A/N: Yippee to new story! Now as some of you may know I applied to this fun little thing called Mossflower Odyssey: Heaven Sent- that's a survivor contest for those uninformed. And for those who dont know what a Survivor contest is well... the gist of it is that it's this super fun writing collab competition where you a) try to get into a cast and b) survive as many rounds of death voting as possible. It's super fun and you should definetly look into it if you haven't.
Now I er didn't get into the cast this time (curse you Old Ooooooooooooooooooooone!) I did create this pretty fun character called Kew-Kew, who got into the Top Thirty and most people seemed to enjoy. And well, I could not leave him and Margaret dangling forever. The first section in italics is the application I submitted that got Kew-Kew into the Top Thirty, the rest is the continuation of his story.
"Kraw! KRAW! KEEERAW!"
Margaret shivered, and quickened her pace. She had strayed from the path to pick up some daisies and was now paying the price for it.
Thwack! A pair of spears buried themselves inches from her feetpaws, their shafts quivering in front of her.
Margaret hurried past the spears, oblivious to the shadow that followed her through the treeline. An arrow whistled past, trimming her whisker tips. The mousemaid failed to suppress a sob and stumbled over a stray root. Had she not done so she might have been crushed by the boulder that crashed into the ground in front of her.
"Kraw! Kraw! Who goes through the land of Kew-Kew?"
A horrific creature dropped down from the foliage above. A black mask of fur lay over wide, curious eyes that stared down at the mouse. It's tail and arms were bare, muscular and lined with a few stray strands of fur. It wore a skirt of feathers and carried a jagged spear in one paw.
"Who be you?" The creature demanded, sniffing at the mouse.
"D-don't-" Margaret sat up swiftly, and did her best to back away from it's frightening countenance. "Don't come closer."
The creature snorted and crouched down on all fours. "I is only sniffing." It jabbed at her with his spear. "Mousey-thing stinks of fear. Smells worse than I does! Hihihihi!" It composed itself, and went on. "She should be careful. Mouse is in eagle-territory."
"Eagles?" She swallowed and eyed the trees around her with worry.
The creature nodded, grinning wide. He placed a paw on his chest. "Lotsa eagles eatta lotsa mousies. But I is not that kind of bird. Mouses big yucky! Kew-Kew like other eagles more!" He leaned in conspiratorially. "And sometimes eggses!" The creature sat down besides her. "I tried mousey-thing once, just de tail-part." The creature pulled a face and pretended to retch.
Margaret might have found the motion sympathizing were she not terrified beyond wit.
"Sorry I scares you. Trapses were meant to catch other, more yummy thingies."
"So you set up the spears?"
"Yes yes! And the big stone! Kew-Kew did it all by himself!" He puffed out his chest with pride. "I is smart."
"Y-yes. Very smart." Margaret cleared her throat hopefully. "The smartest eagle there is."
"Mousey thing is kind." The rugged beast appeared to be blushing, and wrapped his strong arms around her in what might have been a hug. "It is also easy preything."
"Aaaaaaaah!" Margaret felt the air rush past her. Had she been thrown? Was she flying? Was she dead? Her back hit a branch, and suddenly she lurched downwards again. "OOOF!" She came to a sudden halt, now suspended a hundred feetpaw off the ground.
"Kew-Kew is smartest eagle because Kew-Kew hunts other eagles!" The strange creature bragged, appearing on a branch at her level. "When eagle come swooping for mouseything I swoops down on eagles!"
"S-so I'm the bait!?"
"Keeragh! Smart mousey-thing!" He tapped her on the nose. "Yes, yes, you is bait! Catch Kew-Kew biggest eagle and I frees you, yes? Big eagle kill mother of Kew-Kew, I wants te kill biiiiig eagles!"
"B-but you're not an eagle!" She tried to protest.
"I is." He said stubbornly, once more tapping her nose. "I is biggest, bestest, hungriest eagle!" He tapped at the feather's on his skirt. "Eagle that eats eagles! And if I is not eagle… what is I?" He waited all of three seconds, his eyes wide in wonder, as if seeking the answer, before licking the mouse across the face. "Don't worry. Kew-Kew always catches something."
"Oh for the love of St. Ninian's! You are not. An. Eagle!" Margaret cried, desperately rubbing away at the drool on her face.
"Kraw! Mouseything talk too much, bait too little." The slobbery wearet poked Margaret on the nose, a habit he seemed to have picked up in their time together. Still, the mousemaid found it preferable to the sniffing and the licking. "All day Kew-Kew is waiting to catch eagle and mousey-thing won't bait good!" He threw up his paws in a show of frustration.
"Well I'm sorry," Margaret spoke through gritted teeth. "I had no idea you were such a busy creature. Perhaps I had better come back and resume my duties tomorrow. Why don't you go back to your little nest and rest!"
Kew-Kew shook his head from side to side, the way a particularly stubborn dibbun would. "If mousey-thing stays out at night, night-eagle swoops down and eat it up!"
"Night-eagles," Kew-Kew affirmed. "Like day-eagle, but with squashed pancake-face, and eyes so big they sometimes sees I before I sees them."
"Pancake faces? Y-you don't mean owls, do you?"
"Mousey-thing never eatta pancake?" Kew-Kew's eyes widened in horror. "B-but how does mousey-thing live without pancake?"
"How do you know what a pancake is!?" Margaret's head was beginning to spin, not just because all her blood was going to her brain but because this creature made. No. Sense.
"Of course Kew-Kew knows what pancake is!" The wearet snorted. "I make biggest, bestest, yummiest pancakes in all Land of Kew-Kew!"
Margaret took a deep breath and closed her eyes. This was a dream. It had to be a dream. If it wasn't a dream… If it was a dream it did raise the interesting question of 'what on earth had she eaten last night?'
Margaret swiftly pushed those thoughts away. They weren't important right now. "When I open my eyes I'll be in bed. I will not be faced with an ugly, furless savage. I will be home. I will be safe."
"Mousey-thing is safe!" Kew-Kew snapped indignantly. "Safer with Kew-Kew than down on forest floor. Lotsa trapses dere!"
"Traps that you set up," the mousemaid seethed, opening her eyes again to find the same ugly, furless savage still grinning at her.
"Eagle needs to eat also." The wearet shrugged and turned on his heels. "I is gonna hide now. Be good bait, mousey-thing!" With a smile and a wave Kew-Kew vanished into the foliage.
Margaret was not sure how long she had been dangling from the treetops now - it was hard to tell the time with no sun in sight - but it already felt like several weeks. Being strung up for this long was not good for one's health or hygiene. At this point she was pretty sure she did stink worse than Kew-Kew. Probably looked worse for wear too… Her ears and whiskers drooped down miserably, her arms and legs were sore and stiff and the vine around her middle was growing more and more uncomfortable by the minute.
The dull silence of the forest was broken by the arrival of her captor, who appeared as if from thin air. "Hello mousey-thing!"
Margaret did not find the strength to even snap at him.
"You is not good bait," Kew-Kew once more drew uncomfortably close and passed his tongue over her face, oblivious to the look of disgust she shot him. The wearet chewed thoughtfully and sniffed. "Still stink too."
"Rich coming from you," the mousemaid hissed, with all the venom an exhausted, helpless and starving rodent could.
Kew-Kew did not seem to take offence in the comment. "I brought mousey-thing food." He raised a piece of eggshell up to eye-level, displaying the vomit-inducing contents within. "Pancake!"
Margaret flinched away from the appalling concoction and retched. She was not sure what exactly the sloshing, churning bile was, but that did not make it any more appetizing. In any case, it wasn't a pancake.
Kew-Kew's ears drooped miserably as he lowered the eggshell, yet perked up again when a shadow passed over the pair of them.
"It is coming! It is coming!" he chattered excitedly, dropping the 'pancake' and abandoning the eggshell.
"W-what's coming?" Margaret called out apprehensively, as Kew-Kew vanished from sight. "Wait! Kew-Kew wait!" Her cries went unheard, yet echoed throughout the treetops.
Then all was silent in the deep, dark woods. Here and there a shadow passed, a branch rustled. Margaret could only turn her head so far, and watch and wait. Her heart beat against her chest like a little drum, and tears began to slip from her eyes. A horrible sinking feeling manifested in her gut. What good could come from the excitement of a savage?
Then it all happened at once. A terrible creature burst through the treeline and swooped down upon the captured mouse, it's talons bared, it's beak wide open. It came at her as fast and as forcefully as a bolt of lightning. Even if she wasn't dangling helplessly, there would have been no escape. This was a true eagle. A predator beyond compare. Her doom.
Margaret whimpered, shut her eyes and waited for death to come.
A mere moment from impact, the forest seemed to stand still.
Suddenly, the vine around the mousemaid was severed and she fell with a scream, the eagle's beak snapping shut over nothing but thin air. Margaret landed on a branch below, and hastily wrapped her shaking limbs around it.
"Please stop," she whined to nobeast in particular. "I can't take this any more."
It took only a moment for the eagle to get over their surprise and pinpoint their prey again. And half a moment later it dived again.
"KEEERAAAW!" As it flew, a spear hurtled towards the diving bird and struck it's side. The avian gave a cry of pain, and tried to throw off this irksome flea, yet the projectile held firm. Blood gushed out from between the feathers and rained down upon Margaret and the forest floor below.
The raptor cawed back at the trees challengingly, halting it's dive and beating it's wings in the air as it circled the helpless mouse. Was something trying to rob it of it's rightful prey?
A second spear was thrown, but the eagle evaded it. The sharp eyesight of the hungry predator soon located it's assailant.
"Kraw!" the wearet cawed, raising a third spear. "Kraw! Kraw! KA-KAW!"
The eagle shot off like an arrow from a bow. As it dived it rolled out of the way of the wearet's subsequent spear-throw. A moment before impact Kew-Kew, still grinning like a madbeast, caught hold of a vine and swung away, a fourth, shorter spear in paw. The eagle reacted quickly, and snapped at the hunter's form.
Twisting away from the possibility of horizontal bisection (not that Kew-Kew ever used words like that) Kew-Kew hurled the fourth spear at his opponent and caught the avian in the eye.
It gave a cry of pain, and snapped at the air agaun, but Kew-Kew had already vanished into the foliage. Once more taking flight the avian began to circle the treeline, hungry for vengeance as well as flesh.
Silence returned to the forest. The seconds rolled on, the minutes ticked past. Not even the raptor's remaining eye could find the filthy creature that had attacked it, but the eagle did notice that Margaret had not gone anywhere. Still clutching the branch and shaking with all the fear of a dibbun in deep trouble, she was an easy preything. Barely a mouthful, but easier to hunt. Already half-blind and bleeding, the eagle dared not risk more injury. Mouthful or not, the mouse would do.
Without another sound, the avian dived forwards, it's wings folded carefully behind it's back. The air rushed past it. It's prey drew closer.
"KRAAAAAAAAAAW!" With a battle cry worthy of any eagle, Kew-Kew fell upon the eagle's unprotected back, spear-first. The jagged blade of the hunter's weapon stuck deep into the avian's flesh, and clung on as determinedly as a tick.
Blinded by pain, and unable to bring it's dive to a halt, the eagle crashed into a tree with a resounding SNAP! It cawed weakly, and slid down the trunk with a final, painful shudder.
Deathly silence returned. After several minutes more of helplessly shaking and waiting for the Dark Forest to open its gates to her, Margaret finally let her eyes crack open.
Kew-Kew was grinning up at her. "Well mousey-thing?" he asked, nudging her slightly. "Is Kew-Kew eagle now? Hihihihihi! See mousey-thing? Kew-Kew is eagle, hunter of eagles!"
Margaret gave no reply beyond shuddering, so Kew-Kew went on.
"And you is good bait," Kew-Kew praised, licking the dead eagle's blood off her face. "Not the bestest bait, but eagle still want to eatta mousey-thing."
The mouse's ears perked up a bit, but she did not dare hope for good news. Still… it was worth a try. "So... does this mean... you'll let me go?"
"Yes, yes. Like Kew-Kew said so. Bye bye mousey-thing!" The wearet waved, and hopped off the branch.
"B-but wait!" Margaret glanced down at the forest floor far, far beneath her and clung onto the tree all the tighter. "How do I get down?"
Down below, the once-majestic raptor lay surrounded by broken branches and scattered feathers. It's body lay still, angled uncomfortably. It's mighty wings, once strong enough to blow away the wind, were as broken as it's neck.
"Hihihihihi! Big eagle! Not as big as Kew-Kew, though! Not as smart, too. Big, dead eagle!" Kew-Kew dropped down from above, as usual armed with an impish grin.
Any self-respecting bird would have thought it a fate worse than death to be stripped of one's feathers, but then this bird was already dead by the time the wearet started. "Kraw! Mousey-thing look like big stupid now that Kew-Kew is clearly eagle." He shook his head rapidly from side to side, simultaneously ripping out a fistful of his prey's silky brown plumage. He fitted a few straight into his skirt of feathers, and slid one behind his ear. "Why do mousey-thingies always say somethings like that?"
It spoke much of Margaret's sheer, stubborn, never-before-seen strength of will that by the time she finally slipped off the branch Kew-Kew had prepared a large pile of fluffy down for her to land on.
"Hello again, mousey-thing!" he greeted her, without looking up from his work.
The mousemaid only groaned in response and did her best to sit up. The sight that greeted her was not pleasant in any way, shape or form and not for the first time, she felt an overwhelming urge to vomit. One eagle lay dead, another was busy tearing away at it's last remaining dignity.
"I have question." Kew-Kew looked up from around the heap of feathers he had buried himself in. "Why did mousey-thing say I was not an eagle?"
"Because you're not," she blurted out before she could stop herself. Near-starvation, coupled with the very real possibility that she would be stuck with this slobbery beast for Martin-knew-how-long did not brew the coolest of tempers.
"I is." he said stubbornly. Kew-Kew gestured at the carcass that lay between them. "How does mousey-thing explain big, dead eagle if I is not eagle?"
"Just because you kill something doesn't mean you are something." To her credit Margaret did her best to keep her temper. Trying to forge a path home would have been the smarter choice, but in her current state she doubted she'd get far before she ran into something dangerous. Kew-Kew, at least, seemed somewhat harmless… as long as you weren't an eagle anyways. "If I had killed the bird, would I have suddenly become one?"
"If mouse had killed eagle, mousie would be mousie and Kew-Kew would be proud," chirped the wearet, beaming.
Margaret's paw reached up to her forehead, all the better to massage it. "Alright. But because you killed an eagle, you are one. So if you killed a fish, you'd be a fish as well?"
"If I killed swimmy-thing I would still be eagle," Kew-Kew protested. "All eagles eatta swimmy-thingies!"
Margaret bit her lip and once more found herself looking over the 'bird'. His sharp, yellow-ish teeth, the mask of dark fur around his eyes, his strong, furless arms… none of it was avian. He was missing a beak, wings, feathers of his own... Had he never been confronted with his own reflection? Had nobeast ever thrown a mirror at him? The mousemaid shook the thought away and breathed deeply. What Kew-Kew was did not matter to her. If he wanted to call himself an eagle, that was none of her business. The wearet had promised her freedom and Margaret was eager to seize it.
"You know what? You're right." she nodded slowly as she rose to her feetpaw. The mousemaid dusted off her ruined clothes and continued to nod the way a particularly thoughtful beast did. "You are an eagle. I don't know how I didn't see it before."
"Keeraw! Smart mousey-thing!"
"Now if you don't mind, since I helped you catch that other eagle and all." Margaret cleared her throat. "Could you help me find my way out of here?"
"Mouseything is lost?" Kew-Kew got up, shaking away any stray feathers that clung to him.
I wouldn't be here if I wasn't… "Yes. I'm lost and I have to get back to my family. I-I've already been gone for so long, they must be so worried." Margaret passed a paw over her face. "Could the… biggest, er- bestest eagle help a poor mousey-thing in need?"
"Of course I will help mousey-thing! Kraw! But mousey-thing should be careful with who mousey-thing trusts. Other eagles won't help a yummything like I do."
"Yes, yes. I'm sure the er- lesser eagles wouldn't hesitate to swallow me whole." She glanced down at the featherless corpse that had tried to do so not too long ago. Margaret might have felt more sympathy for the poor creature had it not tried to kill her. Still, she averted her eyes. Nobeast deserved to die like that… "I live in a small village not far from these woods. I… don't think you've ever been there, but I'm sure you'll be very helpful regardless."
"Yes, yes! I will be helpful! Most helpfullest eagle ever!" Kew-Kew scrambled over to where she stood, his fat, furless tail wagging besides him like a mutant rat's. The wearet sniffed the air and grinned. "Mousey-thing smells better! No longer fear-stinking!" He sniffed again. "Smells like flower now."
"That's great. Now, let's see. Over there is where you dropped the boulder so-"
"Not so fast mousie." As if to underline this statement, Kew-Kew stepped on her tail. The wearet raised a claw. "First I must feed the eggchickies and bring the big, dead bird to nest. Then mousey-thing goes to mousie village."
Margaret opened her mouth to protest, but thought better of it. Gritting her teeth she nodded. "Fine then. We'll feed your chickies and take the eagle to your nest. And then you'll help me get home?"
"Yes, yes. I promises!" The eagle hunter pulled out a vine, and began to bind his captured prey, the easier to drag it along behind him. Setting the soft down, as well as the longer, taller feather's upon the raptor's lifeless chest, Kew-Kew motioned for Margaret to follow behind and the two set off.
Luckily for the unlucky mousemaid, who was all too eager to get home, it was not too long before Kew-Kew pointed out a particularly wide tree and declared 'Behold! Nest of Kew-Kew!'
"It looks lovely," said the mousemaid with a diplomatic smile. Frankly, it looked like a perfectly average tree, but saying so was likely to upset her large companion.
"Wait till mousey-thing sees inside," the wearet chirruped excitedly. "Nest is even better inside!" Pulling aside a curtain of leaves and plumage, Kew-Kew revealed a boulder that Margaret would not have been able to budge. One which he effortlessly sent rolling away. Behind it lay a tunnel.
Margaret hesitated, not knowing what would greet her at the end of it. It would be all too easy for Kew-Kew to murder her if she walked right into his lair. She shuddered, as the thought of being skinned and worn as a skirt crossed her mind, and stepped away from the cavern altogether.
"Mousey-thing is stinking again." Kew-Kew commented. The wearet cocked his head to the side. "Why is mousey-thing scared?"
"I'm not scared." Margaret cleared her throat to give herself something to do. "Just... cautious…" She watched in horror as Kew-Kew strung up the mound of flesh that had once been a mighty eagle. The raptor was beyond recognition now, a blob of lifeless pink, wrapped up in vines.
Picking up armfuls of the avian plumage, Kew-Kew snorted. "Mousie has no reason to be scaredy. Kew-Kew is good eagle, and eggchickies of Kew-Kew is also good eagles. Come, come! I make pancake for mousie!"
The last thing Margaret wanted at this point was whatever the wearet's idea of a pancake was. Saying so, however, was unlikely to help her get back any sooner. Kew-Kew's skirt of feathers, and the last of his furless tail vanished into the treetrunk. A final, hesitant pause later, Margaret followed.
The tunnel lead upwards into a wider part of the tree, before opening up into a perfectly round room of sorts. The soft down of perhaps a hundred unfortunate birds covered the floor, and upon the walls lay the bones and feathers of what could only be even more unfortunate birds. Spears of the crooked, jagged and blunt kind littered the place, and in a last-ditch attempt at hospitality Kew-Kew was gathering them up as swiftly as he could. To one side of the wearet's makeshift nest lay a small clutch of eggs, each as tall and as wide as Margaret herself.
"Ta-da!" Kew-Kew declared, dropping down on all fours. "What does mousey-thing think?"
Aside from the pungent, putrid stench that seemed to follow Kew-Kew everywhere and the questionable ethics of lining one's floor with eagle parts, it was rather... cozy? "It's lovely Kew-Kew."
The wearet's ears went pink and the smile on his face grew wider. "Mousey-thing is nice to say so." He gestured towards the eggs. "Eggchickies of Kew-Kew!" The wearet approached the eggs, and turned them towards Margaret. "Flap, Peck, Talon and Beaky!"
"They're lovely." Margaret found it strangely sympathizing that he had drawn individual faces on each of them. "I'm sure you're a wonderful father."
Kew-Kew's chest puffed out with the pride only a 'wonderful father' could muster. "Yes yes, Kew-Kew is good father to eggchickies." To underline his point, Kew-Kew wrapped his arms around the two nearest eggs and pulled them into a hug.
For perhaps the first time since they had met Margaret found herself overwhelmed with curiosity. A dozen questions raced through her mind, though she doubted Kew-Kew would know the answer to half of them. She was not entirely sure what he was, and it was already explicitly clear that he wasn't either. There was also the interesting question of how somebeast who admitted to eating eggs could raise eggs as if they were his own… and the equally interesting question of where he'd gotten his eggs from.
"Mousey-thing is quiet." The mousemaid nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of Kew-Kew's voice behind her. For a beast as big as he was, he sure was stealthy. "Is mousie tired?"
"A little bit." Margaret admitted. "But I'll rest when I'm home… Say… Kew-Kew…" The questions returned to her with renewed frenzy, but she could only give voice to one. "Do you ever get lonely here?"
"Lonely? No, no. Kew-Kew is never alone." The wearet grinned wide. "I always has something to talk to!" The grin faltered. "B-but it is nice to have something talk to Kew-Kew. Even if it's preything."
The two drifted off into an uneasy, awkward silence. The mousemaid felt a stab of pity as Kew-Kew began to chew at his claw. He couldn't be too old and yet he was all alone, stuck in a tree and playing at eagleship. He needed guidance, clothes, a bath, companionship, perhaps a bit more fur in places… He needed a... parent?
"Does mousie have name?" said Kew-Kew, all of a sudden.
"Mousey-thing. Does it have a name or is it just a mousie?"
"Oh, it's Margaret." Insitinctively she stretched her paw out towards him.
Kew-Kew ignored the gesture, his brow furrowing. "Marr-garr-ett? Is Kew-Kew saying it right?"
"He is, I mean, you are." The mousemaid lowered her paw and the silence returned. This time it was Margaret who broke it. "If you don't mind me asking… why do you think you're an eagle?"
"Kraw!" The wearet shook his head good naturedly. "Margaret-mousie still thinks I is not an eagle."
"I didn't say that-"
"Mousie didn't, but Marr-garr-ett was thinking like that." Kew-Kew sat down and gestured for her to do the same. "I am eagle because I came from egg, like eagle. Because I live in eagle territory, like eagle. Because I hunt and look after eggchickies, like eagle!"
"But you haven't got any feathers." The mousemaid sat down, mentally preparing herself for what would no doubt be a long conversation. "Or a beak, o-or talons for that matter."
"Hihihihihi! But I has feathers." Kew-Kew gestured at his skirt. "I has beak." He tapped his muzzle. "I has talons." He waved his claws in her face.
"Those are claws," the mousemaid protested.
"Then these are talons." The wearet thrust his footpaw towards her.
Margaret brushed it away, her nose wrinkling in disgust. "Those are also claws Kew-Kew."
"Looks like talons," he muttered under his breath. Idly he raised the same footpaw to scratch at an ear. "I asked Margaret-mousie before, when mousie was being bait. If I is not eagle, what is I?"
To Kew-Kew's credit, this time he waited longer than three seconds for an answer. Still, the mousemaid did not have a reply to that beyond pursing her lips.
"Krackaw! Hihihihihihi! Mousie doesn't know! Mousie doesn't know!" The wearet grinned. "How can mousie say what I is not, if mousie doesn't know what I is?"
"Because I know what an eagle is. E-eagles are birds."
"I is bird too." Kew-Kew stuck his tongue out at her, the way an insolent dibbun would.
"But you're not! Birds have wings. Birds fly. Y- you don't."
"Not all birds flap-fly, mousie." Kew-Kew countered, easing himself into a more comfortable position.
Margaret opened and shut her mouth, unable to find a response to the wearet's argument. "But you can't be a bird!"
"Hihihihihi!" The wearet snickered and slid his eyes shut. "Margaret-mousie should sleep. When morning-time come I takes her to mousie village."
"Sleep? What do you mean sleep? You said we were just coming here to feed your eggchicks!" Margaret protested, not at all keen on spending the night in a nest.
"Is dark now." Kew-Kew protested back. "Margaret-mousie is tired. Better wait for morning-time."
"I'm not tired." The mousemaid shot to her feetpaws, the better to underline her statement.
"But I is." The wearet's eyes cracked open. "Please mousie. Wait for morning-time. Then I takes you home. Yes?"
Margaret growled, and was sorely tempted to give the ignorant savage a kick, but decided better of it. It would not do to antagonize Kew-Kew now. "Fine."
"Yay!" Kew-Kew shut his eyes, and curled up to sleep.
"But at first light we are leaving. Understood?"
The wearet's reply came as a soft snore. The mousemaid bit back another growl.
It was the longest wait of her life. The snore of the eagle-that-was-not-an-eagle echoed throughout it's nest, bouncing from wall to wall and denying it's guest the sweet silence of sleep. After an hour or two Margaret decided she was better off sleeping outside, but a short trip through the tunnel later she found to her horror that the boulder door had been replaced at some point. Kew-Kew's snoring sounded quite a lot like mocking laughter then. Once more braving the den of the wearet, Margaret sat down amidst the eggs, crossed her arms and watched as the Northland's most misguided predator snoozed the night away.
Margaret did not remember falling asleep, but knew that she must have at some point for the first thing she saw upon opening her eyes was the wearet's slobbery grin. "Morning mousey-thing!"
"Morning." Margaret replied cordially, batting away at the wearet's breath.
"Well is not actually morning." Kew-Kew scratched the back of his head. "Is more noon-time. I woke up early, but Margaret was sleeping so peaceful-like. I didn't want to wake uppa mousie. But is not too late to go to village! Mousey-thing village not far, right? I can take you there now, like I promise. Unless mousie wanna eatta eagle, first?"
Margaret most certainly did not want to eat an eagle, but she did not remember the last time she'd eaten. And despite her private thoughts about his pancakes, Margaret had to admit that the chunk of roasted flesh he was offering her looked rather succulent. Eventually, as it so often did, hunger won out.
A while later the pair sat outside the nest, munching on big, dead eagle meat. "Kew-Kew?"
"If you don't mind me asking… what was your mother like?" Kew-Kew's snoring may have deprived her of sleep, but the mousemaid's mind was still sharp. If Kew-Kew could remember an eagle killing his mother, such that his singular goal in life was to kill and pluck eagles, then surely he would know that his mother was not an eagle herself. At least she had deduced as much.
"I know what mousie is thinking." Kew-Kew smirked slightly. "And mother of Kew-Kew was eagle too, just like Kew-Kew."
"Just like you?" Margaret pursed her lips. "So she couldn't fly either?"
"No, no. Mother could fly. Mother had wings as tall as trees. But Kew-Kew was always small eagle. Biggest eagle- but small. I never could flap-fly like mother." He shrugged. "I is not that type of bird."
"So you were adopted?" Margaret blurted out. "Oh it all makes sense now, you were adopted by an eagle and so think-"
"I don't think!" Kew-Kew snapped. "I is eagle, mousie. Not eagle like mother, but still eagle. In fact, mousie is lucky I is different. Mother loved mousey-things more than anything!"
Margaret recoiled and a moment later, the wearet's ears fell. "Sorry. I is not meaning to scare Margaret-mousie. Is just... " Kew-Kew glanced about the forest to make sure nobeast was listening in. "I is… sensitive. Lotsa beasts say I is not eagle. Mousie is not the first. It always bothered Kew-Kew, because Kew-Kew always feel like eagle. I has always been eagle! An-and if I is not eagle-"
"What is I…" Margaret muttered under her breath.
"Yes. If I is not eagle I is something else but if I is something else I is not eagle." Kew-Kew finished.
Another stab of pity made it's way through Margaret. Of course he wanted to be an eagle, he'd been one for so long that the thought of being anything else terrified him. And rightfully so, Margaret could not begin to think what her reaction would be to waking up one morning and realizing that she was, in fact, a rat. "Well, how about this? In my village there's a library-"
"It's a place where beasts keep books."
You poor thing… "It is where beasts go to have their questions answered. So… if we hurry home we can go there-"
"And ask why mousey-thingies always says I is not eagle!" Kew-Kew finished, clapping his paws excitedly. "Kraw! Margaret-mouse is smart. Almost as smart as Kew-Kew!"
"Yes," Margaret blinked once. "Almost as smart as Kew-Kew…"
Footnote: Fuuuuun fact! I have a goat called Maragret. Which made me instantly regret naming Margaret, Margaret because the annonymity might have been geopardized. Luckily noone seemed to pick up on that one XD (But apparently feetpaws is footpaws and I've been saying feetpaws this whole, entire time and someone most certainly picked up on that one...)