This is for project ten!

The light of the low-hanging full-shine moon slipped into the cave, making it glow like a lantern of ice above that tiny gut of sea linking the Canada to the USA. Inside the cave, the shadows of a human and a bear were printed against the radiance of its walls. Was the little barn owl imagining it, or did the bear have a peculiar tinge, a color like the day sky? Ever since he had found that sky-colored part of the bears fur he had been obsessed with it. I’m just seeing sky color everywhere, that’s all. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be here! I shouldn’t be here. The words coursed through the little owl’s head with a monotonous but persistent rhythm. I am the youngest in a long line of exceedingly stupid barn owls, he reminded himself silently as he wedged himself more tightly into his hiding place.I wish I could grow thinner, he thought, like the other owls do when they get scared. He had stuffed his rather plump body into a narrow crevice in the wall at the very back of the cave, in the shadows, where the moonlight could not reach. It was not the most comfortable situation.

Little Tyson, who would be Tyson the Fifteenth if his family could count, sensed that what was transpiring in this cave between the two animals was dangerous.'I am not supposed to be here. I’m not sure how I know that this is but I do.'I’m not that stupid! No,Tyson was not stupid at all in comparison to the rest of his family of Canada.His family, by and large, thought about only one thing — fishing. They were expert divers and could plunge boldly and accurately into tumultuous waters, returning with a dozen or more capelin neatly lined up in their beaks to feed their young chicks. But this was about as efficient and precise as puffins ever got. They were generally great fliers, and went about the rearing of their young and other matters of the nest in a most haphazard way. When Tyson had found the sky-colored patch of fur,his siblings and even his parents insisted it was actually white, because they knew the names of no other colors except white and brown,the color of their feathers, and black, the color of their beaks. Therefore no other colors existed in their tiny minds. But Tyson the Fifteenth’s tiny mind, through some quirk of nature, was often crowded with unusual thoughts. Perhaps it had stretched from being so crammed with these odd thoughts. And he knew this feather was not black or white or brown.He simply called it sky.

Bears on occasion walked through Canada, but Tyson had never before seen an bear with skin this color, and when he came across it he had hoped that someday he might find the rest of the fur to whom it belonged to. Now the sky-colored bear was before him, and Tyson was frightened.

Tyson knew of a back tunnel into this cave in the high cliffs of the cave he was in and when he had seen the human and bear duck into the cave he went around the back just to have a peek. Crushed in this terribly uncomfortable hiding place, he listened. And right now it was not the sky-feathered owl that frightened him but the other one. He guessed it was a human but he could not see its face. He supposed it was a male, for it was fairly large and the males usually were larger. That much he knew. This owl had just hung something metal on a spur of ice. Not battle claws.Tyson had seen battle claws. This metal would not fit on bears or humans.The bear now turned. Dumpy’s heart stood still. The full-shine moon falling into the ice cave lit the human’s face. Glowering, pitted, and scarred, it was not a face but a landscape — a landscape of incredible violence.Scarfull in patches, the skin on the left side was puckered here and there into dark red bubbles of flesh.His eyes glared darkly. A scar slashed down across the devastation of her face.

“So now you see me.” The human spoke to the sky-colored owl in a ragged voice that seemed as torn as his face. “I don’t frighten you?”

“Dib, yours is a face of glory, of valor. Your face inspires.” “Mind you, I don’t try to hide it. After the battle in the skool, I decided to wear the mask as a tribute to my dead sister, Gaz. It was forged from the remnants of the very one she once wore.”

Dib stepped up closer to the sky-fured bear and flipped his head so that it was almost upside down, and his eyes now captured the reflection of the full-shine moon so that they were no longer black at all, but loomed like two tiny moons within the ravaged landscape of the cratered face.This creature no longer even looked like an bear, let alone a human .Tyson’s guts were in turmoil. Nausea swelled in his gullet, as if the capelin fish he had eaten earlier were swimming back up from his stomach. He clamped his beak shut.This was not the time to throw up! “I think, dear Dangopa, we might be able, you and I, to do business.” “I agree,Dib.” “Servent Dib,” the bear corrected. “Yes,my servent, I think that we can do business. I know a great deal about the power you seek.” “Yes . . . yes . . . of course,” he replied slowly, “but tell me what you know about hdeath.”Death! The very word sent a horrific shock through Tyson’s body. Death, I’ve heard that word somewhere, someplace. No! the barn owl corrected himself. Not heard it, but knew it somehow! Deep within him —Tyson closed his eyes, trying to remember — there was a dim recollection,a feeling from a time before his time, if that were possible, of an ancient terror. A terror that might have had its very source here in the Ice Narrows, perhaps in this very cave.When he opened his eyes, he saw that the sky-colored bear had flinched.

“Now why have you finched on me like that?”Dib snapped. She flipped her head back to its normal position.

“Death here in Canada vanished nearly one thousand years ago,” the blue bear said.

“And you think they are gone forever?”

“Servant Dib, what are you suggesting?”

“I am suggesting that nothing is forever.”

“Please speak plainly,Servant Dib. I am no good at riddles.”

“In three moon cycles.” “In three moon cycles, what?” “It will be Blue Night, and a marvelous birth will occur.”

“There is an Owl mum?”

Death? Eggs? That can’t be good,Tyson thought. It could mean more evil owls into Canada. Isn’t that what “eggs” mean? More chicks?

Dagnopa cocked his head.Dib eyes glinted darkly. “Not yet. But soon.”Dib paused, then continued. “You are not the only one who found cracks in the Panqua Palace. How should I put it? There are servants who can be suborned, and dragon bears who have begun to question their pampered existence. Remember, I was taken for dead after the battle in which Zim defeated my forces. I was badly wounded. I had to recover someplace.”

“Not the Panqua Palace!”

“Yes. Are you surprised? It’s large. There are secret chambers, dark corners, hidey-holes. But most important, there were restless owls there. Owls like you, who chafed under their routine of useless luxury. You see,Dagnopa, you are now known on both sides of the River of Wind. As Orlando of Mexico, you are the dragon bear who learned to swim — the first in a thousand years. You are an inspiration to the other long-skined owls eager to break the gilded chains that bind them, other blue bears eager for power!”

There was much that Tyson did not understand in the conversation that he had just heard. But there were two things that he did understand: The name of the color of this bear was “blue,” not “sky,” and something terrible was coming to his world — and not just to Canada but to the States they linked,and perhaps far beyond!

To be contineued......