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Iron Wood: Chapter 6: Grand Aerie

By the time that Pudgy had made it to where his friends were sitting on the branch, he was too tired to chat with them. He lashed himself to the branch, and then promptly fell asleep.  Comix and Angeliki, relieved that their hedgehog friend had been returned safely, soon nestled around  and slept as well.  The arctic owl that was also perched upon the branch of visitation, was Ice Feather.  Alabaster’s mother was assigned to outreach amongst the bird populations, and was the parliament’s diplomat.  She had flown in the day before via the ley lines, and was waiting patiently to be allowed attendance at the Grand Aerie.  The owl was surprised when the raven and hawk arrived with stories of the hedgehog.  The related news confirming Cobalt Dragon’s passing was hard.  

The owls were still confused, and had been reaching out to the flocks, seeing if they had experienced a surge of former humans appearing in their respective territories.  The flocks confirmed that new animals were appearing daily, with wild stories of the human world, and much confusion as to why they were in their current forms?  Ice Feather had been dispatched to confirm if the same was occurring here in Iron Wood with the eagles.  What scant information she had been able to gather was that for some reason, no humans had been converted into eagles.  Due to her being known amongst the eagles, she was granted a bit of access to the forest below, so the female owl took off to hunt for the evening.  Tomorrow was going to be a long day, and she needed her strength.  

The night passed quietly, under a cloud filled sky.  An occasional rumble of thunder could be heard to the south, and the winds were cool and steady from the north.  All animals slept in the peaceful and quiet world, which was devoid of human activity.  These lands had been wilderness for hundreds of years, and the established groups of animals could trace their dynasties back to the beginning.  Such was the case with the Silver Claw, the undisputed leader of the eagles.  The eagle had lived for over a hundred years, being adorned with feathers tipped in silver.  That condition was rare, and was considered to be a sign of a great destiny was to occur.  Far above on the platform where Pudgy had told his grand tales, the leader paced  nervously.  In the center of the platform was the soul gem, glowing a soft blue.  The light illuminated Silver Claw’s pale yellow beak, and seemed to be pulsing occasionally.  

Copper Claw was standing behind his leader, and watching the much older eagle inspect the gem.  The subordinate had relayed the entirety of what had been discussed in the previous days.  Now both were standing at the top of the lightning tree, in an uncomfortable silence.  Silver Claw bent down, and pecked at the stone with his beak.  The stone rang like a bell, softly chiming.  Standing back up, and raising his head, the leader spoke.  “No human has come back as an eagle up until now, Copper Claw.  Is that correct?”  The subordinate nodded as he strode up beside him, “yes that is correct Silver Claw.  Given what has been discussed with Angeliki Raven, and her goddess mother, the information provided would indicate this human is to be the first.  The hedgehog’s stories were amazing, and if we are to believe them, indicates that Waunthut Mennitoow has a greater plan than we were aware of.”

Turning his head towards his subordinate, Silver claw gave him a look with a softly silver glowing eye, “I doubt it.  We are the heirs to the Thunder Eagle, and it is our kind that is destined to rule the skies above all.  However, I would be a fool to not realize that the Great Spirit may have designs beyond the skies for this world.  Are preparations for the Grand Aerie complete?”  Copper Claw nodded, “yes Silver Claw.  We have representatives from all the aerie throughout the land, perched in the various trees within Iron Wood.  On the branch of visitation, we have Ice Feather representing the Grand Parliament.  Pudgy Hedgehog is an honorary member of the arctic owls’ parliament.  Also in attendance is Comix Hawk, who apparently was a human, and Angeliki Raven.  We will sit our guests in the visitors’ perch, per our standards.”  The leader nodded, and yawned slightly, “good.  I think I need to get some rest.  Morning will come soon, and it will be a very long day.”    

Both eagles chose to remain on the platform, and headed to their respective branches to bestle down and get some rest.  The remainder of the night was uneventful, and soon the first rays of sunshine streamed over the eastern horizon.  As the sun rose, Ice Feather sleepily opened her eyes.  It was too early, and she was not used to sleeping at night.  Still, the Raven and Hawk were awake, with a bouncing hedgehog telling them what had happened.  Pudgy’s story was short, since he did not have to relay the grand adventure to them.  Angeliki nodded, “well Pudgy ..I am unsure if I would have told them everything …” Was the main comment that stuck out in the owl’s mind, as she watched the eagles start to leap from the surrounding trees and take flight.  Hundreds of flying eagles were heading towards the top of the Lightning Tree, representing all the various kinds of eagles.  

Golden eagles from the western side of the country, bald eagles, harpy eagles, crowned, haast, black kites, stellers, wedge tailed, steppe, javaan, verreaux, and even Philippine eagles from over the ocean had arrived.  There were too many kinds to count, and Comix stood there unblinking trying to identify them all.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “this reminds Pudgy of the Grand Parliament, but this time Pudgy can see everything.”  Ice Feather giggled, “it’s too bright out.  At least owls have the sense to do this in the night, so we can also watch the moon and stars.”  In time, a familiar eagle approached with striped white feathers adorning her body.  Striped feather landed upon the branch of visitation and waved her wingtips at the group.  “Good morning everyone, I hope you have rested.  I will be taking Pudgy Hedgehog … the rest of you may follow me to the diplomats branch at the top of the Lightning Tree.”  The group of birds nodded, while Pudgy wiggled his nose, and tied the straps of his backpack securely.    

Striped Feather leapt up, and as she flapped her wings, she sent a gust of wind below her.  She was able to leap over the hawk and raven, to snatch up the little hedgehog using his very handy perch bars sticking out from the backpack.  One by one the birds took flight, and then started to follow behind the third in command.  They circled around the tree, watching the other eagle representatives landing and perching at various branches.  The top of the tree at one time had continued to a spire, but due to the repeated storms, over time the tree had adapted.  The branches grew outwards instead of upwards.  This formed a natural platform, which allowed the eagles to gather.  Pudgy watched as he was carried, and waved at Comix when he winked at him while following.  

Soon they were taken to a branch that was within distance of the main platform, towards the west side of the tree.  Pudgy was gently dropped onto the smooth barkless tree branch.  He quickly crawled to a crook between two branches, and began to tie himself in.  Ice Feather landed to his left, followed by Angeliki, and then Comix.  The third in command flew off, and landed on the platform to stand at her assigned place.  The sound was deafening, as the eagle cries filled the air.  The hedgehog shouted, “is it always this loud?”  The arctic owl nodded, and pointed with the tip of her right wing towards the platform.  Rubbing his eyes, the little critter could see the softly glowing blue gem in the middle of the platform.  There was a gigantic eagle, tipped with silver feathers, and softly glowing silver eyes standing behind the gem in the center of the tree.  This was the Silver Claw the others had spoken of, and the hedgehog watched with unblinking eyes.  The much older eagle was looking at the gathering, scanning the crowd as he turned around the platform.  

Raising his wings above his head, the aerie representatives started to quiet down.  Silver Claw cried out with a warning call, and dropped his wings.  Soon it was dead quiet, save for only the sound of the wind blowing through the branches of the trees.  “Once more we shall convene our Grand Aerie, welcome all to the Lightning Tree.  We stand under the watchful presence of the Great Spirit, of Waunthut Mennitoow, of the Thunder Eagle.  The world was made at his direction, and he led our kind to this world so very long ago.  The decree was the skies would belong to us, if we were to follow without question.  We have followed the Great Spirits teachings, his guidance, and our kind prospered.  Then the humans came: tore down our trees, befouled the water, dug within the earth to expose horrors, wrought war upon themselves and animals alike.”

The owl bristled at the part of the speech where the eagles would rule the skies.  They knew that was wrong, as all birds were to share the skies.  No one species could claim dominion … she thought as the eagle continued his speech.  “Then the owls came to us with a proposition, once more we could use the ancient chains to bring forth a reckoning.  We would make the humans depart this world, and never return again.  The land would heal, and our kind would prosper once again.  The Grand Aerie convened, and we agreed to their plan.  The chain was activated, stretching high from this tree into the skies above.  We all felt the connection to the Thunder Eagle deep within our bodies, and as the other chains activated, the humans were wiped from this world once and for all.” The eagle representatives started to cheer, sending cries into the air.  A thunderous sound, with clapping wings ensued.  

Silver Claw nodded, and raised his left wing to silence the crowd.  “However …it would seem that the humans have not left us.  I am here to inform you, we have come into possession of information that all aerie must be informed of.  The humans are in fact returning to this world, “ the leader said before being cut off by the birds in the trees.  Cries of anger pierced Pudgy’s ears, and made him cover his head with his paws.  Comix felt really uncomfortable, as he saw the depths of the animals’ rage on display around him.  The leader raised both wings again, and waited for the gathering to quiet once more.  It took several minutes before the older bird could continue with his speech.  “Humans are being changed into animals, and joining the various packs and flocks through this world.  In fact, we have one such in attendance.  A red tailed hawk, who is perched on our diplomatic branch where our visitors are perched.”

Comix watched as the entire tree turned to face him, narrowing their eyes.  “Oh great…i’m going to die….” the former human whispered.  Angeliki stayed motionless, realizing this was not going to go well for them.  The leader waved at Comix, “our former human friend, came to our tree in attendance with Angeliki Raven.  She is also a human, who was changed into an animal, with ties of the goddess of the crossing.  Ice Feather is representative of the owls, as well as our brown quill covered friend beside her.  The little ground walker is Pudgy Hedgehog, who has told us a fantastic tale of adventure.  But more importantly, he has given us much needed intelligence as to what is going on in this world.  The story he told, took two days to tell, which is far too much time to relay at this Grand Aerie.  I will summarize what was discussed.”

The leader greatly condensed the tales told by Pudgy into a series of matter of fact bullet points.  The humans had in fact disappeared from the world, but their bodies and souls were placed within a gray void.  Their works all were wiped from the face of the earth, and the land was healing.  After the intelligence had been disseminated to the rest of the aerie, the various representatives would fly down to the platform in front of Silver Claw.  The Golden eagles reported that far to the west, the land was burned to a crisp.  The animals retreated to the mountain lands, but the ground walker said the earth was shaking badly.  They watched as the big red bridge on the coastline fell into the ocean, as the land sank beneath the waves.  Huge fissures opened up from deep within the ground, and the ocean water rushed in to fill the void.  Steam boiled out of the wounds of the earth, resulting in devastating rain that further gouged the land.

The ones from the high mountains reported the arrival of the Thunder Eagle over their skies.  A strange craft had landed on the mountain, and the claws of the Great Spirit wiped it clean from the face of the earth.  A few strange animals were seen walking away towards a former human camp, with large caves nearby.  This resulted in many questions, until the Silver Claw stepped in.  “Well, we have our hedgehog friend to thank, because we know what happened.”  The leader relayed another concise breakdown of the great dinosaur adventure, which resulted in dumbstruck looks from the eagles in attendance.  Many started to look over at Pudgy, who wiggled his nose and waved at them.  They were starting to become annoyed that they apparently had missed an epic story.  Some had attended the tale, and were annoyed that the leader had stripped away all the best parts.  

Silver Claw nodded, and watched as a blue harpy eagle landed, and began to relay the tale of the journey from a human land once called Ecuador.  The ocean was sending terrible storms, which was sending torrential rain throughout the areas to the far south.  The forests that once blanketed the land were growing at an accelerated rate, but the land was also sinking.  Where humans once tended crops, was now starting to be permanently covered with water.  Lakes were forming everywhere, and all manner of animals were appearing.  Former humans were appearing as birds, as ground walkers, and even as fish underneath the water.  Most were confused, and adapting to their new situation.

The various other reports mirrored that of what was discussed: humans arriving, the world healing, or the world being changed at a far too quick rate for comfort.  At critical times within the discussion, the hedgehog’s tales proved to be very valuable, as provided context to eagle confusion. By the time each representative had given their briefing, the sun was high in the sky and directly overhead.  The little hedgehog had already eaten a snack, took a drink of water, attended to business, and the eagles were still talking.  This was similar to when Cobalt used to turn on the politics channel, and the people in the suits would go on and on about macro this, and taxation that.  So doing what he always did, the hedgehog fell asleep.  Ice Feather giggled, and nestled down, resting her eyes.  The discussion veered off to inter-aerie squabbles, and was being side tracked between the Philippine and Harpy eagles who had travelled very far, and were not appreciative of the accommodations provided.  

Eagles have superior eyesight during the day, and can see things much farther away than other animals.  So when Copper Claw saw Pudgy and his friends were falling asleep, he chuckled and nudged the Silver Claw with his wing.  As the leader looked up, he shook his head and laughed, “well congratulations everyone…. You put our guests to sleep.  Anyhow … where are our booted friends to the north?”  A smaller eagle, almost the size of Comix Hawk flew down, and landed in front of the much larger bald eagle leaders.  The booted eagle was called that, because over their claws were white fluffy feathers that resembled tall boots.  The female bird nodded, “our situation is not good, Silver Eagle.  The wolves are amassing once more, having come from the arctic lands to the north and west.  When we hunt, the wolves strike, and our losses have been heavy.  We have begun to retreat to safer lands to the east.”

This part woke up Pudgy, remembering what the wolves were up to when he visited Kodiak island.  The leader relayed part of Pudgy’s tale of the wolves attacking the bears.  However, this time the older bird revealed the existence of the Cobalt dragon.  The eagles quieted down, when they noticed the glowing gem sitting on the tree platform in front of Silver Claw.  The leader sent the booted eagle back to her perch, and began to speak once more with an authoritative tone.  “The wolves are a threat to all, and what fragile peace exists, will be invariably broken by their kind.  This leads me to the reason for calling this Grand Aerie in the first place.  We have come into possession of this gem, provided by Angeliki Raven and her goddess mother.  Located within this gem is the soul of Cobalt Dragon, having passed upon the ocean shores of the island of bears.”

The eagles started to all talk at the same time once more, drowning out each other, and making it hard for any to understand.  Silver Claw looked annoyed, and raised his wings and sent an angry cry, immediately halting discussion.  “This will take forever, if we continue at this place.  I will invoke the accordance, if this continues!”  Ice Feather  the owl nodded, “he means business now.  The accordance would end the Grand Aerie, and he would render a decision without input.”  Comix, Angeliki, and Pudgy nodded as they listened while watching the silver tipped eagle look quite cross with the outbursts.  Copper Claw strode out and addressed the gathering, “upon finding out about the existence of the dragon, we travelled with Angeliki Raven to the island of the bears.  Dragons are not natural, and are an affront to Waunthut Mennitoow, thus the former human was not granted a natural life.  We watched as the dragon crawled to the shoreline, and then collapsed.  As the last breath of life left his body, the Thunder Eagle appeared once more in the skies.”

Pudgy sat up listening intently, and sat with unblinking eyes.  The second in command continued, “the Mother of all Bears was in attendance.  She beseeched the Great Spirit, to allow the former human to return as a bear.  I was there, and called out to the Thunder Eagle, making the case that he should return as an eagle.  The Great Spirit was silent, and after what seemed to be an eternity, extended his wing tip to touch the body of the dragon.  The lifeless body disappeared in a cloud of dust, which scattered upon the wind.  The human soul floated in a blue colored ball, then started to turn slowly into an eagle.  With assistance from Angeliki Raven, the human soul was encased within this gem, halting the conversion process.  The Mother of all Bears was not pleased, and chased after us as we fled the island.  Through the ley lines we flew, deep within the earth, to return to Iron Wood.”

Silver Claw nodded, and pointed to the glowing gem.  “No human has been changed into an eagle, not a single one!  Waunthut Mennitoow has decreed in his vast wisdom to allow a former human to join our ranks.  My question is ….why?  We do not need humans.  Our Aeries are strong, and rule the skies.  Now that they have left this world, what use could they be to us?  Yet …my subordinate here chose to intervene and the Great Spirit listened.  The purpose of this Grand Aerie is to determine the status of this soon to be eagle and former human.”  The eagles looked around at each other, and quietly started chirping as they spoke to each other.  The tree was abuzz with excited and angry conversations, while a certain hedgehog was looking angrily at the raven.  

Angeliki turned to see Pudgy’s eyes burning almost as he stared at her.  The demigoddess turned, “Pudgy … there was a reason my Mother decreed to do this.”  The little critter wiggled his nose, “this doesn’t sound good at all!  Pudgy needs to rescue Cobalt from the eagles!”  Ice Feather turned to the raven, “we are all ears, what were you thinking?  The eagles are too prideful to allow a human into their aerie.  They will most likely destroy the gem, and scatter his soul!”  The little hedgehog started to whimper, untying the straps that secured him to the branch.  Comix turned to Pudgy, “whatever you are thinking, hold off for now.  Maybe this is not as bad as we think it is?”  However, the words fell on deaf ears, and Pudgy had already started trying to get to a lower branch.  Letting go of the branch, the hedgehog fell down to the next branch below their perch, and beside a small brown eagle, that was from the desert lands to the southwest.      

The eagle chirped, and watched as the hedgehog scampered along the branch towards the main trunk of the tree.  “Hey …wait there little one!  You might fall off the branch!”  The eagle chirped, as he turned and started to bounce along the branch following the critter.  Ice Feather up above looked down, “Pudgy!  You get back here this instant!”  The moving hedgehog drew much attention, as the eagles started to focus in on the movement.  Pudgy was convinced his friend was in danger, and he had to save him, so all thoughts had been pushed aside with a focus on rescue.  Upon reaching the trunk of the tree, he looked down and could see another branch much lower where several empty spots were located between larger pale brown eagles.  If he timed it right, he could drop down by sliding down the tree.  The main trunk was petrified wood, hardened with time, and smooth as silk.  If he slid down, there would be no stopping.  Taking a deep breath, the critter swung up, and began to slide down the tree. As the hedgehog was sliding down, he picked up too much speed.  He shot past the branch, and lost his grasp.  

The eagles all started to send out warning calls, as they watched the ground walker fall off of the tree.  He was plummeting past the lowest branches and shot past the platform.  Before either Silver Claw or Copper Claw could say anything, the gem started to glow violently blue.  Large cracks started to form on its surface, and steam hissed out of it.  Copper Claw pushed Silver Claw back, and moved into an attack position ready to defend.  But the gem did not move towards the leader, instead it was flung by an unseen force off the platform and out into the air beside the tree.  The eagles watched as the gem exploded, and a blue glowing orb immediately shot down towards the falling hedgehog.  “STRIPED FEATHER,” yelled out Copper Claw to a nearby branch.  The third in command nodded, and  immediately took flight, flying over the platform, and heading into a power dive.  

Pudgy was screaming, as he was picking up speed and plummeting towards the ground.  He was being violently twisted around, and was almost spinning at one point.  Now thoughts of death had crept into his mind, as he realized trying to navigate the tree branches was a bad idea.  But during the spinning, the hedgehog would catch glances of a shimmering blue light following him.  Every couple of revolutions, he would see the blue light changing forms.  Striped Feather following behind watched in amazement as the blue light morphed into the shape of an eagle.  Feather sprung out from the blue glow, and the familiar white tufted head and yellow beak appeared.  “PUDGY!  TRY TO LEVEL OFF, I WILL CATCH YOU!” A very familiar voice called out, which the hedgehog recognized.  Throwing out his paws and stiffening up his body, the critter leveled off and started to roll into position.  

Whimpering, “Cobalt….” The little hedgehog was being rescued by the friend he had come to save from the eagles.  The body of an eagle started to pass overhead of him, and as he looked up with timid brown eyes, Cobalt started to wiggle a bit.  The talons were opened, and latched onto the perch bars on the backpack of the hedgehog.  “Now let me see if flying with bird wings is easier than dragon ones?”  The former human chuckled, as he extended his wings.  Trying to remember what Ice Feather taught him, the eagle made a wing position change, and soon started to swoop upwards and glided.  Pudgy felt his body whipped around a bit, but he was soon level.  The contents of his tummy were promptly expelled, as well as the other end.  Once he was well enough to respond, the critter looked up at the underbelly of his friend.  “You came to save Pudgy, Cobalt!  Pudgy was coming to Iron Wood to save you!”  

Cobalt looked confused, “what’s Iron Wood?  Where am I?  What the heck were you doing falling out of a tree?”  Another eagle flew up beside them, with striped white feathers fluttering on her wingtips.  “PUDGY HEDGEHOG!  What on earth are you doing?  You come back to the Grand Aerie at once!”  The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, “NO!  You were going to make Cobalt go away forever!  Cobalt, we have to fly as fast as you can away from here.  The eagles are bad!”  The female bird shot him a look, before softening her glare.  “Pudgy, when the Silver Claw said he was going to ascertain his situation … it did not mean death.  However, now that your human friend has completed his transformation …. I am sure this will make things more difficult.  You will need to address the Grand Aerie, along with your friend.”  

Cobalt was paying too much attention to flying, trying quickly to figure out how to make his new body work.  But his mind was a jumbled mess, bits and pieces of memories, and never ending howls in the void of darkness.  The eagle that was accompanying them flew a bit closer, “Cobalt …you need to follow me back up to the tree!”  The former human chirped, “ok …how?  I’m still trying to figure out how to fly at this point.  Gliding seems to be much easier as an eagle, rather than my former dragon form.”  The female eagle looked confused, but then started to go over the basics of how to fly.  The newly converted eagle nodded, and followed her instructions.  Soon they were heading back up towards the platform of the tree.  

The eagles in attendance were all chirping excitedly, relaying to each other and the leaders on the platform of what was occurring below them.  Soon Striped Feather flew through an open section of branches, followed by another bald eagle carrying the hedgehog.  As the female bird  landed on the platform, she motioned with her wing where Cobalt was to land.  Cobalt followed along, but then his wings wouldn’t work right again, and while he made it to the platform, he dropped hard and slid on his belly forwards to stop just shy of Copper Claw’s talons.  Pudgy was dragged along the tree, and groaned while watching the talons of his friend open and retract.  Cobalt groaned, “owww…..Pudgy …you ok?”  The little hedgehog whimpered, “Pudgy ok.  What happened?”  The former human looked up at the golden eagle, who was peering down inquisitively at him.  

Cobalt looked up, “hello.  I’m really confused.”  The second in command chirped, “I can see that.  My name is Copper Claw, second in command of the forces of Iron Wood.”  The former human nodded, and as he thought hard, he made his legs work, and soon found he was able to stand up.  But the effort was taking every bit of mental power he had, so his body was very wobbly.  “Hello Copper Claw, my name is Cobalt …this is Pudgy Hedgehog.”  The little hedgehog peeked around a mess of feathers from the eagle’s wing that had been bent out of shape.  The second in command chirped, “I have met our little friend here.  Pudgy, why did you feel the need to leave the diplomat branch?”  The little critter wiggled his nose, “Pudgy afraid you were going to make Cobalt go away forever.  Pudgy had to rescue Cobalt, but Pudgy fell out of the tree.  Cobalt came to save Pudgy instead…”  

Silver Claw walked up with purposeful strides, and soon was standing beside his second in command.  Stern silver glowing eyes looked down at the hedgehog and then the newly formed eagle.  “You have disrupted the Grand Aerie, Pudgy Hedgehog!  You will remain on this platform, and be quiet from this point on , is that understood?!?!?”  The critter nodded, and watched as the leader’s silver eyes turned towards Cobalt.  “Before your little friend chose to act, we were going to discuss your status.  We can proceed past that, and move onto the phase of discussion to what happens after your emergence.  Tell me, what do you remember between the time you were a dragon to now?”  Cobalt fell back down onto the platform, and his body twitched involuntarily as the muscles all moved by themselves.  

Pudgy was hugging Cobalt, and standing protectively in front of him to try and block either leader from him.  The defensive act drew a smile from both, and turned to face the Grand Aerie. Silver Claw spoke once more, “The status of our former human has been decided by Pudgy Hedgehog.  The human once known as Cobalt Dragon, is now Cobalt Eagle.  But as you can all clearly see, this conversion process seems to have some issues.  But we do know now one component …when the hedgehog was in danger ..his friend acted to save him.  So perhaps, this particular human is not as bad as we might have feared?”  The little hedgehog wiggled and waved his paw at the leader.  Silver Claw looked down, “you may not speak.”  The hedgehog wiggled his nose, and then returned to hugging his friend.  

On the diplomatic branch, Ice Feather and Angeliki were beside themselves.  When they tried to save Pudgy, they had been turned back by the other eagles.  So when a newly converted Cobalt flew with Pudgy and crash landed on the platform, they were relieved but also angry as well.  So two angry sets of bird eyes were locked onto Pudgy, while Comix quietly sat.  He was in thoughtful contemplation, realizing his assumptions were correct that when Pudgy was in danger, Cobalt would arrive to save him.  Turning to Ice Feather, the hawk said, “well …we now know Pudgy is safe.  I wonder why Cobalt is having so much trouble making his body move?”  Angeliki nodded, “it is because this is third form, and his spirit needs to be able to synchronize to his new form.”  The hawk looked confused, “third form?”  The raven nodded, “human is first, dragon is second, now eagle is third.”  

The arctic owl hooted softly, watching the sun drift lower in the southwestern skies.  The day was almost over, and the eagles were still talking.  The various representatives were all flying down to inspect the newly converted eagle.  They would peck at his body, only to be chased off by an overly protective hedgehog.  After a long series of discussions, Cobalt’s wings folded back alongside his body and he was able to stand up properly.  The former human looked at Silver Claw with soft yellow eyes, “sorry for the delay.  I think I got my body working now.”  The leader nodded, “good.  Now, please tell me what you saw during your time between dragon and eagle forms?”  

Cobalt nodded, “I lost all feeling in my body once more.  I was floating above my former dragon body, and watched as a huge eagle in the sky reached down and touched the tip of his wing on me.  I could hear a male voice, and yet almost female, say a word….Simcoe.  The world went black, and soon I found myself in a void of darkness.  There were no sounds, no smells, no feeling of any kind.  Only fear …until I could see the outlines of a snow covered forest around a lake.  Red stained snow, paw prints everywhere, and thousands of wolves amassed around a huge rock.  There was a black wolf, with blood red eyes, drawing red balls of light from deep within the lake.  The orbs were entering the wolves, causing them to be encased with shadows.  The great eagle appeared once more, and pointed to the display, and cried out in the language of the eagles.  I couldn’t understand, until I could see Pudgy falling out of the tree … so I asked Unetlanvhi to wait while I saved Pudgy.”

Silver Claw nodded, “why do you call the Thunder Eagle, the Great eagle, by the name Unetlanvhi?”  Cobalt looked a bit confused, “that is the name of the Great Spirit.  I first heard it from the wosl, and then the bears.  Why may I ask, do you use a different name?”  The leader nodded, “the name of the Great Eagle is Waunthut Mennitoow.  I see that we will have to educate you on the proper status of things.  You can not listen to the owls, they constantly get things wrong.”  A very loud hoot could be heard in the distance, which drew a chuckle from Copper Claw.  Cobalt turned to see Ice Feather on a branch flapping her wings and looking very angry.  “Oh my goodness…how can I see so far?”  The former human asked, as he was amazed.  He could see every feather on her body, and the rings of yellow in her eyes.  Pudgy looked up at the two leaders expectantly.  

The eagles all started to chirp as they spoke at the same time, sending a terrific racket up into the air once more.  Until the Silver Claw raised his wing, “I will seek council from the leads of each aerie.”  One by one, the eagles that had given status reports flew down and began to land in a ring around the platform.  The leaders backed up into position, and were at equidistant parts around the dias.    In total there were about twenty eagles, all looking intently as Cobalt and Pudgy.  The group discussed what the visions of the former human meant, and confirmation of the wolves activities were in order.  While safe in their trees, eagles needed to head to the ground in order to hunt.  Wolves were on the ground, and if they were indeed amassing to the north, that would prove to make their lives difficult.  

The decision was made amongst the leaders that Cobalt would remain for a time in Iron Wood.  He would be taught properly, and at the proper time, be sent away to investigate.  Pudgy Hedgehog would also remain, as he seemed to be the catalyst for the conversion process.  One by one the eagles departed and took with them their delegate representations.  The Lightning Tree began to empty out, soon leaving only the three supreme leaders, as well as those on the diplomatic branch.  Copper Claw waved at Ice Feather to come over, and without any hesitation the female arctic owl flew over being followed by the hawk and raven.  The excited birds landed on the platform and walked quickly over to the newly converted eagle.  Cobalt turned, and looked down at the other birds.

Pudgy let go, and started to explain while making introductions.  The red tailed hawk was Comix Villain, and the raven was Angeliki.  Once Cobalt was aware, he waved with his wing tips, and grinned as only an eagle could.  Ice Feather beamed with pride, “you did good flying, I see you remembered my lessons.  Too bad you got turned into an eagle, otherwise it would have worked correctly.  Next time you are coming back as an owl…”  Striped Feather shot the owl a look, “oh no he won’t! And no wonder he had so much trouble, owl flying is all wrong.”  The owl and eagle females started to argue with each other, while Silver Claw laughed.  Every Grand Aerie was Memorable, and this one was a doozy.  The older bird looked forward to a long nap, and perhaps a fish or two from the nearby lake.  There would be much to learn, much to discuss, and much to ponder in the days to come.

By Cobalt

Cobalt is a normal guy that goes to work. Pudgy is his hedgehog friend who lives in a hobbit style home nearby, and goes on epic adventures. All Pudgy stories are copyrighted to Cobalt. Doomcock, Harvey Cthulhu, and Xanadoom is copyrighted to Overlord DVD.

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