Over time, as their panic faded, the lost sparrows of Clan Oesoedd began to understand that they had been strangely blessed. Although sealed into the home of the giant hawks by the mysterious solid air with no hope of escape, they came to realize that it was a land of abundance.

The great striders moved in large numbers but also dropped vast amounts of food, indifferently leaving it as they strode off to be devoured by the giant hawks. They, unlike the striders in the World Beneath, never sought to harm the Oesoedd–the only danger was their innate clumsiness. Some even fed the sparrows, and all their leavings were carried away by slow, whining strider-piloted behemoths.

Echyd busied himself exploring the vast spaces and found a number of trees. Some were mock trees of the kind old Yn had once spoken of, but others were real and suitable for nesting. Chwi and Awr put a nest together as an experiment, to see whether the great striders would react violently as they sometimes did. Filled with unfertilized eggs, the nest lay undisturbed, and Chwi was granted permission to bring forth a brood.

Perhaps the greatest benefit Echyd and the Oesoedd sparrows came to recognize was the lack of llew, predators. The giant hawks came and went, devouring striders and regurgitating them for some unseen young, but seemed to take no notice of tiny sparrows, and certainly did not hunt them as the llew hawks did in the World Beneath. Dai and Ac even took to watching the hawks’ inscrutable movements, claiming that it inspired them. And there were no llew cats or llew dogs of any kind, save the very occasional one in a cage–a situation Echyd found devastatingly funny, given Yn’s tales of sparrows held captive by the striders in such cages.

Advertisements