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
Adventure, Comedy, Cross-Genre, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Fairy Tale, Guild, Magic, birds, curses, Champions

Viktor and the Griffons

              Jorinda ran with all her might, pushing her legs past the point of burning pain, past the point of her lungs functioning. She ran right past the maiden, standing in the same spot at the start of the garden.
“Help!” Jorinda shouted at her. “Viktor’s hurt and the Griffon King is-“
“Well, you’ve certainly have come to the right place then. This is his garden, and I am the keeper of those apples…” the maiden said.
“What?” Jorinda huffed. The girl began to repeat other things she had said. Looking at her, with sweat dripping into Jorinda’s eyes, she thought she saw something strange about the girl. She wiped her face and looked again. Her feet were missing. But she remembered the girl having lovely boots before. And now, even the skirt of her dress seemed to be fading. “By the Fai, it really was just a spell,” she grumbled before turning to run again.
She found the horses waiting for her as soon as she left the valley.
“Please! The Griffon King is dead! You have to come with me back to the others and take Viktor to get help!”
The horses stomped their front feet, snorted repeatedly, then walked closer to her. One bowed her head and then jerked it towards her saddle. Jorinda mounted.
“Thank you,” she whispered. Her legs hurt, and riding the horse would make them hurt worse, but the thrill of riding, and of succeeding, made it more manageable.
              Torias rode on the horse with Viktor, to keep applying pressure to the wound. The bleeding had slowed drastically, and he only hoped it was due to clotting, and not loss of blood.
The ride seemed to take longer, though Torias assumed it was due to his own worry. But perhaps the horses had to actually ride until they reached dawn. The last time he rode they had ridden all through the night. Would they have to do the same now?
“Torias,” Viktor moaned. “Thank you. Thank you for being a good friend.”
“Sure,” Torias said curtly. He didn’t want to be having the conversation he knew was coming.
“If, if I don’t make it. Promise me,” he paused to cough, “Promise me you’ll-“
“Not having this conversation, Viktor. Not now. You’re trying to have a big heroic death scene before you’ve confronted the big villain? If you really think you’re done for, tell me once we get to Lady Eostre and after she pronounces you unable to recover.”
“Alright,” he said.
“But while we ride, you can tell me what the Griffon King meant by you not being able to kill one of the Griffons.”
“What I have told you so far was true. I killed three Griffons who lived in the house I now live in. I still don’t know why they were living in there, how they came to be there, but they were there. And as I said, each one died saying that there was a bigger, worse one waiting. I wondered… that day by the springs… why you never asked about that.”
“What do you mean?”
“There was a fourth one,” Kess said. “Right?”
Torias immediately felt stupid for not catching that.
“It took a long time to find him. He was in the basement, dank and reeking of mildew. A prisoner.”
“Who imprisoned him?” Jorinda asked.
“His brothers. He told me, when I found him, that he could smell the blood of his kin on my hands, and  wondered if I was there to liberate him, or to complete the set. He told me that he was the worst of the lot, which is why they had imprisoned him. He was too powerful, and nothing would be able to stop him, let alone a mere human.”
“What did you do?” Jorinda asked.
“I left him there. I couldn’t kill him. He is the one who has been telling me how to get my hands on these objects.”
Torias felt a chill. A griffon sent them against another Griffon. A powerful one against a King of them. What did the chained griffon want?
Before he could ask for an answer, the horses jerked and began to plunge downward out of the sky towards a familiar looking forest. They did not land, however. They rode just high enough that Torias could see a distant sunrise coming, even though it still only early night. Realizing something magical was about to happen, he gasped.
“Cover your eyes!” he called to the others, remembering that they should not look directly at the magical dawn until they had acclimated to the Adytum. He felt his tingle even as he closed them.
Spectacular! Kess said, possibly not realizing he was sending out the thought.
The horses did not take them to the stable, but rode across the sky of the Court of Dawn and landed on the balcony of Eostre’s tower.
“Come inside, quickly. I saw you returning and I have had a table prepared for him,” Lady Sunday said as soon as they dismounted.
Jorinda hurried to Torias’s horse as did Prince Lago, who helped Torias carefully lift Viktor from the saddle. Torias and Lago carried him over to the table, to which Lady Eostre actually walked. Torias blinked at this break in her standard rules.
“It will be alright for a few minutes. He has more than earned a few moments of my assistance.”
“I am sorry, Lady Eostre, for troubling you,” Viktor said.
“I foresaw this as a possibility when you first came to me, and chose to help anyway. Your heart is so noble, and your intentions so pure that I could not stop you, despite my fears. But that does not mean I was unprepared. I kept this, after all.”
She removed from her robe a small, familiar, vial of water that sparkled in the dawn light.
“Water of life?” Torias asked, knowing it was impossible. She had given the water back to Viktor.
“I swapped the vials. Which was not a lie. I asked you to give me the vials, and I never said what I was giving you. By the rules of my kind, that misdirection is allowed, though I prefer to use it rarely,” she explained. She handed it to Lago, who uncorked it and began to administer it to Viktor’s wounds.
He trembled slightly with each application, but the wounds closed up and looked as if they had been healing for a few days. Last, Lago moved towards the broken leg.
“Torias, please help me set the leg. One drop will detract from the amount of pain, Viktor,” he explained. Torias nodded and gritted his teeth. He had never set one before, but had seen it done. He cringed at the thought, but breathed deeply and followed through with the act. The bone snapped into place, Viktor cried out, and Lago poured more water onto the wound. Viktor calmed at once.
“Thank you.”
Eostre returned to her spot on the balcony, but remained looking towards them. “Now I shall discharge the other thing I knew I would one day have to do. Help illuminate the darkness you have found yourself in.”
“What do you mean?” Viktor moaned.
“Kess. What have you realized about the ingredients sought?” she asked, ignoring the question posed to her.
“Earth sow piglet, water of life and death, pelican egg, and golden apples. They are all natural objects. I thought they were tied to elements, earth, water, air, but you said no. Well, a piglet is a young creature, an egg is even younger, apples are fruits produced by mature trees, and waters. Wait. Seasons. The cycle of seasons?”
Torias did not follow any of this, but Eostre seemed pleased. “Go on,” she said.
“In the spring, birds lay their eggs. In the summer, the animals of the world are young like the suckling, in the fall the trees produce their ripest fruits for harvest, and then in winter the world dies away only for the frozen waters associated with it to thaw and bring about life again.”

“Correct. Which means what for the spell?”
Kess lowered his head as if sleeping, but likely was just in thought. “So the spell is one of seasons, and of the cycle of life. And if we are working under the theory that somehow all of this is being brought on by the fourth griffon of Viktor’s tale then… rejuvenation. The griffon is weakened and is trying to grow more powerful!” He lifted his head, eyes wide.
“Excellent reasoning.”
Torias tried to understand what was being said. “Where does Viktor’s mother fall into all of this? Does she have a reason to help the griffon?”
“No, they have never met!” Viktor moaned, trying to sit up. Lago put his hand on the man’s shoulder, and held him in place with a shaming head shake. “I keep the basement locked. Mother knows not to go down there, that I am working on a project.”
“What project?” Jorinda asked.
“Well, truly I am feeding the beast. Just a little to keep him alive.”
“Why? I’m sorry, I do not advocate the death of creatures, but why not simply kill him like the others?” Jorinda asked. Torias folded his arms and nodded.
Viktor sighed and looked up at the ceiling. “I could not bring myself to kill the creature in cold blood. He was a prisoner. Trapped. Maybe he deserved it, but that doesn’t mean he had to die. The others, they attacked me. They meant me harm. So far Rascal hasn’t.”
“You… named him?” Torias laughed. Viktor turned away to cover his own uncomfortable laugh.
“Presumably the griffon, through your mother somehow, sent you against an overprotective magical sow, a violently protective giant pelican, and a powerful Griffon, not to mention to fetch water that could literally kill you with a touch,” Kess said.
This, Torias could follow. “He is trying to kill you. Not directly, but he is hoping you die in the process of fetching these items.”
“And if you didn’t die, which you didn’t,” Jorinda threw in, “he gets to kill you himself once he is rejuvenated.”
Eostre nodded. “Viktor, your inability to kill the Griffon earlier has locked you into this cycle of danger. You cannot escape the danger, nor resolve the uncertainty in your heart, by avoiding it, or rationalizing it away as not so bad.”
“I have been doing that, haven’t I.”
“It is a common thing in mortals and immortals alike. It feels easier to stay put, when often times it only makes things more difficult than taking the next step.”
Viktor sighed again, his eyes focusing far away. “Torias, will you all go with me to… confront my mother and get to the bottom of all of this?”
Torias consulted his guild mates silently. They each nodded. “We will, Viktor.”
“I will return to you the remaining waters. I do not know if you will need them, but they are yours to do with as you wish, Viktor. And know that wherever your path leads you, I hope you will think of me from time to time, and come visit with new stories. Rest now. My horses will take you all to Velenka in the morning.”
“We have rooms prepared for the three of you as well,” Lago said.
Torias allowed himself to be escorted from the tower. Sleep would come, but loosely. 

Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 6/25/2017 3:28:14 PM
  • J.A. Waters commented on :
    7/4/2017 1:33:32 PM
    Hah, you have an in-world, in-character, and fun explanation for NPCs, awesome. Just hilarious. Though I wonder if it always repeated stuff or if that was just an effect ... Show More
    • Ryan Watt When I was drafting this, and I got to the "and a princess from another kingdom was forced to guard the entrance" I just heaved a big sigh. Not another lost princess. I was so tired of them. So I tweaked it. It was either that, or have the princess want to be there and be working with the Griffon King. Are all Griffons evil? No, but they are all predators that see themselves higher than humans on the food chain, and their cat like nature makes them darkly playful. Most of the stories I was finding with griffons in them lately had evil ones, so I went with it. There are other griffon clans out there, so hopefully one of the good ones will take the Griffon Throne next.
      7/4/2017 5:06:00 PM
  • Jennifer Flath commented on :
    6/28/2017 11:34:27 PM
    Oh, oh, did the mom die a long time ago, and she's just a projection of the Griffon? Or maybe the doctor is? I still want a griffon. Mine would be clever and adorable and not try to kill me.
    • Ryan Watt Good idea, but the power to create illusions is tied to the Griffon King title, which Ol Rascal doesn't have... yet.
      6/29/2017 3:24:15 AM
  • Jennifer Flath commented on :
    6/28/2017 11:35:25 PM
    Basically he would be Clifford, but cuter, and with handy magical powers.