Prologue
Soren stood over the dead body of his sister-in-law, the bloody ice blade still gripped in his claws. iSo, it is finished/i he thought. He opened his talon, and allowed the sword to fall. His black, pearly eyes dimmed for but a moment, but then he straightened. "I must tell Coryn."

And so he flew, to find his nephew, and tell him that his mother, the hagsfiend, had been slain. The ice scimitar continued to sparkle, next to the body of Kludd's mate, past leader of the Pure Ones. Now she had fallen, as had Kludd, Soren's blood brother through and through.


"So it is finished, Uncle." The young king of the owls looked up at Soren, his eyes sparkling. "She is gone."

"Yes, she is. She shall never trouble us again." Soren gave a small nod as he looked at his nephew. "It will be good." He spoke not only to convince Coryn, but also to convince himself.

"Where is your blade?"

"I left it by her body. It has touched the unclean flesh of a hagsfiend. I cannot wield it again."

"Have you burned the body?"

Soren paused for a moment before speaking. And when he spoke, the words were hesitant and seemed to stumble over each other. "No, I have not."

"Then I shall do so." Coryn flapped his wings, and took to the air, a coal bucket glowing beneath him. Soren started after him, then restrained himself. Let the young one go, he thought, and lowered his spread wings. She is his mother.

Coryn flew, his wingbeats steady. But his heart pounded hard in his chest. iNyra, dead. My mother, dead./i The rhythm seemed to repeat over and over, in the night air, in the calls of the fox, in the rushing of the river, in his own gizzard.

She is a hagsfiend. She is not fit to be my mother. He repeated the words silently in his heart, again and again, and flew on. But he was soon aware of a clear discharge coming from his eyes. Tears. He was crying. But for who? No one had died, no one but Pure Ones. But they are owls like us. He could not resist the thoughts as he flew. He was barely aware that he was sprialing downwards. His mother's body lay there.

He fell to his knees. "Mother..." he whispered. "Without you, there is a hole in my life."


Emerald: Well, I hope you liked it! This is my first fic!