Flocked JP 30
Ryan Watt
(11 reviews)
Once Upon A Time... kingdoms in trouble had to wait for a wandering hero to come along and save the ... Show More
Genres:
Adventure, Comedy, Cross-Genre, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Tags:
Fairy Tale, Guild, Magic, birds, curses, Champions

Lords of Prey

              “Hello, thieves,” the Griffon King said. “How are you liking my apples?”
 
The blood in Torias’s tiny veins froze. The beast was three times larger, at least, than any horse he had ever seen. The forelegs were taloned like an eagle’s, while most of the body remained leonine. The lion’s tail ended in feathers, which also ruffed the neck instead of a mane. The head was mostly avian, with a sharp beak. But the eyes were a cat’s, as was the tongue that licked the beak while the brown feathered wings stretched out from the back.
 
Torias instantly turned to fly but the griffon pounced. He could feel the impact incoming, clenched his lungs tight and flew straight down. As he dove, a sound whistled past him.
 
“Keep away from him!” Jorinda yelled. The air whistled again past Torias and he saw one of her clubs spinning its way back over to her.
 
Good job! he called out.
 
In his own head, as Torias spiraled wildly, hoping to find a way to get away from the griffon, he realized how incongruously he had been acting. Obsessed with getting just one more fruit? Avoiding the task at hand, which was to get everyone out safely? Throwing out his leadership like it was some kind of magic spell to let him do anything? Declaring his leadership?
 
He told himself that, like Kess said, it was the golden fruit’s power. It polluted his mind. But if that were true, why did it pull out all the things that Torias had been fearing for the last few months?
 
Reflect later, protect now! he swore at himself, as his tail feathers felt the shockwave of the biting beak barely missing them. Off to his far side, a massive rumble drowned out other noises.
 
“Torias! I’ve got you,” Viktor shouted. The Velenkan man had yanked another tree, root ball and all, from the ground. His swing only missed Torias because the raven managed to fly up over it. The trunk managed to strike the head of the griffon, Torias narrowly saw before flying up over the proceedings.
 
I need a strategy!
 
Below him, wood splintered. The Griffon had grabbed the trunk, on its next swing, in its beak, and crunched it into pieces. The giant beast then leapt across the evergreen shrapnel, talons extending towards Viktor.
 
“Nice try, beast!” Viktor laughed, jumping up himself over the tree as he discarded it, and threw a punch out. It collided with the top of the beak, shoving the griffon’s head in another direction.
 
The two moved in opposite directions across the glade, and slowly began to circle.
 
“You are tougher than I expected. You will make this game fun.”
 
“Game?” Viktor asked.
 
“Yes, Viktor,” Kess cut in from somewhere in the trees. “Game. He has been playing us. He likely knew we were there at the entrance when he flew overhead. It’s his cat side at work, and we’re the mice.”
 
“Well, I have the ring! It will protect me,” Viktor said, holding up both fists.
 
“Hah, you bought that?” the Griffon laughed.
 
“The Ring! The Ring is how he tracks us. She is under his orders to give it to thieves!” Kess realized.
 
“Not only that, it wasn’t even a real person. A creation of my power. All that goes on here is mine to control. That is the power of the Griffon King. Soon that will extend even to you.”
 
“I’ll never be controlled again!” Kess shouted back. He streaked through the air, slashing across the eyes of the Griffon. As he flew off, the Griffon tensed, Torias guessing he was preparing to take to the air to keep fighting. His take off was interrupted by a club smashing against the side of his head, drawing his attention again.
 
“Neither will I!” came Jorinda’s voice, although Torias could not see her.
 
“Well well, look at all of you clever creatures. ,” the Griffon said. “Nice to have someone smart to play with once in a while. Intelligence, strength, and some magical surprises. You four will be the most fun meal I have had in ages!”
 
“Think again, beast,” Viktor spit. “You aren’t the first griffon I have fought. I have slain three others before, each worse than the last!”
 
The griffon paused in his circling. Torias saw his eyes narrow to slits. “That was you? You slew my cousins? My subjects? My Kin!?”
 
Torias did not like the sound of that. The Griffon’s voice boomed and echoed off the mountains around the valley. He leapt with even more force than before, right at Viktor.
 
 
 
              Cyril’s sword slashed through the air as the vulture swooped at him and Oleg. The bird tumbled and spun in the air, recovering after a plummet through the air down past the cliff the guildmates stood on.
 
“Very strange. Right bird, but he is acting very…” Oleg’s sentiment trailed off.
 
The Buzzard screamed and resurfaced. Why did they attack me? His thoughts screamed as he turned to fly away.
 
“Wait, what do we do now?” Oleg asked.
 
“Follow him?” Cyril suggested.
 
Oleg turned his head, eyes wide and incredulous, before handing over his bow to Cyril and transforming to duck. The smaller bird flew off after the larger.
 
This is harder than he said it would be! the vulture whined. Can’t find food. People attacking me. I should have stuck with- He paused as his head turned back and saw Oleg following him. I know I’m supposed to wait until they’re dead… but I am so hungry!
 
He turned back and flew straight towards Oleg. Cyril watched helplessly as the buzzard raised his legs to try and claw at Oleg. Only, the buzzard continued to spin in the air and began to plummet.
 
“It’s like he doesn’t know how to fly…” Cyril mused. “Could we have the wrong vulture? Oleg! Meet me down where he fell!”
 
Cyril ran back down the makeshift path and plunged into the foliage at a place where the slope seemed less severe. He jumped over bushes and ducked under branches as he ran. He kept his sword tightly gripped, even using it to hack away at some obstacles.
 
Cyril, near the large rock on your right, Oleg directed.
 
He turned and followed the instructions, finding the duck standing on said large rock. As Cyril approached, Oleg transformed back into a squatting position.
 
“He’s trapped in a bush over there,” he indicated with a head jut.
 
Cyril walked over carefully, hopping onto the rock next to Oleg. Down below on the other side, a few meters off, the buzzard lay, wings entangled, in a large, thorny shrub.
 
Somebody help me! I don’t want to be in this body anymore!
 
“Still trying to turn human, Buzzard King?” Cyril asked.
 
What? You can hear me! No other humans can hear me. He didn’t teach me how.
 
“He who? We’ve talked before.”
 
The vulture continued to jerk in bursts of energy followed by short periods of rest and contemplation.
 
“Listen,” Cyril sighed, rubbing his temple with the two fingers he could spare while the others continued to grip the sword hilt, “if you promise to not attack us, we will break you free from there.”
 
The vulture spasmed to try to free itself one more time, stopped for a few seconds, and then declared, Fine.
 
Oleg moved in and detangled the bird, removing a few of the thorny branches. He then dropped a hastily constructed ring of long grasses, which shimmered briefly, onto the buzzard’s neck.
 
What- What was that?
 
“A bind. This will prevent you from casting any magic. We have questions for you,” Oleg said.
 
“First question,” Cyril took over, “What do you mean by he didn’t teach you?”
 
The Griffon Vulture! This is his body. We swapped.
 
Oleg and Cyril exchanged another look. “Valdas’s stories did mention this,” Oleg shrugged.
 
“Yes, but then why was he trying to do the feathered cloak and marrying a woman?”
 
Marrying a woman? But I’m married!
 
Cyril cringed. Whatever this vulture was up to, it was messy and complicated, and likely illogical, but no less problematic. “Let’s go. You will guide us back to your home so we can find this body swapping buzzard.”
 
Certainly! I want to switch back anyway.
 
For a while, Oleg and Cyril took turns being perches for the false buzzard, until the forest opened up and he became more comfortable flying again. He explained, as they traveled, how he came to be as he was.
 
My wife has been nagging me for weeks to prepare for the harvest. Frankly, I was tired of farming. I wanted adventure, I wanted to try something new. The Buzzard had been visiting me sometimes, sitting and watching from a nearby tree. When he spoke to me and offered me this change, I thought, how could I pass it up!
 
“Have you ever heard of stories of such a thing happening before?”
 
Well, yeah. But those stories always end with the man coming back with a story, a valuable story! Why would I say no?
 
The others didn’t have much to say to that. They soon crested a hill and saw the farmland again. In the nearest one, near a massive, old tree, stood the farmer that had waved to them earlier, finishing up for the day as the sun dipped low in the skies, warming their backs.
 
He caught sight of the vulture, flying low, and grabbed a farm implement of a kind Cyril did not recognize.
 
“What is that? Why are you bringing that… thing… with you?”
 
“Drop the act, Buzzard King. We know the story,” Cyril said. He drew his sword, causing the false farmer to back up in alarm.
 
“What act?”
 
“I can see the magic coursing around you. A tether tying you to your old body,” Oleg said, creating an aether arrow on his bow. He fired it and knocked the gardening tool from the man’s hand.
 
At once, his countenance changed. “Still clever, but less reasonable. Just like men. I am starting to think your lot aren’t worth it after all. But I am not going back, not this time.”
 
His shoulders hunched, his eyes became beady. He curled his shorter fingers palmward but stretched out the longer ones. Cyril paused for a second on instinct. A second later, the man slashed his arms through the air and bursts of wind cut sharply over Cyril.
 
“How do we defend against wind attacks?” Cyril asked Oleg, shouting over the sharp whistle of air.
 
Oleg dropped to a crouch and scratched his fingers in the dirt. He hummed to himself, one long tone, ending in a stronger, more guttural noise. The earth trembled and a variety of stones and rocks lifted up and began pelting the man shaped Buzzard King. That distracted him enough for Cyril to rush in with his sword.
 
“No, you don’t!” He stomped his foot as Cyril was within striking distance. The ground trembled and, as Cyril’s equilibrium shook in kind, the monarch slashed a hand upward. The air blade sliced Cyril’s face and knocked him on his rear. The Cygnus blade clattered away and broke apart into feathers that flew to Cyril’s shoulder. “Pathetic. Though I do seem to have more of my father’s strength like-“
 
His words cut off as an arrow pierced his side. Blood began to trickle out of it. He looked up at Oleg, who smiled and shrugged before drawing another arrow. “Step away from him if you don’t want another.”
 
Don’t damage my body! the farmer whined.
 
“He won’t,” the Buzzard King snarled. He grabbed the glowing arrow in a fist and squeezed until t shattered. The tiny shards of aether glittered and hovered in the air around his fist, even as he pulled it away from his side. It reformed into a long thin dagger that he raised to strike towards Oleg. “I can strike before you can. See, hero, I can do what you can do, only better.”
 
A blood-chilling scream rent the air. The Buzzard King turned on instinct and found a massive shape of black and white feathers, and yellow talons, approaching his face. He screamed and slashed out with his dagger, but the talons clawed at his hand and caused him to drop it. The aether blade dissolved.
 
Sorry we’re late!
 
Taree’s familiar voice in his head was a welcome panacea to the aches in Cyril’s body. She swooped in and landed near Cyril, who was scrambling to his feet while his opponent was distracted. He wasted no time in rushing his newly turned back and knocking him to the ground.
 
“Taree? Hanuel?” Oleg asked behind him. “How did you?”
 
I told you I was going to get help! But shouldn’t we be fighting the buzzard, not some random man?
 
“That is the Buzzard King now,” Cyril said, huffing while he touched his face with his fingers. They pulled away bloody. He hoped it looked worse than it was. “Oleg, ideas for how to change them back?”
 
“None. I have never encountered such magic before.”
 
“I will never go back,” the buzzard king said, quivering as he propped himself up on his palms and knees. He heaved and a black substance poured out of his mouth.
 
Disgusting, Hanuel said.
 
“Cyril, stop him! That’s the-“
 
“I know-“ Cyril said, grabbing their opponent’s shoulder. As soon as he did, pain flared through his arm, seizing up all of the nerves. A tendril from the dark aether had grabbed him, and was pulling him towards it.

 
 
              As the Griffon King lunged, Viktor gritted his teeth, a wild animal suddenly unleashed. He grabbed the beast by his feathered mane, and flipped it, throwing it to the ground.
 
“I have trained my whole life for this!” he shouted. “Nothing will stop me from getting my mother everything she deserves!”
 
“Ah,” the Griffon King said. “Is that why you killed my cousins?”
 
“What?” Jorinda said. Torias flicked his eyes to her.
 
In the middle of the clearing, the two beasts wrestled fiercely. Torias could not tell which was the more terrifying to watch.
 
“Did you not tell them? How you took the ancestral home of my people by killing off all of the brothers who lived there. Oh wait, not all of them. There is still one left. I can feel him, as I feel all of my subjects. If you can’t kill him, you surely can’t kill me.”
 
“Don’t be so sure of that!” Viktor grunted as he wrapped his arms around the Griffon’s neck and wrenched it sideways. The beast cried out, talons flailing to try and pry Victor off of him, but could not reach.
 
The griffon flipped himself over, pinning Viktor not just to the ground, but into it. But Viktor’s grip would not waver.
 
“Nothing. Not a house of griffons, not a thousand fetch quests, not illness, nothing shall stop me! Especially not you!”
 
“And what if you are the obstacle preventing her happiness?” the Griffon King mocked.
 
Viktor roared as he twisted the neck of the Griffon King further, until it snapped. The monstrous laughter stopped at once. With a grunt, Viktor tossed the body aside.
 
Viktor climbed out of the hole his body had made when it was pinned. He bled in several places, he limped awfully, and he collapsed within seconds.
 
“Nothing,” he gasped.
 
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 6/18/2017 3:29:38 PM
  • J.A. Waters commented on :
    7/4/2017 1:28:37 PM
    Alright, dude. Did you really open this chapter with, "How do you like them apples?" I mean. Really? Hahaha. But no, this was a really fun chapter. Viktor is freaking ... Show More
    • Ryan Watt Viktor is all strength. He was raised to think all he needed was strength. And he can do some things alone, but he is easily blinded/distracted/confused, because he has never had to think critically before, about anything. I mean, in this case here, is killing the Griffon King really such a good thing?
      7/4/2017 5:11:30 PM
  • Jennifer Flath commented on :
    6/28/2017 11:27:00 PM
    I need a griffon. I would ride it around and it would love me and guard my house. It would conjure fake people to talk to salespeople at the door so I don't have to deal ... Show More
    • Ryan Watt Sadly, not too many kind helpful griffons in this world, which is a shame cause you're right, they're totally awesome! As for Viktor, he was raised as a tool, long term thinking isn't really in his wheelhouse. Kind of like someone else on the team we know...
      6/29/2017 3:22:31 AM