The perfectly white snowy owl fluttered her wings slowly at first then flapped harder, grunting from the effort until finally, she threw herself from her branch and glided down to the next, gliding gently with occasional flaps, struggling to keep the wind thermals under her feathers. This young owlet was almost completely white, save the black spots on her wing tips and tail feathers. "Yes!" The young owlet screeched as her blunt talons scraped against the bark, her wing beats fast and clumsy in her inexperianced landing. "Allomere! Mother!" The owlet looked around for her Guardian and mother but saw no one. She sucked in a breath and turned her head to search her surroundings, seeking her family. "Father? Mother? I cannot see you!" Ivory called out loudly. Suddenly a loud screech made her turn around with a grasp only to see a flurry of red and black wings and sharp talons. "Hey! Let me go!" Ivory cried, struggling against her trapper, snapping at their talons but her beak could not reach. Ivory's smart mind kicked in and she decided to stop struggling, saving her strength for when it would really be needed. The last thing Ivory remembered was the glittering blue ocean soaring beneath her. By the next evening Ivory was blinking her bleary eyes awake, glancing around her she saw other owls carrying young owlets like herself. She looked to her left and saw a young tyto owl, speaking with a younger elf owl. "I'm Soren."
"I'm Gylfie." The elf owl answered the tyto.
"They said you are an elf owl?" Soren asked.
"From Kuneer, that's in the desert. Are you a tyto?" Gylfie whispered in a small voice.
"From tyto forest." He nodded.
"Who are these owls? Do you have any idea where they are taking us?" The frightened owlet trembled.
"Hey! Stop talking." Jutt growled at them. Ivory looked forwards and took in her surroundings, memorising the place around her, placing each guard and rock permenantly in her memory. Suddenly she was thrown down to the ground and she landed with a dull thud and a grunt before scrambling to her feet and curling her wings, snapping at the owl in front of her, her large, white wings covering some younger owlets who had not yet grown their feathers. "Get back!" She hissed at them.
"Quiet! Your families have abandoned you, so from now on you'll be classified as orphans. Horribly tragic I know. But by the mercy of Gluax...you've been rescued and brought to St. Aegolius. And in time, you'll come to be grateful for the knidness shown to you. You'll repay that kindness with labour! Some of you will be pickers." An older owl spoke blandly, tonelessly, emotionlessly.
"No, I don't want to be a picker!" A little owlet shivered.
"Some will be soldiers..." The old owl looked over to Ivory who was shielding as many owlets as she could with her wings. "In your ways you all will serve the High Tyto and the Pure Ones." The owl continued, looking away from Ivory. There was an outrage of fear, everyone cried out something, asking to be released, begging to be spared. Suddenly there was a distinct screech and everyone turned to watch two owls fly forwards, followed by a beautifully deadly looking female tyto. She landed on her high branch and looked down her beak at the young owlets with her large, blue and gold eyes. "I am Nyra. Ablah General of St. Aegolius and mate to the Lord High Tyto. I know right now you miss your families...but soon you will come to realise that the Pure Ones are your new family." Nyra soothed in a toxic voice.
"The Pure Ones are not our family. Let us go!" Gylfie cried out with a flutter. Nyra turned on her and looked down upon her small frame.
"She's right! Let us go!" Soren joined her. Nyra spread her wings and glided down to them.
"What's this? Tyto, don't waste your time. Don't soil your feathers." Nyra glared at Soren.
"You leave them be!" Ivory snapped and fluttered forwards, flapping her wings out to curl around Gylfie. "Oh! A spirited little tyto. How touching. You and your patch of felt will stay together, then. As pickers!" Ivory, Soren and Gylfie were shoved forwards and they had no choice but to go. "Perhaps when you remember your nobility, tyto, we can make a soldier of you." Nyra called after them.
"What about my brother?" Soren demanded.
"Oh? Where's he?" Nyra asked. Soren searched the owlets quickly before he found his brother.
"Kludd!" Nyra turned and found him.
"Owlet, that one says he's your brother. Would you like to join him?" Nyra asked gently. Kludd glared at Soren then looked away. "I didn't think so."
"Kludd? Kludd!" Soren shouted but his brother would not look at him.
"Now there's a soldier." Ivory heard Nyra say to Kludd before she was shoved forwards by Grimble, shoved hard but not as hard as the others did. They walked together slowly, their eyes darting around them to see where they were going but all they could see was a dark tunnel. "Thank you." Gylfie said quietly to Soren and Ivory who smiled down at her.
"I'm Ivory by the way." Ivory introduced.
"You two don't have to be with me, you should be with the others." Gylfie said.
"No Gylfie. I could never be with those tytos." Soren shook his head. "I don't know why Kludd would even think-hey! What's wrong with him?" Soren asked as an owlet barged past him with misty eyes. "He looks like he's been moon-"
"Alright you owlets, move it in move it in! Come on!" Jutt encouraged and the owlets walked out onto an open ledge, revealing a large sky with a glorious moon, almost filling the sky. "So tonight, we want you to-" Jutt began then scratched his head. "What was it again, Jatt?"
"To rest." Jatt reminded in a low voice.
"To rest!" Jutt repeated in a louder voice.
"So lean back, put your beaks up and turn your faces to the light of the glorious full moon." Jatt finished. "And sleep." They said together.
"Soren, Ivory, we must not fall asleep. I think they're trying to moon blink us." Gylfie whispered.
"Moon blink?" Ivory questioned curiously.
"Sometimes in the desert, owls would get exhausted and collapse under the moon, when they woke up, they were just never the same." Gylfie explained. "As if they'd forgotten who they were."
"We are going to get out of here, all of us." Soren promised.
"I know these stars. I could get us away from here..." Gylfie said, looking up at the stars. "But the only way out is to fly and we can't!"
"Not yet we can't, but we're going to learn how. Whenever they're not watching, every chance we get, we're going to stretch out our wings-" Soren suddenly stopped and pretended to be sleeping, as did Ivory and Gylfie. "Do you really thing we can make it?" Gylfie asked quietly once Grimble had gone. "Together, we'll get away." Soren nodded.
"We can make it, Gylfie. I know we can." Ivory agreed.
"I'm cold." Gylfie sighed and shifted closer to Soren. Ivory stepped towards her so that her feathers were touching hers and Soren's were covering her left side.
The dawn took forever to come. Ivory was glad she had slept on her journey to St. Aegolius. "All right, my lovely little owlets. That's enough beauty rest." Jutt called out.
"Wakey, wakey. Rise and shine. It's another glorious day!" Jatt added.
"Oh no!" Soren gasped, waving his wing in front of one of the moon blinked owlets.
"Soren! Where are we going now?" Gylfie called quietly, searching for Soren and Ivory.
"I'm here Gylfie, try to act moon blinked." Ivory whispered warmly as she pushed forwards to stand beside Gylfie. Ivory faced the front and walked along with a blank expression, for once wishing she did not have such bright emerald and gold eyes. They all walked and shuffled into a large cave shrouded in a dim light with hundreds of young owlets picking at pellets. "Welcome to the Peletorium! It's a great place for the rest of your lives!" Jatt laughed throatily.
"Let's get this part started!"
"Let's get picking!" The two idot owls cried as an owl carrying a basket walked past, another smaller owl throwing pellets at the owlets.
"Ugh. Other owls pellets." Gylfie shuddered, ruffling her feathers as a pellet landed at her feet.
"You know, maybe it would have been better if we had been moon blinked." Soren suggested.
"What? Walking aronnd with a blank expression as well as foul breath, I don't think so." Ivory laughed weakly. "Ah eureka! Great job number 857-whatever." Jatt shoved the owlet away from him roughly.
"Alright then everyone, gather round!" Jutt called out. "Pay attention, he's talking."
"This is the kind of pellet you're picking for. Mouse fur, mouse bones, that's all standard." Jatt began.
"But the secret ingrediant in this one is what Mr. Mouse ate: A metal fleck." Jutt plucked a small piece of metal from the pellet and showed it to everyone.
"A metal fleck." Jatt repeated Jutt's words.
"Now I'm very perceptive."
"He is." Jatt agreed.
"I am. And I'm detecting you want to volenteer to take this fleck to where all the flecks belong." Jutt shoved the fleck into Soren's mouth then they both shoved him forwards up a flight of stairs. He made his way slowly but a blow to the back of his head made him move a little faster. When Ivory and Gylfie could no longer see him, they glanced to each other with worry. He was there for a while, they girls could hear his strangled grunting and panting before he finally stumbled back to his spot. "Soren! What happened?" Ivory demanded with concern.
"Listen, these owls are doing something terribly wrong. We have to find Kludd and we have to get out of here."
"And exactly what do you three think you're doing?" No sooner had Soren finished his warning, Grimble interrupted with his droning voice. "Eh?" He glared at them then glanced around. "Get moving. Come on." He pushed them all forwards with his wings and guided them from behind towards a selcuded area, covered from view. Gylfie was shaking like a leaf but Ivory kept calm, there was something about this owl which confused her. He was neither harsh nor cruel to them, just impaitent, he was leading them away from the peletorium and to somewhere where no one could see them. "What do you plan on doing with us?" Soren asked shakily.
"Quiet!" Grimble hissed and jerked them forwards again.
"What is this place?" Ivory asked.
"Get inside." Grimble answered bluntly. Gylfie gasped when she saw the skeleton of an old owl.
"You know, the Pure Ones won't be too happy if you don't let us get back to the Pelletorium." Gylfie said in slightly louder voice.
"No. And they won't be too happy when they find out what I'm going to do to you either." Grimble muttered, walking forwards then facing them. "I'm going to teach you to fly." Grimble smiled. "You can breathe now." He chuckled and Gylfie let out a long breath.
"I do not understand." Ivory frowned slightly.
"It's been getting worse here. I told myself if any come who were smart and brave enough to resist, I would help them. I guess you will just have to do." Grimble explained.
"But aren't you a-?" Soren began.
"A Pure One? No. I hate them. Almost as much as I hate what they turned me into. My feathers weren't always stained with these colours. When the Pure Ones invaded our kingdom, I fought back. Now they thought they could use that, so they took my family. They promised me that if I followed orders then no harm would come to them. I've been doing their dirty work ever since." Grimble said sadly and Ivory stretched out her wing and touched his gently with a smile. He nodded to her then flapped his wings, flying into the air to perch on a stone high in the air. "Now. Have you ever flown before?" Grimble asked.
"Well I have been branching." Soren said.
"I've glided from branch to branch but never actually flown on my own before." Ivory admitted.
"You don't have the luxury of gliding down from your nest anymore. We need to work on your power skills, starting with what you already know. Show me what you can do." Grimble invited. Slowly the three owlets flapped their wings, beating the air clumsily as they shuffled forwards, trying to get airborne with little success but still, Grimble praised them. "Yeah good, good!" Slowly they raised higher until they were about four feet from the ground and climbing, flapping their wings before settling down to hear Grimble talk. "Try nad feel every muscle, every feather in each stroke." Grimble advised. Ivory glanced to Soren then stretched out her wings, picturing her mother and father taking off on their brilliant white wings. She copied their movements, flapping in large, strong strokesgradually building up until she pushed off from her perch and led the way into the air, Soren and Gylfie following her lead. Ivory created a rhythm with her wingbeat, keeping it fluid and strong so that she rose so high into the air, she could feel a breeze ruffling her feathers. She looked down and chuckled as Gylfie stalled and fell onto Soren's head, landing in a heap of giggles. Suddenly Ivory felt her wings become heavy and she dropped dramatically, falling down in a spiral, flapping wildly to stop herself from landing ontop of Gylife. "Watch out!" She called and folded her wings so that she rolled safely to the ground, away from Gylfie, joining her laughter. "Heh-heh-heh. Alright, you three, that's enough. Come on. Back to practice." Grimble chuckled with them for a short time, letting them catch their breath. "No, more flap. Deeper flap! The still air has no shape to use. You gotta compensate with your downstroke. Make your wing tips almost meet, if you can, without stalling." Grimble continued to tutor them.
"I can't curl my feather's enough Grimble. My wings are too short." Gylfie complained.
"Well, they said Lyze of Kiel's wings were short. Didn't stop him. And you're going to need to fly a long way to get to the Guardians." Grimble smiled warmly at them all.
"The Guardians of Ga'Hoole?" Soren gasped.
"Yeah." Grimble nodded.
"But how will we know where to go?" Soren asked.
"Well, you have to get to the Sea of Hoolemere, yeah, where the Tree is shrouded in ancient mists..." Grimble began but Soren continued the saying.
"Which keep it hidden from all but the strong of purpose and the true of heart."
"Yeah." Grimble nodded again, impressed.
"But would the Guardians allow us to find them?" Gylfie asked.
"Of course they would, we have to try at least." Ivory smiled but she shifted uncomfortbly, hiding something.
"Yes exactly. I'd come with you but I still hold out the hope of freeing my family." Grimble sighed.
"Really?" Nyra's soft and venenmous voice sounded from behind them.
"Go!" Grimble hissed to them.
"Kludd! Come with us!" Soren begged but his brother did not move.
"Go now!" Grimble shouted and the three of them turned away as Nyra gave her order.
"Get them!" They flapped their wings but Ivory looked back. Grimble took out one of the guards then locked talons with the next, swinging him over his back then rolling until he had knocked out the guard. "Your little owlets won't get away." Nyra scoffed and spread her magnificent wings. Ivory watched as Nyra leaped into the air and Grimble met her, scraping his talons at her. "Grimble! Come on!" Ivory shouted as she followed the others to the ledge, flapping her wings and screeching at the sudden drop. "What do we do?" Gylfie gasped in a high pitched voice. Ivory looked back to see Grimble head butt Nyra then knock her down with his wing, pressing her to the ground and holding her. Ivory started forwards, flapping her wings in a strong rhythm to gain height. "Soren we have to go!" Gylfie reminded him desperately.
"Wait, Kludd come on! Now's our chance!" Soren shouted to his brother.
"Well, what are you waiting for son? This is your chance to go home!" Grimble grunted at Kludd.
"I am. I am home." Kludd decided then screeched at him. Nyra took this moment to kick Grimble off of her then flung him to the ground. Ivory dived forwards and swooped beneath Grimble, blowing up a thermal for him to catch so that he did not hit the ground. She then flapped her wings once more and shot at Nyra as she tried to lift from the ground. In mid air Ivory barreled into Nyra, smashing her head into her and crashing into the hard stone wall, knocking the owl out. "Grimble come!" Ivory shouted and followed Soren and Gylfie as they leaped from the cliff. Grimble followed her, soaring into the sky as she dived off the cliff and glided for a moment before she found her bearings and flapped, finding a slight breeze which lifted her higher. "Grimble, where are your family?" Ivory called to him and he suddenly dived down, leading the way.
"Get to the Guardians!" He shouted to her but she ignored him and followed him, tucking up her wings she plumeted to the ground. She followed Grimble down deeper through dark mists and caves. Ivory saw many owls sat hunched in the tiny caves with guards standing outside their doors. The guards did not pay any attention to Grimble and Ivory, they did not even see them, in fact. They kept to the shadows and shade, passing by like the silent wind. "There." Grimble pointed with his wing to a secluded cave with two guards standing in front. Grimble crawled forwards, trying to think of a plan. "Double round, take them out from behind." Ivory whispered then flapped her wings, saoring silently around then dived steeply with Grimble. At the last second she pulled up and stretched out her talons, curling them around the guard's neck and twisting, snapping it. She landed elegantly then turned towards the two shivering figures in the cave. There was a female owl, a lot older than the younger one who looked as though she had grown up in that cave. "Hazel my dear!" Grimble leaped forwards and covered them both with his wings.
"My love! Oh my love!" Hazel cried quietly and snuggled into Grimble's chest.
"Papa!" The young owl wriggled in between her parents and giggled as Grimble tickled her wings.
"Willow...come on. We have to get out of here." Grimble led them outside but then looked to his daughter as she called out to him. "But papa, I cannot fly!" She suddenly looked sad and her eyes darted around her, afraid of an attack. Grimble lifted off and hovered over his daughter then curled his talons around her small frame then lifted her up easily. The three of them took off and flapped furiously to get away before they were noticed. "After them!" Nyra screamed and Ivory looked up. Four guards dived at them and Ivory had to swerve sharply to avoid some rocks. "Grimble hurry! They're coming!" Ivory cried and dived downwards, tucking in her head to avoid the sharp claws of an owl which had tried to grab her. "Fly! Go, go, go!" Ivory encouraged then turned to meet the four guards as they flew at her. "Ivory!" Grimble shouted but he had to fly away, he had to protect his family. "Make strong the weak...mend the broken...and vanquish all evil" Ivory murmured quietly then flapped high into the air then dived down with a warning screech. Ivory curved her wings and barreled into two of the owls, cutting them from the air with her talons. "Come on!" She yelled and locked claws with the next guard, swinging him around twice then threw him into the last owl. Before more could come to kill her, Ivory soared upwards and flew into the fog, disappearing from view. Ivory flapped furiously to escape, hearing the beating wings of other owls behind her, including Nyra. Ivory did not stop flying, not even after she had long left the Pure Ones behind, she flew and flew until finally, she collapsed from exhaustion, tumbling from the sky with a series of shrieks and tired cries. "Ivory!" She heard someone call her name and large talons curled around her, dragging her to a hault in mid air, only a few feet from hitting the ground. "It's alright! I've got her." The large owl assured Soren and Gylfie as they fluttered in front of Ivory as she was set gently on the ground. "Ivory, are you hurt?" Gylife asked, nudging her head and rubbing her wing over Ivory's back. Ivory lay there, panting for breath until she finally fell into a deep sleep.
Ivory awoke flying. Someone was holding her but she did not panic for she instantly knew she was in no danger. The owl carrying her was holding her gently but securly in his talons. "Where am I?" Ivory asked quietly, blinking in the soft moonlight. "Ah ha! She's awake Soren!" The owl carrying her cried then dived down to land on a branch and set her down. "Soren! Gylfie! Thank Glaux you're alright." Ivory sighed with relief and rubbed her head with Soren and folded her wing around Gylfie. "So who's your friend?" A small owl asked, his head twitching with a mad grin on his face.
"Twilight, Digger, Mrs. P, this is Ivory! She's our friend who helped us escape." Gylfie laughed with a bright smile.
"It is nice to meet you." Ivory smiled at the two new owls and the snake.
"What happened to you? You were right behind us with Grimble." Soren asked with concern.
"He escaped with his family, I hung back to give him time to fly away." Ivory answered, looking down at the scratch on her leg. "Well that was very brave of you young owlet. I think we should all rest here, the sun is rising." Twilight noted then fluttered onto a higher branch and began to pluck the strings of his lute and began to sing. Ivory yawned and stretched out her wings then settled down, tucking her head under her wing and slept.
The six travelers flew through the air. Ivory soon learned that Digger loved to make jokes about owls, most of them were not very amusing but she laughed politely anyway. Finally there was a time of silence but Soren noticed something. "You know I think that crow is following us."
"Yes I've had my eye on him for a while." Twilight agreed calmly. Ivory looked around and more crows joined them.
"Know what an owl says when he's pecked by a crow?" Digger asked nervously.
"Really, Digger, must you?" Twilight sighed.
"Ow!" Gylfie cried out as a crow pecked her.
"That's right, ow!" Digger agreed as a crow pecked him also. Ivory rolled over to avoid a diving crow then pulled up to miss another.
"Hey! Get out of here!" Twilight shouted, beating them with his lute but one of them snatched it from him. "Oh, that is it!"
"Twilight, your lute!" Soren called, watching the crow fly away.
"Oh let them have it. Good riddance. Oh, wait! Oh no!" Digger suddenly realised.
"Oh yes!" Twilight laughed.
"Mrs. P!" They all cried and dived after the crows. Ivory shouted out Mrs. P's name as she dived, tucking in her wings so tightly that she was like a silver streak of lightning flashing downwards.
"Mrs.P, I'm coming!" Soren called out to her.
"Soren look!" Mrs. P laughed wildly, her tongue flicking through the air. The crow Soren was following dropped the lute so Soren dived after it. He stretched out his claws and was about to snatch it up when a crow barged in front and whisked it away again. "They're too fast!" Soren cried out in despair as Mrs. P was carried away again.
"I'll get you closer. We're going to lock talons!" Twilight lunged forwards and caught Soren's claws in his.
"Trust me! I know what I'm doing!" Twilight promised.
"Have you ever done this before?" Soren asked fearfully.
"No, but I've always wanted to try it! Hold on!" Twilight flapped his wings and turned over his head, shooting Soren forwards really quickly. He glided through the air and dived for the lute as it was dropped once more. "Mrs. P!" Soren caught the lute and landed with it safely.
"Get out of here! Begone!" Twillight shouted, landing beside Soren. Ivory flapped her wings in front of some crows and they scattered. "Oh, Mrs. P. Are you okay?" Soren asked, looking into the lute to see Mrs. P, still hissing with laughter.
"Oh! Quite a ride! Let's do it again." She suggested but they all chuckled at her adventurous nature. "Owl. You surely can fly." Twilight said to Soren.
"Thank you, Twilight." He beamed up at him.
"Well, here we are." They all looked up at the great sea, twinkling brightly in the evening sun.
"The Sea of Hoolemere." Soren whispered.
"It's just, so big." Gylfie gasped.
"Yes, it's a right big puddle there." Digger mused. Ivory smiled secretly. She was nearly home.
"I don't know. You really think the Guardians are out there?" Twilight asked uncertainly.
"They have to be." Soren nodded.
"They are there." Ivory promised.
"The band!" A shrill voice suddenly cried out and everyone nearly jumped out of their feathers.
"Who's there?" Ivory demanded, flapping her wings in warning.
"Your arrival 'twas foretold. 'Twas foretold trespassers would land on my shore." A rather large hedghog crawled forwards, painted blur and carried a small stick.
"Look, we mean you no harm." Soren promised.
"Yes, 'twas foretold aswell."
"We've flown a long way." Gylfie added.
"Also foretold." The animal pointed his stick to her.
"And we're very tired." Digger put in but had to duck as the stick swung around to him.
"Foretold! I know all. Now state your desire, owl." The animal pointed his staff to Soren.
"Wait, if you really know all, then how come you don't know that?" Gylfie questioned.
"Ah! 'Twas foretold there would be one who doubts."
"Is anyone else having trouble with this?" Gylife asked.
"Yes I king of am." Digger nodded.
"Da said, 'guided by the spines of the echidna.' Wait! You're an echidna!" Soren guessed.
"I am the echidna. And 'twas foretold you would need some help getting here."
"Well then, I should tell you, we seek the Guardians." Soren said.
"He should already know that." Gylfie whispered.
"I do! Doubter! Go on." Echidna encouraged.
"Da said your spines can guide us." Soren continued.
"And they will! Now to reach the Tree, keep between the Whale's Fin and the Eye of Glaux. Never go outside those stars." Gylfie looked up at the stars with wide eyes, knowing exactly what Echidna was saying. "Now go! All of you." They hesitated slightly, unsure of whether they should belive the hedgehog or not. "'Twas foretold that the band would hesitate. But in time would become a family. And a family needs all of its members to play their parts. The warrior." Echidna pointed to Twilight.
"Poet warrior, if you please." Twilight corrected proudly.
"Fine, strong and noble. The tracker, sturdy and faithful." He went to Digger then turned to Gylfie. "The navigator, who doubts." She turned away from him with a gurmble. "The mind, wise, cunning and thoughtful." Echidna continued over to Ivory then to Soren. "The leader, who's gizzard is strong. And finally, of course, the heart." Echidna finished with Mrs. P.
"Ah..." She smiled.
"Wait. Are you a snake?" Echidna frowned.
"Yes I am." Mrs. P nodded and the hedgehog lumbered away, muttering under his breath.
"You've all come this far, each protecting the other. So go, look to the sky and fly!" Echidna pointed. Soren stepped forwards.
"Alright. Let's go!" They all took off and flew away, hearing some more words from Echidna but none of them made any sense as the wind blew them away. "What did he say?" Gylfie asked.
"We're halfway there! Oh yeah!" Digger cried and swooped forwards. Before night had fallen, the band had flown into a storm.
"We're lost! I can't find my bearings!" Gylfie cried as she was blown backwards.
"We have to find the island!" Twilight shouted over the howling wind, blowing snow and rain into their faces.
"We're in the mist, the Tree must be on the other side. I can feel it in my gizzard!" Soren called out, encouraging them forwards.
"Your gizzard? Does anyone else have any more solid information about how much further it is?" Digger complained.
"Digger! Why are you flying like that?" Twilight shouted.
"What? You know how I fly!"
"Digger! Your wings!" Ivory gasped, seeing them frozen over with ice.
"I think...goodbye." Digger suddenly collapsed.
"Digger!" Everyone cried out. Soren dived down to race after Digger but everyone else was blown backwards. "Twilight!" Ivory cried as the lute was torn from his grip. Ivory flung herself forwards and dived downwards, hearing Mrs. P screaming for Soren as she tumbled through the air. Ivory saw the sea suddenly loom at her, the great waves crashing up at her as she reached out and snatched the lute before it hit the ocean. "Oh Ivory! Thank goodness!" Mrs. P cried from inside.
"Hold on, I'll get us both to the Tree." Ivory promised searching for the others. They were lost. She could see no one in the thick mist. "Ivory? Where are we?" Mrs. P asked with a hiss as Ivory flapped upwards away from the waves. Ivory flew, following her gizzard which guided her back home. "I'm coming mother, I'll find my way." Ivory whispered, her wings beating fiercly with her talons digging into the lute tightly, not allowing it to be torn from her grasp. She flew against the wind for hours, flying as hard as she could. The lute weighed her down but she forced herself to keep going. All the way Mrs. P gave her kind words of encouragement, warming her to the bone. Ivory saw a small whirlwind so she stretched out her wings and glided through it, allowing it to carry her forwards, resting her wings for a moment. Ivory squinted in the dark and saw a shadow shooting towards them, another owl, small and agile, flying easily against the wind. "Ezylryb!" Ivory screeched and he banked towards her, flapping to a halt in front of her. "Thank Glaux I found you in time. Are you hurt?" Ezyryb asked but Ivory shook her head. "Come, it's not too far now, you can make it." Ezylryb assured her firmly, flying in a circle around her and nudging her with his beak against her wings to keep her going. "I can't Ezylryb, I just can't..." Ivory panted and blacked out for a second. "No! Fly Ivory! Fly!" Ezylryb snapped and dived beneath her, making her halt in the air so that she didn't crash into the ocean. "See the lights! It's there! We're so nearly there! You're doing brilliantly, Ivory." Ezylryb encouraged, fluttering around her and talking to her to keep her awake. Suddenly she felt the wind lessen and the storm out blew itself. Ivory flew out into clear air, a gentle breaze carrying her forwards with the warm sun touching her frozen wings and talons. "Look Mrs. P. We're here." Ivory gasped for air as they approached the magnificent tree, Ezylryb sighed with relief then flew with Ivory towards the great Tree. A gong sounded and owls screeched the return of their princess as she flapped her wings, climbing the air until she was directly in front of the sun, pulling up and spreading her wings wide, the golden light illuminating her perfectly white wings. "There she is! A true princess!" They all cried as she looked down upon her people, calling her name and praising her return. Ivovry tucked in her wings and dived straight down like a lightning bolt, flying into the tree and curving around owls as if they were a breath of wind. The counsel looked up in shock as she plumetted towards them, her parents's sad faces lit up as she twisted down to them, spreading her wings at the last second and fluttering down to the ground, placing the lute with Mrs. P inside gently on the ground before lifting off again and she glided before her father and bowed her head in respect. "Father, mother, I bring you sad tidings." She said softly. Her mother fluttered to her side and wrapped her wings around her, burying her face into her daughter's neck. "Oh Ivory, we have been so worried for you." She whispered.
"My daughter, your companions tell me a story of Metalbeak and the Pure Ones. They say that they capture young owlets then train them to become their soldiers. Is it true?" King Boron asked gently.
"It is true, my lord father. You have my word upon it." Ivory nodded, looking up to her father with her large, emerald and gold eyes.
"I'm concerned about this fleck material of which they speak. It could be a weapon. Could be a new shield or armour." Bubo said, nodding his respect to the princess as she fluttered to Soren's side.
"Having examined them, Your Majesty, they do show signs of the trials they described." Barran said to her husband.
"It beggers belief to think that these brave young owlets would fly here by themselves to spin a fairytale. Does my Lord Allomere feel otherwise?" Ivory scowled at Allomere's laughter.
"Oh, good Glaux. Boron, Your Majesty, if I understand this correctly, Metal Beak is not a myth, he's building a slave army of moon blinked owlets and is planning to conquer the world with magical pellet debris. Without intending any disrespect, especially to my little friends who have been through so much, suck a story stretches plausibility too far." Allomere said without much sympathy in his voice. Ivory smiled slightly as Ezylryb laughed at Allomere. "Does that notion strike Ezylryb as amusing?" Allomere inquired.
"What cheek! What's amusing to me is that you would cover yourself by besmirching these fliers, even your own princess." Ezylryb turned to Allomere, ruffling his scruffy feathers.
"Perhaps my good fellow Ezylryb wishes us to rush back to war." Allomere suggested dangerously.
"No, no, no." Ezylryb sighed.
"Perhaps he'd write a poem about it from his hollow while the rest of us-well. While the rest of us had our talons deformed too." Ivory knew to stay silent but she would like nothing better than to scratch that black tongue of Allomere's. "But I say caution. When the losses could be so many."
"I would never counsel rushing blindly into war but for a cause such as the one the boy described, for a violatoin of peace so blatant, so powerful, of course I'd fight! What other course to take?" Ezylryb demanded. "If you think I'm a coward, or I'd simply urge others on, I'd fight you right now." Ezylryb shoved his face into Allomere's as Boron tapped his stamp against his stand. "Order." He frowned.
"Boron, you can judge the winner." Ezylryb finished.
"Mildly owls, we're trying to seek the truth!" Boron reminded.
"The truth? I've told you the truth! The Pure Ones exist. They've kidnapped me and dozens of owlets from our hollows. They want to enslave us all and rule our world without pity. Yes the only proof I have are my words. But words were the only proof I ever had that you were real. Still I believed." Soren interrupted. Ivory looked up to her father with piercing eyes, telling him to trust them.
"And you would argue with that?" Ezylryb turned to Boron.
"I will not argue with it." Boron did not take his eyes from his daughter's.
"Your Majesty, my search and rescue chaw is scheduled to leave on a routine survey during the next full moon. Perhaps we could-" Allomere was cut off by Boron.
"No. You shall leave immediately. Take your best owls with you, Allomere. And be thorough." Boron slammed his stamp down which concluded the council. Ivory led Gylfie and Soren up to where the view was best, over looking the ocean and the gate of Ga'Hoole. "Hey, we did it." Gylfie whispered.
"Yeah, I guess we did. But why didn't you tell us you were the princess Ivory?" Soren asked.
"I did not want to brag. Besides. Your strong belief in us was warming to me, it kept me going." Ivory answered. Ezylryb landed on a branch in front of them, watching Allomere leave the Tree.
"Oh. To be a young owl with a taste for adventure, arriving at the Tree for the first time. Well done to hold your own in there. Some more nice, strong gizzards. The Tree always needs them." Ezylryb grinned then took off. "He is one strange owl." Soren noted in a quiet voice.
"I think he's missing a few talons." Gylfie added in a low voice.
"He's a great warrior, he may not make much sense when he teaches but you have to listen to him or you'll not last a minute in a real fight." Ivory laughed then spread her wings. "Come on, we're late for dinner." Ivory chuckled softly then led the way down to the feast, swerving in and out of other owls. "I think the others are over here!" Ivory called and she fluttered forwards, leading Soren and Gylfie through the thick crowd. "Hey Ivory! Matron wanted me to see you to the feast." A beautiful tawny owl fluttered down to Ivory's side, glancing to Gylfie but then gazing at Soren. "We're fine, Otulissa. I haven't forgotten my way around." Ivory sighed as she smiled at Soren, ignoring Ivory completely. "I'm Otulissa." She introduced herself with a stylish ruffle of her tail feathers.
"I'm...Soren." Soren managed.
"I believe your friends are in there." Otulissa pointed with her wing towards where Twilight and Digger were with Mrs. P. "Digger! Hi!" Gylfie flew forwards with a chuckle, Digger had his face engulfed into the bowl of food. "How's the food Digger?" Soren asked with a chuckle. Digger emerged from his bowl and grinned with a mouth full of bugs. "It's be'er than it was." He said in a mumbled indistinctly.
"He said 'good', but he thinks it'll go better with a little music." Twilight said and Digger spat out his food.
"What?" He demanded.
"And this looks like a decent crowd." Twilight laughed and began to play his lute which had a few extra claw marks from where Ivory had gripped it so tightly.
"He's actually pretty good you know." Gylfie said.
"Oh, I guess. If you like that sort of thing." Digger shrugged then buried his head in the bowl again, causing the other to laugh again. After a while Ivory sneaked away and took a mouse with her, flying up to Ezylryb's hollow. "Ezylryb?" Ivory called and the small owl few down to her.
"I thought it wouldn't be long until you came to my hollow. How are you Ivory?" He asked gently, pruning his feathers after speaking. "Better now that I've eaten. I brought you a mouse, I did not see you at the feast." Ivory said and nudged the mouse towards the old warrior.
"Ah, I have missed your kindness." Ezylryb smiled and began to eat. "Now tell me what is on your mind." Ivory chuckled, he knew her too well.
"I just have a few suspicions, that's all. I won't trouble you with them." Ivory shrugged then fluttered over to where Ezyryb had been writting. "A patrol report?" Ivory looked closer. "You were searching for me?" Ivory looked up surprise at Ezylryb. He finished his mouse then nodded to her.
"Of course I did. I searched for about three nights in one before I returned to report then I went back out again. I did not believe Allomere was searching far enough, I wanted to be sure." Ezylryb explained then placed his mark on the report. "Most of the Guardians flew out, we were all worried for you. I think your father was the most worried though, more so than your mother." Ezylryb chuckled as he began to shift the coals in his fire. "What did happen when you were caught?" Ezylryb asked with his eyes closed.
"I think I must have glided too far. I got seperated from my parents then I was snatched." Ivory answered simply.
"Hmm. Tell me about your suspicions. You will feel better afterwards." Ezylryb said.
"Well...it's about Lord Allomere. He was supposed to be watching me whilst my parents went to do some hunting, wasn't he? I just find it a strange coincidence that it should be on his watch that I am taken, his patrols did not manage to spot an owl carrying me away, his searches did not find me and...well. I just do not trust him." Ivory sighed.
"Neither do I. Don't worry. I shall keep my eye on him." Ezylryb promised then opened his eyes. "Now go and get some rest. You have flown a long way in a short space of time with much toil. Rest." He smiled gently at Ivory and she nodded her head. She flew to his side and touched her beak to his chest in farewell. "Goodnight Ezylryb."
"Goodnight Ivory." Ezylryb chuckled as he placed a wing around her. "Sleep well."
"Here at the Tree, every owl trains indeffernt skills we call chaws. You'll study tracking, navigating, combat but maybe, you're a blacksmith. The next few nights were spent training. Ivory stayed with the band, learning the skills of a blacksmith, how to track, hunt, navigate and fight. Her favourite lessons were flying with her mother and sparring with her father but she loved every moment of her company with Soren, Gylfie, Twilight and Digger. "Come on now, focus!" Boron laughed as his daughter circled him in the air, holding up her sparring sticks. She laughed and flew forwards, connecting with Boron's and practicing her fighting skills until she finally had Boron disarmed. "Brilliant! I am proud of you." Boron mumured to his daughter and she beamed up at him, glad that she had done something right. Ivory landed next to Gylfie and joined them in their combat lesson. Twilight flew into the air to be struck repeatedly in the face by a tiny owl. "Preposterous!" He cried in shock. "Come back here! I wasn't ready!" He flew after the tiny owl, leaving the others laughing like maniacs. Next was flying. Ivory followed her mother and savoured her sweet voice, something she had greatly missed whilst seperated from her. "Feel the air! Follow me!" She called and dived steeply then weaved in and out of the arch then around the tree, rolling over their backs then diving back down with shrieks of laughter.
Ivory sailed through the air, catching the late evening thermals and warm sun. Ivory looked down and hissed like Mrs. P. The hawk was flying beneath her, eyeing a group of young owlets, still fluffy from the egg. Suddenly the hawk dived down and screeched, reaching out for a small owlet who cried out in fear. Ivory screeched out a warning and the other owlets scattered for cover but the hawk was nearly at its prey. Ivory dived down and curved her wings, flying roundly then barreled her head into the hawk, throwing it away from the owlet just as it curled its claws around the owlet. "Eek!" It squeaked and rolled off the edge of the platform, screaming as it fell.
"Hold on!" Ivory shouted and dived again, gaining on the falling owlet as it tossed and turned in the air, falling towards the ocean. Behind her the hawk had dived also, intending to reach the owlet before Ivory. The hawk was drawing level with Ivory but she did not give up, she swerved to the left and threw the hawk off balance then stretched out her claws and gripped the owlet tightly then threw out her wings, beating hard to stop them both from crashing into the ocean. Ivory looked up and saw the hakw diving at her with outstretched talons, screaming in rage. "Hold on." Ivory said calmly then flew down towards the massive waves, clear as crystal. As she had hoped, the hawk followed her, diving down and weaving between the waves. Ivory stretched out her wings and glided down, flying into the curve of a wave, her wing tips almost touching the water. Ivory listened to her gizard, following the curve of the wave with her wings and flying within herself. Beneath her the little owlet whimpered in fear as she stared at the water rushing beneath her. The hawk screeched in shock and Ivory heard the crash of something hitting the water then sinking below. As the wave began to close up at the end Ivory beat her wings together and twisted, shooting out of the small hole with the owlet tucked safely in her talons as she rose up in a spiral spreading her wings to finally glide upwards and soar through the air, gently flapping her wings to land the owlet back to its mother. "Oh my princess! Thank you!" The mother cried as she pulled the shaking owlet towards her.
"It was nothing. Take her to be seen to, she is in shock." Ivory advised, nudging the owlet gently with her beak with a warm smile.
"That was amazing!"
"You shall be a great leader when you are older!"
"I cannot wait to see you when you are fully grown." The words made Ivory smile and look away modestly as owls clambered around her to compliment her. "You are truly Boron's daughter."
"Now that's enough. Let her have some air!" Ezylryb called and landed neatly next to Ivory, clearing a small area for Ivory to move. "Come. There's a good storm brewing." Ezylryb flew into the air and Ivory followed him, along with Soren and the others. Soon it was lashing down with rain, thunder and lightning were seen and heard at the same time and it was near impossible to see in the dark. "Feel the gutters! The current is the rain!" Ezylryb said, sliding effortlessly through the storm as the others beat their wings frantically to keep up. "A scupper! A swillage! Baggywrinkles!" Ezylryb laughed.
"Baggywrinkles? He could have at least given us a vocabulary list!" Otulissa gasped out her chuckle.
"Now this, this is the way to learn!" Ezylryb cried as he twirled through the rain.
"Oh yes! This is exactly how I want to learn. In a monsoon!" Digger shouted.
"The air currents warm in different ways, you see, from the sky to the ocean. You can't fight them, you have to feel them with your gizzards. Aha! You see that one? Soren look it's there! Go for it! That's it! Use your gizzard, boy. Trust it! Fly inside!" Ezylryb shouted as Soren soared forwards towards a current of twisting rain. They all watched as Soren glided through it, curling his wings perfectly. "He sees it. He sees it!" Ezylryb whispered, watching Soren with awe. Nothing looked more beautiful to Ivory as the rain was illuminated by the flash of lightning as it dripped from Soren's feathers. He flew perfectly through the wave, curving around until he was flying on his back. "Hold it, hold it..." Ezylryb encouraged. Suddenly Soren's eyes flew open and he saw he was about to fly into Twilight. "Soren! Hey, hey, hey careful, look out!" Twilight shouted and Soren turned upwards and flapped furiously to avoid hitting Twilight but he lost control and fell, tumbling downwards. "Soren!" Ezylryb shouted and dived down, racing after Soren as he fell. Just before Soren could hit the ocean, Ezylryb flew beneath him and got him airborne again. "Owl. Come to my hollow." Ezylryb growled at Soren. They all flew back, wet tired and hungry. Ivory joined Gylfie by a crackling fire, warming her feathers as they shivered with cold. "How did it go?" Barran asked.
"It went well, mother. Although, I think we all nearly had our wings ripped off." Ivory answered with a laugh. Suddenly there was a loud screech and they all flew to where Allomere had returned, carrying two owlets. "Quickly! Some help here. These owlets need attention." Allomere said in a tired voice. "Hey! Hey what happened?" Soren asked.
"Lord Allomere rescued two owlets from the Beaks. It looks like he's hurt, I think he ran into some of your Pure Ones." Otulissa interrupted before Ivory could open her beak. "You know, I didn't really believe you before."
"Oh that's okay. You know, I wouldn't have believed me either." Soren said with a small chuckle.
"Soren! Soren, come fast. It's Eglantine!" Mrs. P shouted, slithering her way to Soren.
"Eglantine?" Soren whispered then shot forwards. "Let me through! Let me past!" He called and pushed his way to the front. He looked into the basket and gently rolled one of the owlets over onto her back. Her eyes were completely white and she showed no sign of hearing Soren calling her name. "No!" Soren cried then looked up to Barran. "Do you think you can help her?"
"We will do our best, Soren." Barran promised then watched as the owlets were flown away to the medical hollow. Ivory watched Soren for a moment then joined her mother in the council chamber, placing herself just below them. "The battle was ferocious, we were greatly outnumbered. I was only lightly wounded, thank Glaux, but the others..." Allomere trailed off. Ivory frowned slightly and her eyes darted to Ezylryb who gave her a knowing look.
"Can you estimate the number of enslaved owlets, Allomere?" Strix Struma asked gently.
"Scores, I witnessed, there may well be many more." Allomere sighed.
"And ou believe this is part of a larger plan?" Boron asked.
"It is certain. Your Majesty, this is no time for half measures." Allomere stated simply.
"Hmm. Bubo, sharpen the battle claws. To arms." Boron commanded.
"To arms." Allomere repeated sadly. Ivory watched her parents prepare, she watched them place their war helmets on as well as their battle claws. "Father, mother. What do you order me to do?" Ivory asked quietly. Boron looked around to his daughter with surprise, not knowing her to be so submissive. "I wish you to stay here and if we fall, guard these owls with your life. Keep them safe from harm. If the Pure Ones come for the Tree, evacuate immediately." Boron instructed and Ivory nodded her head. "I pray that will not need happen." Ivory answered and nuzzled up to her parents as they hugged her. "We shall return. Don't you worry." Boron promised then took off with Barran, leading the Guardians to battle. Ivory sighed then looked to the battle helmet stands, finding them all empty. Ivory sighed then flew up to where her mother and father normally stood at councels, praying for their safe return. "Ivory! Ivory come fast! Allomere is a traitor, they are flying into a trap!" Soren shouted, flying down to Ivory and landing before her. Ivory blinked in shock then sprung into action. "Gather the Band, we are going to battle." Ivory called then flew towards the armoury. She dragged on a pair of metal claws then flew forwards, soon joined by the others, following Gylfie. "We'll follow the Whale's Fin, that's the way they would have gone!" Gylfie shouted, navigating the way back to St. Aegolius. Ivory gasped for air, her heart beating uncontrollably as they chased after the Guardians, praying they would make it in time. Ivory felt the familiar cold shiver as they flew towards the Beaks, the dark mountains towering in the black sky. "I see something...there!" Digger spotted a fallen helmet from a Pure One.
"We should check out that smoke." Ivory inclined her head then led the way towards the amber glow and the thick plumes of smoke. "Guys, look!" Gylfie stated and they all banked to the right towards the mysterious blue glow burning brightly in the night. They all landed on a ledge, hidden from veiw, staring in shock as the Guardians writhed on the ground, stuck to their places as they shrieked in agony. "Well we can't just leave them there, writhing pain. Can we?" Twilight asked.
"No, you don't understand. When we were at St. Aggie's we saw what those things can do. It does something terrible to your gizzard." Ivory stopped Twilight before he could take off. "Soren?" Ivory looked to the young barn owl who was thinking hard.
"Uh...we've got bats inbound." Digger noticed.
"Don't worry. I can down a hundred of those blood suckers!" Twilight boomed.
"Uh...ooh! How about a thousand?" Digger replied.
"Well we won't find out sitting on our tail feathers, will we? Come on!" Twilight began.
"Wait! Just wait." Gylfie stood in their way.
"Of course!" Ivory clapped her wing to her head then turned to the others. "The flames!"
"Ivory, what is it?" Twilight asked.
"I see a way to free the Guardians." Ivory told them.
"No! You can't fly into fire!" Gylfie squeaked but Ivory merely smiled at her.
"There are two mechanisms either side of the dome, Soren, I need you to help me with this. You're the best flyer of all of us." Ivory turned to Soren who nodded.
"Gylfie, we need to trust our gizzards. Twilight, can you take care of the bats?" Soren asked.
"Friend I'll give you as much time as possible. But hurry and be careful." Twilight nodded then took off with the other three and his trusty lute. "Hurry Soren, the lamps, we set fire to the lamps." Ivory instructed then flew up to one of the oil covered lamps, tugging at it and beating her wings but the obstinate piece of metal would not move. Soren struggled with his for a while until finally, they managed to cut the lamps free with their battle claws. The weight was heavy but Soren and Ivory were strong flyers, they beat their wings until they soared through the air and towards the burning trees and thick smoke. In her head Ivory could hear Ezylryb's teachinga. "Use your gizzard, owls! Fly inside!" Ivory sucked in a deep breath then led the way down into the heat, diving under a tree and spreading her wings wide. Soren took the lead, curving around and following a streak of curling flames, catching the lamp on fire as they flew. As they began to near the end they both folded up their wings and angled upwards, shooting out the end and soaring high into the air. Soren spread his wings and they both hovered in the air, the orange moon shining on his back whilst Ivory arced around and glided up to the opposite end, the bright full moon gleaming on her feathers. In unison they dived, tucking in their wings as tight as they would go and they barreled down towards the misty blue cage, feeling somthing wrench at her gizzard as Ivory entered the first streak. Ivory panted as the pain shot through her but she continued to dive down, she had to do this. The strange looking mechanism loomed before her so Ivory pulled back and threw the burning lamp with deadly accuracy at the exact moment Soren let go of his. Loosing control of her flight, Ivory tumbled through the air, screeching in pain and rage at the bats who were surrounding her father. She managed to level herself out then snatch at them with her claws as she flew overhead, making them scatter then fly away as the lamps blew everything up with a burst of flames. Ivory landed with a skid, sliding on her back then rolling on until she stopped close to where Soren was laying, panting and grunting in pain as she was. "Soren..." Ivory gasped and he looked at her with a pained expression. Slowly he stretched out his wing and placed it over hers, giving her a small degree of comfort. Suddenly the power holding them down lifted as the shield snapped shut over the flecks. Ivory looked up and smiled with relief, collapsing back onto the ground with exhaustion. "Come on Soren, Ivory. That was exemplary. But we're not finished yet." Ezylryb grunted and placed a wing over them both. Baran struggled to her claws then fluttered over to her daughter, nudging her to her feet. "Well done, my child." She beamed down at her then looked around as the other Guardians struggled to get up. "Guardians, we must uphold our oath. To battle!" Boron shouted then took off, leading the way. Ivory fluttered her wings ready to take off but her mother shook her head and made her stay put. "I need you to stay here with your friends." Ezyryb stopped Soren in his tracks and continued before Soren could speak. "And guard these owlets." He took off with a battle cry. The Band watched as Twilight and the Guardians flew into battle, cringing as the casulties increased. Ivory watched her parents carefully, marvelling at how graceful they were in battle and in flying, especially her mother. Ivory turned her attention to Twilight who plumeted through the ranks, bashing the Pure Ones with his head or his lute with considerable force. A screech made Ivory cry out in fear. Her mother was battling Nyra fiercly but the evil Queen had managed to clip Baran's wing and throw her off balance. She flew at Baran's back and landed upon her, pushing her to the ground with great force. Nyra lifted away at the last moment and watched as Baran crashed into the ground then lay there, perfectly still. "Mother!" Ivory screeched then took off, streaking towards her mother in a desperate attempt to save her. "Protect the Queen!" Someone shouted but no one made it near to her. The Pure Ones evaded any attempt on Nyra as she stretched out her talons and dived at Baran. Ivory let out a furious shriek and Nyra looked up in surprise. Ivory barreled into Nyra and threw her away from her mother. "You shall not touch my mother!" Ivory shrieked then extended her claws, lashing out at Nyra and clipped her chest feahters. Nyra growled in anger and flew at Ivory, her eyes glowing red. Ivory ducked Nyra's blow then turned over her head, slashing Nyra's leg and drawing a satisfying amount of blood. Nyra screeched again and locked talons with Ivory, scrabbling at each other in anger. Ivory snapped with her sharp beak as did Nyra. They tumbled down through the air, a mess of wings, talons and beaks. Suddenly a loud warrior cry made Nyra look up and break away from Ivory, flapping her wings and glancing from Ivory to her husband's call. Finally she growled at Ivory then flew away, leaving Ivory panting for air. Ivory looked about her then found her mother had already rejoined the battle. Flapping her wings, Ivory shot up into the air then dived at her father, struggling against a group of Pure Ones on his own. Without a sound Ivory shot forwards and barreled into them with her head, forcing them away from her father. With a massive grunt Ivory snatched up one of the smaller Pure Ones by both wings then threw him into another, panting for air. Boron nodded proudly at his daughter then flew on. The battle was fierce, the Guardians were heavily outnumbered by the Pure Ones. Suddenly a loud screech made Ivory look up and almost weep for joy. "Grimble!" Ivory shouted. Grimble was leading an entire army of owls from all parts of the kingdoms into battle. There were hundreds of them, all angry and ready to fight for their stolen owlets. Ivory screeched and joined Grimble at the lead, gliding down with them and rejoining the battle. The parents were almost as terrifying as the Guardians. They fought with such a bright anger that most of the Pure Ones fled at the sight of them. Ivory searched around then heard the terrified cry of Soren. "Soren!" Ivory cried then flew hard for the fort where Soren was fighting against Metal Beak. Ivory flew in through the broken window then shrieked, flying past Ezylryb and straight at Nyra who was diving for Soren, angered by her husbands death. Ivory flung herself forwards but Nyra heard her cry. She angled her wings and allowed Ivory to shoot past her but Nyra changed her course and dug her talons deep into Ivory's small body. Ivory gasped with pain as she was crushed into hard stone, a huge crunch told her that her wing was now broken. Ivory moaned in agony then fell limp as Nyra glared at her with pure hatred. "There is only room for one Queen." Nyra hissed then smiled slightly as Soren shouted out Ivory's name.
"No! Leave her be!" Soren begged then bellowed in anger as Nyra dug her beak into Ivory's neck and tightened her grip on body. Ivory gave a shuddering gasp then fell back, closing her eyes. Deafening cries of anger hit Nyra and she looked up. The Guardians, lead by Boron and Baran, were flying hard at her, all in a dive with a vicious look of hunger for blood in their eyes. Nyra flew into the air as fast as she could. "Pure Ones! Fall back, to me!" She shouted then flew out the window with her faithful followers behind her. Boron and Baran landed close to their daughter, shaking with grief as they tore off their helmets and shuffled closer. "No...no not Ivory..." Boron whispered and stood over his child and his wife as she placed a wing over her body, touching her head to hers. Boron placed his head onto his wife's, wrapping his wings around the both of them as the Guardian's hung their heads in sorrow, mourning thier loss. Soren looked up and saw Twilight, Gylfie and Digger land beside him, shivering with tears. Grimble and the other owls from all kingdoms landed everywhere, on pillars, ledges, the ground, all to pay their respect to the princess. Ezylryb felt as though he had been shattered, he had loved Ivory like a daughter also and he had just watched her die. Suddenly there was a low sigh and Boron, Baran and everyone else leaped back in shock as Ivory sucked in a breath, shuddering as her lungs expanded against her broken ribs. "Did we win...?" Ivory whispered and Baran let out a strangled cry.
"Yes, daughter. Thanks to the bravery of you and your friends." Boron smiled and gently lifted Ivory upwards, looking to the healing owls who flew down to Ivory and began to help her. "Bring the banner, we shall have to carry her home in that or we might break her even more." The owl said and Boron nodded. He helped to tear the banner down and bring it back to his daughter and placed her on it, taking one end whilst Baran took the other. Gylfie flew forwards and kept Ivory company the entire journey home, promising her she would be alright.
"So as it was in the old ages, it was in the new. The Guardians upheld their oath that night, they made strong the weak and mended the broken. And when the sun shone again that morning, all could see that they had vanquished the evil. With the peace restored, it was a time for celebration and recognition, that our small band of owls, who fate and a storm had blown into the Tree now stood before its king and queen as young Guardians. Ready finally, with all their hearts, to take that ancient oath: To mend those who are broken, to make strong the weak and without hesitation, vanquish eveil. For as we know, Nyra escaped, and Kludd? Kludd was never found." Ivory finished, chuckling at all the wide eyes faces before her. "Should I stop?" She asked and she was instantly met by begging and shaking heads. "What? Please don't stop!" A young owlet said.
"I don't want to give anyone daymares." Ivory warned.
"Oh come on! There must be more, there must be!" The owlet giggled.
"Ha, ha! Listen to them Ivory. They want more stories." Ezylryb laughed, chuckling at the eager young owlets who were waiting for their parents to come and collect them for bed. "Well, come on, you lot. Let's not disappoint them. Ah! There's a good storm brewing. And if we're lucky, it'll be chock full of baggywrinkles!" Ezylryb laughed then took off into the air. Ivory shook her head with a chuckle and glanced at Soren. She was not completely healed yet but that did not stop her from flying with her friends into the storm with the warm sunrise on their backs.