The Falcon That Does Not Fly
by Megs Payne
The falcon flew.
Asere looked up, her gaze catching on the silhouette above her, darkening over the crackly branches of naked, winter trees. The chill air rang with a fierce shriek, and the falcon plummeted toward the earth.
Was it hunting?
She moved forward behind her rock to try and see.
A falcon that does not fly is an enemy scout.
Did it land? That shadow, casting down like lightning across her vision. It struck. The earth exploded and wings beat upward. A small once-living thing trapped within its claws.
She let out her breath, softly—no good to give away her position now. The falcon flew.
Asere heard the whispered beat of distant drums. She narrowed her eyes through the dim forest and tangled brambles, considered the distance between. Her fingers itched with the need to shield, to let loose a wave of burning light and mold it to her will. But so far. She was not needed yet.
Another shriek scored the stillness. Asere looked up to see the falcon dive. Its claws reached out, caught hold of a thick branch of a denuded oak. The falcon turned its golden eye toward her rock, balefully surveying the forest. It did not see her. It did not cry out again.
She listened to that deceptive, distant sound of beating drums.
Her fingers itched. The light burned beneath her skin.
She stood to strike.