The War of the Six KIngdoms Book One: The Fallen Tree

Chapter One

Falling from a Tree

In the large forest kingdom Ambala, a beautiful green and luscious place filled with rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, creeks, tall grass, owls of all kinds,and as many mice, voles, shrews, centipedes, millipedes, and crickets you can eat, was a bird. No, not an owl, as many would expect, but a kestrel. Kestrels are peculiar birds, being small and light,yet near the top of the food chain wherever they are. Now, this kestrel was a female named Scandimore, who was a mother of five, yet her offspring had never seen their father. After the eggs were laid, the father and Scandimore had many arguments, and one day, he came to the nest and told her that he had found a new mate and would have a new family. Scandimore had become a quiet and almost depressed 


Scandimore returning to her chicks

bird after that, and never said much to her offspring except when she taught them things. Scandimore stretched out her talons and plucked a mouse staight off the ground and flew off towards her nest, where her hungry children would be waiting for her arrival.

Tiercel Blacktalon was a kestrel, and an intelligent one at that. He was the third to hatch from his egg, and the third of five siblings. His mother, Scandimore, lay down a mouse and expertly split it into five sections with her talons, throwing away the tail. His three sisters and one brother all dove in at once, some knocking heads and falling backward. He scampered forward and took the middle peice, turning to his mother, and wondering why she did not cut a peice for herself. 

"Mum, why don't you have a slice of mouse to eat?" he asked. His mother, who was staring off into the distance, turned around and looked down on him. 

"I'll find something for myself, dear, don't worry about me." she said simply and continued to stare into the distance. Tiercel's mother was usually like this, doing nothing much more than feeding and protecting her children. She ocasionally told them about Peregrinus the Poet Warrior and Marmor the creator of all kestrels. She also told them stories of the Aegyonoc, the terrible black bird that prowled the night, looking for baby birds who fell out of their nest to eat. That was the way he learned never to go towards the edge of the nest or try to fly prematurely. None of his siblings knew how to fly yet, but all of them had flight feathers. Tiercel couldn't imagine how his mother was to teach them all at the same time. 

The sun had been blotted out of the sky by dark clouds and winds started to howl loudly. So loud no one could hear what their mother was saying. Leaves fell of the oak, elm, birch, willow, cedar, pine, fir, redwood, spruce, yew, maple, and cottonwood trees they were attached to, the waters of the lake rippled, every animal hid in it's home, trying to wait out the coming storm. Tiercel and his siblings huddled in a corner, while Scandimore spread their wings over them. The nest Tiercel and his siblings shared was not very clean, with every once in a while one of them would find a wood beetle or a centipede in there. Their mother did not clean it very often, and when she did, she would tell them to quickly eat the insects she picked from it to keep up their energy. Tiercel looked around at his siblings - Rocc, his eldest sister, Thunder, the second-eldest, Canicia, his younger sister, and Scipio, his younger brother. They were all squeezing their eyes tightly shut except for him. In an attempt to imitate them, he closed his eyes too. Things didn't seem to get any better this way, but it gave him comfort knowing that if anything terrifying came their way, he wouldn't have to see it. 

Suddenly, the wind beame so loud, it was unbearable. Tiercel heard a terrible creaking sound, and everything started to rise to the top of the hollow, and the tree appeared to be falling forward, and him and all his siblings started to fall out of the entrance, and Scandimore took one last look at her children and flew off, leaving them to whatever horrible fate was down there on the forest floor. Scipio went spiraling away at amazing speed, and all of thems screamed and desperately tried to grab hold of the bark of the tree. They all hit the branches of the falling pine tree a they tumbled towards the earth. Tiercel almost completely forgot what was going on in the chaos, and smacked his head on a thick branch, and everything went black. 

Chapter Two

A Rather Rude Awakening

Tiercel, woke up, his head pounding. It was now late in the evening, and the sun was starting to weaken. He was surrounded by the dead bodies of his siblings, his face was right in the direction of a blinding light, which was being circled by little black figures and his vision was all blurry. After a while, he realized that this bright light must be the sun. He also saw that the little black figures were actually other birds, and he dealy hoped they were other kestrels. He tried to pull himself up, but his left wing hurt like Skra'ak. Tiercel's vision became clear again, and he saw that the birds in the sky were in fact buzzards, and they were waiting for him to die. They were just going to wait for him to starve to death, or give up on life, and die, and then they would swoop in and eat his corpse. What a disgusting way to go! 

After many hours, Tiercel had thought that he could never be as miserable as he was now ever again. He looked into the blinding sun, and after a while, it took it's toll on him, practically sun-paralyzing him. Sun-paralyzing was a terrible thing, in which a kestrel, or any bird for that matter, would have a broken wing, and because of this they would have to lie at a diagonal angle to be comfortable and not be able to move away from the sun, so they would have to stare directly at it. Not only would this eventually ruin the bird's keen eyes,but after many, many hours, the bird would have fallen into a state of their soul being in their body, but being helpless to control it. So they would just lie there, their body eventually decaying and being helpless to control it. It was a lot like hypnotism or something. He tried to look away, but it hurt his wing to look either way. He just begged to Marmor that the buzzards would just kill him now.

And soon enough, it seemed as if Marmor was truly a merciful god, because the buzzards dove in on him. About seven of them, all with dirty, blunt talons, and shar, hooked beaks. Tiercel truly beieved this was the way he was going to die, eaten by buzzards, when an owl, even larger than the buzzards, swooped in and grabbed one buzzard by the leg and threw it at two others, one of which escaped, but the other was smacked head on. The mysterious owl then bowled into the scavengers, butting one in the gut with it's head and tearing at another with it's talons. Then grabbing the supposed leaders of the group by the necks, his smacked their heads together, and they all flew off. 

"Ha, is that all you got? I would'nt have expected much more from a few scavengers like you! All beak and no heart! Cowards! That's what you are! Fine with eating a defenseless bird, but you shy away from eating a fighting one!" the strange hero boasted, then turning towards Tiercel. It, now obviously a male owl of some sort, had a perfectly symmetrical face. With almond-shaped eyes, and a darkish pink beak. Looking down at the owl's talons, he noticed that they had a metal claw-shaped contraption strapped to his leg. 

The owl seemed to have noticed Tiercel staring at his feet. "I see you are interested by my battle claws. I got them as a gift from my mother. She said they once belonged to my grandfather, Soren."

"Wh-wh-who are you?" Tiercel stammered, trying not to sound like a fool.

"Oh! Terribly sorry! I should have told you my name first! I am Orlando, Tyto Alba, member of the search-and-rescue chaw as well as a member of the council of war of King Albanus and Queen Abelia, and a Guardian at the Great Tree of Ga'Hoole. Now what is your name, young one?" The Barn Owl seemed very friendly so Tiercel told him the truth.

"My name is T-Tiercel Blacktalon, Falco Sparverius, or a kestrel, son of Scandimore, and brother of four. How did you find me?" he asked, trying not to sound rude through the pain of a broken wing. 

"I found you while I was on the trail of a St. Aggies patrol, but I lost them, so I went in the direction I thought the went in, and what do you know? I found you with those buzzards hovering, waiting for you to die. I waited to ensure you were not dead - as is protocol on the search-and-rescue chaw, as saving a dead bird would be pointless, and I had a right to think you were for a while, as your siblings are dead as well. I am terribly sorry for your loss. Now, please, will you come with me, as we need to get you back to your mother." he replied,and was about to take off, but Tiercel stopped him.

"Well, you see, our mother abandoned the nest when our tree was falling, because as you can see, I am near a fallen tree. And my wing is broken, so I can't fly. And I would suspect my mother is a long ways off from here." he said quietly. 

Orlando stood thinking for a momet, then spoke once again. "Well, then, I know a good old owl who can fix your wing, in fact, I know a whole team of owls who can do that. Then I'll carry you, you can't be much lighter than an elf owl, can you?" With that he picked up Tiercel, mideful of his broken wing, and flew off north and east. 

Chapter Three

The Great Tree

As the owl and the kestrel traveled through the night skies, they talked about many things.

"So, what were your family members' names, Tiercel? I mean, your mum and da and sisters and brothers and nestmaid snake." Orlando asked.

"Nestmaid snake?" Tiercel said very confused, as he had no idea what that was.

"Well, you do know what a snake is, don't you?" Orlando said while dodging a hanging limb of a tree. He was rewarded by a "u-huh" from Tiercel.

Orlando looked behind them. "Well, owls, being the noblest of birds, if you don't mind my saying, are still birds. This means that bugs still get inside our nests. So, we need someone to pick them out. So we have nestmaid snakes, usually blind females that take care of the young and act as godparent figures to the owls. My mother Sebastiana said her father's nestmaid was one named Ms. Plithiver. Anyway, I presume you don't have one, so moving on, how about your siblings and mum and da?" 

Tiercel swallowed. "Well, my mum was named Scandimore, and I don't know my da, and neither do any of my siblings. I think he left us before any of us hatched. Although I heard my mum mutter a name to herself in her sleep, as she often did, and the name was Archaristo. I'm not sure who that is, but I think that might be my da's name. Anyway, I'll name my siblings from oldest to youngest: There's Rocc, my eldest sister, then there's Thunder, second-eldest, then there's me, then there was my younger sister Canicia, and my younger brother Scipio. They're all dead now, so it doesn't matter anyway." he said grimly.

Orlando became quite flustered by this, and shook a lot, making Tiercel afraid he might be dropped. "Great Glaux, boy, no need to be all down about it! My grandfather's dead, my grandmother's dead, but we all still remember them. Of course, they were the King and Queen, but we all remember them because they were, like all owls, important to our culture and history. Even to the most insignificant little owl, they all leave some mark on our culture and history when they die. My great-grandfather, Noctus, was not a Guardian, not even close. But he was the father of my grandfather, who would later become a King of the Great Tree. With his and his wife Marella's death, came a mark on my grandfather's attitude. He was a changed owl, he became a serious, independant and brave owl. And he fought for almost all of his days, trying to ensure that no other owlet would be kidnapped from their home and no more owlet's parents would be murdered by the Pure Ones. Even you, yes you, could leave a mark on our society. And you're not even an owl!" 

Tiercel thought about this for a while, not knowing how to respond.

"I gues you're right, Orlando. I'm sorry." he finally said meekly.

After about twenty minutes of dead silence, Orlando spoke again."We best be trying to find a hollow to rest in for the day," he said quickly. Withat, the two spiraled downward and found an abandoned owl hollow. 

"We don't really need to sleep now, I mean, the light's gonna let us see better." Tiercel responded. 

Orlando looked around the hollow and answered. "Yes, but being an owl, we feel a need to sleep during the day. If we traveled under the un, crows might mob us. Owls like me don't need to sleep during the day, but we are used to it. My great aunt Eglantine would've had a word for that, she usually did. Was it... noctesnal? nortural? I don't remember. I'll look it up when we get there." 

The two slept throughout all the day, although Tiercel found it hard to, as he was used to sleeping during the night. When night did come, Orlando seemed happy to be off and flying again. Tiercel felt as if he was going to scloff, which was a kestrel's term for coughing up pellets. He had hardly slept at all that day, and he just wanted to sleep now that it was dark.

"We should be there by this time tomorrow. Let's say first black." Orlando said orderly. 

"What's first black?" Tiercel asked, looking back at a moth that fluttered by them. 

"First black is the owl term for directly after the sun sets. First light is directly after the moon sets. I learned this long before I was even placed in a chaw." Orlando answered.

"But remember, I'm not noctsenal or whatever like you owls are. So I wouldn't really need to know that stuff. Anyway, one more question: what is a chaw?" Tiercel asked.

"Well," Orlando asnswered, "a chaw is a group of owls who have proven themselves to be quite exemplary in a certain task, as I am in the search-and-rescue chaw. Let's see, tere's healing, colliering, weather interpretation, blacksmithing, search-and-rescue, navigation, tracking, and Ga'Hoolology, which is a word for the history of Ga'Hoole. You see, when you're as young as yourself, you aren't in a chaw. You're just an owl. But, when you come to a certain age, you take these certain chaw tests, and the leaders of that chaw will decide who goes in what chaw, based on whatever you're best at. I wanted to be in the colliering chaw, but no matter. I love the search-and-rescue chaw with all my heart, gizzard, and mind."

"How can you love something with all your mind?" Tiercel asked, trying not to sound rude.

"Well, I don't know about you kestrels, but for us owls, our gizzards are more important than our heads. When you're truly flying, you're trusting your gizzard, which is based on instinct, and instinct is rarely wrong. So our gizzards are never wrong. Sure, you can trust your head, but your head needs to learn things, while your gizzard doesn't. We should thank Glaux we have them."

Tiercel was going to ask who Glaux is, but he noticed Orlando seemed to be very focused, and for good reason, so he felt that this may not be the right time.  

After one more day of sleeping, the pair came to a huge lake it seemed, a lake that Orlando told him was known as the Sea of Hoolemere. It was quite foggy, windy, and cold, and Tiercel wondered how any bird could fly in this weather. The Sea just stretched on and on, with never-ending fog with it. He became dizzy looking downward, backward, and forward, so Tiercel just closed his eyes. Soon, he was in a deep sleep.

Tiercel was woken by being shaken. He blinked twice before asking, "What is it, Orlando?" What he saw next was amazing. Never had Tiercel seen such a grand tree. It was huge, with limbs stetching out everywhere. His stomach lurched as Orlando suddenly began to spiral downward towards what appeared to be a landing platform. Before they landed, Tiercel was gently set down. Four other owls then walked forward to Orlando. "Is the owlet alright?" "Is it moonblinked or not?" "Where did you find it?" "Tyto?" "The Beaks?" were just a few of the questions they had asked until they looked down and realized that what Orlando had brought back was not an owlet at all, rather, another bird entirely. Then other questions had come up: "what is it?" had become the main one, and Orlando quickly answered it.

"My friends, this is Tiercel, a kestrel. His famiy has been killed by a falling tree and he was about to be eaten by buzzards when I saved him. He's got a broken wing, and he hasn't eaten in two days." he answered. 

Before long, Tiercel had been placed in a hollow full of small, one-bird nests. He was in a small one, and a Barn Owl had come in to attend to his wing. 

"I hear you're from Ambala." she said while placing a poultice to his left wing. "I'm from there too. The name's Hortense by the way. I was named after a great heroic Spotted Owl named Hortense who saved many eggs from the terrible place known as St. Aggie's. They even named male owls after her. Imagine that!"

Tierce was going to ask who St. Aggie was, but he felt a sharp pain in the bones of his wing. Hortense seemed to notice this, because she glanced at him and spoke once more. "Oh, that'll happen. The pain will only be like that for a while. By tomorrow, the wing will feel much better. Then we'll put it in a sling, and hope that it heals properly. If it stayed all wonky like that forever, you'll never be able to fly. I'll help you get on over to the dining hollow comes dinnertime."  With that, she hopped thrice, and flew off out of the hollow. 

Tiercel tucked his head into his right wing, held his left out limply, and slept.

Chapter Four

An Un-Family Reunion

Tiercel was woken by someone tapping him gently with a wing. It was Hortense. "Come on now, dinner's ready. I hope you kestrels eat mice." she said,picking Tiercel up in her talons.

"I ate mice almost all the time." he answered.

Along the way, Hortense asked many questions about Orlando. 

"What was it like, having him traveling with you? He's so brave, and handsome, and courageous, and -" she was interrupted by a tree limb, as while she was jabbering on and on about how amazing Orlando was, she almost crashed into the hanging limb. She was about to continue, but a middle-aged hawk owl accompanied them on their way. 

"Greetings, Hortense. Are you escorting our new guest to the dining hall?" the hawk owl asked. 

"Why yes, yes I am, Alto. What've you been doing?" Hortense asked, slightly annoyed at how she could no longer gush about Orlando.

"Oh, this and that, you know what it's like being a blacksmith and all. Do you know our guest's name, or can he not tell us?" he replied. Hortense was about to answer for him, but Tiercel asnswered himself.

"My name's Tiercel Blacktalon." he said. 

"Well, nice to meet you, Tiercel Blacktalon. My true name is Altonerius, but you can just call me Alto." the male hawk owl said. 

"Here we are." Hortense announced. "The Dining Hollow."

It was quite a big hollow, with snakes, nestmaid snakes Tiercel assumed, acting as tables. 

A young hawk owl called for him to sit withh them at their table. Tiercel, seeing the centipedes and caterpillars in a bowl with many other meats, started to walk over towards them. 

"I'll be over at the healing chaw table," Hortense said. "Go sit at whichever table you wish, and they will bring dessert in a few minutes." 

Tierel continud to walk over to the table and plopped down at it. The hawk owl who had motioned to him earlier had introduced himself and all the others at the table. 

"My name is Euther, and this is Cora, our table, and from left to right, Belle, Aluco, Simon, Arthur, Sebastian, and Lois." he pointed to a female Barn Owl, a male Spotted or Tawny, Tiercel couldn't tell, an Elf Owl and three Masked Owls: two males, and a female. the nestmaid snake Cora smiled and welcomed him warmly. 

"Please, eat, I do believe there is some more vole left, and Belle is full already. There is always room here at this table." 

One of the male Masked Owls, whom Tiercel believed to be called Arthur, spoke. "If Lois keeps gettng fatter, we won't have anough room." he joked. This caused the other male Masked Owl, Sebastian, to laugh hysterically, and the subject of the joke, Lois, to turn away angrily. 

"Now, now, no making fun of one another. You wouldn't want me to report you to Albanus and Abelia. The three froze immediately, and started begging not to be reported. 

"No, no please, Cora, we was only jokin'!"

"It was all in good fun, right, Lois?"

"We'll do anythin'!"

While the three were blubbering, Euther and Aluco asked Tiercel a question, two more like: "So, what's your name?" they asked.

"Tiercel." he replied. 

"You don't look like an owl." Simon, the Elf Owl butted in. 

"That's because I'm not. I'm a kestrel, Falco Sparverius'. The tree I was living in with my family fell down, and my mum abandoned us, and allmy siblings died, and I broke a wing in the fall." He weakly lifted up his injured wing, whih at the moment, had a poultice on it. Tiercel wanted to change the subject, so he did.

"Who are Albanus and Abelia?" he asked. the both of them gasped and answered. 

"They are the King and Queen of the Tree, so if you get reported, you're in for it. Big time. And even more so for Arthur, Sebastian, and Lois. They're their sons and daughters."

Belle pushed a bowl toward Tiercel. "Caterpillars," she said, "want some?" 

Tiercel hesitated, as he had never been fed those by his mother before, and neither had any of his siblings. Of course, this was the same mother who left him and his siblings to die, so he decided to have one. It was crunchy, a but salty. It seemed pretty harmless, so he tried another.                                    

"Good, aren't they?" Belle asked him while he popped two into his mouth at once. She was responded by a "mhm" from the kestrel.

Tiercel dropped one while he was eating onto the dining hollow floor. Cora noticed it. "Did you drop this, Tiercel?" she asked and nudged it with her head. 

"Oops." the kestre replied and picked it up and ate it. He was about to go for the last one when he noticed a large presence behind him. 

"Enjoying the food we have to offer?" it asked and Tierel turned. He saw that it was not one owl, but two Masked Owls, a male and female. They were unusually both the same size. 

"Oh, terribly sorry to frighten you," the female said, "but we have decided to come and greet our visitor. We are all very excited to have a visitor here at the Great Tree. I am Abelia, and this is my husband and mate Albanus. We are KIng and Queen here at this Tree." she nudged her mate with here shoulder as if to tell him to say something.

"Hmm? Oh, yes, right. You heard correct. We are King and Queen at this Great Tree, and these three," he motioned to Athur, Sebastian, and Lois, "sitting at this table, if you haven't guessed already, are me and Abelia's children." he paused for a moment, as if to give Tiercel some time to look at his face, and his children's faces to see the similarities. Tiercel didn't want to be staring at this owl's face forever, so he answered quickly. 

"Yes, I can see that your daughter looks like her mother and your sons like their father." the kestrel replied. 

"We'd best be letting you finish eating." Abelia said, and the two walked off back to theur own table.

Once the group had finished eating, Hortense the nurse had come to Tiercel and his newfound friends. 

"You may go to any part of the Tree you like, but you must be sure you tell me or another adult before going so we could escort you. Your friends just learned to fly a few nights ago, so they cannot really help you." 

"Let's go to the library!" Aluco suggested. 

"Sure, I guess." repied Tiercel, and the group were off. 

Once at the library, Arthur and Sebastian had gone off to read some joke book, Lois had gone off to do who knows what, Simon to the tracking section, and Belle to the plants section. Euther had said that he wanted to go to the blacksmithing section, but Aluco had stopped him. 

"We'll go in a bit. I want to visit someone." he had said, and went off to the left. Tiercel and Euther had followed. 

They came to a room with a huge stack of books in it, and an elderly female Spotted Owl came out from behind it. 

"Grandmum!" Aluco yelled, and ran into her chest. 

"Aluco! So nice to see you, child! And who is this?" she looked to Tiercel. 

"My name is Tiercel, and I'm a kestrel." he replied, somewhat mumbling. 

"Well, hello there, dear. I am Otulissa, Head Librarian, Ga'Hoolology ryb, Flecks ryb, Care of the Great Tree ryb, History of the Great Tree ryb, and Ga'Hoolian History ryb here at the Great Tree. And if that seems like a lot of jobs, I'll tell you, it is, but I enjoy it deeply. If you would care to check out a book, just bring it to me, and I will write it down." 

So, after that, the three went off to the Blacksmithing Section. They found a book, entitled Metals: Mining, Smithing, and Battle Claws by an Eagle Owl named Elcon Baykus. Tiercel, not being an owl, could not read the writing in the book, so he had Euther and Aluco tell him what they were reading. The written and sometimes spoken language of kestrels is Sparverian, but Tiercel's mother had not taught him more than a few phrases and words, and Scandimore said that "most of the birds he'll meet are owls, so best speak Hoolian." Despite this, the three were very fascinated with the many metals they seemed to find like gold, silver, platinum, mica, nickel, tin, aluminum, titanite, zinc, and many, many others. Once they were quite into it. A big shadow cast over the pages. Tiercel looked up and saw Orlando, the great big Barn Owl that had saved him from the buzzards. 

"So sorry to interrupt, but I'd like Aluco and Tiercel to come with me for a while. They'll be back in a tick." So, Aluco and Tiercel got up and followed him. 

The two were back at the Head Librarian's office, however, instead of just Otulissa and the great stack of books, there were many more owls, including two Great Gray Owls, three Spotted Owls, four Barn Owls, two Burrowing Owls, one Elf Owl, one Short-Eared Owl, and one Northern Saw-Whet Owl. 

"Hello there, Tiercel. We've heard much about you." said one of the Spotted Owls. "I am Eleanor, Aluco's mother, and these are my sisters Eudora and Ethel." 

One of the Great Grays, an elderly, yet still giant and strong male, came forward. "And I am Twilight, a Great Gray, emphasis on the "great" part, a good friend of the late King Soren, and a former student at Twilight's Orphan School of Tough Learning." 

"Twilight's what??" Tiercel asked. 

"Don't ask." Aluco replied. 

"Actually, I'm quite glad you asked, young'un, because Twilight's Orphan School of Tough Learning was a school I went to, in a class of my own, with me as the teacher. I taught myself how to do many things, with no outside help whatsoever. Was orphaned the moment I hatched, you know." 

"No outside help whatsoever, my beak!" an old female Elf Owl snorted. "You told us that you were raised, at different times, of course, by a woodpecker family, an eagle, and a fox and her family!" 

"Well, fine, but other than that, no outside help!" he added. 

Three middle-aged female Barn Owls stepped forward. The smallest one. and the prettiest, spoke first. "I am Bell, Soren's daughter. These are my sisters, Basha, the smartest one, and Blythe, the one with the most beautiful voice ever heard. She rivaled Madame Plonk, and she is only beat by Thradora Plonk, but just barely. Blythe and I both are the godparents of Orlando, who's father sadly died a  year ago." She appeared to wipe away a tear, and then calm herself. "Anyway, let's move on. Digger, could you come forward?" 

"Of course I will. Wouldn't want to make a young'un feel bad." a male Burrowing Owl came forward. I am Digger, mate of Sylvanaryb, assistant ryb of the Tracking Chaw, and a friend of the late King Soren. Gylfie, come on now, your turn." 

The old Elf Owl Tiercel had heard earlier came to him. "Hello, young'un, I'm Gylfie, Navigating ryb at the Great Tree, the sencond of the four members of the Band, member of the Chaw of Chaws, and a veteran from The War of the Pure Ones, The War of the Ember, and the Battle on the River Hoole." 

Great Marmor, Tiercel thought, so many, wars, so many battles. Isn't there any time for peace?! 

An old Saw-Whet and a Short-Eared Owl came forward. "I am Martinryb," the old male Saw-Whet said, "and this is my good friend and assistant Ruby. We both head the Colliering Chaw. We are both members of the Chaw of Chaws, and were good friends of Soren, however not as close as Gylfie, Digger, Twilight, and Otulissa were. Gylfie, of course, was Soren's best friend." 

"We have all become aware that you lost your family to the falling of a tree." Gylfie now spoke for the group. "But look at me. Look at Twilight, Digger, Otulissa, Martin, Ruby, Blythe, Basha, and Bell. My daughters, although they do not know the pain of not growing up with a family, they do know how to help. We care for you, for you understand us now, and we understand you. We will be your family from this moment on, until our deaths." They all seemed to smile at him, and Tiercel felt a bit embarassed. He understood their intentions, and knew they just wanted to help, but they were not kestrels, and they were not his true family. 

This is like an un-family reunion, Tiercel thought to himself. 

Chapter Five 

Learning to Fly

 "I won't be flying for three weeks?!" Tiercel shrieked. His wing had only been with the poultice for the other evening, and most owls had gone to sleep.

"I'm sorry, but that's how it goes with broken wings." Hortense had brought in an old Sandy Scops Owl named Westley. 

"Greetings, I am Westley, the former Healing Arts ryb here at the Great Tree. I'm now retired, but I've been brought in to examine your wing. Hortense here is unsure of which type of leech to apply to your wing, to clean up the blood, if there is any." He gently removed the poultice, and to his surprise, and Tiercel's as well, there was none. 

"How strange! The juices from the crabapples in the poultice should have brought out the contaminated blood, which there should be, since you did land on the wing, breaking it and tearing flesh." He tapped a talon on the wall for a second, then spoke again. 

"I'll have to speak with Abelia. She's the ryb of this chaw now." and he walked off. 

A few minutes later, Westley was back with the female Masked Owl, and she came directly for Hortense. 

"Were you sure he broke a wing?" she asked swiftly.

"Well, not exactly, but..." 

"That's the first thing we need to find out." Abelia look at his wing, and examined it closely. Tiercel felt embarassed that this owl's face was practically in his feathers. 

"Your wing is not broken, it is, in fact, dislocated. You see, Hortense, you looked at all nine of his joints leading up to the shoulder. What you missed however, was the fact that Joint I shofts down two to three degrees when a wing is broken, but shifts three degrees up when dislocated." 

"But if it was dislocated, why is the wing bent inward?" she asked. 

"That is because hanging it limply would use more energy, and when one is injured you want to use the least amount of energy possible." Abelia answered. 


"So, what we do now is simply shift your wing back into it's shoulder socket. This will only hurt a small bit." she reached for his wing with her talons. 

"Firmly grasping it, we gently push it inward a small bit so the patient know what that feels like, and we pull up very quickly and strongly.." she did just that, and a loud cracking sound came from his shoulder, causing the young kestrel to screech in pain.

"..!" she grunted,pushing his wing in, causing another crack. Tiercel grunted himself, and collapsed onto the nest. After a few moments, his wing was fine. He could flex it and everything. He was normal again! 

"My wing's better! My wing's better! I can learn to fly now!" he exclaimed. 

"Are you sure?" Abelia inquired, not knwing for sure if this was true. 

"I should know if my own wing is fine or not," he said a bit too harshly, "no offence to you, Your Highness." he continued apologetically. 

"None taken, young one. I just hope you can grow into a fine young, kestrel." she replied. The pause between "young" and "kestrel" was a bit longer than one would suspect, and it made Tiercel's gizzard twitch. He spoke again, knowing that if he said anything about the pause, he would most definitely send this conversation on a banking turn south. 

"Well, I'm off." Tiercel said, hopping away. Where he was going, he did not know, but he was for sure, going back to his friends. 

"He thought of going to find a nestmaid snake to talk to, but as he hopped along the hollow of the Tree, he saw Euther. 

"Euther!" he exclaimed, half-whispering, half-squawking. "Why aren't you asleep?!" 

"Hawk Owls are diurnal," he replied simply, "we are active during the day, not night. Well, my father, Alto, is active both day and night, and never truly sleeps. Even when he does, he's a really light sleeper." 

"Well, it's nice to see a bird who doesn't sleep during the day other than me. But how do you go to chaw practices like the others do?" Tiercel asked. 

"Well, I am active 'till about noon, then I sleep 'till evening. It works pretty good. I'd recommend you to do it too." he answered. 

"Hmm, I'll think about it." Tiercel nodded. 

"Hey! Your wing's not with a poultice-thingy on it!" Euther noticed. 

"Yeah, it was just dislocated, so they shifted it back into place." I want to learn to fly, but-" 

"But nothing! Me 'n my da could teach you. Hawk Owls' flight patterns are very similar to eagles and whatnot, so it's not like you'll fly any different from a regular kestrel." the Hawk Owl seemed so excited, Tiercel felt he couldn't just decline. 

"Well, okay, but what if Alto is really busy?" 

"If my da has enough time to, from time to time, sneak his great big body into the Kitchen and steal a few dried moths and roast squirrel fresh out the oven, then sneak back to the forge, I think he can find enough time to teach a young owl to fly." he said sarcastically. "Come on." And with that, the Tierce went off, carried by Euther, to Alto's forge. The big Northern Hawk Owl was staring at a dull gray rock through a transparent circular object. Euther coughed. 

"Hmm, huh, what? Oh, um, what is it, Euther?" he asked, clearly surprised by his son's sudden intrusion. Euther stretched his wing towards Tiercel. 

"He wants to fly, da. We have to teach him." he said coolly. 

"I'm busy right now, perhaps later." he said, and returned to fiddling with some instrument. 

"No, da, right now." 

"Son, I'm the blacksmithing chaw ryb here at the Great Tree, and I'm -" 

"You're busy I know, but if we don't teach him, no one will." Euther turned his head in a way that reminded Tiercel of when his brother Scipio would beg for something. 


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