The Moon Rock and the Egg by Shari Klase
“The humans are getting closer. The enchantment is waning. Something must be done.”
Great Owl stood on one leg. The other was crooked and he could not stand on it long due to a flying accident ages ago. He squinted his old eyes at the other owls to see better. But the others hung their heads. None wanted to make the dangerous journey to Crater Mountain for the magical “Moon Rock” that would keep the Enchanted Woods hidden for another score of years.
None wanted to face the “Impassible,” who was cruel and unmerciful. He had to be bartered with to obtain a Moon Rock that was hidden in a secret, old tree; none knew the location of except the old crow and his cronies.
Timothy, Great Owl’s son, looked around him with disgust at his fellow owls. He knew if someone did not go, the Enchanted Woods was doomed. The Moon Rock had kept the Enchanted Woods hidden for almost twenty years now but the magic was fading. Their beautiful forest and all the creatures in it would soon be visible to all wood-choppers and home-builders. Trees would fall! Animals and birds would die!
“I will go, Father,” Timothy spoke up quickly, as if his courage would come as speedily as his voice.
“No!” Great Owl barked out. “You are too young, and you are the next Keeper of the Woods.”
“That is why I must go,” Timothy nodded. “I am not too young to have an egg, and I must be responsible to my family and to the creatures of our kingdom.”
Viola looked away and gasped. “You are not going to take our egg!” she cried out in anguish.
“Of course not,” Timothy replied angrily. “I would never do that.”
Great Owl hung his head. Timothy’s remark had not been meant as a rebuke, but he felt the words in that way.
“You did what you had to do, Father,” Timothy said softly, seeing Great Owl’s discomfort.
“It was wrong,” Great Owl whispered. “I never should have given up. Your mother…”
Great Owl could not finish and Timothy gulped. He knew what his father was going to say. There was nothing greater than mother love. If mother had been alive, she would never have allowed Great Owl to give up the egg to the Impassible who demanded it in exchange for a Moon Rock to protect everyone in Enchanted Woods.
“Only I don’t know what I WILL give him,” Timothy faltered.
He had no treasure that would be as valuable as a Keeper’s egg. He had nothing good enough to impress the Impassible, who demanded nothing less than something great. No mere trinket or sparkly item that impressed most crows would do for the Impassible. He demanded sacrifice.
Great Owl ruffled his feathers and shifted his weight. He hobbled over to a dark chest in the corner of his lair. He unfastened the chest with his beak and the lid flew open with a clang.
“You must give him this.”
Timothy gasped. “No, father, not the crown! The crown belongs to the Keeper. It must be passed down…”
“To you,” Great Owl sighed. “Yes, I know. It should be passed down to you. But the Impassible won’t accept anything else.”
Timothy blinked with his wide eyes. “If you give him the crown, he will have ownership of the kingdom. He will be the next Keeper.”
The thought of such a hideous being ruling over all the gentle creatures of Enchanted Woods made Timothy shudder.
“If I don’t give it to him, there will be no kingdom to protect, Timothy.”
Inside their hollowed out tree, Viola was comfortably settled on a nest. Her speckled, downy feathers and soft eyes gave Timothy a lump in his throat.
“I don’t want you to go,” Viola said hoarsely, trying not to cry.
“I have to, Viola, for the sake of our family and the future of our home.”
Viola sighed. “I wish I could go with you. I could get Mother or my sister to stay with the egg.”
“No, Viola. Your mother is too old and your sister is too flighty. There is no substitute for mother love.”
“But you must not go alone,” she pleaded.
“Who will go with me? None of the other owls are brave enough or strong enough.”
“I wasn’t thinking of an owl. I was thinking of Will,” Viola suggested.
“A human? It is because of humans that I have to go.”
Viola blinked an eye and shook her head. “Will is not like those humans. He is good and kind. He helps injured creatures.”
“He is just a boy,” Timothy scoffed.
“You were just a boy not long ago. Will can be of help to you. The Impassible will not be expecting a human. The crows will not stop or harm a human.”
Timothy nodded. “You are right. But I have never spoken to a human before.”
“There was never one wise enough to listen before,” she said as she smiled at him.
Will was feeding his small horde of wounded animals when Timothy landed nearby. Among them was a sick raccoon, three young mother-less birds and a fawn with a splint on its leg.
Will had seen Timothy land and he was startled to see an owl behave so familiarly with him.
“Who are you?” he asked and then laughed because he had actually asked an owl a question, expecting an answer. So he was even more surprised when Timothy answered him back.
“I am Timothy. I need your help.”
“Yes, we creatures of the Enchanted Woods have that ability. But there is no time for explanations now. Will you help me? The whole future of our kingdom depends on it,” Timothy urged.
“What do I have to do?”
It was to Will’s credit that he barely needed any explanation before he heartily agreed to accompany Timothy on his journey. Luckily, Will had a sister who agreed to take care of his animal charges until he got back.
“So you need me to fight off a bunch of crows,” Will laughed.
“Well, technically, we’re not fighting them, just bartering with them unless they don’t give us an audience with the Impassible.”
“And this Impossible is a big, old crow with a nasty disposition?”
“His name is Impassible. He’s a one-eyed, enormous crow with the meanest streak you’ve ever seen. Not to mention that before we even meet the Impassible and his cronies, you have to climb Crater Mountain.”
“What do you mean by “you”? Aren’t we both in this together?”
“Absolutely, but I’m an owl, remember. I can fly. You have to climb,” Timothy explained.
While Timothy flew, Will began climbing Crater Mountain. Timothy led the way as he guided Will up the craggy path. Timothy stopped to pause on big rocks along the way so Will could catch up. It wasn’t long before they were standing in front of a huge ditch in the ground.
“Woah! What is this?” Will asked.
“Why did you think it was called Crater Mountain? Fortunately, I can fly over it. Unfortunately, you will have to walk around it.”
“How many of these are there?” Will groaned.
“It’s called Crater Mountain,” Timothy repeated, laughing.
“I guess I know now why there are Moon Rocks here,” Will sighed.
Just ahead two crows were watching Will’s approach.
“Oh ho! What’s this?” Xerxes asked.
“We’ve never had humans on Crater Mountain before,” Leopold said.
“It’s none of our business if people want to break their necks climbing mountains,” Xerxes offered.
A third crow flew in, wings flapping wildly, and broke into their conversation. He had a few more brains than the other crows.
“Is it any of our business if owls start trespassing around here. Samson’s not going to like that,” the new crow, Simon, added as he joined Xerxes and Leopold.
“Let’s get him!” Leopold suggested.
All three crows dive bombed Timothy, knocking him out of the air. Timothy landed in a heap, dazed and unsteady on the ground. Although he knew he should have been keeping a sharp eye out for crows, he had been distracted while safe guarding Will around the craters.
Will, though, had seen Timothy fall and came running to rescue his friend. He picked up a handful of rocks and pelted the crows who jumped back, cawing angrily.
“What’s this? Are they together?” Xerxes asked furiously.
“Hey! What do you two think you’re up to?” Simon called out to them.
“We need to see the Impassible!” Timothy shouted bravely.
“Ain’t no Impassible anymore. There’s a new show in town and he don’t like other owls!” Leopold shouted back.
“Shush, would you!” Simon cuffed a wing at Leopold’s head. “They don’t need to know anything.”
“Other owls?” Timothy asked. “Well, whoever he is, we need to see him. We need a Moon Rock.”
“He won’t be giving no Moon Rocks to the likes of either of you!” Simon scoffed.
“Yeah,” Xerxes laughed. “He hates humans and he hates owls. Well, not technically all owls as he is an owl himself.”
That admission was rewarded with another cuff on the head, this time for Xerxes.
“Ow!” Xerxes complained.
“But I’ve brought the Keeper’s Crown for a bartering piece.”
The crows each in turn froze and gasped. “The Keeper’s Crown!”
Timothy held it up. It shone luminously before their greedy eyes.
“We might be able to strike a deal,” Simon said coyly.
“We won’t make deals with you, only your leader,” Timothy said with a commanding voice.
The crows agreed reluctantly to escort them to their leader. They ordered the two to follow them. They proceeded a ways up the mountain until they reached a grove of trees. In the center stood an old gnarled hollowed out tree such as ones like Timothy and his family used for homes.
Simon flew up on a branch and gave three taps with his beak on a doorway leading into the tree. A voice boomed out.
“What do you want?”
“Someone here to barter for Moon Rocks,” Simon answered timidly.
“I told you, no bartering for a while. Tell them to go away and solve their own problems. I’m not my brother’s keeper!” the voice growled out angrily.
“But this one has a Keeper’s Crown,” Simon replied.
“A Keeper’s Crown?” The voice asked excitedly.
The door flew open and out stepped a huge great horned owl, the likes of which Timothy had never seen since his father in his prime. In fact, this owl was the spitting image of Great Owl. Timothy’s mouth gasped open.
The owl stared at Timothy and Will and cried out furiously. “Why didn’t you tell me the greedy ones were human and owl kind.”
He turned on his heels and was about to re-enter the tree but Timothy shouted out.
“Was your father Great Owl? Were you an egg when you came to be here?”
The owl stopped dead in his tracks and spun around. “How do you know these things?”
“Because if this is true, you are my brother! I am Timothy, the son of Great Owl.”
The huge owl cried out in a great voice and sobbed. “But I never knew I had a brother! I was abandoned by my father. The Impassible became my true father and cared for me. He named me Samson and said I would be great. This is why I have hated all other owls.”
“Our father did not abandon you. It broke his heart to give you away. The Impassible would not give up the Moon Rock for anything else. Great Owl did what he thought was best. Yet, he told me before I left that he was wrong to do it.”
Samson embraced his brother. “Thank you for telling me this, Timothy. You are a true brother.” A tear fell from his eye. “Tell me about our mother.”
Timothy hung his head. “She died shortly after you were laid as an egg. It was a terrible accident. She flew out of Enchanted Woods in search of food and she was shot, so father has always wanted to protect Enchanted Woods more than anything.”
“He values being the Keeper more than he valued me,” Samson moaned.
“No,” Timothy said consolingly. “Father didn’t believe he could protect you or raise you by himself when he had me to care for all ready. The Impassible promised you wouldn’t be harmed. But being the Keeper means nothing to him. He gave me the Keeper’s Crown to give to…well, it is to give to you now, Samson. You can claim it and become great just as the Impassible has said.”
“That is not for me,” Samson told Timothy quietly. “You are the great one. You risked your life for Enchanted Woods. You made friends with a human. Moon Rocks are becoming scarce.” Samson looked over at Will. “Will, you must work to bring human creatures and animal creatures together in unity. Moon Rocks will be gone soon. There will be no hope unless there is kindness in all creation. Will you do this, Will?”
“I will try,” Will vowed.
“You must come back with us, Samson. We can be a family,” Timothy pleaded.
“No, Timothy. I was placed here for a purpose. These stupid crows cannot be entrusted with the remaining Moon Rocks. I must be the keeper of Moon Rocks and you must be the Keeper of the kingdom. You will take a Moon Rock with you so your trip was not for nothing.”
“But they are scarce,” Timothy’s voice quivered.
“This one will be for a purpose. I want Enchanted Woods to be safe for a while longer.”
“I have a wife and an egg, Samson. I wish you could see them,” Timothy said eagerly.
Samson smiled and looked wistfully away. “I have seen them. I have seen the future in my mind’s eye. Because of you and Will, it will be a happy one.”
AUTHOR BIO: Shari Klase is a writer and poet who enjoys writing children's stories especially. She has published in The Kids' Ark,Shine Brightly, Stories for Children Magazine, and Guardian Angel Kids. Writing for her is more than a hobby. It is a passion and a gift.