Featherpaws: The Knights Of Owl Crest

By Heather Edwards

Children's, Action & adventure, Environment & nature, Young adult, Education & teaching, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

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512
3 mins

Chapter 1: I'm no monster

It was midnight, when only cats and owls dare venture into the swirling mists of night! The eerie church tower gave its last deafening clang as the clock struck twelve. Shadows crept across the path, and the twisted gnarled trees moaned in the night breeze.

Suddenly, everywhere plunged into darkness! A storm was brewing; a dark cloud drifted across the moon blanking out all brightness. A beam of light shone from an attic window of The Manor House that stood way behind the high stone wall.

Unexpectedly from the shadows an illuminated pair of green eyes glared. Then the clouds were swept away like a witch’s cloak, magically revealing the moonbeams. The eyes seemed less prominent as a black furry body materialised chasing a falling leaf as though it were prey.

It was a cat! She seemed quite content to play with leaves rather than stalk mice, especially in the neighbourhood around The Manor House. No one really knew what went on behind the large stone walls that surrounded the grounds. The stone barricade definitely meant Keep Out!

Softnose knew she shouldn’t be here. Why hadn’t she learned her lesson? This place really spooked her! It used to be superior mouse catching territory, until recently. She had been stalking a mouse... waiting to pounce. Then the unexpected had happened! Abruptly the mouse had turned towards her, reared up onto its hind legs, eyes spinning like enormous multicoloured gyrating discs. Then it had done a somersault, stood on its head, wriggled its toes, and rolled over just like a dog wanting its tummy tickled.

Softnose had been alarmed by the mouse’s actions; she had felt humiliated. Her mission had been to kill the mouse! But she had retreated quickly, thinking it was a trap. Ever since that fateful night she knew the only mice in that area were ‘clown mice’ and the answer to these mysteries lay beyond the old stone wall.

Crash! a portion of stonework fell from the stone barricade. Softnose froze like a statue. She was paralysed with terror! Her black fur erect as though she had been struck by lightning. A section of the wall started to move. Was it an earthquake?

Another colossal piece of sandstone plummeted towards her! This was going to be painful! She hoped she had one of her nine lives left! She waited for the pain... incredibly the falling stone rebounded off her back... miraculously it didn’t hurt! Flabbergasted, she pawed the debris. It was no ordinary stone, but polystyrene dipped in sand, just like the props used on film sets. A moving heavy metal panel obscured with fake stone!

Rumbling sounds echoed through the empty street. The sliding panel exposed a sinister cavity. In the dark depths of the wall something was moving. A gust of wind blew, swirling the figure which materialised in the opening. Softnose could see bird feathers ruffling in the breeze. Her apprehension faded as she realised it was another nocturnal creature.

The bird suddenly became aware of the startled cat.

“Are you alright? I didn’t mean to alarm you. Don’t think anyone’s got a garden gate like mine.” He started to laugh out loud making a slight owl hoot, “More like a drawbridge!”

“I think you mean more like a sliding portcullis!” the cat hissed. “I thought you were going to flatten me! It’s a good thing the walls are not real stone. I’d be squashed now.” Softnose shook the dust and sand from her fur, to confirm what a frightening experience it had been. Retracting her claws she continued. “Hope you’re not going mouse hunting! I’ve caught nothing yet! Must be the storm brewing. The mice have decided to stay at home.”

Owl turned his head slowly towards her, and his two large eyes looked intently at her, “I’m not just looking for mice.”

She suddenly felt uneasy. Something felt not quite right.

“Oh, so what do you want off the menu tonight, fried vole, followed by cricket pie?”

The owl seemed amused at Softnose’s remarks.

“I’m on a task for my creator, Doctor Jacob Stein... and I suppose I’m also on a mission for myself, to find friends. It’s a bit lonely in The Manor House… I want to laugh and joke with other animals. The Doctor doesn’t let me out much, but tonight he’s even let me use his secret door.”

Softnose purred.

“Well you’ve made one new friend... me. Haven’t formally introduced myself have I? I’m Annie Softnose.”

Owl blinked wisely back.

“I’m Featherpaws, and I live at The Manor House with the Doctor.” Owl moved forwards again.

Softnose’s sense of security was abruptly shattered! She arched her back and hissed, then jolted backwards suddenly, conscious this was no ordinary owl. There in front of her was a creature with an owl’s head attached to an animal’s body. It had two cat paws! She wanted to escape, but knew an owl could fly and swoop faster than she could. He did have wings, but could he fly?

“What’s the matter? You look petrified. I hope you’re not frightened of me.” He stepped forwards again into the full moonlight. “I forgot to mention. I’ve got owl feathers and cat’s paws. That’s why Doctor Stein called me Featherpaws. I’ve also got a zebra body… look black and white stripes as well.

The excessive terror made Softnose scurry off with fright, making an enormous howling caterwaul shriek. Her dash was in vain. She found herself cornered. The high stone wall surrounded her. There was no escape!

“You’re a m..m..monster! I’ve never seen anything like you before! You’re terrifying me! Leave me alone! Don’t eat me! Go away!” she yowled.

“Ok, if that’s how you feel I’ll go. Who said I wanted to eat you? Because I’m part cat I thought you would be my friend. I just wanted to find someone like myself.”

“You’re not like me!” she growled, sharpening her claws.

Featherpaws was cautious what he said. How could he let Annie Softnose know his true mission was to find animals for Doctor Stein’s experiments? Deep down in his heart he yearned for friends. He knew the Doctor would create new creatures like himself; consequently he wouldn’t be the only monster in the world. He wouldn’t be alone in The Manor House any more. He liked Annie Softnose, but inside he felt guilty at betraying her.



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