Finally, Danielle cleared her throat.
“Kimar, where did Ercen go to? She’s been gone a long time.”
There was no response. Danielle turned so that she faced towards Kimar. He was so still, he truly did appear to be made of stone. A moment passed before he turned to Danielle. His amber eyes faintly glowed in the deepening dusk. There were smile lines creeping out from the corners of his limpid eyes.
“Child, she’s gone for two reasons. First, she is conferring with leaders of our kind, seeking information from other field commanders. We need to learn what our enemy is up to. Second, she is obtaining human food for you and your parents. She’ll be back momentarily.”
A sharp snap sounded behind Danielle. She twisted around in time to see Ercen reappear on their eyrie. Her arms were full with all manner of food. A broken tree branch lay smashed and splintered beneath her feet.
Danielle jumped up and ran over to help Ercen. A moment later, she laughed.
“Hah! I don’t suppose this load of groceries is really all that heavy to you, is it, Ercen?”
“No, Danielle. It is not, for me, what you call ‘heavy.’ Nevertheless, I thank you for helping me with it.”
Within minutes, the granite perch high over the valley floor was busy with supper preparations. Kimar heated the sitting area, which had grown cool as night deepened.
“Thank you, Kimar!” Peter had come to think of their gathering area as the “fire ring,” even though a fire hadn’t been necessary.
The humans organized the food—a huge cheese round wrapped in wax, two long loaves, lightly browned, a cooked ham still bound in string—chattering as they went. Johann passed around a water jug. Ercen deftly swept remnants of the branch she’d crushed over the edge of the precipice with the tips of her wings.
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