The Hawk And His Boy

The Hawk And His Boy by Christopher Bunn

Book: The Hawk And His Boy by Christopher Bunn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christopher Bunn
despite the lack of the sea.”
    Nio left them then, arguing about what pictures they should call forth, while the huge mosaic overhead swirled with the sound of their voices. He wanted to use the mosaic, but for that he would need the room to himself. He didn’t want the others to see what he was interested in. Particularly Severan. He wondered what their reaction would be if they found out he could bring the fire mosaic closer to clarity, and that he knew one word of the sea. One word.
    He trudged up the stairs and wove a wisp of fire from some moonlight. The flame lit him through the long hall as he picked his way around the blue tiles. The mosaic would find the boy and the box for him. He would return later—after all was quiet and the old fools were snoring in their beds. Let them dream of finding the lost book of Staer Gemyndes.
    When Nio reached his house, he stood a while in the entrance hall, dreading what waited him within the closet there. His mind was tired. He opened the door. The wihht stood within.
    “Go down to the cellar,” he said. “Wait there until I have further need of you.”
    Silently, the wihht obeyed him. As it shuffled past, the thing looked at him furtively with one sidelong glance. Nio went up to his room and cast himself onto his bed. He immediately fell asleep.

    Jute woke in the gray light of morning. For a moment, he did not know where he was, but then memory flooded back in with the surge of the nearby surf. His clothes were cold and damp against his skin. Pebbles and sand grated beneath him. He sat up and then wished he hadn’t. The sky tilted overhead. His head ached.
    Something moved at the edge of his sight. He turned to see and then scrambled backward, staring, until he was painfully stopped short by a boulder.
    Careful. The voice sounded amused. You have been through enough to kill most people. The hawk watched Jute with unblinking black eyes. His feathers were a glossy black. Around the eyes and the edge of the cruel ivory-colored beak, the feathers softened to silver.
    “You—you’re a hawk!” said Jute.
    A hawk. That will do well enough.
    “But birds don’t talk!” said the boy.
    To most people, no. We could not be bothered. You are different.
    “What do you mean?” The boy leaned forward without knowing it.
    Something akin to a sigh escaped the hawk’s beak.
    There are those fated to fly faster and higher. Those who have always held the sky in their hearts. Some who fly higher than others. And then there is you. You cut yourself on the knife, did you not?
    “I never meant to touch it,” said Jute.
    At that, the hawk’s wings unfurled with a whisper of feathers. A breeze fanned the boy’s face. Further down the beach, the surf rolled up the sand toward them.
    Do not speak so! Thank the wind, the sky, every star in the heavens. Blessed be the house of dreams that you touched the knife. Knowing what one was meant to do, or not meant to do—this knowledge is beyond the understanding of man, beyond the wizards, beyond you. Even you.
    “Who am I?” said the boy.
    The hawk sprang into the air with a beat of his wings.
    That will be learned one day at a time. Suffice it for now to stay alive. Walk softly, for things wake that should not have been disturbed. You would do well to avoid their attention. Above all else, listen.
    “Listen? To you?”
    To me, yes. Amusement, once more in the voice. Listen to the sky. Listen to the wind.
    The hawk mounted into the sky. Morning light gleamed on his feathers.
    For now, be content with staying alive, youngling.
    “Wait!” he called, but the hawk wheeled away into the blue and was lost in the sunlight.

    Arodilac Bridd was the orphaned nephew of the regent and his heir apparent, as Botrell had no offspring in evidence, or any other living relatives. Arodilac was sixteen, a gawky boy, teetering on the brink of manhood. His head was thatched

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