Sora walked for a long time. He could see the rock pillars of the badlands growing steadily closer.
He was getting hungry and thirsty walking through the muggy forest. He could feel it in the air though, it was getting drier. The farther he walked the more brown and dead the trees looked. The once rich soil was becoming dustier too.
When the sun had just passed its peak, he made it to the start of the badlands. Here there were still a few lingering dead looking trees but not very many.
He couldn't remember where these birds who were going to help him with his dream were located. Did the caterpillar even tell him where in the badlands? He couldn't remember, in fact, it was getting hard to think of anything. Even time he took a step he saw stars in his vision. He must be dehydrated, he hasn't eaten since the town this morning and it was hot.
It might have been his vision growing fuzzy, but he thought he could see some black dots in the distance. They kind of looked like birds. With nowhere else looking promising he walked that way.
Eventually, he made it into the base of a gigantic canyon. Sora tried to look up at the top of the plateau where the black bird-like dots were but blacked out instead.
"This one's not dead yet!" Something yelled close to Sora's ear.
"Eggu," Sora sat up. He was on the edge of a plateau near the edge. He tried to get up but just moving his head made him dizzy and see spots.
Last he remembered was on the bottom of the plateau, but how did he get up here?
"E hehehe," A couple of crackly voices laughed behind him. He saw a greasy black vulture next to him.
Sora turned a little to see two other vultures perched in a tree. If you could call it a tree really it was nothing more than a twig with a couple of leaves on it.
The third one, where the first voice came from called out to the others, "Look it's awake!" This was a big vulture with shiny black feathers on his body and a bald pink head. When he looked at Sora. He had only one red eye. Where the other eye should be, was a smooth gray pebble.
"It's awake! It's awake!" The other bird squawked out. There was something very wrong with this bird. It had ruffled oily feathers with big bald patches of pink skin showing and it kept jutting and flinching every second of two.
"Well at least one is, e hehehe, this'll be the most fun dinner in a while," The smallest of the birds said laughing at his comment as it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.
"Who are you?" Sora asked with mock anger trying (and failing) to hide his fear.
"I am Odin," the one-eyed bird introduced himself politely to Sora showing off his pebble eye.
"I am Koios," The smallest said.
The flinching bird in the back screamed incoherent syllables as if trying to introduce its self.
Koios introduced the third vulture. "He doesn't have a name, at least on that we know of. We just call him Death's Echo because all he does is repeat the words. Death for short."
"And we, are the brain eaters!" The two talking ones said, and Death's echo just screamed.
There was silence as Sora tried to process everything. "Zombies?" He could only say words, the sentences sank away before he could say them.
"No, we're not dead," Koios said, "But you'll be soon! E hehehe!" They all laughed with their horrible bird screeches
"We eat minds," Odin said. He walked slowly towards Sora.
"And what a lucky find we have today! Two for the price of one!" Koios added jumping down to join Odin near Sora.
"The price of one! The price of one!" Death said jumping down to joining them but landing on his face. He got up quickly and walked unsteadily.
Sora stood up quickly to back away but the sudden rush to his head made him fall back down. Everything was tilted, why was it so hard to find his balance?
"Oh, do try to escape and make this hunt more exciting than the last one we had!" Odin said, his red eye looked at Sora hungrily. The other two vultures laughed at the fear they saw in his eyes.
Sora got up and began to slowly back away never looking away from the vultures. He could feel the empty air behind him, where the plateau fell away.
"I call the sleeping one!" Koios said making a lunge at Sora. Odin followed behind.
"The sleeping one! The sleeping one!" Death screeched out as he few unevenly behind the other two. He flinched every couple of seconds as if he would fall dead out of the sky any minute, but he never did.
Sora tried to get up to run but Koios, despite being the smaller bird pounced on him and forced his face into the dirt.
"We'll grind your bones to dust!" He mocked.
"Dust, dust!" Death laughed then coughed a gross wet cough that no bird should ever sound like.
"No that was too easy," Odin said. "Besides we need to break him more if we want that good marrow!" Odin few over to Koios onto of Sora's back. "Scoot over, let me have some fun!"
"Fun! Fun! Fun!" Death repeated as he pranced around Sora's head. His shrill cries pierced holes through Sora's ears.
When Odin landed, the weight was too much, and Sora felt an immense pain in his shoulder blades. So painful he couldn't feel anything else. Dust filled his mouth as he cried out in pain.
The birds started to argue over who should get to break the first bone. Luckily the argument took them off his back and Sora could breathe again.
Once he caught his breath, he leapt up and started to run. The blood rush left spots in his eyes, he couldn't see the cliff drop he headed for.
His foot hit air and he was falling. He could not hear anything over the wind rushing.
There was pain as his body were wretched up by his arm.
"Don't die on us yet!" The bird that caught him laughed and flew out farther away from the cliff.
The other two birds flew underneath, nipping his ankles. When they drew blood, Sora yelped. Death who was flying right in front of Sora's face copied his yelp with frightening accuracy.
Sora tried to squirm and wriggle his way out of Odin's grasp.
"Do you want me to drop you?" Odin yelled against the wind.
"No!" Sora tried to yell but the wind drowned him out.
"Was that a yes?" Odin asked in mock concern. "Well, Alright then!" He said with glee and let go.
Sora plummeted a couple feet screaming and reaching for nothing. Koios and Odin flew down and both grabbed a hold of one of his legs.
Death was flying in front of Sora. He was screaming 'Alright then' over and over in a hypnotic rhythm. The pain was too much, and Sora was losing consciousness fast.
Just before he fainted Death shuttered and one of his few feathers came off and tickled Sora on his nose. It reminded him of Destiny island and how the butterflies would sometimes land on your nose.
Well, that was intense.
These vultures were kind of inspired by the vultures from robin hood (trigger and nutsy) but a lot more malicious and way more edgy.
Vulture Fun facts! A group of flying vultures is called a kettle!
They are generally bald to prevent infection or parasites in their feathers from sticking their heads in carcasses!
Vultures pee on their legs to kill bacteria and cool down!
Vultures stomach acid is stronger than humans and comparable to battery acid!
Real (not wonderlandian vultures) vultures have weak legs and feet, they cannot carry things!