Birds of Prey
Two beings inhabit The Dome.
They are Barciro and The Wikler.
As The Giant makes his way into The Basin, two hawks gather on a flat-topped boulder. Below them the Wanaque River roars, the water still cold with the chill of the night. On a branch above them perches a third hawk, his talons coated in sticky crimson. The channel is narrowly open, held so by a dead hawk’s tarsus.
‘Another was spotted today, gliding over the patch of isles.’
‘Another?’ asks King Beuto, picking scales from his wings. ‘You send of yesterday’s interloper, do you not?’
Mousetalon flaps his wings twice but not a flap more, nor at full span, lest he be clipped again. ‘I do not, though my tailfeathers quiver at the thought. Yesterday’s white rat was properly sac’d and stripped of its feathers and less hawks went supperless than normal, though that supper was thin as a smallbird’s feather.’
Hawk King Beuto acutely adjusts the fold in his wings and stares obtusely at the pair of hawk scouts below him. He sends them no thoughts, though plenty of sentiments are received.
Scartail picks up the slack. ‘My Liege, thus far today another of our flock fell victim to the Wanaque River. Two gulls were spotted flapping their dirty wings through our forest, likely in search of shellfish and other morsels we are not equipped to take. The same foolish action brought the downfall of one of their flockmates yesterday, but yet they repeat. The famine is evidently growing quite dire, even outside the bounds of the river; Mousetalon does not quiver his tailfeathers in fear, Highest Beuto, merely out of hunger. Our flock has been hard-pressed to find a new ‘munkie burrow, as you well know, and if things don’t impro–’
‘Quell your plumage, rodent eater. Now’s no time fo–’
An ice-shattering shriek echoes from deep within the forest where the river approaches its source. King Beuto’s branch, dried rotten and infested with termites, shatters at the pitch of this mad shriek. He begins to fall, quickly catching himself with flapped wings before flying back to land on the part of the branch still intact. The two scouts share a look, then point that look in the direction of the shriek.
With wings spanned and feathers fanned, Hawk King Beuto decrees, ‘Scouts, I’ll have you run a mission today. Make for skies west until you hit Green Turtle Pond, then bank south by southeast. When you are airborne, shriek not – the sucklers of Mother Monksville’s teet musn’t be made privy to your presence, especially not that osprey the vultric hag’s bent under the weight of her constantly fed belly; I’ve already sent decoys to distract her. You will ride the Northern Leg to North Cove; take notice of where the dayguard perch and where any vultures scavenging the shores are positioned. Secondarily you will snag any prey you’re able to whilst staying hidden. Circumnavigate The Sticks and return via the river to my highest perch with your findings before shineset. Clear?’
Hawk King Beuto leaps and flaps wing towards the source of the mighty shriek before either of the brothers hawk have a chance to ask questions. When he’s gone, Mousetalon bends over to pick a morsel from the groove between his middle right talon and his foot, but his beak clicks against the keratin; he’s not affirmed his namesake in at least three shinecycles. His claws have been picked clean many times over. The nights have grown longer as of late, and ever more sleepless at that – never in the red-tailed hawk’s life has he felt so exhausted, so frail. This morning’s flight to his master’s lower perch was tiresome enough, but to Monksville by way of Green Turtle Pond? That’s a long haul to flap.
Scartail sees the look on his brother’s face and flaps his wings twice in preparation to fly, but it takes a lot out of him. Too much. Perhaps they are psyching themselves out. Perhaps it’s best to just wing it.
This has been the sixth subchapter of the second chapter of The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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