Jenna slumped down onto the ice and put her head in her hands. “I can’t believe we did that,” she said. She looked at Septimus, a horrified expression in her eyes. “Sep, we’ve just killed someone.”
“Yes,” said Septimus simply.
“But that’s awful,” said Jenna. “I…I never thought I would…”
Septimus looked at Jenna, his green eyes serious. “It’s a luxury, Jen,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
Septimus stared at the scraped and bloody snow at his feet. It took him some moments to reply. “I mean…” he began slowly. “I mean that if you go through life and never face a situation where, in order for you to survive, someone else has to die, then you’re lucky. That’s what I mean.”
“That’s terrible, Sep.”
Septimus shrugged. “Sometimes that is how it is. I learned that in the Young Army. It’s either the chief cadet in the wolverine pit, or you.”
Jenna and Beetle caught Septimus’s good mood. The gurgling of the stream broke the oppressive silence of the forest, and the yellow glow of the lantern illuminated the frosty snow before them. The combination of snow and lanterns made all three feel happy. For Jenna and Septimus, it reminded them of the time they had spent the Big Freeze together at Aunt Zelda’s—a time they both looked back on with happiness. For Beetle, it recalled Snow Days when he didn’t have to go to school—days full of possibilities when he would wake up to find that snow had completely covered the windows and his mother had lit the lantern and was cooking bacon and eggs over the fire.
Beetle celebrated his temporary promotion by sitting on his swivel chair and spinning around and around in circles—which was not allowed—while practicing his I’m-in-charge look. For five heady minutes everything had been wonderful—and then it all went wrong.
This, Soren realized in the deepest part of his gizzard, was why they had to go to the Great Ga’Hoole Tree. For when the world one knew began to crumble away bit by bit, when not only your memories but the memories that others might have of you grew dim with time and distance, when, indeed, you began to fade into a nothingness in the minds of the owls that you loved best, well, perhaps that was when legends could become real.
The huge owl blinked in wonder at these young owls. They seemed to know nothing. And yet…He let the thought trail off. Certainly their survival skills must be pretty good if they got out of St. Aggie’s. Still, there was no education like the one he had received. The education of an orphan. The orphan school of tough learning. He had to learn it all himself. How to fly, where to hunt, what creatures to stalk and which to avoid at all costs. No, nothing could compare to figuring out on one’s own the hard rules and schemes of a forest world—a world with uncountable riches and endless perils. It took a tough owl to figure it all out. And that was exactly how Twilight thought of himself. Tough.
“Don’t look back! Don’t look back, Soren! Believe!” But this time it was not Grimble calling. It was Gylfie. Just as they reached the stone rim, they felt a curl of warm air. And it was as if vast and gentle wings had reached out of the night, and swept them up into the sky. They did not look back. They did not see the torn owl on the library floor. They did not hear Grimble, as he lay dying, chant in the true voice of the Boreal Owl, in tones like chimes in the night, an ancient owl prayer: “I have redeemed myself by giving belief to the wings of the young. Blessed are those who believe, for indeed they shall fly.”
‘How shall I put it, to a brain so much smaller and less clever than mine… The thing is, we are all, in a sense, supper. Walking, talking, breathing suppers, that’s what we are. Take you, for instance. YOU are about to be eaten by ME, so that makes you supper. That’s obvious. But even a murderous carnivore like myself will be a supper for worms one day. We’re all snatching precious moments from the peaceful jaws of time,’ said the Dragon cheerfully. ‘That’s why it’s so important,’ he continued, ‘for the supper to sing as beautifully as it can.’
How To Train Your Dragon (Book 1) by Cressida Cowell