Meetings and Bondings
“Hey Ihloden come take a drink with us boy,” A voice called out from somewhere in the rabble that is Grims Tavern. Ihloden felt the almost unperceivable silence that followed the statement. He also felt the temptation keenly as he had felt it the last seven days he had been asked that same question.
And like the last seven days he answered the same cheerful way; “Not today boys, gotta keep the man’s business going you know.”
The silence lasted for a few seconds more, then the crowd went back to its normal noise. Ihloden breathed a sigh of relief and went to get more beers for the customers. Grims had a look in his eye when he came into the back for the next rounds to carry out. He looked at the tall broad man, “What?” Grims shrugged.
“Glad to see you getting back on your feet boy.” Then he turned and began hollering at the other workers. Ihloden allowed himself a small grin and went back to work.
The day ended well enough that Ihloden headed back home to find Voren sitting with a strained happy look in his face. It was still weird coming home to find the young man sitting in his living room. But surprisingly his mother and Shila somehow benefited from having the man’s company. It was almost as if they thrived off having another mouth to feed and another person to bicker with. Voren got up and limped to meet him.
“Get me out of here,” he whispered with the same happy strained look on his face, “If I have to keep this smile on my face any longer it is going to become permanent.”
Ihloden laughed and slung an arm around his shoulder, “My dear boy, this is what you have to bear when you are part of a family. I have had it for eighteen years and now it is your turn.” Even as he said he saw something in the man’s eyes. A look of longing and of hurt. Then it was gone and Voren laughed.
“You sure are cruel,” he sighed. Ihloden heard the accusation in his voice despite the attempt to hide it. Ihloden shook his head in wonder. He was also still getting used to the mood swings that Voren went through. He was almost healed; the puncture wounds were almost closed over, his hair had even grown back, well most of it, after the griffin healed him. The only thing still bugged him a lot was the ankle. But despite his body recovering, there were wounds that were deep inside him that no medicine, normal or magical could heal.
“Oh by the way,” he said walking over to where his sister was cutting cloth, “Nurilah wants to see you tomorrow Voren. She wants to check your ankle.” Voren slipped out from under his arm and picked up the cut cloth and gave it to Ihloden to fold.
“She is one scary lady,” Voren said shaking his head. They all laughed while Voren look a bit offended.
“What? He exclaimed, “She is! I mean she is huge and so stern at times.”
“She may be all that Voren dear,” Shila said giving him a sly wink, “But she has a heart of gold.” Ihloden frowned as Voren returned her wink.
“Well I cannot not deny that,” he said, “Once my ankle is fixed, you will teach me how to hunt right?” the last part was directed to Ihloden. He nodded back and took the next piece of cloth that Voren gave to him.
“I don’t know how you could not know to hunt,” Ihloden said, “I mean you nobles always hunt.”
Voren shrugged his shoulders, “My father was a very over protective man. He never let me out of his sight without a guard of some sort.” Ihloden snorted.
“Dinner is ready,” his mother called from the kitchen, “Some help to set the table please.”
“Coming”, they all said in unison. Ihloden frowned again as he saw the supposed hidden looks that passed between Voren and his sister. As Shila moved off and Voren moved to follow her, Ihloden laid a hand on Voren’s shoulder.
“Oh by the way,” he said quietly. Voren suddenly became alert serious.
“What is it?” he said his voice low as well.
“I don’t like the way you are gaping at my sister. You are a bit young for her, aren’t you,” Ihloden stated. Voren started at him. He then blinked. Then stared at him again. A small smile played about the edges of his lips.
“How old do you think I am?” he asked.
Ihloden shrugged, “About twenty or so.”
“I am twenty five Ihloden,” he said. Ihloden felt his jaw go slack in disbelief. “And I believe that Shila is twenty four,” he continued, “So I am not too old for her. But to ease your mind, Shila is a very smart and wise woman. I am sure she will be able to decide if I am a good for nothing man or someone worth flirting with.” The grin then disappeared and Voren said in a low somewhat solemn voice, “I swear on my life Ihloden. I will not hurt your sister.”
Ihloden felt a bit off balance at the sudden mood swing. But he nodded, “I will take you at your word Voren. You better keep it.” Voren nodded back to him.
His mother’s and Shila’s voice rang into their solemn moment, “Ihloden !Voren!” Solemn moment was forgotten in the mad scramble to get to the kitchen before they were further scolded.
The next day he and Voren set off to Nurilah’s place after Ihloden secured the day off from Grims to go and hunt some game; with the promise of part of his catch. They strode in comfortable silence till they reached the rugged house and while Voren was stripping down to his short underpants; Ihloden was strapping on his hunting gear.
“I already set the other gear at the site,” Nurilah said softly. Ihloden nodded as Voren announced he was ready. Ihloden slapped his shoulder lightly.
“Don’t worry,” he whispered to him, “She is less stern in the morning.” Voren gave him a glare that was meant to scald him, but Ihloden just laughed and headed out into the wood. Once inside he stretched his arms out wide and took a deep breath. Then he headed off towards the Griffin.
The Griffin was already sitting waiting for him in the clearing. “Sorry I did not come to see you,” Ihloden said tucking his bow and arrows away into the little alcove where the saddle and armor lay ready. The Griffin sent a wave of concern to him.
“He is doing better,” Ihloden said strapping on the armor and picking up the saddle, “He is getting checked up right now. Nurilah is going to give him some exercises to do to test how well his body is healing up, so we should have a few hours ahead of us for some flight.” A wave of amusement followed as he tied on the saddle. Ihloden stepped back to make sure the saddle was on right and then with smooth jump, he settled into the saddle. The griffin gave a short screech. “I know,” he said smugly, “I did come on better didn’t I? Practice makes perfect.” The Griffin answered by rearing up suddenly and leaping into the air, clawing towards the skies, its wings beating laboriously. Ihloden felt the familiar sick lurch of his stomach as he leaned to flatten himself on the Griffin to ease the flight upward. Then in a glorious moment that he never got used to, they burst out of the tree line and into the morning light. The sun shone down on them; turning the Griffin from a muted sand-brown into shining gold. Ihloden took a deep breath in and at the same time the Griffin gave a long scream into the skies. “Alright darling,” he said with a smile spreading across his face, “Let’s race the wind to the Krogas.”
Ihloden was starting to feel a bit nauseous by the time he and Griffin had finally settled into a straight flight. The Griffin had made up for that missed day by doing twice the number of aerial maneuvers. “Seriously,” Ihloden said reaching to pat the Griffin’s side, “Did you have to do fours tight full spins followed by that backward flip? Did you have to?” The griffin projected its amusement to him. “Very funny for you,” he groaned, “You are not the one with breakfast trying to make another appearance.” Suddenly the Griffin banked left and dropped low to the tree line.
“What is it?” Ihloden asked, “What’s wrong?” the Griffin projected a concerned feeling and he followed it line of sight to see nothing but trees. Then a flash of color. Then there was nothing. Then another flash of darker color. They both looked ahead to see the same thing. The Griffin projected danger. Ihloden craned his neck, “I can’t see what it is. Can you get a little lower?” The Griffin nodded and ducked a bit lower. The flash of color appeared to be a person running in wild abandon, glancing back several times. Then following him were three other people, dressed darkly; with the sun glinting off drawn blades. Ihloden stiffened. “We should get help,” he said. Then he glanced back toward Molvn. The Griffin sent a wave of urgency to him. It had not turned its head but remained following the path of the running people. The people in the dark clothes were catching up to the person in front of them. Ihloden glanced back to the people, then back towards Molvn, his heart sinking at the realization that the only help he could get was himself and the Griffin. The people closed further on the man in front.
“He could be an escaped murderer or something,” Ihloden protested. The Griffin sent another wave of urgency. Ihloden was about to protest again when he saw it; the symbol of Lyficen blazed on the sleeves of dark clothed men. The man in front stumbled and fell with food scattering from his tussled clothing. Ihloden felt cold inside at the men drew near to the fallen man. They raised the swords. Ihloden felt himself scream. But it was as if he was far away. Then the trees came up towards him; blindingly fast. Then they were through, into the forest below. The swords were coming down. The Griffin’s scream now added to his own. The men turned in union towards them. He saw the fright and awe on their faces.
Then they struck. One man went flying into a tree trunk. The other man dropped his sword the instant before the Griffin slashed its fore claws at him, tearing through cloth and flesh. The Griffin spun toward the third man who had fallen back onto his butt and was waving his hands, saying something. But Ihloden could only hear ringing in his ears and feel the rage and the cold fighting urge that was both his and the Griffin’s. The Griffin geared up to pounce on the man when suddenly a flash of gold hit the Griffin from the side. The ringing stopped as Ihloden was thrown from the saddle and the bond was broken between them. Ihloden hit the ground hard, skidding across the leafy floor. “Griffin!” he screamed scrambling up to his feet swaying drunkenly. “Yes?” a loud deep voice answered him. Ihloden ripped the helmet off his face and looked to where the voice had come from. Before him stood another Griffin.