A/N: Okay, it has been forever and a day since my last update, but I lost my muse for this story for a while, partially as a result of bigger things, partially as a result of issues with the friend who introduced me to the Kiesha'ra series. An update from one of that friend's stories inspired me to get back to this one, and also to put a character inspired by her into this story. This one's for you. You know who you are. I won't name names here. Also, I've replaced some of the content in Chapter 1 to bring it more in-line with my new vision for this story.
Chapter 2: The Quetzalcoatl's Covenant
I arrived at my destination a mere fifteen minutes later, having traversed a considerable distance at speeds considerably faster than most people would think possible, thanks to a little bit of magic. I landed on a cliff above the entrance to a hidden temple, shifting into my demi form and descending a treacherous staircase before reaching the entrance. The temple was a drastic difference from the majority of the local architectural tendencies, mainly because I had constructed it inside the rock of the cliff. It was a large temple, and one known only to a small sect of people, a group that no one else knew existed. The Covenant of Quetzalcoatl. They numbered 20, including acolytes and apprentices, and they were my personal priests and priestesses. They alone knew that I was in truth not a god. And they kept that secret well. They were also non-natives to this region, like myself.
As I entered deep into the complex, through a maze of corridors lit by torchlight and magic, I sent out a call, a thought, to the members of the Covenant, summoning them to the main chamber. When I reached the chamber, I scanned the twenty faces standing before me. I looked at one of them in particular, an older woman, named Kandra. At least, that was the name she had taken upon her induction into the Covenant.
"How have things fared in my absence?" I asked.
"Very well, my lord Quetzalcoatl." she replied. "All of the monitoring spells show nothing outside the ordinary; your subjects across the land continue their reverence unquestioningly."
My eyes narrowed, and my voice was a razor's edge when I spoke. "Not those things. The others. You know what I what to hear about."
She cringed. "They are . . . inconclusive. Clouded. Confused. The future . . . it is never an easy thing to read . . . or understand."
I nod. "Thank you." I turn to another priestess, young, merely an apprentice. "Irika, come with me." I say. "The rest of you are dismissed."
They nod, and bow, exiting the room, except for Irika, who follows me as I exit, heading for another chamber. "Your skills with foresight are formidable, Irika, are they not?" I ask.
"They are, Lord Quetzalcoatl."
"Please, call me Ahnmir, Irika." I say. "No need to be so formal around a friend."
She nods. "Yes, Ahnmir."
I smile. "Then you feel it, too, don't you?"
She nods again, the look on her face grim, disturbed. "Like the calm before a storm."
"Energy. Tension. Buildup. Anticipation of what is to come, as though the universe is holding its breath and waiting to see what happens."
"The storm is brewing; all we can do is prepare."
"Yes, but prepare for what?" I say.
Hazel eyes glance at me. "What do you mean?"
"What is the storm going to be? What is brewing? What do we need to be ready for?"
"Falcons." One simple word. One very simple, very powerful word comes from her lips with absolute certainty.
I nod in agreement, thankful that I did not have to voice it. "Whatever it is, they're always at the center of it." I say. "Meddlers, puppeteers, and cowards all. They feel the world is theirs to direct. And to think, I came all this way to escape their grasp. Are they coming here, no longer content to meddle and interfere in Avian and Serpiente affairs?"
"I do not know." Irika says. "All I know is that it feels like they are involved in this."
"Then let us see if we can pierce the void any better from the chamber." I say. I doubt it, but I may at least be able to confirm my fears.
We reach the chamber I had in mind, a large, spherical room, with the entrance at the equatorial region. I extinguish the torches with a wave, disengage the magical illumination with another, and, taking Irika's hand, step out into the void, walking on air into the center of the chamber. I close my eyes and utter the words that activate the magic, turning this room, with its perfectly smooth, polished walls, into what amounts to a scrying room. I search the future, aided by Irika's sight, looking for anything important.
After several minutes, and failing to find anything conclusive, besides reaffirming and enhancing the feeling of a storm brewing on the horizon, I end it and return to the walkway.
I looked at Irika. "Have someone keep a constant eye on the border watch spells. I want to know if anything magical comes near our borders. With plenty of warning. You know how to contact me." I say, heading off.
A few moments later, Irika joins me as I stand on the cliff, looking out over the vast ocean that separates my lands from those of my ancestors. The moon and stars cast an almost magical light over it, and I smile. "So far away. Our home, so very far away."
"It was our home, Ahnmir. Not anymore." she says.
I reach out, take her hand, and grin. "Shall we fly?" I ask.
"We shall." she replies. We shift into our animal forms, my choice this time being the goshawk to accompany her avian form. We take off, flying out over the surf, enjoying the peace while it lasted.
We both knew it was only a matter of time before it shattered. And when it did, I would do whatever I had to to make sure my new life here survived. If it truly was the Falcons, I would not let them tear my life apart again, even if I had to tear the island of Ahnmik asunder to make them stop, even if it took piles upon piles of Falcon corpses to convince them that they had been foolish to stick their beaks in my business.