I emerged from my first bed, shed my last coat and spread my wings. It was the first real warmth I had felt; the earth had coated and sheltered me, but it was still cold among the twisted roots and blind moving threads of flesh. Standing amidst the tall shadows, I drank it in. And soon, I folded my dry wings, rasping together in my first experimental song.
Around me, my brothers did the same. I know, because my leg membranes ached with the force of the chorus.
We soon found our bearings, my brothers and I. We touched the souls drifting up from the fruits of the tall shadows. We fed on these fruits when we first saw her. She was silent, but not demure, never demure. She leapt with confidence and grace greater than any of the other silent ones.
Every night my brothers and I courted her, our song growing as the world grew warmer. She did not choose between us. (I try to believe that she would have chosen me.) She ignored us, as we ignored everything but the world's bounty and her.
And then, one warm night, the ghost leaper took her. It was a giant beast, with damp fungal breath, and a cry that shook us all.
Fools, we leapt after it, dropping our bounty, for what was it next to her?
One by one, it took them, grasping them with an impossibly long strand of sour honey. We are agile, but it is fast, this beast. Of my brothers, I alone was quickest, springing behind a boulder, and finding shelter beneath.
Here I cower, but the cloak of earth is no longer a comfort, for I feel the monster's baleful cry. I touch its soul. And I know that the nearest fruit is much too far, and my crop is empty. The beast can afford to wait. I cannot.