Guardians of GaHoole #1: The Capture
Soren was dreaming of teeth and of heartbeats of mice when
he heard the first soft rustlings overhead. "Mum! Da!"
he cried out in his half sleep. He would forever regret calling
out those two words, for suddenly, the night was ripped with
a shrill screech, and Soren felt talons wrap around him. Now
he was being lifted. And they were flying fast, faster than
he could think, faster than he could ever imagine. His parents
never flew this fast. He watched them when they took off or
came back from the hollow. They glided slowly, and rose in beautiful
lazy spirals into the night. But now, underneath, the earth
raced by. Slivers of air blistered his skin. The moon rolled
out from behind thick clouds and bleached the world with an
eerie whiteness. He scoured the landscape below for the tree
that had been his home. But the trees blurred into clumps and
then the forest of the Kingdom of Tyto seemed to grow smaller
and smaller and dimmer and dimmer in the night, until Soren
could not stand to look down anymore. So he dared to look up.
There was a great bushiness of feathers on the owl's legs.
His eyes continued upward. This was a huge owl -- or was it
even an owl? Atop this creature's head, over each eye, were
two tufts of feathers that looked like an extra set of wings.
Just as Soren was thinking this was the strangest owl he had
ever seen, the owl blinked and looked down. Yellow eyes! He
had never seen such eyes. His own parents and his brothers and
sisters all had dark, almost black eyes. His parents friends
who occasionally flew by had brownish eyes, perhaps some with
a tinge of tawny gold. But yellow eyes? This was wrong. Very
"Surprised?" The owl blinked, but Soren could not
speak. So the owl continued, "Yes, you see, that's the
problem with the Kingdom of Tyto -- you never see any kind of
owls but your own kind -- lowly, undistinguished Barn Owls."
"That's not true," said Soren.
"You dare contradict me!" screeched the owl.
"I've seen Grass Owls and Masked Owl. I've seen Bay Owls
and Sooty Owls. Some of my parents' very best friends are Grass
"Stupid! They're all Tytos," the owl barked at him.
Stupid? Grown-ups weren't supposed to speak that way -- not
to young owls, not to chicks. It was mean. Soren decided he
should be quiet. He would stop looking up.
"We might have a haggard here," he heard the owl
say. Soren turned his head slightly to see whom the owl was
"Oh, great Glaux! One wonders if it is worth the effort."
This owl's eyes seemed more brown than yellow and his feathers
were spattered with splotches of white and grey and brown.
"Oh, I think it is always worth the effort, Grimble And
don't let Spoorn hear you talking that way. You'll get a demerit
and then we'll all be forced to attend another one of her interminable
lectures on attitude."
This owl looked different as well. Not nearly as big as the
other owl and his voice made a soft tingg-tingg sound. It was
at least a minute before Soren noticed this owl was also carrying
something in its talons. It was a creature of some sort and
it looked rather owlish, but it was so small, hardly larger
than a mouse. Then it blinked its eyes. Yellow! Soren resisted
the urge to yarp. "Don't say a word!" the small owl
spoke in a squeaky whisper. "Wait."