the beast never seen licks its red talons clean

POSTED: Thu May 07, 2015 7:42 pm

Vaguely backdated.

She spotted the partridge flush against the bushes and waited, slowly grasping the bow in hand and slowly drawing the string. Stark flapped from her shoulder at the movement and took to the air while the bird hesitantly stepped from the leafy foliage into the prairie grass, pecking at the earth for seeds. It foraged quietly, blissfully unaware of the coyote nocking her arrow and her raven partner.

Vesper aimed, muzzle and brow wrinkled with concentration. She did not know if she would hit the bird, but even if it was a bad shot that stuck, Stark would harass the wounded animal until Ves could kill it. Her muscles strained as she held, waited.

The wind shifted, and she smelled a young scent, strongly de le Poer. She angled an ear in the direction of the smell, listening to the eager snuffling, the rustle of prairie grass. No longer able to shoot at leisure, she released the arrow when she was certain of the puppy's position. It flew through the air, bending, its fletching keeping it stable. It was a true path, but the arrow only clattered in the bush as the spooked partridge, perhaps aware of how close its life had been to ending, flapped away with a high rick-rick-rick.

Vesper sighed and lowered her aching arms, rubbing one. She turned toward the puppy still yards from her. Its head, dark and smeared with familiar color from its bloodlines, lifted with big ears at attention. Its round eyes stared curiously, and it began to waddle toward her. Ves smiled to invite it, wondering where Prophet was; she knew the woman had had her hands full with many children until recently. But that was nature's way.

Stark screamed.

The Centurion nocked another arrow with fumbling quickness, teeth already bared as she swung toward the cry of her partner, the child -- for a moment -- forgotten.

Dark wings blotted out the sun.

No! No! Vesper shouted, and sent an arrow -- too high, because the massive bird landed. Her heart launched into her throat and she shouted again, running. Claws unsheathed as she cast down the small bow, but then the golden eagle lifted her head, beak bloody, bits of dark fluff hanging from the feathers of her face. Amber-brown eyes stared into Vesper. She recognized those eyes; she hadn't seen them since before Ombre died.

She stumbled as she dropped to grab a fistful of earth, rock, grass. Gehazi! she screamed, and hurled the clump at the eagle. Slowly, the great bird blinked her sharp, intelligent eyes, and she fanned her wings again. Seven feet of those wings launched her from the earth, and she wheeled around toward the mountains with a shrill cry. Soon as she appeared, she was gone -- and Vesper dropped to hands and knees in the prairie grass.

Stark landed on her shoulder, shaking. Big, scared eyes stared up at Vesper, and at the turn of the head, flesh gleamed red along the neck, deep to the bone. The puppy cried weakly. A mess of pink and blood covered its belly where the talons had raked. Vesper knew it would not make it. She took its neck in her hands. It was quick.

Scooping it up in her arms, soft pads of fingers shutting the wide eyes, Vesper walked in search of Prophet.




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