Hello all, I'm posting this short story that I wrote for my English class in school. My audience was of course, not versed in the world of Ga'Hoole, and so if you did take the time to read it, you would surely notice a few names and behaviors among other things that were borrowed directly from the books. (The subscript numbers were for a mini glossary of terms I created for the readers) I am posting nearly the raw text here, so it may at first come out unedited and disorganized looking, but I will do my best to make it look presentable. It is also not quite finished, and about... well, as I like to think, about half of the story remains untold. I have made it a goal to finish what I started and finally tell the only once mentioned, oft forgotten, old Krakish legend of the Yigdaldish Ga'far.
The Yigdaldish Ga’far1
“I’ve got it! Lets get out of here.” There was a rustling in the dark as the two owls began moving toward the opening of the armory, dragging along their prize with difficulty as they went.
“Do you think you can carry it all the way back?” asked the other owl.
“Of course! It’s only a stick for Glaux’s2 sake!” the first owl barked back at the other, and began tugging at the iron staff with renewed vigor.
“Cragg will be pleased. I’m sure it’ll bring a high price once these posh old fogeys of the Hollow of Ruyan discover it’s gone. They cherish these outdated antiques as if they were newly hatched owlets. Isn’t that right, Elgobad?”
“Hmm…” grunted the one called Elgobad. “We’ll see what Cragg says once he hears that the staff was lost because your yammering woke the guards! How’d you like that, Skemm?”
Skemm quickly closed his beak and continued helping Elgobad with dragging along the heirloom. After some considerable effort, the pair made it to the light at the mouth of the armory. They were not the strongest of owls, and their intelligence did not do their species any benefit. They were Kraals, Pirate owls of the Northern Kingdoms, and Kraals were not renowned for their mental capabilities.
Skemm attempted to lift off with the staff in his talons, but only managed to shift lightly across the ground. Elgobad looked on, and then decided enough was enough. He flew up and gave Skemm a thwack that sent him reeling. “Give me that, you fool! I’ve seen drunken pigeons fly better!” With the staff in his talons, Elgobad struggled against the weight, though with his determination to not embarrass himself in front of Skemm, managed to lift himself a reasonable distance off the ground. “Come on Skemm, I don’t know how long I can keep this up. We’re heading straight for the H’rathgar Glacier3 and the Kraal Lair there.” Skemm lifted off and did his best to help his superior in flying with the heavy staff with little success. As the day turned to night, the pair alternated resting and flying to eventually land with their loot at the Kraal’s lair in the H’rathgar glacier, leaving the owls of the Hollow of Ruyan to discover the empty pedestal where the staff once rested at first black4.
Near the Firth of Fangs two other owls were up to their own schemes, though their motives were quite different. “Hey Hot Beak! You hear about the Great Grey who got seagull splat5 in his eyes? Even he flew better than you with that scimitar!” Hot Beak looked back at his friend, Proudfoot, with a churr6 as the two sparred in the air. “Oh really? It’s a shame Snowies like you come blind as splat in the first place. I’d want you to see the smoothness of my curled wingie!”
The two friends wheeled about in the air parrying and slashing with their practice blades. They went back and forth with their jeers as the fight went on, and eventually, both lighted down on a branch of a fir tree to catch their breath.
“Whew! I’d say we’re still in shape considering the vacation we took out to the Nacht Sted7, eh Proudfoot?” Hot Beak looked over at his partner.
“I told you it wasn’t a vacation, Hot Beak, it was of vital import to my research of the weather patterns around the Southernmost promontory of the H’rathgar Glacier and the N’yroothnkah8 that–”
“The N’yroothnkah that blows through and creates the katabatic winds… yes yes, I’ve heard about your excuse to go wing off in that place. Admit it, you just wanted to practice flying upside down again.” Hot Beak interrupted. He knew his friend loved going to the Nacht Sted, a rocky ravine that was renown for it’s winds that were a sport to fly for any adventurous owl.
“Well, you might be right, Hot Beak, but I did still get some research done while we were there,” Proudfoot countered, “And besides, it is a nice get away from the calmness of the Firth of Fangs.”
“That’s true enough,” Hot Beak conceded finally, “I’m going to go get a vole for Tweener.” He said and took off.
• • •
In another part of the Firth of Fangs in the Hollow of Ruyan, Ibren a Spotted Owl and H’ryn, or Father, of the hollow spoke with Quentin, the head Quartermaster of the Armory. The two spoke quickly and quietly, as not to alarm the owls around them. “Sire, the Staff of your grandfather is gone!” said Quentin to Ibren as the two met for their evening meal. “What! Gone? You mean, from the pedestal?”
“Yes Sire, and not one of the day guards has seen anyone enter the armory. They admit they had fallen asleep and await your decision.” Quentin replied. Ibren looked at him sternly.
“Punishment is not the first order of business here. A search must be undertaken to locate the staff as soon as possible. Tell the guards to organize a strip down of the armory to see if it has been possibly misplaced. This staff is of great import to the Hollow of Ruyan and must be returned… If word reaches my cousins’ hollows that it is missing, there is a high risk of conflict between this good hollow and that of Slonk, among others.”
“I shall go immediately, Sire.” Quentin said as he continued on his way to the Armory. Ibren lofted up to another tree where he and his mate, Malia, nested with their son, Hur. He had always cherished his family, and the loss of one of his family’s heirlooms would weigh heavily on his mind until it was found. He knew that the staff was only an object, and the fact that a simple material thing could affect him in such a way disturbed him, but Ibren knew that without this staff safe in his own Armory, conflict was inevitable between the Hollow of Ruyan and that of Slonk.
Quentin had flown directly to the Armory and told the awaiting guards the instructions given to him by Ibren. The owls in the armory immediately began to search through the nooks and crannies of the armory in an attempt to locate the staff, though without any success. As each area was searched, it became abundantly clear that the staff was not anywhere nearby and must have been stolen by a thief. But who would have a need to a heavy, nearly unadorned metal staff? It had belonged to H’Ruyan, the grandfather of Ibren and was said to have seen action in as many as ten separate wars. It was almost useless now with the many new advances in weapon forging. However, it did hold power over the many hollows that had branched off of the Hollow of Ruyan from the Old Times, and this could possibly explain it’s sudden disappearance. As Quentin thought about this possibility, a guard approached him with something purple in his beak. “Sir! This feather was found behind the staff pedestal by one of our guards. It is a number eight port primary, and it’s purple!” Quentin looked at the feather with astonishment. There was only one group of owls that painted their feathers with these garish colors: Kraals! From the looks of this feather, it had come from a Snowy Owl and Quentin, knowing very well what kind of violence Kraals were capable of, immediately wilfed. Wilfing is how owls show fear or surprise. By pulling in their feathers, they appear to shrink and grow slender, and in Quentin, the reaction was one of fear. Kraals, thought Quentin, Those thugs will create a war if the staff isn’t returned! He now turned to Cuthmore, the Squire who brought him the purple feather, “Go to Ibren and tell him of what you found. He will decide what to do.”
“Yes sir!” replied Cuthmore and flew out of the armory. Quentin began to think hard on the feat performed by these Kraals. How could they have snuck past all of the owls watching over their beloved hollow, even if they had come in broad daylight? How could the Kraals manage to cooperate to this extent when the thing that distinguished them from other groups of warring owls was their dysfunction? And yet the staff was gone, and Quentin had no idea where or how to begin looking.
Ibren was perched in the Great Nesting Hollow of Ruyan, the traditional hollow for descendants of H’Ruyan to nest in, immersed in his thoughts as Cuthmore arrived with the purple feather in his beak.
“Sire! Ibren sir! This feather was found in the armory, near the pedestal of the staff. It is a Kraal’s feather! Sir Quentin told me to bring it to you.”
Braking from his thoughts, Ibren took the feather from Cuthmore.
“Ah, indeed, it is a number eleven port primary if I am not mistaken…”
“Number eight, Sire” Cuthmore interjected.
“Ah, but have you thought to observe, Cuthmore, the slightly greater curvature of the top quarter of the feather? It is this that distinguishes it from the lesser numbered primaries, and therefore it is indeed number eleven.”
Cuthmore looked in awe at his H’ryn, and stammered an apology.
“In any case, I digress. Yes, this is a Kraal’s feather, and that is enough to begin the first portion of the search for the staff. I need to speak with a good friend of mine, Rann. Send for Joss, the messenger, and tell him to meet me in my hollow.
“Yes Sire. I will go immediately.” Cuthmore replied with a nod and took off to find Joss.
• • •
Soon, Joss, a tough and weathered Whiskered Screech owl flew in to Ibren’s hollow.
“Aye, Ryn, you sent for me?”
Joss preferred the traditional title of “Ryn” to any of the others, and would address Ibren with it on occasion.
“Yes, Joss, as I trust you have heard, my old Grandda’s staff has gone missing. It has been presumed stolen, by Kraals no less, and must be found as quickly as possible if peace between this hollow and those of my cousins is to be preserved.”
“Indeed Ryn, I have heard, but why is it you sent for me?” Joss replied with infinite patience to his Ryn’s tendency towards overmuch explanation.
“Yes yes, I sent for you in order for you to send for a friend of mine, Rann. Perhaps you know him? He, like you, is a Whiskered Screech though I must say has not been known to hold his bingle juice for long, as you have, my friend. He is nonetheless an important contact, for he may know where to turn in order to retrieve the staff from those Kraals. To infiltrate a Kraal’s lair takes a certain type of owl, and though we have many loyal and fierce owls nesting in out hollow of Ruyan, none posses what is required to complete the task. You will find him at a Grog Tree near the inlet of the nearest firth. Tell him that his old friend Ibrim asks his assistance.”
“Aye, Ryn. I shall go immediately.” And with this, Joss was off with a flick of the wing nearly before his Ryn could wish him well.
When Joss returned, Rann was in his wake.
“Ah Rann! It’s good to lay my tired eyes on you once again!” Ibrim flew out to welcome his friend into his Hollow. “Come, I’ve a vole for you in my hollow. Please.”
“Yes, hullo there Ibrim, it has been a while, hasn’t it?” Rann replied. “But what need have you for a lonesome old owl like meself these days?”
“Is it lonesome for you Rann?” Ibrim asked of his friend.
“Ah well, if it is, it is a lonesomeness of my own choosing.” Answered Rann. “But please, explain what you need of me, for I assume you have not sent for me to socialize this fine night?”
“You assume correctly my friend. I am in need of assistance in locating and retrieving a stolen relic of my grandda’s, his battle staff. It was taken by Kraals only a few hours ago.”
Rann thought a moment about this query, then replied, “Under normal circumstances, and if I were younger, I would accept such a task, but surely I am too old now for this?”
Ibrim churred, “Old only in body, Rann, but your mind is still as sharp as it ever was… that is, if you’ve kept some bingle out of it recently. I do not ask you to take on this task yourself, though I believe you may know someone who can through your moons of work in this occupation?”
As this was suggested, Rann knew immediately who would live up to the task. “Oh Ibrim, I do indeed!”
• • •
As his audience with Ibrim came to a close, Rann departed for his hollow down the firth. Rann had imparted a useful bit of knowledge upon Ibrim, and action was to be necessary if the staff was to be found in a timely fashion.
“Quentin! Joss! I have sent for you to relay the most recent bit of news: we have our owls to find the staff.” Ibrim said.
“Owls? There is more than one?” asked Quentin, surprised.
“Yes,” Ibrim looked up to the distant edges of the H’rathgar Mountains, “and I trust this pair will bring good company to the hollow of Ruyan.
“What you’re telling us is the Ryn of Ruyan wants me to find some staff that was stolen by Kraals?”
“Hot Beak, of course he’s not saying that, he wants me to go and steal back the staff, ain’t that right, Joss, eh?”
The two friends had been found by Joss, Ibrim’s messenger, and told the story of the happenings of the night. As was their norm, any conversation became a competition, and the two could barely take the topic seriously. Joss, a formal sort, found this rather irritating, but he said nothing. His Father of the Hollow requested he do this service, so here he was.
“Well, Proudfoot, I personally heard the fellow mention my name as well as yours, and therefore–”
“Stop this, the both of you!” Joss cut in growing more frustrated, “will you or will you not take the task asked of you – both of you? To retrieve the staff of the great H’Ruyan from the Kraal’s lair?” Both Proudfoot and Hot Beak looked at each other, and for once, both nodded their heads yes, in agreement. With much relief, Joss made his leave, telling the pair to begin their investigation in the armory of the Ruyan hollow as soon as possible.
That night, Proudfoot and Hot Beak departed, bringing with them only their favorite tools, an ice scimitar for Hot Beak and an ice dagger for Proudfoot. They toted these weapons in lemming skin pockets contrived on the island of Dark Fowl10 specially made to carry each owl’s respective weapon. These pouches were tied in the place of battle claws, as one was not required to fly clawed while carrying ice weapons. As the pair flew, they discussed their strategy for infiltrating the pirates’ lair.
“These Kraals are dimwits, they’ll never suspect us once we’re all painted up gaudy, like them.” said Hot Beak.
“Yes, but we’ll still need to be stealthy about things. We don’t want to be looking like outsiders,” added Proudfoot.
“That’s the thing, if we scoot around, all stealthy-like, we’ll look suspicious. Better to fly through the center like we know what we’re doing,” Hot Beak gave a churr11, “because we do know what we’re doing: robbing them of their own loot!”
When the two arrived at Ibren’s hollow, they were given a description of their quarry, the staff of Ibren’s grandda, and were permitted to begin their investigation in the armory hollow of Ruyan. Hot Beak and Proudfoot soon determined which pirate gang was responsible after investigating the feather left by one of the Kraals.
“You see,” Hot Beak explained to Ibren, “the dyes used by this Kraal are from berries found near the edge of the Northern portion of the H’Rathgar Glacier. The purple sedge berry is common up there as well, so it would be a typical choice for these Kraals to use the color.”
“Right. With this information, you shall be able to find the lair I trust?” Asked Ibren of the pair.
“Aye, sir, we will. It will only be a matter of finding where they store their loot, and after that, a quick and easy retrieval.” said Proudfoot confidently.
“I do not think it should be quite as simple as my compatriot claims, sir, however we will do our utmost to return this staff to your house. We do have a bit of a score to settle with the Kraals, and this provides us with a chance at that.” Hot Beak assured Ibren with a shake of his head directed at Proudfoot. “We will leave immediately, and we would plan to return within three nights, as the flight should be quite calm.”
“Very good. I await your return with great apprehension. Glaux speed!” Ibren called as the duo took of, heading North to the H’Rathgar Glacier in search of the pirate lair.
After a night of flying, Proudfoot and Hot Beak decided to light down for a rest on an ice shelf. They were nearly at their destination at the edge of the massive ice sheet known as the H’Rathgar Glacier. Kraals often nested in caves under rocks frozen into the glacier or hollowed out over time by wind or water, as there were few trees to be seen this far into the mountain ranges. This land was however not devoid of life, as numerous bushes dotted the landscape, providing patches of color when their berries were ripe. It was these berries that the Kraals used to dye their feathers vibrant colors, and after they were painted, would admire these feathers in ice mirrors located near the dye basins on the glacier.
“You think we’re getting close, Hot Beak?” Proudfoot asked.
“We’ll know it when we are, Prudfoot. The dye basins get more frequent and we should see a few Kraals on guard. They’ll stand out against the ice and snow.”
Just then, the two spotted a flash of blue and yellow as a small owl took off from behind a rock.
“Well, that makes finding the burrow quite easy, doesn’t it. Perhaps we should investigate?” Hot Beak asked.
“Not before we’ve colored ourselves, we don’t,” Proudfoot said “we don’t want to stand out in the crowd of color looking drab, now do we?
Hot Beak and Proudfoot were soon busy painting their feathers before any Kraals turned up and saw them. Hot Beak chose a bright shade of green lined with yellow, while Proudfoot went with a mixture of blue and red.
In the distance, if the two friends were not so absorbed in painting their feathers they might have seen a contingent of a half dozen owls skirting low by the ice. This group was quickly making its way towards the dye basin around which Hot Beak and Proudfoot now perched. Suddenly, Proudfoot caught sight of them.
“Hot Beak,” he said quietly, “We’ve got friends…”
Hot Beak, too, had spotted these owls, and replied, “Well, I suppose this is where the great ruse begins.”
As the half dozen owls lighted down, they began to inquire about Proudfoot and Hot Beak, for the few owls who did live this far North knew most faces when they saw them.
“Hey, ain’t seen a Hawk owl this far north in an age, what’re you’n your friend touring our dye basins for, huh?” growled a disreputable looking yet brightly colored Snowy. Another spoke up, “Yeah, if you’re from Bylyric’s lot down south…”
“Ah, you’ve got us wrong there. We ain’t from down south. We from ‘round about the mountain there yonder. Never seen us b’cause we most keep to ourself and out a bigger dens’ business.” Said Hot Beak, putting on his best rough Krakish accent. Proudfoot was a quick study,
“Yeah, we don’t want no trouble. We just done run out of purple dye in our basin an’ saw this one here with no den we could see around.”
“But… y’ain’t painting yourself down with purple…” one Kraal began, but Proudfoot caught his slip,
“Aye, but we be just startin’ so if you lot mind, we’ll finish and be off.”
“Nay, you be comin’ with us. You’re alright and all, but Cragg, our captain, he wants to see all visitors before him. Says its protocol.” The Snowy replied.
“What’s protocol, Vlink?” a smaller Snowy spoke up from the back.
“Eh, I dunno. Fancy word Cragg made up, likely,” The Snowy who was called Vlink replied, “Now you two, come on, we’ll go straight to Cragg’s guest hollow.” Proudfoot and Hot Beak look at one another with barely concealed amusement at the pirates’ lack of knowledge. For all their threats and violence, they did not impress when it came to mental capacity, and this alone gave Proudfoot and Hot Beak confidence in their ability to carry through with the heist.
• • •
Proudfoot and Hot Beak followed the contingent to the rock where they had presumed the lair was hidden. Underneath, they found that the hollowed out tunnels were actually more spacious than they had first imagined. The passages wound deep into the ground. Only after living in such a place for many moon cycles would one know where to go by heart, as these owls did, and so Proudfoot and Hot Beak were led to a cavern larger than annoy others they had previously seen in this tunnel system, where they were to meet Cragg, the leader of this den of Kraals.
“Here ye are,” Said Vlink, the Snowy in the led, “Cragg’s guest hollow. Perch over there and await his permission to speak, if you please.” Vlink nodded towards a rocky shelf in the center of the room. The two flew over and awaited the arrival of Cragg.
A low voice then came from over a ledge above where Proudfoot and Hot Beak perched,
“So, I hear come from around that mountain to the East, you two. Is that correct?”
Neither of the two could see the speaker, but they assumed it was Cragg speaking to them.
“Yes sire,” Proudfoot now spoke, “From a small den led by… Ublaz. We mean no intrusion on to this here land of yours. We be just passing through.”
“Ah, indeed, though you would hate to pass this way without taking a souvenir or two perhaps, by making use of our dye basins?” Cragg said, a slightly mocking tone creeping into his voice. Both Hot Beak and Proudfoot immediately knew they would be in for more than just a visit with the leader, but at least they had managed their way inside without completely giving themselves away. The voice continued slowly, “I see you had made full use of the nearest one to the den. The blue looks quite striking, I must admit.” Suddenly, there was a great whoosh as Cragg landed in front of the two owls in a whirl of wind. He was very large Great Grey owl, larger even than Hot Beak, who stood barely to his chest feathers. He wore read streaks of dye down his wings, coupled with black and white, and a mask-like color scheme on his facial disk, which made him look all the more menacing.
“I would, however, recommend you rethink the choice of green… it carries a somewhat… grotesque mien, if you can grasp my meaning.” Cragg said as he began to pace look over the duo on the rock cliff. “Will you join me for the breaklight11 meal? Good.” He said suddenly, turning to face them, and without waiting for their response, took wing and was gone as quickly as he came.
“Well, at least he’s well-spoken.” Proudfoot whispered to Hot Beak, as they still stood at the cliff perch.
“I’d hardly think a well-spoken Kraal is a good thing, Proudfoot,” Hot Beak said with a sigh, “I’m certain that when it comes down to it, he chooses to fight talon to talon rather than by verse and rhyme anyhow.”
“Even if you’re right, we’ve got to keep the bright and humorous things in life close in this place, even if they’re as repulsive as a Kraal with a large vocabulary.” Proudfoot concluded quietly.
As Hot Beak and Proudfoot were led from that hollow, Hot Beak saw a glint of light from somewhere upon Craggs rock cliff. Something metal had glinted with the moons light that filtered in through holes in the rock above and into the chamber. The Staff!
As the pair was led quickly upwards, Hot Beak tried to get Proudfoot’s attention, but he was too far in front to reach him. Passing through the hollows to either side, there could be seen a wide variety of living quarters for the many Kraals housed in the den. Cragg’s mess hall was located above most of these, closer to the permafrost, where the ice was frozen into strange contortions that provided a more interesting viewing experience for the diners. When Proudfoot and Hot Beak entered the hall, they did not expect to see such grandeur.
The whole of the hall was colored with reflections of the light of the moon through the ice and the prisms within it. On the ground there slightly raised areas where owls could eat off of ice plates and from ice cups drink the bingle juice12. Cragg himself was seated at the head table with other high-ranking officers. Proudfoot and Hot Beak were led to another table on the main floor of the hall, where most of the other Kraals ate their own meals. After taking their spots, Hot Beak began to tell what he had found.
“Hey, Proudfoot, you know back at the guest chamber, when we were leaving, there was something that I saw. I’m pretty sure that–” Hot Beak stopped suddenly as he realized his friend was not paying him any attention. “Proudfoot?” he asked, looked in the direction his friend was facing. “Oh dear… Proudfoot, we have a mission to complete!” Hot Beak exclaimed as loud as he dared, for his friend seemed entranced by a particular female Snowy owl perched at their table. She had thankfully not noticed Proudfoot’s staring, though Hot Beak knew it was only a matter of time.
“Hey, friend. Look, Craggs just beginning his ceremony.” Hot Beak kicked Proudfoot’s talon, and immediately Proudfoot was alert. “What was that, Hot Beak? I… I didn’t think–”
“No, you didn’t think, and that’s a dangerous thing to not be doing in this place, Proudfoot. You are half of our force, and we cannot afford to lose you to a female that you decide you fancy.” Berated Hot Beak in a hot whisper.
Proudfoot tried his best to look offended, but only succeeded in looking crotchety. “What makes you think I’m distracted? Just tell me what you were going to say earlier.” Said Proudfoot.
“Alright, well, as we were leaving the cavern–”
“Quiet, you two!” A Kraal guard had seen them whispering to each other while Cragg gave an account of all the raids the den had completed recently.
“Oh, for Glaux’s sake…” Muttered Hot Beak, “Fine. I’ll tell you the plan once we get to our quarters at first light.”
• • •
After breaklight was finished and they were escorted to their accommodations, both Proudfoot and Hot Beak’s minds were buzzing with excitement, albeit, for different reasons.
“Right, now that we’re away from some certain distractions–”
“She was not a distraction!”
==== “I never said she was, now, if you’d let me continue, I have a plan outlined on how to retrieve that staff we’ve come all this way for.” Hot Beak told Proudfoot then of the plan he had devised over the breaklight meal, and how they would carry it out that night. ====