Guardians of GaHoole #2: The Journey
It seemed as if winter had been waiting for them as soon as
the Mirror Lakes dropped behind them. Blasts of frigid air,
swirling with ice, sleet, and often hail, smacked into them.
The rolling ridges of The Beaks had become sharper and steeper,
sending up confusing currents. Ice began to form on thei own
beaks and, in a few minutes, Soren saw Gylfie spin out of control.
Luckily, Twilight accelerated and managed to help her.
"Fly in my wake, Gylfie," he shouted over the roar of the wind.
And then he swiveled his head back to the others. "Her wings
have started to ice. Ours will, too - soon. It's too dangerous
to continue. We have to look for a place to land."
Almost as soon as Twilight had spoken of iced wings, Soren
felt his own suddenly grow heavy. He turned his head and nearly
gasped when he saw his plummels, the silkiest of all his feathers,
that fringed the outer edges of his primaries. They were stiff
with frost and the wind was whistling through them. Great
Glaux, I'm flying like a gull!
It was not long before they found a tree. The hollow was a
rather miserable little one. They could barely cram into it,
and it was crawling with vermin.
"This is appalling!" Mrs. Plithiver said. "I've never seen
such and infestation."
"Isn't there some moss someplace?" Twilight asked, remembering
the extraordinary soft, thick moss of the Mirror Lakes.
"Well, if someone wants to go out and look, they can," Mrs.
P. said. "In the meantime, I'll try and eat as many of these
maggoty little critters as possible."
Soren peeked out the hollow. "The wind's picked up. You can't
even see out there. Snow's so thick on the ground, I doubt if
we could find any moss if we did look."
"We can always pulp some of the pine needles," Gylfie said.
"First, you beak them hard enough, then let them slide down
to your first stomach - the one before the gizzard. Hold it
there for just a while, and then yarp it all back up. The pine
needles come out all mushy and when they dry they're almost
as soft as moss. Actually, technically speaking, it is not called
yarping. It's burping when it's wet and not a pellet."
"Who cares - as long as it's soft?" Twilight muttered.
"I suppose it's worth a try," Digger said. "The thought of going
out there into that blizzard is not appealing in the least."
. . . . . . There was a huge watery gurgle that rippled through
"What was that?" Digger said.
"Yours truly, burping here," Twilight said and opened his beak
and let go with another hollow-shaking burp.
"Oh, I've got to try that!" Digger said. In no time the four
owls were having a burping contest. They were laughing and hooting
and having a grand old time as the blizzard outside raged. They
had figured out prizes as well. There was a prize, of course,
for the loudest, but then one for the most watery sound, and
one for the most disgusting, and one for the prettiest and most
refined. Although everyone expected Gylfie to win with the prettiest,
Soren did, and Gylfie won for the most disgusting.
"Absolutely vulgar," muttered Mrs. P.
But soon they became bored with that and they began to wonder
when the blizzard would let up. And although not one of them
would admit it, secretly their thoughts turned to the Mirror
Lakes and they grew quieter and quieter as they tried to remember
their lazy beautiful days, flying in spectacular arcs over the
lakes' gleaming surface. And the food, the food was so good!
"Oh, what I wouldn't give for a nice vole." Soren sighed.
"You know, young'un, I think the wind is lessening. I think
maybe we should take off." Mrs. Plithiver sensed the four owls'
thoughts turning to the Mirror Lakes. She simply couldn't allow
that. So even though she truly did no believe that the wind
was lessening, it was essential to get them flying again.