From Marshal To Guardian, Part One: The Crossing

Interrogation Revelation

Unknown Location

Unknown Time

Christopher Barnes Markson, ex-TSA

„You are so incompetent, a moron, and a bloody idiot at that!", Markson scolded himself, roughly an hour later, after he was sedated by those owls; as it turned out subsequently, Chris was moved to another one of the weirdly comfortable and well-spaced hollows, yet, this was used specifically to keep prisoners secure, and, occasionally, to interrogate these captives. Such was scheduled for Barnes, bound to occur in mere minutes, according to the... individual, another owl, who, in Markson's opinion, spoke way too amiably.

It was the first thing he saw when the effects of what was injected into him by force wore off; the bird, at that time, was standing in a corner, probably waiting only for Chris to regain his senses, then speak what he was, apparently, told by its superiors.

Your questioning will take place soon. If you will have the patience for a few minutes, our designated Guardian shall come shortly". That was what the owl said, its words echoing in Chris' head even now. „Hm, Guardian!", he thought; that was an entirely new word for him in this concept.

Time went by, and after what appeared to be thirty minutes, a moderate period of time where he had been left with his own thoughts, Markson managed to figure out quite much.

He acted out way too fast and did not consider any of the consequences that were to come if he failed; and now, here he was, seeing the result of what he created, feeling very tempted to hit his own head against this hollow's walls - although he thought that this word was not proper for the structure of the wood. Yes, the ex-marshal indeed done a very foolish move, causing not just imprisonment, but definite distrust in everything and everyone around him.

He was also overconfident, a trait never resulting in positive outcomes, leading him to somehow idioticly think, that in an unknown environment, in a different, not yet fully discovered body, he was to be the one to prevail.

He was perfectly assured and confident about him ending up as the stronger side, being a victor over something that is way more experienced in its own combat than Markson is, not even mentioning the very painfully memorable times he fell over, as his legs now obviously did not work the way they did beforehand, with knees bending backwards and all the other matters. In fact, when Chris attempted to walk for the first time he woke up in his... cell-like accomodation, staggering to his talons turned out even more catastrophically than before; he fell back to the ground as soon as he stood up, attracting the questioning looks of the two owls, possibly serving the positions of guards at the only entrance - and exit - of this hollow.

This was not even the worst part of it: Markson did not just attack one of these owls, at least the one he did could defend itself; he subdued one of these birds that was unarmed, and, looking back at things now, it was actually trying to help him, relieving him of his pain.

And how did Barnes repay these efforts? By almost breaking its windpipe and strangling it to the brink of consciousness? No matter which perspective he viewed it from, that... deed he had done never seemed just for the troubles of the owl. Nevertheless, Markson made his first impression, and it was one for the worst side.

Wondering about all these changes in his physical shape were the ones most thought about by Chris, himself still having a hard time of fully understanding in depth what he became; never in his life he believed that such a phenomenon could occur, not that it even existed; this, what happened to him, it should not have been real at all. It was as if he had fell into an actual dream, only that he now knew that titling everything surreal that as a fragment of the sub-conscious mind's imagination was a type of cowardice and limitedness.

Facing this truth as a truth was undeniably a hard task, yet, as soon as this „reality" was lived, accepting it suddenly became easy - very slowly, of course; it happened, life will keep going on, no matter what one would do in a futile attempt to change that.

Yet, running in the other direction and denying this „truth" was fearing it, being afraid of actuality; if this was the case, that person would never be able to perceive and understand of what has passed, already taken effect, changed this person's life entirely, permanently; this individual would eventually lose his or her mind, being pushed gradually into a state similar to madness, caused by the heavy burden which they are not daring to face. It is the easier way, but it most definitely has the worst end. All this would not happen because of their surroundings, but from the fear that it was real. Which it was.

But Markson knew that he drifted off, and, by this time, ten minutes passed, one third of his solidarity already gone (of course, at that point, he could not know this), wasted on Chris' own problems, scolding himself and philosophizing.

He wished that he could have a mirror, or anything reflective nearby, just so that he could face himself, his „new" self, and see what he looked like. The moderately weird thing to him was this sudden curiosity, being tempted to find out what he appeared like when seen by others; on some other, almost insignificant note, Markson, as a matter of fact, was interested, actually tempted to check himself in a full-body view.

Not that he could not take a look at himself in parts, he found out in the first ten minutes that he was able to turn his head way more than ever before, giving him an almost full range of view without the need to move his body with his head. No, Barnes has already made the basic discoveries about his new form; the now annoyingly familiar feathers he first spotted on the shore, still bearing that brown and creamy-white colour that seemed to represent the main plumage of the type of owl he was now; his limbs, once being arms now became wings, revealing a wingspan very much surprising to Markson when he unfolded them, and the feathers, the ones he believed were used for flight, possessing the same tinges and shades of his full plumage. Although, if something, the most odd, yet still peculiar feature of his new shape had to be his tail with its own collection of feathers (expectedly, having the exact match of the now so well-known set of colours); seeing them for the first time was indeed weird, sending an almost frightened, but a somewhat excited curiosity across Markson, let alone the moment the ex-marshal realised that he was able to move all these tail-feathers around, though quite amateurishly, not exactly knowing which muscle to shift, and being confused about the position and sensitivity of these tendons.

Then again, of course, his awe could have been easily expected; he was new to all this, it was obvious that he would be taken aback by his new body and its capabilities, Barnes himself being completely sure that most of these potentials still lay undiscovered.

Albeit this was the part he could not see, Chris could roughly imagine his own face right now: featuring that almost „classical", flat face of an owl, same feather colour-palette, completed by a beak, possibly of a yellow tinge.

What Markson could have gave for a mirror; even if that would have only accomplished the task of easing his curiousness, that sole purpose did sounded like a very much enjoyable delight to Barnes at the currently given moment.

Then again, the ex-marshal needed a plan; a strategy, made for the case of matters going south. By this, Chris obviously meant an interrogation, if not worse.

If he was to be questioned, he better should make some answers for possible questions, starting with the basics.

His name? He would keep that in himself for now, if these owls were very leanient on finding it out, they were most welcome to try; Markson was not the man to be easily broken, especially not by words. But, if this interrogation dared to take the crucial step, go to the next level and start to turn into torture, well... That was where Chris' resistance would come to an end.

After all (and no matter what level of professionalism he was standing on as a marshal), he was technically on uncharted waters (although this expression sounded rather ironic in Markson's head, taking that he was right in the middle of an ocean, imprisoned in a tree. Because these words in the same sentence do not sound weird and unbelievable at all, sarcasm deeply intended).

Anyway, Barnes was always a man (now owl) of improvisation; he was now entering the first stage of what could become panick later, becoming nervous and his heart beginning to pump faster than the normal, but that did not meant that he could not keep himself calm. For at least 30 minutes, that is.

However, since he did not checked in the direction of the hollow's opening for the previous moments that passed by, Markson failed to notice that he was no longer alone; when turning around for a „just because"-type of reason, only to keep himself entertained by moving around, the ex-marshal came across an unexpected sight; there was an owl standing in the doorway-like opening of the hollow, holding what appeared to resemble a pair of nuts by firmly pressing a wing against its chest; the bird stopped for a brief second and did nothing of great importance, only stared inquisitively at Chris, its amber eyes almost piercing into Barnes' skull, metaphorically stinging his brain.

Markson kept himself fully neutral, not showing a trace of emotion (whatever that would have looked like on his face); he knew the rules of this game, but, the real question was, did the owl? If not, he had a clear and obvious advantage; but, if the bird was familiar with this and had the idea of how to play... well, Chris was fully sure that this is definitely going to be interesting.

Barnes' was lucky that the owl began first, automatically granting a higher starting position for the time when the ex-marshal would take his turn to give an answer; however, Markson was not sure of what answer to give once the given sentence was spoken.

- I hope I did not disturbed your... solidarity - the owl looked confused, clearly not having an understanding of what Chris was doing; another good point for the ex-marshal. Nevertheless, the bird carried on - I am Irvis, and I was appointed to be your...

- ...Interrogator? - it did not mattered how decorously the bird spoke, Markson disrupted his sentence anyway; with the previously heard sarcastic and satirical note, he laid down his metaphorical card of this game, plainly showing his attitude to his situation.

- Consultant would be a more fitting word - stated the owl, a dry and humorless tone easily recognisable from its voice (which, now that Chris thought of it, was not that different from a human's speech).

- So, essentially, an interrogator - repeated Markson, not taking his eyes of this „Irvis" for a second.

A moment later, it came back to him: this owl was present in the... „infirmary" he was kept in not so long ago, talking about something with the other owl, that one's name currently unremembered by the ex-marshal; if Chris was good with something, those were names (of course, there was a negligible number of exceptions); yet, he was better with words.

He was also extremely professional when it came to a fight with words.

- Call me that, if you wish - declared the bird in a staid style of speech; similarly to Markson, „Irvis" also maintained a straight and continual stare - Although, you classing me as an interrogator will not change anything on the fact that I am a consultant, and that I am only here to obtain information and determine if you are either a danger to the Tree, or what you have done was only a mistake, an act out of fear, perhaps.

„Either you are telling the truth or not, I must say that you know the advantegous way of speech!", thought Barnes, even himself secretly admitting his own surprise; no doubt, this owl potentially possessed a considerable amount of intelligence, a level that might be able to challenge Chris' capabilities.

Markson looked away for the first time, but only to check what it was that the owl was holding to itself with its wings; however, the ex-marshal still did not managed to perceive anything more out of the two previously seen nuts than what they appeared to be: two regular nuts.

- Are those the part of your consult? - Barnes gestured (at least, he thought he did) towards the previously mentioned objects. The owl followed his gaze, staring down at the two sights of interest.

- No, they are cups - and, afterwards, a bit awkwardly and needlessly, the owl added to its sentence - To hold drinks, which I would have thought to be rather obvious? - although this was more prim; originally, this started out as a statement, yet, it turned into a question at the end.

- I see; something to confuse me, so I will answer your questions? - asked Chris way too ardently, causing a mixture of surprise and shock even to himself. As he saw how the confusion grew on the owl's face, Barnes started to feel satisfied, as he managed to, at least, cause a minor disorientation to his interrogator.

- Uh, no - answered the owl uncomprehendingly, apparently not really following what Markson was talking about - This is just milkberry tea, and I thought you would want to have a drink, taking your current position - said Irvis, then handed a „cup" over with one talon.

Now, Barnes felt really stupid; there was a talking owl in front of him, handing him a nut - which was apparently used the same way a glass was - which contained „tea", made from some type of (probably) wild-berry. In a normal situation, Markson never could have pictured such a scene, surreal, yet actual.

Chris reached out (very carefully concentrating on not losing his balance in the process) with one talon - the same way the owl did - to take the apparent „cup"; of course, he needed a moment to figure out which muscle moved which talon, causing Irvis to give him another puzzling look.

After a few seconds, Barnes managed to work out what each talon responded to; they vaguely felt like fingers when moved, but Chris could easily tell that there was a major difference here, obviously due to the distinct structure of an owl's talon.

Anyway, giving the „cup" a strong, but somewhat gentle grip, Markson took the object, and looked at the liquid stored inside it: the so-called „tea" had a faint-yellow tinge to it, a sweet aroma passing off from the drink's shaking surface.

Barnes glanced at the owl questioningly; this bird seemed less of a treat to Markson by every passing second, slowly building up confidence inside him. Maybe this owl was not attempting to interrogate him after all; well, not aggressively, that was for sure.

Plus, trust or no trust, Chris could have used a drink, and the opportunity was right there, held in his talons. He gave Irvis another glance, trying to immitate - with his beak - what would have been uncertain smile - with a mouth. The owl almost immediately reacted on this.

- Do not worry, it is not poison! - Irvis reassured him, Chris hearing a trace of what might have been a repressed laugh - I mean, that would not be an efficient interrogation technique, if you ask me!

„Well, at least this owl has a sense of humor!", thought Markson, finding himself in the middle of also holding back a chuckle.

Barnes was tempted to drink this so-called tea, but the feeling in his stomach did not leave him in peace; premonition, maybe, but... he never believed in such things now, did he? Either way, the tea was still very encouraging and alluring, almost pulling the ex-marshal closer by the second; he was about to take a sip and taste the drink, he almost accepted the fact that this would be something safe to do in an unknow environment. Then again...

- I will not worry when I will trust you enough! - stated Markson, handing (or „taloning", maybe) the nut-cup back to the owl named Irvis, who swiftly reached for it, accepting the ex-marshal's decline - The same about my attitude, interrogator; when I believe that you have no intention to harm me, I will talk! - he put so much emphasis and antipathy into the word that he used to identify the owl that it was uncomfortably close to sounding offensive; yet, Chris had no purpose to make enemies (he even admitted to himself that if anyone, he was the enemy, looking at the current standing of things), but he needed to regain the position in the conversation he lost when the „mighty tea" came into the scene.

- I see - sighed the owl, placing the two „cups" on the floor so precisely that, in actuality, not a single drop of the tea has touched the ground; not then, and not a minute later - Then I take that you are not going to talk - the bird dropped its gaze, now constantly scanning the left side of the hollow (of course, nothing of interest was there). Half-a-minute passed, then he... it turned back to Markson - Well, you see, that puts both of us in an apparently unsolvable position: - started the owl - as I am not leaving this hollow until someone tells me otherwise, or you tell me everything I want to know about you. Do you understand how easy you could make all this? - two words came to Chris' mind: „typical interrogation", almost as if there was a script this bird had learned - My point is simple; we are going to stay here, especially you, until you do not talk. Easy.

And how simple it was indeed; the only complication was that Barnes was obviously not going to make this that easy; the rules changed, now what mattered the most was self-control and patience.

- Let me answer! - began Markson, using his anti-interrogation voice and tone again; he pronounced every single word, short or long, in a clear and understandable manner, as if the individual he was talking to was stupid - I have nothing to say until you tell me where I am, explain that answer thoroughly, without missing information - at the end of this sentence, Barnes' voice was unintentionally increasing in volume, which did put a minorly surprised expression on Irvis' face - Oh, and when you are finished with that, you could try and start to devise a story on the topic that especially intrigues me: why am I an owl? Do you think you can answer that?

A heavy and tense silence spread across the hollow, even the two guards at the opening started to take glances on rare occasions, turning their head back long before either Markson or Irvis could catch their gaze and make an eye contact; Chris kept staring, but the owl broke the eye contact and started to deeply study the floor.

However, even though Barnes was just about to take up a long silence, not saying another word until the bird explained everything, something came to his mind; something, that, once again, not for the first time today, made him feel awkwardly stupid.

For the past hours, not for a single moment he succeded to recognise how eerily similar this... „world" was to the one written down in the book that Anna gave him; it was all too obvious now, many words he heard before came back to him, remembering how the main cast of characters were always searching for this exact same tree (which he was likely to be currently inside of; moreover, not likely; definitely). Even the names he could recall, although only one was really caught in his mind while he read it. And that was Soren; that owl was the main character, if Markson recited this correctly.

An idea began to form in his head; a pretty much „out-of-the-blue" plan, but who could knew? It might work just as it should; help Chris' expectations, and possibly explain a minimal amount of questions.

- Do you know what, interrogator? - this got Irvis' attention, as he, uh... it looked up again, appearing to express interest on his face (again, Markson was not sure how he knew this) - I will explain everything, but only to an owl named Soren! - undoubtedly, Barnes did not have a single bit of knowledge about the bird he was requesting to see, neither did he have a clue if it even existed; he might have seemed to be on the top of the situation, but, under his almost emotionless cover, Chris was feeling inconvenient and uncomfortable. However, he could not allow the owl to gain the upper hand. That would be... unacceptable; an ex-marshal losing to a bird? This would be the hugest laugh of the decade, if not the century.

The attention and interest slowly, yet almost immediately shifted to confusion on the owl's face; Markson must have said something in his previous sentence that induced this type of reaction.

- I am sorry, I... - stuttered the owl, almost drifting off into an uncomfortable laugh - Are we talking about... are we talking about the same owl here? - a short „uh" followed, then Irvis shook his head - Soren? King Soren?

Now that was a good question, as Markson had no idea about the answer; the best option in these cases was to drift along with the conversation, tell the asker what he wanted to know. This way, more facts and pieces of information could be found out without all the necessary effort.

- Yes, him - talking about this specific owl as a person was strange enough to Barnes; his thoughts began to catch up with the events: what was he aiming to achieve here in the first place? A victory in a fight of words; what would that give him? Anything, but freedom, that was a fact.

- The King Soren who fought in the War of the Ember? - Chris hated when anyone did this; the owl kept asking these questions, as if they would change Markson's answer - The one who was the nephew of the deceased King Coryn?

Having no better idea, Barnes nodded; that book did not write - or even suggest - anything about this... Soren character ever becoming a king.

„Ha, king!", thought Markson, „Sounds like we are in the medieval ages right now!", then, after a small reconsideration of the circumstances, he carried on with his thoughts. „Well, I am the one talking to an owl, so I do not know why I should still be surprised by anything that might happen".

Irvis stared ahead of himself, grimly scanning the non-existant distance; not long after, he... it looked at Chris again:

- I am afraid that King Soren died more than a 120 years ago - Barnes' heart skipped a beat right at the end of this sentence; this meant that this loose end was now tied up, and it did not end in anything worthwhile - Thus, I believe it is certainly self-explanatory that... you know, talking to him is virtually impossible.

This was a problem; Chris' only reliability and opportunity turned out to be useless, as the individual he wished to talk to was, incontrovertibly, deceased.

„What to do?", thought Markson, nervousness and trepidation washing over him, „Come on, Chris, think of something! You dug this hole under yourself, time to climb out of it!". Any ideas would have come handy right now, only that Barnes had none; his only card left to play was to explain everything from his perspective, something he spoke the exact opposite of just minutes before.

Then again, was he willing to give this „promise" up for information that would - conclusively - let him sleep easy at night (only metaphorically, of course); was this worth it? What did he have to lose, his pride?

Presently, pride was worthless, equal to literally nothing in value.

- Right, is it... Irvis? - inquired the ex-marshal, to which the mentioned owl answered by nodding - I... I need to apologise - the bird slightly tilted its head to the side, astounded by the sudden change of Markson's approach - We definitely got off the wrong foot here - he paused for a moment - Now, you wanted information about me. Fine, I will co-operate with you! - the owl suddenly became alert and curious again - My name... well, I will just keep that to myself for now; although, here is the part that will interest you, and that would be how I got here; to this... island, to be more exact.

- I am listening - stated Irvis after Barnes spoke.

- Now, I am, or, to be more precise, was an air marshal; we, uh, serve on airplanes and keep all the passangers safe, but I will get back to this part later. What is important, that, before I was... „put" into this world, your world, I was, and I am being fully honest here, seconds away from death; yet, I did not die, but, instead, I ended up here. Actually, no; down on the shore, or beach, or whatever you owls call it.

Irvis still listened, a concentration and attempt to make sense of what Markson was talking about was present on his face. Once again, he nodded, signalling Chris to carry on.

- Later, your friend found me; I think, uh, he was Barn owl? I do not know the species so well - if he could have, Barnes would have clicked to help himself think; however, for obvious reasons, he was unable to - What was his name? Something old-fashioned, uh... Martin... Marthis...

- Matthias - interrupted the owl - The one you have attacked and wounded after he healed you? - this was obviously to taunt Chris, to remind him that what he did was admittedly the ill choice of an action.

- Yeah, him - Barnes could not help but notice that he suddenly started to refer to these owls as if they were people, using „he" instead of „it" now. On the other matter, he decided to ignore the taunt - I told him what I have told you now; well, more or less, as a fact - Chris paused, not entirely sure about how to carry on.

- So what you are saying is that you are not from, uh... here? - asked Irvis with a minor hint of suspicion and disbelief in his tone - Then... where did you come from, if I may ask? Somewhere which is far away from our known borders?

- Boston, Massachussetts, although I doubt you have ever heard of it - stated Barnes, enjoying this minor advantage of his personal knowledge which Irvis clearly could not know.

- „Boston"? - if owls would have had eyebrows, this one would have raised both of them - Interesting - he added, emotionless all the way through - Could you tell me your species?

Now this question striked on Markson unexpectedly; what kind of random change of a thought process was this? Apparently, Irvis instantenously decided to ask for an information that, on a large scale, was not connected to any other piece of information that Chris just gave away.

- Uh, species... right - Barnes sighed and shook his head - I have not a clue, and I am being fully honest right now - he was beginning to lose patience; what or how much did it take for this owl to understand the quite clear fact that Markson was obviously not from this... tree, kingdom, or whatever realm? - Look! - he grabbed the bird's attention - Just let me go, and I promise you that this will be the last time you will see me. I do not care if I cannot fly, I will walk if I have to for God's sake! - Barnes' nerves were starting to build up, slowly becoming more and more tense, ready to explode at any given moment - You are not going to find out anything more about me; I just told you everything I know! What more is there to tell, and by whom? - Chris' voice level almost escalated into a shout - Again, all you need to do is look in the other direction for five minutes, way more easier than keeping me here, both of us being unable to figure out what is actually going on!

- Wait a minute, just... just slow down there for a moment! - Irvis did a motion with his wings that resembled a human making a „stop" movement with hands - I am only a consultant, I am here to talk, not to release you! - the owl laughed, sounding partially unnatural, yet normal by doing this action - If you want anything like that, you will need to take it up with the High-Council.

„Another set of fantasy-story names; this is just simply wonderful!", thought Markson, gradually thinking that all these things happening around him were the signs of mental breakdown, an idea he abandoned after the scene in the infirmary.

- And how can I talk to this... „High-Council"? - even pronouncing it proved to be a challenge to Barnes, taking that he almost bursted out laughing while saying the name of this... council - Do I take a number, an appointment, or there are free times all day long? - however, he noticed a second after this previous sentence that Irvis probably did not understood the majority of it; anyway, it was a bit late to restructure the whole sentence now.

- No, it consists of me taking you there; the council will hear you out, given that you tell them what you told me, and they will decide what we should do with you next.

- Do you owls have executions? - Markson wanted to be sure that he was not walking towards imminent death with this; after all... his story did sounded unconvincing.

- No; we, the Guardians, are more civilised than that - it seemed that Irvis was set aback by Chris' previous question; he probably did hit a metaphorical nerve there and then - In the worst case scenario, you would be just... kept under observation.

- All that meaning...? - inquired Barnes, clearly expecting the owl to finish off his sentence.

- You would be allowed to walk around the Great Tree; if what you tell me is true, you could not fly away. Even if you could, you would have no idea where you would be. Then again, there is the likely possibility that, for the past twenty minutes, you were just a great liar; thus, to prevent you from... „escaping", the council would assign someone to be your „warden", if you may...

- ...Yet, by „warden", you would mean a private stalker to guard me all day long, no? - questioned Chris in a pretended less-than-polite way.

- You always somehow seem to find the more uncomfortable definition for words, do not you? - Irvis' attitude changed for a moment; up until now, he did not acted hostile for a second. But now, he was probably at the edge of „having enough" - Yes, that would be another way to put it.

Markson successfully achieved another minute of awkward and painful silence with his previous remark, but the owl needlessly broke it a good amount of moments after.

- Anyway, definitions or no definitions; do you want me to arrange you a... - but he was interrupted. However, not by Barnes.

An owl squeezed itself through the guards, and into the hollow it came; albeit Chris had not a single idea of what species he or she was from, the ex-marshal could easily identify that it was very similar to him in many ways, yet very different in many other ways: the same mix and combination of the colours was present, the wings and body all appeared to be roughly the same size (maybe a bit larger even, if Chris was recalling his biology lessons accurately).

The unknown owl did not even take a glance at Markson; it just handed a parchment-like object over to Irvis, who swiftly thanked the owl, which, in a matter of seconds, exited the hollow; as quick as it came, as quick as it went.

While reading the piece of paper, Irvis did put on some rather unpleasant and outright expressions, grimly following each (probable) sentence.

After a matter of an approximate minute, the owl (the one we know) spoke.

- I am afraid your listening will require a re-schedule! - he turned around and rushed out from the hollow, now only being barely visible between the two guards - Something more important has emerged; I should be back by tomorrow - he was about to fly off, but he turned around once again - If not, well... Trust me, you will not starve to death! - conclusive to this, Irvis flew out of his sight.

By summing up the previous thirty minutes, Markson could not actually see the point this „interrogation" had; neither of the sides found out anything more than what they had already knew. Both Barnes and Irvis did not answered most of each other's questions, this whole conversation ending up as a loose end in Chris' opinion.

But then, here he was alone, again, still in an unknown and undiscovered environment, surrounded by intelligent and physically capable owls. Admittedly, his day could not have been better.

Only now Markson began to notice how exhausted he was; unconsciousness or not, sedation or not, Barnes was mentally tired. He did not care how, but he required some sleep right now, no matter what would attempt to stop him; apparently, nothing wished to prevent him so far, and he had the feeling that nothing will do in the future.

Although Chris could have admittedly used some sleep, there was still one so unimportant, yet so significant question that - he noticed only now - restrained him from sleep; and this single practical question was the following: how did owls sleep?

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