**Author’s Note: Vincent’s Descent is a continuous story that began on April 1st, 2023, as part of the AtoZ Blog Challenge. Most chapters are not designed as stand-alone. I’ve done my best to keep each chapter a touch over 500 words each so they are not too dense to follow along, IMO. For the entire story, please start HERE. Comments are always welcome.
Chapter 20: Triturate
Her Lavender Grace breathed in deeply, her expansive chest filling with the deathly air. The taste of blood carried on the winds, and they began to whip around with the fall of the rain. She exhaled with a squawk, a call that further stirred the murder lust around her. She reeked of power and death. The washing rain did not rinse her of cravings.
And the rain began to fall in sheets, shimmering from her wings, running down her dense hide. Pools formed around and under Her Lavender Grace. Her flocks sputtered in the growing density. The rain was brutal, beating down with a rat-tat-tat beat that only gained in speed and force. Her Lavender Grace reveled in the stinging pain that came to her from members of her horde.
Still, her gaze locked on the deadly struggle between her Condor and her Grackle Lord. She lost all interest in Maria.
The brackish water surrounding Maria got in her eyes and mouth. Maria spit out one mouthful only to have a deluge wash over her from above. She slipped, her hands going deep into the mud. Her struggling to escape the monster’s claws took on a higher energy. The immense shape above her was ever so slowly sinking.
I wished, the thought his Maria, and she wished again. A lightning storm tore the sky open with a force that stopped all action, turning attention away from her. Maria frantically dug into the mud, the pools of water enveloping her in sloshing waves. Forcing her head above the water, Maria took deep breaths. Then down, down, and forward.
Down and forward as the skies broke in streaks of deadly white. The rainstorm blew over the light-rooted birds, trees, and bushes. It softened the land, and Maria took full advantage of this.
Vincent-Inside, momentarily startled by the fierceness of the gale, went full Birdserkr.
The Condor had let its guard down.
The Grackle Lord’s maw clamped down onto the Condor’s left wing. It snapped it in half, dark-drenched feathers slamming the mob below. Before it could react, Vincent-Inside fed off of all the abuse he carried. Digging his nails into the midsection of the Condor, The Grackle Lord ripped it open. With a whip-shot, Vincent-Inside sent his bloodied beak through the Condor’s neck, the tip breaking through and through.
The Condor choked on its blood.
The Grackle Lord pulled away, claws still inserted in the Condor’s abdomen. Their eyes met. Vincent-Inside held on as he watched the Condor’s black eyes lose their color, their power, grinding to a dusty death pallor.
There was no shudder, no rasp. The Condor had been alive. Now, not.
The Grackle Lord retracted his talons. The Condor fell.
Turning, Vincent-Inside faced Her Lavender Grace. His jet-black eyes went to the claw where Maria had been, but there was only muddy water.
The Grackle Lord, in full fury, scattered the multitudes of lesser birds. Its feathers slicked back, wings tossed wide and beating the air, The Grackle Lord challenged.
Her Lavender Grace faced it, eyes narrowing, wings akimbo. Neck lengthening, beak glistering from the rain, she waited for the attack.
Maria had crawled out of the soupy earth inches from the prison of bone and flesh. Unnoticed, she crawled along the muddy ground, finding a semblance of shelter among the upturned roots of a giant denuded tree.
Along the way, some blackbirds saw her. Grabbing rocks, she smashed a few skulls that got too close to her. The last one that came at her avoided the rocks, scoring a bite through her sodden pants leg. Dropping the rocks in pain, Maria caught its wings and slammed the bird against the tree trunk she was leaning against. And again, until it was a stain on the bark.
Dropping the dead thing, she watched the battle. It was brutal, and her stomach churned, but she knew. And it was done.
Then Vincent turned to face Her Lavender Grace, and Maria inwardly cried, noooooo
And then said: “I wish….”
And the rain began to turn to snow.