Eirwen was both regal and logic defying in her own power: a large adult now crossing the features of a snow leopard and a snowy owl, she was a queen in her own right. Zincarla often left the creature to its own devices, despite their companionship. Zincarla understood the value of freedom and privacy and the two had a bond which allowed them to sense when the other needed help. Over certain distances, they could even send occasional mental messages to each other. Once becoming an adult, Eirwen and Zin's bond had changed to a sort of long distance friendship, split up by regular meetings and missions done together, and the witch had to admit that she had never had a closer friend. From the moment Eirwen burst from her shell, the two had been irrevocably bonded, imprinting on one another's very souls. Zincarla gently ruffled the feathers on Eirwen's head, leaning forward from her seat upon the griffin's back.
It had been a month since she had last seen her other friends, a label which she had just started to use when the pirate raid and demon attack had brought the entire group to its knees. Zin still couldn't think about that night without recalling the death of the innocent to her own thoughtless fight in the bar or the much more impacting memory of the way her friend Sojiro had looked into her eyes, used her magic against her, and threatened to drain her power away. A threat that she could see was real. The honest part was that she had calmed herself down and taken a break from the fear and guilt being around her friends had made her feel. Zincarla had dealt with the pain as best as she could and could now admit that running away, though it helped her mentally, might have caused more damage to the relationships. Zincarla was uncertain if she should go back, or if she could go back. Would Sojiro assume abandonment? Would Takumi and Tad fear her hidden abilities? Would she honestly really be able to face Sojiro without apprehension?
Instead of dealing with her social and mental problems, Zincarla found escape with Eirwen. They had fought together, flown together, and had reclaimed lost time just by living and enduring together in Sakuramori. People said the place was so mysterious that some never returned and for now, that was all right by Zincarla. Her magenta eyes took in the rolling griffin cubs and the parents that tried to corral them and found herself at peace. Being allowed to be present in this place was more than a gift, it was an intense sign of acceptance and compassion from the griffins at large. This sacred mating grounds was hidden from prying eyes and dangers and she was the only companion that she had seen being brought directly to this safe space. Zincarla checked that her staff was still in place hooked on the strap of her pack and they lay down on her stomach, nestling her face and hands into the fur of Eirwen's broad back. She relaxed and watched the customs of the magical creatures until dusk began to fall.
As the last ribbons of pink and purple faded from the sky and the stars began to brightly glitter, Zincarla, Eirwen and the griffin colony huddled together for warmth. Zincarla and the griffins slept, excepting for some of the more nocturnal guardians of the extended family. Everything was at peace. Until it wasn't.
Bright orange flames shot up from the trees around the colony, jolting Zincarla awake. The roaring and mewling of griffins filled the air and there was a moment of confusion. Every way she looked, there was fire. "The only way out is up!" Zincarla cried, though the griffins were already ahead of her. The winged beasts soared for the sky only to come crashing back down. Zincarla had leapt upon Eirwen's back and they too had put on a burst of speed, aiming for the one opening in the forest cliffs. She and Eirwen were prevented from leaving as well and the tang in the air noted an abundance of magical presences: spells being cast over and over, like layers of blankets stopping the colony from reaching freedom. As the seconds passed, more barriers appeared and the stars above looked misty and dim. Layers and layers of barriers were being erected over the opening, trapping dozens of griffins below. Zincarla set her jaw and patted Eirwen, "Straight ahead," she told the owl griffin.
With a surge of her own great magical power rushing over her skin, Zincarla forced a hole into the barriers. She could smell singed feathers and fur and feel the burn of magic on her arms and face as they drove, spinning like a drill, to their escape. In the cool night sky, the mage looked down. She could still hear the cries of the creatures intermixed with the crackle of the flames. Layers of blue and red were already stitching the hole she had made back together. "No!" She screamed in defiance. Eirwen reared back and let out a wild cry of her own. Zincarla could see shadows below but their were too many to count from this height and with so many lives at risk she could feel her stomach drop. That detested feeling of helplessness wormed its way inside her mind and her heart thundered so loud she could hear a ringing in her ears. Her hands were shaking as she gripped Eirwen's feathery mane.
It had been too long and whether or not she was welcome and without knowing what mess she might be getting back into socially, Zincarla made her decision: It was time to go home to her friends. "We need help, Eir," Zincarla said with a half sob, confidence and power evident though her heart was crushing her chest into knots. "Fly fast, I think I know just the right mages."
It took several hours, putting Zincarla back on the roof of her home with a loud thud and the crunch of the roof beneath Eirwen's talons. Zincarla looked through the holes made, ignoring that it was likely just a few hours from dawn now, and shouted, "Wake up! There's an emergency!"