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.
"'S why Aetheri came to the Archipelago in the first place, ent it?" Teige went on, wolfing down his venison and leaving the stone it'd been cooked on in the dry grass. The fire was shrinking down, the night getting darker around them as it did. "Hunting down slavers. But the governments here haven't been too willing to let 'em, too scared they're staging an alien takeover."
"Which they...aren't doing," Hawk said slowly, giving Teige a sideways look.
"No, they ent," Teige insisted. The moon had become brighter than their fire by now, full and blazing overhead. "No one's more scared of war than the Aetherians. But Aetheri's lost so many people, Cynn Numair seems to reckon playing nice with the Archipelagans ent an option anymore."
"And you wanna help stop the trade," Hawk filled in skeptically. "That's what you meant by the Cynn needin' your services."
Teige suddenly looked uncomfortable. His large ears flattened out and he wrapped his long tail around himself, his headlamp eyes narrowing.
"My stepfather disappeared into the trade last year," he said finally. "Aetheri's the only country tryin' to put an end to the damn thing."
"Oh," Hawk said.
The fire had broken down into bright embers, spots of brilliant orange flickering through crumbly charcoal pieces. The silence drew itself out.
"...D'ya...think you'll find him?" Hawk hazarded at last. Teige rested his chin in his hands, the firelight barely enough to illuminate his dark fur and curling horns.
"Nah, feathers," he said. "Hardly ennyone gets found."