Kinda remembering the life where these kin-feely things about old woods are coming from. Had a weird personality shift/ mind-meld thing going on with my otherself about it while talking with a friend. [kinda long-ish post]
“The cliffs were our kingdom.
The valley our Versailles.”
Used to live in a place very much like the photos I posted just before this post here…but the wood was so much older, so much grander - I doubt there’s a place like it anymore on Earth. We lived in a matriarchal “pride”…I remember mine being nine individuals, quite successful, but not the largest.
“Who could hear thunderous wings in the tumult of the rain?
Who could see our regal shape in the morning mist?”
It rained there often, and heavily - some places were swamp and mangrove-like places. Thickest fog one could imagine gathered before the mountain winds prevailed and carried the water to the golden grasslands in the west. We were primarily diurnal - but it was quite common for us to hunt at dawn/dusk. We used to hunt individually or in pairs - large kills and rare territorial conflicts were done as a pride.
“They attribute to us a love of gold and eggs of agate.
But who were they to know?
Who were they, who traveled only in fairest weather, to know that our nests were not metal - but dried grasses gleaming with pitch and sparkling with dew?”
We lived and nested high in the white, sun-bleached cliffs. We used to gather dry grass from the grasslands and from the ocean’s edge to the east to make our nests, using evergreen pitch to hold the nests together and make them water-resistant. Reproduction was an easy affair that relied entirely upon one’s place within the pride. The matriarch was the only female allowed to breed, and would breed with multiple sires. The males would breed by order of rank, until the matriarch refused to have anymore sires for a particular clutch (6-8 eggs). Younger females and males of the pride would either challenge their seniors for their rank or leave - either to join a pride where they might be more successful or to start a pride of their own.
“Who were they to know that our wealth was not in things precious to them - but things of natural beauty?
River rocks, fish scales, minerals, fronds of flowers, bone, insect shells and wings, feathers, interesting bits of wood…[continues for some minutes]”
Such things littered our homes with casual abandon, collected day by day - a trinket here or there. I don’t know why we did this, no more than a jackdaw or a magpie does - aside perhaps from aesthetic value. On clear days, our cliffs would nearly shine with color. Seemed to have a special attraction to iridescent items and seasonal treasures. Different prides seemed to prefer different colors - no two were the same.
“They grew to admire our protectiveness and our zeal - grew to respect us.
But never did they realize that we had no concept of thievery and thieves - they were intruders, and we claimed many.”
Contact is almost never pretty. They came from the plains to the west - simple folk at first, then an expedition, then a caravan…you can see where this is going. They would try to scale our shining cliffs, drawn by the gleam of greed - but the place was our domain - *we* ruled here, not they. Ours.
It became a conflict of sorts, as they hunted our game and befouled our home with careless footfalls - we in turn hunted them. They were not welcome. Lives were lost as they continued to be rebuked from our territories - Matriarchs were felled and eggs remained unmoving - strong males were slain and the weakened prides they belonged to quickly scattered to the winds. We claimed many, but they reeked with an inedible smell, we had never found anything like them before and left them where they lie, unsure what to do with them. The stock they brought with them, however, horses and mules and cattle - they did not go to waste - not out of like or want for them initially - but out of desperation to support ourselves in the face of fickle and dwindling game.
They became more armed - wandering in shiny half-mail on horseback with arrows and spears and lances. The muted beat of hoof in soft earth quickly became our sign of imminent intrusion - and how we hated it - puffing, chattering and growling with our tails flicking, our feathers ruffled and our wings half-spread as we paced our ledges on high. No horse was safe, and they learned to respect us, if only as a huntsman respects the wild-things he hunts.