The Nian Chronicles

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“This spear thrower could be the answer to our problems!”

Two figures leaned over a small round table. A candle cast a pale light on the parchment laid out between them, but it barely reached the mud-daubed walls lined with shelves in the Archive nest. A general smoothed his red tunic covered in medals and awards, his hands trembling. His double red and black wings fluttered, ruffling his shoulder length black hair and sputtering the candle flame.

The second wiped his light brown face with the same color hands. His brown wings drifted open and closed as he waited for the military general’s decision about the drawings on the parchment.

“Explain its operation,” the general urged.

“One warrior notches a spear, a second fires it. The range covers a hundred yards, and the top seat and bow mechanism swivels to change firing direction.”

“Surely this will help the warriors fight the Lizia during our next invasion,” the general murmured, tracing the drawings.

The inventor nodded. “They’re easy to build and assemble. I can have a prototype ready in a few weeks.”

“Fabulous,” the general whispered. “Start work immediately.”

Someone screamed outside, “Weasels! Weasels approaching!”

The officer jerked and rolled the parchment, storing it on a top shelf before hurrying the inventor to the nest opening. They hesitated on the outside landing, hearing more screams in the darkening forest. A sinuous figure eased up the nearest tree, intent on another nest hanging in the branches. Brightly winged fighters zipped around the hungry predator, but it barely noticed their sword attacks and only batted at the ones in front of him.

“Come,” the officer urged the inventor. “You should be safe in the air. I will guard you across the clearing.”

They spread wings to leap into the sky, but just as they launched, a furred paw swatted from behind the nest, spinning them to the ground. They both hit hard, the officer grunting as he landed on one of his wings.

The inventor ran to him. “Are you alright?”

“My wing!” the officer groaned. “I think it’s broken.”

“Come, I will help you,” the inventor urged, hauling him up.

“Fly on alone!” the officer ordered. “It’s too dangerous for you here. You must go now!”

At a growl behind them, they turned to find a weasel stalking from the base of the tree below the Archive nest, its beady eyes riveted on them.

“Go!” the officer gasped, drawing his sword.

The inventor turned to escape, and the officer ran to the weasel’s side to draw its attention, but the animal pounced with paws outstretched and struck the inventor as he launched into the air. His cry of fear cut off as he hit the ground and lay motionless.

The officer swung his sword at the weasel, but it batted him away like a toy. He landed next to the inventor, his weapon sliding away. He whirled and screamed as the weasel leaped, its dark body blotting out the full moon with its fanged mouth gaping wide.

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