Friday, June 6, 2014

Timenall & the Captive Gryphon - Chapter 16

The gryphon, and the dragons who had helped rescue them, stood on one side of the meadow. The gryphon were hesitant and appeared to Farloft as though they might take flight at any minute, but they were also exhausted from their ordeal. They stood quietly as they faced the Forest Night Dragon clan led by Vespal.

Melozzo had his wing protectively draped over Belree as she stood with Mims on her back. Jozwik had given up on following the heated discussion and flopped down on her belly to rest her injured wing. The rest of the members of the gryphon colony stood or sat behind Timenall. The hybrid huggled Weirim with a wing as they stood at Salishan’s side as he confronted his father and the other clan members.

“They cannot stay here!” Vespal growled in anger for the umpteenth time. “Their day flights will draw the humans here and put all of us in danger.”

“Father, you can no longer isolate us from the humans,” Salishan retorted. The softly scaled frills about his face, which looked so much like green feathers, stood out with agitation. “And you worry too much. There have never been any humans within several day’s flight of our home here.”

“Would you go against your own clan’s wishes” Vespal snorted in disdain.

“Yes!” Salishan confessed. “I would, because I think it is the right thing to do. I love you father, but your narrow minded ways has clipped the wings of our clan. Look at us…All of the younger generation is deformed in some way due to inbreeding. If the gryphon settle here, and are active during the day, perhaps others like Farloft will find us and we can revive our dying clan.”

Vespal pulled himself up and looked as though he would spit fire if the inbreeding of the clan had not removed that ability long ago.

Farloft stepped up from his place in the lower meadow by the stream. He stalked between the lines of the two opposing groups ruffling his wings and in the process pushing the two groups apart and slapping a few of the more aggressive dragons in the snout or whacking them in the head.

“Excuse me…Pardon me…” he said as he walked the whole length of the meadow. By the time he reached the other end he had everyone’s attention. “This situation reminded me of something my father once told me. I don’t think I have told you about my father,” he went on, ignoring the disgruntled comments from the Forest Dragons and Vespal’s objections. “My father is quite old and he is the historian for our clan and many others in the kingdoms surrounding our land.”

Farloft leisurely sat down on his haunches as though he were addressing a meeting of minds rather than two highly heated groups ready to do battle at the least provocation.

“My father used to tell us about the origin of our species. I think it would be a wise thing to review that story in light of your situation here,” Farloft said, as he cast his eye about over the group now assembled in front of him.

“You have no say in this,” Vespal blustered. “We need no stories from your clan’s past.”

“Oh, but I think you do,” Farloft countered, “and they are not just stories of my clan, but the history of Dragonology that I fear you have forgotten in your many years of isolation here in this grand forest.” Farloft waved a wing to indicate the forest lying quietly in the noon-day sun.

“I think…” Vespal started to interrupt again.

“Let him speak, Vespal,” Jessna interjected. “We are getting nowhere currently. Perhaps a new perspective is needed.” The lame old dragon curled his crumpled bad wing down tighter against his side and sat down to listen.

“Yes,” Rezdal added. “Let the green dragon speak.”

There were other words of encouragement from both sides and both dragons and gryphon began to settle down on the lush grass of the meadow. The hatchlings crawled down from their parent’s backs and curled up under a protective wing. Couples, both gryphon and dragon, lay beside each other.

Farloft templed his wings up high above his head, ruffled them and then brought them down to fold them softly at his sides. He had managed to defuse the situation. Now if he could manage to get the two sides to see reason. He must think like his father. Remember the detail. Make the story apply to the situation.

“Many, many, many long years ago when rocks were soft and the world bubbled and ran with lava, from that primordial ooze the first dragons arose. They did not look like us. At the time, they were small, wingless creature that would have fit in my paw.” Farloft extended his huge green paw to illustrate their diminutive size much as his father had done for him when he sat as a hatchling in rapture of his sire’s story.

“But, you see, we all started somewhere and as time went on and millennia passed, our species diverged. There were many bugs in those early days. Flying bugs were numerous, so our ancestors developed wings to adapt to that ample food supply. My father told me there are still dragons in the deep forests of the southern regions that are so small you would mistake them for birds.” Farloft grinned and warming to his story he settled down and folded his paws over the slight mound of earth in front of him.

“Of course, there were dragons that chose to stay in the sea. I met one recently on my travels over the black sea. He was a very personable creature, though I could not understand a word he said. We shared some fish and I rested on a small island as he wallowed in the shallows of an inland pool.”

Vespal rose and stated to interrupt. “I do not see how this has anything…”

“Shhhh…Let him speak…Let him finish…” several of the other dragons, on what had been opposite sides earlier, hushed their leader.

Vespal’s mate, Dordie, placed her paw over his and nodded in an attempt to support, but encourage her mate to relax and let the young dragon continue. Vespal humpfed and sat back down. Farloft thought he had a bit of a slump to his shoulders. Perhaps he knew this story. Perhaps his father had told him and he just needed to be reminded.

“Well now, where was I?” Farloft continued. “Oh yes, the dragons got their wings.” He grinned at his audience and ruffled his wings for effect. “Of course, we are a very adaptable species or we would not still be here after so many millennia have passed. The dragons matured and evolved in order to fit their environment. Some grew huge and needed by necessity to consume larger quantities of food. Some became carnivorous, some leaned more toward herbivores. I, myself, prefer a mixed diet with a touch of the sweet. The humans in the land I come from have something called chocolate that is absolutely delightful,” Farloft began to ramble. “But I digress. Perhaps you are unaware of the different dragon types since you have been a bit isolated here. From the age I was a hatchling my father taught us of the wondrous diversity of our species. Pick a color…Any color…” Farloft said, as he pointed to Mims curled up between Melozzo and Belree.

“Blue!” the hatchling responded.

“Indeed there are blue dragons,” Farloft responded with a smile. “It is said the ones in the far north ride the current of multicolored night skies and instead of breathing fire, their breath freezes.” Farloft pointed a claw at Jozwik. “Name another color.”

“Purple!” the young dragon said with a smile.

“At the temporal regions of our world there are purple dragons with lovely manes of gold, which my father told me eat only shell fish at low tide.”

Farloft pointed to one of the dragons from the group that had been behind Vespal.

“Black with blue splotches or patches,” the dragon said with a twinkle in his eye. He was trying to trip up their storyteller, but he did not know Farloft. Farloft was at his best with an audience. His father had told him he was a natural teacher.

“On an island to the east there is a clan of Black Mountain Dragons. They were originally all black, but then a blue riding the upper currents of the northern streams strayed into their territory. She fell in love and stayed with a black dragon of the clan. There are descendents to this day that have many telltale patches of blue.” Farloft flicked his tail from side to side feeling clever that he had remembered that little part of his father’s story. “And father told me that he actually met a bright blue dragon with golden stripes who loved eating flowers of almost any kind, but preferred the red ones. He said they were spicy.” Farloft winked at Mims and grinned.

“Dragons have taken on almost every imaginable color. There are red dragons in the hotter climates, golden and bronze dragons to the east, and orange dragons with lavender wing tips on the island of Mau. Why I have even heard of a clan that are like chameleon lizards and actually change color with their surroundings.” Farloft smiled and licked the tip of his nose. “Just imagine.” He clucked his tongue and grinned.

“Consider the vocalizations of our species,” Farloft suggested. “Many of us roar, but some hiss and others screech, and still others purr. The sea dragon I met blew bubbles between phrases and though I could not understand him, I believe those bubbles were part of his communication. I, myself, hum when I am happy and often break into song.”

“Dragons are all so diverse. I have straight horns, but you have curled ones close to your head,” Farloft said with a toss of his head. “I have seen ones with wind spread horns and short nubby horns and even horns of various colors from white through brown to black and even more.”

Farloft warmed to his story as he went on. “The dragons of the WesternRidge have developed talons on their wing tips so they can climb those rocky mountain crags.” He swished his long tail from side to side and then held it up for all to behold. “Some of us have spikes on our tails. Your clan can use their tail for grasping branches. I have seen you do it. Some of us have defensive spikes down our backs and some only smooth scales or even hair, fins or feathers.”

“And,” Farloft paused for a moment to draw everyone’s attention, “some dragon’s sport mains of hair or frills as your clan does. And some have feathers, as our friend Timenall.” He smiled a lazy grin at the hybrid as he wrapped his long tail back around him and up almost to his front feet.

“In the land I come from we dragons are lucky enough to live peacefully with humans and gryphon alike. My father says that humans are a separate species, but in his opinion the gryphon were once dragons that evolved into a species all their own.”

There were a few comments from the group on this tidbit of information. Vespal’s was of course, the loudest. “That is not true. Anyone can see they are not dragons and never have been,” he protested, once again rising to his feet.

“Who can say,” Farloft said flippantly. “None of us were around that long ago. But, I would hazard to say that except for the feathers and the birdie beak, they look a lot like us.”

“As much as a micmak looks like a walrum,” Vespal countered his brow furrowing in agitation.

“And if you study those two lovely food sources you find that they are truly animals of the same basic species,” Farloft contended. “Six legs, fur, horned, and bare their young live,” Farloft tilted his wedged head to pin Vespal with an unrelenting gaze. “Dragons and gryphon have wings, are diverse eaters, lay eggs, keep their young with them for many years to educate, and are two of only a handful of beings which can communicate successfully with humans.” Farloft once again nodded in Timenall’s direction. “And dragons and gryphon can successfully interbreed. A most telling factor to prove two species are directly related. Even micmak and walrum do not interbreed.”

There were nods of agreement from both dragon and gryphon on this comment. The gryphon knew and respected Timenall. The dragon clan was still divided on his origin, and whether it was right for a dragon to mate with a gryphon, but there was no doubt the physical process had succeeded.

Farloft rose to his feet, his height making most of the party present look up even if they were standing as Vespal was. “I propose that dragons and gryphon are distant cousins, and as such should not only tolerate, but embrace the connections of their ancient family tree.” Farloft squint his golden eyes into the now lowering sun. “That is what my father told me and he is a very wise old dragon. It would be good for you all to consider his words.” The last bit was delivered with a rumble in his voice. Not a threat, but a stern suggestion accompanied by a thin trail of smoke that curled up from his left nostril.

“Father?” Salishan asked from his place at Timenall’s side.

Vespal looked from side to side at his ever diminishing clan. There was not much of a choice to be made. If he said no to the gryphon most likely the younger generation would desert the clan and band with the gryphon elsewhere. He had forced them to remain here to keep them safe. Instead he had made them cripples and invalids. Even a stubborn old dragon like him could see this approach did not fly. He shook his head in resignation.

“They may stay,” Vespal pronounced.

Salishan extended a leg and bowed to his father. “Thank you, father.”

“I suppose you will want to help them dig their nesting sites?” he asked his son.

“We did offer on the way here. The rock would be difficult for them to work, but the force behind our claws will make short work of the job,” Salishan answered, “if that is alright with you, father?”

“They can’t very well sleep in the meadow,” Vespal grumbled. “They would scare all the game away from the nightly watering.”

“Of course,” Salishan said. It was the closest his father was going to come to being hospitable. The young dragon would take what he could get. He turned to the gryphon. “Follow me. I will show you the location of your new home. It is not far.” He waited for the gryphon colony members to come to their feet and then leapt into the air.

Timenall and Weirim remained behind coming to stand by Farloft. “That was a lovely history lesson,” Weirim complimented, “very engaging.”

“Thank you,” Farloft rumbled and winked at the diminutive gryphon. “It used to be one my favorite stories when I was a hatchling. Sometimes we must remember when we were small and life was more simple and straight forward.”

“Will you stay with us, my friend?” Timenall asked.

“I will see you all settled in,” Farloft replied, “but having told my story, I think I may move on soon. I have a desire to meet some of those dragons I spoke of. I would like to make a dragon friend that was small enough to sit on my shoulder, or one I could play ‘wing-tap’ with in a multicolored sky.”

If you enjoyed this story you might consider reading The Farloft Chronicles
Available in the Kindle Store on Amazon
The Farloft Chronicles

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