This is the story of Clove, from owlet Purity in the ranks of the Pure Ones, to adapting to life at the great tree.
Into a world of darkEdit
"It amazes me." said Logan to Helena. He couldn't believe it. The egg had been tiny. Too small, Rudmore had scoffed. Logan dispised Rudmore, and so did Helena, as Rudmore had been the one to snatch her from her nest as an owlet. Logan had considered asking Helena about getting rid of it and trying for another clutch, but she had insisted against it, as she had hatched from such an egg of size. But here it was right now, hatching before their very eyes. His mate had been through so much. Her brother Ivan had tried to kill her for his tupsi, which Ivan had arranged himself. Helena had killed him in defence, therefore passing her tupsi even though she didn't really love her brother. As an owlet, she had been critisized for her tiny stature. If her parents could see her now. Then the shell split, and a tiny owlet tumbled out.
"It's a girl!" cooed Helena. "We'll name her Purity. That is a nice name for a true Pure One." but Logan wilfed. Deep down, he was having second thoughts about the Pure Ones. Suddenly as the chick touched the moss, everything went dark. "It's an eclipse!" Yelled someone from outside the little cave.
"Hatched on the night of an eclipse!" Logan said in a hushed whisper. "She - I mean, Purity, is special, Helena."
"I know." Helena murmured, running her beak through her chest feathers and pulling out a tuft of down before tucking it around Purity. Logan winced. Purity. Pureness... it didn't matter to him anymore. All owls were equal! All he wanted was for his mate and child to be safe and happy, free from the brutal laws of the Pure Ones. We have to get out of here. But Helena won't have it. What am I to do?
Purity squinted against the light. Though it was dim in the cave, it would be bright for a little newly hatched owlet. She looked up, peering at the two owls above her.
"Helena, look!" She heard the excited whisper. "Her eyes are open!"
"Look at them! They're gorgeous. Is that a little tinge of blue?"
"Look, right there... you'll have to squint a bit."
"I see! Like two pieces of black blue jet." Purity pecked at a thing in front of her. It was small, with lots of tiny legs, and the male voice spoke up again. "Down your beak, Purity! A nice little centipede for your first insect ceremony." Purity couldn't really understand, but something was telling her to pick it up and swallow it. So she tumbled over, and snapped it up.
"Good girl! As you were saying, Logan?" Purity saw the more unsually petite owl with the long eyelashes and sharp talons turn to the larger, taller owl beside her. She had guessed by now that the larger one was Logan, and the smaller one was Helena - her mum and da.
"I.. well, you see, Helena, I was thinking that we'd... you know - leave."
"Leave?" Purity heard the shock in her mum's silky voice. "Why?"
"Well I think Purity so would grow up better elsewhere. Like the forest of Tyto..."
"And come face to face with Taylor and Albus?" Spluttered Helena. "What would they say?"
"Well.... maybe Silverviel or Ambala -"
"No, Logan! What's the real problem? Have your loyalties slid? Tytos rule supreme, Logan! We're staying in the Saint Aegelious Canyons, with the Pure Ones, end of story." Helena said firmly. Purity saw her father wilf.
The Question of EqualityEdit
Purity was puzzled as to why every owl here talked about other owls. They mocked Elf and Pygmy owls for their size, Burrowing owls for their living habits, they even called larger owls like Great Horned and Great Grays 'clumsy big oafs'. But the word she heard most was 'Pure' or 'Impure' or recently, 'Them guardians'. She was too little to talk yet, but if she could talk it would be an endless list of questions about why everyone went on about pureness. From between her sleeping mum's soft feathered legs, she watched her da stand quietly, thinking to himself.
"Owl pureness." He muttered to himself. "It's something only a mooncalf would believe in." He went quiet as Helena shifted in her sleep. "I need to get you out of here, Purity." He whispered to her. Then his face twisted into disgust. "That name. I won't allow you to become a tyrant." He paused. "I'm not sending you to a sticky end." Barely able to understand in her hatchling's brain, Purity simply nuzzled into her mum's down.
Helena opened her eyes, yawning. "What was that, dear?"
"Oh, nothing." Logan said quickly. Helena yawned again, and then drifted back to sleep.
"I'm off for a training session. Some new owlets need training." Helena flew out of the cave, her battle claws glistening. Logan watched her go, his gizzard tearing. Tonight was the night. His plan. He had to leave her behind. There was no way his mate, as much as he loved her, would agree to leave. So he would escape himself - taking Purity with him. He fought back tears as he watched her disappear down the gorge, and he ducked back into the cave. He left his battle claws on the wall. He was never using them again. His plan was to go to the Northen Kingdoms. They would never be suspected to go there, and the Pure Ones wouldn't go to there after them. There was a good few forests they could make home, even if it was cold.
"Come on, Purity." Logan carefully wrapped his talons around his tiny daughter, who was now a fuzzy ball of down.
"Da." She yawned. "Where goin? Pleath tell me." Logan felt a tear trickle down his cheek at her first words.
"Somewhere else. Somewhere better."
"Besser? Is there?"
"Yes." Logan whispered as he lifted off canyon rock for the last time. "Somewhere much better, my owlet."
"Helena!" yelled a voice. "You've gotta come, quick!"
"What?" Helena turned from where she had been about to harshly scold a Sooty for not being fast enough. "I'm busy. Some other owl can -"
"No!" the Red owl gasped. "It's Purity and Logan! They're gone!" There was a long silence. Then the air stirred as Helena rocketed past, her heavy battle claws unlocked. After all that they had been through... Logan would do this to her? He'd been badgering her about leaving, but this was too far! Taking her little owlet and fleeing like a coward? Helena gathered a patrol, seething. She called the best navigators and trackers, Rudmore being one of these trackers. As much as she loathed the owl who had snatched her from her nest as a helpless owlet, she needed to find her daughter and mate. She didn't care if they were Sooties or any other impure owl.
- - -
Rudmore flew close to the ground, searching for a trial. Logan had been clever. He'd flown over one of the few streams to confuse any pursuiter, so any feathers would be washed away. But a few feathers that had escaped the water and a few pellets at the bottom of the shallow stream showed a clear track. Rudmore had a sharp eye, the one that wasn't blind was exceedingly sharp. Then, as they neared Silverviel, he noticed something in the distance. Where Logan and Purity had made their way, in that direction, was smoke. Rudmore quickly flew up, but he didn't have to. The patrol had already spotted the smoke. And where you got smoke, you got fire.
Logan flew above the flames, clutching onto Purity. He had been resting, but when he had awoken the tree had been about to crown. He had escaped in time with his daughter, with a singed tail. Purity was staring into the flames with interest. She clearly didn't know the dangers of fire yet. He was going to explain everything in detail when she was a bit older.
"Da, it's so pretty!" she sqeauked. "And it's warm!"
"But it's dangerous, Purity." he said.
"How? How can something so pretty be so dangerous?" This is one curious little owlet. before Logan could reply, he heard his name called. He flipped his head back, and then he hovered, trying not to go yeep. Helena was rocketing toward him, battle claws unlocked.
"How dare you!" she hissed in rage. "What sort of coward steals my daughter and tries to fly away with her? Mooncalf!" Logan flinched at the insult. 'Mooncalf' meant 'idiot' or 'fool'. Purity was staring at her mother.
"Why are you angry, mummy?" she asked. Helena didn't reply, but ehr eyes were desparate.
"Logan... I'm begging you. Give Purity back to me." she whispered, battle claws locked back as she reached toward him. Logan sighed. He couldn't let Purity grow up without a mum. He'd been such a reckless idiot. Logan then outstretched his talons, about to hand Purity over to Helena. But then Helena looked down.
"Look out!" she screeched. Too late. A coal had leapt up, and caught Logan on the starboard wing.
The rest of the world seemed to be frozen. Helena stared in horror as flames spread up her mate's wing. He turned his head, staring from his wing to her. And then he shrieked in fear, and flapped madly in a vain attempt to stop it, but the fire spreaded. Purity screamed in Logan's talons.
"Da!" she cried. "Mum!" the owlet's eyes were bulging. Helena reached forward, and tried to grab her. But she slipped through her talons. Logan was plummeting down, a ball of fire, with their shrieking daughter in his claws. The Pure One patrol had caught up, and were following her panick-stricken stare, panting. She folded her wings to dive after them, but she was grabbed by Rudmore's mangled talons. She struggled to tear herself free, but he had her in an iron grip.
"No, Helena! You can't save them!" he hissed. But Helena wasn't having it. She spun, and ripped at his belly.Blood sprayed onto her face as she ripped a wound into the Grass owl's belly. He dropped her with a cry of pain, and the other Pure Ones rushed to support him.
"Helena!" Iniq cried. "It's too late! Come back!" but Helena ad vanished into the fire.
"Logan! Purity!" Helena screeched, flying low to the forest floor. She had searched for hours, and some of the flames here had died out. She heard her name being called by the Pure One patrol, but she ignored it. Then she heard a ragged breath. It was coming from a broken pile of branches,covered in cinders. She rummaged through the branches, desperate. Then, she saw Logan. He was pinned down, his lower back invisble in a pile of aas and forest debris.
"Logan!" she gasped, grabbing him. She hauled him out, and stared at his lower back. Everything past his lower spine was limp. She touched his talon, to no response. Helena then felt a hollow in his back. His spine was broken. He would never walk or fly again. She cradle him in her wings, staring into his dull eyes.
"Helena..." he rasped. Blood trickled from the back of his head, and he was burned terribly, red patches of burnt skin showing angrily on his wings and head. She held his soot-streaked face, tears trickling down her own for the first time since she had been forced to kill her older brother.
"Where's Purity?" she whispered.
"I... I dropped her... she's..." Logan coughed, blood trickling from his beak. Helena sobbed, and cradled him.
"I love you." she choked, a sob in her throat. Logan touched her face with his wing, and then he let out a ragged breath.
"I love you." he rasped. Then his wing fell away. His eyes rolled in their sockets, and then Helena didn't hear a heartbeat. Her mate was dead.
No owl heard the heart-rending cry from Helena in the distance. The search-and-rescue and tracking chaw was in high spirits after the Milkberry Harvest Festival, laughing and joking.
"That milkberry wine and berry mead was wonderful, don't you agree?"
"Bessie almost passed out! She loves a bit of milkberry wine, dosen't she? She's so young too, but that dosen't stop her. She always gets it somehow." Frost churred at his fellow chawmate. The ryb of search-and-rescue, the old Snowy owl had woken at tweener with a migraine, by how much berry mead he had drunken last night. But after a still-tipsy Bessie had given him some medicine, he had felt well enough to go on a search-and-rescue mission. There had been reports of a fire in Silverviel, so they had gone out at dusk. It was moon-high now, the moon half-full. Then the tracking chaw member, Tally, flew up.
"I think I've found someone. A bit of owlet down, by look."
"Good work, Tally. Let's hope the little one is alright. Show me." Frost followed Tally to the forest floor, where Tally showed him a few tiny talon-marks, and a tuft of owlet down. Suddenly, Frost heard a whimper. "Sssh, Tally." he hopped along the forest floor, to a burrow. It looked like it had once homed a fox. Frost stuck his head in. A tiny owlet. was inside, whimpering softly.
"Hey, little'un." he crooned. "Where's your mum and da?" but the owlet shook her head, shying away. "It's alright. I won't hurt you." the Snowy reached in, and picked up the owlet, who had the Barn owl look about her. "You have a name?"
"I... I don't know." this was a lie. But Purity didn't want anything to remind her of her parents, who were surely dead. The white owl with the black barring looked at the brown one beside him, who had creamy dapples and a soft voice that made a ting-ting sound. She had never seen owls like them. Why were their eyes yellow? The only owls she had seen, had black eyes and their faces were more heart shaped.
"How about we call you Clove for now?" Tally suggested. "Would you like that?" Purity thought for a moment. It sounded like a nice name.
"Yes." she sqeauked. "Clove." It felt like a nice word through the beak. She felt safe in the white owl with the black barring's claws. "What sort of owls are you?" she asked. "I've never seen owls like you." Frost looked at Tally in suprise.
"I'm Frost - a Snowy owl, Bubo scandanadia. Tally here is a Boreal owl, Aegelious Funeurus." Clove blinked. These words were unfamilar.
"I've only heard of Tyto alba, and Tyto tenebricosa, Tyto glaucops.. and some other ones." Tally looked at Frost.
"Probably because she's an alba, that's probably why she's only heard of tytos." he was seeming to assure Frost. Clove blinked.
To the great treeEdit
Clove watched the fog as it seemed to part. A shape was visible, becoming clearer as the fog closed behind them.
"Where am I?" she asked Tally. Tally looked down at her.
"Welcome to the Great Tree of Ga'Hoole." he said. Clove then saw the most immense tree she had ever seen rise from the mist. It was on an island, and it was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. Cascades of copper coloured vines fell from it's branches, and there were flickering things in the hollows. Little flickerings of light, on white things. She thought that she had heard of such things. Candles? She watched in beweilderment as Tally flew through a hollow, and put her down in front of a young, fluffy light cream coloured owl. She had brown barring, and warm brown eyes.
"Hello, young'un." she said. "I'm Bessie." she turned to Tally. "So where did you find this one?"
"In the remains of a forest fire." he replied."We've decided to call her Clove. She's only seen tyto owls, I've been explaining all non-tytos on the way here." he looked down at Clove. "Bessie here is a Barred owl."
Clove looked up at Bessie in curiosity. "Hi." She sqeauked. Bessie smiled down at her.
"Hello, Clove." She crooned. "Are you hurting anywhere? An ache, burn?"
"No." Clove fluttered her downy stubs of wings, testing them, and tucked them behind her, waggling her stubby tail. Bessie gave her a gentle tap with her beak.
"Good. I'm the tree's healer, and ryb of the Healing chaw." At Clove's puzzled gaze, she explained. "A ryb is a teacher, Clove. A ryb teaches a chaw, which is a class. There's several: healing, combat, navigation, search and rescue, blacksmithing, Ga'hoololgy, weather interpretation and colliering. You'll be taught all about each one."
Very young owlets are known, in their early stages, to have short memories and easily forget. For Clove, this was fortunate. Any owl with such a horrific tragedy in the other few weeks would be traumatized, but an owlet at Clove's age could easily forget. She now only dimly remembered the fire, and her mum and da and the Pure Ones. She was now interested in books. The books seemed to blur her memory even more with more knowledge for such a small brain. And she didn't seem to realize it. Most owlets Clove's age would be interested in the 'baby books' such as short stories of adventure and joke books - but after reading them, she was eager to read more. So it was one of the librairians who gave her a copy of an old book that had been written by an Other known as Shakespeare- well, it was orignally a play, but it had been put into a book too. It was known as Romeo and Juliet, a tragic tale of a young pair of star-crossed lovers. And Clove loved it, and the librairian allowed her to keep it. She liked this tree. It was so full of life and colour, unlike the rocky canyonlands that were fading in her mind - the only green there was the moss she vagely remmebered in a nest. There was green of moss all over this tree, but the main colour right now was 'copper rose', of the milkberries and vines. Clove had seen several other owlets. A Spotted one who had been rescued like her, called Rue; a Barn owlet called Kato, a Mottled called Damon, and several others. There was an older one who had learned to fly a few weeks back, a Spotted called Elijah. Rue seemed the friendliest.
"Enjoying Shakespeare?" Bessie churred as she flew by. Clove nodded happily, and Bessie then called out. "I've got another Shakespeare book of my own, but I don't really want it. You could have it if you like. It's called The Tempest."
"Yes please!" Clove bounced up and down. As Bessie went to get the book, she felt an itch on her wing. She ran her beak over the down, and then felt some bumps. She frowned, and ran her beak through the down again. Bessie flew in, with the book.
"Here you go, Clove -"
"I'm budging!" Clove sqeauled, fluttering her fluffy wings. Bessie smiled at her.
"Are you? Let me see, sweetie." Clove could barely stop bouncing to let Bessie examine her wings.
"You are, Clove! Not long now!"
Learning to FlyEdit
Clove felt a chill in the air as she perched upon a large branch. Beside her, the Spotted owlet, Rue, perched, eyes on the older Spotted owl Elijah. He was young, not long flying, but he was good at it and wouldn't do anything silly or reckless. Plus, everyone else was busy. There was a big skirmish in somewhere called the Barrens, and Bessie and Tally were helping out with casualties, so Elijah was the best - and pretty much only - option.
"So - how you feeling about branching?" Elijah hooted cheerfully.
"Excited!" Clove exclaimed.
"And nervous." Said Rue. Elijah gave her a sympathetic look.
"It's perfectly safe. The branches are pretty close together, and there's lots of milkberry vines if you happen to fall." Elijah spreaded his dappled white and brown wings, and flapped them up and down. "Copy me. Up, down. Up, down." Clove and Rue began to flap their wings. Clove felt the wood beneath her talons vanish as she rose. Rue was a little higher than her, but then she was bigger then Clove. Clove was rather small for a Barn owl - she was smaller then Kato, that other Barn owl who had recently learned to fly. Elijah glided over to the adjacent branch. "That's it! Come on!" Clove glided after him, and then landed clumsily, whilst Rue landed without a flaw. Elijah helped Clove to her talons, but kept his eyes on Rue. "Great, Rue! You'll get better, Clove, just you wait - at least you're not hanging upside down, like I did - and still do!"
Clove and Rue watched Elijah demonstrate. He was teaching them what to do when you ended up hanging by your talons upside t when you landed. Although he claimed he became upside down on purpose to show them, they both hardly believed that the klutzy Spotted owl had intended it.
"Okay - you just let go, flap a few times, and you're back up!" Elijah let go of the branch, flapped his wings, and then he was soaring in the air again. "Kay, that's done - you're both fully fledged, and ready to go!" Rue's eyes sparkled.
"Thank you for teaching us to fly, Elijah!" She smiled at the older Spotted owl, who grinned.
"You're welcome! See you both in chaw practice!" Elijah gave Rue a warm smile, before flying away. Clove turned to Rue.
"When do we start chaws?"
"Tomorrow." Rue said, fluttering her wings. "We have Ga'Hoololgy first."
"This. Is. So. Boring." muttered Clove. It was a few weeks after they had learned to fly, and they all watched, bored, as the ryb droned on about the importance of burying pellets.
"The nutrients from pellets, bones, fur, feathers and teeth, are essential for the health of the tree..." The Barn owl beside Clove, Kato, was lost in his own world as he stared at a caterpillar, obviously as bored as they were. Rue's head fell back, her eyes focused on a spider web. Clove's own head rolled, and she jolted back to stop herself falling asleep. Poor Elijah. not long ago, Elijah had been tapped for Ga'Hoololgy, and he was obviously very disappointed. Elijah stood behind them, secretly reading a book, concealed by the Great Horned owl called Rugger. Clove preferred colliering to Ga'hoololgy. Colliering was her favourite. Fire was so fascinating; the way it flickered, almost danced. Clove had always believed that nature was the best artist, and that fire was the main masterpiece.
"Hey, this looks interesting." Rue tugged out a fairly new book. "Some of the most Beautiful Lovers in History. Look, Hoole and Strix Emerilla, Grank and Siv, shame she didn't return those feelings - hey, it's got Romeo and Juliet, Clove."
"Has it?" Clove looked over, and looked at it. "I might check it out later."
"Cool." Rue flipped a page. "You're so lucky, you've got free time next while I have Weather Interpretation. I don't mind it, but I love free time... anyway, what you doing in your free chaw practice?"
"Oh, I was thinking that I'd fly to the land. Explore - I might check out Silverviel."
"Silverviel?" Rue looked up. "I heard there's strong winds over there today. You'll have to make sure you're not blown off course."
"Is there?" Clove considered going somewhere else, but then thought otherwise. "I'll be fine, I'm a strong flier despite my size."
- - -
"I should have listened to Rue." Muttered Clove. "I should have gone somewhere else." By now, Clove was completely lost. She had indeed been blown off course - to make things worse, she had lost her compass. She had borrowed it off Tally, and had accidentally lost it when she had dropped it into Hoolemere. She was now over somewhere she hadn't seen before. Some plains, some rivers, and a ring of Volcanoes. Clove fiddled with one her milkberry bracelets, which she wore on each ankle. She looked down, and saw a mass below. I know these! Caribou! Clove watched the herd below - she was definitely lost. The Beyond was a long way from Silverviel.
End on a rescue missionEdit
Clove followed a river, hoping she could get home in time for colliering. She had a few hours left. The Barn owl flew closer to the river surface near the bank, inspecting the stones beneath the water. It was shallow enough this close to the bank, so she reached into the water and scooped out a pretty stone. It was a heart shape, pale gray with a tint of blue. Clove decided to challenge herself, tossing it over the river and rushing to catch it in her beak before it vanished into the water. On her third catch, she heard someone calling to her. She turned, stone in her beak. Perched on a rocky waterfall was an amber coloured she wolf, with a pale cream belly, chest, legs, muzzle and tail underside. Her eyes were light blue and full of distress.
"Can you help me? A wolf dear to me - Aulus - he just fell over the water fall. Can you please find him? I'm a bit occupied..." She looked over her shoulder at a crowd of wolves, gathered around a deformed female wolf and a pup with half a tail.
"Sure thing." Clove replied, stuffing the stone into the pouch attached to her left leg, by her left milkberry bracelet. She turned, and flew downriver, listening for a heartbeat of a male wolf.
- - -
Clove would have no idea what would lie ahead. In the following months, she would become one of the greatest colliers the tree had ever seen. Clove would see her mother again, and fall in love with a Barn owl she barely spoke to in the beginning. She would make more friends, go back to her birthplace - and after three wars, have a brood of owlets. Clove did not have a happy beginning. But her story would have the most extraordinary summary.