Two weeks later, he watched the nest in the pine tree as much as possible between middle school classes and sleeping. He stood nibbling on the crust of a Ukrainian pyrizhky (piroski), stuffed mushroom fried pie the day he saw the hatched cuckoo shove the magpie’s eggs out of the nest made from small branches, twigs, and vegetation stuck together with dried mud. Each egg, light green-blue with brown speckles, made a soft plunk as it fell to the forest floor.
A section of blue blanket gripped in his hands, he hurried to the place where the pine tree’s roots bowed up from the ground beside two unbroken eggs and two that lay shattered against tiny stones scattered in piles of dried pine needles beneath the tree. He knelt in the damp earth and tenderly lifted each unbroken egg between his thumb and index finger, gently laying them between the layers of downy cotton.
Cradling the undamaged eggs, he looked up at the blue sky, toward the mother magpie that soared toward her nest where the cuckoo fledgling sat, bill wide open and hungry. The magpie’s black and white with iridescent blue feathers glistened in a stream of sunlight that trickled through the tallest tree branches, her long feathery tail fanning out behind her. His heart ached for the mother bird, forced to raise the murderous offspring of a sociopath while her own chicks died in embryo.
Gazing down at the undamaged eggs that lay snug in the blanket between his small hands, he vowed to raise each baby bird so well that someday they could return to the forest. He would do this for them and for their mother. Bust most of all, he would do it for himself to prove everyone wrong. Animals might act on instinct, but humans could rise above their origins, regardless of how low. He would show them how.
Warm fingers stroked his hair waking him from deep sleep. Through half-closed eyes, he observed Jenny, the night attendant at the orphanage. He propped himself up on one elbow as she squatted to his eye level. A smile spread across her round face surrounded by a chestnut bob all the way to her forest green eyes that glistened in the moonlight shining through the window beside his narrow bed.
She asked, “Have you ever taken care of baby bird eggs before?”
He shook his head, heat rushing up his neck and face as a tortured whisper blew past his lips, “Are they going to die?”
Jenny’s warm fingers stroked the hair away from his forehead. “Not if we do all the right things, all the right ways.”
He asked, “Do you know how?”
She stood to her feet, fists planted on each hip, a determined lift to her chin. “Not yet.” Then she gave him a conspirator’s wink.
During a time of civil war, Karasu Hinata is born the son of a powerful warlord. When he is still a child, his family castle is taken by a rival clan. His father and mother are murdered right before his eyes.
Barely escaping with his life, he is spirited away by the king of the tengu. The shape-shifting raven leads him to the hidden mountain retreat of a sect of mystic warriors. Mountain priests who practice the magic of Shugendo.
Ten years have passed. The time has come for Karasu to leave the mystic’s protective lair and face his demons in the world beyond. But the fiend that haunts his nightmares is also the one that shattered his life. More than a bad dream, it wants him dead.
In Legend of the Tengu Prince, nothing is as it seems. Shape-shifting creatures, both good and evil, populate the magical world of feudal Japan. And a young man will pay the ultimate price for a deadly rival spawned in the mists time. This riveting first volume of a epic fantasy adventure will leave you stunned and begging for more.
- “The Cuckoo’s Nestling” Part One (creativemusingsoflediar.com)
- Limited Time Offer! (writingtipsforbetterwriting.wordpress.com)
- Legend of the Tengu Prince – Finally Available on Amazon.com! (lediarunnels27221912.wordpress.com)
- “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” Part Six (fairytalesbylediar.wordpress.com)