Then suddenly there
was a angry, commanding scream, and another body hurtled between
them. Break it up! It was Sanyal.
He struck at the falcon, driving him off with the sheer power of his
Back in the
rookery, Ajay shook uncontrollably. He bled profusely from his
wounds, and the pain, blocked out during the battle, was now acute.
There was no more practice for him that day, or the next. His
classmates nursed him, and Sanyal looked in on him from time to time
and sat by him at night.
has been jealous of you from the start, Sanyal replied. Now
you are a real threat to him.
Sanyal said evenly, you have had a taste of
how it will be out in the world. It is a lesson you had to learn.
Consider it as a part of your training the final exercise. You have
to be prepared for that kind of attack always alert. If you are
going to compete, you'll have to expect jealousy and trickery.
Anyhow, you have proved yourself to be a good fighter.
The ugliness of
competition, the sudden vision of a lifetime of guarding against
vicious attacks out of the blue struck Ajay with a stab sharper than
any physical pain from his wounds. He felt his heart break. He knew
he could never again know the wild, abandoned joy of free flying.
Always alert! And worse, there was the uncovered well of his own