As the Hawk Flies
I gently pushed opened the old, dusty door of our large hut. I yawned. It was barely sun high and every centaur in the village was beginning to awake and stretch their legs in the sun.
You see, I live in a centaur village, deep within the forests of Germany, where no one may see us. A centaur is a human from the waist up, and has their waist down built like a horse, with four horse legs and tail.
Our village names you by your attitude and looks. I am named Swift Hawkfeather because I am one of the quickest in the village and I have brown hair and brown fur, the color of a hawk that soars through our skies.
My father, Courageous Serpentfang, is the chieftain of our village. He is quite cruel, but loving to those he knows well. His wife, my mother, is no longer with our village. Father keeps it a secret and if you ask about it, he will tell you, and then stake your head. I have been far too frightened to bring up the subject to my father but I know I must ask somebody if they know.
The sun instantly warmed my whole body, head to tail, like the sun had wrapped me in its fiery fingers.
Wild Sharptalon, a centaur boy about my age, was walking over to me, his hooves sounding like soft thunder against the tough earth. He amazed me. He was a dappled black and white centaur with black, long hair and beautiful frost blue eyes. He trekked over to me, his mouth covering his face in a giant smile. “Well,” I said, “What makes you so happy?” He sighed, “It is a secret, for now. It will soon be revealed but I mustn’t tell a soul.” “Humph,” I muttered. “Not even me?” I asked. “I would,” he said, “But if I do…” He swallowed hard. I stared at him. What was this secret he had sworn to keep silent? Was it about me? Was it about my father or mother or even himself? I bowed a respectful goodbye and trotted off, wondering what there was to do today, his secret quickly escaping my mind.
I helped the elderly warm up, even though it was as hot as a phoenix’s feather outside. I brought them buffalo fur blankets and made them a fire which they put their delicate, shivering hands over. My grandmother was among them, her fur and hair faded into a soft gray from age. She is my father’s mother, so she may know what happened to my mother, but I am still frightened to ask anyone.
I wandered out of the village and let my hooves guide me where ever they wished to go; I wasn’t in the mood to walk around, looking for herbs that the shamans of our village wanted. I wanted to just stretch my legs and gallop around on the hardened dirt. As I took off, Sharptalon ran after me and yelled, “Hawkfeather! Hawkfeather! Wait! I have to tell you something!” I halted, dead in my tracks. I was willing to listen to whatever he had to say. He stopped to catch his breath, panting. “What is it Sharptalon?” I asked him gently, yet I think I sounded a bit worried. “The…Chieftain…is about to announce… what happened to your… mother.” He panted. “What?!” I yelled. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I just stood there, as frozen as Hoof Lake in winter, staring at Sharptalon. Was this true? Was my father ready to tell everyone what happened to my mother?
I raced back to camp, Sharptalon far behind. My breastplate glinted in the sunlight and as I ran I looked at my blue opal ring. I don’t know where the ring came from, but I had had it almost my whole life. I was now large enough to wear it on my finger and proud of something I didn’t even know whose or what it was. My father gave it to me when I was a small girl, around the age of five, and he told me to keep it safe until I could wear it. I’ve been thinking it was my mother’s, but I highly doubt that. I don’t even know who or what my mother was.
I was a bit frightened and excited to hear what my father had to say.
We all arrived at camp and took a spot on the ground around a large rock in the middle of our camp we call the Tall Rock. My father was behind the rock, barely able to be seen in the large shadow. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who was excited to hear where my mother was, because almost everyone couldn’t keep their bodies still from anticipation.
When my father walked up the rock stairs to the top of Tall Rock, my heart was pounding in my chest. I can’t believe my father would let out the secret that has been nibbling at me for my whole life! When my heart was about ready to break through my chest, he climbed the last step and stood at the top, looking more powerful than ever. “My people,” he yelled, loud enough for all to hear, “You may have heard and realized that my wife is not in this village anymore. I have been staking centaurs’ heads because they would ask a question about my wife. These sacrifices will continue! I am to stay silent about my wife until the day I die.” I stood up a galloped out of the clearing, tears clouding my vision. As I ran tears dripped from my face and my screams of sadness awoke the birds and squirrels. My father was being so selfish! How could he not tell anyone about my mother that he wouldn’t kill?! “You are young, yet wise. Do not let this tear you apart,” an odd voice echoed. “You are the heir to chieftain-hood, you mustn’t let this take you from your village,” the voice boomed. “Who are you?!” I yelled. There was no sound at all. All I could hear were the birds. There was no answer from the mysterious voice. Maybe it was just my imagination…
As I galloped around the forest and meadows, the words echoed in my head. You are young yet wise; do not let this tear you from your village… I couldn’t help being upset, but I knew the voice was right, my village needs me. I steered around, back towards my village so that I could maybe go on a hunting group or border patrol, away from my father, yet helping the village.
I reached the camp just in time. A hunting group was setting out for buffalo, so I figured I would go with them. Sharptalon ran up also, and asked if he could join. Our hunting group was now full with five centaurs. That’s more than normal border patrols, which normally take four.
We came to the Buffalo Plains and sharpened our spears quickly to make sure we got back with extra buffalo. They told me to attack one first, so instead of charging with my spear and scaring them all, I drew my bow and arrow. One of the centaurs, Adventurous Buffalohoof, said, “Hey! No ranged weapons! We didn’t bring ours!” “Well then that’s your fault,” I giggled. I put the arrow in position on my bow, my fingers gripping it tightly. I aimed at a strong looking buffalo and released the arrow. The arrow soared through the air with a faint hum. The arrow hit right where I aimed, into the buffalo’s neck and it fell over quickly without a sound, except for the thud when it hit the ground. “She’s not only beautiful,” Sharptalon whispered to the hunters, “She’s great at hunting and combat.” “Alright, lad, Why don’t you lay the question then?” one asked quietly. “I’m not sure if she likes me the same way…” “Well it won’t hurt to ask, aye?” another asked. Sharptalon sighed. I returned, dragging the buffalo, my back facing the other hunters. “Do you want help, Hawkfeather?” Sharptalon asked. “Please,” I smiled and giggled. He picked up the hind legs of the buffalo and we carried it back to camp together with the others following. Hunting patrols are always difficult, because you have to go back and forth if you get large animals. After we dropped off the buffalo on the meat stump, we galloped back to the plains.
The sun was nearly in the middle of the sky by the time we got to the Buffalo Plains for the second time. Now, Buffalohoof was hunting the buffalo and Sharptalon and I went to go fishing. As we reached the shore of the Sky Sea, we both drew our spears. I looked over my shoulder to see that he was looking at me, too. I smiled softly and attempted to stab a fish swiftly. I caught the fish with a blow to its back and put it into a mud hole which was dug here for fishers to store their fish. “Nice catch,” Sharptalon praised. “Heh thanks Sharptalon. You’re doing pretty well too.” We stood there fishing for a long while, catching fish after fish. When our mud holes were full to the top we took the fish, rinsed them in the sea and continued to camp. We met up with the other two hunters at camp, set down our meat and fish, and Sharptalon and I went out to gather herbs for the shamans.
I knew what herbs they needed and wanted but I wasn’t sure if I knew what they looked liked. I knew cattail grew on pond sides and riverbeds, but I had no clue what the others looked like. Luckily Sharptalon’s mother was a shaman, so he knew the others. We ran around our territory, looking for all of the plants that the shamans had requested.
By the time we finished, we were both tired and our arms’ full of herbs. We were a distance from camp, yet we could see it, when a cat came out of the bushes, happily padding along. I had never seen this kind of cat before, it was small with stripes and spots. The kind of cats we had here in the hills and meadows were mountain lions. This cat was much different and much smaller. I walked quietly over to it, leaving my herbs by Sharptalon. The cat didn’t even notice me until I tried to pick it up. I wrapped my arms around it; it stared at me, sniffed, and then attempted to jump out. I gently smoothed down its fur and pet it. It was so soft and cute. I brought it over to Sharptalon and he said, “It looks like it doesn’t mind your company. What kind of cat is it?” “I don’t know,” I answered, “But he looks comfortable.”
We left my pile of herbs where I set them down and walked to camp. The cat I had fell asleep in my arms, breathing gently.
My father saw us walk in with the cat and stared in confusion. I walked up to him and quietly whispered, “Wondering why I brought it? I won’t tell you unless you tell me your secret.” “What kind of cat is it, Hawkfeather?” he asked, frustrated. “I can’t tell you or I’ll stake your head.” I retorted. “Alright,” my father replied, “Take him to the hut; make him comfortable if you want to keep him as a pet.” “I will make him my own hunting cat, even if he is small.”
I lied him down on my bed while I made his own bed. I plucked a lot of feathers off of the chickens and birds we had and wove them together with a small, skinny vine, and then I curled the strung feathers into a whirlpool of feathers. I laid my cat on it and stroked his back.
I went out into the village to get Sharptalon so that we could go hunting for buffalo again, but I couldn’t find him. I went outside the camp and found him sitting by the pile of herbs I had picked, gathering them into his arms. “Hey, thanks Sharptalon. I was looking for you. Do you want to go hunting again? I made that cat I got my hunting cat so we can get even more buffalo quicker.” He looked over at me, his eyes filled with sorrow. I walked over to him and looked at him. “What’s wrong? You’re never this upset,” I questioned. He continued picking up the flowers and roots, when I saw a small drop of water fall from his face. He looked at me, wiped his eyes, and wrapped his arms around me. I was caught off guard and slowly wrapped my arms around him. He let go, looked at me and said, “You don’t feel the way I do, do you?” I loved him, but what did he mean? My father would surely burst if he heard me say I loved someone before I was chieftain. He stuffed his face into the herbs and said, “I knew it…” “I…really like you, more than like …” I replied. He sat up and looked at me. He didn’t say anything; he just put his hands around me and gave me a quick kiss. I blushed. He stood up slowly and grabbed my hand and we walked to the Lily’s Meadow. I thought we were a couple, so I went along with it. He gave me a small lily that he had tied in a loop and whispered, “When you become chieftain, would you marry me?” I blushed and put the ring on then rolled over on the ground. “Was that the news that you were so happy about a couple sunrises ago?” I asked. “Yeah, I was going to ask then, but I decided to wait a little while,” he responded. “Well, my feelings have grown for you, twice as what they used to be; so good decision.” Once I told him that I giggled, stood up and we hugged each other for what seemed to be forever, and that was a good feeling. We raced each other back to camp, still acting as children.
Sharptalon and I went out to gather some wood; we were building new huts in our village for new adults. The shamans didn’t have as many people to care for so they were helping also.
How could my father not show he was hurt that my mother was gone? I couldn’t imagine losing Sharptalon. I loved him and no one could stop us from loving each other. I was so happy that moment; I didn’t even notice my father calling my name.
We un-rooted many trees before returning to camp, when we arrived back at camp my father was sitting on the rock, his face tucked in his hands. I was a bit bewildered why he was up there so I decided to ask someone. I trotted up to Gracious Swanbeak and she told me that he had sent everyone away that came up to him. I walked up, knowing he wouldn’t send his daughter away. I had told Sharptalon to stay just to make sure nothing would happen to him. When I reached the top of the rock my father turned his head and looked up at me, his face soaking wet. “What’s wrong father?” I asked him gently and quietly. “You won’t treat me as your real father until I tell you about your mother, will you?” he asked, stuffing his face back into his hands. “I never said that, although I am extremely curious and sad because you won’t,” I told him. “Well,” he said, “I guess you want to hear the story now, while we’re alone.” “No, I want Wild Sharptalon to hear also, unless that is not permitted.” “Why have you been attached to that boy lately?” “That is not what I want you to know, or what you need to know, may he listen also?” I asked impatiently. “Alright, permission granted,” he sighed. I galloped back down the stairs of the Tall Rock to Sharptalon again. We held hands as we walked side by side up the rock. My father’s eyes widened as we walked up; holding hands was a sign of love, marriage, or engagement, so he knew a relationship was going on between us. He cleared his throat as we sat down. He looked nervous and wouldn’t speak for a long while. Finally he spoke, “Um… You both know my wife is not in this village,” he began hesitantly, “Well, that is because…she is from another tribe.” “What?” I asked silently, “But chieftains aren’t a loud to associate with other tribes unless it is about war or an alliance, correct?” I asked. “Yes, your mother’s tribe is across Hoof Lake and through the Tall Pine Forest; and we only met because our tribes were linked as an alliance, so we could go and meet each other anytime, as long as no one knew we were in love or married,” he replied. “So your meetings weren’t forbidden, but your love was?” Sharptalon asked, looking at me, than back at my father intently. “Exactly,” he responded sadly, his eyes tearing up.
All three of us climbed down the stairs and once we reached the bottom I called my father over to us. He trotted over and I told him about Sharptalon and I getting married once I become chieftain. He wasn’t too alarmed, since he saw us holding hands. He decided to announce the marriage on my feathering day, the day I am made chieftain. Once I am married, Sharptalon will become chieftain and we will rule together.
Since Sharptalon was still 18 years old, and I was 17, we had to wait until he was 20 years of age until we can marry and until he can become chieftain.
We went to his new hut and settled there for the night. We weren’t sure where to stay, since the Chieftain Hut was full with my grandmother, father and I, we couldn’t fit everyone so I took my cat, Leopardclaw, and moved to his hut. When I was carrying my sleeping rug and other things, I could feel people’s eyes burning my back as they stared at me.
Once we settled down Leopardclaw fell asleep and was swatting everywhere with her tail as she dreamt noiselessly. Sharptalon and I lie down on our rugs, whispering and talking to each other as we settled down. “Where is your ring I gave to you?” he asked. “I sized it to go on my tail so I’ll never lose it,” I said. “I wouldn’t give it away, and you know that. It’s too beautiful and came from someone I love. Why would I destroy it?” I asked defensively. “I never said you would!” he whispered loudly. “I’m sorry I got defensive,” I told him, feeling embarrassed and sorry I had snapped at him when he just asked a simple question. “It’s alright,” he said, “It didn’t hurt too badly,” he chuckled. We said goodnight, kissed and rolled over to go to sleep. We aren’t a loud to sleep on one rug until we are married so I cuddled with Leopardclaw.
I opened my eyes and saw I was surrounded by lilies and Sharptalon was trotting across them, happily, staring straight at me. I started to trot towards him but he kept moving farther back until he had disappeared in shadows, and eventually, so did I. This was nothing but a black hole of emptiness. I heard a yell, “Hawkfeather!” it yelled. I was lost, my heart was pounding and I was scared.
I sat up, breathing heavily with Sharptalon gently shaking me to wake up. “Who…what?!” I said. “Good morning,” he said. “C’mon, let’s grab something to eat.” “Oh…okay,” I said. We came outside the hut, being warmed up and awaken by the sun. The brightness must’ve made me lose my vision for a moment, because I had to stop to rub my eyes to adjust to the brightness.
We picked up two fish, walked over to the Fire Pit and roasted the fish as everyone else was around it also, roasting their breakfast. We were both holding the stick the fish were on, giggling as one of us would move and the other would move it back. We were kind of having a war of who could get the fish to their side.
The fish were done so we stopped playing and sat down outside of Sharptalon’s hut and ate. We were in love, and it was clear everyone knew it.
A couple of the smaller children were galloping around, play fighting with sticks and vines. One of them actually got hit with a stick, so I trotted over to see if she was okay. She was sitting down, wailing and crying. I lifted her up and brought her to her mother who obviously heard the cries and was galloping quickly over. The child had brown and black fur, and her mother looked just like an older version of her.
I walked back to Sharptalon and said, “Miss me?” “Yeah,” he chuckled, I giggled.
Two years have passed since Sharptalon and I have become engaged and it was two days away from our wedding. Nothing much has gone on during these years, just the same as it has been ever since we became engaged. Today we had to prep for the wedding.
My friend, Loyal Honeysuckle, was helping me pick something to wear while Sharptalon set up outside. I was going to wear an indigo colored blouse with a leaf trimming on the neckline, and our marriage spot was coming along beautifully.
As I stood in the Chieftain Hut and Sharptalon stood outside, I prepared myself to commit myself to him and to give him chieftain-hood.
I walked down with lilies in my hands, the flower of love in our village. When I stood in front of Sharptalon, I was smiling from ear to ear. When my father said the things, telling us we were to forever live together, we both said “I do” at the same time, that made me giggle. When my father said “You may kiss to ensure your love is true and eternal,” I blushed and he grabbed me and kissed me.
The Huntress Artemis
· Thu Feb 12, 2009 @ 01:25am · 0 Comments