Birds of Prey
Two beings inhabit The Dome.
They are Barciro and The Wikler.
Snake Eater [cont’d]
‘How dare yo–’
Another war shriek, this one louder. Closer.
Queen Jemcis begins to send, but Beuto cuts her off with ferocity. ‘You came alone to Green Turtle Pond as a starving, wandering vagrant, a flying feathered rat with nowhere to go, and you found me, and I–’
‘What I found was usefulness,’ as she slowly raises a bloody talon and points it at Beuto, ‘a usefulness which has dried up like the waters of the Wanaque Reservoir in the dry season. The snake is eaten, Beuto; the perch you once held here is gone.’
Beuto tries to argue but the channel snaps closed. A third terrible war shriek booms from overhead, dragging Beuto’s eyes away from the foul queen and up towards the impending coup.
The air is still, a state of calm which precedes a storm. Then it happens. Sparks fly as the diving hawk’s talons scream against rock, Beuto dodging the strike by the vane of his feathers. He flaps himself to the edge of the rock and folds his wings tight before shrieking bloody war to the blue sky. The bomber doubles back to the queen and composes himself in midair. He slowly lands next to her, his tailfeathers dark as the rock upon which they rest, his shoulders a burning red, as his tailfeathers should be.
Beuto summons all his will and the channel opens slightly. It staggers, but it opens nonetheless. ‘What is the meaning of this, Jemcis? You dare enact regicide to me?! I should have known; only a wandering flockless hawk would roost so pathetically as you, demanding the other feathers of her adopted flock feed her their hard-killed carcasses.’ He glances at the other hawk, its eyes empty and darker than the starpool. Then, ‘And every mutineer requires a damn accomplice. Who is he, Jemcis, he with a tail so dirtied?’
The hawk queen sends nothing at all. The dirty-tailed hawk clicks his beak and ruffles his feathers.
‘Address me!’ His brown wings spanned, Beuto sends another war shriek skyward. ‘Address your king or feed him!’
‘Fool!’ booms the mind of the foreign hawk. ‘You dare threaten Snake Eater High Laentus, King of the Red Hawk Flock? You wil–’
A pair of nasally squarks interrupts the hawks’ power struggle. Beuto gazes downriver to see two yellowbeaked gulls approaching from Monksville. His scouts were not mistaken, good; the flock will eat well tonight, they shall eat well indeed, and if they don’t favor the taste of gull? A pair of slain hawks shall do just fine.
Beuto looks back just in time to see the blacks of King Leantus’s talons before they pierce his shoulders. Streams of red flow down the hawk king’s frontside and back – it’s over, they got him. He’s been clipped. Beuto kees in pain and stumbles backwards, wings flailing, whilst the dastardly red-shouldered hawk lands and folds his wings with pristinity. The queen returns to her nest and gets to work on her next offering.
The gulls flap by and pay no attention as Beuto’s back talons slip off the edge of the roosting boulder. His front claws grip divots in the rock face, his clipped wings flap madly – the pain is too great for flight but maybe he can lift himself back on the rock, maybe he can still salvage this, maybe these traitors will live to rue this day after all.
The gentle serene hum of the flowing Wanaque River drags these thoughts from King Beuto’s mind and slings fear in their place.
Laentus saunters up to the edge slowly, wings folded and eyes half closed, as if he’s enjoying this moment. He pierces each of Beuto’s fingers clasped to the rock with the points of his talons, relishing in the pained shrieks of the fallen king. They stare into each other’s eyes for what seems like an eternity, but is really only enough time for Queen Jemcis to tear the front paw off what was once a whole ‘munkie.
Hawk King Laentus sends, ‘Long live the birds who flock together long after the puma has come,’ and releases his grip.
The channel closes. Beuto, shoulders bled redder than those of his successor, embraces the Wanaque River. He’s taken by the icy babble, his body carried until the current pins him against a sunken rock, drowning him.
If, that is, he wasn’t killed by the fall.
This has been the end 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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