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Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2008510
Two young gryphons contemplate the past and future.
Flickwing crouched behind the jagged gray outcropping, belly to the ground. The drake, his prey, lay unaware just ahead. Its immense head faced away from him. A soft spring breeze carried the creature's dry, musky scent – the scent of old death – to him.

Flickwing inched forward, taloned forefeet ghosting across the pine needle-littered ground. The soft pads of his hind feet whispered over the terrain. He kept his wings tight against his back, so not even a gentle breeze through his tawny feathers would betray him. Closer now, he hunkered lower, tamping his hind legs in preparation to …

“Your haunches are too high.”

Flickwing squawked in surprise, stumbling forward out of his crouch.

“Storms take you, Sable!” the gryphon growled, glancing back at his friend and snorting. Flickwing turned back to his 'prey,' the skeleton of a large drake that had attacked the pass two years ago. Its ecru bones lay where they had fallen as a warning to others of its kind. Mountain sage, periwinkle, columbines and tufts of dry grass sprouted up between the boney pillars.

“Any prey could see you with your rump sticking up like that,” the deep brown female said. Sable continued, “And you won't get chosen for the scouts if you can't stalk.”

He lashed his tail. Ruffling his chest feathers, he ran his beak through them. “I know! I know. I was down, I just …”

“Got excited and stuck your rump up in the air?” she finished, amber eyes twinkling. She padded forward, wings half unfurled, letting the breeze play with them. Reaching the drake's skull, she rose unto her hind legs and used her forelegs to reach high enough to peer into its eye socket. The gaping hole yawned so wide she could easily have crawled inside. “Can you imagine the warriors killing this beast?”

Flickwing crouched, than sprang up – with a flap of his wings to help, just one, since this far away from the den mothers they weren't allowed to practice flying – to the skull's summit. He was at least a wing's breadth from the ground. Probably more. And this was just its head. His gaze followed its body back until it was lost into the green undergrowth. This creature was truly massive.

“I wish I could've seen them,” he answered. He had only been hatchling when the beast had attacked. Flickwing often dreamed of the whole warrior flight taking wing, beaks and talons flashing golden in the sun, diving at it, tearing into the beast's scales and flesh, driving it away from the pass, from the den mothers and the hatchlings. The warriors had fought and died, so many had died. The pride leader had earned a new warrior name that day: Scalerend.

“You will. But first we have to be chosen as scouts,” Sable said, misunderstanding him. Warriors rarely came to the pass, their time spent protecting the pride's lands and hunting. She dropped to the ground, shaking out her near-black feathers, then soothing them. “Let's go practice hunting. Maybe we can catch a rabbit or squirrel.”

Flickwing winced. “Ground hunting's such a waste. We have wings.”

“I hate the white-tailed vermin, too,” Sable said, laughing. “But if we actually get something, the hatchlings will thank us.”

He nodded, thinking of his own den mother and her new hatchling, his auburn-colored fluff of a brother, Thistle. Once the little menace had shed his eggshell, their once comfortable den had instantly become cramped, and there was never enough food for that tiny mouth.

“Very well, let's leave this beast and go help feed the beasts waiting at home.”
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