Story inspired by Brother Bear, set in Unveiled Legends universe by Reel123
|Previous Chapter: https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2187139-Gryphon-Paladin---Chapter...
Emergence - Cold-Hearted: https://www.deviantart.com/reel123/art/Emergence-Cold-Hearted-tf-436479912
Chapter 2: The Fox and the Bird
Daniel lay there for a second as Ethan left, leaving the door open for him, but only a second as something stirred in his brain. An overpowering fear suddenly gripped him, but it wasn’t his own this time; it was the Gryphon within him and he immediately realized the creatures were claustrophobic. It NEEDED to get out in the open and in a heartbeat he was on all 4 of his mismatched legs, bolting straight for the open door.
Unfortunately he didn’t fit and the Gryphon grunted in annoyance, but after a moment of effort he broke off the door frame and a chunk of the wall with it, spilling out into the night and sprawling in the dirt. He took a moment to get a hold of himself and rose to his feet. It was a lot easier now that he was no longer in the confines of the wooden building, the instincts were easier to control. He stance was wobbly, unfamiliar, but rather than fight it he decided to give his instincts the reins for a moment.
“NEVER ignore your instincts,” he remembered Johnson, a veteran, saying. “They’ll save your life more times than a gun ever will - though never pass up the latter and leave yourself unarmed,”
He would need them if he was to get out of here with his life - and if he was to survive the next 4 days, assuming the beast was telling the truth. He didn’t believe a single damn word of those last 3 sentences it said to him, but the previous 2 were 100% true and he knew it. They would shoot first and never ask questions later, they would kill one of their own and never be the wiser for it.
The promise it made to him of freedom was literally the only ray of hope he had to hold on to right then...
~I need to find...THEM,~ he suddenly realized. ~ It’ll just be for a few days, then I can return to the Hunters. I can’t speak even if I wanted to, they’ll never know I’m veiled until it’s too late. They’ll probably even help me.~ With a nod, he stood a little straighter and more confidently. He scanned the clearing with his golden eyes, pointed feathery ears automatically swiveling in search of faint noises. His vision had the clarity of a hawk’s and could see clearly in the darkness, his night vision was excellent. He had to resist the predatory urge whenever he saw a rabbit or fox, but then he spotted something he wished had taken longer to show up: flashlights.
He froze. He could hear them talking about screeches coming from this direction, most likely a Gryphon. It didn’t surprise him they didn’t mistake the noises for a hawk or eagle; not even a bald eagle had the lungs to make a noise that mighty. They were still several hundred feet away and hadn’t spotted him yet; if he could make it to the other side of house and run in the direction opposite from them, they would probably assume he had headed in their direction and somehow slipped past them. He was suddenly glad the Gryphon was too impatient and desperate to go for the closed back door...
He quietly and slowly slunk around the left side of the house, noticing there was no backyard, then took off full-speed towards the treeline. He nearly ran headlong into a tree and had to stop a sqwuak from escaping his beak as he slid to the ground. He slowly rose back to his feet, using a tree trunk for support, and looked back. They had just discovered the destroyed door and were moving into the house. It was working...
He went more slowly now, moving through the foliage and putting as much distance between him and the Hunters as he could. His feathers were thankfully very dark blue, nearly black, not only blending with the foliage but also allowing him to fade into the night. As long as he didn’t make much noise he should be safe. Might be harder in broad daylight, but for the moment he’d take what he could get as far as advantages went. His ears remained constantly at full alert, pointing straight into the air, hearing the Hunters running in the opposite direction.
He was safe...
It was well over an hour later that he finally collapsed, exhausted and stomach growling loudly. He was deep in the woods now and he hadn’t heard so much as a single human since the house. He was hungry and didn’t really care what he ate as long as it sated his hunger.
He lay there, his feathers and fur filthy, thinking of his friend among the Hunters. His name was Jack, a bookworm and devoted pro-human, but he was also smart. He brought a sense of strategy to the job and knew more about these ‘Mystics,’ as he called them, than anyone else in the Hunting party. He never liked Jack’s obsession with their ways, but now he really thought about it, JACK was the one who told him about veils. If anyone would recognize him as a veiled human, it’d be Jack...
His ears suddenly perked as he heard something in the brush and he rose up to attention as he spotted a small fox rushing across his path. He didn’t have time to think before the Gryphon acted, snapping straight at the fox with his beak...
The fox spotted him and screamed, leaping back. “Please, don’t eat me!” it cried fearfully. “I just escaped from those monsters, I don’t wanna be a hungry Gryphon’s late-night snack!”
This stopped Daniel dead in his tracks and brought him back to his senses. He quickly saw now the fox’s two tails - a kitsune, and a young one at that. “You’re a kitsune?” he chirped, then felt like an idiot for futilely trying to speak.
“Yeah, I am,” she answered, calming down now that the scary Gryphon wouldn’t feast on her. “Name’s Claire. Yours?”
“Daniel,” he responded, then stopped dead, beak hanging open as he realized what she just said. “You...can understand me?”
“No, but I’m a telepath in training,” she answered, approaching him a little more confidently. “It’s rare for any Mystics, even Kitsunes, to possess the gift of telepathy, but I’m learning - or was before THEY showed up. Not even my cousin Jesse had the gift.” She shook herself, loosing dirt particles, like a dog would shake itself. “I can’t really even read minds yet, only understand words directed at me, like your attempt to communicate.”
Daniel relaxed even further, lying down. This was good, he found someone he could talk to - maybe even use as an interpreter. He was jolted from his thoughts as he heard his stomach rumble again, this time more forcefully. The Gryphon wanted to eat the fox but held back because she was obviously not an animal.
Claire looked at him humorously. “Hungry, huh? Tell ya what, you serve as my bodyguard out of this forest and I’ll find something good for you. Big guy like you could probably hold his own in a scrap.”
He didn’t say anything and only nodded. He couldn’t hunt but wasn’t exactly about to tell her that and make her suspicious.
She nodded back and bolted back into the bushes she had emerged from. A few minutes later she emerged, clutching a large rat in her jaws.
The thing hardly looked appetizing, but the Gryphon didn’t even hesitate and before he realized what he was doing the whole rodent was sliding down his throat, the way a bird of prey swallows its prey whole. It tasted...Hell, it tasted amazing. A moment later she returned with another and HE was the one to grab it, not the Gryphon. By the fourth, he felt much better and sated, no longer half-starved and willing to eat a Kitsune.
Suddenly he stopped, eyes widening as he realized the hate was gone. Maybe it was the Gryphon instincts or the necessity of the alliance, but he was inadvertently starting to see himself as one of them. He shook his head but the anger and hate just no longer held any power. ~This is just temporary,~ he reminded himself firmly. ~ Get what you want from her and go back where you belong - as a human and with other humans.~ Not even he believed those words anymore, but it did remind him of how desperately he wanted to go back to normal, to be human again and return home. He slowly laid down, gazing off through the trees into the distance.
Claire nudged his beak. “Homesick, huh?” she whispered comfortingly. “Believe me, I feel the exact same way. Maybe some day, probably sooner than we think, we can all go back to normal - or as normal as a bunch of Mystics can be.”
At first he thought she had read his mind, but then relaxed as she said the last phrase; she was just talking about Mystics. “You want to head out tonight?” he asked with a series of clicks.
She shook her head, snuggling against his side. “We’re a good mile or five from the Hunters and they’re going in the wrong direction,” she said sleepily. “You won’t admit it, but I can tell you’re just as tired as me. Let’s get some sleep, set out in the morning.” She yawned and quickly fell asleep.
Daniel was tired but not just because of the running; emotionally, he was exhausted. He settled down in the dirt right there, instinctively pulling the tiny fox close with his wing and covering her to keep her warm, and fell asleep too.
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