The storm was monstrous. The haven Shrai had found was a little ledge set in the side of a vertical crack that opened to the sky. He was swiftly soaked to the bone. He wrapped his leathery wings around himself as best he could, but his short fur couldn't welll trap his escaping body heat. He shivvered so hard he feared he might collapse the surrounding walls of stone.
To make it worse, lightning streaked purple across the sky. Sometimes it split the air close enough to his shelter that he could smell the stench of ozone, feel his short fur stand on end for minutes after.
He cowered. He wasn't ashamed to admit it. He was terrified. At least, back home, the lightning was far more likely to strike a tree than him. Here? Surrounded by all this lovely inorganic material? Oh, he may as well have been made of iron.
He tucked himself as close to the cliff and made himself as small as he possibly could, and he prayed. Deliverance. Regret. Praise. You name it, he prayed it.
Shrai pressed his ears flat against his head for the rest of the storm. Terror had seized his belly, and somehow he managed to sleep, for next he woke it was to a grey-white sky and the dawn chorus of strange birds in the trees below.
The trees that he had flown over the day before were a sea of greenery below him, feathered through with mist that rose sleepily in the dewy dawn. Now and again, songbirds would rise in flocks from the depths of the forest, feinting one way, then another as they tried to form consensus. There was a river that cut through the woods like a glassy snake, though it was gorged and brown, running swiftly with the deluge from the highlands above.
There was no safety for Shrai in the forest, though. Little as he was, he didn't trust his ability to fly through the enclosed spaces, dodging trees if his life depended on it. He would fly higher.
And so he looked up the crack into which he had wedged himself, saw the crystal-blue sky above. Not a cloud. Not a whisper of rain. A sky as blue as the sun was gold. A bluer sky than any he had ever seen on Lliyani.
He felt uneasy, exposed, but also - inexplicably - at home. He took flight, dropping from the crack like a stone before his wings would catch him. They were bulit more for gliding, after all. He caught thermals, delicately twisting his red membranes before sweeping up the cliff face to set his feet on the earth above.