Ch. 10

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Once the house had fallen silent, with the exception of the steady breathing around him, Crow quietly shifted into a more human-like form. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and broadening his senses until his awareness had spread throughout the entire neighborhood.

All at once, a million different movements came to his attention. A woman taking a late-night jog with her greyhound. A young couple arguing on their porch. An owl roosting from it's tree in the forest. Cars arriving home from a day of work. A coyote calling for it's young...

And a snake lurking just beyond the window.

His eyes flashed open, and he suddenly found himself thrusting the window open and vaulting through it. Careful not to wake the humans behind him, of course.

His shoulder still ached from their last fight, and the rest of his wounds were just barely closing up, but he'd still make that snake pay for it nonetheless. With a kind of anticipation he could only feel before an exhilarating battle, Crow gave a crooked grin and spun to face their 'intruders' head on.

***

Echo yawned and threw her arms back in a relaxed stretch, gazing up at the floral pattern that dominated the quilt above her. She frowned.

Was it just her, or was her side a little bit colder than usual?

When she looked down at herself, she realized she was lacking the familiar bundle of feathers that usually lingered there. She stood, though it was more of an awkward crouch, and carefully avoided stepping on her sleeping friends as she slid past the sheet that concealed their entrance.

As soon as she stepped out, Echo heard a hurried scuffling noise from somewhere on the other side of room. She saw a human-like shadow out of the corner of her eye, and she instinctively grabbed the nearest object that could potentially be used as a weapon. It was just a small decorative statue of an elephant that her mother had received sometime in the past, but it had a blunt base, and easily enough weight to knock a person out.

By the time she turned around, it had already darted in through the partially open door of their laundry room. She took a controlled breath, taking careful steps over the glossy wood flooring under her feet, all the while making sure not to put any pressure down on the creaky boards.

When Echo finally reached the door, flattening her back against the wall beside the door. She pinched her eyes shut, reviewing her hastily constructed plan. First, she would use the elephant statue to stun them momentarily, then tackle them to the ground before they could pull out whatever weapon they might have on their person.

After that, she would find a way to keep them there until she could get someone to call the cops.

She opened her eyes, steeling her resolve as she wound her arm back and shoved the door aside so that it was wide open. Just when she was about to hurl the thing forward with all her strength, she froze.

Rather than finding a person standing there, it was a pair of gold eyes that stared back at hers. Her arm still raised in mid-swing above her head, she let it drop back to her side as a nervous laugh escaped her lips.

It was just Piasa.

"Piasa! You scared me half to death, you know that?" Echo hissed out in a gentle, scolding tone.

He only tilted his head to the side, as if he were confused. As she bent over to reach for him, she noticed that his feathers were ruffled and his bandages had been messed up again. She sighed in frustration.

"What is it that you do while I sleep? I'd honestly like to know!" She muttered, her eyebrows furrowing in a thoughtful way as she took the massive bird into her arms. "I might just have to start locking you up at night... How do you like that idea, Piasa?" Echo gave him a mock-threatening look. "And I'll make sure to put some nice little shackles around your ankles, too."

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