The Birth of Pyrelight

by Vidi Kitty

Tenuous Accord

A light gust of wind threw off my balance and I snapped awake. The sun had moved behind the mountains, casting the forest in a deep shadow. Soon it would set completely and the stars would come out from their hiding.

I looked around for my visitor, finding her nowhere among the trees. I even turned around to double check behind me before I noticed the small tin of seeds had been left on the branch. Well, I suppose that made up for the potential hunting time that I had spent napping instead. Catching your next meal was difficult enough in the daytime, but my faint glow made it next to impossible at night.

With a slight shiver, I stretched my wings and took flight. The nights were growing colder, and I wasn't particular to getting buffeted by the wind all night. Some of the thicker trees would do much better as a roost for the night. It was just a matter of finding one that didn't have any residents that might bother me.

The nighttime breeze started to pick up as it carried me over the treetops towards the thicker woods. As I approached a cluster of old oaks, the wind carried something new with it. A faint howl drifted through the growing darkness, causing the feathers on my neck to bristle lightly. The wolves of this forest weren't much of a problem if you stayed away from the lowest branches, but I had never enjoyed the thought of something stalking the ground below me. It surely didn't help that they were almost indistinguishable from some wood that had gathered on the ground when they cared to remain still.

More howls called out, closer this time, before silence fell again. I circled a particularly tall oak, searching for something comfortable near the top to rest on. Spying a nice bough, I drifted to a gap in the leaves when a scream broke the silence. A quick snap of my wings drew me up from the trees as I tried to place where it had come from. Many creatures of the forests were unfortunate enough to meet a predator at night, though none had made that sound before. Another scream, and I found myself flying towards it. There was only one new creature in these woods.

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A large river cut through the forest, digging ragged gorge through the land. It was fast and wide, forming rapids as it raced over the boulders that it had pulled away from the walls over the years.

As I flew overhead, I barely heard angry growls over the rushing water. A cluster of wolves were circling a group of boulders that still clung to the edge of the river. One of them made a short sprint at where two of the larger rocks met, scrabbling at a hole in the ground between them. The other two perked up as another scream rang out past the first, followed by a bright glow and a loud clack. The wolf yelped and back out from the hole as the glowing continued and a speeding rock followed its retreat.

My worries had been confirmed. Being a predator myself, I knew it was just a matter of time. The wolves would simply wait her out or finally work their way into her hiding place. It wasn't my place to meddle with how things worked. Yet this creature had been kind and gentle to me. She was not a resident of these woods and might not have been in the area if not for her fascination with me. I knit my brow and took a deep breath as I angled myself towards the group.

I let out a fierce screech as I dove at the wolves, causing them to pause and look up towards me. It was too late as I flew into one, grabbing at its back and throwing it to its side. Its back legs slipped over the edge of the rocks that stuck out over the river, and I looped back as it lost purchase with its front legs and fell with a wail into the churning waters below. The others growled and snapped at me as I circled them, lashing out with my claws whenever I found an opening.

Another glow shone from the boulders as a rock clipped the closest wolf. It yipped and turned towards the source, giving me a chance to rake across its back. The remaining wolves retreated further from the hole their prey had taken refuge in, snarling and barking at me as they went. With another defiant scream I flew low between them and their goal, releasing a sharp burst of light that lit the sky for miles. With a final howl of fright, the wolves turned and raced into the undergrowth of the forest.