Strike Falcons

 

Strike falcon – shawk spoogh, shawkyn spooghey, pl. (Gwaelic Elven), Phororhacos longissimus R., an 8-9 foot tall, flightless gruiform raptor, a member of the True Bird (Adar Gwir) Dynasty, indigenous to the open tall grass strah of the Eastern Continent, where it was the top predator of the biome, a strict carnivore capable of bringing down mammals weighing up to 450 pounds or more. Though it usually hunted singly or in pairs, it was known to form into formidable foraging packs on rare occasions. Human habitation and livestock grazing remained utterly 250px-phorusrhacoslongissimus-skull-backgroundknockedout-rom-dec29-07impossible on the Great Strah until all strike falcons were exterminated in the wild, only three Elven generations ago (1000 yrs.). Today all known strike falcons live symbiotically with the Gwaelic Elves, where each bird is assigned upon hatching to its personal, life-long Elven trainer called an austringa. The falcon iscassowary-eggs-c-wtma placed at hatching with the austringa within mere hours of the austringa’s seventh naming day (99th birthday), and they remain in perpetual contact with one another until the death of one of them. Strike falcon and austringa form a deadly military assault unit for the defense of the Gwaelic Elves, particularly from the ravages of the Elf Killers, Homo neanderthalinsis gwaelii R., also known as social trolls.

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Olloo was the one who first hatched and raised a strike falcon when the Elves fled the trolls to take up a new life, far out in the Great Strah. He named his fuzzy new pet “Baase” which meant “death” in Gwaelic Elven. Baase impressed Olloo with his alertness and loyalty, ardently following him on his heels everywhere he went. By the time Baase wasimages half grown, he was communicating with Olloo by exchanging mental pictures. When the trolls found where the Elves were living in the Strah and attacked, Baase and the other strike falcons astonished everyone by killing every single troll.

 

Are you fortunate enough to live in partnership with a bird of some sort? What sort of experience is it? Do you hunt with it?    

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Elves In Search of Bond Mates

Excerpted from ELF KILLERS

 

 

It was still dark when the dour Elf woman gathered up the skirt of her leine and stepped into the wet big bluestem grass. “Would someone tell me why we have to be out in the Strah before the crack of dawn?” she said. “Isn’t this when the shawkyn spooghey begin their daily hunts?”

“You volunteered with the rest of us, Brede,” said Vorona, as she waded through the grassbehind her, “so it’s our turn first. And as for the chosen hour, I’m sorry to say, but the strike falcons determine that. Olloo says that the only time both birds leave the nest is right at sunrise. One of them goes out to hunt and the other one comes back right away to sit on the eggs all morning.”

Brede fell silent and made a childish face which was ugly even in the dark, but filed into the tall grass with everyone else.

“The wild strike falcons make grass nests a foot and a half across in the middle of big mounds of grass and sticks, maybe three feet high by about ten feet across,” said Olloo as he walked, looking from side to side at Vorona, Roseen, Kieran, Oisin and Doona, Brede, Nessa, Markus, Donachan and Martyn to see if everyone was hearing him. “They place these in loose colonies, ten to twenty rods away from each other in all directions. I’ve been watching an especially large colony not quite a league north of here, so that’s where we’re going. I just hope we’re not too late getting started.”

images“So what do we do when we get there?” said Oisin as he held Doona’s hand and tramped along beside him.

“I want to leave everyone in a group,” said Olloo, “armed and ready and out of sight of the colony while I scout about the nests to see if the birds are away. If they are, I’ll gather eggs and fetch them out, two or three at a time.”

 

They fell silent right away as they struggled through the grass, trying to keep up with him, since he was quite afraid that they were late. Just before the sun peeped over the Eternal Mountains, he made them kneel in the grass back to back with their bows ready and then he disappeared into the waving grass. A redwing blackbird circled overhead, scolding. He was back in short order with four eggs, which he handed to Vorona, Roseen, Nessie and Markus before vanishing once more. Right away he returned, catching his breath as he handed out eggs to Brede (who beamed with delight in spite of herself), Donachan and Martyn.

“Hey!” whispered out Kieran as he pointed away through the grass. “Isn’t that a nest, yonder?”

“That’s dangerous!” whispered Olloo, suddenly wide-eyed. “We’re not outside the colony at all.”

Kieran jogged over to the nest at once, held up an egg and dashed back with it. “I hope it’s alive. You think so?” he said, handing it to Olloo.

 

“It’s warm and dry. I’ll bet it is.” he said, as Nessie and Markus trotted out of sight.

Suddenly, there was a shrill screeching. Olloo sprinted through the grass to find Nessie and Markus at the edge of a nearby nest with two baby strike falcons shrieking with all their might as they stood in their shell fragments. “They’re going to get us killed if I don’t do them in…” he said, grabbing for his knife.

“No!” cried Nessie as she lunged at the babies and scooped them into her shawl, golden-girl-photographyquietingthem at once.

“They stopped screaming, all right,” said Olloo, but they might not bond with you if you take them. Either way, they’ve already made their noise, so we’d better get out of here, now.”

“My egg’s in the nest, Markus. Would you get it for me?”

“We have to go, or the parents will kill us,” said Olloo. “Come on!”

“I’m calling her Cronney. I want to give my egg to…”

“We can figure it out at home. Let’s beat it, kids!”

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It is the very worst time to be in the woods.

 

Oisin’s plan is to come with his bow to help Aedan and Doona lead a party of children into the forest to gather the maidenhair seedlings his people would take across the sea as they flee the trolls who hunt them as prey. Maybe he can be back in time for supper. And if he only dares to dream, he might also be back in time to speak with Doona alone.

Dyr’s plan is an early evening head smash for the foolish Elves who think they can steal away to the sands of the endless eye sting water and build their strange float huts. They will make a glorious feast.

But on the way, Dyr’s brutes stumble across Oisin’s gathering party and attack, leaving Aedan mortally wounded and scattering Doona and the children to flee in terror into the dark mountain woods, only to be run down and captured by the bloodthirsty trolls.

Can Oisin find the bonfires of the trolls and rescue them before it’s too late? And what then? Will any of them live long enough to reach safety?