Aila felt something change. The air shifted. Something’s off, something’s not right. She stood on the tip of the longest watch branch, staring at the horizon. Ignoring the sweat beading along her hair line, she watched the line breaking land from sky shimmer.
Movement. A dark shape. Or was that just the heat waves tricking her eyes? She couldn’t be sure. She needed to get higher. Scuttling along the branch, she reached the trunk and scurried up over the footholds, barely touching them now that she was so familiar with their positions.
“Hey!” Lola shouted as Aila raced past.
“No time,” Aila called back.
Aila swears she heard Lola mutter something about it just being the heat waves again, but this time it’s something, Aila was certain of it.
She reached the high watch branch. Shuffling to the end, she squinted hard. Dark shapes moved again, this time getting larger. Suddenly the shapes rose above the break between land and sky and Aila saw wings. She froze.
“The Sky Dwellers,” she whispered. The name was a distant memory on her lips.
The Sky Dwellers hadn’t been seen for decades, not since before the War of Land and Sky. Aila ran back to the trunk and tapped out the emergency signal her mother had made her memorise for this moment, however slim she believed the chances of it happening in Aila’s lifetime were. The sound echoed through the tree, followed by a wave of panicked chatter that rose through the branches. Aila stared at the horizon in fear.