Guardians of Ga'Hoole
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Guardians of Ga’Hoole #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 wrong!

"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 Owls."

"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 speaking to.

"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."


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