Wednesday 26 October 2016
Here's another excerpt from my new publication "Wings in the Wind: The Reign of the Mawh'eyri."
Although he did not lack determination and persistence, Thunder-Wing found it far more difficult than he anticipated. The higher he flew, the thinner the air, and it became an intolerable burden to beat his wings.
In spite of the risks of awakening the demon-storm within the mountain, he rested on many crags on the way up. But each time he looked upward, his heart sank, for it seemed as though he was no nearer the summit than when he began.
Day after day, he doggedly strove upward, rested, then pushed upward again. At last, nightfall forced him to return to Resting Cave for the next day’s attempt. The designated supply of food was diminishing, but he ate little in any case so that he was not unduly weighed down.
One day he made it to the highest crag yet in all his attempts.
He rested a long while. His breath came in desperate gasps in the thinning air.
All of a sudden, he felt strange stirrings in the air. His mother had warned him about unfamiliar winds.
‘But I, ThunderWing Mawharhipi will outfly all strange winds!’ he panted defiantly.
Then he heard the unmistakable warning call of a Windlord from below.
‘Danger! Return to Resting Cave! Dark clouds come! Beware the tempests!’
He hesitated, for he could just see his goal, the Great Summit Mawharikhan, before it was wreathed in fast-moving clouds.
It was so close, he thought, almost within his grasp.
‘ThunderWing Mawharhipi will outfly any strange clouds!’ he declared defiantly.
Gathering all his courage, strength and skill, he leapt into the air once again, his eyes fixed on the great peak looming near. The air was so thin, he was breathing hard and fast, but he held on, unwavering.
So fixed was his gaze, he did not notice the huge, dark cave he was passing. It was like the menacing mouth of a great beast, with jagged teeth-like rocks at its entrance.
Suddenly, without warning, he was enveloped in howling darkness.
Mawharikhὺn had awakened!
It seemed as if the demon-wind had indeed watched for him, and waited for him within the mouth of his cave, as StrongFeather had warned him.
A thick black cloud in the shape of a gloating vulturine face turned towards him, crowned with whirlwind horns and eyes of balled lightning, glowing with hatred of all living things that defied him.
His monstrous, bat-like cloudy wings began to wrap around his prey.
ThunderWing knew he was doomed, for no eagle had ever out-flown the dreaded demon-lord of the peak and lived.
Huge black misty claws reached out to grasp the little eagle, and he cried out in fear.
Then he quickly remembered the maneuver that had saved him from attack by the warriors of the Wild Eagle raiders. (It had also given him the final advantage over NightFlyer in the race through
He quickly folded his wings and dropped like a stone, spreading wings again only to change course or add speed to his descent. The demon-wind, screaming in fury as he saw his prey slip through his fingers, turned and soared downward after him.
Desperately hoping to outrun the demon-storm and find shelter, ThunderWing dodged around boulders and crags, toward the mountain pass.
He had already expended too much strength that day to use his wings effectively, but he managed to avoid capture purely through his manoeuvrability, for which he was famed among his
Nonetheless, his enemy knew the mountains too well to be outwitted for long.
Zooming around the opposite direction of one rocky outcrop, he almost had him as they collided on the other side.
A split second swerve only just saved ThunderWing from the enemy’s clutches.
But Mawharikhὺn was also a master of winds. He blew at his quarry with all his strength, loosening rocks and stirring up the air all around them.
A sudden updraft from this made ThunderWing lose balance. A sharp fragment of loosened stone flew at him, glancing him on the shoulder.
The pain of it caused him to cry out. But his courage rose whenever an impossibility challenged his resolve. He was, after all, the son of Windlord HighSoarer.
‘May the White Warriors take you, accursed demon! Slay me if you can!’
One wing was now almost useless. He dropped again. His enemy pursued, his dark breath preceding him. Another gust struck him like a body blow from a monstrous fist and threw him against the far cliff face of the mountain.
Feathers scattered as ThunderWing, dazed, plummeted toward a familiar valley where he saw Resting Cave. He had just enough feathers to break his fall, although the break in his left wing hurt terribly.
He lay in a dazed heap, but his ordeal was not over yet.
He heard a rumbling sound above him, so he struggled to his feet, expecting to feel cold, black fingers take him and crush the life out of him.
Although he heard howling and thundering above him, the final blow did not come.
Once again, the strange breezes he had ignored before blew around him.
Whirling white clouds gathered above. It grew darker still.
Thunder and lightning echoed around the valley and a torrent of rain came down, causing the cave entrance to teem with running water.
Screams, howls and roars filled the air. It seemed as if war was unleashed among the mountain peaks. It had often been said among the Eyri of the Central Mountains that the Wild Tempests would rage
against each other as they fought like wild beats for supremacy in the mountain passes.
Mawharikhὺn had always prevailed over the rest, being stronger and far too cunning.
ThunderWing had heard of the battles between the Wild Tempests in the mountains, but he had lived too far away to be concerned about them.
Perhaps the demon-storm would be too occupied to continue the chase. Perhaps he was safe at last.
Then he heard the rumbling again, but not the sound of moving air this time.
He looked up to see a large torrent of snow and rocks rapidly descending upon him, down the slope.
As a malicious parting blow, the demon-storm had unleashed an avalanche upon him.
Desperately, ThunderWing half flew and half staggered toward the entrance nearby. He only just made it inside as moments later, the cave filled with white snow-mist before the light faded completely.
He was safe for the moment, but that now meant nothing to him.
He gave a cry of despair.
‘I have lost all! My honour, my wing, my hope! Oh, if I had only been slain by black Mawharikhὺn!’
The roar of the tumult outside was now less than the roaring tumult inside his head, his labouring lungs, the hopelessness in his heart and the throbbing pain of his left wing.
He finally lost consciousness.