They hold watch over The Beast.
It came from within The Gleam.
The Tide Churns
Lysandra feels her soulgroom’s rage as he takes flight in her direction. She gazes behind her, unsurprised by the three hawks but disconcerted nonetheless. She flaps her mighty brown wings thrice to rise then spans her wings flat against the wind, dumping her speed and watching with murder in her eyes as the triad of red-tails soars past, their bottom beaks hanging low, their faces tangled into muddles. The back two hawks face forward in time to see Lysander bear down on the front flier, his talons striking the hawk’s frail neck as though it was nothing but a lowly lakebreather. Lysander grips down ‘til the hawk’s neck breaks and rides this first victory until its body shatters the ice, then relinquishes his grip. The Beast swallows the dead hawk whole as the other two scatter with Lysandra hot on their tailfeathers.
The chase does not last long. The pair eagles, masters in the ways of the hunt and of the scav’, cross in midair before the two hawks and then circle back, crossing again behind them and clanking their talons in the process. The noise, similar to the sound of a hammer striking hot iron, is the last thing those hawks hear before a sick warmth fills their throats, before they are falling with the snow, before a deathly cold grips their soaked, matted feathers. The pair eagles do not consider landing; more hawkish war shrieks demand their attention and they give it, oh do they ever give it, and isn’t it amazing how they smile as hawk after hawk is felled into the icy drink.
The Beast eats despite the buzz tormenting it, though its brain begins to bleed ever so slightly. The Dome can wait – there is a grand merry meal to be made here, and the lakebreathers of the Northern Leg will be grateful for the postponement of their deaths.
When the onslaught of hawks finally ceases – for an extended moment, at least – the pair eagles make their way back towards the bare tree with the shattered high branch beyond The Basin’s grassy eastern shore. They’re not in the least bit surprised to see Lord Hilaetos perched on that shattered branch, his one talon gripping bark, the other gripping flayed wood. The channel, as open as ever, stays ominously silent as the snow squall snowballs into a fierce blizzard and the ice thickens with pops and jukes below.
The Sea Hawk watches the eagles’ approach with his wings tightly folded, his eyes unblinking even against the fury of the storm. He expects to be struck down where he perches; he is not, and so he empties his lungs in a puff of steam and fills them back up with frigid winter air.
‘Pair eagles,’ he sends regally, looking down at them from his high, broken perch. ‘That was a most impressive showing. You must feel very proud of yourselves.’
‘As we should,’ sends Lysander, a hunch in his back. ‘This day will end with your plumage pierced by my left talon, Hilaetos; you’re either brave or stupid for showing your traitorous beak.’
Hilaetos flaps his wings twice and shrieks with his brow furrowed, taken aback. Lysandra prepares to take off and finish the fiend herself, but her soulgroom raises a spanned wing. He’s lucky, so very lucky, that she loves him.
‘I had nothing to do with the slaughter of the gullflock, high pair eagles. You know as well as I those Birds of Lake had no place in our keep; they had it coming!’
‘How dare you?!’ sent with a mighty scream, a scream echoed by his bride. ‘The dayguard dedicated their lives to you and your keep, Sea Hawk! Highest Choridae would have perished had I not swooped in! He had the chance to escape and he stayed, he stayed and he fought! He’s more honor in a single tailfeather than you will ever know!’
‘You send of honor; I send of foolish pride.’
‘Pride?!’ Lysandra sends, wishing she could spit. ‘He stayed for your sake, Hilaetos, he was trying to warn you! To save you! Little did the gull know, ‘twas he who needed saving from you.’
[to be cont’d]
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