The grass dances in the warm breeze in celebration, back lit by the waning light the sun.
Today is special.
Two young boys had been walking and planned to continue to do so until dusk. One is dressed in black with a black cape while the other is in white with a rainbow cape of many colors. The boy in black raises a hand to the air and points with a smile at something in the distance as it happens.
The boy in white sees it as well. He frowns deeply.
High above them in the sky an eagle is flying. A smaller bird, a dove, flies too near the eagle which shrieks before snatching at the dove and carrying it off.
“Reminds me of you,” says the boy in black. He takes a quick jump and begins to hover along the ground at great speed. “Always putting your nose where it doesn’t belong!”
Not quite as gifted, the boy in white shouts “Aw, come on, Raven! You know I can’t use magic as well as you!” He begins to run.
Raven calls over his shoulder, “Drop the shrub, Bleach. Maybe you’ll run faster!”
“Its a corniferferer!” shouts back Bleach. “I wanted us to plant it today… together.”
“A coniferous tree blossom!” corrects Raven.
As the eagle took its meal, the boys watched from a distance then waited until it had finished. Then the eagle flew away, satiated. Raven laughs at something.
He laughs at something he sees ahead. “Oh, a crow arrived!”
In deed, a lone crow picks at the dying dove. It stands on the dove’s broken wing, pinning it down with its crude, reptilian feet. And thus after a long drought, the grasses’s thirst is quenched by the blood of a dove.
The crow openly rejoices at the meal, it had arrived to the carnage before the other scavengers; it had even beaten the flies that would have invaded such a prize.
The crow swallows a morsel, smiling in its own way to the dove’s shrieks of pain. “Thought you could soar with eagles, did you?” cajoles the crow. “Apparently old Thoragil didn’t agree, eh?” It caws in laughter.
Not yet dead, the dove makes a small sound like that of a crying child.
“Fly, stupid Dove. Fly away. To your worms and play that you so love,” says the crow as it is cawing in its crow-laughter. Then it pecks out an eye and swallows it whole.
The mischievous one tosses a stone, laughing as the crow laughs; in mockery. He usurps it’s mirth for mirth of his own. He is a boy that believes a smile is something to be stolen, not shared or given.
The stone travels its predictable course, striking the crow a mortal blow and ricochets so that falls at rest in front of his sibling’s feet. The throw is a marvel, calculated with cruel precision.
A third witness, their elder, suppresses a smile before his cracked lips manage to form it upon his face. Now is a time for discipline, not pride. A teacher doth not praise what he wishes to declaim. What remains of the crow looks rather like an ink spill.
The boy in white does not smile either, in fact a single tear shimmers its way down his cheek.
The weepy one stares at what brother had just killed. He stands slump-shouldered, as if carrying the burden of grief were it a physical weight upon his shoulders; a cross he has borne many times throughout his young life.
The wretched brother tosses the weepy one’s hair and stomps the crippled crow to death; grinding its bones into powder.
The kinder brother sighs. He gingerly lifts the bleeding husk of the once flighty dove into his arms and holds it against his chest.
His heart beats softly in his chest while the dove’s is stilled within its breast. He kisses it. His hands and shirt and lips are stained the same pink from the crimson of the dove’s blood.
He spits the small drops out with a grimace, ignoring his brother’s contemptuous requests for a sip. He breathes into the dove’s beak.
And then the dove is whole again, its small heart no longer still, wings no longer broken. It leaps into the vapors of its home from the deathly ground, pausing only to chime a tune of thanksgiving to its healer and it is gone from this tale.
Not for the first time, their elder is reminded of how dissimilar they are; as the saying goes, these two wards of his “are as different as night and day.”
“Why did you do THAT?” asks Raven.
“It seemed the right thing to do. I couldn’t let dove stay dead for some reason,” protests Bleach.
It is at this time that their elder decides to make his presence known. He’d followed them this morning as he follows them every morning they are together. Who knows what trouble they can get into?
He rides his pony closer up behind them, forming a centaur-shaped silhouette on the ground beneath their feet.
The boys turn to face the music.