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Guardians of Ga'Hoole #11: To Be a King

Hoole flew on, a simple knight among knights. No crown, no kingly trappings. He wore only his battle claws and, from his starboard claw, hung a crude metal container. In it glowed the mysterious coal that he had retrieved from the boiling lava of the volcano Dunmore in the Beyond. The heat from the ember, though strong, was no as intense as another, more illusive power that seemed to emanate from its depths. How odd, Hoole thought. The ember had drained Grank of energy and caused the powerful old owl to succumb to an overwhelming lethargy of mind and body. But this was not the case for Hoole. Indeed, it was quite the opposite. He felt a new strength that almost frightened him and with it came a taste for vengeance. Vengeance for his mother’s death, for his father’s murder, vengeance for all the ruin and desecration that Lord Arrin and his hagsfiends had brought to a once-great kingdom. Hoole felt a deep unwelcome movement in his gizzard. Vengeance could be a distraction. And worse, vengeance was the elixir of tyrants. Creatures had been driven mad by vengeance.

On his port wing. Hoole was flanked by Grank, his mentor and foster father, and on his starboard wing, by his two best friends; tiny Phineas, a Pygmy Owl, and Theo, a Great Horned. Behind them flew scores of owls and cresting waves an island broke and on that island a great tree loomed. It was the most immense tree any of the owls had ever seen. It soared out of the clouds as if to scrape the moon and fling some of its silver to make a path for the owls the sea itself. But the mist turned pearly and a luminous glow surrounded the island. Did this light come from the moon? The stars? Or the glowing ember the young king name Hoole clutched in his battle-clawed talons? Once again, the power of this ember gave Hoole pause. What were its limits? What was the reach of its lights?

Hoole came fresh from the great Battle in the Beyond against the forces of Lord Arrin and his hagsfiends. Lord Arrin was the usurper of the N’yrthghar, and slayer of King H’rath, Hoole’s father. Then in the Battle in the Beyond, Hoole’s mother, Queen Siv, had been slain as well. Though Hoole and the H’rathian Guard had won this last battle, Hoole’s gizzard twisted in the agony of loss that shadowed their triumph.