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Guardians of Ga'Hoole
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To Be a King

Guardians of Ga’hoole #14: Exile

But, Bell, I don't understand. I've been practicing all summer with Madame Plonk for the Milkberry Harvest Festival and now you say I shouldn't sing? I just don't understand. She'll think I don't care."

"But you shouldn't care, Blythe," Bell protested.

"Why shouldn't I care? I've worked hard on this."

"Singing is—you know—sort of prideful." Bell squirmed a bit as she said this.

"Prideful?" Blythe blinked her huge, shining black eyes.

"Yes. It's, you know, a vanity."

Blythe blinked again. "Vanity" was a word often heard in the Great Ga'hoole Tree since the arrival of the strange blue owl, the Striga, from the newly discovered Middle Kingdom. But the owls of the great tree were deeply indebted to Striga, or "the Striga" as he preferred to be called, especially her parents, Soren and Pelli, and her sisters, Blythe and Bash. This blue-feathred owl had saved the life of little Bell. The Striga had flown across the Sea of Vastness and encountered Bell, who had been caught in a freak storm while out on a routine chawlet-training mission. She had been blown off course and injured. Had she not been found by the Striga she might have died. But that was only the beginning of Bell's trials. During her recovery, she and the Striga were captured by the Pure Ones and held hostage in the Desert of Kuneer. For many and their maniacal leader, Nyra. It was thought they had been vanquished, that only a remnant survived, and perhaps even that Nyra had been killed. But such was not the case. They had found new recruits, gone underground in the Kuneer Desert, and built themselves an elaborate system of underground nest holes and tunnels masterminded by Tarn, a wily Burrowing Owl.

The Striga and Bell managed to escape, but during the course of their captivity they had learned of a dreadful plan, a plan to assassinate the Band and the great tree's king, Coryn. This would have been a fatal blow to the very gizzard of the Great Ga'Hoole Tree. Had it not been for the Striga, all might have been lost. So it was not just Bell who owed her life to the strange blue owl, but the great tree itself. The Band and Coryn felt so indebted that they issued an invitation to the Striga: If he desired to come to the great tree he would be welcomed. Thus, after many moon cycles, the Striga had arrived, leaving the Middle Kingdom and the strange Dragon Court, where he had lived a pampered life of indescribable luxury and indolence.

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