they lay helpless. Of course, he did no such thing and instead asked for an audience with the Queen personally.”
The Thunderbird cocked her head “What did he ask for?”
“Cooperation. He saw the way the Thunderbirds had responded and knew that it had to be due to the Queen’s influence. Though his mannerisms were rough, he imparted his plight well and Harmonious, seeing a way out of her own predicament, made a compromise. For her people to be spared the attentions of the human armies, she would grant the Sorcerer a vestige of her own power, a single flight feather charged with her power.”
“At the time, she thought she was merely giving him a magical implement which would power his own magic, but instead she handed him something much more. She gave him, well, me.”
Harmony nodded her head, tone of voice changing as she asked, “Do you know what a revenant is?”
“Uhm… it’s the spirit of a dead creature, right?”
“Not quite. Revenants are often born of dead beings, but in essence they are imprints of humans and Monsters of great will or magical power which dwell in the remains of the progenitors. From their moment of creation they know all of what the original did, have the same personalities even. For those created from creatures which died, they believe themselves to BE the same person, just placed in a new form.”
“In my case, it was a little different. It was as if I was standing there, speaking to Gregory and then… I was suddenly blind, formless, my spirit floating in darkness and my body immaterial.” She raised a hand and chuckled, “Disorienting doesn’t begin to describe what that feels like.”
“I can’t imagine…” Muttered Harmonious, pulling her legs in to her chest. Her wings danced with nervous electricity that spoke of an unsettling melancholy. Harmony noticed and shook her head.
“Well, it was odd at first, but it got easier as I became accustomed to what was happening. I had stayed silent, mainly because I was still disoriented, at least until we reached their camp later that evening. In my form as a feather Gregory delved into the power, MY power, and found my consciousness.” She cocked her head and a sense of amusement came into her voice. “To say he was SHOCKED was an understatement.”
Harmony raised an eyebrow at Harmonious’ outburst, the Queen hiding her embarrassment with a wing. The expressionless construct projected an aura of smugness before continuing. “He was understandably confused. Revenants were basically myths during that time, and the only reason people know of them now is because of Wizardquest and the Wizard’s lack of caring about deep magical secrets.”
“It made a nice story though.”
“Embarrassing, but nice, yes.” Sighed Harmony. “So he was suspicious, wondering what kind of enchantment Harmonious had put on the feather. Was it something to spy on him? Was she really in the pocket of the Monster Lady?” She shrugged. “It was confusing for me as well, as I kept telling him that I WAS Harmonious. He refused to accept it until I told him about a secret lake which the Thunderbirds liked to frequent.”
“Finding the place he was a little more trusting, but still wary. He thought that I was some kind of conduit to the Queen, like a magitek speaker or something!” Shaking with mirth, she continued.”It was amusing, but I feel I only felt that way because I was scared. To have my world so limited to just this brittle feather with some indeterminate fate awaiting me? What of my people? Would they be safe? Gregory assured me that I was still present in the nest, but how was I supposed to trust a human?”
She shrugged. “Yet, what choice did I have?”
“Couldn’t you have electrocuted him?” The Queen asked, looking so much like a schoolgirl despite being nearly forty.
“A valid question, and don’t think I didn’t try. Remember, he was a Fulgromancer anyway, though I couldn’t hurt him effectively even if I could summon up any power, which again, I couldn’t.”
“He sensed these efforts pretty early on, and I must say he was rather pissed. The man was deeply distrustful of Monsters to begin with, but once he found out that I couldn’t hurt him, well… he got a little abusive.” Her speech paused for a moment before she continued. “He didn’t dare hurt my feather, but instead performed some odd experiments, channeling his might through me. It was weird, alien even, to have a man’s magic suffused through me, as if it was trying to forcibly penetrate my being before being discharged forward, even stronger than before.”
“Y-yeah?” Asked the Queen, biting her lip. “Care to go into more d-detail on that?”
Tapping her chin, the construct said, “It was like he was violating me, running his filthy hands over my being and exploring all over me. I tried to resist him and he got angry, using his power to punish me, saying that I was a bitch who needed to behave.”
“And then what? Did he use his sorcerous powers to hold you down and forcibly draw on your power, using you like a cheap hooker, filling you with his thick magic as he discharged through you?”
“Yes! Yes, it was just like that! I hated it, being violated like that!”
“But you secretly liked it right? Being used like that, oh I bet it rankled you, but Dollora did it feel good, huh?”
“Maybe a little and-” The construct cut off suddenly as her olfactory sensors picked up a strange, fishy smell in the air, mixed with faint hints of ozone. Harmony snapped her attention to the Queen and growled, “Harmonious…”
The Queen yelped and covered herself up with her wings, blushing furiously. Harmony glared, or well, gave the impression of glaring, at her tangentially related offspring. Venom dripping from her words, she asked, “Harmonious, are you getting off to one of the most traumatic experiences of my existence?”
Eyes darted left and right, looking everywhere but at the construct. Electricity flared from the metallic fingers of Harmony’s hands and the Queen yelped, holding her wings up in surrender. “S-sorry Grandmother! I didn’t mean anything by it! I’m just, you know, he’s been away for while and I’m hornyyyy!”
Harmony let out a long sigh like steam escaping from a kettle. She cut the power to the magitek generators in her hands and sat down again, shaking her head. “Damn kids these days…”
Rearranging her mildly wet skirts, Harmonious coughed and put on her most regal bearing, saying, “Please, continue your story, honored ancestor.”
“Ugh.” Shaking her head, she gave one last look that oozed disappointment before continuing. “Like I was saying, I was violated by my magic, but despite my protests, the enhancements to his magic were incredible. His range increased, the amps in his electricity went up, and most importantly, the corona of power he generated was staggering.”
“Early on we were ambushed by a scouting force from the Monster Nation. The Heroes were hard pressed to fight them off, but with a gesture of power, one of the Monsters lay dead in a smoking heap while the others fled from his nimbus of power flowing over his form. And yet…” Harmony sighed. “He was not satisfied.”
“Gregory believed that I could generate more power for him than this, he KNEW it was unrefined and that I was resisting him. When we reached Sanctifrond, the first thing he did was take my essence trapped inside the feather and manipulate it out into a gemstone. We both felt the crystalline matrix of the stone, reinforced with magic, able to channel my power better. “
“I could think more freely and had a greater awareness of the outside world, but was still a prisoner to his will. While I did not outwardly oppose his goals, for I, well, Harmonious, had given him this strength, it still rankled me the way he so carelessly treated Monsters and even his fellow Humans. He was like the Wizards, detached from humanity so long as it served his interests. Even when he affixed me to a staff made of black wood, I felt my hatred for him.”
Harmonious clacked her tongue.”He sounds like a bastard.”
“He was. But what was I supposed to do? As the war progressed and our participation in the battles increased, I was used to smite his enemies left and right, feeling that sense of abuse every time he used me. It became easier to accept but it still hurt.”
With a sardonic chuckle she said, “He didn’t even appreciate me, always calling me, ‘hey staff’ or ‘bird-brain-bitch’ before channeling through me. I even began to believe I was nothing more than a tool with the memories of a creature I had no true relation to. I felt my consciousness fading, my cares releasing. I soon let him just use me when he needed to, not offering any resistance.”
“Of course, this only made him angrier.”
“I don’t understand.” The Queen said, cocking her head. “Why would he get angry if you were doing what he asked? He yelled at you for resisting, and then for not? Was this guy autistic?”
“You know, like… I mean… it’s what the kids these days are saying.” Harmonious said, waving a hand. “I’m trying to stay hip. For the hatchlings.”
“Uh huh. Anyway… I don’t think he was that sort, of whatever that is, but I was confused myself. It wasn’t until a battle outside of Fort Carlsbad where we were forced to retreat, even after destroying a rampaging Minotaur formation, that he finally snapped.”
“‘Why are you so fucking worthless?’ He cried, throwing me hard onto the ground, the wood of my construction shuddering from the impact. ‘You failed once again you stupid staff!'” She hissed, “I couldn’t take it anymore and lashed out at him, crying, ‘What do you want from me you selfish bastard? I shouldn’t even be here! I was never meant to exist like this, least of which not with you, you piece of shit!'”
Her arms waved as she said this, static issuing from her mouth. “And you know what he did then? The bastard laughed. He took my anger and he LAUGHED.” She clenched her fists. “I was so furious that I threw my consciousness at him, driving into his mind where I projected myself as Harmonious before him, trying to bend him to MY will.”
“But it was all for naught. He had anticipated this and resisted me. Instead of getting angry again though, he merely pushed me back into the staff and said, ‘This anger and hatred you feel at being forced into something you never wanted? This is the anger and fear I feel every day.'”
The room grew very quiet as Harmony said that so matter of factly, as if it was a statement rather than a traumatic experience. Harmonious blinked in surprise before blurting out, “Wait, what?”
“I was stunned as well. I did not expect this response, but when I pressed it, he was silent. Being that I am an impression of a soul and don’t sleep, I had plenty of time to think it over as he went to bed. When he awoke the next morning, I asked if he meant what he said last night. He smiled and willingly let me delve into his mind, the surface layers at least.”
“What I saw shocked me. Where I had assumed he was a creature of pure hatred and selfishness, I got the impression of a man bound by duty with the same fears as anyone else. He pushed me out and told me plainly that he had no choice but to fight, to protect the people of Deleor. His frustration came from his pent up fears and the anger at having to fight at all, but he kept on because he knew he had to.”
Harmonious frowned and furrowed her brow. “But why was he so angry with you then? Was he just taking out his frustrations on you?”
“Partially, yes. But I knew then his true frustrations. He knew I was capable of more, much more, than I was allowing him to output. He wanted to give his all to the cause, and yet here I was, listlessly going along with him. The war wasn’t going well, and it was obvious they’d make it to Sanctifrond. He needed to know what my priorities were, what I wanted to do.”
“It was at that moment that, despite all the turmoil and pain he had inflicted upon my mind, I saw that he actually thought of me as an individual. A tool, yes, but a tool with a mind, a spirit. Perhaps he hadn’t made that full connection, but it filled me with joy. My thoughts turned to how I could best serve, to give myself purpose. I allowed him to channel his power through me, even shaped his raw magic into more powerful forms. Together, we even blunted the invasion from striking out through one of the eastern canals.”
“But…” She sighed, “It wasn’t enough. The Monster Lady at the time, Javrillia the Scourge, was a cunning and brutal Harpy. She used her aerial forces with impunity, and the loss of the flying constructs so recently before meant that they were unchallenged. Though they feared the storm that Gregory and I could create, we couldn’t be everywhere at once. With that, she stole many men and pushed her Horde into the outlying settlements of Sanctifrond.”
Electricity crackled around Harmonious as she sat there, engrossed by the story. “What happened next?”
“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard this story before, but the Monster Lady herself, so sure of her victory, took to the field herself to lead her army. They massed outside the gates and the people knew that this time, this time they would be done for.”
“They prepared, on the battlements, with weapons in hand, ready for the onslaught to come. They would die defending the capital, or be taken away and raped at the worst. Some men deserted, deciding that becoming a plaything was preferable to death, but most held the walls. All save for Gregory.”
The Queen held up a wing. “Say what? That’s not how I heard the story.”
Harmony’s words echoed a soft smile. “Well, that’s not how it ends. You see, Gregory knew they needed an edge, something that would stop this once and for all. He spent his time in the siege looking over ancient texts compiled by wizards and other Fulgromancers, eventually finding an old book hidden deep in the libraries titled, ‘Hevensferth’s Wrath, a Treatise on Fulgromancy.'”
“Inside the tome he found a spell, one of such magnitude it would change the entire course of the war. I heard some of what he planned but what I mainly felt was his trepidation underlying his resolve. I tried to ask what he meant to do, but he merely asked if I would help him again. I said I would, unsure of what he had planned.”
“The assault began shortly after we took to the walls, with the Lady herself, well out of our range, using a magical weaving to enhance her voice. She called for our destruction, screamed for our demise, and cackled in mad glee. Her Horde echoed her sentiment, stomping their feet and prepared to fight.”
“The defenders gathered their arms and what resolve they had left when a lone man, Gregory, stood upon a parapet and weaved the same cantrip, voicing out to the Monster Horde.”
“Your insanity ends here, Monster. Your rain of death and destruction will be answered in kind. You have one chance to leave before I smite you and yours like the wrath of a vengeful God!”
Pausing for dramatic effect, Harmony said, “They of course, laughed. Gregory knew they would and had already begun preparations. I could feel him drawing all his energy into the staff, into me, and I took it, shaping it into a more ready form as a spellform I had never encountered began to take shape.”
“‘Hey, staff.’ He said as the wind whipped up around him and clouds began to gather in the sky. ‘You’re going to give it your all, right?'” Servos whirred as Harmony clenched her fists again, looking down. “I told him yes, that my purpose was to empower his magic, that I’d help him with this goal. He accepted it, and began to cast the spell with might I had never seen him use before. I was too late to realize the true implications of what I had helped him do, however.”
“The clouds above had formed into an angry tempest as lightning crackled through the skies, fed by our combined might. I tried desperately to stop him, but he had already channeled the power, and with a mighty scream he thrust me forward, sending a bolt of brilliant blue energy into the clouds. For a moment nothing happened, and then, with the roar of the Heavens themselves splitting open, a bolt of lightning so large and massive as to be blinding crashed down into the center of the Horde.”
“The Monsters there were vaporized, not a trace remaining. The ones out of the immediate blast were scorched, burned beyond recognition, and for ranks upon ranks further out, a chain lightning caused them too to spasm and drop to the ground.”
“With the loss of their leader, the Monsters instantly routed, fleeing from the terrible might that a lone sorcerer had caused. The defenders, stunned by the blast just as much as the Horde, took a long while before they cried out in joy, reaching for their savior.”
Melancholy crept into Harmony’s voice. “When they reached him, he was already a blackened corpse. The power was too much for him, and it had discharged back into his body, frying him just as surely as it did the Monster Lady.” Harmonious’s expression of awe became downcast as she heard the change in tone, and she looked down while Harmony continued.
“I saw the whole thing happen but couldn’t stop it. I felt his death throes, and couldn’t save him. And yet in his final moments I knew he knew it would happen. This selfish, arrogant, piece of shit man had known he was going to sacrifice himself to save everyone. How could I not respect that?”
“They hailed him as a Hero, and the funeral was magnificent to behold, so I had heard. They wanted to bury me with him, but the Lord Commander of the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood knew my worth and yet put me on display instead. And there I sat, agonizing over his death until I finally sank away into a sort of unconsciousness as the centuries slipped by. After that, well, you know the rest.”
She held up her metallic hands and then gently placed them back on her lap, looking down in silence. Neither of them made a sound for a long while, one digesting the story while the other reminisced about times long past. Eventually, Harmonious spoke up, her voice soft, almost tremulous. “Do you miss him?”
Harmony thought about it for a long time before shaking her head. “No. He knew his duty, and gave me mine. His time is long past anyway, for he was no Wizard. It is the way of things.” She lifted her head and said, “Besides, I have found a far more wonderful master than I deserve, and through him I have a greater calling, to help shape the future of this land with his children, and yours.”
The Queen of the Thunderbirds nodded her head, a soft smile on her lips. “And that you have. From the stories I have heard from my Mother, the ancient Harmonious went down in history as a far different person you, but that only makes you more special to me. I will continue to call you Grandmother, as it is basically ingrained into me now, but knowing more about your history makes me respect you even more as your own person.” She bowed her head and said, “I thank you.”
“Haha, if I could cry, I would, dear child.” Harmony said, standing up to hug the Queen. “Gods, look at me, I’m a wreck.”
“You look the exact same as always.”
“It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”
They both paused at that statement before breaking out into laughter, the two giggling for a long time until a Thunderbird, completely ignoring propriety, slammed open the door unannounced and shouted, “Queen! Your husband is returned!”
“What? So soon?” The Queen said, tearing away from the tender little moment without hesitation. “Ahhhhh, I have to go greet him!” She made to leave the room when she paused and blushed before asking, “Sorry, but-“
“Go, you deserve your happiness. I’ll show myself out while you two… reconnect.”
Harmonious let out a little giggle and almost flew out the room, leaving the construct alone. She looked around the chamber, the ones she… no, Harmonious the Vth, had occupied so long ago. The memories, so crisp up until her “birth” flowed through her mind once again but she pushed them away. They were the memories of someone else, this Harmonious Desalo Filado the Vth. She was Harmony, a revenant.
For some reason that thought alone made her wish she could actually smile.