This is a story about Clove's mother, Helena, from when she hatched to when Clove was taken away from her.
An Unwanted HatchingEdit
"How dare you, Violet! You kept that wretched thing and looked after it until it hatched!" All the tiny.owlet.could hear was arguing. Arguing over her. It sounded like that female owl hated her. Why? "You knew full well that we clearly didn't want it to hatch. That's why we rolled it out! Small eggs with cracks never hatch." 'What is an egg? What does cracks mean? Who's Violet?
"You should have had faith, Madam! It has happened before!"
"Happened before? My talon! You are yoicks." Hissed a male voice.
"Sir, just rejoice that your little one is alive!"said the voice that the owlet suspected was called Violet. "I took care of her egg. I used down, moss and I curled up on it. She's alive!"
"And you wasted the down on this midget? You should have done what we ordered you, use it for Ivan' s egg!"
"We are not going to name it." Said the male voice nastily. "Nor shall we feed it. It'll probably be dead by morning." The owlet heard a furious hiss, and then the shuffling of talons as a clumsy figure headed toward her.
"I want to see!" Boomed the voice. "Ugh, it's so small and ugly!"it groaned.
"Leave her alone, Ivan." Hissed Violet, slithering over to the hatchling. " I'll call you Helena. I'm your family's nest maid snake. I'll look after you, Helena."
What's a nest-maid snake? Am I Helena, then? Who's Ivan, Madam and Sir?
Helena was soon to learn that Ivan was her older, bigger brother. 'Madam' and 'Sir' were what Violet adressed her parents as. Violet told her to call them 'Mum' and 'Da' even though they were called Taylor and Albus, though they clearly didn't think of her as their daughter. They ignored her completly. Only noticing her when they told her to go away or shut up, or 'Ivan, don't touch that thing'. Ivan was treated like Glaux. He was the healthier one, because he got the best bits of food. Helena was left the scraps and the nest bugs Violet slipped her when Taylor and Albus weren't looking. When visitors came, Ivan was boasted about by their parents, "Oh,look at his primaries! How defined!" or, "How handsome his heart-shaped face is!". When asked about Helena, they just said, "Oh, that's just Helena." Helena could tell that the visitors felt sorry for her. The lovely Red owl family kindly gave her shrews, and refused to leave until Helena had eaten it all, as they had left once, and had come back to see Albus taking away the shrew and giving it to Ivan. Helena loved Violet, the nest-maid snake. She had saved her egg, kept it warm until she hatched. She fed her, and noticed her despite the fact that she was blind.
- - -
"Ivan! Get off her!" hissed Violet. Ivan ignored her, and continued to playfight. But it was rough. Helena was too small in comparison; and Ivan was heavy. Suddenly, Helena was furious. She leapt to her talons, and sprang at him. She saw the shock in his eyes as she knocked him to the ground and had him pinned in seconds. Shocked silence spread through the hollow. Taylor looked shocked as she managed to form the words. "Ivan, leave your sister alone, please. She's too weak for your rough games..." Helena reluctantly let Ivan scramble away. I could have shredded him. But within Ivan's black eyes, there was a flicker of yellow light.
Helena slept at the back of the hollow. Well, pretended to. Taylor and Albus had gone out to hunt, and this time had taken Helena into account. Had her fighting skills given them faith that she wasn't weak? Ivan slept in the nest opposite her, his back to her. Helena then heard noisy wing beats outside the tree. Her sensative ear slits scooped up the words, and she stiffened. "Yes, I hear their hearts too. And a slower one, a nest maid snake, no doubt." Another one spoke up. "Right. I can hear two owlets. Both sound strong. Rudmore, Ashface, go and get those owlets." Helena felt dread freeze her gizzard. She shook Ivan fiercely as she stuffed the half-asleep form of Violet into a hole. "What-" the nest maid began, but Helena warned her to keep quiet with a hiss. Ivan shrieked as she shook him. "You stupid, stupid owlet!" He screeched. "Shut up!" Helena spat, but Ivan was heard. A ragged Grass owl and a Sooty burst in, and talons wrapped around them. The Sooty snatched up Ivan, and the Grass grabbed Helena. "Where are you taking us?" Helena spluttered. " You can't -" The grass owl squeezed her tight, and she struggled to breathe. "Shut your beak." he snarled as the tree got smaller and smaller Helena' s beak snapped shut, but Ivan was shrieking like there was no tomorrow despite the threats he was given by the Sooty and Rudmore, the Grass owl carrying Helena. Helena looked back, and couldn't see her home anymore. The fir blended with the others until she couldn't tell which was hers.
The Pure OnesEdit
Helena stumbled to her feet as soon as she was dropped. She immediately tried to see Ivan, but he had vanished into the crowd of Tyto owlets. Helena was confused and scared. Who were these owls, in helmets and battle claws? Why were they all Tytos? Every owl here, full grown or snatched owlet, was either a Barn, Masked, Red, Grass, Ashy-faced or Sooty owl. All tytos. This certainly wasn't Tyto Forest. She had a feeling that it was the Saint Aegelious Canyons. "Silence!" Boomed a voice. "Welcome to the Pure Ones." Rudmore growled. "Here, we believe that tytos are the purest of all owls. It is true. You will all be trained to fight for a shining new era. You will do what you are told, and train to be the best." Helena then hopped forward. "Let us go!" But Rudmore thrusted his face into hers. "If you want to keep your down, I'd suggest you shut your beak, runt." Helena's beak closed, and she backed off, feeling stung. But then a young male Barn owl shouldered Rudmore out of the way. He had not long been fully fledged, by look of it, but he looked confident as he shot the older, larger Grass owl a look. "Leave the owlets, Rudmore." he looked down at Helena, and she blinked. Rudmore sniffed with his nicked beak. "She needed to learn to shut up, Logan." he muttered. Logan simply scored his battle-clawed talons along the ground, and he cowered away. "Barn owlets, follow me. The rest of you will be escorted with an owl of your species to your new sleeping places." Helena spotted Ivan, who shuffled past her, looking scared, angry and very upset at the same time. Helena decided not to walk close to him. So she stuck behind Logan. Logan seemed the nicest of these owls.
This beginning of flightEdit
"So, Helena and Ivan; you're both ready to begin to fly." a few weeks had passed since their capture, and it was time they learned to fly.Honestly, Helena didn't mind it here.A few weeks ago, she had been miserable, crying and missing home. She still missed Violet, and the cozy little pine tree near the River Hoole. But at least she got noticed. By Logan especially, but she bore a dislike toward Rudmore. He seemed to hate her, and Ivan was seething. Logan stood on the rocky ledge with them. "Now, flap your wings..."
"Whoa! Whoa!" Helena wobbled through the air, beating madly.
"That's the spirit, Helena! Ivan, for the second time - at least try jumping!" Logan flew beneath her, his wings beating for support. Although older then Helena, Ivan was very reluctant to try and fly. Logan had become their main 'mentor' as such, and Helena liked him a lot. Then Rudmore gave Ivan a hefty shove, and Ivan tumbled through the air, wings slapping the air until he managed a wobbly flight.
"Better!" Logan commented. "Now, in for a landing -" Helena glided through the air, and landed on a rock perch, but Ivan landed clumsily, and had to pull himself up. Logan sighed.
"Lesson two - landing..."
Ceremony - two in oneEdit
"Now Helena, Ivan. Now that you can fly, you're going to pass the first rite of passage we Pure Ones have." Logan said. "Ivan, you shall go with Iniq. Helena, you come with me. This ceremony, you need to kill a nest maid snake."
"Nest maid snake?" Helena gulped. "Which one?" Logan gave her a reassuring pat, eyes full of understanding.
"Not the one you lived with. This one is in Ambala, with some Bay owls." Logan made a face. "They may be tytos, but Bay owls are barely tyto-ish, which is why you'll never see one in the Pure Ones." Helena could see why. She had seen one before, a family living in the next tree to her own. With there gray brown plumage,ear tufts and odd facial disks, they were far too 'impure' for the Pure Ones. Helena only had a patch of down on her back now. She hadn't seen her reflection yet. Would she look like her mum? Would she have her da's features? Only one way to find out. "Let's go."
Helena flew close to the lake. She did indeed look like her mum. But she had her da's eyes, the same tilt to them. She had fledged out beautifully. Her eyes were like two pieces of jet, with her da's deep blue tinge. She then saw Logan emerge from the trees. "The family is out. There's two nest maids. One's gone out of the tree. It'll be nice and easy. Swoop in, grab the one that's outside, it'll be like it just vanished. The other one is inside, getting rid of nest bugs." Helena nodded, trying not to feel nervous. She began to circle the tree, Logan keeping watch. There was a glint of rosy pink, and the nest maid snake came into sight. Helena suddenly swooped. The nest maid barely had the chance to gasp. It was all over as Helena sank her beak into it's throat. She dropped the body to the forest floor, and turned to fly back to Logan. But then there was a furious shriek. Helena felt talons grab her, and she found herself looking into the eyes of a female Bay owl. Her eyes blazed with fury. "How dare you! Savage! Killing a nest maid snake for no reason!" This had to be a resident of the tree the nest maid had been in. Helena wriggled from the Bay owl's grip, and turned, talons flying up. Her talons raked over the Bay owl's face, but she felt her opponent slash at her chest. Helena ignored it, and she tore out a beakful of feathers. Her talons scored over the Bay owl's wing, and the Bay owl gasped. She began flying unsteady. "Take that." Hissed Helena. She then felt a talon on her shoulder. "Let's go, Helena!" Logan muttered as the Bay owl's mate headed in their direction.
"Well, I'm amazed." Logan said as they soared back over the canyonlands. "You have completed two in one. You killed a nest maid snake, and you maimed a non-tyto."
"Maiming a non-tyto is one of the tests?"
"Indeed, Helena." Logan nodded. "And you exceeded our expectations majorly." then he looked uncomfortable." And the next test is -"
"Oi!" yelled a voice. Ivan barged past. "You should've seen me! I killed two nesties! Unbelieveable! And I passed two other tests!" Iniq followed, nodding.
"Good for you, Ivan." Logan commented. Helena felt intimidated by her older, larger brother. Ivan was more powerful, it should be expected that he exceeded her.
"The next test is to kill a -" Iniq began, but Ivan had already shot off, eager to boast about his triumphs. Iniq sighed, and followed him."Eager, this one. Helena and Ivan both need being measured for battle claws for the next test."
"Battle claws?" Helena piped up. Iniq nodded.
"You're both being measured now. How exciting, eh?" Logan churred.
Helena watched the Ashy-faced owl blacksmith measure her talons. He looked petrified of the Pure Ones watching, who had roughed him up a bit in order to get him to make the battle claws.
"I'll make them now." he said meekly, before rushing away. "You all wait outside." two Pure One guards stood at the entrance to make sure he didn't try to fly off.
- - -
Helena perched on the branch. Ivan had his battle claws now, but hers were still being made. Speaking of, where was her brother? Then she spotted him, down below, whispering to Iniq. She listened in, and was shocked by their conversation.
"I have a kill a family member for my tupsi?" he said.
"Indeed." Iniq replied. "Who is the one you want to get rid of? Father, mother? Aunt or cousin -" but Ivan glared.
"I know exactly who." he then looked up at Helena, and Iniq followed his gaze. His expression changed.
"Hang on a minute -" he began, but then Ivan launched himself at Helena. Helena threw up her talons, and Ivan grabbed them, sending them crashing to the ground below. Helena scrabbled to her feet, but then Ivan grabbed her again. He threw her against a rock, driving the breath out of her lungs. Ivan's eyes glittered with hatred as he loomed above her. His beak was coming toward her eyes. I'm going to die. She saw Logan, Iniq and the other Pure Ones leap forward. They obviously thought she was too valuable a fighter. More valuable than Ivan. Logan's eyes were full of terror for her. Something else glittered within them, someting she saw when Taylor and Albus had looked at each other. She then saw their battle claws poised to kill her brother. Not if I get there first.
To kill a family memberEdit
But then Helena thrusted her talons up. She hit him in the chest, sending him flying. In the air again, Helena rocketed toward him, fury blazing in her gizzard. How dare he try to kill her! His baby sister! What had she ever done to him? A shriek split the air as Helena poured out her rage to Ivan.
"I'll kill you! Kill you! I'll tear out your eyes!" her beak tore out a beakful of feathers, and her talons raked over his head. She felt them hit flesh, then bone. Ivan screeched in agony, and vainly tried to overpower her. But Helena dodged, and then spotted one of her brother's battle claws go spinning through the air. He clearly hadn't done that one up properly. She snatched it up, and then spun round, stabbing it into his chest. Helena saw blood trickle onto her talons, staining her leg feathers red. She pulled the battle claw out in shock, but then Ivan went yeep. He crumpled to the forest floor, chest rising and falling in shallow breaths. Blood sprayed from the wound, surrounding him in a sticky pool of blood. His eyes were fixed on Helena's, his beak open.
"Hagsmire is my cradle, not Glaumora." he rasped. Then he coughed. Blood trickled from his beak, and then he twitched, coughing up blood. Helena dropped the blood-covered battle claw, hitting a stone with a clink. The haggish light in Ivan's eyes then faded as Helena's older brother died. She stood there quietly. She had killed her own brother... but then Iniq gave her a tap on the wing. His eyes were bright with approval. "Well done. You have passed your tupsi, Helena." she dimly heard applause. Helena had murdered Ivan. What would Taylor and Albus think? What would Violet think?
Helena flew with her new battle claws. She was so glad, that she didn't spill her brother's blood with them, because she didn't want to see her bare talons right now. The ones that had killed Ivan. She juuped when she felt Logan brush her wing tip with his own.
"I'm sorry for your loss." he said, eyes full of sympathy.
"Thanks." She sighed. She couldn't believe that she was now an offical Pure One - but to spill her brother's blood? She hadn't loved Ivan, but she couldn't bring herself to kill him. As Helena arrived back, she was greeted with cheers, but despite the pats and congratulations she got, she still didn't feel happy or proud. She.felt Logan tap her wing with his beak in gentle preening gesture.
"If it makes you feel better, my tupsi was hard for the me too." He sighed. Helena glanced at him.
"Who did you have to kill?"
"I had to kill a distant cousin of mine. I didn't really know her, but... I just felt guilty." He sighed again. Helena tipped her head, and touched his shoulder with her wing.
"It's like how I felt with Ivan."
A tender loveEdit
Helena rubbed her eyes. She had just come back from a snatching patrol in the Shadow Forest, and she was exhausted. It had been a few moons since Ivan's death, and she had recovered. Logan had helped her through it, comforting her, telling her the difficulties of his ceremonies. He had even revealed some of his past to her. He had been hatched in Silverviel, but other than that, he didn't remember his mum or da, or even any siblings. He had had an aunt, who had been the mother of his cousin. Helena had gone to Tyto, to try and seek out her own mum and da. But she hadn't found Taylor and Albus. Or Violet. She had a feeling that they had moved on, after her and Ivan's disappearance. They wouldn't want to loose any more owlets.
- - -
"Helena, can I talk to you?" Said a voice. Helena turned, and saw Logan.
"Sure thing, Logan." She replied, skin prickling. She had no idea why, but she often felt it when she saw Logan. She fluttered over to him, and he lead her to his hollow in a canyon wall. She made herself comfortable on some moss. "What did you want?" Logan settled in front of her.
"Helena, ever since I first saw you, I knew that we had a connection. There was always a reason for me defending you, insisting that I accompany you on every ceremony. Do you know why?" He put his face close to hers. "It was because I love you." Helena sat in stunned silence. Logan carried on."So, Helena - I would overjoyed if you would agree to be my mate."
"Logan..." Helena walked up close to him, until she had nestled herself under his wing. "How could I say no? I love you. I love you to Glaumora and back." Tears of joy fell down her face. "Of course I'll be your mate! I love you, Logan. And I will love you forever more."
The shadowed past of Logan, Helena and their daughter Clove will be concluded in The Ghosts of Past, on Clove - a very different owlet who faces a very different future from her Pure One parents. I hope you enjoyed Helena's Past!