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.
The glow of light was just enough to make out the careful, clumsy scrawl of notes he'd been writing all over the surface of the map -- handwritten math, trying to work out the distances from town to town, trying to put in perspective how far they'd walked and how much farther they had to go.
The Alka Wildlife Preserve lay beyond Fort Summer, its scattered islands totally featureless on the map. He'd measured out the route he'd penned over it in red, compared it to the key on the map, and written '2 wks Ft Summer to Leigh' rather laboriously beside it.
"Awright," he said after a long time, and chewed the end of the marker thoughtfully, " So we're hungry and pro'lly could use a shower, but we're finally about a quarter of the way to Enodia."
He glanced up at a bough above him, were Teige's stoat form curled up, back to him, just gilded by the jar light.
"Jeez," Hawk muttered, "You finally shut up and now it's just botherin' me."
Teige didn't answer. Hawk stared at him for a moment, and then sighed.
"Yeah, I guess 'a quarter of the way' don't sound like much."
The next day found them leaving the scrub by dawn, emerging into a thick, dry, brown grassland dotted with pine trees. Hawk took off from a thicket of hip-high grass, into a sky full of smoky, pale clouds.