'The shaft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagle's own plumes. We often give our enemies the means of our own destruction.'
- Aesop -
Extract from Chapter 3, Cylor
We are also introduced to Cylor, Remera's now dead mate, and Canana's father. Remera recalls the day Cylor died and we relive the sequence of events that led to his death, the battle with the farmer and the inevitable outcome and bloody carnage that followed.
Remera’s mate Cylor had been one of the largest and most powerful eagles ever to grace the skies above the Guadalquivir and even by the standards of the Great Eagle, he was considered a very large and impressive bird. Their son Canana was already beginning to resemble his dead father in so many ways, which included both his size and beauty, and she thought reluctantly, his impatience. If there was only one aspect of her dead mate that Remera wished her son would not inherit, it was Cylor's rashness.
Her partner had indeed been a rash, and at times completely reckless creature. To Remera, it was inevitable that one day he would end up a victim of mans’ cruelty, his life would ending the same as many eagles before him. She had only wished that they could have spent more time together, she was sure she could have curbed his impatience with just a little more time. Alas it was not to be.
On the day Cylor was to meet his fate, they had been flying around this very same area, scanning the peaceful valley below them for signs of game. In the height of summer, the sun can be scorching during the long hot afternoons and most of the humans in the valley where quite happy to find some shade and the chance to spend some time on a quiet siesta. The eagle were aware that the hottest part of the day was when they would find most of the humans resting, and they had learned to take advantage of this. As the pair glided lazily over the fields, they spotted a few goats seemingly unattended and roaming free. Cylor, like all the eagles, loved to taunt the farmers and whenever the opportunity arose and regardless of the dangers involved, he still took delight in raiding their livestock.
Yet despite his impetuous and sometimes rash nature, he was still highly intelligent animal and over the years, he had learned from other eagles and his own experience the ways of the deadly firestick. Putting this information together, he had discovered a way to avoid the burning death. Three very important things he had found out about these weapons. First was that the fireball always travelled in a straight line, and always in the direction the farmers aimed their stick. Secondly, the farmers only spat out their fire when the eagle was diving for the kill, so as to kill the raptor before he could damage their stock. Finally, and what Cylor believed to be the most important point; once they had released their flame, it took them quite a while before they could send out a second fireball. In the wild, life and death is decided by split seconds and this is the case for both hunters and his prey. A few minutes are an eternity to participants in the game of survival and without a doubt; the eagles were masters of this game. Cylor was a genius in the air, and even the farmers who despised the birds had to admire (however grudgingly), his grace and acrobatic flying displays in the heavens had turned many an eye upwards when they saw him flying the skies above the valley. It was using his flying skills, combined with the knowledge of the firestick he had gained that he was able to cheat the burning death.
The strategy he had devised was not without risks however and required a perfect mixture of split second timing and one hundred percent concentration on his part; anything less and his chances of survival would more then likely result in his death. As he circled above the fields, Cylor would mark out his intended victim. After he had selected his prey, he would note the position of the farmer in relation to his target. If he noticed there was more than one guard in the field, the eagle would not attack and fly elsewhere to hunt. When Cylor was satisfied that there was only one guard, he would start his attack, not in the diving straight line the eagles normally took, but slightly away from his target. Without doubt, the farmer below constantly scanned the heavens on the lookout for the birds, and the moment he saw an eagles dropping lower in ever decreasing circles, they knew it was possibly a prelude to an attack and would get their firearms ready.
Meanwhile, the eagle would be observing the farmer at all times, waiting for the moment he raised his firestick and released the flame of death. It was the precise moment that Cylor saw the flame that he would swing his body in line with the chosen target.
Those few minutes before the guard could fire his next ball were all the eagle needed. As the farmer struggled to reload, Cylor would be into his prey, talons ripping and clutching his prize, up he would rise, his powerful wings lifting him ever higher. In less then a heartbeat, he would be aloft with his prey, dancing and weaving in his ascent and by the time the farmer reloaded, he was safe, leaving below a very frustrated and angry human. It was a dangerous sport, and despite having already felt the heat of the fireball whistling past him on a few occasions already, the excitement and exhilaration he received from this game made it impossible for him abandon it.