International Story

The Fifth Monday Four: Ounta Part Three

Ben Van Dongen

Jagged talons and a cracked beak snapped at Aen. The old Aquillo, Lethwin, flapped his leathery wings, but they smacked the inward curving walls. Instead, the old bird screeched, sending spittle like sea spray. The dim candle went out, turning the shadowy corner into a dark void.

Jumping back, away from the grasping talons, Aen saw no more than the shine of the bird’s eyes. His skin burned from within as he fought his urge to change form, the recent rebuke from his mother fresh in his mind. Instead, he took up a defensive hunting stance he learned from his human tribe. He had no spear to keep the beast at bay, but the reflexes drilled into him on the hunt helped him dodge the swooping attacks from Lethwin.

“Mother. What do we do?” Aen stepped behind a nearby table.

“Be quiet! The old fool cannot see properly,” his mother chided. In a flash, her own eyes reflecting the meager remaining candle-light of the room, she charged at Lethwin. Ducking under a swooping wing and sidestepping a raking talon, she struck the Aquillo in the midsection.

Aen heard the huff from the old bird, a half cough, half wheeze. He could not make out her actions in the dark, but heard her call out in pain. Lethwin laughed, making Aen’s blood boil. He felt his bones ache to change. To give him the power to cut down the foe who threatened his mother. A shrill cry escaped him as he fought the desire to transform. (more…)

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