Flocked JP 30
Ryan Watt
(11 reviews)
Once Upon A Time... kingdoms in trouble had to wait for a wandering hero to come along and save the ... Show More
Genres:
Adventure, Comedy, Cross-Genre, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Tags:
Fairy Tale, Guild, Magic, birds, curses, Champions

You Old Rascal

              The horses of the dawn rode in a circle around the top of Viktor’s mansion in Velenka. Torias’s mind instantly went to casing the place, identifying the places to infiltrate from. There was a roof with a broken window near the top. A courtyard in the middle with lots of windows and doors.
 
For Jorinda, she could only see the similarities to her old home. The place she had worked for several years before the incidents that set her on this path. Returning here now, eight months after leaving her old job, four months after joining the Guild, felt like a chance to prove to herself how far she had come.
 
Kess spent the minutes trying to pull up any more information on griffons or the ingredients they had brought with them from his limited repository of deep knowledge. He did not come up with much.
 
Viktor thought only how strange it was to see the house from this angle. It was like he was seeing the place for the first time. It did not look, nor feel, like home.
 
“We need a plan before we go in,” Kess said.
 
“What do you suggest?” Viktor asked.
 
Kess answered, but it was hard for Viktor to listen. His thoughts were on his mother, inside. The evidence that she was working with Rascal were quite high, but he could not believe it.
 
The horses landed, per Kess’s instruction, at the edge of the walk up to the house. Viktor dismounted and he began to walk up to the front doors. As he walked, he realized he did not have his large bag slumped over his shoulder. That was still back at the Three Wings. He hoped mother wouldn’t realize.
 
He pushed open the front doors and came inside.
 
“Maminka,” he said softly. “I’m home.” The words soured in his stomach, rather than boomed out of him.
 
He went straight to the kitchen and set the golden apples they had brought back with them on the table. He noticed a spot of griffon blood on one of them, reminding him of what had brought him here, and what he would have to do next.
 
He left the kitchen and wound his way to his mother’s room. He found it empty. The bed was unmade. The hour was early enough he knew she had to be somewhere in the house.
 
His blood froze when he realized where she had to be. “The basement.”
 
He ran back to the kitchen. The door to the basement was now open, and an apple was missing.
 
“What happened?” Viktor asked the air.
 
“Hurry!” the air whispered back. “She took an apple and the sow and egg are missing.”
  
Viktor ran down the stairs. He didn’t think once about the squeaking stair as he leaped over it to reach the bottom.
 
There he found his mother, rubbing the beak of Rascal, while the creature ate out of the pail. Then she leaned in and kissed the beak.
 
“Maminka?”
 
She turned and looked at her son and sighed. “I was hoping it would not come to this, my Vitazko. I really did.”
 
Viktor’s heart broke. He did not know how to accept what he was seeing. His mother, kissing the old beast in the basement. “Maminka. How did this even happen?”
 
“My boy. First, I am proud of you for making it through all of those trials. I told Karubu you would. He, was hoping you would perish during one of them. To be honest, that would have been easier. I do not want to see you perish, my child, but… you are a failure…”
 
“A failure? I have defended you for decades. Protected you. Provided for you. I have slain monsters. I have found you a house! We had nothing, and because of my strength, look at all we have now!”
 
“Yes, but I raised you to not be a coward.”
 
“I am no coward!” Viktor roared as he slammed the side of a fist against a support beam. A light dusting of plaster drifted down like an early snow.
 
“Then why do I still live, boy?” Rascal laughed.
 
“Be-because. He was a prisoner. He was defenseless! I could not kill him like that.” Viktor knew deep down the answer about fear was true, but he could not bring himself to say it, so he said the other answers which were also true.
 
“Vitazko,” his mother cooed, in that way only a mother can to show love and disapproval.
 
“Boy. Did you not heed my brother’s warnings that I was the most dangerous of our rookery? They chained me up here for a reason. I tried to kill them all. I not only have their strength and power, but brains as well. I plan ahead. Think. I sent you to get ingredients that might kill you knowing that if you succeeded, I would have the strength to kill you myself. Either way, I win.”
 
“You see, my son. You lack courage and intelligence. He may not have had his strength when I found him down here, but it is clear that he can provide for me far better than you can. He can regain his strength, and alas you will never be able to gain intelligence.”
 
Viktor’s eyes stung with tears he refused to allow to fall, not until this fight was over and he the victor.
 
“But you have lost before, Rascal,” Viktor said with trembling voice. Only two days ago he wrestled down a larger griffon than this. Now he was struggling to win the wrestling match with his own emotions. He needed to be able to master them long enough to finish the task he should have finished months ago. H needed to kill Rascal.
 
“It took three full sized griffons to take me down before. You are one man. Strong, maybe, but alone you are not strong enough.” Rascal stood up. The shackles, Viktor realized, were no longer locked. They slid from the beast’s ankles like they had been tied on loosely with cloth. The Griffon stretched out his back and wings and legs.
 
“Then I am glad I did not arrive alone.”
 
Something flew through the air, leaving a whoophing sound in its wake. Viktor’s mother ducked on instinct, but the old Rascal rose higher on his feet. Before he could act, a window overhead of him shattered. Kess flew in through the window and darted past Rascal’s head. The beast lunged to snatch it up, but Kess darted too quickly.
 
“This is a crazy plan,” Jorinda whispered from somewhere near Viktor. The throwing club whistled towards her patch of air and vanished as she undoubtedly caught it. “He’s going to get himself killed… again.”
 
“Not if we do our jobs,” Viktor said. He ran towards the griffon. Suddenly his fear of the beast was gone. If he were only stronger than Viktor in the way of intellect, then he had Kess to compensate. If he could only be bested by three other griffons overpowering him, then he had the rest of the guild to help him. Plus, without the restoration potion, who knows how much strength he truly had.
 
Viktor, emboldened by his thoughts, swung a fist against the griffon’s beak. The beast’s head jerked to the side. Something popped. Talons swung up to try and eviscerate the impudent young man.
 
“Rascal!” Jorinda called. The other side of the creatures’ beak was pummeled by a small stick, which clattered to the ground. He moved to pin the stick to the ground with a lion’s foot, but it flew away.
 
“Who is there?” he grumbled. He sniffed the air twice. “A woman. Why can’t I see you?”
 
“Cannot see what we don’t want you to see,” Kess said, darting past Rascal’s eyes. “Cause that’s the way we want this to be!”
 
The little bird flew high up into the rafters, hoping he was fast enough to get there unseen. The key to his strategy was distraction. By each taking turns to distract the griffon, they could keep him uncertain of the situation and Viktor could get in some good hits. It was a good strategy so long as the fight remained down here in the basement.
 
“I can smell her though,” Rascal laughed. “And you two, little jay, though I am not worried about you. Her though.” His big cat half scrunched up his rear end in the air while the front half lowered the ground, preparing to pounce.
 
Jorinda knew housecat behavior, and knew what was coming. She tucked the two sticks under her arm and began to run. Her brain felt strained, having to carry both sticks, juggling them from arm to armpit as she threw and recalled them, continue to fan herself, and keep moving about the basement to new locations. It made sense to her, but the execution was proving more taxing than she expected. Adding, don’t get pounced on by the large monster was one more thing than she thought she could handle.
 
The griffon pushed off, Jorinda turned. She had barely cleared his path, but turning caused her to nearly trip over her feet. The fan clattered to the ground out of her hand. Her cover gone, she untucked her clubs and threw the first one at the griffon before taking off running in another direction.
 
“Hah, now I see you. All it takes is a little patience and perseverance.” He began to stalk towards Jorinda.
 
“Rascal! I have your lady!”
 
The griffon slowed and turned.
 
A man in a black face mask had an arm wrapped around the upper chest and neck of Viktor’s mother, while the other arm held a dagger to her throat.
 
“Maminka! What are you doing?” Viktor said.
 
Torias wanted to groan and roll his eyes. He wanted to think Viktor saw this as a distraction, but was growing worried he didn’t understand.
 
“Take another step towards either of them, and I spill more blood than she can afford to lose.”
 
“Karubu, my love! Help me!” she moaned.
 
“Do it, for all I care. She’s served her purpose,” the griffon turned back towards Viktor and Jorinda.
 
“What? But I saved you!” Her voice contained less shock, more anger, and no sorrow. “I have sent my own son to his death to make you strong. You promised you would help me get what I want.”
 
“A crown of your own? Hah!” Rascal laughed. “You idiot mortal. The throne I am taking is that of the Griffon King, now that your boy has killed him for me. You, who is not satisfied with a mansion all your own, would not be satisfied with a slab of rock in the middle of a sacred grove.”
 
“It’s true, you probably wouldn’t want to live there,” Torias said, from behind her.
 
She elbowed Torias with enough strength to knock the wind out of him. He had forgotten she was faking being sick as part of her plan. He stumbled backwards and she smacked his hand causing him to drop the knife into her waiting other hand. She held it up against him and began to pivot away.
 
A throwing club hit her in the back of the head, knocking her out.
 
“Jorinda!” Viktor shouted.
 
“Sorry!” she squeaked.
 
“No, that was good. One less piece on the board to worry about. Quick. Don’t lose your focus, Victor!” Kess called.
 
“Still, I’m sorry.”
 
“Yes, Viktor. Don’t lose your focus. Not that it will help. You are not strong enough to defeat me. You weren’t before, and now that I have the potion, I am stronger. Bring your invisible stick thrower and your kid with the knife. Bring your tiny bird. Bring it all. It won’t do you any good.”
 
“Why not. I am better and stronger for them, and how I’ve grown from their friendship,” Viktor said. He moved slowly to his right, as was Rascal. Viktor’s heart raced, harder than it had when he fought any of the other griffons. His arms ached. He wasn’t sure he had the strength. Perhaps it was better to grab his mother, lock the door to the basement, and just leave. 
 
“Why? Because you’re afraid of me. I can smell that fear on you. Just as you should be!”
 
Rascal pounced again. Viktor tried to dodge, but was too slow. The griffon pinned him to the floor with his forefeet. The eagle talons dug right into the hard stone ground. Some punctured into Viktor himself.
 
It was true, Viktor was afraid, terrified, and now, as he somehow knew he would be when he first met this beast, he knew he was about to die. 
 
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 7/23/2017 3:40:34 PM
  • Jennifer Flath commented on :
    8/23/2017 11:20:06 PM
    Oh, Viktor. Pretty much everybody told you this was coming. It's exciting to see it all come together. I wonder if you'll let Viktor make it through this or not... -- ... Show More
    • Ryan Watt Yeah, but that's the problem with toxic-parental relationships, sometimes you just cant see the signs. That said, no worries about the month long black out. Hey, you finished the volume, so that's supe rawkward! Thanks.
      8/23/2017 11:58:00 PM