Lesson 7

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As day turned to night, the party below the eyries swelled to an all-out riot

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As day turned to night, the party below the eyries swelled to an all-out riot. Benedikt lay down beside Grielle. He made no movement other than the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed in the balmy cave air.

While Grielle shivered beside him, he focused solely on escape. From their nest, he could see the dark, cloudless sky and the flicker of stars through one of the cavern's openings. Something small and dark passed over the opening and Benedikt's pulse quickened. He sat up to get a better look, causing the nest to sway slightly.

Grielle whimpered and clutched the wooden beams with white knuckles. "No moving. No thinking. We are just going to wait here until the pirates come back and take us to solid ground," she hissed through gritted teeth.

"Did you see that?" He pointed to the opening above them.

Grielle sat up slowly. Still pale with fear, she scanned the sky. Her mouth parted softly. She drew a slender hand to her lips and whistled between her fingers. High above the raucous party, it wouldn't have been heard by any pirates. "Kai," she said. "He knows his master's call anywhere."

Benedikt held his breath as the shadow dipped in the sky and glided silently through the opening in the ceiling. The falcon landed on the edge of nest and gave Grielle a little squawk.

She caught sight of something wrapped around Kai's leg and clicked her tongue. Kai hopped across the nest and onto her waiting arm. He drew himself up and stuck out his leg for her to detach his parcel — a small piece of parchment and a thin stick of charcoal.

She scrawled something on the paper and passed it to Benedikt.

Send Instruction, the note read. We need a distraction, she'd scrawled on the reverse side. Benedikt nodded in support.

"They'll know just what to do. We've used such tactics often," Grielle said.

She tied the paper to Kai's leg and stroked his neck. At another click of her tongue, Kai took off into the night to deliver their reply. The rest was just a waiting game. In the darkest hours before dawn, the pirates eventually succumbed to the effects of copious drink and most fell into a heavy sleep below.

"So what is this terrible plan you have?" Grielle whispered.

"We should probably give it a try while we wait for the distraction." Benedikt crawled to one of the three ropes that held the nest aloft. It was a strong and sturdy rope but slick with moisture from the damp cavern. He gave Grielle an apologetic look before putting his weight on the rope causing the nest to swing slowly. Once the nest had swung back away from the wall, he pushed on the rope again. They swung even closer this time.

Grielle looked like she was going to be sick; her hands gripped the beams of their prison so hard, Benedikt thought her fingers might bleed. Still, with every part of her body trembling, she released her grip on the nest eased herself over to the rope opposite of Benedikt.

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