Four pairs of twins, a raven, a really evil guy, and magical powers.
What could possibly go wrong?
Glowing at Thirteen
Ambar circled the sky, his eyes gazing down at the ground far below. He was oblivious to everything but the slight movement that was all but hidden by long green grasses; the movement told him exactly where the rabbit crouched, oblivious to its coming meeting with fate. Lunch.
He circled higher and higher, feeling the gentle breeze that had been generated by his powerful wings brush through his fur and feathers. Both were shining golden in the early afternoon light. He felt the wind, but did not hear it. There was no noise to warn his prey, and he was careful to keep his shadow out of the rabbit’s limited line of sight. He was determined that this one would not escape him.
His lazy, oval-shaped circles stopped, and he readied himself for the dive. Three, two, one...he thought to himself, and then, simultaneously thinking Zero and folding his wings in close to his body, he allowed himself to plummet downwards, talons outstretched. Twenty metres away; fifteen...
Suddenly, another golden shape flashed low over the grass, and over his rabbit. Ambar was forced to open his wings and pull out of his plunge, rather than face a collision with either the somewhat familiar intruder, or the unforgiving ground itself. With a screech of triumph the other rose, with the dead rabbit clasped between her front claws. Ambar let out a howl of frustration.
“AMBUDA!” he bellowed. “That was mine, and you know it!”
“‘Was’ being the operative word, brother-of-mine. If you’re going to hunt like a seagull after a shark, you’ll have to expect to lose your prey to another, brilliant, huntress.” She grinned smugly at him.
“Since when were you brilliant?”
“Since I stole your lunch from under your beak. And of course there was the time when I...”
Ambar growled angrily, cutting her off. She only laughed at him, before tossing the carcass into the air and catching it in her beak. He growled again, but conceded her the victory. He glanced up at the sky, to see the sun reaching its highest point. That explained the reason for the gold hue of his and Ambuda’s feathers and fur, which were normally more of a browny-yellow. In a few more minutes they would both be exactly thirteen years old. It would be exactly a year since he and his twin sister had left their parent’s nest, to fend for themselves.
Ambuda’s startled voice woke him from his reverie.
“Ambar, you’re glowing!”
Ambar stared at her, wondering if his sister had only just realised that they both appeared golden at midday. But then he saw what she had. There was a definite aura emanating from him, but he could see it much more clearly around Ambuda.
“So are you. I told you swallowing fireflies was a bad idea.”
She started to say something else, but fell silent almost immediately.
She no longer saw the grassland below, or the light blue spring sky surrounding them. Neither, for that matter, did Ambar. Instead they both saw, as clearly as they had previously seen the unsuspecting rabbit, a tree. It was one that was well-known to both of them, as they passed everyday when exiting or entering their nest. It was huge, and very old, and was riddled with small openings that were the homes for many little creatures.
But there was one difference between their memory image of the tree, and this...this vision. One very big difference.
The tree in their memory was whole; it was one solid mass of carbon from base to branch. The one in their vision had been split, almost completely in two. The tree was still obviously and miraculously alive, but it was smoking slightly, in a way that almost definitely caused by a lightning bolt.
The twin gryphons returned to their normal sight; the return had happened just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the vision had. They shakily laughed it off. Both were very logical, and they knew that what they had seen could not possibly have been anything other than a bit too much time in the warm sun.
Both noticed that the other had stopped glowing.
When they arrived home that evening, they were relieved to find the tree as they had left it. Shortly afterwards, the pressures and events of everyday life had driven the memory of the vision out of their minds. That or both gryphons had subconsciously blocked out a memory of something that could not have happened.
A month later a vicious storm hit the area in which they lived. Neither willingly ventured out that day, as they knew they would be flying into pelting rain, deafening thunder, and blinding lightening. But when morning came they flew eagerly outside, curious to see what might have changed overnight. When they reached the tree, they froze, only just remembering to keep their wings beating against the thick, moist air. The tree was no longer one solid mass.
At that moment, the gryphons Ambar and Ambuda both realised that their thirteenth birthday had marked the beginning of something unknown, something possibly dangerous, and something very new.
It was a very good thing then, that they liked beginnings...