Wordcount: 515 words
Summary: Please note, this is currently a very rough draft. There will be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, flat out contradictions, and uneven characterization and pacing. (Content is also subject to constant change as I take an editing chainsaw to the story.)
And Thus the Future Dies
Baron was just coming into his pinions when the boy who was meant to be his rider died.
The sudden loss of his future trees staggered him and his hatching minder came running at his startled squawk. The human had no idea what had happened and the Laws the foxhawk followed meant they could not tell him.
Instead it fell to the hens and the bachelor males who tended the hatchlings and fledglings to comfort him.
It was very rare for a foxhawk to lose the rider it had been paired with from birth. There was always a chance, futures were trees not straight roads, and the unexpected was always hovering in the wings. The foxhawks could only tell what was most likely, most probable, not the full range of everything that might happen. There was too much chaos in the world for that.
But Baron was young and stupid, as most young things are, and he was positive that his world had died with his rider. Which was not true, it just meant that instead of knowing who he would be bonded with, he would have to choose his rider.
Normally the foxhawks had no choice, as much as the humans misunderstood. They were meant for one rider, born for that person specifically, and it was inconceivable, but not impossible, for them to choose anyone else.
No one spoke of it, heck no one even thought about it, it was so ingrained an assumption.
Minder was the one that comforted him, when the words of the other bachelor males and hens could not reach the lonely dark place he’d trapped himself in. The old foxhawk kept at him, day after day, until Baron finally, grudgingly, came back out into the world.
His rider was still dead, he wished he was dead as well, but starving to death was horribly unpleasant and he could not bring himself to skip more than a meal before self preservation instincts overrode his depression.
His hatchmates were confused and alarmed, at least for the first few weeks. Then youthful minds being what they were, they went back to assuming that their own riders were immune and their futures were set in stone.
They tried to comfort him, as best they could. Winter was his cheerful self, oblivious to the darkness Baron felt. Dog was more supportive, in a brusque way, refusing to deal with Baron when he was in a mood, but companionable when he was not.
Softpaw was as warm and friendly as always, but was more disturbed by his rider’s death than the others. There was a distance in their friendship that had not been there before and it alternately annoyed and depressed Baron.
Swift was Swift, wrapped up in his own impressive self, but no less friendly for his narcissism. He was perhaps a tad less tactful when it came to talking about Hatching Day and how they were all looking forward to finally bonding with their riders.
Baron tried not to hate him too much, it was not his fault he was a self-centered idiot.