THE SHRILL CRY BROKE THROUGH THE MORNING SILENCE, STARTLING THE BOYS FROM THEIR BEDS.
Will hurried to keep himself from full consciousness, desperate to drift back to sleep as he noticed the lack of sunlight in the room. He folded his pillow around him, tousling his blanket over his face, but the noise was too penetrative. A cold, grey dawn peeked through the curtains as he and Andrel sat ramrod straight up in their beds, pressing their hands to their ears whilst they surveyed the room for the culprit.
It wasn't difficult to spot, flying around the room.
Arlamus' new pet of the week, a bird he'd "found" whilst walking through the woods, encircled the bedroom light like in a dizzy drinking game, cawing with each revolution at a pitch that could shatter glass. Will couldn't pronounce the creature's proper name, he was only sure of how annoying it was, and how for the past couple of days, his mornings had been just as unsettled. It was an oddity, with a large, rounded beak, blunt talons and a body seeming fatter than it actually was by its fluffy grey and white plumage. The bird wasn't supposed to fly, but Arlamus had charmed it so to make it unique and his own, and it flapped discordantly with a sense of glee, irrespective that it could only fly around the chandelier in an unending loop.
'How did it get loose?' Will shouted over the ghastly noise. Andrel, who'd fallen back into bed trying to ignore it, groaned and retrieved his wand from the bedside table. Submerged under the covers, he aimed and sent a fizzle of green light towards the bird. It stopped moving, frozen in mid-air, squawking with confusion. Andrel flicked his wrist, and sent it hurtling towards the open brass cage on the window desk. It flipped around a few times before hitting the bars with full force, giving a finite claw before slumping collapsed at the bottom.
At this point, Arlamus, who had lasted through the serenade, bolted up with a look of irritation. 'What did you do to him?' he demanded, slipping on his glasses and narrowing his eyes from pet to brother. 'That was totally uncalled for.'
'Well, you know what else is uncalled for?' fumed Andrel, slipping out from his covers and tossing his pillow at Arlamus, aware that his house keys and hard leather wallet were inside. 'Letting that thing flap around at the break of dawn!'
'It needs exercise,' said Arlamus condescendingly, 'otherwise it'll deteriorate and die -,'
'If I don't get my nine hours, I'll deteriorate and die!'
Arlamus smirked. 'You're a rare specimen that the world could live without. If I let it fly anywhere else other than here, it'll escape. Who knows how many walghvogels are left in the world?'
'They're probably going extinct because of disgruntled men with dart guns, like me!' Andrel slipped his clothes on over his pyjamas grumpily. 'Either that bird gets lost, or I get Mom to whip up a casserole with a rare ingredient.'
'You wouldn't dare,' said Arlamus, narrowing his eyes and trying to square up against his much-stronger brother. 'I'll bury you in the snow if you do!' Will remained sat up in bed, watching them back and forth like he was given a private show.
'I'd like to see you try!' Before they could press foreheads and begin fighting, Mrs. Wilthric called up the scuttle to signal breakfast, unaware of how well-timed she'd been.