Birds of Prey
Two beings inhabit The Dome.
They are Barciro and The Wikler.
The flight to Queen Jemcis’s perch is a long one, longer than the flight to Green Turtle Pond, but King Beuto does not tire. He has eaten well on this day and has plenty of energy to spare. The river’s flow falters in strength as it approaches the source, frothy rapids replaced with gentle waterfalls over rocks covered in green moss.
High Queen Jemcis sees him approaching and tears the last leg off the dead ‘munkie at her feet. She throws it up in the air and, as King Beuto lands, the leg falls into her insatiable pit of a mouth. She swallows the morsel whole.
King Beuto bows upon landing, sending, ‘My queen.’
‘Snake Eater,’ she replies, piercing the ‘munkie’s belly and starting in on its guts. ‘Have you given the orders?’
‘Indeed; the brother scouts are to scan the Northern Leg of Monksville and take note of where the vultures and dayguard are positioned. They’ll return through The Sticks an–’
‘And shall they report to me, Beuto?’
‘To us, yes; they’re meant to return via the river and come directly here with their findings, and also a portion of any kills they might make saved specially for you, of course.’
The Red Hawkess sends naught for more than a few moments, her attention stolen by the second sac’d rodent she’s consumed today. She means to have another one by high noon, and twice as many before the day is done.
Then, ‘And what of you, Beuto? What occupies your time on this autumn day?’
Beuto takes a step backwards, his eyes flickering with black flames of doubt. Then he corrects, sending, ‘I shall do what I always do, my queen: scour the river and the forest alike in search of snakes. I’ve already taken one today, and one should last me for a few shinesets at least, but one cannot eat too much in these days of famine, as I’m sure you’d agree.’
What remains of the ‘munkie’s innards slides down the hawk queen’s throat. ‘And if you find no snakes?’
King Beuto’s brow furrows. ‘There are always snakes to be found, my queen. What is this ab–’
A shrill war cry explodes from behind Queen Jemcis’s nest. Beuto bends at the knees in reaction, but the queen makes not a move.
‘Jemcis, what was–’
‘Perhaps there are… but perhaps the snakes shall be eaten by another.’
‘My queen, you must be mistaken. No other hawk is capable of the feat; I and I alone was born with the gift to slay the legless bastards.’
Queen Jemcis kees softly then, as if to address a mere hatchling. ‘The gift, you say? That’s charming, Beuto, as charming as your habit of calling me your queen. You kill the snakes well enough, but do you share your winnings? Do you offer the hawk queen a piece of your morsels? Do you offer any to my subjects who flap their empty bellies across Monksville and back for you? You do not, and you shall not. You will never have the chance to make your mistake again.’
Hawk King Beuto backs two steps this time, spanning his wings and shrieking with rage. ‘How dare you send such vituperation, and with a belly full of sac’d ‘munkie! ‘Munkie which hasn’t been tasted by half the hawks in my flock since the summer!’
‘ Your flock?’ she challenges, rising from the nest and gripping the rim with her talons. Her stained talons, the hue matching that of her tail.
‘Yes, my flock. You may not remember – or do you purposely forget? – this flock was long established before you lucked upon it in the forest that day. Before you were so graciously welcomed into it. We were doing perfectly well for ourselves before you–’
‘Before I woke your oblivious tail up and forced you to abandon Green Turtle Pond? The food had run out ages before we migrated, Beuto, and solely because of your inability to manage who eats and when. A hawk or two may perish with every rise of the great shine in present days, I will not deny that, but when you alone held perch over this flock? Dozens fell dead to the forest floor with every set of the great shine, and those that fell into the pond? Opportunities for sustenance stolen from the open beaks of desperate hawks by the shelled cretin buried in the pond’s muddy bottom. The very cretin you refused to take action against!’
‘How dare yo–’
[to be cont’d]
This has been the beginning of the seventh subchapter of the second chapter of The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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