Guardians of Ga'Hoole 07 - The Hatchling
A Perfect Son
M agnificent!” exclaimed an older owl.
“And to think that he has been flying for only a few nights.”
“I’ve never seen the ‘Hail, Kludd’ so perfectly executed,” whispered another Barn Owl.
“General Mam, you should be proud of your son. Nyroc is the perfect young Pure One. He shall soon be able to serve in the most elite of the Tytonic Union’s forces.”
“Yes,” Nyra replied softly. She almost breathed the word. Her hatchling had exceeded her wildest expectations. She had lost much in the cataclysmic battle against the evil owl troops known as the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. Her mate, Kludd, the High Tyto of the Pure Ones, had been killed. But she had been blessed two nights later when Nyroc, her and Kludd’s chick, had hatched. Not only was the hatchling the first to be born to the High Tyto, he had hatched on a rare night when the shadow of the earthcame between the moon and the sun, the night of an eclipse. His mother, too, had been hatched on such a night. Because of this, he had been given a special name, Nyroc, the one given to all male hatchlings born under the shadowed moon. Nyra told him that owls hatched on these nights were destined to have great powers.
Nyroc remembered that moment perfectly. His mum had brought her huge white face, unusually large for a Barn Owl, close to his. It appeared as large as a moon itself. Pure glistening white with a seam that ran diagonally across it, a scar from a long-ago battle wound. This was Nyroc’s first memory: the moon in the sky being eaten by the shadow of the earth, and the moon of his mother’s face hovering over him. In his confusion Nyroc had thought that the moon had dropped from the sky and was speaking to him. He recalled those first words his mum spoke even though he only half understood them. “I shall call you the name of all male chicks hatched at the time of the eclipse,” she said. “I name you Nyroc, my hatchling.” Then she nodded toward a set of burnished metal claws that hung against the stone wall of their hollow. “You shall grow into those claws, Nyroc, your father’s battle claws. They are the sacred relics of the Pure Ones. You were born to wear them into battle. Regard them closely, my hatchling.”
Every night, as his mum told him of the magnificentfeats of his father in battle, Nyroc fastened his gaze on the great battle claws. They seemed to glow with an intensity that matched a full-shine moon. And each night, Nyra would conclude her battle claw stories with these words: “You shall bring to these claws great honor. You shall grow up to be strong and fierce like your father.”
But the little hatchling was becoming much more. Some said he might prove even greater than Kludd. There was now only a remnant left of the original Tytonic Union of Pure Ones. Their defeat in the battle known as The Burning had been decisive, humiliating, and complete. Or so the rest of owlkind thought.
But this young hatchling, the one called Nyroc, was the hope—the greatest hope of the Pure Ones. The tarnished destiny of their Union would be polished bright with the hatchling’s power, his skill, and his agility. The other young owls who had recently been lured to the Union wilfed as they witnessed Nyroc’s unbelievable performance. How would they ever live up to this paragon of Tytonic splendor? They almost resented him, but that was a very dangerous sentiment to allow oneself to feel. Instead, they clacked their beaks loudly along with the other owls in a loud ovation of admiration that bordered on the ecstatic. Nyroc was indeed “perfect.”
“He has the moves, by Glaux! He has the moves. GreatGlaux in glaumora, that power dive for the branch! I have no doubt had it been ignited he would have astonished us further.” It was the tough old lieutenant commander Uglamore who spoke now. And Uglamore should know. He and Stryker were among the few left from the elite forces who had faced the flame squadrons of Ga’Hoole and survived.
Fighting with fire was not a natural thing for the Pure Ones. They had had to force themselves to learn. The Ga’Hoolian owls, however, were experts. Manipulation of fire was a crucial part of their culture. They not only forged weapons and tools and used it to light the Great Tree, they had a team, the colliering chaw, that dove into forest fires to retrieve coals. And nobody was better at this than the Ga’Hoolian owl called Soren—the brother—and
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