Species: Ura

This is not a complete write-up.

"They're divers."

"Those things. Divers. How the hells do they dive?"

"They stand on a rock, jump up, and fall down," Rai replied dryly.

"I can do that," Brandon huffed.

Rai pointed. "Not like they can."

There was a gaggle of them there, silvery with blue and green highlights, clustered on a single smooth rock jutting from the water. One was standing erect, its entire body a single line of pale feathers that flashed in the sunlight. "Watch," Rai whispered, leaning forward as the standing one did the same.

Then, it rocked downwards into a crouch, like some arcane firearm cocking, and swept its arms - wings? fins? - out from its side, turning three-dimensional in one liquid motion. Not a heartbeat did it stay in that spring-loaded pose before it exploded into movement, arcing like an arrow up and slightly forward, feathered arms spread. At the height of its leap, thrice its own height, it tucked a wing and tucked that shoulder and spun so it was facing downwards as it began falling. Its wing snapped outwards again, stabilizing and straightening its dive, and it soared a little forwards as it plummeted. The wings bunched inwards, making its body a fletched arrow once more, as its face struck the water and pierced it.

The surface of the frothy lake hardly rippled to acknowledge its passing.

"…what now?" Brandon asked Rai, uncertainly looking from water to black mage and back again.

"Wait, and watch," the smaller man replied, eyes fixed on the lake where it had vanished.

Within another heartbeat, it burst forth, arms flapping like real wings at it skimmed the surface, a thrashing fish captured in its long, serrated bill, water cascading from its layered feathers with no more hesitation than from bare skin. It made the rock through swimming kicks and flapping arms, then settled down in a crescent of gleaming silver as it devoured its prize.

"Huh," Brandon said. "And they're smart?"

"Quite," Rai answered. "You should get used to the fact that many intelligent people don't cook their food."

(long, birdlike legs feathered all the way down to the foot; can press together and act as a tail while underwater; no actual tail; long, stork-like beaks with serrations; streamlined heads and bodies; arms built like wings that fold along the length of the body, rather than entirely up at the shoulder; longer primary feathers lining loose flaps of skin that stretch between arm joints, like a gliding wing; feathers completely waterproof; body slender and elongated; can walk slowly upright, or can move slowly on all fours)

ura(i)

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