No quickly had he said this than Saf and Angel had both
leapt to their feet and were galloping round the corner and towards the fight
scene. A few pets and owners were running away from the action. A few were staying
around to watch, creating an irregular oval around the fight scene.
Pushing through the crowds, they braced themselves,
preparing for the worst, and were met with an … erm … unusual sight. With their
back to them stood a green Kougress with no stripes. Yep. You heard me correctly.
No stripes. Only spots. But she wasn't a spotted Kougress! Just a Green Kougress
with spots instead of stripes. Her mellow face was creased into a scowl as she
faced her opponent, and Angel thought she saw something bright glitter near
her front left paw.
The monster was standing further into the shadows,
the dappled light streaming through the leaves in the trees. His eyes became
elliptical, narrowing on the Kougress as he squared her up for a fight. His
soft, golden fur and feathers glistened in health. His beak was chipped and
worn with battles. His wings were covered in one of those Emerald Eyrie Wing
Guards, so it was difficult to distinguish any specific markings like there
were on the beak.
The so-called 'monster' was just an Eyrie.
It was an odd sight. A glass-green Kougress
with spots instead of stripes being confronted by an enormous red Eyrie, obviously
prepared for a fight. Though inaudible, their expressions relayed the scene
- the Kougress, even though her eyes showed a slight flicker of aggression,
was keeping her cool as she spoke to the Eyrie, her lip curled in a persuasive
tone. The Eyrie was listening hard to what she was saying, but since his eyes
conveyed no change of emotion, he wasn't taking any of it in.
Just as it looked like they were about to come
to a compromise, the Eyrie gritted his teeth (or beak?), snorted and circled
the Kougress. This was as much as Angel could bear. She stepped casually forward,
speaking in hushed tone through her beak, before Saf had a chance to grapple
her arm and stop her.
"Do I detect a fight, people?"
"Yes!" said the Eyrie. "I am willing to fight.
I will fight and beat anyone who gets in my way!"
The Kougress looked alarmed. "No. No. Certainly
not!" she spoke quickly and breathlessly. "Fighting is certainly not the way
to compromise issues, is it Aren?"
She spoke the last four syllables through gritted
teeth, glaring at the Eyrie who fluffed up his feathers defensively.
"Then you two know each other?"
"No! Never seen the guy before in my life!"
The Eyrie simply shook his head.
"Well then, I'm sure you wouldn't mind settling
your differences in private. You're scaring people away."
The Eyrie muttered something that sounded chillingly
like 'That's the point.'
"Yes mam! Yes of course! Sorry to cause any
angst." With a gasp of relief, the Green Kougress leaped overhead and darted
away into the jungle.
The Eyrie turned to look at Angel with the ferocity
of a lion that has just lost its prey. Already she could see the cogs working
in his head, trying desperately to think of what to do next. Then, like a bolt
of lightning in his eyes, the idea came to him.
Angel raised an eyebrow. "Why should I be?"
" 'Why should I be? Why should I be?' " he mocked.
"Why should you be? Because I could rip you into a thousand pieces before you
even had a chance to blink. I would run circles round you. Weakling."
She winced, but kept her cool and turned away.
"I don't have to listen to this."
But then he muttered one last insult as Angel
turned to walk towards Safyre in the crowds: "Darkgon."
She stopped. The pupils in her eyes constricted
at an astonishing rate. A memory swirled around in her mind. A memory of dark,
shadowy faces. Of eyes glinting in malice. Of mocking laughter as their faces
closed in on her still, tiny form …
Before she knew what she was doing, she was
standing several metres away from the edge of the crowd, panting heavily. The
Red Eyrie was silent. Turning, she saw him lying on his back in the dirt. Her
heart skipped a beat. What had she just done? She panicked, padding over to
There was a groan, and he wrenched himself to
his feet and shook his head, nursing a throbbing cheek. He then sat up solemnly
on his haunches and inspected the wing guard.
From the awed crowd, Saf was looking at her
with an expression twisted: both shocked and impressed. Saf's pet Snarhook Ambron
squealed a long and enthusiastic squeal, presumably cheering her on. She felt
her own paw throb. Looking down, the corner was torn slightly. Did she do that?
She didn't think she was capable of that…
The Eyrie, meanwhile, stood back onto his four
feet and looked her dead in the eye from a distance. "Very good," he said. "Very
good indeed. But I bet I can better that."
Without warning he bounded towards her; wings
splayed, claws outstretched and with an overwrought glimmer in his glare. This
sight triggered something in Angel's mind. The muscles in her legs tensed, and
she leaped several feet into the air at the last possible moment as the Eyrie
bolted down the glade towards her, and sailed over him, landing neatly behind
him as he ground to a halt. Had it not been so serious, the situation would
have been almost comical.
He tried again, bowling towards her with the
force of an enraged bull, but she gracefully but fiercely skipped to the side.
The whole rush gave her a thrill she had never understood before, though she'd
heard people talk of it. Like Rincham, for instance. He always talked of the
thrill of the fight. Angel had only been in the Battledome a few times, and
it had been against pitiful opponents like the Chia Clown and Pant Devil. She
hadn't enjoyed it. But this! This was a real challenge. She felt the adrenaline
pumping through her body, urging her on.
The enraged Eyrie roared and twisted right round
to faces her, slivers of light trickling craftily through the branches of the
trees. The sun reappeared from behind the clouds, illuminating the area for
a second. He blinked. His eyes were drawn to something behind Angel.
Hah! she thought, He's trying to trick
me into turning round! No chance.
She stood her ground.
The Eyrie's eyes were now wide and unblinking.
He pulled out of another charge, spun around and face Angel again. But the sun
had disappeared behind the clouds again. He shook his head with confusion and
stood his ground.
Big mistake. Angel had already spread her wings
and was bolting straight towards him with the force of a small steam train.
Her focus remained on the Eyrie - the one that had called her a 'Darkgon' -
examining any possible area of weakness. Ah hah! The wing guard bore a remarkable
jagged fracture. She could just… no. This wasn't her talking. She would never
do that! What was going on?
All she had to do was dig her heels into the
hard, crisp earth and… too late! TOO LATE!! She scrabbled madly, her enormous
feet scraping the ground for a footing, and crashed into the Eyrie.
When the dust finally cleared, Angel was left
sprawled across a nearby tree root, a little worse for wear. The Eyrie looked
more stunned than hurt - his brown eyes seemed to have never blinked in a while,
and were becoming dewy and glistening. The cracked wing guard lay in shards
across the floor.
But what happened next, I don't think anyone
could have prepared for. Angel shook her head free of dust and turned back to
him. Her eyes rolled lazily to the top of her head as she kept her beak down,
trying to focus in on her foe … and then something caught her eye. She blinked,
clearing her mind, whilst the other Eyrie stared back in an identical expression
of bewilderment. Then her heart skipped a few beats. It couldn't…
But before she had a chance to debate what she
saw with her knowledge of what couldn't possibly exist, he got up and left.
Well, ran. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him without even stopping
to collect the ruined pieces of the wing guard, and left Angel wearing a look
that… well… stunned doesn't even describe it.
To be continued...
Like a grin on a miser, no one ever saw that coming… find out what impact
this could make on Angel's life in the next issue.
I love to know the audience's opinions on my stories, so if you have any
compliments, criticisms, whatnot, send
'em on in!