by Marlene McKay
The tiny field mouse sensed, rather accurately, that his days were numbered long before his dark, beady eyes found the Peregrine Falcon. He scurried through the long grass, desperate to get away, his only thought: survival. There was nowhere for him to hide from the rapidly approaching raptor and the attack, as it would, killed the small, defenseless rodent instantly.
The powerful, slate grey bird that hunted for the sport of it only, never because it was hungry, threw the mouse aside unceremoniously before flying off to a nearby outpost overhanging the ocean. It surveyed the surrounding through with shiny black eyes, drinking in every detail, until quite sure that there was nothing out of the ordinary in the immediate vicinity.
The Falcon spread its wings seemingly in preparation to take flight again. But the wings continued to rise upwards and outwards, from where they phased into the muscular arms of a man; the rest of the body followed as he regained human form at a remarkable speed. From a leather pouch around his neck, the olive skinned man removed a loin cloth which he carefully tied around his waist. He inhaled deeply, relishing the cold salty ocean air that stung his now expanded lungs. Power, he thought, as he rested his eyes on the waves crashing tumultuously against the cliffs below, can be found in so many different things. Soon this will all be mine; this and every other thing on earth; this and every other thing in the heavens above it.
‘I will overthrow the Master. It is only a matter of time until I regain my name and then,’ he snapped his fingers, ‘power will be mine once again.’
Almost two miles away, from a vantage point high up, the Eagle cocked his head to the side as he drunk in every word and listened to every thought of the Falcon’s. His father had warned him many years ago, that the time would come when the Falcon would remember who he had once been. This will happen, he had said, when knowledge was no longer sacred and man finds it difficult to continue believing in those things he cannot see. The Eagle had sensed for almost one hundred years now, since the outbreak of the First World War to be exact, that the time was nearing although the chain of events did not cease to amaze him. How yet another angel fell for lies and deceit was beyond him. But that was all in the past now. What mattered from here onwards was that the girl had to be protected at all costs, for the name that the Falcon desired was locked within her and would be immediately revealed in the event that her soul was corrupted beyond any saving grace. It was now the only obstacle that remained between the Falcon and the portae inferi, the gates of hell, and the only thing he required in order to release every single twisted, degraded, maimed, cruel and perverted soul contained within. And where would they go once set free? To earth, naturally.