Original Prompt: “You and your friends grew up in a small town far from any magic schools but managed to learn it eventually. You always pushed and challenged each other, unaware of how strong you were. Then one day a city mage happened to pass through town.”
The warning bells of Havenwood continued to ring over and over again as the four of us ran towards the town. The bells were relics of a time where the entire world was at war and were seen more as relics than actual warning bells. If they were being run now, that meant it was a serious problem. It was impossible to tell what was going on from the woods, but it would soon be apparent.
Dew and Fyre were in front leading the group back towards the town while I was behind with the city mage. All of us running towards the sounds of danger.
As we broke the tree line and stood on the outskirts of town, we started to hear the screams of villagers as well as the screams of something else. People ran seemed to be scattering from the town square where the crowds had formed earlier. They crowded the square in order to see the travelers from the big city, but now it was some kind of war zone.
“Look there,” Dew pointed towards the sky.
There was some kind of winged beast hovering in the air and it seemed to have someone in its claws.
The beast released its prisoner and the person fell to the solid ground, screaming the whole way down.
As the four of us got closer to the town square and waded through the screaming crowds of people, we got a closer look at the cause of all this chaos. They were winged humanoids covered in feathers with sharp, hawk-like talons on their feet and hands. They screeched and growled as they attacked villager after villager.
“Harpies…” The mage said as the words barely escaped his lips. “Harpies.”
I had never heard the word but his facial expression was all I needed to see. Apparently these beasts were fierce and sent a shiver down the mage’s spine.
One of these harpies turned its head at the sight of four new people entering the square. It was apparently over the dead bodies laying around the square and wanting to hunt its next meal.
It flapped its wings and screeched at us alerting the other harpies to our presence. Although it was perched on the wagon in the middle of town with what looked like half a body underneath its claws, I figured it would not be long before it would leap at us with its claws.
“We need to do something,” Dew said raising up her hands.
“If we do this, we will be exposed for our abilities,” Fyre said.
“It’s worth it,” I said raising my hands. “We need to save this town.”
I took a deep breath and the entire world seem to slow around me. I had never really used my abilities in combat before. Fyre, Dew, and I would occasionally spar with one another, but it was just training and fun. Showing off with spells. That sort of thing. This was the real deal. This was life or death. This would be a true test of our abilities and synergy together.
The harpy closest to us flapped its large, feathery wings and sprung from the wagon. It barred its claws and teeth as it flew through the air.
Next I saw a blur of motion to my left as Dew unleashed a blast of cold energy cultivating in a barrage of icicle knives flying towards the harpy. Fyre spread out her hands and a familiar serpent of fire circled around her arm forming a blade of fire. I clenched my fists and felt the dirt wrap around me, covering my skin and clothes in an armor of mud and stone.
Then I blinked and the slowness melted away as chaos broke out.
The first harpy got struck with the knives and its flight was knocked off balance it fell to the ground and tried its best to get to its feet. Fyre slashed down with the blade instantly killing the creature as the scent of burnt skin and feathers hit our noses.
A second harpy flew down from the rooftops and I unleashed a vine of thorns which caught its right arm and slammed it down into the ground. It was a mound of feathers and flesh as Fyre brought down her blade once again.
A few more harpies let out cries as they started to approach. What initially looked like just a few harpies quickly turned out to be over a dozen of these winged beasts and they were quickly making their way towards us.
“Watch each other’s backs,” Fyre said raising her sword of fire. “We can do this if we stick together.”
Dew turned towards the city mage who stood there paralyzed in fear.
“Hey mage, pull your weight. It’s time to fight,” She said.
This seemed to snap him out of it. He shook his head and took a deep breath.
“Right. Right. I can…I can help,” He mumbled.
I lashed out with my thorn whip once again, just missing one of the harpies as it flapped its wings. Dew unleashed another blast of cold air, covering the creature in a layer of ice and frost. The harpy tumbled backwards and slammed into the stone wall of our mayor’s office and fell to the ground with a sickening flop.
“You better start now,” Dew said readying another attack.
The mage held out his hands and starting mumbling words then his eyes flashed white as electricity surged through his body. Lightning jumped from his fingertips and the air around us started to burn. The lightning bolt cracked across the air and struck one of the harpies killing it instantly. It fell and struck another harpy, knocking them both to the ground.
I spun around as a couple of harpies came up from behind and I lashed out with my thorn whip once again, but this time it caught the edge of its wing. It wasn’t enough to slow it as it slammed into me and knocked me to the ground. My head hit the paved stones behind me and I had a heavy mass of feathers on top of me. Its claws cut across my body and slashed at my face. Luckily the mud and stone received most of the blows, but the creature got me across the face with several claw attacks.
Then there was another cloud of burning feathers as Fyre slashed through its body, freeing me from the attack.
Dew helped me to my feet before unleashing another blast of ice and snow at a harpy as it flew over us. A third was incarcerated by Fyre and her orbs of flames and heat. The mage unleashed another blast of electricity which killed one harpy and tore through another one’s wing.
The damaged harpy ran across the ground on all fours as its wings dragged along the ground. It leaped at us and I summoned a mound of earth. I punched forward with a rocky fist and smashed the creature into the ground.
Two more harpies descended on us and they grabbed onto the city mage with their talons.
He yelled out and we turned to watch the harpies carry him up into the air. I whipped out at them with the thorns, but got nothing but a few feathers. Higher and higher they carried him as he screamed.
“HARPY EGG! HARPY EGG!” He yelled as he flailed in the air. “CHECK THE WAGON!”
I looked over towards the cart which belonged to the travelers. The wagon was now turned over on its side with a couple of harpies clawing at the wood and metal frame.
“There!” I pointed towards the wagon. “That’s the goal. On me.”
“What about the mage?” Dew asked unleashing ice knife after ice knife at the two harpies holding the city mage.
“I think I can end all of this,” I said. “We just need to get to the wagon.”
“I’m with you,” Fyre said placing a hand on my shoulder while still holding the fire sword with the other.
“Alright, I’ll watch your back,” She said.
All three of us ran forward through the bodies of dead harpies and dead villagers. There were still a handful of harpies flying through the air, screeching at us and baring their teeth and sharp talons. Our focus, however, was on the overturned wagon. That was our only chance to end this without seeing more death and bloodshed.
As we neared the wagon, the two harpies on top spread their wings and readied to attack. Dew and Fyre raised their weapons, but I shook my head.
“I got them,” I said raising up my arms.
Two large protrusions of stone and dirt rose up, mirroring my arms, and leaped forward grabbing both of the harpies. The stone hands pinned the harpies’ wings to their bodies and held them immobile, but did not crush them. I just wanted to hold them in place, not kill them.
We got to the door of the wagon and and I tried my best to open it; however it was crushed and damaged due to all the recent fighting.
“Watch out, I got this,” Dew said pushing me aside.
She gave it one kick and the wood splintered. Then she gave it another kick. And then another. With the fourth kick, the wooden door was broken off its handles, and I managed to pull it away from the wagon.
“Go get that egg,” Fyre said. “We’ll keep them at bay.”
“Hurry, Willow,” Dew said.
“I’ll be quick,” I said before ducking into the overturned wagon.
Inside it was a complete mess. There was broken glass and splintered wood as well as a variety of products tossed all over the place. It looked like a small whirlwind was created inside the wagon. I scrambled over a pile of destroyed crates and saw a large canvas stained with an assortment of different salves and liquids. There in the corner was a bulge which I thought could only be a very small child wrapped up in the fetal position or a large egg.
I lifted up the corner of the stained canvas and saw an egg. This egg was much larger than any chicken egg or bird egg I’ve ever seen and it was a dark purple color with splotches of black.
I picked it up and made my way back to the make-shift entrance. I poked my head out and then eventually stepped through the destroyed door of the wagon, back out into the city square.
“You found it,” Fyre said with a large smile on her face.
“Now what are we going to do with it?” Dew asked.
“I have an idea,” I said before taking a step forward into the square.
I held the egg up high with both of my arms and shouted.
All the harpies went quiet as they perched on the nearby rooftops and starred at me. There screeches were now more like soft coos of interest as they looked at me.
“This is your egg, right? This is what you are after? You want the egg?” I yelled out.
For all I knew, they couldn’t understand me. They didn’t seem to speak our language. But their eyes watched the egg. This had to be it.
“If you want this, I will give it you. But you must leave here and never come back. Leave the people alone and take this egg,” I yelled.
I ran forward and placed the egg down on the stonework fifty feet away from the wagon. I then turned and ran back to Dew and Fyre who stood beside the wagon.
The harpies started to flap their wings and screech again as they took to flight. Two of the harpies dropped down to the egg and cooed at each other before one picked up the egg and took off. It was a fury of feathers and screeches as they took to the air, now much higher than before, and they started to fly away from the city.
There were still two prominent screeches and I looked up to see the two harpies, still stuck in my fists of mud and stone, struggling to escape.
“Oh, right. Sorry about that,” I said.
I reached out my hands and the mud fists opened up freeing the creatures. They immediately flapped their large wings and took off to join the five or six other harpies flying away from the town.
“That was insane,” Fyre said extinguishing her fire.
She fell sideways and I caught her before she hit the ground.
“Woah, you’re alright,” I said as I helped her to the ground.
Both Fyre and I were covered in scratches and bites as well as stray feathers, blood, mud, and ash. We looked rough but we had survived.
Dew; however, stood tall and continued to look around, still clenching a shard of ice in her fist.
“Where did they take that mage?” She said looking around the square. “I don’t see him anywhere.”
I hurried to my feet. I had almost forgotten about him due to my exhaustion, but Dew was right.
We turned our heads to look down the road where he had initially been taken.
“I think that’s him,” I said.
Dew ran forward as I helped Fyre to her feet and helped her walked across the town square. When we came across Dew and the mage, we found them down an alleyway.
The mage was a bloody mess and even from a distance I could tell that there was something wrong with him. Several of his bones seemed to be poinitng in the wrong directions. His legs were soaked with blood and he looked like he was in an immense amount of pain.
“What happened to you?” Dew asked as she propped his head up on her lap.
“The harpies carried me into the air and dropped me,” He said as blood seeped from his mouth. “Luckily I hit the roof and tumbled down. Then I hit the ground.”
Fyre knelt down and examined his body.
“Both legs seem to have multiple breaks. His whole body looks bruised. Possible concussion. Bruised ribs. May have internal bleeding,” Fyre said.
“Is he going to be alright?” Dew asked.
“It will be a small miracle if he gets out of this alive,” Fyre said. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” The mage said trying his best to keep up a smile. “You got rid of the harpies right?”
“I gave them the egg and they flew away from town,” I said. “How did you know that’s what they wanted?”
“It wasn’t my idea, but we ended up stealing a harpy egg from a nest before we rolled into town. We thought we did it without detection and that we could sell the egg for a lot of money if we found the right buyer. We were foolish. I did not want anything like this to happen,” He said.
“Because you you the harpies came here and killed our villagers,” Fyre said with a stern expression.
“Woah, give him a break -” Dew said.
“No. No. It’s true. We brought this on you and these innocent people,” The mage said. “I am so sorry.”
He coughed for a second as blood speckles coated the front of his, already bloody, clothes. Fyre tried her best to administer aid to his wounds, but it was not enough. His breathing got shallower and shallower until it stopped. His eyes went dull and his body lifeless.
“I’m sorry, Dew,” I said placing my hand on her shoulder.
It took a couple of weeks to get back into a regular schedule after the harpy attack. We had killed nine harpies, but they had killed thirty-five people including all of the travelers from the big city and several members of the town guard. Our secret of magical powers was discovered and the citizens were concerned by our displays of magic. It was decided by the village that we free to choose to stay in the village or leave.
“So what are you going to do?” I asked the others.
“I’m going to leave for the city,” Dew said. “The mage mentioned a school where I can train and better my abilities. I want to get better. Not only with my powers of water and ice, but…also healing.”
“What about you, Fyre?” I asked.
“I’m going to stay,” Fyre said. “This village is going to need protection and I believe that’s where I’m meant to be. I’ll continue studying with the apothecaries as well as the town guard.”
“What about you, Willow?” Dew asked me.
“I want to see the world,” I said. “This town has provided me with a lot, but I always felt kind of out of place here. There’s this huge world out there and I want to see it. I’m not sure exactly where I’m going to go, but I think I’ll figure it out eventually.”
We all smiled. We had been through a lot including the battle with the harpies. We had trained each other in the woods. We had gone to school together and forged strong bonds of friendship. But now it was time to head out separate ways. We all had a destiny ahead of us and it was time to embrace it.
Header Photo Credit to The Forgotten Realms Fandom Page on Harpies
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/boa_con