New Year's Day Story: Draeden and the Grey Gull
Prince Draeden has a longstanding hatred of the Frewyn grey gull. While he and Bryeison were doing survival training in the Highlands, one of the infamous gulls came and stole their breakfast. Draeden took the crime as a personal slight and decided to have his revenge when he and Bryeison returned to the crags years later. His revenge, however, is somewhat thwarted:
A sharp cry from a gull just beyond the threshold suddenly drew Draeden's attention. He turned and found a large grey gull attacking their breakfast, one that looked decidedly like the one who had plagued their breakfast many years before. Sometime during the night, the mesh of protective rushes he fashioned to shield their fish from the gulls must have been carried off, and the gull was happily digging his beak into the smoked fish. “Leave that alone!” he cried, throwing a stone at the hovering bird. “I will pelt you if I must,” picking up another stone.
The gull, however, would not obey him and began to paw at the fish with its short talons as though it meant to carry it off. Draeden heaved another stone at it, and it flapped away only to come back again and pull the fish from the rack with its beak.
It could not be the same one. It could not be the same gull that attacked them years ago, but it was missing the same eye, it had the same misshapen foot, the same streak of grey feathers, and altogether it looked so strikingly like Draeden’s nemesis as to infuriate him immediately. “No!” Draeden shouted, leaping off Bryeison and racing after the bird while pelting it with stones, but his efforts went unfounded, for the gull had secured the small skewer between his neb and was flying away with his conquest. “That’s our breakfast, you wretched vulture,” Draeden shouted, and without woolens, without any barriers between him and the gales, Draeden hunted the gull along the crags, reckoning it the same one that had wronged him before, calling for Bryeison to help him catch it that they might pluck it, roast it, and eat it as recompense for all the difficulties it had caused. It had been the means of their successful training, but they should have found a way back themselves, and the gull was responsible only for Draeden’s vexation. He leaped along the landings, pelting it with stones and shouting at it in violent rage.”Drop it! Drop it this moment or I will aim for your head!” His warnings went unheeded, causing Draeden to fling a large stone at the gull’s good eye. It connected, the bird dropped their fish onto one of the lower landings, and began gyrating down to the rocks below. “There!” Draeden cried triumphantly, watching the gull shake its head as though to rid itself of some momentary confusion. “That will teach you to take what we prepared. Go catch your own salmon!” He hopped down to retrieve the smoked fish and turned back to the tent to find Bryeison bent over in roaring mirth. “Why are you laughing? I just saved our breakfast.”
Bryeison could not hear over the howling din of his laughter: he could not deny that Draeden had salvaged their breakfast, but the prospect of Draeden’s wiry form, naked and pastel under the power of the sun, with his hair swarming his angered features and his exposed virility undulating in the wind, was more than Bryeison’s composure could endure. Draeden looked all the triumph he felt, and his conquering expression complemented by his thin frame, and by his holding fish as his prize, was a sight to apply to Bryeison’s sense of hilarity and undo his self-possession. His high revel echoed across the crags, and while he was proud of Draeden for his persistence, he must have done with all the ridiculousness of the situation before telling him so. He wiped the tears of uproarious hilarity from his eyes, paused for breath, and then resumed his cachinnation, grabbing at his sides and rolling over, his reboation traveling across the coast.
“Well,” Draeden humphed, remarking his prize. “I won’t, didn’t I? I daresay that gull shall not be coming back again,” but he had a moment’s fear of the gull returning and bringing with it a whole screech of relatives to claim their reprisal. He glanced at the rocks below and found the gull glaring up at him with his good eye, his beak scowling, his eye smoldering with ill-intent. “I did warn you,” Draeden’s voice echoed, “I would have shared, had you come up to me and asked politely. Now, however, I shall give you nothing. No, don’t fly up here again. Go to another landing and find a dead crab for yourself,” but the gull ignored him and flew directly at his face. He dodged and, in one swift motion, took the fish from the skewer and began using the pointed end as a spear. “I have a weapon now,” Draeden declared, swiping at the bird. “Fly at me again, and I’ll have you for my second breakfast.”
|Twisk's rendition of the incident. Brilliant!|
The gull, however, flew over Draeden’s head and away from the coastline. It cawed once, as though calling to all the birds in the purlieu, and as it gathered a tolerable train, it continued through the fog and disappeared under the mist.
“What does that gull think it’s doing?” Draeden asked, bemused. “If you think that I’m going to allow you to ambush me, you are quite mistaken!” He lifted his trophy and was about to proclaim insuperable victory when a shadow fell over him, a slight spray tinged the side of his face, and when he turned, he was met with an immense wave rising to its peak, its grandeur shrouding him in a foreboding shade. “By the Gods,” he cried, and turned to run, but the surge dashed against the crags, the peak fell, and Draeden was instantly submerged.