It was still dark when Tathar set out from the shore in the slender, hidebound boat. Suara, dark against the dark, helped him push the light craft into the incoming waves as the tide receded from land, and then they both climbed in as the sweep of the current pulled them out to the sea. Each of them had a slim paddle, and he bent his back to rowing with more strength than skill. He was not accustomed to crawling across the surface of land or sea, but rather soaring above them.
The dark was cold, and the wind blew chill spray in their faces as they fought the waves and headed out into deeper water. He took care to row evenly, not threshing the surface. If their strokes were uneven they would seem like a wounded animal and attract hunters from below. The sky overhead was half-covered by tattered clouds, but through them shone the jeweled scatter of the stars and the glow of the broken moon like a silver chain rising from beyond the horizon.
Ahead of them the offshore island loomed like a black mountain. Tathar admired it as they fought closer to the base of the cliffs, seeing the sheer dark sides above the white glimmer of the surf. It was splendidly placed, unassailable from the land, and if it held caves as he hoped it did, then it might be home to many eagles like his own. This was the season for hatched eggs and hungry young, and the birds would leave the nest early to seek food. That was why he and Suara were seeking to cross the water before the sun rose. He wanted to be ashore before the hunters took wing.
It was hard, cold going, but they reached the rocky base of the island just as the horizon turned to silver. The rocks were jagged and rose from the sea like columns from some ancient ruin, and it was not easy to make their way among them. They warded off the rocks with oars as best they could, and then a wave heaved them against the cliff and the small boat splintered open.