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Heros (Crows) Part 7
“What is the meaning of this? We are already at war with our enemies, why are we fighting among our allies?” The tribes of the Doves and Sparrows were collected around. A tall man in white and green with soft pale eyes came forward, taking Maximus’s shoulder. General Fordrick seemed to take the hint and let him go. Everett, who was being looked over by his mate, spat into the dirt and pointed at me.
“He mated with his girl.” There were some murmurs all around and I flushed, stamping my foot. I was ignored. Councilor Idik looked Maximus over with humor, glancing back and forth between the two of us.
“Tell us, is this the truth?” Maximus said nothing. Everett only got more frustrated.
“Do not deny it!” The tale man in the white and green clothes spoke slowly and with a heavy accent.
“He does naught onderstand Hawk. I do not know enough of it to speak for you.” Some more murmurs rippled through all the people. General Fordrick looked all around then.
“Does anyone know Hawk enough to translate to Dove?” There were shakes all around; it was not an easy transition.
“What about Hawk to…Crow?” Raith asked tentatively, peeking over at me. I frowned, glaring at her. Idik seemed to find this even more amusing.
“Very well, Amelia, you ask him.” I couldn’t help but look away in embarrassment.
“What is it they want?” Maximus murmured in Crow. I glanced at him, and away again.
“They want to know if we mated…” I mumbled. He hummed low in his throat
“I am not a nest robber and how dare they think me so.” I could not force myself to respond or to translate.
“What did he say, Amelia, do not lie.” I growled, aggravated that they could not just ask me.
“We did not mate, why cannot my word be as strong as his?” Idik laughed lightly at me and I flushed angrily. He placed his hand gently on my shoulder but instinctually pulled it back when Maximus lurched forward.
“Perhaps that might be why, it is uncommon that a male hover over a female so unless they are mated.” I hissed striking out at his hand.
“Not in murders! Families are close! Friends are part of the family; they look out for one another! You have so many rules about males and females! We are all the same, we fight the same, we bleed the same, and we eat the same. Why must a man’s word mean more than a woman’s?” Everyone was quiet except for Idik’s calm laughter. Anger burned in my veins and my fingers balled up into fists. My wrist grinded painfully but that just pushed me further. I glared heatedly at Idik and inhaled deeply. I felt father’s deeply calloused fingers clutch my arm, but I pulled away. Idik knew the anger he instilled in me and only seemed to draw more amusement from it.
“Amelia, you anger so easily, where is the cool girl who brushed off her mentor’s arguments against her leaving to fetch our allies?” My eyes flashed to Everett and even he seemed surprised, we had not known we were being watched.
“Amelia, calm yourself, do not let him get the better of you, he baits because he is bored in his position.” Maximus murmured. Just that gentle reminder of who I was calmed me enough to see straight. Idik saw the change immediately and his smile dropped, his eyes shifting to Maximus.
“We are getting off hand here. He must be punished.” Father stepped up next to me, placing a heavy hand on my shoulder. “She is not yet of mating age, therefore he has taken her unwillingly.” I hissed, rearing back. Why would no one believe me!?
“We have not mated!” I screeched. There was tension in the entire field. I turned on Maximus gesturing widely with my arms.
“They will kill you, deny it! The worst they can do is exile you from the village but if you do not, you will die!” I yelled at him in Crow. “Deny it!” I shook my head fiercely, my braids whipping me across the face. He just simply murmured in what I assumed was Dove to the tall man next to him. They talked quietly, everyone waiting impatiently, when finally the tall man spoke up once more in Hawk.
“Would you kill her only mate if they did?” A louder murmur rose up, some declaring that he be put to death at once; forcing yourself on a nestling was inexcusable. Others whispered that I should not have to suffer a life without a mate, without nestlings. Others still were just confused, not understanding the sudden switches in dialogue. I looked around, just as confused as everyone else. Instead of questioning any further what fate beheld, I turned and left, leaving them all behind me. I ignored their calls and continued on into father’s home, ignoring the pain in my wrist and the ache in my head, I crawled under my blankets and winced in the acrid smell of urine. I forced myself to stay put and buried my head in the pillow.
It was early in the morning, earlier than even the sun knew that I heard father’s thumping walk proceed down the hall, my door creaking open. I kept my eyes closed and pretended to sleep though it evade me and had all night. I waited until I heard his door close and knew he was asleep before I got up. I yanked on soft leather boots, wincing and cradling my hurt wrist to my chest. I dropped a cloak over my shoulders and went to the window. Poe was waiting for me just outside, perched on a close branch. I pushed the window open and dropped out of it with a grunt. I passed quietly through the village, placing a calming hand on Beatrice’s nose as I led her from the stable. She no doubt was curious as to why she had not seen me for days. She was not my horse, mine had died in my eighth battle, but we had built up a routine of going on nightly rides. Once past the dark homes, I pulled myself onto her back and we moved into a trot, Poe gliding silently behind us.
We rode out to the Silent Lakes, reveling in the peace we found. Beatrice grazed off a ways as I settled down on a log to gaze out at the reflections forever going on. What was happening? Why was everything changing? It all started when I had gone on that mission. And it wasn’t just everybody else, I was changing too, I could feel it. Exhaustion and depression forced me to lay my head down to calm it. I dozed lightly, falling over to lie on the long grass.
“Beatrice, I’m just going to close my eyes for a few minutes.” Just for a few minutes.
Oh! My neck ached so badly! Had I missed breaking my morning fast? Poe’s tail feathers tickled my face and I made a swipe at him to move. A high pitched screech that did not come from my crow had me flicking my eyes open. A large bug like creature with eight large thin legs was standing on my face.
There was no stopping the screams that torn from my throat as I jumped up smacking my own face to move it despite the fact that it had already run off. I jumped around in a circle still screaming as I held myself. Beatrice took off from a dead sleep, thundering away from me in the blink of an eye, and I was alone. After a few minutes of trying to calm myself down and breathe normally, I realized I had a long walk ahead of me, through some marsh land. Cursing myself for my foolish behavior over a bug, I searched for the direction I was to head.
“I cannot get a good day.” Sighing resignedly, I began my hike.
A few hours later with the sun growing in strength, I noticed a black shadow trailing me. Hunching down and looking up, I saw a bird, large in size and…black…
Spinning around, searching about wildly, I didn’t have to look for long. A dark figure, cloaked against the rising sun moved slowly over the terrain, his horse unfamiliar with the land. The black bird cawed loudly and the figure lifted his head in my direction.
“You have entire village in an uproar; all the warriors are out looking for you. They think you have been taken by the enemy.” I could not decide if I was still angry with him so I just moved past him without a word.
“Amelia, are you even listening? We all heard you scream; look your hem is six inches deep in mud. Come-” He patted the rear flank of his horse. “-It is at least a two mile journey, at least we will move more quickly.” I ignored him still feeling the sting of anger.
As we moved, he at first worked to get some type of response out of me, but I refused, and silence settled over us until another shadow fell over the land, cawing his welcome. Aeruscus swooped gently over my head and when I held my arm out, he landed gently, shaking his feathers out.
“Hullo Aeruscus, where is your other half-” Before I could even finish my question Everett crested the hill and was upon us within seconds.
“Amelia, are you well? Everyone heard you screaming, that was you right?” He asked has he offered a hand onto his horse. Gratefully I accepted and murmured that I was well, and to my embarrassment, it had been me who screamed. I would explain no further when he questioned me as we raced across the ground at a gallop. Feeling the heat of the day rising, I rested against Everett’s back, not sure what exactly I should do for the day. I knew I should talk to Maximus about what transpired yesterday, but I could not bring myself to face him.
“Did he say anything to you, do anything?” Drawn from my thoughts, it took me a minute to process Everett’s questions.
“No, nothing, I swear. And I swear we are not mated…” I murmured. His back straightened in tension and I feared he fall off the horse.
“You are not lying? You’d had better not be, or I will beat you myself.” Sighing, I could only shrug. He continued on. “Hell Amelia, that was not a situation two unmated people should be in.” He hissed, falling quiet. Peering back, I eyed Maximus who suddenly met my gaze. The usual mask of our crow training was in place over his features leaving him blank.
“You will ride with a male not of your family or species over me, I must give off bad pheromones.” He seemed to chide. Turning away from his dark face, I turned to see a much darker scene.
“No!” I gasped. Using my knees as leverage, and holding onto Everett for balance, I pushed off the horse to see better. The village! It was being attacked! We needed to aid them! Who knew if the other warriors returned in time! Everett seemed to mimic my thoughts and urged his mare faster. His sword hilt dug into my thigh and I nearly fell from the horse from the gain in speed but none of that mattered. When we were close enough, and we were forced to slow, I pushed off of the mare.