“Come on, Li,” Cáel called disappearing around the corner of the stables. Hoping the girl wasn’t too far behind him.
The wind tussled her hair, as the cool grass of the garden sent chills up her legs. She could hear her heart pounding in her chest, while she watched the boy walk around the corner of the stables. What was the reason he wanted to bring her to the stables?
Walking up the steps, Liora slowly moved around the corner to see the boy standing with his arms crossed before one of the middle stalls. Cautiously she moved to stand beside the boy, as he wore a large grin on his face.
The stall was empty from what she could tell, although there was plenty of hay covering the bottom. The water trough had been filled and there was a smaller trough set up for food.
“Cáel,” Liora didn’t know what the boy was so happy about, “thank you for the… stall?”
“What?” he turned hearing the uncertainty in her voice. “No, I didn’ get yah a stall. Well… I did but there’s somethin’ in there too.”
“Right…” Liora looked over the hay but still didn’t see anything. There was no movement, no noise, nothing. “Unless you got me the very elusive and rare imaginary gryphon… I’m not seeing what you apparently are.”
“Believe me I tried to find an imaginary gryphon, but I settled for a real one instead,” Cáel stepped towards the stall, leaning over the gate.
“Wait, what? When? How?” Liora shook her head, before hurrying to look over the stall. “You hate gryphons and I can’t own one… unless your father has allowed it.”
“We’d have better luck defeatin’ Sydrin than doin’ that,” Cáel jested.
“Fine, so it wasn’t your father, meaning you got the gryphon. Why? How?” Liora asked.
“Me da’ suggested I’d have better luck learnin’ to enjoy ridin’ if I got my own beast, so he asked Foe before yar name day to take me to the nests. Since yah were upset about not goin’ to the nests, Foe and I agreed to wait a bit. After a week we ran into the issue of their breedin’ time, and so we had to wait a couple more. This mornin’ Foe took me to the nest, and this afternoon I brought it home. Foe says it’ll be able to ride by summer’s end.”
Cáel climbed over the gate and jumped into the hay before he started kicking it with his feet. Liora cringed, as she crawled over the gate and gently lowered herself on the other side.
“Stop kicking, you might hit him,” Liora ordered, watching Cáel stop mid-kick, “or is it a her?”
“A him,” Cáel said.
“And does this him have a name?” Liora knelt to the ground. The hay smelt fresh while it crinkled under her hands. It picked through her dress, as she continued to feel for the little beast.
“Nah,” Cáel shrugged, slowly moving the hay around with his foot, “I didn’ think I’d need to name him.”
“He can’t just be called him or it for the rest of his life, Cáel,” Liora retorted, sitting up for a moment to look at the boy who was looking down at his feet. “He needs a name.”
The boy shrugged. Liora sighed.
Her friend could learn so much if he only applied himself, but his laziness got in the way of him completing any of his goals. All he cared about was his lute, but that wasn’t going to help him run a country or win a war. Even getting a gryphon – a living creature – appeared to not push him to apply himself.
Liora patted the hay harder feeling a warm lump close to the back left corner. She dusted away the hay, uncovering the small lump of downy white feathers. As she removed more of the little creature’s coverings she noticed the white and grey speckled feathers along his side where his wings were, and a set of large red eyes.
The youngling growled, but she paid no mind as she tucked her hands under his belly pulling him onto her lap. He was soft like dandelion fluff, while she picked the hay out of his frizzy mane. His hind legs were mainly white while grey spots were all the way to the end of the creature’s thin cat like tale.
“He’s a snow tail!” Liora giggled, hearing the creature coo as she rubbed behind his ears. His face was like a snow owl while his body resembled that of a leopard. Snow tails were known to live in cold climates and loved flying in higher elevation. The little guy would love living in Derlin since the capital had both requirements. “He’s big for a babe.”
“Yeah, that’s what Foe said,” Cáel leaned against the dividing wall of the stall.
“How about Blizzard?” Liora suggested; hung up on the fact the little guy didn’t have a name yet.
“That’s a silly name. He deserves better. Somethin’ powerful… somethin’ with meanin’,” Cáel stated.
“Har – the Dermite that flew over the mountains. Then there’s Evrin. He was a Morzi explorer that climbed to the highest peaks of the western mountains. We called him the snow master because he was said to have the power of predicting the downfalls,” Liora explained.
“I like Evrin,” Cáel smirked, watching how quickly the little creature had fallen asleep in the girl’s lap. “He likes yah.”
“I’m warm, that’s all,” Liora ran her fingers through the soft downy feathers of the creature’s back while Evrin purred. “End of summer and he’ll be able to ride?”
“Yeah, Foe said that.”
Dragons took a year to be a suitable size to ride. Of course they were smaller and spent the first three years with their parents in the crevasses of the mountain. Gryphons were different since they grew faster and gained independence from their parents before they were a year. That’s what made gryphons easier beasts to use and train.
“You should be doing this – not me. You need him to bond to you,” Liora picked Evrin up off her lap. The little ball of white fluff growled, not making her fear him what-so-ever.
“Na, I was thinkin’ he could be ours. Yah ride him and I ride him,” Cáel beamed with his idea. That had been why he had wanted to surprise her. He wouldn’t be able to handle the beast all by himself and the girl had wanted her own bird-lion. This was the best option for the both of them.
“Yes but that’s not how it works. From what I’ve read a gryphon should only bond to one person… it’s a lifelong relationship,” Liora stated, moving the little beast back to her lap as it kneaded her dress with its paws.
“Well I don’ care what the books know, ‘cause I know this. That lil beast likes yoou and me. So let him bond to the both of us. That way yah can ride him when yah want… which honestly will probably be a heck of a lot more than I ever will,” Cáel spouted, crossing his arms.
“But girls aren’t supposed to ride gryphons alone. The rules say –“
“The rules are dumb. Do yah know there is a rule that yah can’t eat cheese at sunset because it was believed to attract fleas?” Cáel spat, lifting his arms. “There are so many rules in that book that aren’t bein’ followed anymore and I choose not to follow ones that doesn’ have real good reason behind it. Evrin’s ours and that’s that.”
Liora liked the sound of that. Foe hadn’t been so open-minded, and she knew Charn would sooner chop her up into carrion than bend a rule for her. It was nice that Cáel was different.
“So, it’s settled. I name yah Evrin,” Cáel pointed to the creature, as the little beast opened his beak to give a big yawn before setting his head back down onto the girl’s lap.
The boy waded through the hay and slid down the wall to sit beside Liora. He patted the little beast on the head before leaning his head back and closing his eyes. His ginger curls fell over his eyes, while his usual crooked goofy smile was plastered across his face. The boy hadn’t needed to be so nice as to share his gryphon. She would have been upset, sure, but that wouldn’t have ruined their friendship. She had understood the rules, but thanks to Cáel she wasn’t so afraid of breaking them.
Maybe change wouldn’t happen immediately but in time, Derm would change for the better.