Authors Note: This has been a very enjoyable writing experience, I would love to work more with the griffins and their partners. Let me know what you think. R&R and enjoy! :)
PART TWO: THE SILVER GRIFFIN NAMED FIORE.
Phayno lay on the ground across the clearing, another small but clever griffin playing with the woman's vast swathes of hair. They had already decided to be partners, but still the redhead was watching Fiore. Skyne was introducing himself to a larger male griffin, but occasionally glanced over his shoulder. Everyone was curious to see who she would choose as her own partner.
A woman, more mature in age compared to most of the others and with long, sleek black hair that stretched almost to her knees sauntered forwards, her clothing ornate but still practical. 'Good afternoon, pretty one.' She spoke inside Fiore's head and sat delicately a few metres away, her legs folded beneath her with poise. 'We'd make a good team, I think.'
Fiore was used to internal monologue coming from other griffins in her clan, but was notably impressed by it coming from this human. 'What would we do as a team?' she asked curiously, aloud.
'I work as a spy within K'ril, on many jobs. Just recently I was a teacher to a High-Drow's daughter about the ways of the human world.' She said in Fiore's mind, her gaze unrelenting and intense. 'We would travel together and decide on targets to infiltrate, particularly the houses of the wealthy and influential, and we would collect information to relay back to the Cell Head. Occasionally we would also commit assassinations.'
'I don't envy the idea of being so far from the clan.' Fiore admitted, her eyes sharp and watching the woman seriously now. 'Why would you require me to help with your job?'
'Relaying information in K'ril is especially hard - they are quite watchful of most things. With you, I would be able to fly myself, or send messages with you to report.' She replied, her tone formal and informative. 'Other times you would be a help in getting hired - the rich Drow love to have incredible creatures in their homes.'
Fiore politely declined, her head bowed. 'I do not feel comfortable crossing the vast oceans between us and K'ril, it is too far.' she said patiently, trying to be reasonable and convey her thoughts on the issue.
The woman bowed her head and sighed heavily. 'I understand.' She said, trying to express calm, but her voice coming across in Fiore's mind as somewhat frustrated. She stood gracefully and turned to walk away, brushing past Callias on the way and communicating with her mind, the words 'I'm done' before irritably stomping through the forest and back towards the palace. Callias shrugged in response and went back to looking over the crowd of humans and griffins, wondering with anticipation what would happen next.
Fiore fixed her gaze on some of the griffins, watching them happily interact with their new partners. She was proud of them and glad that everyone had been offered so many choices. She too, was curious to find out what would happen next. She was still undecided and didn't know who she wanted. She knew the choice was a very important one, it would dictate her life and experiences from there on.
Two young men had already begun to make their way towards Fiore as the black haired woman was storming off. The two walked in perfect sync with each other, their faces holding exactly the same expression, as well as exactly the same features - obviously twins. The unnerving part was how similar they were - not a single lock of hair or freckle was different, their demeanours exactly mimicked each other's and their stride and gait was so perfectly the same that the scene seemed surreal. Some of the spies nearby had turned away, obviously unable to handle the sight of the pair.
One of the twins sat nearby, only a few metres from where Fiore stood, while the other continued on, a welcome break from their exactness to that point. "Evening." The nearer one said with a slight bow.
Fiore, though slightly perturbed, reciprocated the greeting. 'I was worried you would both talk with me.' she spoke jokingly, watching him. She noticed Gray glaring at Issei and caught both of their eyes in turn.
Issei gave her a soft, calm smile, while Gray smirked at her, his eyes burning with hunger.
"Oh, it's difficult for me to talk through both bodies.." The boy said off-handedly and grinned, plopping down onto the grass beside her. "How are you this fine afternoon..?"
'Quite popular, it seems.' the silver griffin cooed with interest. 'You unnerve me.'
"Ah, lots of people get that. Sorry. Sometimes it helps if I stop grinning." The boy said seriously and altered his expression into a softer smile, though his eyes still beamed with interest.
'Which of your bodies is yours?' the griffin clacked her beak uneasily.
"Both are. I just pick one for talking with." He said quickly, his tone concise and eager.
Fiore flinched slightly, unsure how she felt about that. 'How have the griffins received you?'
"Usually with disgust." He said, his eyes remaining bright and smile still subtle. "But I thought I'd come say hello.."
Fiore glared uneasily, standing over him now and sniffing the body he chose to communicate with her in. 'You don't seem very heavy. I'm sure I could carry one of your bodies...' she murmured, inspecting him thoroughly.
"Probably." He nodded enthusiastically. "I suppose it depends on what we're being used for..." He added and pursed his lips slightly.
'If Callias brought you to meet us, you must require a griffin for something. What do you normally do?' Fiore questioned, casting her gaze around the clearing now to locate his other half.
"I trick people mostly. Once, I tricked people into thinking I could teleport so that Callias could get me into Isla Vox. It worked pretty well." He paused and smiled at her broadly for a moment. "And Callias didn't actually invite me, I begged to come and meet you all... I thought that maybe on the off chance, one of you would like us. Callias said it was fine, but unlikely." With that he smiled at her again, and sat in silence as another young man walked over.
"Fiore." The newcomer spoke softly and crouched beside her. "This thing is wasting your time. I'm Yisk."
The strange twin stared up at the newcomer and pursed his lips. "Yeah, sorry Fiore. I just thought I'd try." Yisk flicked a finger as if to shoo the odd twin, who glared back, but stood and stepped away, rejoining his pair and moving to the edge of the clearing, near Issei to watch the proceedings.
Yisk knelt on the ground beside the griffin, his lithe body close enough to brush her feathers. The griffin growled, her hackled raised, and pounced him onto his back, one clawed foot restraining each of his arms. She caught sight of the twin as he sat beside Issei and then returned her attention to Yisk. 'I enjoyed his company. Or I would have chased him away myself.' she dug her claws in deeper, barely restraining herself from piercing his flesh. Yisk laughed a little under her pressure, her weight not enough to confine him if he struggled. "Oh dear, you like the little split-body monstrosity..? Why does Callias value you so much.." He said sarcastically, bringing up one hand to brush the side of her head, using the contact to see if he was able to use his power on her as he could with humans - contact always boosted the signal. "I think you should partner with me."
Fiore growled, hissing and wriggling away from him. She clacked her beak angrily in his face and then awkwardly staggered over towards Issei and the twin, laying down infront of them. 'You anger me nearly as much as Gray. Sit with him.'
Yisk slowly rose from the grass and brushed himself off, following after the griffin. "Perhaps you'd like to reconsider." He said in his most charming of voice, laying on his skill as thick as possible. "Or maybe Issei, Gray and the creepy twins want to leave us alone to talk..."
Issei flinched and physically held her legs down to stop them standing her up, gritting her teeth against the powerfully persuasive voice in her head. The twins kneeled to move on, but Issei caught the one nearest and forced him back down. "If you keep in your mind what he does, it's hard for him to do it. Just keep thinking about his power.." She instructed and glared at Yisk with true hatred.
Fiore couldn't help it. She leapt for his throat, one claw on each shoulder and beak wrapped around his clavicle. She ignored Callias, focusing only on him as she pierced the tender skin there, not very deep but deep enough that she felt blood flow freely into her mouth. Her claws pierced his flesh and she flung him to the ground, still atop him. Callias was at her side in an instant, her hands full of feathers as she tried to wrench the griffin off the man. She said not a word, but signalled for one of the people present to come forward. The girl obviously had a fair healing ability, and instantly went to work on the spluttering, bleeding man, who was still staring at Fiore as he gurgled on his own blood. The healer was perfectly cold and calm as she worked at him, hands moving deftly and sealing the wounds from the inside out. Once or twice, she looked over her shoulder at Fiore, and smiled slightly, as if thanking her for trying to kill Yisk.
'He is poisonous.' the griffin spat, huffing angrily as Callias released her. 'I would never choose him. No griffin would.' she turned to Gray. 'I would rather bare your offspring than work with him.' her feathers were raised, shoulders shaking and wings tensely squared against her body.
The healer made a disgusted noise and kept working. Callias stood a few steps back, a smirk curling one corner of her lips as she watched on, while Issei sat very still, glancing at the healer and Yisk on the ground, her face calm and unreadable. The twins both leaned forward to watch in amazement as the man's wounds closed up and healed quickly. Soon, the healer's eyes fluttered shut and her hands clenched tight around Yisk's shoulders, and Callias seemed to be watching with greater care. "Pale, stop." She ordered and nudged the healer with her knee. There was no response and Callias rolled her eyes, crouching and pulling the woman off of Yisk, having to individually pick each of her fingers from his shoulders as she clasped onto him. Once she was clear, her eyes re-opened and she looked up at Cal, face white and eyes circled by dark spots. Pale sometimes went overboard, healing to the point of killing her patient by closing their arteries up or over-oxygenating their blood.
"Sorry Callias..." The healer breathed, pushing herself to her feet and taking a few steps backwards to sit a short distance away.
Fiore awkwardly retreated from the now healed Yisk, finding it very hard to fight the temptation to kill him. She locked eyes with Gray, deciding a suitable distraction was in order and quickened her pace towards him. 'Still think we would make a good team?' she asked, and then added- 'With your skill you could have stopped me from harming him.'
Gray shrugged, but his eyes showed genuine fear. "I could have, yes." He paused to get to his feet. "But I didn't, because I wanted to see your reaction." He asserted, looking down his nose at her. "It was a very impressive one, by the way.."
Fiore cocked her head curiously, watching him. 'You seem rattled.' she remarked softly and felt slightly disappointed.
"Rattled..?" He questioned, his tone somewhat indignant as he stared down at her. "In what way am I rattled..?!"
'You showed fear as I approached you.' she mused aloud as a soft trilling laugh escaped her.
"I was afraid that I had provoked you into attacking me in such a manner, that is all." Gray said angrily, glaring at her now. Issei laughed audibly from the other side of the clearing.
'Hush.' Fiore reprimanded, clacking her beak softly at him. 'Have you talked with any of the remaining griffins?'
"No." He said firmly. "I want you." and levelled his eyes at her seriously.
'I think we would work very well.' the silver griffin admitted reluctantly. She turned her gaze back to Issei and the twins, then to the healer. 'I like them too.'
The twin looked at Issei in surprise, before the expression on both his bodies grew into a huge grin, and he turned back to Fiore. Issei smiled back, and looked at Pale, who was looking at Yisk with frustration in her eyes. Callias looked between them all and smirked. Things were going to get interesting.
The rest of the griffins had already partnered themselves off to some of the other spies and Cal turned to them now, gathered nearby to watch the chaos unfolding. "All of you go. Now." She spoke coolly. Some objected and made their annoyance known, but most filed off in the general direction of the palace quietly, Skyne stopping briefly by Fiore's side to smile at her and wish her luck. Soon, only Callias, Fiore and those that she had indicated interest in remained and the Spymaster backed off, sitting in silence at the base of a tree once again.
Fiore stood on all fours and made her way towards the centre of the clearing. She realised she hadn't properly spoken to the twin or even learned his name, nor did she know anything about Pale. She called to her, beckoning her forward so they could talk.
Pale looked up from glaring at the slowly breathing body of Yisk and blinked a few times at the griffin. She stood and walked over, her shoulders hunched slightly as she sat down next to her, short mid-brown hair stirring in the breeze that filled the clearing.
'If you're uninterested in me, you can leave.' Fiore promised, enjoying the sun as it beat down on her silver-blue feathers. She watched Pale and basked in the smell of her. The talented healer had caught her eye very quickly, but hadn't seemed to show any interest in return apart from morbid delight at Yisk's broken body.
Pale looked up at her. "That's not it at all..." She breathed and trained her eyes on the griffins. "I just don't see why you'd be that interested in me." She laughed slightly. "Unless you were really impressed by my -healing- but I'd say that's a little short of the excitement you're looking for.."
'If you're here it means you have a use for me.' Fiore trilled lightly, and lay down. 'How would you use me?'
"Honestly, mainly as transport - and maybe to help fight sometimes.." She said carefully, selecting each word as if it was of the upmost importance.
'Help fight? Do you need protection as a healer?' Fiore questioned probingly. She glanced at Callias as though she would supply an answer.
"Pale is an assassin, Fiore." Callias readily supplied, and Pale narrowed her lips and widened her eyes. "I don't like it too much, but I'm very good at it..." The healer woman added when Fiore turned back to her.
'You must be very skilled as an assassin.' Fiore delighted approvingly. 'Travelling with you sounds very exciting.' she took a moment to wonder at all of Callias subordinates who hadn't been paired with a griffin this time around, and how they would fare without one.
Pale nodded and smiled weakly at the griffin, reaching a hand as if to touch her feathers, but leaving it hovering above Fiore's body. "I travel a lot..." She said, once again quite softly and looked over her shoulder at Callias. The spymaster always made her nervous. Fiore accepted the attention and stretched her neck out so that her feathered head could bump Pale's hand receptively. She turned to face the twin, and then Callias. 'He said he asked to come here. Does that mean he would have no use for me?'
Callias considered for a moment before speaking. "He has few uses, but I keep him handy. In case anything shows up. You would not have much to do." She spoke plainly, one hand on her hip. The twin smiled coyly in both his bodies and looked downwards, as if blushing.
Fiore turned her attentions on him, leaving Pale as she went to nuzzle the sides of both his faces. 'I find myself less unnerved by you the more time I spend in your presence.' she purred, soothingly. 'I would have killed Yisk for you.'
The twin looked at her happily, two sets of pale green-grey eyes focused brightly on her as he nodded enthusiastically. The body closest to her spoke aloud. "I know. Thankyou so much...!"
She inclined her head elegantly. 'Regardless of who I choose, I am still training with weights in the meantime, with Talthybius sometimes on my shoulders. It means I will be here for a few more months.' she extended the invitation to him, eyes sharp. 'The others will fear you less if they spend more time with you, so visit me again.'
The boy bowed low, even though sitting, and smiled from ear to ear on both of his bodies. "Thankyou, kind griffin. I would love to visit you again." He spoke in a happy, but hushed tone and nodded firmly to her once more, before rising.
"Oskar - take Yisk with you to the healer in the palace." Callias said, looking at him seriously, as if warning him to obey. The boy bowed with great exaggeration and turned to pick up the unconscious form of Yisk between his two bodies, the man's feet dragging behind them as they waked off.
"I'll see you soon, Fiore..!" He called as he left the clearing and started back to the palace.
Fiore called after him, softly trilling her goodbye, and then cast her gaze on the three remaining.
Gray stood and walked closer to the silver griffin, crouching before her and ruffling the feathers at her neck. "The spy and the assassin will be boring - with me you get to fly often, and all over the continent-" He began but Issei swiftly cut him off. "Oh stop being a suck-up, would you, and let the griffin do what she wants." The blonde woman said evenly, her eyes narrowed in annoyance.
Fiore watched the exchange, her ears pricking with interest and tail flicking. 'I could carry each of you. I'm attracted to the idea of flight.' she admitted, gazing over their light frames. 'Issei, if I were to choose you, would I get to fly? Or hunt or fight?' she asked, setting her blue eyes onto the blonde woman's own blue orbs.
"Yes. The group I'm to become a member of frequently fights with an opposing group - that's mostly why they exist. They travel broadly." She replied evenly and kept her eyes level at the griffin.
'Which types of creatures would I fight? Or would I fight humans?'
"Mostly humans." Pale nodded decisively,
Fiore's chest welled with air as she considered. She caught Callias' eyes once more. 'How often do you engage in the services of Gray and Pale? Would I be well worked with either?'
"Gray is busy often - as is Pale, though very slightly less." Callias replied, studying the two just mentioned carefully. Either was a good choice for Fiore.
The griffin exhaled. She glared at Callias pointedly. The Spymaster shrugged. "This is not my decision. All of the other griffins chose their own partners." She reminded Fiore.
Fiore sighed. She considered her options briefly until she was finally faced with an embarrassing decision, one she regretted almost immediately. She turned her eyes to Gray who grinned at her smugly. "I would do my very best to entertain you, my gorgeous." He spoke in an amused tone.
'Would you cage me again with your gift?' she growled, her shoulders square as she watched him. His smug smile only grew in size and intensity now, though he bowed his head to her. "Never again."
'Fine.' she growled, turning to Callias, her wings twitching slightly, unbelieving of her own decision. Perhaps it was because he had challenged her in the beginning that she was attracted to the idea of partnering with him now. Gray's face went stiff, and he stood straight and faced both Fiore and Callias. "Thankyou very much." He said firmly, casting a smug look back at Pale and Issei, the latter of whom made a disgusted face at him and turned pointedly away.
Fiore watched him, appraising him.
Callias sighed and slouched slightly. "Good. Gray, report to my office for further instructions- and be ready to train with Fiore tomorrow at dawn."