amberdrake: (ze birbs - I am feel uncomfortable)
[personal profile] amberdrake
Typed up from pages 301-305 of the kindle version of Black Gryphon

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The birds were easy enough to come by most times; they swarmed the camp, and all you had to do to attract one was to scatter some of their favorite seed on the ground and wait. Amberdrake didn't need the services of a bird often, but he did have a small store of the succulent sunseeds handy, since people liked the savory seeds as well as the little birds did. And Amberdrake was no exception to that liking.

He had a bag in his quarters, next to the bed; he dug out a handful, and took the fat, striped seeds to the cleared area in front of the tent, where he scattered them in a patch of sunlight. A few moments later, he had his choice of a dozen birds, all patterned in every color imaginable. They pounced on the seeds with chortles and chirps, making a racket all out of proportion to their small size.

He watched them for a moment, trying to pick out a smart one, then chose a clever little fellow whose colors of red and black with vivid blue streaks in his hackles made him easy to see at a distance. He whistled to it and leaned dwn to extend his hand, sendin it a little tendril of comforting thought to attract it. The bird hopped onto his outstretched hand with no sign of fear and waited for his orders, cocking its head sideways to look at him.

While these were not the altered birds of prey favored by the Kaled'a'in, they were able to respond fairly well to limited mental commands. Amberdrake held the bird so that he could look directly into one bright bronze eye, and made his orders as simple as he could.

:Go to gryphon-field. Wait for gryphons. Look for this one--:  He mentally sent an image of Zhaneel. :Listen, return, and repeat what you heard.:

That last was a fairly common order, when someone wanted to know what was going on in another part of the camp. The birds could recall and repeat several sentences, and the odds were good that at least one of those sentences would give some idea of what was happening at a distant location. And if it didn't--well you could send the bird back to eavesdrop some more.

The bird flew off, lumbering away rather like a beetle. They weren't strong flyers, and they were fairly noisy about it; their wings whirred with the effort of keeping their plump little bodies aloft, and they usually chirped or screeched as they flew. So if you didn't want anyone to know what you were about, you had plenty of warning before you actually saw a messenger-bird arrive to snoop. But many people made pets of specific birds, as much for their engaging personalities and clownish antics as for their usefulness, so you had to really go to an extraordinary amount of effort to avoid them.

There would, without a doubt, be hundreds of birds waiting at the gryphons' landing field. Although it was supposed to be something of a secret that the Sixth Wing was going to try to retake Stelvi Pass, enough people knew that the area would look as if the birds had learned of a major sunseed spill there. That was the discreet way of learning about something the outcome of which was supposed to be a secret; send a bird to watch, rather than looking around yourself.

And I am nothing if not discreet.


(( skipped some non-bird stuff ))


He was tying up his hair when the chattering of the messenger-bird brought him to the front of his tent.

He held up his hand, his eyes straining to spot the red dot of the bird against the bright sky. The little red-and-black creature whirred in, and backwinged to a landing on his finger, still chattering at a high rate of speed. He placed one hand on its back to calm it, and it fell silent for a moment.

As he took his hand away, it muttered to itself a little, then began repeating what it had heard. Although its voice was very much that of a bird, the cadences and accents were readily identifiable as individual people. Sometimes the clever little things could imitate a favorite person so well you would swear the person it was imitating was there before you.

But the first thing that the bird produced was a series of crowd noises, among which a few phrases were discernible. "She's exhausted." "Get water!" "It isss all rrright--" this last obviously being Zhaneel.

Then the voice of Trainer Shire. "Zhaneel, I have a link to Urtho here, can you give him a quick report?"

The bird spoke again in Zhaneel's voice, her sibilants hissed and r's rolled, much as Skan spoke when he was agitated or weary. "The box hasss worrrrked. It made explossssionssss, and killed many, ssso the sssticksss mussst have been sssshielded. Therrre arrre injurrrred gryphonssss, but no dead. The ssssmoke wasss ssssprrreading when we rrrreturrrned, and the fighterrrsss moving in. The rrressst follow me."

The bird imitated the sound of a cheering crowd with uncanny accuracy, Zhaneel saynig that she was fine and would take care of herself, and the voice of Winterhart countermanding that, and ordering hertasi to be in readiness for injured grphyons coming in.

Amberdrake very nearly cheered himself; he gave the little bird his reward of fruit and sent him off to rejoin his flock with such elation that he came close to giving the bird more fruit than it could carry away. He did kiss it, an endearment which the little clown accepted with a chortle, returning the caress with its mobile tongue.

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