Chapter Twenty: As the Eagles Fly

A mass of wings and feathers obscured the sky, shrouding the land in darkness and blocking the light from the awakening moon.

The deafening caws could be heard, echoing throughout the plains, despite the emptiness of the surroundings.

As the mighty birds scorched the sky in a mass of thousands, Jonrah's gaze was drawn to the tower that they stood by. He was unreasonably surprised to see that birds were flocking at the peak of this tower, too, as they were at all the others. And it seemed that most of them had already set their small pebble-eyes on the two strangers below.

The first few birds of prey dived swiftly to the ground, and Jonrah had to throw Lorda - who was still staring at the towers in the distance - to the side to avoid a bird piercing his skull with a razor-sharp beak.

Hitting the ground hard, Lorda avoided an early battering from the birds of prey who no doubt wanted to feast upon his still-beating heart. Getting to his feet once more, Lorda was overwhelmed by the deafening chorus of cackling birds that swarmed around them, not yet attacking, but simply savouring the moment.

With a jet-black coat of perfectly arranged feathers, a wing-span equal to that of a man, and beaks as sharp as razors, these eagles - native to the East, but unfamiliar to the West - were as deadly and formidable an enemy as the men of The Eden themselves.

The first bird made a dive, and within seconds, the entire murder was descending at an alarming speed, falling to the earth with no regard for their own safety, only with the thrill of the kill in mind.

Lorda threw himself against the wall of the tower, minimising the amount of his body exposed to the falling birds, and as he did so, he was delighted to look to Jonrah to see that he had drawn his shield and was using it as a turtle uses its shell; holding it above his head and letting the beaks bounce off the reinforced wood.

Jonrah looked to Lorda, who was screaming something unintelligible. Unable to hear, Jonrah edged closer, holding his shield firmly above his head to protect himself.

When he arrived next to Lorda, he was only just able to make out what was being said: 'If we make it to the wall, the birds will think that they have driven us away and will return to their roosts. Failing that, we can hide in the thorns once more.'

Lorda smiled, as did Jonrah.

'Alright, then you must take my shield,' Jonrah said. 'Your light armour will be torn to shreds by the blows that will no doubt befall you.'

Lorda snatched the shield playfully, then led the way towards the wall which they had been stood by only hours ago.

Batting off any eagles that got a little too close for comfort, Lorda was not too concerned about Jonrah's lack of a shield - his armour would be almost impossible to penetrate, whether by blade or by beak.

Jonrah stayed in the small alcove for several seconds, watching Lorda run towards the wall, leading the eagles away. Despite his heavy and strong armour, Jonrah was without a helmet, and was not best pleased with the idea of a number of eagles for a hat.

When few eagles remained in the skies above, Jonrah drew his sword, and took the first step from the base of the tower. Several birds threw themselves at him, but not enough to overwhelm him, and he parried their blows with relative ease.

As Lorda lept over the wall, however, it struck Jonrah that he was now the key focus of the birds of prey.

Breaking into a sprint, Jonrah was only able to take a few steps before a sharp pain shot up from his left foot, all the way up his leg.

He lost control and stumbled, legs giving way, and face thrown into the dust.

He heard numerous beaks clattering against his armour, and held his arms over his head to avoid his skull being damaged. Sword still in his right hand, he swung blindly at the birds gathered behind him, and felt it strike several lucky blows, but where the birds were slaughtered, more took their places.

Using his sword-wielding hand to push himself to his feet, Jonrah tried once more to take a step, as a gut-renching pain tore through his entire body.

Keeping his footing this time, he looked down to his left foot to see the bird, still alive, beak embedded in his foot, tearing at the flesh around it with its mighty talons.

His foot suddenly went numb as he realised that something else had been thrust through the side of his neck, just above the armour - a very vulnerable spot.

Another black eagle was burying itself into his neck, spraying crimson blood all over itself and Jonrah's as-of-yet pristine armour. No major arteries had been punctured, for Jonrah knew that he would already be unconscious, probably even dead, but as a black haze slowly obstructed his vision, Jonrah's legs buckled once more, and he hit the dust, letting his blood soak through to the earth.

Darkness took him.

The End

56 comments about this story Feed