An Excerpt from Gloria:
In blackness, my mind clung to one word. A name. Charles. In Blois. He must come here. I must bring him. Halfway over the smooth, grey Loire, I opened my eyes. I blinked towards the sun as it sank to a keener angle. Across the blinding brilliance, a shadow cut like the blade of a knife, dropping.
The merlin falcon.
This bird was not escaped from some mews, not he. This was my namesake.
Or I was his.
His brown wings arced, taut with the force of his slowing flight, slowing enough to snatch at the barge's railing beside my left, my power hand. With great dignity, once he'd landed, he mantled his wings over his back, fluffed the feathers of his reddish breast a little, and regarded me with one cold, hard black eye.
I began with that eye, trying to give my own the same opaque, obsidian quality. The transformation came quickly, tiny feathers circling my sight. A rush, as of a great wind, filled my ears.
No matter how many times one has entered the animal kingdom, the irruption never fails to awe, to overwhelm. My vision slammed into a sudden, almost terrifying clarity. What had seemed merely a blur of low rushes and growing weeds upon the far bank was now alive with nesting ducks, a dozing family of weasels, a wading heron.
I breathed the air in that direction with interest, through nostrils set in stiff membrane rather than my normal soft flesh. I opened my mouth and hissed.
Quickly now, I sent my soul in to fill the rest of the offered body, for the falcon knew his world as well as ours was threatened without La Pucelle, without the full coven. I occupied the great, empty orbits of the skull, pushed my way into the hollow bones, lighter than air, where there was always plenty of space. I felt the muffle of feathers overlapping all my flesh.
"Hey, be off now," the bargemen cried, and made threatening gestures in my direction. Calmly as they'd accepted a boatload of motley folk--witches to any one with half a sense--this bird on their craft was an omen with which they could not sit easily.
The moment I felt my feet in horny talons, I spread my wings and let loose the rail. Smooth, grey water shot below me, but by the time I reached the nesting ducks on the Orleans shore, I'd caught a warm updraft and was soaring high.