And now I’m covered in the colors, torn apart at the seams

Basilisks were the worst kind of opponents.

Rebra lashed out with her claws, tearing at brown and gold feathers. The grouse basilisk leaped away with a hiss, only to be demolished by a bolt of vile green and red magic spat from uncle Geri’s masked jaws. Its water basilisk companion was torn down by Psitta’s bloodied claws.

The only things worse than basilisks were cockatrices. They always came in pairs or with another basilisk. Rebra had never seen any other combination but her aunts and uncles and older siblings had told her tales. Tales of blood and battle and death.

And then there was the story of Recnac, his egg plucked from the claws of a dying grouse basilisk in this very forest.

Rebra didn’t know what to make of that. The older Mirror couldn’t speak and didn’t like talking–through writing–about it. Nobody else brought it up either, especially her parents, the clan progenitors.

Their battles were nearly over. Uncle Geri, cloaked in the deep purples and grays of his rogue garb, led her and her older great-niece Psitta deeper into the shadows of Woodland Path. This place was painted in red in the minds of her clan. Many had been lost here over the months since her parents created their clan.

The sanguine Guardian didn’t understand it. Why? Why were they fighting? Why must others die? What was the point?

Uncle Winse would say it was for power. You couldn’t die if you were strong.

But Rebra heard stories of her oldest siblings, Betes and Losis, and how they had died, despite their great strength, in an ashy forest far from here. Being strong hadn’t been enough. They had still died.

Rebra didn’t like it. All this fighting hurt. Even with the wild war games that she and her brothers played as hatchlings, she wasn’t ready for this. Every scratch and gash hurt. Some may even scar, like uncle Winse’s eye. The young Guardian wasn’t sure she wanted scars, even if they made her look tough.

Her brothers would call her a baby. A coward. Weak.

Rebra didn’t care anymore. Call her weak. Call her a coward, a baby. She didn’t care.

She just wanted to go home…


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