Scribblings

Just a collection of various stories I began with no intention to finish, or answers to writing prompts. Enjoy! Please visit my author page on FB! facebook.com/author.anrisaryn Also note, some of these may be removed later if I feel the urge to expand on them!

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58. Vala and Jereth

 

          Vala woke suddenly. Everything was completely dark. It was as if a someone had raised a large shade over the entire world. And the entire world now smelled of moldy canvas.

          She tried to move her limbs, but something was binding them. She struggled to free herself, but whenever she did, her wrists and legs felt the abrasiveness of a thick rope. She tried to cry out, but found her beak was bound too. Procne only knows what they did to her wings. She was also vaguley aware that she was moving, but it was through the help of some kind of cart; the sound of the wooden wheels on gravel came to her attention.

          The last thing she remembered was flying. Free in the air, she was patrolling her family's territory. The Stormwing's kingdom stretched far and wide, a measure of their strength. In the griffin kingdoms, they were considered royalty, and had been the most influential family this side of Mount Lowenwarter for the last three generations.

          So why was she suddenly shrouded in darkness and tied up like some badly behaved cattle off to market?

          Stories of this had drifted about the kingdoms for the last few months, but she had paid them no mind. No one would dare treat a Stormwing like this, would they?

          Unless the stories were true.

          Reports of griffins dissappearing for weeks on end, only to be seen later being ridden by humans and used as tools of war were things of nightmares for the griffins. And like most nightmares, they passed them off as just stories.

          But now, Vala was cursing herself for her species' own arrogance. She had no idea where she was going, let alone how she actually came to be as she was now: tied up and in the dark.

          Perhaps they should have been paying more attention. Humans were bound to find the griffin kingdoms in their greed for conquest. For years the battles between human nations had been escalating. She was still amazed at how many different ways humans could employ to kill each other with, but she never imagined it would come to this.

          The cart slowed to a stop. She heard a door opening and some humans talking. They were too muffled to understand, but she knew they were discussing her. What else would you talk about when there is a fully grown griffin in your cart?

          The exchange was brief, and then the cart was tilted as to allow her to slide out. Unable to react, she tried to stay calm as she fell on a bed of what seemed like straw. One leg at a time was unbound only to reattached it to something much stronger. The sound of chains made her anger flare, but she was not able to see until the cover was removed. Much to her dismay, at this point all of her legs had been chained to the stall floor.

          Blinking against the light, she glanced around. She appeared to be in a massive building with many stalls like her own. Nearly every one of them housed a single griffin. Sunlight leaked through the roof, splashing bleak colors of the other griffins. They all appeared rather bedraggled and smaller than most griffins she was used to seeing.

          <What is this place?> she sent to her neighbor. Her mental signal was rebounded as if it had hit a wall. She blinked, perplexed at the reaction. It was as if the other griffin was blocked off - like someone had built a wall around its mind so nothing could get in.

          <Hello? Can you hear me?> she tried again, this time with a bit more force. But the question was rebounded to her once again, nearly knocking her over.

          Vala felt a chill run down her spine. Why were these griffins unable to hear her? Why were their minds blocked off? She wondered in silence, for not one single reply came to her no matter how hard she tried.

 

          The next day wasn't much more fun. The first day she was bridled and forcibly guided to a large ring with a domed roof, fighting against her bindings. She heard angry words by the humans that lead her, but she didn't care what they said. How dare they treat her like this? Another human tried to get her to follow a path around them and train her on a lead, but she simply took off and carried the human with her, dangling him like a worm on a hook.

          <You cowards! You must fight me together to get anything done!> she screeched at them. But they couldn't understand her, let alone even hear her. She grabbed the trainer in her front claws; his screams made her feel only slightly better. She flew as high as the dome would let her, but when she failed to break free of the glass and metal roof, she dropped the human with a screech. He hit the sandy ground with a sickening crunch.

          A flying net caught her off gaurd and tangled her wings. She fell like a stone and was immediatly set on by a group of humans that tied her up again. She screeched and struggled, but was forced back into her stall, once again a prisoner.

          "How will she be ready for her Binding at this rate?" she overheard one human say as they walked away.

          "I don't know," another admitted. "Sometimes things just work out. Maybe she will calm down. We still have a few days."

          <And that will be a few days too little,> Vala said to herself. <I will never work with humans!>

 

          A few days and attempted training sessions later (of which all of them ended in more than one injury), she was lead to a large outdoor ring where she was chained to the floor as if on display. She glowered at all present as if she could kill them all simply by looking at them. The sun blazed down on her feathery head, causing her amber mane to glimmer like gold.

          "And here we have a wild, young, and untamed mare!" an announcer said into a megaphone. As if in responce, Vala screeched angrily and clawed at the ground. The crowd gasped, but then clapped as if this one a confirmation she was healthy and well. "What young soldier will be matched with this one?" the announcer continued.

          A group of five youths stepped forward, each dressed in white. They appeared nervous, and rightly so. Vala grinned, feeling their fear. She waited for them to approach slowly, waiting for the right moment.

          Suddenly, she bucked, scratching at the air with her front talons. Two of the youths fell backwards into the dirt. Blood colored the air and one of the youths, a light-haired girl, fell back with a scream. Her shoulder was painted in bright red, a stark contrast to her pure white gown. The crowd gasped, and a group of humans carried the girl away; she cried in pain, tears streaming down her face.

          The female griffin attmepted to take off in escape, seeing an oppertunity, but was reminded that it was not possible by the clink of chains. She had forgotten this in the excitment and found herself hitting the ground within seconds of taking off. Soldiers surrounded her and held her down. Their armor was incredibly clean; the sun mirrored in the suits hurt her eyes.

          One of the humans injected her with something and the world began to swim before her. She felt herself falling into darkness. She tried to fight it, but then could no longer resist and fell into a deep sleep.

          She woke up in her stall, once again chained to the floor.

          <Why do you not fight them?> she shouted to the other griffins. Her voice rebounded at her, but she braced for the mental impact this time. Never had she dealt with this before. Why did they not respond? Why did they not fight the humans?

          She laid down in her straw, angry and upset. She was not meant to be here. Her place was in the forests of the southern country, not here in a stall made of wood and iron.

          Her thoughts were interrupted by a soft voice. It sounded much less harsh than those of the other humans. Her ears perked up and she peered over the top of her stall.

          A young human, a boy, stood in front of a griffin's stall, stroking its beak. It seemed happy as the boy spoke to it.

          "Did you have a good day, Nimpkin?" he asked the other creature. "You did very well from what I heard. Melith said you deserved an extra treat today."

          Nimpkin purred. His face seemed to light up and become more alive at the boy's touch. For just a moment, Vala felt a small twinge of happiness from him. She watched, curious. Who was this boy?

          His eyes met her's for a split second and she ducked back into her stall.

          <He's just another human,> she told herself, glaring at the wall. But the sound of footsteps drew near her pen and she looked up, causing her chains to clink. The boy leaned over the doorway with a curious expression.

          The two looked at each other for a few silent moments, then the boy extended a hand to greet her. She shied away, but continued to watch the boy wondering why he was so different from the other humans.

          The second time he extended his hand, however, she let him touch her beak. He smiled in response. She was confused at the reaction. Why didn't he just make her obey?

          "Is this what you are before you're broken?" he asked, mostly to himself.

          <What is 'broken?'> she asked, looking up at the boy.

          He withdrew his hand in surprise. "Did you just answer me?" he gasped.

          Her reply was cut short by the voice of another human.

          "Hey, kid! Get away from there!" A guard, dressed in red and gold with a open helm paced over to him and jerked his hand out of the cage. "No one but trainers are permitted near this one!"

          The quick motion surprised Vala and she bucked with a screech.

          "Stop! You're scaring her!" the boy exclaimed, trying to free his arm from the guard's grip.

          "She's a wild animal! Of course she is violent!" the guard replied, dragging the boy behind him.

          "Let me go!" he protested, but the guard didn't listen. He growled and stuggled, but the guard was stronger than he.

          <I will come back!> he sent to Vala.

          <I am Vala Stormwing of the souther forests,> she sent to him.

          <I am Jereth. Jereth Brandis.> the boy sent back as he was dragged away.

 

          The next day, a second attempt at Binding occurred, and this time Vala protested even more. She screeched and bucked, causing the crowd to back away and disperse. With a rough jerk, she broke free of her chains, much to the dismay of the guards. Before they could leap at her, she was in the air. She grinned inwardly, finally free.

          Her celebration was cut short by the screech of an etire squadron of riders. Their flying mounts, which Vala recognized from the barn, set on her, tying her up midair. She struggled and flailed, but her captors would have none of it. She hit the ground with a thump and everything went dark.

          She woke up in her stall, once again chained. Not a single guard was to be seen; that was a little relief. She chirped softly, annoyed at the whole situation. She began to preen her feathers, cleaning the dust off of them as best she could, when Jereth raced in, his mind awash with worry.

          "Vala!" he cried, racing to her stall. He paused to catch his breath. "Vala, there is talk that they will kill you," he breathed. "They say that if you are not broken, you are of no use to the empire!"

          <But I have done nothing wrong,> she explained. <It is their fault I act this way.>

          "I know, but the empire needs attack griffins, and because you cannot be made into one, they will get rid of you," Jereth was very upset; he was shaking in apprehension.

          "You have to escape!" he told her. His knuckles were turning white from gripping the pen's fence so much.

          <But how? These chains bind me,> Vala said, looking down at her legs.

          "I will come tonight," Jereth decided, "and unlock them." The sound of guards made him look up. "Wait for the sun to set, and I will be back," he whispered, then raced off.

          Jereth returned when the moon began to rise. His footsteps woke Vala immediately. The moonlight reflected off her eyes, causing them to glow eerily.

          "Vala!" Jereth hissed.

          <I am awake,> she replied. She watched as the figure in the dark that was Jereth raced over to her stall. With a few deft movements of a wire, the stall's door swung open soundlessly. <How did you do that?>

          "I have a few skills some people wish I didn't," he replied with a smile, then set to work on her chains. "Just a few more minutes..." The chains came off with a louder than expected clink. His expression changed from confidence to apprehension, hoping no one heard it.

          Unfortunately, someone did. A patrolling guard glanced down the isle and the open stall door drew his eye. The silhouettes of a boy and a fully grown griffin immediatly alerted him to the happenings.

          "Hey, you! Get away from there!" he shouted. The figures paused, but then sped up instead of slowing. The guard picked up speed, racing toward the pair. "Stop him! He's freeing a griffin!"

          Vala screeched and took to the air, flapping as hard as she could. Guards surrounded Jereth - there was no place for him to escape to.

          "You should never have captured her! You should never have captured any of these creatures!" he shouted. But the guards were on him and soon he was chained himself and lead off to the dungeon.

          Vala circled above the scene, twisting her ears to catch any snatched of conversation. She heard little, but knew she could not get close without being noticed, even in this darkness.

          "...traitor...must...put to death..." She heard a fractured conversation by what appeared to be some human of importance. He was dressed in a long robe that the griffins had come to know as a symbol of authority. "...freed griffin...spy among us..." A few more words crept near her like silent moths in the cool night air.

          The female griffin raced off into the night, guided only by her instincts. While she had never had any feelings of any kind for a human, Jereth hung in her memory like a candle in darkness. She knew one thing, though - she must free him. He was willing to give his life for her, and this was the most sacred oath of all.

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