Flash: Raptors by the Sea 2 – Outside the Aerie

Photo by John Bell on Unsplash

After her late return at sunset, Mave had to sneak out of her parents nest before Brita did more than pink the edges of the world. She flew hard and fast to be over the horizon before the morning hunts and harvests began.

Her adventures were coming to an end, her parents made that clear last night after the aerie meeting when yet again her suitors laid valuables at her parent’s feet and Mave remained empty-handed. Killean and Fion preened and pecked, nearly coming to blows. Dahee and Oghan let the hunters courting her act like groundlings, hoping the idiots would take it one step too far and eliminate themselves. Excellent artisans both, they couldn’t compete physically for the hand of the heir presumptuous, putting them a little lower in the bidding war status.

As the Clan leaders, once behind closed doors, Donal and Kiera let her know a choice would be made at the next clan meet in three sunsets or they would make it for her. The strife must end.

All four suitors brought something to the nest, but all lacked the mud to hold it together somehow. Her parents preferred Fion, but the very loyalty to the Clan that made him attractive, also meant he didn’t question. As her husband, she would need him to question her decisions. Plus his attitude toward the unchanging made him problematic.

Killean flew the highest and furthest of the male hunters, but his drive and hers clashed like Nephele and Aquine during hurricane season.

Dahee made amazing nests, and baskets, and his gardens grew the tallest, but flying to the meeting cave challenged him; he often joined the unchanging climbing ladders. As the highest flyer, would he grow jealous of her over time? Every mixed couple, raptor and unchanging testified this end. Nuala, a recent widow and a somewhat better flyer, would be perfect for him once she finished mourning, although they hadn’t landed on the same tree to realize that yet.

That left Oghan, a deep cave. His stone magic would make her nest strong, but he had no down. All rock, no soft. He was a welcomed advisor, nearly five rotations her senior; she could only see him at her side at the clan meetings, not in her nest. But if she was forced to choose one of the four, he would be the one she would dance for if only so her aerie didn’t lose his wizardry at the Aviary Gathering next spring. He wanted a mate, and he would build his nest where he found a female willing to fly with him.

The landscape shifted below from prairie scrub, to a short strip of green with trees and fields dotted with groundling houses, then quickly to rocks and sea. Mave banked west toward yesterday’s cove hoping her searching had landed her a fifth option.

Bryce sat at the bottom of the wind-scraped tree them met at yesterday, with a small pile of fish beside him. He may fail at flirting, but the man knew how to start a courting. Mave approved with a loud cry, gliding through the coves unpredictable winds, she transformed as she landed.

(words 529; first published 11/19/2023)

Raptors by the Sea Series

  1. Raptors by the Sea (9/10/2023)
  2. Outside the Aerie (11/19/2023)
  3. Oghan’s Return (12/17/2023)

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