Hunger – The Monksville Chronicles (17/124)

II
Birds of Prey

Two beings inhabit The Dome.
They are Barciro and The Wikler.


Hunger

The last sliver of the intruding giant’s little island slowly disappears under the raised roadway which bridges the Minelands to The Northlands. The osprey, finally alone in his own house, bends his strong legs in roost and watches keenly over the courtyard. No more lakebreathers dare to test him. Moments later a bald eagle releases a series of chirps overhead. Lord Hilaetos detects a twang of hunger in those chirps – yet another unsuccessful patrol, then. Glorious.

Whether the birds are of Lake or of Prey matters not, as all wingflappers of the Monksville Res’ carry a duty to their watery Mother: they must keep the populations of the breed-happy denizens down to a controllable level. The eagles patrol The Basin and the shallow woodlands around it during the day, scouring the surface, shorelines, and shrubberies for any and all sign of lakebreathers and landwalkers alike. In the night, the bats hunt the air for insects and the mystic owl haunts the forests; this leaves the water open and untouched after the moon brings the starpool to Monksville, but this is all part of the system. If lakebreathers were ripped from that which they breathe without a nightly chance for reprieve and rejuvenation, their populations would bottom out and more than just pike would be extinct in Monksville’s waters. The eagles do a bit of scavenging too, as do the gulls, who embark across the long Northern Leg each morning and sweep back across it as dusk falls. Any carcasses they miss (as well as those too putrid and rancid to be approached, let alone consumed) are left for the vulture flock.

The turkey vultures, though technically aligned with the Birds of Prey, sustain a presence across the entirety of Monksville, and they likely dip over the beavers’ dam into the Wanaque wildlands as well. They are never bothered for it by the lowly web-footed Birds of Lake. This is wise of the halfbreeds, at least as far as the osprey is concerned – to evoke the undaunting wrath of The Vultress is risky business indeed. The vultures may default to scavenging, but their talons are perfectly capable of ending the life of living game. Capable and willing.

The eagle shrieks again before touching down on the grassy shores opposite Hilaetos’s perch. They lock eyes across The Basin, their stares equally heavy even though the weights are of different gravities. Lord Hilaetos hopes Lysander is merely taking a rest, that he doesn’t mean to cross over and perch here on this tree and smell the fishy aroma of triumph and lordship on his beak, that Lysander doesn’t mean to pick the remaining fish scales from his plumage like the last time the eagles went hungry, and perhaps Lysander was considering so much at first, but he changes his mind. For now, at least; the eagle shrieks again and takes off for the forests, hopefully in pursuit of smallbirds and ‘munkies, perhaps even ground squirrels. Good. The fruits of the woodlands are more than ripe, and population control cannot be left up to the owl and the owl alone. The eagles have no need to consume lakebreathers when there are landwalkers ditzing around who don’t yet know they wish to die.

Lysandra flaps up from behind and makes perch next to Hilaetos. The Sea Hawk damn near falls off his branch. The channel opens.

‘Lord Hilaetos, I bring news from the greater Basin.’

‘High Lysandra, you startled me! You must remember to shriek before you approach me, or at least chirp upon your arrival. I almost fell into the water, and you know I cannot swim unless I dive.’

Lysandra leers at Hilaetos with grave hazel eyes, then utters a single chirp. Lord Hilaetos ruffles his wings and adjusts the placement of his talons.

‘I apologize, my lord, but I did not have the energy. It’s been shinecycles since my soulpair has eaten. I’m lucky I was able to fly here.’

‘Shinecycles?!’ sends Lord Hilaetos, hardly a feather’s width away from losing his shit and flapping wing out of pure unadulterated rage. The eagles dwarf the osprey in size and their beaks are twice as long at the very least. Their wings span farther, their bodies weigh more, and their population doubles the number of ospreys a’roost on this lake. ‘How is it possible? You lot have no reason to go hungry, you’re fearsome hunters and you make even the vulture flock nervous with your scavenging abilities.’

It is now the bald eagle who fluffs her mighty wings. ‘You send so, Lord Hilaetos, and I do receive your thought, but you so quickly assume our hunger comes down to our own incompetence.’

[to be cont’d]


This has been the beginning of the second subchapter of the second chapter of The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:

The Monksville Chronicles

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page. Here’s that.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~

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