Excerpt from Eaglesong. “The Blackbiters”

Picture actually taken as I was writing this chapter.

Picture actually taken as I was writing this chapter.

This the final excerpt Of Eaglesong I am putting out there. I chose the sections that I have for sampling not because they are my “Best” work within the Novel, but for me they represent the best connection with The story and the reader. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did writing it.

Chapter 15.

The Blackbiters.

Ethian, with Anuna in his arms, was walking along behind Mishu for several hours. His grandmother had been the only member of his family that ever went beyond the door, and by Ethians’ measure, came here but once per year. Several times in the last hour, they had doubled back through a number of passages, as Mishu worked to pick up any trace of his grandmothers scent, though the accounting of time in the lightless caverns was only a guess to the Shenoon born, Ethian.

Finally, Mishu stopped, lingering over a patch of fungus that was growing on the floor at the entrance to one passage. The Mikko snorted once, then growled softly and started moving again with a confidence that told Ethian that Mishu had picked up the scent.

The three of them, after a few minutes walk, came to a broad cavern that stretched out in the darkness well beyond the dim light of the candle lantern strapped to Mishu’s back. In the distance, Ethian could hear running water, and the sound of it was of some relief to the Shenoon warrior for he had but a days worth of water in the water-skin on his hip.

As they moved into the center of the chamber along the path that Mishu now followed, they came upon a field of mushrooms. They were of all many different sizes and colors, some as tall as Ethian. At Last they came to a small clearing which where a small table, carved from stone sat. He recognized the Mushrooms in small patches near the table as the ones his grandmother would gather.

Ethian gently placed Anuna on a bed of those same mushrooms and unlashed the bundles from Mishu’s back.

“Stay here and guard Noonie” He said to the Mikko as he stroked the great animal’s shoulders.

Ethian lit the Merru oil lantern and placed it on the table near Anuna. He then took the candle lantern and moved out away from the clearing, searching for the water that he knew must be nearby. He made his way through the mushroom field for about fifty feet before finding the source of the sounds of water. There he found a stream that had the smell of the Vata River, telling him it was probably safe to drink. He bent low, setting the lantern down and washed his face. The water was cold, but was refreshing to the exhausted young Shenoon. He washed his hands, and then cupped them and drank from the stream. The water was less bitter than that of the Rivers, and seemed to chase away the soreness in his aching muscles. He then filled the skin, grabbed the lantern, and made his way back to the others.

Mishu was lying next to Anuna when Ethian came back to the clearing “Good water Mishu, go drink.” He said his companion, knowing he need not show the way, for the Mikko would certainly find it as he had. He looked then at Anuna the blood had stopped from her nose, but she still looked pale. He tore a small piece of cloth from his under tunic and wet it with the water from the skin. He then used it to clean the dried blood from his sisters face and as he did, Anuna eyes popped open, the young girl screaming as she did.

Ethian, startled at first, tried to calm her by speaking her name softly and and pulling her face close to his. “Noonie, it’s alright, it’s me. Noonie please calm down, we’re safe for now.”

Even as he spoke those words, he knew how foolish they must have sounded. Here they were in this cavern, a place as foreign and frightening as anything they had ever seen, fleeing from an enemy that had killed everyone they had loved, for reasons he could not even imagine.

Anuna, seeing the look of pain and worry on her brother’s face, stopped screaming. She did not question how it was he could say they were safe, for she could see he was trying to comfort her as best as he could. She grabbed her brother and held him close, crying as she did so.

Mishu, having heard Anuna screams, barreled in the clearing, the great Mikko roared a challenge so loud, that its echo seemed to carry forever. “Easy Mishu, she was just scared.” Ethian said to his mikko companion. Mishu responded by relaxing her threatening posture and padded up to Ethian and Anuna, nuzzling Anuna’s hair and purring loudly.

Ethian let a short laugh. “Looks like some of us are better saying we were worried than others.” Mishu snorted as if she both understood and agreed. Anuna smiled through her tears and reached to rub the belly of the mikko, feeling the wound that was on the animal’s belly as she did. She felt Mishu’s frame tense as she touched it. Despite the fact that her ribs hurt with each breath, and her head hurt terribly, Anuna pulled away from Ethian and went for the medicine bag that lay nearby.

Ethian tried to protest; she simply turned and put her hand on his lip, “Mishu is hurt.” She said, and Ethian, having grown up with her, knew it was pointless to argue.

Anuna ignored her own injuries as she used the water from the skin to clean the wound on Mishu’s Stomach. She then gathered some sword flower from the medicine bag and crushed it in to a poultice. She took the piece of tunic Ethian had used to clean her face and added some finder bee honey to the mixture and placed some on the cloth then gently placed it on the wound. She pressed it as closely as she could to the wound, and Mishu let out a slight moan, but did not move. Anuna spoke softly to Mishu as she did this. Reciting quietly the prayers of healing she had learned from her beloved grandmother, Anuna finished with tears again in her eyes, but her voice never wavered. Anuna moved her hand away, and the cloth stayed on the wound, acting as a bandage.

Ethian watched his young sister as she tended the wound of his Mikko companion. Considering all that they had went through in the last few days, He saw in Anuna strength and focus that amazed him. She always seemed to know where she was going, what her purpose was in this world. That was a question he asked of himself often, never finding the answers when he did so, and each time finding the question grew larger and less clear. Yet in these last two days, he had himself found focus and direction, though he feared what it would lead towards answering the question of his purpose in this world was something that Ethian knew he could not bear.

“Ethian, you’re hurt.” Anuna said with concern. He looked at his sister; she was now standing next to him. “Let me see it.” She said after.

Ethian watched as his sister inspected the wound, and could not hide that it indeed was painful. “I’ll be fine, you need to rest,” he said in response. His sister gave him a look that reminded Ethian of how futile it was to dissuade her once she had her mind set upon something.

Anuna used the water to clean the wound on Ethian’s side, and treated it as she had Mishu’s. When she was done, Ethian stood and tested the leg. The sword flower had powerful healing qualities and the Sheenon warriors’ relief was immediate.

“Thank you, Noonie” he reached and took the empty skin from her “Now rest.” He said firmly. Anuna gave a defiant stare but saw that her older brother would not debate the issue. She could not deny that her head still hurt terribly and it hurt to breathe.

Ethian gathered more water from the stream and returned to find Anuna lying where he had left her. “How is your head” he asked her, but she did not respond. Her face was the visage of pain but he did not believe it was from her injuries. He knelt down beside her and used some of the water to wash the blood from her face. While he did her gaze shifted from a distant point in her thoughts to his eyes and asked of Ethian a question he suspected she already knew the answer, “Did anyone escape?”

He looked into his young sisters eyes and gave the only answer he could. “None that I know of.”

The roar of Mishu that had come in response to Anuna’s cry had carried far along the cavern and passages ways that spread out from the mushroom fields that held it first.

In one of those passages, the roar caught the attentions of some creatures that called the lightless realm below Eun home. Unlike other denizens of the dark that may have heard the unfamiliar sound of a Mikko’s roar and stirred nervously or skittered off to some burrow or similar safe place, those creatures near the mushroom field that heard the roar where not at all frightened. This was because they feared nothing as an unknown predator for they were supreme hunters of the lightless realm.

The dwarves who worked those places underground called them Blackbiters. Their skills at stealth was unsurpassed, able to cloak themselves shrouds of darkness that hid them from the world of light, and could also mask them from the dwarven’s ability to see heat.

Those who walked the surface of Eun had no name for them, for none had ever encountered them and lived to share word of their existence.

To them, the sound of anything living was the sound of prey, and the Blackbiters started moving towards the direction of Mishu’s roar immediately.

As hunters, blackbiters were well suited to the realm they roamed. From their bodies several sets of long tentacles moved endless along the surfaces around them. Sensitive to the slightest movement, these appendages helped them to locate their prey in the darkness about them. Their means of locomotion was provided in four sets of oddly jointed legs that could rotate and adhere to almost any surface, and propel them with blinding speed when needed. They also had a pair of tentacle like appendages that ended with a barbed orifice that looked like a many-toothed flower. Their mouths, located underneath the creatures thick carapace was similarly filled with row after row of hooked teeth, capable of grinding the thick hides or shells of the many creatures they hunted.

In fact, the dwarves held the belief that a Blackbiter could eat anything, even stone. The truth was, they could. Because of this, the creatures hunted everything and anything they could catch, and they were always hungry.

Always.

The sound of Mishu’s roar meant something they could eat, so the pack of Blackbiters began heading towards the mushroom field with the intent on catching, then eating what was there. Moving like the deadly remorseless shadows they were, The Black biters made there way for the newest prey to be found in the lightless realm.

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One thought on “Excerpt from Eaglesong. “The Blackbiters”

  1. Pingback: One night on the Anu Heska, a look into Eaglesong, Book one of the Eun Trilogy. | What Say you

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