Farloft was tending to Melozzo’s wounds as the forest dragon cradled one of the gryphon hatchlings in his huge multi-toed paws.
Farloft did not know the hatchlings name just that it had lost both parents in the battle with the Varda and for some reason had taken to Melozzo for comfort. Farloft continued to lick the deep cuts where the forest dragon took the lashes of Ram’s whip to protect the hatchlings. Belree, Weirim’s best friend, was sitting close to Melozzo comforting the young orphaned hatchling by meticulously grooming it. It had fallen asleep, but neither adult had noticed. They were quietly talking above it, their heads close together.
The fires from the funeral pyres Farloft set, one for the Varda, and one for the five gryphon that had died in the fight, were still smoldering below. Timenall, three of the older gryphon, Lopho, Dalfie, and Keeree, and Salishan, were huddled away from the group. They appeared from Farloft’s view to be deep in conversation, but due to the other chatter of the reunited hatchlings with thankful parents, he could not overhear whatever was keeping them occupied.
Riple and Weirim were tending to Jozwik’s injury, as Treynic stood by trying to comfort. He licked her cheek and braced her with his wing at her side. Riple had removed the arrow and was packing the wound with a moss she retrieved from the forest below while Weirim and Rezdal hunted and stashed the kills for feeding once everyone was fit enough to travel down from the rim.
When Farloft looked up from his administrations he saw a field of multicolored gryphon wings being stretched, preened or ruffled. The gryphon were free and they couldn’t seem to keep their wings still. Mates groomed each other. Parents groomed hatchlings. Adults comforted other adults or hatchlings that lost mates or parents in the battle. Tears of both sorrow and joy were drying on feathered cheeks as the end of the day grew near.
Timenall’s group broke up, no doubt having made a decision as to what was to be done next. He and Dalfie came into the center of the group and addressed them all. Farloft’s friend did not need to get everyone’s attention. They had all been keeping watch on the group huddled in deep discussion.
“We have been talking,” Timenall said. “We are not making a decision for all of you, we merely wish to propose a course of action.”
Dalfie’s claws dug into the ground in leftover anger and distress as she continued the announcement. “We do not believe the colony is safe in this area any longer. We know of two and perhaps more Varda that escaped today. They are a violent race as we have all seen,” her head hung for a moment, perhaps in memory of her lost mate, “We, Lopho, Keeree and Timenall, the oldest of the colony, suggest that we move to a safer location.”
There were a few words of affirmation from the gryphon group and a considerable nodding of heads before Belree asked, “Where?”
Timenall picked up the thread of conversation. “Salishan is my cousin,” Timenall motioned the forest dragon forward with his wing. “He and the other dragons who assisted us, except for Farloft,” he indicated with a wing wave in the young green dragon’s direction, “are all from an ancient forest several days flight from here. It is a peaceful place in which no human has ever encroached.”
“There is a cliff there,” Salishan continued. “It is a very sturdy rock face, no crumbling in my lifetime that I am aware of.”
“The dragons have offered to help us dig nesting areas,” Dalfie said and smiled at the forest dragon. “Timenall has seen these woods. He assures me there is plenty of game for all. As with his mother in her time, there is room for us to coexist with the clan of forest night dragons his uncle, Salishan’s father, leads.”
“So we put it to you,” Timenall said. “Are you willing to make this move? We believe we can rest safely in the valley below for the night, feed and then be on our way in the morning.”
There were voices lifted in agreement, even encouraging words of hopefulness among the group.
“Are there any that object?” Dalfie asked.
No one stepped forward.
“Then let us take our hatchlings away from this place and start a new life,” Dalfie announced.
Adults began to lift hatchlings to their backs.
“That about does it,” Farloft said to Melozzo.
“Thank you, my friend.” Melozzo leaned in and nuzzled the young green dragon under his chin, “feels much better.”
“Do you want to carry Mims or should I?” Belree asked Melozzo.
“I can,” the forest dragon replied and Belree lifted the small hatchling up in her beak and placed her on Melozzo’s back. The baby gryphon settled down between Melozzo's wings. The three took to the air and the glide down to the forest below and a much needed meal.
Timenall approached Farloft as the young dragon licked his own paws of their general soil from the battlefield and its clean up.
“Will you come with us?” Timenall asked. “I know you have made a home for yourself here, but the Varda who escaped with remember you were one of the enemy,” Timenall reminded the youngling.