Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Three

The next morning the younglings came again to bid him farewell. Clearair stood back. They had already said all they had to say last night. Farloft decided to make this an exciting exit and something the younglings could learn from.

He was going to ‘jump’ to his first destination. He had the idea last night that he really didn’t want to go on this mission by himself. He thought he knew just the one who would be smart enough, skilled enough, and lend an additional aspect to his search for help. He was going to go see if the grandson of his old friend, Storm, would join him.

The gryphons were shorter lived then the dragons by almost a third, but they were more than a match for the task. Sleek, fast and quick witted. Snow had inherited many of his grandfather’s abilities including his talent to manipulate the weather, his sharp tongue, and the habit he picked up concerning playful name calling. Farloft ruffled his wings. He would enjoy the wit of the gryphon’s company.


Farloft hadn’t ‘jumped’ for centuries, but he was sure the ability had not left him. It was something you didn’t forget. It was like breathing fire, once you learned the technique, it was always there to be called upon.

He turned toward his family. “I wanted to share something with you before I left. I have never told you about a gift that is unique to my clan. It is one of the main reasons I cannot take you with me. I am going to ‘jump’ to my first destination. Jumping is my clan’s ability to fold time and space in order to instantly transport to another place. I can be here and then on another continent of this world in the time a wing can be spread.” He grinned when the youngling’s mouths fell open. Even Clearair looked surprised. “I am not sure whether either you,” he nodded toward James, “or you,” he winked at Anna, “will be able to do it when you mature enough to try, but we,” he grinned at James, “will try when this business of Baldar’s invasion is taken care of.”

Farloft raised his iridescent green wings up over his head. “You must climb to a specific height in the sky. Then dive to attain a maximum velocity. At a particular point you picture the place you wish to go.” He looked at the younglings with a serious expression. “You must have that place firmly pictured or you could end up anywhere. The first time I jumped I ended up lost and had one of the worst, and at the same time, most amazing experiences of my life.”

Farloft backed to the edge of the cliff before the lair. “Watch me as I watched my father, Mandrake, the first time he showed me. I will climb to where the second level of air currents flow.”

“How do you find that?” James asked with ears prick forward in excitement.

“By the temperature. It grows colder. At all times you keep in mind where you are ‘jumping’ to.” Farloft emphasized. “At the top of the second level just as it bleeds into the third, you turn, tuck wing and dive…”

The youngling’s eyes grew big at the thought. The last time James had been that high Farloft dropped him to break a spell. He remembered how frightened he was.

“All the time you must have your destination firmly in your mind - picturing it as well as thinking of it.” Farloft said. “I can’t emphasis that enough. Then when you reach the bottom of the second level, you take a deep breath, still picturing the destination, exhale with a burst of fire, pop your wings open, and it happens. I will disappear and reappear at my pictured location.” Farloft smiled at their skepticism. “Watch.”

Farloft stepped back off the cliff edge and with mighty thrusts he propelled himself upward. Higher and higher he climbed until he felt the air around him cool. He looked down at his family below, mere specks on the cliff. He tucked his wings and dove until he felt the temperature rise when he hit the bottom of the second level. He inhaled and picturing the mountain that housed Snow’s home he exhaled a burst of fire and popped his wings open.



He was no longer in Kerth, but at the far tip of the Westridge mountains a good week’s flight north. He hoovered before the cloud enshrouded peak which housed Snow’s lair.

He could just imagine James and Anna’s surprise at him disappearing from the sky. The gryphon would be equally surprised to see him. It had been ages since they shared a good sparring conversation. Not since the death of Snow’s Grandfather, Storm.

Storm was once the one the King of Kerth depended on to keep him posted on Baldar’s movements. The gryphon spy was sorely missed by the old dragon. In years past the two had defended the kingdom without any help from humans and with no death toll other than that of the enemy.

Farloft thrust his wings downward and headed off to see if he could convince the young gryphon to join him on his quest. He would be just the right partner for such an adventure.

***

Farloft’s body was buffeted and his wings snagged by the wind in the clouds surrounding Snow’s cave. It was most unusual to encounter this type of localized severe weather. When he barely evaded a bolt of lightening the dragon knew something was amiss. Farloft was weary from fighting the elements by the time he finally made it to the ledge outside the entrance to the cave.

“Snow?” he called. It was not polite to enter without announcing oneself. “It’s Farloft.”

He stood for a moment awaiting a reply, but received none. Perhaps the gryphon had moved on. The weather spoke differently to the dragon, but Snow was still about middle aged for his species. He could have found a mate and settled with a flight somewhere else.

Farloft moved forward tentatively. This was a prime cave and might have acquired a new resident. “Snow?” he called again. “Bird-brain?” he added playfully. “Are you here?”

He rounded the corner which kept the cold air from moving into the main cave. The cavern was just as he remembered it. The walls were covered with ‘fairy fire,’ a kind of bioluminescent lichen which glowed making the cave reasonably well lit. Across from the entrance was Snow’s sleeping platform covered with furs of every type and shade imaginable. The gryphon loved his soft things. And residing upon them was the bird himself. His eyes closed, with a halo of clouds circling his head, creating a light mist which had fallen long enough that the feathers of his head looked to be matted with moisture.

“Hey FuzzButt… What’s up?” Farloft asked. Trying to tease the gryphon into a response. “That you causing the storm outside?” He pointed with a wing toward the entrance.

“Go away, Big Green. I’m not in the mood for company.” He tucked his head beneath a two-tone wing of slate and charcoal gray. The cloud of mist tried to follow his head, but now only succeeded in dripping on his wing.

Farloft came a bit closer and sat down on his haunches to study the gryphon. Unlike his grandfather, Snow looked like a cross between a snow leopard and a red-tailed hawk. Storm had looked more like a cross between a panther and a crow – mostly black. Snow had a beautiful spotted coat.

“Come on, kid,” Farloft coaxed. “What’s got you all forlorn?” There was no denying it now. The weather both inside and out was a refection of Snow’s mood. The young gryphon had never really attained the control his grandfather had for manipulating the elements. Perhaps in time… He had another couple hundred years to get it right.

Snow peeked out from under his wing. “She left me,” he said in a sullen tone.

“Who?”

“Red.”

“Red?”

Snow’s eyes went to slits and he rose up on his haunches. “Is there an echo in here or have you gone deaf, Dinosaur Descendent?”

“Not deaf,” Farloft replied, “just clueless. Who’s Red?”

Snow rose on his platform and started to pace from corner to corner. “Just the love of my life, that’s all.”

“Oh, so you’ve been rejected? I get it now. Doing a bit of self-loathing? Having a little pity-party?” Farloft asked with a tilt of his wedged head.

A cloud immediately appeared over the dragon’s head and with a mini roll of thunder it opened and dumped at least a bucket full of rain over Farloft.

“Stop that!” Farloft tried to move out from under the cloud, but it followed him as though it were glued to his crown. “Turn it off, Cloudburst or I will.” Farloft curled a paw into a fist in threat.

The cloud dissipated. “I’m sorry. I just can’t help it. She dumped me for a hybrid from out west.”

“A dragon-gryphon mix?” Farloft asked.

“Yes… I just can’t believe it. What could a hybrid give her that I can’t?”

Snow looked at Farloft with those ice-blue eyes. Frankly, the dragon couldn’t see why anyone would dump Snow. However, it really made the circumstances better for approaching the gryphon about joining in his mission.

“I can’t imagine,” Farloft said honestly. “You are one handsome bird, Raindrop, but I can help you with getting over the pain of rejection. I came to ask you to join me on an adventure.” Farloft grinned toothily. “Kerth is facing a war with Baldar and Jaldraak. I am going to recruit some dragons to join in and help me defend the kingdom.”

Snow blew the feathers hanging over his forehead out of his eyes. “Like the Battle of Baldar, type of defending?” He had heard the story of that battle dozens of times from his grandfather. It was bloody, and several dragon clans were without leaders by the time it was over. If Farloft was trying to sell that kind of recruiting, he had his paws full.

“Well… Maybe… I guess more like, yes… But hopefully, no… Well, I don’t know for sure, but it could be…” Farloft stammered.

Snow ruffled his wings and the feathers round his neck started to stand up on end. “Which is it Knight Chaser? Yes or no?”

Farloft huffed in frustration. “Mostly yes,” he admitted. “It won’t be pretty, but I can’t leave them to be run over by that dictator from Baldar.”

“You should have ended him after the Battle of Baldar.”

“It’s not the same King.”

“Yep, but I bet it’s his son or grandson or some such descendent.”

Farloft hung his head. “Well, yeah. It’s his great-great something or other.”

“See…” Snow said, and his feathers fell back into place. “You should have listened to Grandpa Storm.”

“Yes, you birds are just full of wisdom when you don’t have to do the deed.”

“If you are trying to get me to assist you, Lizard, you are not going about it the right way.”

Another cloud appeared over Farloft’s head and a mini bolt of lightening announced that the rain was not far behind.

“Don’t you dare!” Farloft roared. Being assaulted twice in one day was once too many. “I am your elder and you should treat me with more respect.”

The cloud dissipated almost immediately. “Where will you be going to seek out these volunteers to get themselves killed for the good of man?”

“I am headed to the Fur and Frost Clans first. I used to know the clan leaders there. I am hoping they will have stories of me which might help in recruitment.”

“Well, if they don’t, they certainly know me. I saved the leader’s son from an avalanche a few years back.”

“So, you’re in?” Farloft asked hopefully.

“At least for the time being. Nothing holding me here at the moment.”


Snow - by Elizabeth Babicz

2 comments:

  1. Have Anna learn to "jump" so she can visit Oregon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be interesting. I am not sure yet that Anna has inherited the ability.

      Delete

If you'd like to get a heads-up on my latest book releases, sales, and freebies, make sure to sign up for my newsletter! And you don't have to worry about getting a bunch of junk - I only send it out when I really have something you might want to hear about.

* indicates required
Close