Birds of Prey
Two beings inhabit The Dome.
They are Barciro and The Wikler.
Green Turtle Pond [cont’d]
The osprey wonders, privately, when the witch doctor would have seen any symbiosis between other species, for he’s not left the spread of Monksville once since the osprey himself arrived.
‘Then, on a particularly bright spring day, a small dole of turtles had climbed up on a large rock bound to the eastern shore of the pond. The rock was covered in moss on the top, but the sides were bare and easily climbable. No less than four and no more than seven young turtles – the number seems to change each time I try to remember it, as though the reality around us has phased since then – were basking on the rock’s mossy carpet, absorbing the warming rays of the great shine and raising their blood to a soothing boil. They never heard the hawks coming… not that it would have made a difference. Turtles are speedy in the water, but on land? They’re slower than a tortoise, and equally as bumbling. None of the dole survived, but then again, neither did the hawks – the snapper rose from the water and, in horror, slipped into a vicious bloodrage, decimating every one of the unwelcomed guests, though he did not consume a single one of his kills. The vultures ate well that day, though the weight in their fattened bellies was heavy long after the food digested.’
Hilaetos shudders at the thought of such merciless avian slaughter. The owl’s relieved at this; perhaps there is hope left in him.
‘The next day, The Vultress had her entire flock perch in guard stance in the canopy around the pond whilst she went searching for food. She was gone from shinerise to shineset, as she had much food to gather for her hungry flock of scavengers, and even as she flapped in return, she could sense something was very wrong. The channel was quiet, deserted, as if her flock had flown the coop… if only they had flown the coop. Perhaps things would now be different. Perhaps the straits would not be so dire.’
‘But they didn’t,’ injects the osprey, absorbed by the owl’s tale, ‘did they?’
‘No. They are a good flock, obedient to The Vultress first and the snapping turtle second, steadfastly so. When The Vultress returned, she nearly dropped wing and fell from the sky out of pure astonishment. The vultures, her flock… they were dead, all of them, slain by the red-tails, their carcasses picked clean as if by her own kind. Slain turtles were scattered amongst the dead as well, but not the snapper. The snapper is powerful, truly a force to be reckoned with, but he is not without wit. He knows when he is outnumbered. The Vultress shared a channel with him briefly before fleeing, and they exchanged thoughts.’
‘A landwalker, sending through the channel?’ Lord Hilaetos sends, his wings flapping wildly. ‘Impossible!’
‘‘Twas a lakewalker, Lord Hilaetos, a hybrid of sorts. Not many of them exist; no wingflapper knows what they are capable of.’
Hilaetos calms down and folds his wings. ‘What did the scaled thing send, then?’
‘It sent, Bare southeast and flap, High Vultress, there are deeper ponds than this. It was the last she heard from him, the last anyone heard from him. One day I felt a new presence in the channel and flapped to the north end of the valley and found her perched on a branch, her eyes jeweled with hot tears of sorrow. The only upside was that she had been prepared for The Hatching.’ The owl nods fondly as he sends this, then, ‘I helped her raise that first batch of hatchlings. You’d be amazed; though their feathers are dark as night in maturity, the vulture chicks come out white as the full moon. Like little shaking balls of snow they are, with gray beaked faces.’
The osprey pictures the size of the vulture flock now and his mind begins to spin with the implications of this new information he’s received. The owl, aware of the Sea Hawk’s distress, continues as he was.
‘Many vultures have come and gone since then. She’s bred with many travelers, even when they did not stay to help raise their young, all for the sake of her flock. It is all she has; The Vultress truly is a mother at heart, a mother to many and a grandmother to more. You may not see this side of her, osprey, but know it is there. Know it very well.’
The owl turns then to take off into the night. Hilaetos, wanting not to be left alone in the darkness, sends, ‘Wait! Surely you’ve more to tell me, highest witch doctor. Surely you didn’t summon me to your presence to tell stories of times long passed. Surely you’ll explain to me why The Vultress sent me a vastly different tale today than that which you’ve sent me tonight?’
‘There’s nothing else to tell, Hilaetos. You know as well as I what direction the wind blows; whether you fly with it or against it will be decided in due time. When the seasons change you’ll not be forced to change with them; the choice will be yours to make.’
With that the old owl flaps wing and leaves a slight bounce in the branch, closing the channel in his wake. The osprey grips the swaying perch with all his might, flapping his wings to keep balance until the tree stills like the surface of the Reservoir. He leers into the darkness to the east and sees little, then into the south and sees less. Fine, then; Sea Hawk Hilaetos, Lord of The Sticks, shall roost in North Cove on this night. The fluffy winter down sprouting beneath his feathers wards off the chill of the air and he falls peacefully into sleep.
This has been the end of the fourteenth subchapter of the second chapter of The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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