The beast spread its wings wide, using the feathered appendages to balance on the edge of the rocky cliff. The beautiful plumage gleamed in the afternoon sun, ebon to sable, the colors twined and mingled in magnificent display. The bird’s great snowy head leaned forward and down, allowing a woman in flowing robes to stroke its deadly beak.
The woman, unafraid, cooed at the massive eagle, her hands lovingly caressing the curved golden beak. Her robes, snowy as the bird’s top feathers, were embroidered in royal purple to show her high rank. Her slippers, too delicate for the rocky cliff, slipped on the dangerously loose moss on the the craggy face of the mountain.
The eagle, joined to the woman by love and empathy, swiftly lifted a massive clawed foot to steady her. Her breath shortened by the near-fall, the woman leaned against the solid bulk of her friend, feeling the bird’s own agitation against her skin.
Hearing her name called from the valley behind, the woman straightened herself. She smoothed the feathers on the giant eagle’s chest, then leaned forward to plant a motherly kiss on the beast’s beak.
“Go,” she whispered, “before they come. They would never understand. To them, you’re merely a beast to be used.”
The eagle, seeing the pain and love in the woman’s eyes, dipped its head, acknowledging her words. With a great surge, the enormous bird pushed itself off the mountain’s edge, dropping precariously low before pumping its wings in powerful flight.
Turning, the woman glided away from the eagle’s perch, drawing the attention of her husband, the king, and his men. As the men followed, she dared look one last time, over her shoulder, to see her love’s lingering flight.