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.
In his dreams the traffic stretched away on either side of him, waiting in a rumbling, wavering heat, stuffing up the narrow, worn pavement road that lead down to a lone gas station.
He remembered the damp, the sick green of grass that had been underwater for days, the wooden telephone poles that had snapped and sagged to the ground, their wires dead by now. Massive white thunderheads were plateauing above him, a canyon forming between them to the earth full of the best blue the sky could be, as though to make it up to the rather squashed and hassled-looking trees below.
The gas station was graced with a single huge semitrailer with 'KIER' written on its side.
His brain wouldn't pick out the figures at the gas station, as easily as he must've been able to. His eyes fell instead on the barn owl that sat staring at him from its perch on a telephone pole that now rested squarely through the wreckage of an old car. He heard popping sounds.
Hawk woke quite suddenly and found himself in an eerie nighttime fog, sprawled over the back of a huge black horse, who was plodding quietly along.
He had the sudden impression that he was falling--he shrieked, and then actually did fall, into a bed of wet leaves.
His chest muscles screamed in pain as he scrambled to sit up, wings shuffling. The horse turned his large headlamp eyes on Hawk scornfully.
"Try again, feathers, I don't think that was loud enough," Teige hissed. Hawk grimaced.
"Where....?" he started, through gritted teeth. Teige glanced up the embankment to their left, at wherever the source of the misty light was coming from.
"North end of Safety, I think," he said quietly. "Turns out, non-humans can't rent hotel rooms here ennymore."