This is from Book IV “No’va” – Thomas Gracie has gone a separate way from Jenario and Shafari when they start to explore. I’m almost to the part where they meet a Healer for the first time.
There were sounds all around – some familiar, and some not. Strange clicks and throaty calls echoed in the distance. At certain points, the trees broke and he could see down into a small valley of green grass and blooming flora. Here, winter had not touched. It almost seemed unfair, as he thought back to those still in the cave, that none of the others were able to enjoy the warmth of spring.
Soon, we’ll all be out of Astra, away from Mayla, and away from the council. He kept repeating this thought while pausing to take in the beauty of lush landscape. When a large brown bear lumbered into the clearing, Thomas Gracie held his breath. Fully grown, the grizzly’s size was a comparable prize to the ones brought back to the city. There will be plenty here for the people.
He continued to watch as the bear lifted its head to take in surrounding smells, snorting loudly with each whiff. It all seemed fascinating until it stood up on its hind legs and let out an angry roar. Even from Thomas Gracie’s vantage point, he could make out those sharp teeth and powerful claws. A bear this size was nothing to mess with, though something apparently was.
An answering cry made the hair stick up on the back of his neck, especially after seeing a large shadow engulf part the bear. It glided across the clearing and out of sight, though he could hear something heavy land with a loud hiss. The bear still stood, its anger putting even Thomas Gracie on edge. It was not until he saw what landed that his heart skipped a beat.
The bear itself would have given Trappers a run for their money, but the thing that swayed out into his line of vision was beyond what he could have imagined. Black wings balanced its sways while on all fours, hissing all the while. Its skin could have blended well with the russet bark color found on trees. When it stood up, Thomas Gracie swore it was more human than animal, though three times larger. With the wingspan that stretched out to adjust movement with weight, it more than matched the bear’s ferocity.
The bear continued to stand its ground even when the other came within striking distance. What hit first was not the long, black talons Thomas Gracie could visibly see without question. It was the wings. A single turn smashed the animal in the face with enough force to topple it. The bear’s body mass made a clumsy performance to get back on its feet, giving the winged creature enough time to pounce.