The sun was relentless to the rocks of clifftop. The sky spanned silently blue with clouds only sparely interrupting across it. The spring snow still clung to the forest floor defining the skeletal furs and pines along the valley. From the cliffs it wept sparkling mountain water down the rocks in rivulets. The Valley funneled a great tunnel of wind that whipped in from across the distant hills and farmland. The great gulf of space was the Sky and earth opposed, the fresh snow and the blazing sun. On the wind’s current a silent black scout wafted under the sun.
The wind filled under his wings as he tracked the cliff side, forms of rock jutted out from under trees and snow bearing the naked mountain. He looked across the landscape and the vast sky with trained eyes tacking slightly back and forth on the breeze. The sun above gleamed off his oiled black feathers. His talons curled beneath his ragged visage. His eyes great spheres of pure nightjade. The air rushed by quietly as the lone crow curled around the mountaintops.
His dark beak flashed up as a motion caught his eye. A collection of black dots circling against the blue ceiling. “A congregation” he thought. The old crow angled himself towards them, catching the rising heat on the wind. The congregation continued it’s slow circling as the old crow soared across clifftop and began to rise to them. His brothers and sisters called to him in greeting.
The old crow returned their call and joined the congregation seamlessly in time with the circle. They communicated where the band should move to best train young, with abundant food and shelter from enemies. Groups turned to the center of the circle and gave their bids, young crows with no experience. The old crow thought a moment. It had been long since the band nested above the rocks of clifftop. The band had not returned to the place since his own hatching at the ancient meeting site.
And so the old crow called to his brethren, “Why not here?”
Those higher on the current circled and called amongst themselves: “Here? Here? Here? Here.”
And so it was agreed.
The clan would return in three days once all had been gathered. Three would stay to make their claim. The old crow was pleased with this and glided down as three broke from the formation above. The old crow landed within the pines and searched for food among the forest. The other three floated down in formation. they discussed the new brooding place before they split up to scout the area.
A falcon mother came down through the center of the valley. She took care to stay out in the open. Hers was a life filled with the chirping of her children and hunting for food separated by swaths of silence above the forest below. The quiet breezes today suited her nicely. Her eyes followed the grey ribbon of road that meandered through the valley forests. A long car rolled silently along the asphalt. A cloud drifted over the sun and it’s heat lifted for a few silent moments in the raw temperature of the day. It was only fate that she nested on clifftop.
As she glided through the valley, she heard above, the congregation of crows chattered loudly to each other. She saw them circling and a maternal fear leapt through her heart. She did not waste energy to push through the air but dove from her observation current into a jet-stream below. She carved through the air gliding quickly side to side to catch all she could. Her nest with her three younglings sat waiting and exposed.
She came about down to the grey-brown rock of Clifftop. Unseen, a warning called out from the surrounding trees.
She did not heed and moved in low along the towering cliff-face. The crow scout, who had spotted her, was unwittedly perched on the edge only a few trees away from the falcon’s children, fortunate enough to be sleeping in their nest in a bundle of soft young feathers. The crow saw only the enemy. He leaped from the tree and glided out to meet her out in the open above the valley.
The falcon maneuvered, delicately angling for the attack.
With the sun high above them, the falcon turned as the crow came to impact. The two collided, scratching and pecking at each other. Under gravity they fell free in combat until the crow was struck in the throat. He broke off and dove straight down in an effort to escape. The Falcon followed. They picked up speed hurtling towards the earth.
The trees and snow came rushing up, but still the crow dove and the mother falcon followed. Faster.
The crow lost his nerve, just above the trees he pulled up and the falcon impacted into his back. Her talons rent the muscle under his left wing and the crow spun down into the branches resulting in a heap of snow and blood.