They Who Were
It was suddenly hard to breath. The air here seemed thick. He tried to take a deep breath but all he got was dust in his throat. “Griffin?” he asked his voice strangely muffled. The Griffin had its head bend down to the ground as though it was paying its respects. Then it got up and shook itself. A small cloud of earth billowed underneath it. It then began scratching the earth with its two eagle claws.
“What are you doing?” Ihloden asked moving back from the air depriving mass of dust that the Griffin was causing. The Griffin kept going and small grunting and stuffing noises. Ihloden tried to get close to see what it was doing, but all he got was most gray dust in his face. He backed off coughing and fanning the air wildly in front of him. “When you are done there, call me,” he choked the words out and walked away to where the air was clean.
The silence was oppressive and dead, till even the scrapping sounds of the Griffin, seemed muffled. It made his skin crawl. He had heard all his life of the Waste Plains of Writhia. Of the wars that were fought here, of the tragedy that occurred hair, that fateful day, when Lyficen not only destroyed but forever shamed the armies of Cysia. He could not even feel the Land here, it was like a huge scar on the face of Cysia. He sighed and turned to see what the Griffin was doing. He was just in time to see it snap its head back with a joyous squawk and it pulled at something firm and hard with its beak and the something came free. The Griffin stumbled back a bit then faced him and dropped the something on the ground. Dust billowed up greatly. Iholden wisely stood back till it settled and then went to see what it was. He stood in shock, then looked at the Griffin, then back at the ground. An overwhelming feeling of assurance rolled over him, driving aside the question he was going to ask. The something was in fact a something; it was a Griffin Rider Armor.
He reached out to touch it then pulled back his hand. He suddenly didn’t know if he wanted to touch it or not, he felt unworthy. The Griffin nudged his shoulder and he looked up into large kind eyes. He took a breath and gently laid the armor out so that it would not disturb the dust a lot. It was surprisingly intact. He fumbled with the straps and found them to loosen with a little pulling and tugging. He then tied them back and sat down in the gray dust.
“What should I do with this?” he asked more to himself than to the Griffin, then he spoke directly to the Griffin, “Why did you bring me here?”
It was small at first, then it came one after the other, the rolling overpowering emotions that were the Griffin’s way of talking to him. Pride followed by joy, then wariness. A certain sorrowful anger followed by a brief hint of relief then utter despair. Then shame, and a dull fear, followed by hope and a strong sense of justice. That strong desire to do right, to start fighting back struck home with Ihloden. In that moment, it was as if he and the Griffin were one and the emotions of the Griffin were his own and it swelled in his heart and fired his brain. He took a breath and choked on the dust and the emotions went away, reducing back to normal levels. He looked at the Griffin and for the first time, he understood clearly what it was saying to him. It had shown him what all Griffins had felt, from the time they were made to the war with Lyficen, to the life they lived after. It wanted to put things right. It was a Griffin and he was its rider. It brought him to place where their shame all began, and it was asking him to help it put things right, to erase that shame, to restore the pride that once belonged to Cysia.
He got up and tenderly lifted the armor and tucked it under his arm. It was very light, but he could feel the sturdiness of the material.
“Let’s go home,” he said in a low voice, “and fix this up.”
The Griffin looked at him and nodded, there was something like gratefulness in its eyes that was replaced by a fierce light. He had a feeling that he impressed the Griffin. It settled back down onto the ground and he struggled up onto it back. He put the armor between himself and the Griffin and leaned on it to make sure that it did not fall off. It turned out that he was almost lying flat from the waist, along the Griffin. The Griffin took its time in flying back. It stopped for them to spend the night in a small cave, in the Krogas Range. If it wasn’t for the Griffin it would have been a cold hard night. But Ihloden had the luxury of curling up against the warm furry body and spending quite a peaceful night, lulled to sleep by the deep steady breathing and the soft woody voices of the trees. They were already flying before the sun came up fully. It was Ihloden’s first view of the sunrise from up so high. It was amazing. The sun was no longer peeking over the range, instead it seemed to glide silently and gloriously up out of the earth; a bright golden orb. He kept watching it as it came up; the air getting slowly warm around him, the skies changing colour. He actually gasped when the first solid ray of light shot out unexpectedly. He felt a deep satisfaction and awe, and he patted the Griffin. “Me too,” he said to it, “Me too.”
Soon they were over the familiar trees of the Beruhd. Memory of home pressed hard against Ihloden, as he pulled the armor up onto the griffin back for the twentieth time.
“What are we going to tell my mother?” Ihloden wondered out loud. A gentle ripple of concern passed through him. “Don’t worry,” Ihloden assured the Griffin, “I won’t sell you out.” The Griffin responded with a loud squawk. “Shhhh…you don’t want anyone to hear you, do you?” Ihloden hissed. The Griffin gave a huff and dove cleanly through the trees and lighted easily on the ground. It ruffled its feathers and shook its hind legs. Ihloden looked around after placing the armor on the ground. The trees were dense in this part of the forest, not a lot people dared to brave the dark green tangles or the thick under brush. It was a perfect place to hide the Griffin and the armor. The Griffin pushed through the undergrowth and the squawked once it was through. Ihloden took it as a sign to follow it. He hefted the armor onto his shoulder and pushed through as well. He found himself in a warm leafy enclosure. The ground was clean and neat. The brush was arranged in a rather organized fashion. He looked at the Griffin.
“You did this?” he asked. The Griffin looked around, seeming quite pleased. “Auramancers,” It said.
“What?” Ihloden asked again. The Griffin did not reply. He shrugged. “This is a good place to leave the armor,” he said to the Griffin. The Griffin lowered its head and looked up at him, a whisper of feeling like an idiot passed through him. He looked shocked, “Well excuse me for stating the obvious,” he pouted at the Griffin.
He turned away and put the armor in a neat corner. Soft feathers brushed his head and he looked up to see the Griffin pressing its head towards him. He stood still as its forehead touched his. He braced for the painful sensation like the last time, but all he felt was a deep contentment and a warm feeling that went right to his core. The Griffin then, went and sat down next to the armor. Ihloden didn’t know what to make of it. “I’ll come back to clean up that armor.” He said. The Griffin nodded and laid its head on its forelegs. Ihloden realized it was nodding off. He smiled a little and went back out and set his face toward home.