Chapter 1

The Owlet

Shadows danced around the walls of Sylvie's hollow when she woke up from her nap. Not even three days old, the young hatchling had no clue what these shadows were, but the intense heat and unnerving crackles didn't sound good to her sensitive ears. Mrs. Hash, the family nest-maid snake, lay in the corner of the hollow crooning "this is not good" over and over again, which confirmed her fears. Sylvie stood up, her large head was still hard to support with her tiny barn owl body, but she managed, and walked over to the opening of the hollow. Her parents had yet to return, which seemed even more wrong than the strange shadows and heat. In her desperation, she cried for food, for it was way past time for her to eat and her parents weren't home from their hunting yet. The young owlet didn't know what this meant, but she understood one thing in her small and still developing mind. Something was terribly wrong.

The light of the flames bothered Sylvie's eyes, making her think that it was day time. She hopped over to her nest and sat down, trying to go back to sleep, but sleep didn't come to her as easily as she had hoped. The heat was beginning to become even more intense, almost as if there was this huge monster that kept coming closer and closer to the young owlet's hollow. Mrs. Hash slithered over to the young owlet and wrapped herself around the nest. How am I going to save this young'un from the fire? She wondered, her red rosy scales reflected the flames that were still coming ever so closer to their home.

"I think there is another chick in here Sampsonryb!" A young spotted owl, Magic, from the coillering chaw called out. He had been catching bonk coals on the fly when he noticed a slight bit of movement coming from inside one of the many trees in the forest. "I can't reach it from here! There is too much of an updraft. It might send me towards the fire." The white feathers around the owl's beak were already black with soot from his busy flight. His voice cracked as he yelled over the flames, suggesting that he might have taken in a lot of smoke from the fire.

Sampson nodded to the student and flew directly towards the tree Magic had pointed to. His strong flying skills from years of flying through gales and harsh winds helped him navigate through all of the dangerous parts of the fire, and although he was known as the weather interpretation ryb, he had spent many years in the coillering chaw as a chawlet and then later, as a young guardian, as was expected. The heat did not bother him as he spiraled upward and joy spread through his wings. He loved this part of his job more than anything else, given that he was one of the best in the field. He was a natural born flier, automatically knowing how to navigate the intense gales without any teaching at a young age, and although he was not invincible, he had thought himself as much when he was much, much younger. Few owls had followed him into the night when he had gone flying in his home kingdom, since it often meant spiraling through the many hidden winds and paths that a storm created.

Despite his sudden rush of joy though, the old owl remembered his main mission and gave himself a mental shake. He needed to focus on the mission, which was reaching the hollow and checking it for any sign of life. He pushed himself downward, flapping through the opening with a few quick wing strokes. Few would have made it through those flames without going yeep, considering that they were almost directly upon the tree. Slowly, he took a few steps inside, his eyes adjusting to the strange flickering light that only a fire could cast within a hollow. That was when he saw her, the young barn owlet and her nest-maid snake cowering in the corner. It was pure luck that he had managed to do so as well, since both seemed to be barely moving.

Then, a low groan began to reverberate throughout the tree. There wasn't much time for him to do anything, and so, the owl simply reacted. Without even letting either creature know what was about to happen, he took hold of the snake and owlet and flew from the tree's hollow, just as the tree itself began to fall. The snake, who was now wrapping herself around Sampson's left talon, let out a hiss of annoyance. I'm so sorry, I really wish I could have had the time to explain what was going on. He thought
as he continued on his way. The owlet would be taken to the Great Tree to be cared for, and hopefully the nestmaid snake would give him an idea of what had happened to the parents.

"Magic! Tell Isleryb that I'm going back to the tree. Justin is in charge of the weather chaw on the way back!"

The Spotted owl nodded and continued to fly through the air, catching more bonk coals as he went. Sampson glanced down at the young owlet, hoping that she would be okay on the flight back to the tree. She looked young and very fragile in his large talons. "You're safe little one." He crooned softly. "Don't worry. You're in safe talons."

The heat from the fire was unbearable as Sampson flew as fast as he could through the fires. It was strange, since only moments before he had been thinking about how the flames didn't bother him. Now, they seemed to be everywhere. They licked at his feathers, and made his pure white belly feathers black with soot. He used his third eyelid often, removing the ash that was flying through the air from his eyes. A single coal, blue as the day sky, fell down and singed his tail feathers. Sampson flinched. He was going to have to see Nys at the infirmary after this.