Remember when I was doing this? Apparently I just finished another installment.
Swirl was very thankful that he was stronger than the average crow. It was this strength that allowed him to shimmy into many places he likely shouldn't be. For example, the vents and grates of the West Parkway Mall. He'd used his beak and feet to pry open the grate, and then shimmied in as best he could. He felt several feathers get caught and tugged off, causing a yelp of pain but no real troubles. He then proceeded to scramble as quickly as his little bird legs could carry him.
Swirl was a familiar, a spirit placed into a physical body with the magical power of his master. In the spirit world he'd been a crow as well, so the transfer from spirit to physical hadn't been particularly jarring. His master, on the other hand? A little difficult to deal with. They'd met during one of Brian's excursions into the spirit world, an attempt to track down dark and corrupting mages. Brian had had a good reputation in that area of the spirit world, having gone out of his way to save the city's bird spirits from a particularly nasty cat spirit, so Swirl hadn't minded being helpful. The request to become a familiar had been a touch more jarring, but he'd been promised quintessence and a chance to grow stronger, so he'd accepted.
He hadn't quite realized he was signing on to be mentally and spiritually connected with a gamer geek otaku who ran an occult bookstore. He wasn't at all sure how the man had the social skills he did. He could barely comprehend how the man managed to pick up his blond bombshell of a wife, and he'd been there to watch. Still, Brian had fulfilled his promises, so Swirl considered himself happy. For the most part. Situations like this still annoyed him.
He continued running through the air ducts, his claws making a rapid clanking sound with each step. He wasn't particularly familiar with the layout of the mall, since he normally stayed outside during Brian's excursions, so he was going off of guess work. He presumed that as long as he got inside it should be fine.
It would have been a fair presumption, had he not begun to notice the threads of magic being woven into the ducts. He cawed a curse, beginning to peck at the walls frantically in an effort to counter magic whatever was being cast. The threads were more powerful than he, however, causing him to suspect that whatever was going on was a bigger issue than he'd previously presumed.
Crap. Of all the times Brian decided he needed something. Swirl continued pecking at the walls in an attempt to counter magic while attempting to talk at the same time.
The threads of magic began to thicken. This couldn't be good. Swirl's mind began to run with possible ways to get out of this mess, but they all involved being able to muscle straight through the air duct and he wasn't sure he could do that.
“...Did you pay attention to what I was seeing?”
“I'm a little busy here.”
He gave up the idea of counter-magicing, and began running as quickly as he could. The threads continued to thicken, taking on a heavy destructive resonance.
“...She just did a full on magical girl transformation. Sihllouette and all”
“So now you want to have sex with her.”
Great. So while he was busy dealing with potential death just trying to get into the damn mall, his boss was busy oogling magical girls. Typical.
“I don't really think I have much of an option at this point.”
“Good to know some things never...oh shit, gotta go.”
The spell being woven over the air ducts was completed, and thick black spikes began to shoot up out of the metal at a rapid pace. Swirl cawed out another curse before putting on as much speed as he could. Stupid bird legs being unable to go quickly! The spikes jutted up and down and across from all sides of the duct at a steady pace, leading Swirl to realize that the spell hadn't been targeting him. It was likely a spell to simply ensure no one and nothing could get in via the air ducts.
Unfortunately, he was currently attempting to get in via the air ducts. He ran as quickly as his little bird legs could take him, staying just ahead of the spikes as they jutted through the metal. Closer and closer they came, the air pressure from each spike's appearance shoving on his feathers, and still the air duct seemed endless.
Until suddenly, just as a spike jutted through one of his tail feathers, he fell down a hold he hadn't noticed. He tried to flap his wings to steady himself, to some small success, but he still hit an air duct hard enough to knock it from the wall and fall into the mall proper. The sudden stop was painful, and he wondered very seriously if anything had been broken. He lied upon the ground for several moments, taking deep breaths and trying to mentally figure out how in one piece his body was. Could he afford to fix himself if he had broken something? Under normal circumstances he'd say yes, but these were hardly normal circumstances. Finally, he decided he could live with the pain.
He got to his feet and looked around just in time to see what appeared to be a zombie flying through the air and landing with a thud nearby. He cawed in surprise, and moved towards the creature. A closer inspection found that his initial guess had been right. It was clearly a dead human being, face half rotted off. Where had it come from?
Thankfully, he didn't have to search long. A shouted string of rather creative curse words drew his attention to a short, thick looking woman with shoulder length pink hair. Swirl figured she had a reason to curse, given that she still had three other zombies trying to grab at her and had nothing but her bare hands with which to fight them off. Thankfully, Swirl was not so hurt that there was nothing he could do about this. He spread his wings, pushed himself into the air, and went to help the poor woman.