Fight and Flight
Nesta Archeron was always envious of the Illyrian males who soared through the sky. Without any training, she had remained land-bound with a useless pair of wings for years. However, all that changes when a new bastard arrives. A new era of females form as the Archeron’s train to be more than what their camp tries to restrict to.
A/N: This is a prologue of what is going to be a longer fic. The story will follow what could have happened if all the Archeron sisters were born Illyrian in the same camp as Cassian, Rhys and Azriel.
2.2K, Rated T, Nessian, Feysand, Elriel
A small boy, who appeared around Nesta Archeron’s age, was dragged between two older men to the middle of the camp. The boy’s wings awkwardly curled around his body, clearly never having been flown on themselves despite his age. Unceremoniously, the men deposited the boy on the ground.
“We are here to see Lord Devlon,” called a larger of the two men.
Every warrior stopped their training at the request. The chink of weapons halted, the beating of wings ceased, and slowly, aerial units landed on the ground. Even women stopped their ministrations. Besides the High Lord, no one came to their camp unannounced.
Devlon weaved his way through people as if they were water, stopping before the boy. “What is this?”
Everything about the child screamed malnourished. He couldn’t even raise his head to look at the Lord.
“This here is our father’s bastard. We don’t have use for him any longer,” the same brother proclaimed, chuckling as he did.
At the word bastard, many in the camp returned to their training, dismissing him like any other child out of wedlock.
“What makes you think we want him? Just leave him at your camp,” Devlon replied, eyeing the kid with outward disgust.
The two scoffed. “Mother got angry at the manifestation of her Lord’s infidelity, and your camp’s the close—“
“We’ll keep him,” Devlon suddenly interrupted, his eyes alight with mischief, “Will that be all?”
The pair nodded before flying away, seemingly relieved to be rid of the boy.
Devlon crouched to his hands and knees in front of the child, whispering words in his ear. Nesta creeped closer to decipher what caused him to shake so violently.
“…know what you are?”
The boy shook even more.
“You’re going to bring me into such good graces with the High Lord. I cannot believe those idiots just dropped you here on my doorstep. A real-life sha—“
A sharp tug on Nesta’s braid snapped her head back. A dirty hand covered her mouth.
“What do you think you’re doing?” A voice hissed in her ear.
Nesta knew. It belonged to the strongest, luckiest bastard to graze an Illyrian camp. As she turned her head, she caught the shocking violet eyes of the Heir of the Night Court. The two strongest males her age had her by the balls and could punish her without mercy. No excuse she could muster would hold in any trial, not that there’d be one.
She ripped the hand from her mouth. “I’m just taking a break. You ever heard of one of those?
Hazel brown eyes just stared back at her. “You ripped my hand away.”
“I couldn’t answer your question with your grimy hands covering my mouth. Speaking of, why aren’t you two training?”
She more directed it at the bastard, for the Heir was still watching Devlon.
“I think we’re all hiding here for the same reason. We want to know why Devlon’s shitting his pants over that new bastard.”
“Shut up,” the Heir hissed, “I can’t hear.”
Both Nesta and her captor grew quiet. Since she was dragged back, Nesta could no longer hear Delon’s words, but she could see a small dark shape curl around the boy.
“What is that?” She asked, “It looks like the High Lord’s magic.”
“I can guarantee you that it’s not,” the Heir explained, “I have the same magic as my father, and it doesn’t look that wispy. I’m pretty sure that Devlon said something about a ‘Shadowsinger’ but—“
“You know what that is?” The bastard asked.
“You don’t, bastard?” Nesta quipped.
“First, call me Cassian. Secon—“
“Call me Rhys,” the Heir called.
They were insane, making introductions as if they’d ever talk to one another again.
“Right, call him Rhys. Second, no I don’t know what a ‘shadowsinger’ is, and I don’t think Rhys does either.”
Distantly, Nesta thought she heard her name. “A shadowsinger,” she began, “is a person who… speaks with the wisps around him. Those are shadows around him, and it’s where the name comes from. They can tell him stuff. I feel like you should know this.” She gestured towards Rhys.
“I’m an heir, not a scholar.”
Nesta rolled her eyes. “As if you don’t have more education than everyone else in this camp combined.”
“Nesta!” She turned her head at her youngest sister’s call.
“I take it you’re Nesta,” Cassian supplied.
She shot him a seething glare before turning on her heel to find her sister.
By nightfall, the newcomer had already been absorbed into the High Lord’s Family’s home for wayward, yet outstanding bastards.
Nesta despised his treatment.
Despite his curling wisps, there was nothing special about him. Where his fellow competitors were taut and lean, he was soft and small. Even she could hold her wings off the ground. She could probably take hime in a fight too.
When she walked away after her strange interaction, she could distantly hear the boys discussing what they would do to the pathetic thing.
All Nesta could focus on, though, was the fact that that boy needed to learn how to fly. And so did she.
Lying on their shared mattress, Nesta waited until her sisters’s breathing evened-out before stealthy sliding out from under the sheets. Quietly, she laced up her boots and threw a cloak over her nightgown before prying the door to their room open.
“Nesta,” her youngest sister, Feyre, whispered, “Where are you going?”
“The bathroom,” Nesta lied.
Feyre cocked her head. “Then why are you dressed to go outside?”
Nesta sighed. “I need to speak with some people.”
“Who? Are you accounted for?”
What a nice way to say that a girl was already chained to a man. Nesta shook her head. Throughout the years, Nesta tried enforcing on her sisters a wings-up rule. Elain couldn’t care less about what her wings did, dutifully accepting her inevitable clipping already at the age of seven. While Feyre took to the idea better than Nesta did. It was this small act that prompted Nesta to speak her next words, carefully.
“Do you think it’s fair that the only people who get to fly are males and the High Lord’s mate?”
“I want some people to teach me. And maybe I will lose them, my wings, but I want to know what it’s like. Just once.”
Instead of saying anything, Feyre crawled out of bed and joined Nesta. “I’ve always wanted to learn too. Do you really think someone is willing to teach us?”
“They’ll probably say no. If we can even talk with them. But they’re also the only people who might say yes.”
Feyre nodded and followed Nesta out the door.
Together, they huddled close, arm in arm. They passed rows of makeshift tents filled with sleeping bastards, empty fighting rings, and avoided any small bonfires. Their path curved through the camp, clinging to the shadows and obscuring their final destination until it became obvious where they were going.
Feyre froze. “Are you going to ask the High Lord’s family to teach us how to fly?”
Nesta set her chin. “Yes. They practically adopted that Shadowsinger today, and he’s going to need to learn how to fly sooner or later. May as well adopt us too.”
Feyre remained where she stood.
“Feyre. I will leave you here staring if you don’t follow me up those stairs.”
Feyre’s feet shuffled slightly towards the house as Nesta strutted straight to the door.
All of the lights were off in the house, and Nesta desperately hoped that the boys from earlier would open the door.
She knocked twice.
When the door swung open, the High Lord’s ethereal mate stood there. Her raven’s black hair spilled down her back in loose waves, and her eyes marketed a slightly diluted hue that matched her son’s. Even her midnight blue nightgown was extravagant, draping around her body, rather than hanging like a sheet. Her eyes pierced through the sisters standing on the doorstep.
“May I help you?” She asked in a regal manner.
“I wish to speak with Cassian and Rhys,” Nesta stated.
The woman arched a brow. “Can I ask why you wish to see my son and his friend in the middle in the night?”
“It’s personal,” Nesta responded quickly.
The lady scanned the two girls, her eyes lingering on their wings behind them. Something in her expression changed when she gazed at them. “It would be much easier if I just sent them away,” she muttered quietly to herself, then louder, “Follow me.”
The girls were led to a small, comfortable living room as the Lady of the Night Court padded her way up the stairs. Despite the house being fairly ramshackle, their home had steps. That led to another floor. Nesta’s jaw dropped slightly at the thought of having that much money and power.
Nothing else about the home screamed opulence, but it was more than Nesta had ever seen in her entire life. A couch here, chairs there, an island in the kitchen. It seemed like a mansion in comparison to the beaten down, drudgery of the rest of the camp.
Before she could linger too long,though, Nesta heard a smattering of footsteps creep down the stairs. The Lady led, with Rhys and Cassian trailing behind. As they arrived in the living room, Nesta and Feyre stood up.
A smirk grew on Cassian’s face while Rhys stopped in his tracks and stared at Feyre.
“Girls, you can say whatever it is you need to say,” the lady said, quietly.
Nesta turned to her. “Can we speak with them in private?”
“I will not be dismissed in my own home,” she bit back.
Nesta nodded. She begged to the mother that the Lady would not kill them for their request. “That new bastard—“
“Azriel. His name is Azriel,” Rhys’s mother supplied.
“Fine. Azriel. We all know that he can’t fly to save his life. He can’t be Illyrian if he can’t fly. Someone’s got to teach him, and I know that the responsibility will fall on you two.” Nesta gestured towards Cassian, whose face dropped the smirk, and Rhys, whose eyes barreled into Feyre.
“What do you want then?” Cassian asked quietly.
“I want you to include Feyre and me in your lessons.”
Silence chocked the room as the full gravity of her request settled.
Cassian cut the static first, “There’s no way—“‘
“Cassian!” The lady hissed.
“I know you’d probably train in the day, but if we did our duties—“
“They’ll train you,” the Lady interrupted. Rhys snapped his head towards his mother in shock, eyes finally leaving Feyre, “Every evening, starting half hour after sunset until you girls say you’re done.”
Thrill ran down Nesta’s spine at not only the training, but the idea of holding power.
“Are you sure your sister wants to join you?” The Lady called.
“Yes,” Rhy answered, “she does.”
“I didn’t ask—“ the lady began.
“I do,” Feyre said meekly.
Cassian groaned. “So now we’re training three people who should have learned how to fly years ago?”
“Cassian, I don’t care if you don’t want to, but as the mate of your High Lord, you will do as I say,” the Lady chastised.
Nesta knew they must leave soon, lest Elain woke up and found her sisters gone. “Thank you,” she called, grabbing Feyre’s arm, and spinning them around.
“Wait, girls,” the Lady called to them. She whispered something in Cassian and Rhys’s ears before sending them back to bed.
Now it was just two worthless Illyrian girls and the most powerful woman in the entire Night Court.
“I want you two to know that I believe you are incredibly brave. As someone who was lucky enough to keep her wings, I need you to understand that there’s only so much power my son and I have in this camp. There’s a chance that you’ll still get clipped and only have a few years flying. I wish I could guarantee you both eternity, for I believe you’ll find it the greatest joy you’ll ever experience.”
Nesta opened her mouth to say something.
“Not yet,” the Lady held up a finger, “If that happens, I want you both to be equipped with more than that. Can either of you read?”
They both shook their heads.
“I tutor Rhys and Cassian. I’m going to begin with Azriel. If you two would like to join, you may. I can speak with Devlon to see if he could reduce your workloads, so you can both come here in the evenings to learn and then fly at night.”
To both Nesta and the Lady’s surprise, Feyre spoke next, “I think we both really appreciate the offer, Lady. But we can’t ask you to give us unfair workloads.”
The Lady sighed, “If you call my boys by their first names, you may as well call me by mine. I’m Kamaria. What are yours? I insist you take any advantage you can in this place.”
The girls made short introductions, Nesta continued, “It’s nothing against you, La…Kamaria. But we have another sister who would still be expected to complete her duties, and we can’t run away from her.”
“Why isn’t she here with you?” Kamaria asked.
“In truth, I was going to some here alone,” Nesta began, “but Feyre woke too. More importantly, I don’t think Elain, our other sister, would want this anyway.”
“You can’t speak for your sister, if you haven’t asked her,” Kamaria chided.
“We know,” Feyre tried, “though Nesta always insists we keep our wings off the ground, more dignified that way. But Elain. She never follow these directions, she accepts it more.”
Kamaria stared a the two girls in front of her, and Nesta had never felt more naked. She scrutinized them, and their wing positions. Finally, she responded, “Very well. She is still invited to join you both and is more than welcome to at any time. I know you said you must get going so I will winnow you both back home.”
When Kamaria’s hands slipped into Nesta and Feyre’s, Nesta did not even process the vertigo of winnowing or question how she knew where they lived. Kamaria wished them both good night before disappearing.
Feyre moved to go inside, but Nesta stared at their door.
“Nes?” Feyre asked cautiously.
Nesta shook her head. “I can’t believe it worked. I can’t….We’re going to learn how to fly, Feyre.”
Feyre offered her sister a small, excited smile, and Nesta couldn’t help but return it.