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.
Hawk's thoughts were rudely interrupted by a sudden whiff of air and a hiss as the barn owl swooped just over his head, its talons nearly brushing his hair. He skidded to a stop, gasping, as the owl swung round towards him, a ribbon of noise trailing ethereally from its claws. Hawk stared, transfixed, as the owl opened its beak--and then its throat split too, nearly all the way to its shoulders, forming a pair of crude and jagged jaws. It made no sound.
"Jesus," Hawk whispered. The owl made for him again and he flung one wing up to shield himself and Teige. "FUCK OFF!"
The owl--now elongated, skinny, looking less and less like a bird--skated off the outside of his wing, a wan blue noisy light hissing between its talons and his feathers. He left it flapping soundlessly behind him, its jaws agape, as he sprinted for the end of the alleyway.
"Teige?" he asked. Teige, reassuringly, grunted in response. Hawk clenched his jaw. "Look, this is gonna sound crazy, but can people see death? I think that's death I'm seein'."