Fairy tale – story about fairies or other magical creatures
Gift of the Gryphon
His eyes itched under the bandage. At least what was left of them did. The intensity of the pain had diminished over the last few weeks, but it did not remove the horror of losing his sight.
Brogan would never have found himself in this position if his brother had just listened to him. But Fenir would never listen. He was a selfish, uncaring, irresponsible hobgoblin of a brother.
If not for Fenir’s frog-in-the-ale prank played on a knight, Brogan would never have suffered the sizzling agony of scorching, red glowing embers tossed in his face, blinding him.
Now it appeared his brother had fled in humiliation. Fenir’s laugh and a hard slap on the back where the last things he gave Brogan. No one had seen Fenir come into the tavern in days. He’d disappeared and part of Brogan wanted to say good riddance, but his heart whispered what only a brother could, and that was forgiveness. For all Fenir was not, he was still Brogan’s brother, his blood.
* * *
The climb up the cliff face had been treacherous to say the least. Fenir scooted down the age-smoothed rock wall and sat on the ledge, his feet dangling over. He leaned his head back, stared up at the rising rock above, and found himself thanking God he would not have to go any higher.
The cloaked man who’d given him the map in the alley outside the village tavern had promised it would lead him to the gryphon. To a gryphon who could not only give him all the treasure his heart could desire, but if Fenir could obtain a feather from the beast, it could heal his brother’s eyes.
His head sank to his chest, eyes blurring and unfocused on the distant landscape below. Brogan didn’t deserve to be blind. Fenir hated himself, a deep and growing pit of darkness welling up in his soul, for his brother’s fate. If he’d not been such an idiot, it never would have happened. It was all his fault. If I could only get this feather . . . a little treasure wouldn’t hurt either, he thought then smacked himself in the forehead. Focus.
A screech, loud and not far off, broke the high mountain air like a call to war. Fenir scrambled to his feet, knocking bits of gravel and dirt from the edge while nearly taking a dive from the two foot wide ledge a thousand feet in the air.
Nothing came into view and before he could lose his nerve, Fenir shuffled down the path while keeping an eye out for any large beasts circling with the intent to rip him from his precarious perch. He rounded a bend and the path widened where the vertical angle of the cliff slanted in more.
The stranger had said if he called the gryphon by name, the beast would be bound by a magical spell to give Fenir anything he wanted. The only problem was that the old man hadn’t specified how much he would give him.
Another screech echoed forth from the cave, dust blasting out into the air like an explosion. Fenir pulled back, hiding himself behind a large boulder partially buried in the dirt and gravel. His heart raced but it was now our never.
Fenir shoved off from the wall and ran-shuffled the last ten yards to the cave, grinding to a halt just a foot from the opening. He held his breath and attempted to quiet the thudding beat of his heart as he listened to whatever lie within. Huffs of breath and the scratch of what must be claws upon hard-packed dirt and smooth rock murmured from the depths.
Fenir gritted his teeth, squeezed the handle of the knife as he pulled his from the sheath, and threw himself out to face the gaping maw of the dark cave. It took every ounce of courage to keep his eyes open even as the angry cawing and rapid thunder of racing talons filled his ears.
The gryphon, huge and menacing, melted out of the darkness and reared up, its curved claws pointed toward Fenir like curved swords. The gryphon’s wings spread wide, ready to attack.
Fenir’s jaw had gone slack at the sight of the creature, but the idea of coming this far only to die brought him back to his senses. With the beast’s talons mere inches from his face he found his voice.
He closed his eyes and fell to the ground in the same instant the name crossed his lips, sure that death was his. But seconds of darkness passed and he could still feel the beat of his heart hammering against his rib cage. Fenir ignored the slight dampness that wetted his dirty cheeks.
In a second of renewed courage and curiosity to see if he’d died, he opened his eyes in slits then widened them at the sight before him. The gryphon sat tamed. Her upper body very much the feathered physique of a giant eagle but with large, horse-like ears, while her lion-like rear rested on the ground with tail slowly swishing back and forth, stirring the dirt.
They stared at each other, neither one moving, for a span of eternity wrapped in only three seconds. The gryphon leaned forward while Fenir scrambled backward, unsure if the monster planned to eat him or not. But she only nipped at his shirt and pulled him upright. She sat back, seeming to wait.
“I-I . . . uh . . . I heard you have treasure to give.”
It was the first thing that came out of his mouth, but as soon as he said it he regretted it. What if he could only get one thing from this bird lion? He watched Rhaphos cock her head to one side as if in question.
“Wh-what I . . . I mean to say, I need one of your feathers. F-for my brother.”
The gryphon stood up on all four legs, the front being eagle talons, the back that of a lion, and leaned toward Fenir who froze in place as Rhaphos’ intelligent and discerning eyes seemed to peer into his soul. He stood stiff, unable to breathe while being examined.
With a huff of hot air, the gryphon bent her neck and plucked a feature from near her shoulder then dropped the gift in Fenir’s shaking hand. As soon as Rhaphos let go of the iridescent feather she jumped from the ground, wings spread and talons extended. Before he could move away she wrapped her talons around his shoulders and yanked him into the sky.
Pain seared through his upper body as she carried him away from the cliff. He was in too much pain to recognize where they flew until he saw his village come into view. Gliding down Rhaphos let go of Fenir in midflight, just feet above the ground, and let him tumble to a halt. He lay sprawled on the soft meadow grass, looked at the feather in his hand and then back up at the circling gryphon who slowly disappeared from sight.
Brogan would see again.