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The strange little bird, still in its infancy, was clearly still trying to get a handle on this thing called life. It flew around on unstable wings and would still sometimes smack into walls. Its round and clumsy body made the cute little thing look rather stupid, but after about an hour it learned how to get around.

Interestingly, Cloudhawk and the bird shared some sort of spiritual link.

It was difficult to describe, like sound but nothing that you could hear. It was communication on a higher level, where they didn't need to speak to be understood. They didn't even need to see each other, Cloudhawk could feel the joy and simple consciousness of the bird as clearly as though it was his own. It felt wonderful.

Cloudhawk wondered if it worked the other way around. He tried a command: return.

The little bird immediately rolled its pudgy body around and flew back to his palm. It stared at him with those strange eyes set in a cute owl-like face and blinked curiously. The wide duck bill that spread across its face just made the bird all the more endearingly goofy looking.

Yet despite how it looked the bird was not stupid. Cloudhawk felt its distinct emotions and critical thought through their connection. Besides it was only minutes old, but it already responded to Cloudhawk's commands.

He reached out with his free hand and patted the tiny bird's head. It was warm and soft, and pleasant to touch. The bird liked it too, enjoying the attention. Cloudhawk already felt himself taking a liking to the little thing, even if he didn't know what to do with it.

At least having it around, he wouldn't feel so lonely.

When his thoughts turned to this his face fell. The world was a big place, vast and full of people, and the only company he had was this little bird. It was like a joke.

His new companion seemed to sense Cloudhawk's dour mood. It beat its tiny wings, lifted off his hand and flew a few circuits over his head before landing on his shoulder. With its soft feathery head it nuzzled Cloudhawk's neck, perhaps trying to comfort him.

It was certainly a novel experience. He felt happy and grateful for the affection.

The bird's empathic abilities were not what Cloudhawk expected, but they were obvious. It'd hatched from that strange egg after absorbing a demonhunter's psychic will, so it certainly wasn't going to be a normal critter.

Suddenly it took off again and began to dart about, chirping to try and express something. Cloudhawk hesitated for he understood what it wanted. Power.

It wanted 'power', but what did it mean? A thought suddenly crossed his mind.

Cloudhawk reached out with his psychic energies as though he were trying to call on a relic, and the bird answered. It absorbed the power Cloudhawk conveyed and what followed took him by surprise. The bird reacted.

A whole world of new sights and sounds sprang up in Cloudhawk's mind.

These weren't his experiences, these were what the bird was seeing and hearing. Somehow it was able to connect with his mind and insert auditory and visual signals directly into his brains. It was like having a separate pair of eyes and ears. It was a strange experience he'd never felt before, something he couldn't put into words.

Just like he'd figured, the little bird was exactly like a special relic!

Like any other relic, of which there were all sorts, they couldn't produce power from nothing. Only once a demonhunter lent it his psychic energy could they awaken and produce a resonance. The bird's own special powers were also only available once Cloudhawk fed it his power. With his help the bird was able to use its extraordinary abilities.

Incredible! Really amazing!

It was a novel and enlightening experience, having access to two consciousnesses. However, after a few minutes he began to feel dizzy and nauseous. The human mind was only able to handle so much input and the flood of information he was getting made it all hard to keep straight.

Cloudhawk sat on the floor, shut his eyes and covered his ears.

He tried to shut out as much as he could so that all that was left came from the bird. He started to feel better. Then he realized that how the bird experienced the world was different from him.

The bird's vision was brighter, clearer. It could pick out details even in the darkest corner of the room, and it was even more sensitive to shifts in color. There were shades Cloudhawk never knew existed that the bird saw all around that made everything look so vibrant.

Its hearing was just as sharp. Cloudhawk could hear a lot of things that were too soft for him normally. Obviously the bird's hearing was much more sensitive.

The intensity of it was staggering.

The bird could pick out every crack in the wall and gusts of wind down the alleyways outside. Even if you somehow empowered a man's senses he wouldn't experience the world like this.

It filled him with excitement.

They were more than just linked empathically, his new friend made an excellent scout. The tiny thing could get to places he couldn't, sharing whatever it saw and heard. The implications were obvious, this relic was going to come in very useful.

The bird continued to fly around and Cloudhawk saw himself from all angles. It was weird to see himself like that, like someone else would see him.

He wasn't satisfied with just the room anymore. He wanted to know just how strong this bird's abilities were.

It soared out of the window and into the night, and just like Cloudhawk suspected the bird's senses were exceptional. Even in the darkness every detail was visible and everything stood out in stark colors to make it easily identifiable.

It wasn't long until Cloudhawk found how far before their connection waned. Around a hundred meters away the things Cloudhawk saw became very unclear - likely the limit of his current strength. Obviously the bird couldn't get too far away if Cloudhawk wanted to use its powers.

Alright, that was enough testing.

Cloudhawk was almost ready to call the bird back when he heard voices from Dawn's room. She was talking to someone.

"So irritating! That old fogey Skye has no ambition! It's just a broken dagger and he won't allow me to keep it. Outrageous!"

"Miss, you shouldn't blame the general. The dagger you saw was dug up from the ruins of the old world. It's contraband! These sorts of thing are evil and the sanctuary has forbidden anyone from carrying them. What's more, you're a templar!"

"Bah! The Sanctuary… what good is it being part of the Sanctuary, anyway? I only joined to pressure that skank Selene and turn the public toward me. You think I had any interest in being a templar?"

"Hush! Keep it down, you shouldn't let anyone hear you say that!"

"I want that damn dagger!"

The Polaris family's pride and joy was throwing a temper tantrum. Cloudhawk found it quite amusing. He had the little bird fly over for a closer look, and when it arrived the scene it revealed made Cloudhawk freeze.

In the large room two young girls of fourteen or fifteen were kneading Dawn's shoulders.

The beautiful templar sat in a bath filled with steaming water without a stitch of clothing. Her arms were thrown over the sides of the tub to keep her up while she enjoyed the massage. Most of her body was beneath the glass-like waters while what remained above was slick from moisture and smooth as silk. Her long platinum hair was loose and clung to the front of her body, concealing her firm breasts [1]. From time to time the water would shove strands of hair away to reveal a peak of what lay beneath.

The young woman of noble blood appeared less brutal now, more like a little girl who didn't get any candy. She hunkered in the tub with a petulant expression. Her long legs like ivory chopsticks swirled the water and her feet kicked little splashes at the edge. Ripples pushed the rose petals that sat on the water's surface around like boats caught in rough water, blocking the private view below.

Her maidservants patiently rubbed her shoulders while trying to ease her fiery temper.

Even in his wildest dreams Cloudhawk wouldn't have imagined a scene like this.

Dawn was no normal woman, however. As though sensing something her eyes snapped right toward him. Cloudhawk froze, for an instant feeling like he was there in the room staring at her face to face. 

"What a pretty little bird! Grab it, quick!"

The covetous young woman stared at the bird excitedly as her alluring body rose from the water. Little did she know this was more revealing than she thought. However Cloudhawk had no time to admire the view, Dawn was a keen one and if she got her hands on the bird it would end poorly.

The bird tried to flee.

Dawn's face immediately froze nervously as her prize made to escape. She snatched up a fruit pit discarded on a nearby plate, lifted her snow-white arm, and threw it hard. It struck the bird in midair, and with a pained squeak it tumbled to the ground.

"What are you two idiots staring at?" Dawn had covered herself with a towel. "Go get it and bring it here!"

Cloudhawk was stunned. The sounds and images stopped. Had this crazy woman knocked it out?

Her strength was incredible. She threw a fruit bit as fast as a bullet, but Cloudhawk also knew the bird was stronger than it looked. The blow couldn't have killed it.

As Cloudhawk was preparing to run out and look for his companion a streak of golden light dashed through the window.

"You're alright!"

Cloudhawk could feel that the tiny bird was in pain. He cupped it in his hands and saw that the bird's left wing had been injured. The poor thing pressed its beak into the wing, but it didn't look like it was anything serious.

Cloudhawk sighed in relief. It wasn't because the bird was seriously hurt that he lost the connection.

If the bird was like a relic, then its powers should presumably work like a relic's powers. Cloudhawk had enough experience with them to know that how much energy was poured in was what determined the strength they produced. A few minutes of scouting used up quite a lot of his psychic energy.

So the limits were three or four minutes within a hundred meter radius.

Strict limitations, but Cloudhawk figured it was just for the time being. The stronger he got, the farther his friend could go and the longer their link could persist.

As he looked over the bird and helped soothe its wing a problem occurred to Cloudhawk. Dawn was definitely going to keep an eye out for this little thing. If he didn't find a way to keep it hidden she was going to find and take it. He looked around for somewhere to stash it when suddenly he heard Dawn outside.


His door flew open.

1. 'Double mountains' in Chinese. Hah!

(Xiao Lai is now on twitter and instagram! Follow him @xiaolaiwxw for insights into translating and Chinese medicine theory.)

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