Feather

Prologue

“In the very beginning, thousands and thousands of winters ago, only two creatures lived: The Great Birds Lugia and Ho-oh. They were huge birds, with wingspans wider than a thousand of the largest Fearow lined wing tip to wing tip. There was nothing else, just the two great birds.

“But eventually, they began to grow old, and felt they needed to make something to replace them when they died, so with Ho-oh’s fire and Lugia’s strong mind, the Three Legendary Birds were created: Articuno of the ice and cold of winter, Zapdos of thunder and lightning and Moltres of the fire of the sun and summer.

“But the Three Legendary Birds didn’t get on very well together. They fought endlessly, and one day, Moltres blew a huge fireball, aimed straight at Articuno, but Articuno stopped it in its tracks, blowing ice and snow over its flaming surface.

“The fireball stopped in the air, and began to harden and cool around the outside. In the divots on the ball’s surface, Articuno’s ice and snow melted to form large puddles of water. On the high bumps, it settled to stay as snow. Some evaporated and made clouds around the cooled fireball.

“Finally, to break the fight apart, Zapdos shocked the two birds and the frozen fireball. But the ball didn’t explode. Instead, where the lightning crackled over its surface, green plants began to grow, and some of the lightning bolts even turned into Pokémon that danced over the ball’s surface.

“The Three Legendary Birds peered in wonder at what they had created, completely by accident. The oceans of Articuno’s melted snow lapped up at the edges of the rocky land, and endless varieties of plants and Pokémon grew, not just on the land, but under the seas as well.

“Instead of fighting, the Three Legendary Birds decided that they would instead protect the ball and everything that lived on it. A flap of Articuno’s wings brought a chilling cold wind over the ball, the snow fell on the mountaintops and rain fell on the plains. Moltres’ wings flapped to bring on the heat of summer and make the most dazzling sunsets. The static air from Zapdos’ wings gave warning to oncoming storms.

“And still the Three Legendary Birds live above us, bringing the weather and the seasons to us, and keeping every Pokémon on the earth alive and happy.”

Three eager pairs of young eyes stared up out of the nest in awe at their mother’s amazing tale. Was that really how the earth was created?

“Where are Lugia and Ho-oh now, Mummy?” Aya, the eldest of the young Spearow piped.

“Everywhere,” the Spearow told them, “They are in the grass, the trees, the water, the wind, even inside you.”

“Inside us?” Kiko queried, his black eyes wide and shining, “How?”

“They did die, but their spirit still lives on inside us.” She turned her face to the wind, and her beak smiled as best it could.

“Wow,” Yumi whispered, peering down at her small, feathered chest. Lugia and Ho-oh were living inside her? That was amazing!

A Murkrow, glossy black feathers slicked back, landed on the opposite edge of the Spearow’s nest, a Caterpie held limply in his bright yellow beak. He didn’t care much for the things himself—he more preferred the flesh of a Rattata or a Pikachu, preferably already dead—but he knew his Spearow chicks would much rather the taste of a freshly killed bug.

The flock consisted of around thirty birds, mostly Spearow, but there were a few Pidgey scattered through the group, as well as the odd Hoothoot and of course, the matriarch pair of Fearow, perched at the top of the tallest tree, but Kak was the only Murkrow. Interspecies relationships weren’t forbidden in the flock, though they were frowned upon, the main arguments being that the offspring were generally weaker and tended to have characteristics of both parents.

Aya, Kiko and Yumi were each covered with feathers of different colours. They had the uniform dusty colours of their Spearow relatives, but they were speckled all over with glossy black feathers from their Murkrow father. Their beaks and legs were neither bright yellow nor smoky pink, but a mixture of the two colours, giving them golden-orange colourations.

Neither of the three had yet seen a winter, and were young enough so they didn’t notice the way the older Spearow looked down their beaks at them.

“I get to eat first ‘cos I’m the oldest!” Aya squawked, shoving her younger brother out of her way and opening her beak to the bits of Caterpie her mother dangled above her. She always loved to brag that she was the first to hatch, even if only by a few minutes. It gave her power, put her younger siblings in their place.

Kiko, the second hatched, was the only male in the family, but, as much as he tried, he always failed to win any arguments with his elder sister, always coming second to her brute strength or quick tongue.

Yumi was the runt of the three, being about two-thirds the size of her older brother and sister. She was always last at everything—last to hatch, last to learn how to talk, last to be fed. Odds were that she would be the last to get the hang of flying and attacking as well. But she didn’t mind. She looked up to her older, stronger siblings.

The family had once consisted of four young Spearow, but while their mother and father were away finding food for the chicks, a Persian had slunk up the trunk of the tree. The adult Spearow who were left at the tree tried to chase it off, pecking at its eyes and ears, but it still managed to escape with one chick; Aya, Yumi and Kiko’s sister. This had happened barely two weeks after the chicks had hatched, when the chicks’ eyes were still closed. None of them had even seen their sister, and so didn’t miss her.

Once the three chicks had eaten their fill of the Caterpie, they nestled down to doze off in the crude nest their parents had made for them.

One