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Bird of Prey
Sun Jun 4, 2006 14:42
80.213.108.122 (XFF: 219.74.160.27)

Riani sat easy in her saddle, enjoying the sensation of sun’s warming touch. Her green-grey eyes had long since accustomed themselves to the brightness of the wooded hill-land in which they were currently placed, trainees and instructors alike. On her gloved hand was perched a bird bearing the colours of a red-tailed hawk with pride; its hooded head tilted to one side. If it had not been for the feel of its claws even through the protective glove it would’ve been easy to forget the elegant bird perching seemingly content on her hand was an extremely adept and dangerous hunter.

The Aethan’Tar tilted her upwards, letting her eyes scan the sky. How did the people standing around her keep track of which bird was theirs? Facinated, she watched as one of them stooped towards the ground, only returning to reality at the sharp shout coming from behind her to call the bird back.

For a moment Riani was sure it would not return to the caller; she felt certain that the speaker did not have the authority needed to be able to make the predator obey so eagerly. But it did, and soon the Harris’ had a scrap of meat in its beak, having given over its original prey to its handler, whose expression went from disgusted to fascinated to proud and back.

The wait lasted for a while longer, and Riani had no difficulty waiting it out. Being out in the wild was a treat in itself, as was feeling horseflesh between her legs again. It wasn’t the first time she had ridden in breeches – her father had always insisted on her riding in undivided dresses and thus side-saddled, but in the Tower she had no such apparel – but it was still rare enough to fill her with pure joy by itself. Riding was one of the few luxuries she had indulged in without feeling even a glimmer of guilt; it just felt utterly exhilarating to ride through her father’s fields and woodlands, feeling the wind ravaging her hair.

Eventually all the Harris’ hawks were perched on gloved hands and hooded, and the Aes Sedai asked who of the trainees holding red-tails would like to go first. Riani raised her hand – not the one holding the bird, of course – and got a confirming nod.

“Alright, then,” she said softly to the hooded bird perched on her hand, “let’s do this.” With a careful movement she removed the hood from the hawk’s head, watching it warily as its black eyes swivelled around to meet hers for a short moment, then scanned the rest of the earth around it. Riani wondered how it must be to be hooded, given the gift of vision for a limited period of time and then be hooded again, over and over.

“I am sure it isn’t so bad, Marine, is it,” she asked the bird in the softest of voice, more to calm her own pounding heart than to ease the bird; truth be told, it did not seem to need it.

The Aes Sedai nodded. “When you are ready, Aethan’Tar.” Her voice was brisk but not unfriendly, and Riani nodded back, holding the hand on which Marine was perched well off to the side.

“Here goes, Marine. Make the Tower and me proud.” With that the Aethan’Tar raised her arm according to the Green’s instructions, involuntarily gasping as she felt the bird release the grip of her gloved hand and flap it well-developed wings. It seemed incredible, almost beyond reason, that such a light bird could have such enormous strength in its wings.

Marine rose quickly, but as the Green Aes Sedai had said she didn’t fly too far off. Riani wasn’t quite sure if she would be able to shout loudly enough to gain the hawk’s attention; then again she knew the bird’s hearing was far more keen than her own. It circled overhead for a few minutes, and Riani followed its flight with straining eyes. The sharp light from the sun threatened to blind her, so she lifted one hand to her forehead for shade.

At first she thought there was something wrong, that Marine had fallen ill while soaring through the air. It had happened so fast; one second she was soaring so high up Riani thought she must almost be touching the sun, the next she was so close to the trees Riani was afraid she might fly straight into one of the branches. Then she remembered the orders Demetri Sedai had given, and fumbled to grasp the scrap of meat.

“Come,” she shouted into the clear air surrounding them, “come, Marine!” She looked at the Aes Sedai for…what? Confirmation that she had acted according to instructions? – and then readied her gloved right hand to feel the hawk’s - her hawk’s – on it once more.

It took what felt like an eternity, but Riani knew that at most a minute or two had passed. Then the bird sat on her hand once more, hooded and scrap of meat safely in almost-closed beak, and Riani’s other hand held onto a very dead, very limp white dove. Her heart was still racing, and her eyes flickered between the hawk perched on one hand, the dove hanging limp from the other and the Green watching carefully as the next trainee prepared to release the next eager-looking bird.



(OOC: whoa, another long post for you to read, Taryn. I hope you don’t mind my slight moving of Demetri! Good lesson, it's been fun!)

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    • Bird of Prey — Riani Aethan'Tar, Sun Jun 4 14:42
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