The boy leaned back to the trunk, watching the night darkening the sky, counting the stars as they began to appear one after another. He sighed. “I wish you were here.”

Rustling the autumn leaves, detached from their beloved branches, the wind whispered in his ears.

He jerked up his head, eyes scanning the perimeter. He knew she was near. The air suddenly filled with sweet aroma of jasmine, a scent she used to carry. “Where are you?”

Above him, an owl hooted, its yellow eyes gleamed like burning coals. Stretching its wide white wings, the bird of the night glided and landed near him.

For a long moment the bird and the boy stared at each other, as if trying to understand the each other.

“Are you missing someone?” The boy asked. He felt foolish after a moment.

The owl tilted its head, its little beak clipping the air.

“Me too.”

The owl started scratching the ground with its claws. The boy thought the bird was seeking worms to fill its appetite. He dug his hand in pockets only to retreat it back empty and hopeless.

The owl was engaged in scratching, now making three tiny circles with its beak.

Huffing, the boy ignore the bird and leaned back on the trunk. Soon sleep embraced him and he was pulled to the land of fantasies.

Filtering through the foliage above, sunlight woke him up. Massaging his stiffened neck, the boy rose only to be welcomed by the owl. He smiled, but soon it vanished as his gaze fell on the ground. Few feet away, riddled with beak-marks was a withered snake. Coiled and dead.

“You killed that thing?”

The owl chirped, agreeing.

Blessing the bird, he knelt down, extending his hand.

The bird stepped ahead, its wings clasped tightly beside its proud, feathery body. It looked at the hand of a while then dug its head under it.

The boy smiled, caressing the bird’s soft head. “Thank you.”
You don’t need to thank me.

He pulled his hand hand as if he had been stabbed by hundred unseen needles. He shook his head in disbelief, assuring himself what he heard was just a trick of his mind. Still doubtful, he stared at the bird.

The owl hooted, spreading its wings. With few flaps it soared to the eye level of the boy. I’ll be always there to protect you. And then it flew away, leaving him surprised and shocked at a time.

Also Read Alzador Chapter 1

Confused, the boy dropped on the ground. His fingertips felt grooves on the ground. Looming over the patch of the land where the bird scratched the soil last night, he realised what it was. Three rings engraved on the ground, fused to each other. Instantly, he tore the thread that hung over his neck and fisted the pendant. Slowly he opened his clamp, and in the morning soft light the pendant – three golden rings fused to each other – glittered.

Inside him, something broke and tears welled his eyes. Sobbing he looked at the retreating owl, now just a speck in the sky, above the valley. Then he looked at the pendant of his deceased mother.

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