Bryant was glad to go home after training. On the way, he was stopped by Adan, who didn't bother trying to look casual.
"Are you following me?" he asked.
"Yes," Adan replied. "Your mother said that you haven't been home for two days, and that you've been leaving like that all year. What's going on?"
"Maybe you should ask the villagers. I can hardly take a break from patrolling the border without getting punished for it."
Almost imperceptibly, Adan's eyes narrowed. Bryant knew that this meant he was trying to figure out whether he was lying or not. It was, however, pointless to wonder. Although Bryant had already stolen the dried food Adan carried in his pocket, he almost never lied about anything.
"And how exactly were you punished?"
"I don't want to talk about that. It's too traumatic."
Adan looked like he wanted to ask more, but he took a look at Bryant's expression and let it pass.
"Fine. You can take a few days to rest. I'll get it sorted out. You're not supposed to be on the border anyway. You're supposed to be protecting the interior."
"I know. There's just too many people who want me out of sight to say so."
"Just go home, Bryant. I said I'll fix it."
Bryant nodded and began to walk away. Adan kept going as well, then noticed that his pockets were much lighter and turned around. Bryant was already gone.
Bryant hadn't gone very far when he saw Adan's falcon in a tree ahead of him.
"Kyii!" she called insistently.
"Karenyen, not now, please. Maybe tomorrow...?"
"I've been practicing. You don't need to worry about that. But do you really have to check it today?"
The peregrine falcon made another adamant call. She believed it to be imperative that Bryant had a thorough knowledge of Falcon. Although she was a bird of prey, she was smarter than any crow Bryant had ever seen and probably smarter than most humans. She could at least spell better than Mikael.
"You don't have a report to write, by any chance?"
Karenyen continued to stare at Bryant. It looked as though she would eat him if he didn't comply. She was not an old falcon, but she was intimidating.
"Of course she took care of her reports," Bryant muttered.
"Can I have a lesson tomorrow instead? I'll practice extra hard."
"So... you're letting me off today, but only because it's my birthday. Thank you!"
"Kyuuri riii. Kyrri kriii..."
"That's where the pantry is? And there's cookies? Is this a trap?"
"Ruuhrii ki ki. Krii."
Karenyen flew away. Bryant took a minute to stop and think about how much different it had been when he first saw her. The bird had an interesting backstory.
Bryant had seen Adan in a clearing one day, looking at the sky. He had been watching a hawk in flight with an expression that seemed almost sad. Bryant had later climbed the cliff until he reached a falcon nest he had been watching for a while. The chicks had fledged, but were still dependent on the parents. There were three of them. Bryant took the largest; it was a female.
The only reason he wasn't attacked when he got close to the nest was that he had his hood up and his sleeves rolled down so that he would be difficult to see. He had a leather pouch slung about his neck in order to carry a fledgling. He would need both hands, especially climbing down. He didn't have a rope to secure himself, but if he were a poor climber, he would have died years before.
Bryant came back in the evening tired, sore, and triumphant. He hung the sack o' bird on Adan's door with a red ribbon bow and a dead mouse. Adan had kept the fledgling and raised it. He had wanted to name it Karen, after his sister, but Bryant said, "Karen'yenrhiasa," and from then on, the shortest thing the falcon would answer to was Karenyen. She somehow learned to read and write and had been writing status reports on the village crops ever since.
Bryant started walking again. He had most of the day ahead of him, and he intended to spend it at home.ns 220.127.116.11da2