‘Jentayu’s Tear’ is a wonderful story based on a Malaysian folktale. Enjoy!
‘Jentayu’s Tear’ by Anna Tan
The men screamed and pointed as he transformed back to his true form. His golden feathers blazed in the sun, his horn burning with pure fire; hot white, deep black, flickering blue. He spread his wings and took to the air, the force of each beat of his wings driving the little men to the ground.
“Fight me, Jentayu!” he screamed his challenge into the air.
Lighting flashed across the sky—and there she was before him. Her sleek blue-white feathers gleamed in the rain that now poured, her crest glinting like a diamond crown. For a moment, he caught his breath, mesmerized. He’d forgotten how beautiful she was. How graceful in flight, how tender in speech, how she’d been his closest companion for thousands of years as they ruled the Bird Kingdom together. But the rain was chilling him, dousing his fire, and this would not do.
“It’s not so easy to kill me, Jentayu,” he sneered.
“I’m not trying to kill you. It’s enough for me to just stop you from carrying out your
“Nefarious! Hah. Maybe you should go back to school and learn how to use your words properly.”
“I said exactly what I wanted to say, Garuda.”
Another beat of his wings. The earth shook and he smiled. “We’ll see how you handle that.”
“Handle what? The earth shaking?”
Jentayu wheeled in horror as the skies erupted in fire and brimstone. The eruption of the volcano filled her senses with searing heat, billowing smoke and the scent of wet ash. In retaliation, she called upon the waves. Two feet. Three. Five. Seven feet high they rose, water against fire. There was nothing she could do to help Merong Mahawangsa and his men now. They would have to survive on their own.
She pressed her apologies into his mind, directing the men to find safer ground far away from the battle. Away from the Garuda’s butchery.
“Would you really kill me, my brother?”
“I will destroy anyone who stands in my way—including you, Jentayu!”
And then they crashed against each other, hissing and snarling. Claw raking bloody claw. Beak scoring beak. Mighty wing buffeting mighty wing.
It broke her heart. Where they’d once touched tenderly, as brother with sister, as friends forged in the fight together, they now lashed out at each other. There was death on his claws, and deep sadness in her heart. She knew all his weaknesses. Had once protected them, as he had done hers.
But that was why she had walked away before, wasn’t it? Away from his delusions of grandeur, of conquering the world and being Emperor of All Earth—instead of being God’s emissary and protector of birds. She couldn’t just walk away now.
Insignia: Asian Fantasy Stories Page (Insignia Vol.4.)
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