After days of traveling, the caravan grew close to the base of the Canton Mountains. They knew this would not be an easy trek, but they were going to get through quickly and safely. Colt felt responsible for everyone with him, and he knew even though they were going into battle at some point, they were still just kids. He knew Annabeth and Kay both were saved because he had been there for both and led them to Christ, but he prayed for the rest for now. He knew along the way he would need to show Christ to the others. If anything goes wrong, he will never forgive himself for not at least trying.
There were two paths before them. One went through the mountain and seemed to be straight through, and the other went up and over but seemed to be very windy. As the group approached the beginning of both roads, they saw warning signs.
In lies a beast that moves in the shadows. His touch burns and his breath can kill. Only those that are worthy can face him and live.
Going over will surely put any that are worthy in the ground. Those that travel with them are the only ones who will be spared.
They argued for a while but finally decided the only choice they had would be to split up and meet back on the other side. Those that were chosen went together into the tunnel and faded into the darkness. Colt, Remi, and the three protectors all set out across the mountain in hopes to meet the others on the other side. As A.B. and the others descended into the mountain, it got darker and darker. They could tell someone was watching them, but could never quite see anyone. Sometimes in the corner of their eyes they would see some movement, but just as quick as they would see it, it would be gone. This route was proving to be a lot longer and more rugged than they expected. It was getting late, so they found an area that tucked back into the wall giving them three walls of protection, and they set up camp for the night. A.J. and Klaus volunteered to take first watch and let the girls get some sleep.
“You know it’s kind of funny how life can throw you a curve ball sometimes. I mean, we have been enemies for as long as I can remember, but now, we must rely on each other to fight. Honestly, I’m tired of fighting with you, anyway. We used to be friends until a girl came between us. I don’t even think she cares for either of us, anyway. Can we start over and do this right, fight together, not against each other?” Klaus said, as he stared into the fire.
“Man, I know what you mean. I felt like we had to fight because everyone expected it after a while. I think we can be unstoppable as friends. I mean, we did kick that giant horse’s butt, right?” laughed A.J.
Meanwhile, back up on the mountain, Colt was taking the group through very rough, slippery, and dangerous terrain. The roads were iced over and winding all over the place with steep drop offs. Colt felt like someone was watching them from the ridges above, but he never could spot anyone. It would be tough, though, to see anyone in all this snow, so he just continued pushing forward, looking for a place to set up camp for the night.
Up ahead they saw a cave just big enough to pull the truck into and to camp inside. Colt and Alioth built a fire and took the first watch. The air outside the cave was whipping by like a freight train, making a howling sound that sent shivers down Colt’s spine. It made it hard to see anything outside the cave with the snow blowing around, making a wall of white shielding anything on the outside from being seen. Colt couldn’t shake the feeling again that someone or something was watching them again, but there was no way he could see anything out there.
Back inside the mountain, the boys were just waking up the girls to switch shifts and try to get a few hours of sleep. Just as they were laying down, they heard someone scream. They jumped up just in time to see A.B. and Kay fighting, but they couldn’t see who they were fighting. Every time they would strike it, though, you could see a fiery glow where they hit.
Klaus quickly shouted at A.J., “It glows when we hit it, if we hit it quickly, we can see more of him. Let’s work together and strike it rapidly!”
The boys rush the beast and land not one, not two, not three, not even four, but fifteen hits: lighting the beast up like a firework show. Now they could see who they were fighting; they all grabbed their swords and formed a circle around the beast, taking turns attacking him until it ran away. They decided it was time to pack up and keep moving to get out of this mountain before the beast came back with friends.
Meanwhile, on top of the mountain, the Protectors have been woken up because a giant figure was approaching the entrance to the cave. Colt would not wait and see what it was before waking them. This creature looked to be at least 8 feet tall and seemed to have a tail that was swishing back and forth. Alioth, Neferes, Aetos, and Remi stood on either side of the opening of the cave wall, while Colt stood in the opening for the beast to be focused on. As it got closer, Colt noticed it also had wings and walked more like a horse. As it finally walked into the opening, Colt realized he was looking at a real live Griffin. He had only heard stories before about them, but everyone thought they were extinct now. The stories say Griffins are extremely aggressive creatures unless they find someone they want as a rider. The problem is they are very picky which is why they were thought to be extinct. Colt froze. He thought to himself that he would die right here and never get to see A.B. again. The griffin moved closer and let out a blood-curdling screech, but then lowered its head and moved slowly towards Colt and began walking around him. It smelled him and nudged him, it even licked him, which was extremely disgusting. But Colt would not move or say a thing. Finally, after the longest ten minutes of Colt’s life, the griffin came face to face with Colt and stared into his eyes and then gently kneeled before him. From everything Colt had read, this meant he was to be the Griffin’s new rider. As he moved towards the griffin, so did the others, which frightened him. He attacked the others, wounding Remi and knocking Alioth against the truck. He seemed ok with Aetos and Neferes because of their similarities. Before the griffin could attack Remi again, Colt stepped forward and raised his hands, which stopped him in his tracks. The griffin responded to Colt’s commands. He truly was the griffin’s rider.
“I think I will call you Ranger since you’re fierce like an Airborne Ranger.” Colt said, as everyone watched with amazement.
They gathered their things and got in the truck; Colt told Ranger to follow them down the mountain. As they drove down the trail Colt could see Ranger flying behind them, watching closely, making sure not to lose them.
Both groups reached the other side of the mountains and regrouped. After a quick standoff with Ranger and the Chosen, Colt calmed Ranger down and filled the others in on what was going on.
“I can’t even get a dog, Dad, but you get to have a Griffin, seriously come on!” said A.B. oozing sarcasm.
They gathered around the hood of Colt’s truck and looked at the map; they weren’t far from Odsdale now. Next stop would be to find the Sword of Fire, which meant finding a big, mean dragon as well. I guess having a Griffin to help with the fight might come in handy since they both can fly, it’s the fire part that has everyone worried.
They drove for a few hours and finally saw a sign for Odsdale. Remi then directed them to the Odsdale High School. As they pulled into the parking lot, it wasn’t hard to see where the next sword would be. On top of the school sat a giant dragon that looked like something wrapped it around the school and at the base of the dragon, right next to his tail, was a sword stuck in a rock. It reminded Colt of a story of Merlin and the Sword in the Stone, and he could tell Remi was thinking the same thing.