Chapter 8

Griffins at Night

Later that evening the three of them sat in the bar across from their hostel. They were each having a pint while Patrick kept wincing at his wound, which was cleaned and bandaged by Lynn not too much earlier.

"You did well today Patrick," Hudson complimented, "Which is good. If I had more time to train ye, ye'd be made to live out there in the highlands for a week, fighten' them Griffins everyday of it."

"Well, I'm glad you don't have more time to train me them," he chuckled.

"Ah ye may not think so now," Hudson told him in his strong Scottish accent, "But when you're up against your first dragon you'll be wishing you had more practice."

"Yup," was all Patrick said in response as he suddenly when quiet and stared down at the table. He didn't actually expect to get as far as that. Today was too close, to crazy. He knew he'd be having to walk away from this madness by the time they got back to Edinburgh. Who was he to be fighting griffins and dragons?

"Well, it's too bad they made ya bleed though, after you had already killed one o' em," Hudson said.

"Why's that?" Patrick looked up from his beer.

Lynn pitched in twitch the explanation. "Because Griffins have an extremely high sense of smell, especially when in comes to blood. And they remember. If they catch the scent on someone's blood who has killed one of their own, that smell doesn't leave their memory."

"Which means…?" Patrick shook his head.

"It means that essentially, you're a wanted man here on this island," Hudson said with a laugh, though Patrick didn't see what was so funny, "If you do go back out in those hills, they'll hunt you down like a scared rabbit. But don't worry, we'll be leavin' Skye tomorrow."

This was all starting to be too much for Patrick and he suddenly felt in need of some fresh air. "Right, well. I'm going to go for a bit of a walk," he mumbled as he stumbled out of his bench and left the bar behind.

Kyleakin was a very small town with the main street running along the coast which looked back towards mainland Scotland. He walked south past the tiny pier and stood over a railing, looking down to see if he could see any seals on the rocks below, but it was already to dark by this time in the evening.

To the south of the town on a tiny hill sat the landmark ruins of Castle Maol. He stared at the ancient tower for a while, which was split almost straight down the middle, with each half leaning away from each other so that it made a V shape. He could still she the outline of the ruin in the bright starlight of the evening. He thought to himself that things like that tower were what he came to Europe to see, not dragon bones and griffin herds.

He stood staring at the tower for a few minutes when suddenly he saw movement. He leaned ahead and peered out and could see black, cat-like shapes moving through the crack in the tower as well as around the outside of it. Then he noticed that the shapes had wings as well. One of them landed on the taller part of the ruined tower and growled. Patrick's expression fell into one of both alarm and weariness.

"Oh crap."

Patrick barreled back into the bar in a huff. Most of the bar stopped to stare at him incredulously, including Hudson and Lynn. Patrick scuffled over to there table and said under his breath, "They're here, in the town."

Without saying another word, Hudson got up and led the two of them into the basement of the bar.

"Mac, Chloe! We got trouble!"

The two young potion makers hurried over to their distressed visitors.

"What do you mean?" Mac asked.

"Griffins!" Patrick announced clumsily, "Here!"

Chloe took a look at the bandaged wound on his side and scrunched up her face. "They cut you?"

"Yeah? What of it?"

"The blood-scent, that's what?"

"Blood-scent?" Patrick looked confused.

"Griffins have a strong sense of smell when it comes to blood ," Hudson explained, "If they draw the blood of an enemy, the scent is remembered by the pack. But I didn't think that they would have hunted you down so quickly."

"Blood-scent…?" Patrick wondered, "You mean they've come after me?"

"Yes, so let's drive them back," Hudson said forcefully, indicating that there was enough talk already.

"What about the townspeople?" Chloe asked.

"Time loss powder! As much as you can find!" Mac told her, then turned back to Hudson, "We'll meet you out there."

Patrick, Hudson, and Lynn ran back out onto the quiet central street of Kyleakin. They could see the shadowy figures of the griffins moving in the moonlight, making their way towards the town. Mac and Chloe were soon behind them, carrying a number of brown sacks.

They tossed a few of the sacks to Patrick and Lynn shouting "Toss the powder down along the street! And take this!" He also tossed them each a small vile. They then ran along the one side of the street tossing handfuls of the dust to the sides. The dust swirled up into a vapor into the houses on the side.

"This will send the townspeople into a short coma, and they will remember nothing," Lynn told him as she down the liquid in the vial, "This makes us immune."

Patrick drank down his vial as well, and then realized that Lynn had already started ahead of him. He ran behind her, tossing out fistful of the time loss powder. He looked ahead and saw Hudson already running towards the Griffins at the southern end of the street.

Hudson met the griffins just as they reached the end of the main street of Kyleakin. Patrick stopped in his tracks as he watched the old man deal with these mythical, savage creatures. He had never seen Hudson in full action before, and it was a sight to see indeed.

Hudson swung his sword as though it was a part of his body, hacking left and right as the claws of the griffins swatted at him. He would hack apart their white, feathery wings; he sliced at their hindquarters, slashed at their eagle faces. None could get close to laying a scratch on him.

Mac was quickly behind him, whipping out his bow and shooting arrows towards the oncoming beasts, knocking them out of the air as they leapt from hill to hill to reach the town. Chloe was behind them, running between the side streets of the town tossing out various potions and setting up charms unknown to Patrick.

Patrick and Linezza stood now in the middle of the highland street, awaiting the griffins that managed to make their way past Mac's arrows and Hudson's sword. Patrick swung his sword on instinct, managing to drive away most of the griffins. Lynn was also working on keeping away the feathered beasts.

All of the griffins made their way straight for both Patrick and Linezza, due to the blood scent. However many didn't make it past Hudson's front line. Patrick watched as the bulky old Scot bounded around limberly, making exactly the right strokes to take down his foes. He also watched as Mac's arrows hit every one of their targets perfectly, causing the chimeric griffins to fall from the night sky.

Patrick watched these two men in action with awe and despair. These were real dragon hunters, he thought. There was no way he could ever be one of them. Hopelessness began building in his heart, the doubt inside himself, which had been temporarily subdued after his griffin hunt, began to rise once more.

Ahead, Hudson ducked underneath a leaping griffin whose eagle eyes were set on Patrick. Hudson thrust up his sword, slicing open the belly on its lion's body. The grey-haired hunter rolled out of the way as the body landed on the street, only to meet the beak of another griffin.

Hudson knocked this one aside with a swipe of his elbow to the griffin's face, swinging his sword at it as he rose again. Another griffin was already flying past him. He leapt with a great bound, grabbing hold of the griffin's wing and pulling himself up on its back.

The weight of Hudson was too much for the griffin to handle as it plowed into the ground, smashing its face against the hardened surface of the street. Hudson then leapt from this crashing creature to another also making flight towards its prey. Hudson knocked it out of the sky and rose, pulling out his sword which he managed to lodge in the griffin's chest.

And that was the last of the pack. The threat of the griffins had been subdued, for now.

"Alright, everything is in place," Chloe said as se reached the other four, "The town is protected. They shouldn't bother us anymore tonight."

"You three go get some sleep," Mac looked at them as he strapped his bow behind his back, "We'll take care of the clean-up. But first thing in the morning you'll have to leave Skye."

"Aye, I'm afraid we will," Hudson agreed, "Well, looks like your training here is cut short lad. But never mind that. I know where to take you tomorrow. But right now these old bones' o' mine need rest. Let's get some sleep."