In the early 1900s, the nation of Aetheri came out of its long interdimensional isolation and revealed to the humans of the Symphony Archipelago that they were not alone in the multiverse. Things swiftly got ugly after that.
In the early 1990s, Aetheri's leadership changed, and in the Archipelago, a tiny broken family of half-siblings banded together in the face of the bile and hate that was boiling up between the humans and the non-humans.
In the early 2000s, that family was split apart. Hawk Press and his sister Liya Kiski both begin a long and exhaustive journey towards understanding the difference between friend and enemy--and between the family you're given, and the family you make.
"Of course it isn't true!" Helly protested. "None of that is! What a dreadful thing to say," they added, sounding almost hurt.
The stable was a stuccoed orange building with cobblestone floors, and open-air hallways with empty windows set into every wall. Sunlight filtered through the arches on the outside of the hallway and into large, white-walled stalls. The building itself was built around a large courtyard of grey soil pockmarked with hoofprints.
Liya pursed her lips as they entered the blue shadows of the hallway. "Hm."
Helly craned their neck around to look at her. "What is it?" they asked, the browline of their masklike face knitting together.
Most of the stalls seemed empty; some contained the sort of bird-headed creatures that had been roaming the pastures with the elephant-things. They stood peacefully, munching on what looked like large green grapes.
"Wull, you would say that, wouldn't you?" Liya said matter-of-factedly. They reached an open stall and turned to step into it; Helly's neck actually arched back on itself, and they seemed almost offended. "I mean, he's the ruler of Aetheri, and you're his friend. Of course you say he in't..."
She trailed off, realizing there was someone in the stall. Well, two someones, she supposed. One was a slim grey deer-like creature the size of a pony, lying stretched out in the clean straw. Its head rested in the lap of a boy who couldn't have been too much older than she was; he had coppery skin and long, dark hair pulled loosely back in a ponytail, and was wearing the same purplish-grey uniform that she'd seen on others in the palace. He was leaning against the wall and stroking the deer's head, and did not immediately look up.