Their noise through the bush grew louder. They couldn’t have stormed a deaf loner let alone a capable one such as himself. His assembly was ready in the large wicker tuffin and they were hungry – he knew that. The man waited – silently – almost breathless. Not exactly wanting them to attack, he was no sadist, but self defense is what it is - necessary . He knew they would loot his hold, and thus he was ready for them and did what he had to. His string alarms attached to his fingers had ‘gone off’ long ago but the clans pungent odor had awoken him well before that. He had calmly sat up on the side of his cot with his hand ready on the top of the wicker tuffin, waiting. Silently – almost breathlessly.
They had reached the edge of his hold – slowed and were whispering. Planning, no doubt. He waited. All he needed from them was the call of attack. They always made a big noise when they attacked people – to frighten them. To urge them to flee. Although he had heard of other groups that would take people silently in the night before committing atrocious deeds upon them. They were quieting down now, which meant they were about to launch. And then he heard them – their low pitched roaring and the thrash of the bush around him. He slammed down the lid of the tuffin hard and then quickly ducked under his cover sheet. He could hear the birds – the assembly - screaming out of the tuffin and could hear their devastating hunger. Then he heard the confused shriek of men amongst the furiously flapping wings. It curdled his blood.
He lay there for what seemed like an age until the beating of wings had died down and not a murmur was made from the dieing assailants. He lifted the cover sheet and peered around. The dawn was breaking through the trees and the devastation that lay before him was grim. Perched amongst the tree was his assembly. Twenty one hawks sat majestically amongst the branches. It would seem they hadn’t started cleaning themselves yet as blood clotted their feathers and small pieces of flesh still hung from the beaks of a few of them. His appearance created a brief unease amongst them with a few stooped heads and tense wing beats – but they were fed now and mildly sedate after the feeding frenzy his unfortunate attackers had provided to be.
There were a few drawbacks to his defense mechanism. One being that they now owned his hold. It would take days of him tip toeing around with a large platter of flesh in the center of his hold until they slowly departed. Then of course there was the clean up of the attackers – razor sharp beaks could create quite a mess when coupled with the fury of animal hunger. He hadn’t fed them in quite sometime and he had never seen an aftermath quite a messy as this. And of course once he had his hold hawk free he needed to catch them all over again – one at a time. The down time of the tuffin defense in this regard was a drawback. But the price of protecting his hold was worth it. He hoped that one of the would-be attackers had managed to escape. It was always helpful to have rumour spread through the clans to discourage attacks. Rumours about the strange ungodly defense mechanism were growing nicely. Of course these were always coupled with superstitious blatherings. Some claiming an animal revolt against humans. Some that there was no human living there, just some demon possessed birds or animals. He had even had heard tales of rabbits fighting battles against humans. Never underestimate the bounds of stupidity within the human rumour.