This is the beginning of a story I'm planning to write. Critique is greatly appreciated!
|Horn awoke to a grey morning.
The dew had come to the grassy meadow, and in the silent silvery light of the morning, it glinted as the heavens had last winter. It was strung over thistle and bush, web and tree and in its own way, it gave light to the joyous calm.
The great cherry, that had stood for so many years as roost to Horn and his forefathers, this morning wore its green leaves proudly. And in its growing pride, the little blossoms that where to bloom later that week, grew strong. “It will be a good year for cherries,” thought Horn as he ruffled his feathers to a growing morning breeze: “The bee empire has grown in numbers, and they rejoice in work. But I’ll have to have a talk to Queen Xeti to make sure her brood stay away from our hollow”.
He stretched his wings, and hopped up onto the branch overlooking the valley.
Its view always took his breath away and filled him with love for this place that was his home and his kingdom.
Under the green hill where the tree grew, all around and slightly lower in altitude, oak and chess nut trees grew. These woods swept all around the hill and swallowed the other six surrounding it. In this forest, many creatures lived, and Horn could hear the early risers making their way through the undergrowth, silent as they were.
On the east side of the Cherryhold Hill, a lake slept in the quiet air of the morning, disturbed only by the north wind that swept over her like a herald of good fortune.
Then Horn turned his head, and gazed to the west, to the great mountains that had been the ancient homeland of his kind, a land of mystery, whose stories were now passed on from Wisebird to Wisebird, and were told under the stars every empty Moon.
He eyed the great black towers with respect, for he had once ventured there to search for food in the time of the dark famine, and so knew that some tales were true, others false, and others yet…he shivered and turned away.
The mist was now clearing, receding to the southern planes, were it would guide the people of the Hoof in their wanderings. They were a foolish people, thought Horn, always wandering without a home or purpose. And after all, they were grass-eaters…
He heard a rustling in the hollow, and a few instants he was joined by his mate, Lady Frye Breezewing, mother to his chicks.
She smiled, and nuzzled him affectionately. They had met in the time of the falling ice, twenty years ago, and had since then been inseparable. He was still an adventurous bird back then, and they had spent many long days pestering the Long Worms or moving war to the other young fliers of the other tribes and clans. But that was long ago, before the time of the Settling and the time of the Union of the Holds.
Frye lifted her head and gazed into his black eyes: “Today is the day”.
Horn shuffled his feathers and shifted his weight on his feet. “But is he? He is young yet, only born a winter ago…Is he strong enough? Fast enough? Can…”.
“Hush love, you worry over a few fallen feathers as if they were your own wings. He is not any older than the others, when they had to face the Trial, and he is a very bright young one.”.
“Aye, that he is. But I love him dearly, Frye, in a way more than I do the others…what if…”.
“Quiet yourself Lord Horn Breezewing, he is your son, and he is ready. Let him fly this day.” She eyed him quietly and he matched her gaze: it was an old game they played, as old as the legend of the soul-song of Sunwings and Starbeak his mate.
It was a tender game, the most civil way of deciding a dispute. As Horn looked on, into the deep golden pools of her eyes, he knew the outcome. Nevertheless he tried his best, willing himself to at least give Frye a good fight.
She always won. It was inevitable. For though he was the strongest and fleetest of his roost, she was, next to Greyplume Wisebird, the spirit and soul of the tribe, and her will was as the Sun rising each day: unstoppable and inevitable.
He finally looked away, beaten once again.
She looked at him steadily and said:
“”Fly by air, fly by fire, let your heir, know the winds desire”. So has it been for ages, and so shall it be now, my love”
“Aye” he said softly, “so it shall.”
He hopped down to the entrance to the hold, and made his way through to the inner chamber, where his children slept.
In the darkness, he easily picked out the shape of his son, the heir he had designated to take his place once he was too old to speak in Council Cave. The one son that over all the others he had been gifted with he worried about. He shook himself. Had he forgotten who he was? He was lord Horn Breezewing of Cherryhold Hill! One of the seven! And the only one of them that had ventured out of the Forestlands to see what lay beyond! Why was he afraid for the life of his son, feathers of his own feathers?
He knew all to well the answer. It sucked the spirit from him, and took the wind from his wings.
He gazed once more upon his son, his beautiful son, nestled among his brothers and sisters.
He suddenly lifted his eyes and found himself gazing deep into two pools of swirling mist, that distorted his reflection, causing him to look away.
“The wind bodes well this day Breezewing?” came a soft voice from the darkness of the room.
“Aye, that it does old friend. Do your eyes see the summer breeze?”
“My eyes, as you should well know, haven’t seen much for many a season” came the grumpy answer.
Out of the shadows, stepped a massive eagle owl. He was grayed by age, but though his eyes were weak, he still possessed a formidable beak and a two sets of sharp talons, though one had been snapped off by a fox in a battle many winters past. He was a very venerable gentlebird, respected for many miles in every direction. For he carried the name of Wisebird, the knowledgeable one that was keeper of the law and lore for all the seven tribes of the circle. He was the one that the birds would turn to when a doubt emerged over a question of Hunt, Hold or Flight. He it was who new all the stories of old, from the beginning of the world to the more recent stories of the Settling.
The only tales that would never exit his beak were the ones concerning his own past, much whispered about among the youngsters of the tribes, which would sometimes pester him for a snatch of talk about his adventures. He would snap at them then, his grey eyes blazing, causing them to scatter in all directions, and he would resume his nap.
That was what he spent much of his time doing nowadays, thought Horn. His nighttime trips were getting ever fewer and he was living off what the creatures seeking advice would bring him. Aye, the name of Greyplume Wisebird was well know in the surrounding land, and even the other creatures would come to him for advice or help. Their number and diversity constantly surprised Horn. He was certain, he had once seen through bleary eyes in the night, the figure of Greyplume on the ground not far off, talking to an adder. However, when questioned over the matter, Greyplume had shrugged off the question and had successfully distracted Horn by pointing out a lone rat scurrying across the grass, prompting Horn to dive for the hunt.