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Kexti

Eclipse: The Raptor's Tale

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My mother is light. Even in his armor, he is light. His magic is also lights. And fog. Like where he raised me. I like the fog. I feel safe. It is easy for me to hide in the fog. Prey does not see us coming when I hide. I know my mother can hide, but he does not. He also uses his legs to fight. That’s how I know he’s my mother. But his claws are much sharper, and his front legs are much longer. He uses them without his claws, sometimes. I admire him.

He calls me Diel. This also means traveler. I like this name. It means I get to hunt a lot. There are other raptors, but most are ridden by the tusked riders. Those raptors wear armor. My mother doesn’t need much armor. If he did, he wouldn’t be so light. So I don’t need it either. My skin is poisonous. This is also how I know he’s my mother, because others get bit when they touch it, even if I don’t use my fangs.

We hunt together. When we hunt, we’re very quiet. I attack the animals the purple-skinned ones ride, or the tiny pink ones, or the dog ones. Mother finishes off the riders. I attack their animals. I am always victorious, and mother tends to my wounds afterwards. I am not allowed to eat these animals or the ones who ride them. Mother is very strict about that. I sometimes sneak a nip or two. But I feel shame. I hide this well. I am good at hiding. I think my mother chooses not to hide so I can learn to be better at it.

Sometimes, we go to the salty water and soft earth. The water fights back, but it hides tasty slipperies and shell-walkers. Mother lets me eat as much of these as I want, and I like to eat them.

When we travel back to the cold den, he feeds me a large pile of meat. Far more than what the riders or animals would have given me. I am allowed to hunt animals that don’t have riders. I sometimes even bring some back for mother. His teeth aren’t very sharp. Which is odd, because his claws are. Perhaps he bit something too hard. I have done that. The meat is also tastier. But I like lots of different tastes. I have explained this to mother, but he does not always understand what I draw. His cold friend draws too. I like her, even if she smells dead.

People call mother Keckstee, like he calls me Diel. This is what the dead one said. The air surrounding him tasted wrong. Like the burning spirits. The dead one made me anxious. Raptors are not afraid. Merely anxious. While mother was there, he seemed to want to work with the dead one. Mother was anxious too. The dead one was hiding, in a way too. He ambushed mother with pain magic, and attacked me first. Mother knows I am strong, and tried to attack the dead one.

Then the other one showed up. She smells like the wild, but not a wild I’ve ever visited. She tastes like empty rainwater. They captured mother, and stole him away. Even though mother knows I am strong, I was not strong enough to protect him.

It was two moons before I could hunt. Without mother’s fog, I realized how much longer it takes to overcome injury. I was hungry. I stalked the river creatures. I ate well. But in the night, one of the riders and her panther moved to drink from the stream I had fed in. I watched from the bushes. I am good at hiding, and they did not see me.

The woman’s neck snapped in my mouth. The panther fought hard, but cats are scared of water, and I fled with his rider downriver. I am ashamed, but I ate her. She was very bony. I don’t think I will need to eat the purple people again. Riverbeast is too tasty and much fatter.

On the third sunrise, I hunted my way back towards the salty water and soft earth. I did not get very far. Mother would’ve been proud if he were there, and I would’ve fought more of the other riders if I could. They fought in stone buildings, and I saw many of mother's friends attack his enemies. I would have eagerly gone to their aid. But I had to find him.

By the fourth moonrise, I made it back to the water and earth. Fires and smoke ringed the den of spears. But none would understand my pleas. I tried gently to pull several people towards Ashran, but their skin blistered on my hide and they shooed me away.

I miss mother. I am not afraid. I am only anxious.

I am growing hungry again. I will go eat shell-walkers. I hope he comes back. I will be very angry at the dead one and wild one if he does not.

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