Spring 706 Cristos Reckoning
It was, and still is a rare occurrence, A cause for celebration. It is not often that entertainers visit these small, remote places in the wilderness. That one would visit here, in the area surrounding Metamor Keep was all but unheard of. Fear of the Keep and its curse keeps many away. If you are foolhardy, brave, unfortunate or unlucky enough to stay you will be forever changed. The curse only takes a week, sometimes less, and it is not reversible.
As for me, well, perhaps I was a little of all four. Or perhaps fate simply smiled on me. I thought my travel arrangements would allow me to move in and out as the wind. By and large they did, For a while.
So it is that I found myself in the small village of Merith south of the keep. I had come to tell my stories, and sing my songs. I always impress the locals with my stories and songs. For they come from lands both very far away and just down the road. All in all it seemed a nice way to start my spring campaign.
Presently, I was sitting beside a small, but warm fire. A circle of stones around it keeping stray coals from escaping. At the edge of the firelight, could be seen several faces arrayed around me. The children of this small village were listening intently as I began my narration. The crackling of the fire seemed to punctuate my words.
"We entertainers like to come to these remote places. We like to spread cheer and happiness." I said. "Often times, happiness is rare in the darker places of the earth. Greater than gold and jewels is the value of happiness. And so my bounty is priceless." I saw the smiles glowing on the faces of the young ones.
"Happiness is a basic necessity of life. Without it, eventually entire Civilizations can die off. Or worse, they can be changed into something else." I watched as the adults understood and grimly nod their heads. "This is the secret and unknown history of the Lutins." The look of surprise on the kids is priceless.
Once millennia ago Lutins were much like men. But somehow, they angered their Gods. So they were cursed with a misery. And that misery consumed them. It changed them into the shrunken, vile, green, beasts they now are. Their populations dwindled until they were virtually extinct. With the attentions of Nasoj however, misery grew. So too therefore did the Lutins."
I told this among many stories. Many stories that contain far too much truth, though just fantastic enough to almost be believable. The fire burns brightly in front of me sending sparks skyward as sap explodes. The acrid smoke dissipating into the windless night. The villagers, those not on guard duty anyway, are all circled around me. Children huddled closest to the warmth of the fire. Even the adults have trouble containing their excitement.
I told my stories of ancient times, and of times, not so ancient. I spoke of dragons, now virtually extinct to all but the south lands. And I spoke of the Gryfin, now rumored to be completely extinct. I told stories of magic long since forgotten and that should remain so. I spoke of the ancient races of the earth as well. The Dwarves, Elves, Gargoyles, most of whom have long since left this earth. To where no one can say.
It was a good night. The villagers finally retired to their homes nestled into the trees well after the night had fallen dark. The life of a troubadour suited me well. I learn much on the road. I act as a postman, newsman, entertainer, writer, and playwright. Spreading news and plain gossip from kingdom to kingdom, and village to village, completely heedless of loyalties, and responsibilities.
In return for my stories, I am often gifted the little necessities that make life on the road bearable. Things like clothes, blankets, food, and drink. But the most important this I gain from this is to be with others. I have a need that few could understand to socialize. Not for myself, but for my companion through me. I would often be offered a place to stay for the night, and frequently for as long as I wanted. This offer I am forced to politely decline, often to the puzzlement of my hosts. I could not risk explaining why though.
I particularly like the folk of Metamor Keep. Despite the effects of the magic that eventually takes them all (or perhaps because of it), I find them to be most appreciative, polite and gracious hosts. It is a shame that the people in the lower midlands hate them so unreasonably. Once I learned first hand about them, I vowed to try to temper the hatred with the truth.
I love these people and their ways. That a people so varied in race, creed, and religion can live cooperatively together is indeed a rarity. It is of course the Magic of this place that joins them. The magic affects everyone differently. For some it means a change in gender, some will find themselves forever children, but for many, the change is much more noticeable. But changed they all are. And that unites them in a way that is precious.
Many find themselves changed into rats, cats, wolves, bears, and all manor of other beings. Even one dragon that I know of. Yet, despite all their differences, they live together in peace and cooperation. Because of this unconditional acceptance, I would very much like to spend as much time as I can here. Despite these facts, however, some secrets must be kept.
Secreted into the woods far from sight or sound was my companion and friend of many years. It was important that she remain a secret. There are few of her kind around these days. Fewer still had a working relationship with a human. In fact, as far as we knew, Quickpaw is the only one still alive in this world.
Were we discovered, it would almost surely mean that we would have to go into hiding. If we weren't outright killed or captured by whomever was bright enough to do so that is. This is why I go into the night to sleep with my secret companion. And here I think of the stories that I dare not tell. And also of the reasons why even here in Metamor Keep we believed we could not hope for peaceful cover.
I had been with my friend and trusted companion, Quickpaw, for more years than I cared to remember. She has been with me since the fateful day while traveling into the mountains of the great barrier range that I had found her as a youngling.
Her mother had apparently been injured by some foul magic of Nasoj. She was dying, yet another victim of Nasoj's war on all that is good and pure. It was sheer chance that I had found them. The sudden storm had forced me to higher ground. I needed to avoid the flash floods sure to happen in the dry soils of the great desert below. And I literally stumbled into the cave. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted not with silence, but with the screeching hiss of a startled Gryfin in pain.
I had little in the ways of healing knowledge. I had even less of the half raptor half cat beings of myth and magic. But realizing the wondrous value of what I had stumbled upon, I tried my best to show that I meant no harm. Much to my surprise I discovered that she could seemingly understand my speech.
I labored over her for weeks, using what knowledge I had to ease her pain while trying to heal the strange burn upon her side. All the while I was beginning to know and understand both the Gryfin and her daughter. She was so sweet, barely larger than a big dog back then.
Though the burn was apparently healing, her health seemed to fail as she began to refuse the meat I was able to hunt for her. At first I was motivated by greed pure and simple. In those weeks though I had developed a connection with the two of them. They had come to seem almost human to me now. And I felt ashamed of myself, and of the greed that had driven me at first.
"I admit" I said to the Gryfin " that when I fist came in here and found you, I was thinking about gold and riches. But I realize the folly of that thinking, and I don't want that now. I wish I could help you, I wish I knew what to do. But I am just a traveling hermit." I was struggling to hold the tears back. I truly felt sadness for the loss that I knew is now inevitable. "What more could I do for you my friend, that I have not done? How can I make amends for my foolishness?"
She looked at me, piercingly, even seeming to plead with me. Then something happened that I was not expecting.
She spoke. Not with words per se, but with thoughts. I could see the words she used, and in my mind they became sentences.
"I believe you" she said. Then she went on after a brief pause. "The dark wizard killed my mate, and now claims me as well. Nothing you could do would stop this. We Gryfin are bonded in a way that most of your kind could not understand. If one of us is killed, the other surely must follow. This is the way of things for us."
"My child is the only reason I am still here." She continued "another of my kind would normally accept her as child, but they are all dead or far, far away. I cannot call to them now." She paused for a time, her breathing labored.
"I do not know how long it will take me, but I promise that if it is at all possible to do so, I will bring her to your people." This was a promise. I never make idle promises without intending to follow through. I did not know the difficulty of what I was promising. But it sounded adventurous and I am after all a storyteller and adventurer.
"No." was her reply. "Not even you will be able to do this. My kind have fled to someplace whereto no others from this world may go." She looked sadly to her child who had quietly sat down next to my leg. Evidently a conversation that I wasn't privy to was happening. The young Gryfin looked at me, then back to her mother and slowly nodded. A single tear formed and fell down her beak. Then she nuzzled her mother and turned and skulked out the entrance of the cave.
The Gryfin then turned back to me. "Hear well what I now tell you, as you will be her parent from this day forward. She cannot go to the other place for she has not the knowledge or the strength to do so alone."
"Her parent? But I am a mere human. How could I raise a Gryfin?"
"It will be difficult, I ask no trivial thing." She said "but if you are unwilling to take her, she will die. Even if she were mature enough to survive physically, without the bond that all Gryfin need, she cannot live long."
I think the development over for a bit; I hadn't had any such responsibility since I left my home in Shrivlana on the East Coast. Even then I was little more than a child myself. I thought about the life I left behind. I missed my mother; I missed the love she had for me. But when she died, I had no reason to stay. My father never cared a whit for me. I didn't want this beautiful creature to have to feel that abandonment. Not even for a short time. "I will do it." I finally said. "For the kindness and beauty I see in your hearts I cannot refuse."
Over the next few hours she told me of all the nuances of raising a Gryfin, giving me advice and instructions. I knew that I could never do some of what needed to be done, but promised to do my best all the same. I felt myself strangely connected to these wonderful creatures.
"Yes, we do bond well with others, it is a magical defense. But it only works with one who has good intentions." She said in response to my unspoken question "It would not have worked with you had you not had love in your heart."
"It is time." She finally said. "I must now go to be with my mate. I fear not for Quickpaw, for I know she is in good paws."
"One final warning, however; if she is discovered, many will try to enslave or kill her or use her for their own means. Only those you can trust implicitly can be allowed to know of her."
"She is Quickpaw." She says as she points with her beak out the cave entrance.
"It seems appropriate." I said, then unable to block my emotions anymore, the tears finally fell in force. "You, you will be greatly missed."
"I know," she seemed to smile. "But weep not for me; concern yourselves instead with the life that is ahead of you. Together, you will face many challenges, and you will need each other."
Then suddenly I realized that in all the time I had been here, I had never told them my name. It didn't seem important, but somehow it does now. "I know it probably means little to you, but my name is Kiska."
"In that you are wrong Kiska, a name means everything to me. I am Morningstar. So named for the color of my feathers." And indeed it was a good name for her. Even now in her final hours, her golden plumage and lioness pelt seemed to glow like the first rays of sunlight upon the eastern horizon.
"Come, embrace me in your fashion Kiska, and comfort me in my journey. For I am afraid. You and I are not very different in this way. We all fear the inevitable death."
I did so as the young Quickpaw returned, and together we embraced. "How do we create this bond?" I asked, "I do not want to cause any harm with unknowing incompetence."
"Simply share your thoughts of me and the bond will take care of itself" she responded.
With some effort she craned her neck over my shoulder and said as she drew her last breath "you have a good heart Kiska, the Ethereal is indeed kind to bring one such as you to me in my time of greatest need."
After she expired, much to my initial surprise, there was no need of burial. Gryfin are magical creatures. A very old kind of magic. One that predates the oldest of earthen life. Now that her body was no longer needed, it disintegrated as I watched, into an ethereal mist to slowly float into the great beyond
In my travels, I have learned much of the curse of Metamor. In the years since the curse was placed, many types of beings have been created. But the curse cannot change or create magic. This is why the curse at Metamor cannot change someone into a Gryfin, as Gryfin `are' magic. Little did we know, many rules can be broken with the right help.
So it is that this story begins...
Silence, as they say is golden. I listened to the silence of the night as I walked north along the road that leads out of town. The moon shone brightly as it rose over mountains across the farms and fields. The bluish light illuminated the forest looming ahead. It was a beautiful night, unspoiled by covert pursuit or the stench of Lutins. The crisp cool air of the spring night invigorated me. The smell of cold fog in the distance making the air seem cleaner than usual.
"How are things looking Quickpaw?" I mentally asked my companion.
"All is quiet tonight Kiska. I have found a sheltered grove in which to camp. Would you like me to pick you up?" Is her response.
"How far away is it? The night air refreshes me, and a hike might be welcome."
"Not too far" she responded with a mental grin. "I can see you in the field, look east to the mountains."
Of course, Quickpaw understandably likes the higher places, and is very good at finding remote places to camp. Places easily defended or fled from. By necessity she could not accompany me into the villages, but spent her time instead locating the best campsite, then usually hunting or just flying about.
We often traveled this way, flying at night to avoid being seen and attacked or magically captured. That she can see me meant typically that she is within perhaps three to five miles.
Sure enough as I looked over the freshly tilled field, I spot the slight movement of my beautiful Gryfin in flight. Barely visible in the odd light of the moon, she banks to the right from her southerly flight and glides silently in my direction. For a moment she is silhouetted against the moon. She circles high overhead before swiftly descending to land with a loud thump next to me.
She was and always is a sight to behold. She has the wings and head of a gyrfalcon; a beautiful white with dark gray or black highlights. And the back body that looks to be of the snow leopard. With talons in front mounted to paw-like tarsus, and feline hind paws with two toned spots throughout. The muscles rippled beneath her pelt as she took up the trail next to me. She is a beautiful creature.
"Enjoy the flight?" I said aloud.
"Yes, very much thank you. There is a group of Lutins about two miles to the northeast." She reports "but they are camped for the night, and are oblivious to our presence." She then shuffles her wings to settle comfortably at her sides.
I reach around her soft neck and hug her lovingly. She cranes her neck to
return the embrace in her fashion. Her plumage is always so soft and silky after
a nighttime flight.
I can't help but to think that I could easily be lost in the velvety fur and feathers of my companion. As I breathe the wonderful earthy scent of my companion, I ruminate at the facts of our lives together.
A bond of love is necessary for a Gryfin to survive. They are therefore, social creatures by necessity. The young are bonded to their mother until they mature, then they bond with their mate. This mate bond is complete and unbreakable. It is a bond of conscience and spirit. When I accepted Quickpaw as my own, I accepted by necessity the bond of parent. The Ethereal willing, when she matures in about another decade, a mate may be found for her.
With this parent bond, we can literally keep no secrets from one another. We can see through the eyes of the other, and share also the others senses as well. The mate bond is even more complete. When she matures, she will have to be mated as the parent bond begins to fade.
This is a source of great sadness for us both. For if a mate cannot be found I will have to assume that role. We hold no delusions though; I have no issues with the role, I love her very much, but a physical relationship, and therefore children are impossibilities. It is difficult to accept that she may be the last of her kind, and that together we are the ends of our respective family lines. Not that in my case that would be a loss to the world. At least we are together though. I cannot imagine life without her.
A Gryfin typically lives for thousands of years. A human usually only sixty or seventy at most. But our bond bends the rules as it were. It would surprise many to hear my true age. Quickpaw is now about forty years old. When I first found her I was thirty-two. Physically I haven't aged a day since.
We walk quietly for a time, enjoying the peace of the spring night and the company of each other. By mid moon we were approaching a bridge that spans a small river. It was of wooden construction. And only about ten paces long but wide enough for two wagons abreast.
"We should get some rest." She said. "If you wish to see the keep tomorrow and still leave the area in time to avoid the curse, we will have to get an early start. The grove is some hours walk from the keep."
"I was just thinking the same thing." I respond with a smirk.
"Of course," she mentally smiles. "We do share our thoughts after all." We continue to enjoy this even after all these years together.
We stopped before the bridge and she lowered her massive back so that I can mount her as I would a horse. Then together we vault into the air in a flurry of wind and dust. We flew for some ten or twelve miles in about five minutes. The trees flow below like water in a river.
We move at a leisurely pace. Of course, leisurely for us means easily thrice the speed of a horse. Perhaps a well-motivated horse could keep up with us on land. But in the air, there is little that could mach us. I reveled in the feeling of the cold spring air flowing around us. My hair tied as it was in a ponytail flowing behind as if it were a flag. I breathed the crisp cool air. It held the promise of frost for the morning. Together our hearts leapt for joy at the freedom of flight.
Such freedom however is often short lived. Before I was quite ready we landed at our chosen camp. "I like the view!" I said as I dismounted. "We can see for miles and could be gone in seconds if we need to."
"Yes, and there is Metamor" she said as she pointed with one wing to the northwest.
Indeed there in the haze of the night is the magical castle of Metamor. It's multiple spires jutting into the sky. Surrounding the keep is a sprawling town. Shops, homes and taverns. All so typical of many such fortified places that can be found.
The peaceful midnight visage belies the magic and people of this place. The serenity of the night effectively masking the specter of war that always hangs over the region.
"Well, I suppose we should call it a night, but first there must be time for dinner." I proceeded to shuck my pack and dig out the venison that was given to me at Tullwine. The meat is wonderfully spiced for human taste, but it leaves something to be desired for a Gryfin. No matter, there was only enough to last through the morning anyway. I will have to get something at Metamor.
"I wish it hadn't been cooked." She said for the third time in as many days.
"I know, but if I had asked for raw meat, it would have raised some questions that we might have had difficulty answering."
"Humph. Well, I guess its better than finding I have eaten a Metamoran."
I chuckled, " yes, that might not settle well with anyone involved."
Normally, hunting for meat is not much of a problem, but given the nature of the people of Metamor, we decided to avoid a dreadful risk, and not hunt, lest the food fight back.
Much of the venison I gave to Quickpaw. I had a little jerky, some early veggies and dried fruit. I remove my blanket and spread it upon the ground. I assemble my enchanted staff, and prepare for the night. Should danger approach, the staff should warn us.
Quickpaw then lay on her side and I lay spooned in her warm embrace. She draped her wing about us both. And covered us in warmth that no blanket could hope to match. Together we slept until the morning sun came over the horizon.
We woke to rainbows. There were tens of thousands of them. Reflected from the frost upon the spring buds in the trees. It is a truly enchanting sight. The birch's, oak, and maples make a magical scene of light and color. They are just beginning to wake from their winter slumber. In mere weeks this area would be bursting with life, leaves and flowers. That morning though, winter still clung to its stranglehold on the region. And created scenes of beauty in its last grasps of cold death.
Together we stretched and groaned and greeted the morning with yawns. Quickpaw stretched her wings full out spanning an area easily fifteen paces, talons and claws scraping gouges into the soft earth.
"Good morning Kiska" she said to me as her tail swished to and fro in her happiness. "It is such a beautiful morning, I wish we could stay here forever" early morning activity was just starting in the town of Metamor below. Smoke rising from many of the chimneys indicating meals being shared among family and friends in the houses and taverns. The very faint smell of wood smoke reaching us in the higher elevations above the keep.
The scene exuded peace and tranquility. The only evidence of a war footing was the change of the guard underway even as we watched through the sparse cover of the trees. "Yes, I agree, but even here in the highest peaks, we would inevitably be discovered eventually."
"Yes, I suppose so, we should enjoy it while we can then." She handed me my pack with a tarsus.
"Let's enjoy it over breakfast then. Shall we?" I opened the pack to remove the last of the venison for Quickpaw. Then I built a very small fire to cook my meal on. Once the water began to boil I extinguished the fire. Then I added the oats and wheat meal. Then I threw in some of my few remaining dried berries. The mixture quickly becomes an aromatic and flavorful mush.
Together we ate in peace as the birds flutter to and fro in the trees. I noticed a sparrow that seems to have taken an interest in my breakfast. I spread some of the grain about nearby and watch as the birds fluttered in to eat. "It is truly a peaceful morning." I muse. "I feel good about visiting Metamor today, rumor has it there is a wolf man their named Wanderer that is a playwright of some repute. I would love to be able to compare stories before we have to leave."
I didn't notice the sparrow still watching from above in the trees. She looks at me listening. Then she looks at Quickpaw for a while. Then she quietly takes wing and flew in the general direction of the Keep.
"As you can see, everything has been pretty quiet for some weeks now. The Lutins seem to be keeping their distance." The rabbit was leaning against his desk sweeping several maps and documents with eyes and paws, the horse king next to him studying as well. "While a welcome reprieve from hostilities, I can only think this may be a silence before a storm."
"Yes, I see the concern, but none of your spies have given us any reason for alarm, have they?" The duke replied. Ears twitching in mild annoyance.
"No, and that's what worries me most." Phil replies. "There has been word of nothing from Nasoj's forces; they seem to be just resting."
Both morphs started at the sound of pecking at the window, the pattern of the pecks familiar to both. It was not uncommon for their morning security meeting to be interrupted in this way. Duke Thomas went to the window and opened it. There on the sill is a familiar sparrow who swiftly enters and shifts to her most human form.
Jayems fluttered from tree to tree as he observed the strange human walking below. A living Gryfin was news to be excited about, but from the one sided conversation it was clear that the Gryfin wasn't going anywhere, and his orders are to watch the human. Not that there was much else to do right now. The Lutins had been unusually quiet lately.
Just then though, he caught a sight of something. That glimpse sent shivers of alarm through his body. What he saw looked a lot like it might have been a Lutin. With a screech he bolted off ahead on the trail. It was about two hundred paces before the Chickadee could see the foul green creatures. There were about two score of them and one of them was obviously a mage. That would explain how they got this close to the Keep undetected.
There was nothing for it. He forgot about the human behind him. Jayems's first duty is to report this sizable force to the garrison immediately. This he did with all speed possible.
The road was well tended and smooth. The traveling going well. It had been some hours since leaving Quickpaw behind in the grove. And that time had been utterly uneventful.
The birds were doing their thing in the trees. A red squirrel scampered across the road, scurrying up a tree when it saw me. The fresh morning air was refreshing in my lungs.
Presently a loud chirp got my attention from above. The staff leapt into a defensive posture as a small bird swoops down under the canopy of semi-bare branches. Then goes straight down the road. "Its nothing" I think to myself and to Quickpaw. "Just a bird fleeing from some predator." I always keep in mind the link between us. Every alarm for one of us is felt by the other as well. -"It's odd though, the staff almost never gives false warnings like that."-
The apparently false alarm having past, I continued my travels while humming a tune.
The tune was cut short about two clicks down the road when suddenly I detect the muted odor of Lutins. "Shite."
"What's wrong?" Is Quickpaw's response.
"It wasn't a false alarm," I mentally chastise myself for being so foolish "Lutins, very near, the odor was somehow covered until now."
"I am on the way, don't get into trouble" but it was already too late, with an inhuman scream one of the little brutes leapt from a tree behind me, and charged with his rusty sword drawn.
I made quick work of the first few of them with my staff. Parrying swords and delivering crushing blows to the heads and legs and arms. Breaking bones and bodies with each blow. But there seemed to be hundreds of them. So many that I was forced to try to flee. But the Lutins appeared to be everywhere.
So concerned was I with the Lutins that I did not see the root jutting from the road until it was too late. I fell backwards and saw stars as I land and hit my head on a stone.
"Kiska!!!" Suddenly with a scream and the tearing of limbs from the trees there is Quickpaw, cleanly snapping the head off of the Lutin who was standing over me about to strike a fatal blow with his axe.
"A Gryfin!" Horst, the captain of the Lutin unit and their mage was momentarily stunned to see the extinct beast of legend suddenly killing his men. But only momentarily. "Capture that thing!" He screamed to his men. "Nasoj would pay dearly for it."
As my hearing and vision began to fade, I saw Quickpaw standing over me, wings spread wide. And directly over my prone form, an orb appeared. I see no more though as blackness took me.
"All right lads and lasses, are we ready for field combat training?" Hogan the tiger-man surveyed his unit. Ten of his best soldiers were with him that day. The response is a resounding "yes sir!". There were a few of his fellow cats, a lion, a cheetah, and also a snow leopard. In addition there was a Grizzly bear, a ferret, two badgers, and three humans. Fierce and battle hardened fighters all. It had been decided that some field training would be welcome, as there had been very little activity from the Lutins lately. The troops had been getting restless.
Just as the guards began to open the gates, a twitter from above caught the captains attention. "Jayems, what's wrong?" The tiger asks. The small bird was moving as though Nasoj himself was at his tail feathers.
The bird completely shifted form before he even hit the ground, "Lutins" he screeches. "About two score, only four clicks along the south road. You must make haste, the human I was trailing may already be in their midst.
"Report this immediately to Copernicus. Tell him that I am taking my elite unit to intercept them and to send backup as quickly as possible." Jayems immediately leapt into the air while shifting and fluttered off to the Castle. With that the troopers of Hogan's unit depart at a dead run to the south road. It appears that training is cancelled today in favor of the real thing.
It would normally have taken an hour to make the four clicks to the reported location of the Lutins. But there is little that could outpace a motivated Keeper. As it was, it only took about twenty minutes at a dead run before they come to the scene of the battle. They weren't prepared however for what they saw. As they rounded the curve in the road by a rocky outcropping, they saw something truly spectacular.
There in the middle of the road between them and a group of Lutins is, of all things, a Gryfin. All the troopers are stunned motionless, as they witnessed the thing snap the head off of one of the little beasts. The Lutin axe fell harmlessly to the ground before the body fell on top of it still pumping blood.
Then its wings spread wide, and a strange glow formed in front of it. An odd wind started to form. Then a small vortex was created around the Gryfin and its companion on the ground. Then with a sudden piercing predatory cry, it thrusts its wings forward and a massive ball of blue light flashed out. It went directly to the Lutin who was obviously the leader of the band.
The mage attempted to erect a shield, but the hasty defense is destroyed utterly as the ball impacts the Lutin. Instantly in a flash of brilliant light the Lutin and everything for about twenty paces around him including about twenty of his company was frozen solid. The cold of the ice, could be felt by the keepers some twenty-five paces away from its edge.
Finally Hogan snapped out of the impromptu trance. "Spread out, and take the remaining Lutins one-on-one. Do not disturb the Gryfin." The troopers do so quickly, but cautiously. There were only about a half dozen of them left.
Between the Gryfin and the Keepers, the few remaining Lutins are quickly wiped out. No one however was willing to approach the obviously angry Gryfin who was guarding the body of the strange human. Finally though, one of the humans, Sam, a transgender, cautiously approaches. "We mean neither of you any harm." She said in as soothing a voice as she can muster. "Let me check him, we can help."
The Gryfin looks into her eyes for a moment and gently nods. A quick examination reveals no apparent physical injuries. But there is a massive bump on his head, and slight fever. Though a potentially fatal injury, Apparently all that is wrong is a severe concussion.
"He needs help we cannot give him here." She Says. "He has to be carefully brought to the Keep. Injuries of the head can be fatal even well after the fact."
The Gryfin looked at those seated in a semi-circle about her. Then lay down next to the prone form, the left wing nearest him slightly lowered. She then pointed with her beak to the body, and then her back.
"You want to carry him?" Sam asked. The Gryfin nods. "If he is shaken too badly it may harm him more." The Gryfin nods again. "We could easily carry him in a litter." At this the Gryfin gave a slightly menacing hiss. Clearly she knew what she was doing and the risks involved. Carefully the three humans lifted him from the ground while carefully cradling his head and gently placed him on the massive back of the Gryfin. His head cradled between her shoulder blades. The wing rose to carefully cradle the body between powerful aft-shoulders. She then rose to her feet and slowly walked in the direction of Metamor.
Sam picked up the strangers pack and staff and followed along with Hogan who quickly called the group to begin a slow march back to the Keep.