Chapter 15: Order Up
"Dragons, we all feel it. The feeling of dread, of something on the horizon. We are all unnerved about it, but we can't let that stop us from our training. If anything we should train harder, to prepare for whatever it is that's coming. Templa, Chunky. You two are on watch. I want you two outside, looking out for ANYTHING out of place. If anyone we don't know, and I mean ANYONE we don't know is spotted within our vicinity, tell us immediately. We'll take shifts of 5 hours. You may use time that you aren't on watch as you please.
"Futhermore, I am going to be departing soon with Catherine. We are going to be seeing the leaders of other Orders to organize peace treaties to see if they will join us in our cause of protecting Humanity. It seems that the Harpy Order isn't just our enemy. They have angered other Orders as well. And as the old adage goes: 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend'.
"Finally, I need you to start using our weapons and armors in our training. Our training needs to be as realistic as possible, however, try to refrain from severely injuring your sparring partner. Dismissed."
Every Dragon except Catherine left to their assigned post. Catherine stayed behind, waiting for me as I decended.
"Catherine, I know that you may not like what I have planned, but-"
"Shay, it's fine. And you're right. Strength in numbers."
I paused, then closed my mouth into a smile. "Indeed. Now, onward."
It was a long flight from the HQ. We flew up into the clouds to avoid detection, flying towards what Catherine told me to be the headquarters of the Griffon Order. The mist of the clouds made my cheeks tingle, and my breathing clear. It was humid, but not so much that there was a sharp increase or decrease in temperature. Soon, we arrived in a magnificent floating city, Griswoldia. I was amazed that such a place existed and had not been discovered by Humanity yet. The city was gigantic, levitated by glowing crystal formations that was covering the bottom surface of the buildings. It seemed that things cannot be built on clouds as cartoons have made it seem. Vast as it was, it was also beautiful. The metal and stone of this aerial HQ seemed to mimic what appeared to be bronze, or copper, but Catherine informed me that it was made from materials not known to Humanity.
Soon, we arrived at the main gates. The Griffon militia were on us in an instant, aiming their weapons at us and surrounding us from all sides, including the air. We raised our hands into the air as they led us into the Royal Hall. The Hall was a skyscraper of a building, with Griffons both watching from the balconies and flying about. The doors were huge, made of the same strange orange-brown metal and the grey concrete-like stone. The armed guards behind us jabbed at us occasionally as we walked.
"Easy!" Catherine said. "This is no way to treat a diplomat."
We were led all the way into the building, and we saw a very large, yet elderly, griffon wearing a crown and velvet cape sitting on a large stone throne, atop a set of stairs which stretched from wall to wall. We were brought to the bottom of the stairs, and shoved to our knees, forced to bow to this griffon. The griffon king raised an eyebrow to the two of us, dismissing the militia that brought us here with a wave of his talon. He looked at us, folding his talons and began to speak.
"Black and Green Dragons....What on Earth are you doing in MY kingdom?"
We glanced at one another, then back at the king.
"Well? Speak up! Cat got your tounge? Spit it out!"
I cleared my throat.
"...Please pardon our intrusion in your land....er..."
"King Saranga." He said.
"...King Saranga, but we've come not as an act of war, but as an act of peace."
All the griffon guards grinned and laughed, chuckling heartily as if I just told the funniest joke ever. The king however remained silent, talons folded, glaring at us resentfully.
"And what makes you think that I will sign any kind of treaty with YOU?" he spat at us.
"Humanity is becoming hostile. Not just to us, but to any kind of mythological creature, including yourself. We have a suspicion that-"
Again, all the griffon guards laughed, some pointing, others elbowing the person beside him.
"A suspicion? As in you have no proof?"
"You must understand, sir, that we've already been in Humanity's government compound. They have DNA from us, they have-"
He raised his claw to silence me.
"Regardless of what the humans have..." He shuddered a bit as he said the word "humans". "...the truth remains clear. Without actual proof of their act of war against us, you have no grounds here!!"
"Sir, please be reasonable, I-"
Suddenly, two griffons burst into the Royal Hall, landing just beside us and panting heavily, obviously had been flying very hurriedly.
"King Saranga....King Saranga! The Humans!..." One started.
Me and Catherine looked at each other with anxious expressions.
"Spit it out!" The king shouted at them.
"King Saranga, we were scouting around the land the Humans call 'Arizona', and we spotted the Human Army mobilizing somewhere. There was probably a good hundred thousand. They looked like they were mobilizing for a war of some kind."
"We came here as fast as we could to alert you, and get further instruction."
The king raised an eyebrow for the second time that meeting, then looked at us. I slowly stood up to speak to him.
"Sir, we understand your hostility against the Dragon Order, as well as the one against Humanity. Believe me, the Humans are just as hostile to the ones who protect them. But surely, you must understand that if we do not team up and fight a common enemy, both of our Orders will disintegrate."
Saranga put his talon to his chin, deep in thought. Soon, he looked up at us.
"What are your requests for this...treaty?"
"So, let me clear the air here..." He muttered, his claws folded under his chin, propping his head up with his elbows. We were gathered in the Royal Meeting Room, discussing the treaty. All the while, a Griffon wearing glasses was typing everything we said into a typewriter, so as to document the entire treaty signing for both parties. The air was still in the room, with me and Catherine sitting on two stone chairs on one side of a thin rectangular table, and Saranga on the other. A lone piece of parchment and an inkwell was resting between us, oriented in such a way that neither party could see it vertically.
"You want us to work with you, protecting Humanity against other, more hostile Orders; but you need us to fight Humanity as well?"
"I know it sounds complicated." Catherine said. "But when we say 'fight Humanity', we mean it in a different context than the one you use."
"So...you want us to fight Humanity...but not kill them?"
"What we want is to fight the hostility of Humanity. Killing or harming any innocent Humans is prohibited."
He nodded in understanding.
"And what about this paragraph here?" He pointed to one of the clauses we had on the paper.
"That states that we will both allow unrestricted access to our respective armories, libraries, and training grounds. If we are to work together, we need to learn to trust one another. If that means revealing some things best kept secret to each other, so be it."
He nodded once more.
"And in return, you promise to not attack any Griffon following the rules of this treaty?"
"As long as you promise the safety of rule-following Dragons."
"This treaty seems largely in your favour..."
"It is. But, as incentive, we will also give you one of our many ground-based hideouts for your Griffons. As long as you realize that by accepting said base, that means you accept any and all responsibilities that come with it. Which includes killing the Guardian."
He stood up from his chair, both of us were expecting him to turn around and end the meeting there...He extended his right 'hand'.
Chunky and Templa were standing outside the base, training themselves to hone their power, while at the same time, keeping one eye open. Chunky was standing on the cliff above the door, which wasn't all that high. It was really more of a hill. He had found an old pig carcass and tied it up into a palm tree, making a makeshift punching bag. He was giving it the ol' one-two-punch when he saw something odd on the horizon.
Templa, on the other hand, was on the beach, practicing her ice power by freezing a lone grain of sand over and over again so as to hone her accuracy. She was readying another shot when Chunky tried to get her attention.
"Not right now, Chunky..." She muttered, closing her eyes and taking careful aim with a slow and steady hand. Chunky dropped down in front of the door, eyes still locked on the distant horizon line.
"I said not now!" She snapped, eyes still closed. She readjusted her aim and the tips of her fingers began to freeze, indicating the spell was about to be cast. Chunky grabbed her shoulder, knocking her off balance and causing her to shoot a bolt of ice somewhere into the ocean.
"WHAT?!" She spun around, glaring at the behemoth of a man. When she saw that he was looking away from her, she followed his sightline to what he was staring at, and her once furious expression softened into confusion.
"Oh no..." She muttered.
"Quick, get inside! NOW!" Chunky said. Templa didn't need to be told twice, and she quickly ran to the door, opening it with her amulet. She hesitated and looked up at Chunky.
"But what about you?"
"I'm going to hold them off, see if I can hide our base. I'll follow in a minute! Now go!"
Templa nodded and ran inside, leaving the door open. Meanwhile, Chunky activated his power and created a thick forest of palm trees around the perimeter of the base, leaving about 1 mile in diameter all the way around. He then ran inside with Templa, and closed the door. A large pack of military vehicles was speeding across the horizon, but didn't pay any mind to the sudden rise of a forest from nothing. They probably didn't notice. But it was good to take precautions. Better safe than sorry....
Soon, Catherine and myself arrived, flying down toward the base, but quickly landed with our new griffon teammates about 40 miles from the base. One of the griffons had spotted the military battalion in the distance, so we decided to fly low, gliding across the ground so as to be faster, and to not get spotted. However, when I saw the palm trees surrounding our base, I grew concerned. We flew around the trees and across the ocean so as to get into the alcove, then landed outside our base.
One of the griffons whistled, obviously impressed.
"Man, you Dragons have it good!"
"Thank you." Catherine said proudly.
We opened the door and the griffons watched with amazment as the hidden door slid open.
"You HAVE GOT to show us how to do that!!"
"Yeah! That is awesome!"
"It's all ancient architechture...It's unlikely that the blueprints-" I began, only to be interrupted by Catherine.
"It's in the library. I'll show you around!" She took them into the base and I rolled my eyes, then followed her, closing the door behind me.
Meanwhile, a certain griffon scout had been watching the sudden foliage quite carefully, and was surprised when she saw her own kind being led into our base. She pulled out a small projectile weapon from her holster.
"So the Dragons think that they can take our kind hostage without a fight, eh?"
She flew briskly toward the base, circling around the trees and onto the beach. The door was shut tightly, but Chunky had returned outside to keep watch. Unaware of the young griffon scout's motives, he thought that she was simply one who had gotten left behind.
"Oh, hey! The others are inside already. Lemme just open the-"
Suddenly, her gun was in his face, pressed hard up against his cheek. She hissed at him.
"Yes, you'd love to throw me into the prison with the others, wouldn't you? Well I won't have it!"
Chunky blinked in confusion, then reached up and grabbed the barrel of the gun, gently lowering it.
"Prison?! No no. Listen, kid, you got this wrong. We-"
"I'm no kid! Now open the door and step aside before I have to coat the cliff face with your blood!"
Chunky's face hardened.
"Listen. I don't take kindly to people threatenin' me. If you'll just give me a minute to explain-"
"And what are you going to do about it?"
"And this is the kitchen. It's where Chunky cooks our meals." Catherine continued smartly.
"Who's Chunky?" One of them asked.
"Our cook, doorman and general muscle of the group. In fact, he's just outside! Let me go get him." I said, then made my way back to the door. A simple mechanism, I simply pushed a button and the door slid open. However, when I saw what was going on behind the door, I gasped.
Chunky had risen a high stone wall and was hiding behind it for cover as a rebellious griffon fired at him with some sort of laser gun. She screeched and flew up, trying to get behind his cover, but Chunky kept moving it. He launched a ball of gravel at her, striking her in the face and causing her to stagger. Before it could escalate any further, I ran between them.
"CEASE YOUR FIRE!!" I barked. They both stopped what they were doing and stared at me.
"Er...D-Deduc Draco, it's not what it seems!"
"Then you had best start explaining Chunky!"
"I was just guarding the door, minding my own, when suddenly this little ball of pent-up anger and feathers started to accuse me and the rest of the Dragons for kidnapping those other griffons! I tried to get a word in, to explain everything, but she just lost it and started to shoot at me!"
"You took my kind hostage you...you...you freaks of nature!" The young griffon interjected.
"I wouldn't be talking, squawky!"
"ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT! CALM DOWN! BOTH OF YOU!" I shouted.
I turned to the scout.
"A misunderstanding. We had gone to your leader and organized a peace treaty between our kind. Our orders are now working together to stop a common enemy. We didn't mean to impose anything."
The griffon scout frowned and looked at the beach.
"Yeah....I...I guess I did get carried away..."
I turned to Chunky.
"And as for you. You should know better than to pick fights with our new allies, Chunky. This isn't the first impression I wanted to send."
"No buts. You knew that should there be anybody unauthorized approaching our beach, to come find me right away for further instruction."
He nodded with a frown and sighed.
"My sincerest apologies, Deduc Draco. I will work on solving my haste."
He sighed again.
"I'm sorry, miss. I shouldn't have fought you."
"Now then, both of you. Inside. We have more important matters to discuss."
I turned and led them both into the base, closing the door behind us.