Guardian's of GaHoole #9: The First Collier
After our discovery of gloss, Joss arrived with a message
calling me back to the N’yrthghar. War had not broken
out no had peace been shattered. I was called to attend the
annual lemming hunt held by Lord Arrin, a powerful lord in the
Firth of Fangs whose allegiance was vital to the High King.
Lord Arrin’s realm was rich in issen blaue, a kind of
ice that had many uses in the Northern Kingdoms, particularly
for weapons. Also, in the region of the Firth of Fangs, there
was a preponderance of Great Snowy Owls who, as a breed, were
particularly skillful fighters. Snowies were also known for
their expertise in hunting lemmings; thus, the annual lemming
hunt. So the Firth of Fangs was a region rich in resources vital
to the High King. Add to this the additional fact that Lord
Arrin himself was an owl of great vanity, and it would not do
to offend him by not attending this event. I had secured for
King H’rath the ice rights during the brief summer months
when the issen blaue could be harvested. Each year, these rights
had to be renewed. It was always a delicate negotiation, and
I was the chief negotiator.
So, as much as I hated to leave the Beyond, there was little
choice. Too much was at stake. And, in truth, the lemming hunt
was fun, for it was not all just chasing after those stupid
rodents. There were festivities and katabat dancing, a particular
specialty of owls of the Northern Kingdoms, in which we danced
in those boisterous winds unique to our kingdom.
Lord Arrin was a generous host as well, and the bingle juice
always flowed. There were always troops of gadfeathers to entertain
us. Gadfeathers were wandering owls who were looked down upon
in general, and often scorned by owls for having no solid place
to roost. They lived for the most part by begging or stealing.
But they were wonderful musicians and made a festive addition
to any celebration. Festooning themselves in molted feathers
from other birds, lacing moss and berries through their primaries,
they were about as gaudy as an owl could get. Wonderful katabat
dancers, they were a delight to watch and they were legendary
for their singing. The gadfeathers sang all sorts of songs,
merry ones to accompany a jig on a katabat, or achingly tender
ballads of love and wandering. To hear a gadfeather’s
melodious voice singing a ballad under the starry arc of a lofty
summer sky is an unmatched experience. Though I knew I would
miss my fire studies, I felt little regret leaving the Beyond
to go to Lord Arrin’s lemming hunt in the Firth of Fangs.
When I finally returned to the Beyond after the lemming hunt,
I had every hope that this would be an extended stay, for a
fragile peace still reigned in the N’yrthghar. I had negotiated
extended ice rights in the Firth of Fangs for King H’rath;
at the same time, there was a sharp decline in hagsfiends’
insurgencies, which Lord Arrin claimed credit for. All this
boded well. Or so I thought.
Shortly after I had come back, I was flying over a volcano
on the northwest side of the ring. This particular volcano had
not been active for some time, and Fengo and I were thinking
of moving one of our fires close to it was there were some good
sand beds nearby, and sand was the main ingredient of gloss.
I had not thought of the owl ember for a long time. I had truly
cleared my mind of it. But as I was circling around this volcano,
I saw a peculiar transformation taking place. It appeared as
if the sides of the volcano were beginning to turn to gloss.
I could see right through it. Was I having a vision? I knew
that my firesight had become much keener since I had been coming
to the Beyond, but this was very odd, not simply a vision. I
was seeing something deep within the volcano itself. It was
orange with a lick of blue at its center, circled with green.
My gizzard flinched. It was the Ember of Hoole!