Dusk had fallen across the forest and the silvery strands of moonlight touched the leaves of the trees gently. Some of the rays caressed the wooden building and fell through the windowpane on the surface of a large stone statue. A man in his late fifties took up his chisel for one final time and with the hammer merely brushing the chisel’s end, he completed his masterwork.
He took one step back and gazed lovingly at his creation, eyes gleaming in the hazy light of the moon as he laid down the tools of his trade absentmindedly on a workbench. He reached out his hand and traced the curves of a large hooked beak. His hand traced the texture of life-like feathers and he bent slightly down to reach the smooth stone surface of the powerful talons at the foot of the magnificent stone bird. He smiled with obvious satisfaction and whispered softly: “Greetings my hawk. The only thing that remains for me to do is to give you a past and a future, a present you already have.”
The man pulled up a chair and gathered his thoughts before he spoke once more. His words filled the room with more than a sound and the words that he spoke gave life to more than just a tale.
For centuries the races of the birdmen, the Averen, have dwelt among the people of the Earth. From the ancient Egyptians to the Greeks, from Native Americans to the Chinese, all over the world birds have played an important role in beliefs and legends. This legend speaks of the race of Halconians, the Hawk-men; the royalty among the Averen. Once they were powerful and numerous but now they have become no more than myths…legends of a past no one truly believes. But sometimes such legends are given a new leash of life and re-enter our reality. Such is foretold about the Hawk-king Talon, most powerful among the Halconians. Lost in legend he was but never lost to this world. He will soar the skies and walk the streets of the Earth once more, looking for his subjects that have scattered across the world. And if he finds his Hawk-Queen, he can be King of all birdmen again, so that they will thrive and prosper as they once did and bring the legends to life.
With his eyes radiating a power that went beyond the power of the pale moonlight, the sculptor stood up from his chair and approached the statue slowly. His hands reached out to his creation and stopped short just before touching the stone. Silver-blue light glittered in the dark, covering the statue like a living transparent blanket that shimmered restlessly in the night. When the man withdrew his hands, the light remained in place. With his eyes riveted on the stone features of the magnificent bird, he slowly backed away as the light became more intense.
Beneath the seal of light, something stirred suddenly. Feathers of stone seemed to bristle in an unfelt wind. The bird’s head turned while the rest of its body remained still. Lifeless black eye sockets changed to a living dark red and the black stone feathers changed to hues of black, brown, red and white. The bird turned its head once more, facing the old sculptor with its piercing gaze. Then its beak touched the shell of light which vanished with a sudden flash.
The bird blinked.
The man looked at the bird with reverend awe and the bird stared at the man with curious detachment. Unable and perhaps not daring to move, the man remained transfixed, waiting with held breath as the bird unfolded its wings graciously. Then it led out a piercing shriek that echoed through the forest and chased frightened field mice into hiding.
Inside the hut, the air began to shimmer and blurred the features of the hawk. Gazing in raptures, the man gulped air once, his mouth left open in pure wonder. No longer was he staring at the proud bird that once had been his most beautiful creation. But what he was seeing instead had no true form as yet. The air trembled and the vision blurred, showing sometimes a beak, sometimes a talon and then the beak became a nose and the talon became a foot. The vision grew, taking up man-sized space and dark feathers became dusky clothes. The blurry vision became more focused and instead of the proud bird of prey stood a large, proud man.
The man turned to face the sculptor and blinked.
Then he smiled slowly.
His eyes glanced away from the man, who still stood transfixed, to his own hands and watched them curiously. He stretched out his arm and turned it slightly. He clenched his fist and flexed his muscles with the same detachment the bird had shown. He raised himself to his full height and tested his weight carefully, exercising his muscles like one did after a long period of inertia. Sure of his limbs and the correct workings of his muscles, he turned his attention once more to the old man who looked at him with a mixture or awe and uneasiness.
“Your Highness,” the old man finally managed in a husked voice and inclined his head in respect.
The other man’s smile deepened.