The flutter of massive wings from behind Daniel terrified him as he continued to stare at the three large eggs in the nest with him, each one as large as he was. Finally the creature behind him was still, and a prim, perfect woman’s voice said, “I hear you’ve been looking for me.”
The ten year old turned around to see a very big owl sitting on a branch just next to the nest.
“I’m Olivia. I’m sorry I was late, but I had a great deal to do to prepare for your return.”
“My what? I’ve never been here before.”
“No, not that you remember, I suppose. Anyway, that’s part of what you are here to learn. Oh, don’t be afraid of the mother of these eggs. She’s really quite pleasant, if deeply troubled. She’s been away getting help for your friends and will be returning presently.”
Daniel remembered William and the three mice who had been captured by the King and his rat allies.
“Help? Will they be okay?”
“Look.” Olivia pointed a wing to a silhouette against the full moon. It was a huge bird and it was coming closer. Then Daniel recognized the Roc, the one William fought off. It was back and the child was defenseless.
“No, no. It’s not him. Never fear, Daniel.”
With the boy pressing himself against one side of the nest, the Roc landed and sat upon her eggs. No, it wasn’t the same bird, but she was very similar to Gerald.
“Good evening, young Daniel. I am Rochelle. I know you were frightened by my husband, but you are safe with me.”
“Husband? Gerald is your husband?”
“To my lasting sorrow, Daniel.
The boy looked up at the sky, expecting to see a second Roc come swooping down at any second.
“Not to worry, young one. He won’t be back, not until my eggs are hatched. Not until he can take them to himself and teach them…teach them…”
Rochelle began sobbing and Olivia comforted her. “There, there, dear one. If we are successful, it shall never come to pass. Your children will never be taught evil by their Father.
The Roc looked at Daniel. “You must be successful, not only for the sake of my little ones, but for all of us here, and all the people in your world, too.”
Daniel glared at both birds in frustration. “Just what exactly am I supposed to do? Olivia, William told me we were waiting for you so you could tell me what I’m doing here.”
“Calm, Daniel. I know you’re frustrated. I’ll do better than tell you, I’ll show you. Please climb upon my back.”
The full moon was nearly to the western horizon as the boy mounted the owl’s back. He found he could grip her feathers firmly and press his legs tightly around her torso to secure his position.
“Take care, Daniel,” Rochelle called as the duo prepared to leave. “All our hopes.”
The boy looked back at her and the desperation in her voice caused him to pity her. If only he knew what he was supposed to do, and then somehow have the power to do it.
Olivia took wing and the tree and the world fell away from the owl and the child.
The pack of dingos standing guard around the tree’s parameter stared up and howled as they realized their prey was escaping.
Olivia and Daniel receded in the distance, but the Roc and the dingos were distracted by something else, the pounding of many hooves and the sound of an ominous war cry was drawing nearer with the approach of dawn.
This concept is loosely based on Iain Kelly’s recent A to Z Challenge 2017 story series. Every day, Iain crafted another puzzle piece to his murder mystery that had me and his other readers spellbound. I doubt I can create the suspense he conjured up, but when my wife got a giant A to Z jigsaw puzzle for our two-year-old granddaughter, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
I don’t have a lot of time, so I think each “letter” will be shorter and I’m not sure I can write one every day, but I’ll do my best.
The previous story is N is for Net.
The next story is P is for Pig.
I’m back home now, and I have a little more time to write. I took photos of each of the remaining puzzle pieces, so I should be able to continue writing regularly. My schedule will be interrupted again next Thursday, but hopefully, I’ll have several other chapters published by then. Enjoy.