This was something I started, but never got round to continuing. It went through several phases and re-writes, starting off as an allegory of sorts, and then veering more into a fantasy-type story with talking animals.
The carcass of the sheep was several days old. Although the ravens had had their fill of the choicest parts, there was still enough meat on the bones to satisfy the two scavenging Golden eagles. Their hooked beaks made short work of the rotting flesh as Scarpe and Gorm fed. Wanderers both, the two had been quartering the field in search of prey when Scarpe had spotted the dead sheep.
Neither of them spotted the female perched quietly nearby.
“Might I partake of your feast?”
Scarpe glanced round before fixing the intruder with a challenging glare. Besides him, Gorm mantled aggressively. The new arrival was hunched and old, and the gloss had gone from her feathers, which were frayed and sticking out in odd directions. Her eyes were still sharp though.
“Might I partake of your feast?” She asked again. “I am just a wanderer, and have not eaten for several days.”
“Find your own food, old one. This is ours.”
She hopped down from the rock she’d been perching on and shuffled forward a few steps. Old as she was, she was still larger than the two sub-adult males, and her talons still wickedly curved.
“That’s no way to speak to your elders. Did your parents teach you nothing while you were still in the nest? Had I hatched you, I’d have pecked some manners into you.”
“My brother is somewhat rash, but he is right. We found this sheep first, therefore it is ours.” Scarpe was somewhat more polite than his brother, but even he was unwilling to make way for the female.
Her head bobbed on her scrawny neck. “Were my mate here, I wager you’d stand aside and let us feed.”
“I see no mate.” Gorm muttered, clacking his beak in disdain.
“No,” she agreed. “His bones have long since returned to the earth. I was merely stating what would have happened if he were still alive.”
“You have a strange accent, old one. Where do you hail from?” Scarpe asked. Despite himself, he found that his interest in this old, scruffy female was rising.
“Tell me where you were raised first. Then mayhap I’ll tell you.”
“Callanish. That was our birthplace.”
“Callanish, was it? It’s said that many a wise eagle came from there.” A note of admiration had crept into the old female’s voice. “Although I myself have never visited.”
Scarpe preened a while before answering. “You seem to know something of the eagles of Callanish for never having visited it yourself.”
“News travels faster than you might think. Besides, I’d met many a eagle from there in my time.” She’d hopped onto the head of the sheep, and tore off a strip of meat. “Ah, tis good to feed! You asked about where I hailed from, I believe. My mate and I were travelers for a long while, but we finally settled in Uibhist a Tuath.”
“Uibhist a Tuath?” Gorm echoed, puzzled by the unfamiliar words.
“My pardon. North Uist, I meant.”
“You do not sound Scottish. Not completely, anyway.”
She tore off another strip of meat before replying. “I was not originally from Scotland, if that’s what you mean. Nor was my mate.”
“Where were you from, then?” Gorm was the older and less patient of the two brothers, and he was beginning to become bored of the game the female seemed to be playing with them.
“The south.” Was the old female’s answer.”I can’t tell you where, for that I’ve forgotten, but I hail from the south.”
“There are no eagles in the south. Not anymore.”
“Not wild ones, no.”
Scarpe ruffled his feathers irritably. “Are you being deliberately cryptic with us, old one? What do you mean by “not wild ones”? Do you mean to say that you came from a collection of some kind?”
“My name, youngster, is Skaforn, not old one. And yes, I suppose you could say that I came from a collection.”
“Skaforn? That’s not a name I know. Sounds like something from the far north.”
“Prehaps it is.” Was Skaforn’s answer. “I was born a captive, and never knew my parents, so maybe they did come from the far north. I don’t know.”
The two males were silent a long time. Scarpe watched the old female a while. Her eyes, fierce and clear, gazed off into the distance. She seemed to be lost in her own memories.
“Tell us.” He said at last.
Skaforn blinked, and transferred her gaze to him. “Tell you what?”
“Your story. It seems you have much to tell. And I was ever interested in the history of others of our kind.”
“My story? It is a long one, and one I don’t care to revisit these days.”
“My brother is curious.” Gorm muttered. “And I fear that you’ve caught my interest as well, Skaforn.”
“My story is a long one.” She repeated. “I fear you’d get bored long before the conclusion.”
Scarpe grew aggravated. “Begone then, if you will not share your story with us! Begone and leave my brother and I in peace.”
“I do not remember saying that I wouldn’t tell you, only that it’s one that I don’t care to revisit these days.” She clacked her beak tiredly. “Very well. If you insist, then I suppose I must.”