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Hanging from the crooked branch of a maple tree wasn’t that glamorous—not what my people would expect from an honoured Massacre survivor. Legs swinging to try and get a foothold, strands of hair clinging to my face, I heaved myself onto the next branch.
This would have been easier if I’d had the use of both hands.
Out of breath and halfway up, I paused, deciding how best to continue. The tree had forked and my legs were splayed, one foot against each trunk. In my fist, the owlet gave a feeble hoot.
I glared at him. He could hardly be called cute, with his sparse white fluff and oversized feet.
“Your family reunion better be worth all of this,” I said.
I pushed off one trunk and wrapped my limbs around the other, then shimmied higher until I was level with the nest.
Two owlets peered back at me, identical to the one in my fist.
“Gaawhist,” I said. Home, sweet home.
I placed my rescue next to his siblings, where he toppled sideways and blinked a few times. I poked him to make sure I hadn’t squeezed him too tightly. He ruffled himself and settled in.
Maybe I couldn’t help everyone survive, but I could, at least, save this one life.
I just hoped the mother would return soon.
I leaned against the trunk and caught my breath, my thoughts turning back to what I’d come here for. I inhaled slowly, letting the sweet scent of maple buds calm me.
From this height, the wooden, mossy cabin below seemed less imposing. I could see how these grounds might have once been used for camping—back when seaside camping was not a life-threatening activity. Now, this cabin was one of many classrooms at the Safe Training Base. Once a place to connect with wilderness, now a place to learn the best way to slaughter a sea demon.