Guardians of Ga'Hoole
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To Be a King

Guardians of Ga’Hoole #12: The Golden Tree

"Coryn, you look as if you've just seen a scroom." It was midday and most owls at the great tree were fast asleep. Soren, Coryn's uncle and chief counselor, had just entered the hollow.

"If only she was just that—a scroom." Coryn looked up from the ember in its teardrop-shaped iron cask that Bubo the blacksmith had made.

So it's Nyra again! Soren thought. There had been no sign of Nyra or any of the Pure Ones since Coryn had retrieved the ember and defeated the Pure Ones in the Beyond. Nyra had escaped. Most owls believed that she was as good as dead, her troops virtually destroyed, and the ember safe in the talons of Coryn, a youthful but canny leader. The balance of power had at last changed. But Coryn was still haunted by her, and he imagined always would be, whether she was dead or alive. Of late he had become even more obsessed. Soren studied his dear nephew as the young owl peered into the glow of the ember. His heart went out to him and he felt a sorrowful twinge in his gizzard. The scar that slashed Coryn's face—a wound inflicted by his own mother—seemed to twitch in a private agony. He felt compelled to address Coryn directly now about this obsession. Perhaps getting it out in the open would be a good thing.

"Coryn, first of all, there is no evidence that she still is alive. And second, even if she is, with her forces all but annihilated she can be of little danger."

Coryn jerked his head around, unlocking his gaze from the glow. "But Uncle, Nyra is no mere evil owl, and if . . . "

"And if," Soren broke in testily. "I know, Coryn. I read the legends, too. If she is a hagsfiend . . . "

"No, Uncle. Perhaps not a full-blown hagsfiend but a relic from that ancient time who, through some twist of fate or nachtmagen, was reborn into this one. And if this is true . . . " He hesitated. "Well, you know what I said when we finished reading the first legend of Grank the Collier."

Yes, Soren knew. Coryn had concluded that if his mother had the taint of a hagsfiend's blood then his own blood must be cursed as well. It was idiotic, but no matter how often Soren reassured him, Coryn could not be convinced. Luckily, none of the rest of the Band nor Otulissa knew of Coryn's fears. The last thing Coryn wanted revealed was that he might be the offspring of a hagsfiend.

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