“Wow, how come there’s so much stuff inside your nest?” Gnihzur was captivated by the galore of amenities present inside Kwaserah’s Nest-Fruit. “This place is much bigger than mine. Look over there, you even have a pool to swim in as well as a lavish patio. How come the academy favours you so much?” Gnihzur went around touching everything that caught his eye.
Kwaserah became annoyed by his inquisitive hands. “Hey, stop touching all my stuff!”
Realizing he was being too intrusive, Gnihzur apologized. “Oh, sorry about that. I have a tendency of getting overexcited whenever I see amazing things.”
“Well, try your best to keep your feathers near you, otherwise, I might be forced to pluck them out.” She threatened Gnihzur who responded coolly:
“I won’t touch anything else.”
“Very good.” Leaning against a table, Kwaserah looked Gnihzur over from head to feet then asked, “So why are you here? You better haven’t come over with the intention of deflowering this fair maiden.”
“Deflower…? Is that a plant species?” Gnihzur was genuinely lost.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean. I’m talking about when 2 birds strip their feathers off and do it.”
“Do what?” Gnihzur asked looking like an innocent baby.
“Ah, forget it.” Kwaserah expressed a moment of displeasure. “To what do I hold the pleasure of your visit?”
“I got bored sitting in my nest doing nothing so I thought I’d come over and invite you to tour the academy with me.”
“I would like to see the sights in person, but I haven’t finished unpacking as yet.”
“Come on, it will be dark soon. You can save your packing for later. Come tour the academy with me. You’re my first friend in a long time.”
“First friend…?” Considering Gnihzur’s proposal, Kwaserah finally gave in. “I guess I can finish unpacking when I get back.”
“Great!” Gnihzur jumped in excitement. “Let’s go.”
“Where are you going?” Seeing Gnihzur walking back towards the branch corridor, Kwaserah stopped him and led him to an opening by her patio. “This way is faster.” They flew across the multiple Axis-Spheres which were beginning to glow brighter due to the coming of dusk.
“Wow, I still can’t get over the magical view of this place.” Gnihzur flew slower to drink in the magnificent scenery. As he and Kwaserah were making their way across a certain Nest-Fruit, Drazil saw them through his window flying together. This made him become very livid.
“That scrawny white-winged crap sucker! He just landed on the academy and already he’s popular with the chicks? I must be in the wrong plucking universe.” Drazil slammed his window shut.
Gnihzur and Kwaserah enjoyed cruising through the air currents as they refreshed themselves in the beautiful panorama. The wind led them to the eastern region of Crowjun Soul Academy commonly known as the Laze.
The Laze was very busy with bustling activity. Crows were moving back and forth from the various interconnecting islands kept afloat by the Cloud Butterflies. Gnihzur could make out huge erected structures, constructed for their own unique purposes; fun attractions to play with; flourishing trees hanging very low due to their variety of succulent produce; glistening streams of water settled in mystic pools; rocky mountains as tall as the eye could see; Jellyfish Carriages floating around with passengers, and a couple of crows enjoying their time spent together.
Among these mixtures of vibrant beauty was a central marketplace where certain goods and services were mostly purchased and solicited. A variety of vendors had shops set up all around where paraphernalia of items was on display. Some were tucked away in boxes and containers. One could hardly find any space on the street to traverse. Ranging from food stalls to rare merchandise, it was easy for a novice to be lost in the vast array of enticing elements. The cacophony of voices that clashed with each other could give your ear a hard ring, for this deafening quality, this specific part of the Laze was called Hum Market.
While sightseeing, Gnihzur felt a loud rumbling in his stomach and made a decision. “Let’s check out Hum Market first.” He told Kwaserah. “I’m feeling famished.”
“You are?” Kwaserah glanced at Gnihzur briefly then said, “I think I feel a bit famished myself.” Both of them agreed to visit Hum Market. Reaching proximity to the ground, they relaxed their wings into their Flaccid State and began their journey throughout Hum Market.
Gnihzur observed, “This place attracts quite a lot of crowd doesn’t it, Kwaserah?”
“It does. I bet you it will be even busier at night.”
“Why do you think so?”
“Because most of the major classes are usually held during the daytime when students are brimming with lots of energy. This area of the academy is known as the Laze where students hang out and rest their feathers.”
Looking around, Kwaserah came to this conclusion, “They have lots of tasty food here. What would you like to eat Gnihzur?”
Shifting his gaze around, Gnihzur spotted an infant fledgling tugging on her mother’s feathers while shouting, “Mommy! Mommy! Get me one of those!” She pointed at a platter decorated with roast mutated human heads.
“Ok, sweetie…” The mother went over to the vendor and inquired, “Mister, how much for one of these mutated human heads?”
“That will be 35 Gold Feathers, miss.” Answered the vendor. “You want it?”
“Yes please.” The mother tossed the requested Gold Feathers onto the counter. “Send it to this DC-Address.”
“Right away miss.” The vendor hurriedly scraped up a roast mutated human head from the grill, sprinkled it with some of his special hot sauce, wrapped it neatly inside an aluminium paper then placed it inside a Delivery Circle where it was soon teleported.
‘Disgusting.’ Gnihzur felt his stomach turn the longer he stared at the atrocious roast human head. “How is that gross thing so expensive?”
Overhearing what he said, Kwaserah looked at him strangely. “You call 35 Gold Feathers expensive? That's pocket change, honey. If you’re so much of a cheapskate, feast your eyes on this menu.” She showed him a vendor who was broiling several mutated human spines inside a transparent vertical container. “The littlest one cost only 5 Gold Feathers but I will be purchasing the bigger one for 54 Gold Feathers.”
Kwaserah went over to the vendor and bought the expensive mutated human spine. Coming back to where Gnihzur was, she offered him a bite. “Want some? There’s plenty of vertebra for both of us. I don’t mind sharing.”
“No!” Gnihzur covered his mouth as if he was about to barf. “I don’t want any. I’m a vegetarian.”
“Ok, more for me then.” Kwaserah chowed down on her succulent mutated human spine. The bones were so soft that she didn’t have to apply much effort to bite through them. It wasn’t until after she swallowed a vertebra that it registered what Gnihzur told her. “Did you say you were a vegetarian?”
“Yes, that’s what I said. I’ve never eaten anything aside from green life produce. Why are you looking at me so surprised?”
“It’s my first time meeting a crow who has never eaten any meat before. I was taken aback.”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything.”
“You’re right about that. I like eating fruits and vegetables also but sometimes I get a taste for meat. I think I’m more of a flexitarian.”
“I can’t stand being around so much cook meat. Let’s go somewhere else.” Gnihzur flew upwards to a higher platform that had a flourishing fruit tree.
“Gnihzur wait for me.” Kwaserah followed after him. She landed by a wooden balcony where she found Gnihzur chowing down on a succulent star apple. Looking at him intently, she asked, “So how did it happen?”
Not knowing what she meant, Gnihzur inquired, “How did what happen?”
“You know… you being the first vegetarian crow I’ve ever come across. Didn’t your parents ever feed you any sort of meat growing up?”
Leaning against the balcony, Gnihzur looked afield for a bit as if reminiscing about something sad. He eventually spoke, “I’ve never met my biological parents. I was raised by a lovely hummingbird in the Godiva Forest.”
“I see.” Kwaserah briefly meditated on what Gnihzur told her. “Birds residing in the Godiva Forest only feed on green life so it is only natural that you would adopt their trend.”
Gnihzur takes another bite of his tasty star apple. “Yes, only natural…”
“Could you tell me more about the Godiva Forest? I’ve never been there before.”
“Well, where do I start…?”
The Godiva Forest was a part of the floating continents of Waivrumnagar located far-far to the southeast of Aether. Its population was mostly greenery, lush vegetation and sporadic rainforests that supported the plants with nutrients. Hardly would you find a crow roaming the air currents of this region. Its inhabitants were a variety of multi-coloured birds who were infatuated with nature’s angels. Often they would be dancing in the rain; sometimes without their feathers on, worshipping the very wetness that graced their naked bodies. They considered the water to be the source of all life. It was because of this strict belief that Godiva Forest always flourished with a rich atmosphere and spiritual decorum.
One day, an elderly hummingbird who was famously known to her people as Granny Weldar was travelling throughout the rainforest to deliver a pot of grace to a very close friend. Along her path, she discovered an abandoned crow egg about to hatch in a swampy area where many vicious ground lizards were already gathered; waiting for their immature meal. They tried to break the egg a lot faster, but due to its toughness, they had to wait until it cracked naturally.
“Oh, dear All-Mother.” Granny Weldar wept at the thought of a mother abandoning her young among the swamp of barbaric eaters. Acting on the pure radiant love of her heart, she swooped down and picked up the cracking egg and brought it back to her nest where she gave it shelter around a nice warm fire.
Granny Weldar stayed up all night watching the hatching egg until every shell graced the ground. What her eyes beheld was a frail little crow possessing a single white feather at its tail end. She gently lifted the baby crow out of its shattered shell and embraced it in her arms. From that day henceforth, the little crow would be known as her stray son, Gnihzur Costar.