At the old temple, a gryphon makes his nest.

He is of the earth-borne, of the sky-reavers, of the death-givers. His fur and feathers are the colour of moss, dark green as the verdant landscape. His talons are as sharp as sword, and just as unforgiving. His yellow eyes hold fast vigil of all surrounding.

He has come to guard a treasure, which he has neither seen or heard of... But it is there, child, for he is of the elders and few things may be hidden from him.

For what may the crumbled temple hide, but the secrets that ghosts wail? Secrets the temple has latched to for so many a-millenia, held within walls that are so far gone, trapped by gates that have so long ago disappeared? Wail the ghosts, wail the gryphon's heart... Neither companion for eachother, as they are sepparated by a line so thin, by a frustration so encompassing.

He is there, lone and angry, for it is his destiny to be born alone, live by his own and die by himself. The stars keep him company, the moon holds his secrets, the sun warms him. Through the seasons, no earthly presance shall give him cure for his ailment. Through the decades, he suffers the summer scorch, the autumn rain, the winter frost, the spring flood.

Ay, child. Lonesome he is, but do not try comforting him, for only the glitter of talons shall be his reply. Through the looming shadows of the forest, do not take the unused path, for through it you shall reach where all fear stray, so near the gryphon's eyrie, the decaying smells of others' folly will reach you long before impending death shall strike you down.

Should you listen late at night, child, hear the wailing songs of all those passed: unwise travellers, tempting fate by disturbing the old Sentinel. The gryphon, my dear, he should be left to his own. We do not bother it with our petty presance (so easily our lives may be anulled!) and it does not unleash its wrath upon our village.

***

At the old temple, a gryphon has always made his nest.

He stands stoic as a statue, old age betraying no weakness. His feathers are the colour of rich green moss, lined with silver. His wings are in length as large as our village road! But rarely does he fly, weighed down by pain, not of the physical, but of the kind only he may know. A pain so horrible, it should rip through many souls.

Where the temple lands hold their border, many stones mark it in disarray. One must be careful not to trip over them, as they could melt into the grass as easily as one's gaze may stray away from them. Such has my mother's mother claimed, and she has not been faulty in saying so.

For, despite the warning, she had been young and foolish. See the gryphon, that was the only goal of her adventurous childhood.

She claimed his yellow eyes were vigil, yet were kept so through great pain, and sharp as swords were his talons, which she evaded so narrowly. She saw, yet she nearly never lived to tell. She felt, yet she nearly couldn't explain. Child, be you so foolish as to trespass the sacred lands, hold no high hope of returning as the living. For there is no such hope.

We see him, child. On the market road, we sometimes turn our eyes to the single cliff where only the ruins reign and we see him. Oh, child, such anguish in one soul! Such pain we sense! Such mercy! But play no games with him, dear. Pain has never hindered the graceful swipe of his talons, or of any of his kind. They rise above pain and from that high point they see the beauty pain posesses. They see the pain beauty posesses.

Trust my words and heed them well, only death may reward your journey there.

***

At the old temple, a gryphon had once made its nest.

Truly, nothing remains of the old temple, as even the mountainside it had once dominated has eroded to little more than a pathetic hill. The gryphon, it is said, had made many years the temple its guarded posession. What treasures might have been there? What wonders did he protect?

It is a mystery to this day, for one spring morning, when playful winds breezed through our village, eyes looked up... and were met with only the ruins, stripped of their proud guardian. None dared go near, for the gryphon had claimed many lives for such impertinence. But, as soon as the fear disappeared, greed took over. Ripped apart, the temple was. Caring little for the broken marble and the old shrines, greedy humans tore the gryphon's domain.

Nothing that could be valuable in human eyes was found. Oh, what cruel trick of fate! How many had died believing wealth was just beyond the ancient walls? Had the gryphon gone and taken the treasure with it?

Many believed so, but who are we to judge? What value it guarded, none of us could appreciate. Why destroy something that was so precious to the gryphon? No reason but greed.

We have only stories. We were told of its beauty and of its pain above all, such as we have only stories of the temple. Some night, huddled around a fire, some wise old crone patches together words and so vibrantly tells us of times when the clerics' soft songs rippled through the empty woods, where neither beast nor man dared venture. It's an old story, always soft on our ears, always valued in our hearts, always ending the same.

And only a gryphon ever made its nest where once a temple stood, but not even it still lives to pass the tale.

The End