The Broken Oath Part 2
The raptor glided on the wind, his flight feathers curved and spread to catch the updraft. From his vantage point he could see the rolling dunes of the desert sprawling towards the setting sun. Far beneath the eagle owl his sharp gaze made out the undulating stripes of a herd of zebra as they ran. Two tan springboks reared back and prepared to charge each other, and a serval launched itself high into the air to snatch a sparrow. The eagle owl let himself drop out of the current. With a few strong pumps of his wings, he lowered his altitude until he was soaring just wing-lengths above the sand. Spotting his intimidating shadow mice and hares scurried for cover, but he wasn’t interested in them.
Greatwing narrowed his large orange eyes and focused his hearing. Just ahead there was the faint tap of a racing heartbeat. Another flap and tilt and Greatwing was extending his talons to grip the bark of a twisted baobab branch as he alighted. Before him, in the downgrade between two sandy boulders, was a meer.
Star paced back and forth without looking up at him. His fur bristled in uneven clumps along his spine and his shoulders were hunched, his umber eyes alight with anger. “Comet is dead, Greatwing.” He said, his gaze trained on the earth.
Greatwing flinched at Star’s harsh tone, his regal figure losing its straight posture. Greatwing’s eyes grew wide and wet, flooding with sadness. He shuffled his wings, not bothering to hide how perturbed he was from his lifelong friend. “I got your message, Star.” Greatwing rumbled, his beak clicking at the end of each word. Star did not respond. “You believe a rainbird, did it?”
At this Star went rigid and Greatwing felt himself tense in response. For several moments Star did not speak. Then he swung his head to gaze at the mighty raptor. Showing no fear despite how much the predator dwarfed him in size. “Believe?” Star said it so quietly that Greatwing strained to hear. “Believe?” Star’s voice trembled as he snapped. “I don’t believe anything! I know it was a rainbird who murdered my daughter.”
Greatwing stared into his friend’s eyes as another wave of sorrow passed over him. He had known Comet. Star brought all his pups to meet him. In fact, Star introduced all his pups to his closest friends, each one of the Firstbloods. Greatwing just couldn’t believe that Storm would allow one of her flock to prey on a meer, let alone Star’s daughter. The six creatures, a meer, a greatwing, a rainbird, a wildcat, a bat-eared fox, and a cobra, had promised each other seasons before that they would never harm one another or their brood. Had so much time passed that Storm the rainbird would forget her oath? Greatwing couldn’t answer that question but seeing the anguish and righteous anger twisting Star’s face the raptor had to believe him.
Greatwing could see in the depths of Star’s gaze that the rage was just a mask lingering on the surface. It was easier to acknowledge then grief, so Star was feeding it. Swallowing back the lump in his throat, Greatwing hopped off the branch and settled at Star’s side. Star eyed him for a moment, challenging him.
“I believe you.” Greatwing said in a solemn tone.
Some of the fury drained from Star’s face and the meer sagged against the comforting warmth of his dearest friend.
“You do.” He sighed; his voice muffled by Greatwing’s feathers. “You’ll be my ally.” His tone was thick with exhaustion.
Greatwing leaned down to run his beak through the meer’s tawny fur. “I’ll always be your ally, Star. I’m going to try to help you make this right.” He said, his words brimming with sincerity. There was a twinge of doubt in his gut. He pushed it away. The pact was broken, now someone would have to pay.