Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Seventeen

Farloft and his clan had always been friends with gryphons, but there were dragon clans that avoided or even chased gryphons from their territories. He chose to sit at a safe distance and wait while Snow scouted out the rookery and made first contact. He chose a peak overlooking the nesting area and sat where everyone could see him and know he did not pose any threat. He also could be summonsed from this peak, or fly in and defend Snow if the gryphons chose to take offense for finding him fraternizing with dragons.

The rookery was huge. There must have been over one hundred pairs in the flock, in addition to younglings and hatchlings. It had been a den of churrs, chirps, and squawks before the guards, posted at the perimeter, announced their arrival. All was deathly quiet now.

Farloft could see Snow, where he stood at the bottom of the cliff peppered with nests. He was followed in by two of the guards – large coal black gryphons with bright orange beaks and claws. Several more guards were dispatched. They were posted around the rookery to keep an eye on Farloft, and to look out for any other uninvited guests.

Snow was greeted by two gryphons a bit smaller than him, and one large red bird who looked to be a foot taller than he was. Snow was obviously explaining their mission. He looked over his shoulder several times in Farloft’s direction. Eventually, he waved a wing to the dragon, inviting him in.

Farloft sailed gently down and landed behind Snow.

“This is my friend, Farloft,” Snow said. “Or you can call him Old Scale Back, if you prefer.”

Farloft was in the middle of an extended wing-bow when he snorted and raised he head in indignation at the final part of the introduction. His frown was met by chirps of laughter, and a teasing grin from Snow.

“No really,” Farloft countered, “I prefer Big Green of all the names he calls me.”

“Big Green, it is then,” the large red gryphon agreed. “I am Malard. Don’t even get them started on that one,” he chirped and ruffled his wings. “You can imagine…”

The two other gryphons with him proceeded to quack like ducks ending in churrs of gryphon laughter.

“See what I have to put up with?” Malard asked in a sympathetic tone. “Let’s get away from these youngling heads and find a quiet spot where we can talk. You won’t have any trouble fitting in the central area. Follow me.” He spread his wings and lifted off headed toward the higher reaches of the rookery.

Farloft and Snow followed along with the two black gryphons who turned out to be brothers, Mencer and Naric.

The central area was filled with birds. Farloft had never seen so many gryphons in one place. Malard was explaining the history of his flock to the traveling pair. It seemed they had come to the right spot to seek assistance in their quest.

“So, you see, ancient tradition requires a gryphon of the WindCrest flock to prove themselves. When a gryphon reaches a certain age, they must go on a quest and bring back some object to add to the flock’s treasures.” Malard waved at the back of the cavern they were sitting in.

The wall was a glittering array of items hung on pegs and piled on the floor in a large heap. There were things as simple as shiny rocks or shells along with things as large as armor pieces, like breastplates and helmets.

“It has been centuries since there was an opportunity for a quest as challenging as yours,” Malard said.

The flock around him chirped and squawked their approval.

“Many of our young ones would love to have the chance to prove themselves in battle.” Malard gestured to the rest of the flock. “Am I right?” he squawked.

There was a riotous call of approval from every corner, wall and crevasse of the cave.

“That certainly went well,” Snow said, as the two of them headed home to Kerth after a huge morning celebratory feast.

“It certainly did,” Farloft had to agree. There were going to be at least fifty gryphons joining them later this spring. “I will have to find a new title for you, Bird. Perhaps Flock Rouser.”

Snow did a barrel roll in the sky next to the dragon. “I kind of like that one, Knight Chaser.”

Malard and his playful tormentors by Elizabeth Babicz

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