… the plateaus were uniform emerald, grass cropped short as if a contented herd of horses had been a-grazing but moments ago.
There were no horses, but there were birds, strange, little yellow creatures with long scarlet legs and sharply pointed blue beaks. They fluttered here and there and every time they moved their wings, the sound of mournful flutes filled the air. They walked with graceful, dainty steps and when their small three-toed talons touched ground, there was the sound of tinkling bells.
Saska was entranced by the little creatures, and by the happy-sad melodies of their movements.
Yesterday Vannis whistled a short, complicated tune that brought them to him in greeting, their fluttering causing flute music to rise and fall in deliberate melody.
Communication, she realised. She had never before experienced such complete serenity.
“They are sky-born,” Vannis whispered, tears in his eyes. “They are the last of their kind, rescued from a far planet poisoned by darklings. They are almost sentient. The Valleur call them Ephnor, an ancient word for Heavenly Music.”