VaughtEarly Spring of the Year 315 P.F
The Greatwood had a reputation for being so dark, cold and fearsome around its heart that the latter had never actually been explored by any scholars, but those who actually lived in its vicinity knew that around its vast core there was a layer of, though pretty relative, harmlessness. Well, at least as harmless as a seemingly neverending and increasingly impassable forest could appear to a humble man's eye. There were not only crows, wolves, bears and owls, but also the more lower ranking proxies of the food chain had a chance to thrive in those intermediate areas for there was no lack of caverns, tall trees and other hideouts.
There was no way to hide from absurdities one had already seen though, no way to just remove them from one's memory. It was even worse with one's instincts and so the crows had set for the skies, wolves had fled from the the small mountain and down into the valley and the bears had sought refuge in the depths of their dens. They all could smell a scent that should not be here, that had not been here for many centuries, but which triggered certain instincts that had formed in these past times. The winds were carrying foul air and that was not only because there were several carcasses rotting on the top of the hill. Something was very wrong here.
Something also crashed into the many trees and bushes growing on the slopes of said hill, releasing a substantial amount of torn off leaves into the air while cracking many branches according to what it sounded like. It was no avalanche going off for those simply were impossible here, also it was not a stone falling from the heavens above as some people claimed would happen from time to time. It was just yet another failure.
Would he ever manage not to hurt himself greatly a few seconds after the leap ? It had done this just so many times before that Vaught, though he'd probably not admit it, was slowly growing a little desperate. Was there not enough muscle driving those wings, were they too small, carrying too much of a burden or, just maybe, was the whole thought of this creature having flown once nothing but a big misconception ? It was hard to tell if all one had was a skeleton of old age with none of the more soft inner workings left over by the maggots. That was also the reason why he was still struggling with yet another problem that made the whole affair of testing a painful and slow affair.
Some of his sinews were either too short or not elastic enough. Every time Vaught tried to make full use of the outer joints on his wings a great amount of pain started to surge. It felt like he could not even align them properly for a simple glide downhill. Maybe he should try to carefully cut his own skin open to have a more direct look at what was going wrong ? The thought was grotesque, but if not overdone the procedure could work. Only perhaps, of course. Figuring out a human body suitable for the pits had taken years, but even though returning to it was pretty easy, it also was limited. This creature appeared to be so much more promising, so it felt definitely worth to fill the gaps in knowledge with sheer creativity. Still, not having a living sample hurt a lot quite literally. It had died long ago, most likely slain by the brave men worshippping the Exalted One.
What would the people of today say if they'd see a monster from the past circling over their villages like a vulture waiting for something to eat ? Agreed, the monster in question was not exactly big compared to what one could imagine, but still... The expression on their faces! The fear, the screams and the desperate attempts to run from death and hide in their wooden houses! It all felt so worthwhile in Vaught's bare imagination already that he would continue on his current way even if it would take him another few years to reach a level that was nothing but satisfaction.
He would hunt down those villagers. If not from the air, then on the ground! There were so many issues he had already solved... The potentially lethal ones like a heart too small at first, then things like the proper arrangement of the teeth, the correct composition of his claws or the correct size of his ears so he would neither be shocked by the most humble of sounds nor just barely be able to hear at all. Ultimately he had even started to tackle problems one could consider to be luxury like the color of his skin, for example. However, for a real test and further progress, he felt in need for more than just the animals around here. Nothing could replace real intelligence and the ability to wield some sharp steel like humans could.
It was time the hunting party would see him again, but this time in the opposite role and without even knowing that it was him who was after them...