It was really easy to sleep when you had a late night patrol. Thankfully, fatigue did wonders in filtering out noise and just getting your body to sleep, and special forces training did wonders in making you work on as little sleep as possible. Pastor and Mendoza had returned to the quarters a couple of hours before dawn was set to rise, quickly dropping their armors into the dressers and falling asleep quickly on their beds. The lack of the remaining citizenship papers which had been left on the desk indicated that Talbot and Raymond had already sent theirs off.
They'd gotten six hours of sleep, waking up at around ten in the morning, where Talbot and Raymond went off to do their patrols in the daytime.
"Yeah, I love being able to just have a lazy morning!" Mendoza said, stuffing his face with the great breakfast that they'd woken up to. "Oh, man, I could totally get used to this."
"Slow down, Fuse, and you won't end up choking with all that food you're shoving down your throat," Pastor laughed.
"I heard you two did the night patrol?" Harvey asked. "And you reported to the Princess of the Night, no less. I have to say, this nation's history is just so interesting. It's like a fairy tale and not a fairy tale simultaneously, because we're here witnessing the whole event! I could only imagine what it must have been back then, the texts say the Princesses are actually very old."
"They must be quite the rulers if they can maintain such peace for as long as they have. It's a really nice place here. I mean, I see that valley out the window every morning and I wish I had a damn camera to take a picture." Pastor took a sip of coffee out of his fancy white cup.
"Oh, I agree with you there, Lieutenant." Harvey took a sip of his hard cider. He'd taken a liking to it over all the other alcoholic drinks they'd offered, and found that he liked having it with every meal. "Well, Ghosts..." He poured a shot of cider for Pastor and Mendoza. "...to our good future."
"To our good future!" they cheered, clinking their cups together, simultaneously downing it all in one go.
"Woo, can't say that I was a fan of hard cider before, but damn if this stuff doesn't grow on you," Mendoza looked into the bottom of his cup. "A lot of their ingredients are pretty top-notch here."
"Well, this is the royal castle, after all. Say, Doctor, how are those bows coming along?" Pastor asked, leaning back in his seat.
"They're coming along fantastically well!" Harvey almost shouted. "I have to say, without those designs, we really would have been stumbling around in the dark. But with the Corporal's help, we actually managed to create a working prototype that went beyond expectations. The wood and metal they use here are extremely durable, surprisingly enough, and were easy to work with. I've already begun fletching arrows for the quivers I plan to make today."
"Have you seen Scope fire the bow?"
"Who? Oh, you mean Corporal Raymond. Yes, I have, actually. He certainly wasn't joking about the rabbit bit, he really is a master with that bow. Took to it like a fish to water."
"With enough training, I guess we can all be Robin Hoods," Mendoza laughed. "How hard is it to make the arrows, Doc? I mean, putting together every one of them must be a bit... annoying."
"Oh, no. They already have the shafts already made. They actually use arrow-related weaponry here, you know? Anyway, I simply just fasten on the arrowheads and the feathers, and then they're all good to go. I already have enough for several quivers just waiting for storage."
"Nice. What about more bows?" Pastor asked. The morning had been mostly quiet save for the birds chirping outside.
"I'll be working on them soon, but this time I'll be experimenting. Trying to use new design quirks, or adding in new materials, things to make the bow stronger or have fire farther."
"Yeah, then we can all be like pew-pew-pew, and then woosh, and then BAM!" Mendoza shouted. "I mean, arrows are nice, but as crazy as it sounds, I still haven't got a single chance to fire my rocket pods yet..."
"Pray that we won't have to, Fuse," Pastor reprimanded. "You should know better than to just want to fire weapons in peacetime conditions like that. This guard stuff's actually pretty easy on the body. I guess I'm just kind of glad after everything we went through, we might never have to kill anyone ever again."
Raindrops opened her eyes. It was dark, very dark, and cold, and damp. She couldn't tell where she was. She tried to recall what had happened to her prior to waking up. She was walking down the street with her friend, Ditzy Doo, on the road just outside Ponyville, trying to enjoy the view of the night sky. Then everything went dark, and there was screaming, and--
Oh, no. Ditzy!
She jumped to her feet, trying to run towards the light of a torch she found at the end of the hallway, only to run into... bars? Jail bars? She was trapped, stuck in a jail cell! And Ditzy was nowhere to be seen!
She felt her hoof step into something squishy. But that was impossible, these were caves. She leaned down to inspect the strange substance. It was liquid of some sort, red, and it was oozing from... a... piece of... meat...
It was flesh. Flesh of a dead pony. Her irises narrowed into pinpricks as she slowly turned her head to the right. She gave out a small mental sigh of relief to see that it wasn't Ditzy, but that was absolutely dwarfed by the realization that she stood staring at a dead pony, a pegasus, one who had been cut up and stabbed very badly. Her mouth wavered as she slowly backed into a corner, shaking, and trying not to scream.
"Look, the pony is awake. Look now, pony. See what we do to ponies that try to escape." The guttural voice gave a laugh. "You shall suffer and die here along with rest of ponies. Yes, diamond dogs will finally have revenge on stupid ponies!" Another laugh.
Raindrops shrunk into the corner. She was scared, scared of what had happened, where she was, and of the thing that was now laughing at her outside her cage, stuck far below ground, unable to fly.
"Somepony... anypony... help... oh... Ditzy..." she meekly whispered.
She feared for her friend, but she was too scared to do anything alone.
"Under much deliberation by my officers and myself, we have reached a conclusion: Captain, you will send one of your own to assist in this operation. This is an order given directly by me, Princess Celestia. I will give you until sundown to make your decision." Talbot and Raymond had been called into a meeting room during their patrols, asked to give their advice on a sensitive situation. They didn't figure that they would actually be involved in it.
"We all have specializations in the field, Your Majesty," Talbot said, standing before the large table full of military ponies and Celestia herself. "Is there any role you're looking for? And just what exactly are we need for, anyway? I don't think we'd be needed on a standard operation if that's the case..."
"A good eye and a sharp shot," responded a unicorn wearing purple battle armor. He'd introduced himself as Captain Shining Armor, and was in charge of this operation. "We have heard reports of a disturbance out near Ghastly Gorge, and sightings of strange beings roaming close to town during the night. Recently, we've heard that there have been abductions, and that's why we're going to investigate. I've heard from Princess Luna that you have lots of experience and some useful abilities."
"Easy choice, then," Talbot said. "Scope, you're up."
"Yes, sir." Raymond looked to Shining. "It'll be an honor to work with you, sir. I'd like to state that I am an accomplished sniper, with plenty of field experience under my belt. I won't fail you, sir." He saluted.
"You can trust the Corporal here, he's worth every bit of his weight in gold. There just remains one problem..." Talbot said. "Under a promise given to Doctor Harvey, we are not allowed to use the weapons that we had arrived with." He turned to Raymond. "Scope, is that bow of yours ready?"
"I test-fired it myself yesterday, sir. It's beyond perfect. I can nail a target at fifty meters on a dime."
"Good. Got arrows?"
"The doctor said he'd have three quivers ready for me by the end of the day."
"Excellent. There you have it, Your Majesty. I hope Corporal Raymond here can perform to your expectations. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we're eager to prove ourselves to the Equestrian Royal Guard."
"What, so only Scope gets to see action? What about us? The rockets are just hankering to be let loose!" Mendoza said. "Come on, just once? I really want to use these rocket pods!" The crickets chirped loudly as the moon rose higher into the sky. Pastor and Mendoza had been excused from their patrols this night by Princess Luna to help prepare their comrade for his imminent mission.
"Denied, Fuse. The Princess told me afterwards that the rest of us are on standby. The Princesses both have joint command over this operation, while I'm acting as mission handler for Scope," Talbot said. "Just a routine investigation, they say. Hopefully things won't end up going south. Only Scope is getting deployed because we're still trying to build up trust with them, and what better way to do that than to send one of our own to help them?"
"Swift, silent, invisible. Right, boss?" Pastor laughed, shining the unit insignia on his shoulder guard.
"Like a ghost," Raymond said. He gave a tug on his recurve bow's bowstring to make sure it was up to par. "Got those arrows ready, Doc?"
"Just in time! You should see the heavy cloth they use here, it's practically like kevlar weave! Though they did tell me that it was magic-reinforced. With due luck, these quivers will serve you admirably in the field."
"Thanks." He loaded the quivers on his back, but could only fit two of the three given to him. Shaking his head, he simply tied the remaining one to his left hip instead. As per their agreement with Harvey, Raymond only had his silenced sidearm at his disposal. "Guess I'm off now."
Twilight Sparkle walked out to her balcony this fine evening, admiring Princess Luna's night sky. She peered into her telescope and began her observation of the many constellations that shone brightly in the sky, jotting down notes and asking Spike for a refreshment once in a while. There was a discrepancy, however, as she noticed a chariot flying through the sky, one that belonged to Princess Luna... and it was headed straight for Ponyville!
She ran inside, bolting past a confused Spike and a questioning look from Owloysius, and opened her treehouse's front door just as the chariot touched down on the landing. She did not, however, see Princess Luna. Instead, she saw what seemed to be several of Celestia's royal guards and her brother, Shining Armor, disembarking the wagon.
"BBBFF!" Twilight shouted, hugging her brother. The armor certainly got in the way, though.
"Twily!" Shining responded, giving a laugh as the other five guards began fanning out, eyes sharp for any disturbances. "I wish I could say more, but right now, I need any maps that you have for Ghastly Gorge."
"Royal guard business, Twily. I'm afraid I can't say anything more than that."
"But I... okay. I understand." She quietly went inside and brought out several small scrolls. "Those are the best maps that we have right now. They haven't been updated for a while, but I doubt that a lot has changed in Ghastly Gorge. Please be careful in there, okay?"
"You know we will, Twily. Good night." The guards jumped on the chariot again and bolted off towards the Everfree Forest, in the direction of Ghastly Gorge. He opened up one of the scrolls, quickly examining it, as the human holding on to the railing of the chariot uncloaked next to him.
"A gorge, huh?" Raymond said. "Definitely going to be some excellent vantage spots." He wore three quivers: two on his back, and one slung directly over his left thigh. The arrows had been fletched on a speedy basis by Harvey, who had assistance from the rest of Anvil Squad. They planned out their sweep as the chariot began descending on the long winding canyon.
They had landed the chariot under the cover of the treeline before advancing the rest of the way on foot. Ghastly Gorge was extremely large, and winded through from the mountains over near west of Ponyville before directing itself into griffon territory. There were plenty of quarray eels just waiting to take a bite of any unsuspecting flier, so scouting directly into the canyons, especially this late at night, was decided against.
They had stalked along the edge of the gorge, finding clues: signs of scuff marks there, large dried pools of blood there, and dropped pony belongings here. Eventually, one of the pools of blood culminated to the body of a dead pony. The stallion, from what they could tell from the remains, had been brutally stabbed, repeatedly, with what appeared to be a pointed object. Spears, Shining had assumed; diamond dogs had been seen using them before.
Thankfully, it would seem that whatever group had done the abductions had made themselves plainly obvious to see. The enemy, now identified to be diamond dogs, had a single cave entrance marked with two torches, with a makeshift wooden encampment outside of it, with towers manned by guards.
"That's a lot of them... and they're all a little too close to Ponyville. They're just a stone's throw away from the trade routes," said a guard. "How do we get in?"
"Captain," Raymond said to Shining. "Are we allowed to terminate the enemies?"
"No..." Shining began. The group's attention was refocused as they heard several diamond dogs shouting from the encampment below. They quickly ducked and peeked over the edge to see what had caused the commotion.
The guards in the camp scrambled to their feet as they led in several ponies, shackled in chains. They prodded them with the spears, goading them towards the cave entrance. One of them, an earth stallion, resisted, and was brutally slammed in the face with the flat end of one of the dog's spears as the mare next to him rushed to his side.
"Yes..." Shining corrected. "Your Captain speaks highly of you, Corporal." He looked at Raymond. "How experienced are you with that weapon of yours? Think you can cover us as we advance towards the camp?"
"I'm a very good shot, Captain," Raymond said, putting a single arrow into his bowstring. "And yes, I can."
"I'm afraid I'll have to go on more than just your word. Think you can take out the guard on the tower?" The camp was located a long way at the bottom of the gorge. There was a small path nearby, most likely used by the diamond dogs to leave and enter the canyon. The tower in question was located directly over the gate that the prisoners were led through, with a single armored diamond dog standing guard on top.
"Easily done." Raymond pulled the bowstring back, letting his crosscom's sniper-calibrated detection algorithms inform him of wind speed and distance to target. He aimed slightly to the right, and let loose the arrow, exiting the bowstring with a single wisp of sound. The shot was extremely accurate, connecting with the tower dog's neck as he crumpled without being noticed.
"Wow," said another guard. "That's actually quite impressive."
"I was a candidate for my nation's competitive archery team. I had a lot of practice." He shrugged, figuring it would have been a much better explanation than saying that he hunted animals in the woods as a hobby. "And I guess you can say I have some extra aid, as well." The existence of the crosscom was still under wraps.
"Well, I think we're in good hooves then. Scope, you stay here," Shining whispered, adopting the moniker that the Ghosts called him. "Sky Watch, you stay here with him and keep watch on our advance. The rest of you fillies, prepare to advance."
The remaining five guards, including Shining, began slowly down the path. It was worn, and hung precariously close to the canyon's walls. Shining mentally cursed as he tried to keep quiet as soon as possible, trying to avoid falling off when he had to round the corners that led to yet another dangerous downhill path.
"So..." Watch said, a crossbow on his back. "Are all of you humans good at fighting?" The unicorn's horn glowed and he pulled it out, holding it in a ready stance as they saw the figures of Shining and his group growing smaller as they continued down.
"Only the ones who want to be."
"Well, I guess I can understand that... not every pony is a royal guard, after all. Oh, they're getting close now, so you can start picking them off."
"Gladly." He notched another arrow and brought the string back again. This time the target was a guard on patrol on the outer wall closest to where Shining would exit. If he nailed him, they could make it to the wall undetected. He fired the arrow and watched as the tiny black pinprick shot through his nightvision, slamming directly into the side of yet another dog's neck.
"That makes two," Watch whispered. "Look out, there's another one coming down the other wall."
On the wall adjacent to the previous target's walked another guard. The dog stopped, aiming his head up, sniffing the air, suspicious of a new scent he caught in the wind. Raymond quickly brought out another arrow, his crosscom's field ID scans now completed, filling his peripheral vision with red diamonds, indicating threats. Unfortunately, that also included the ponies, as well. He let fly the arrow again and killed yet another wall sentry, setting his signatures for Shining and his group to green squares for friendlies.
The diamond dogs had closed the gate leading into their cave base, but the outer encampment's gate was now unguarded. Raymond could see Shining and his group quickly stacked up against the walls, as the captain slowly opened the wooden gate and poked his head in for a quick look.
By this point, the only guards remaining were a few located at a tent on the far side of the entrance, and two guarding the cave base's gate. Shining's objective was to ascertain whether or not there actually were abductions in the area. Now that they had their proof, they had to act, before the ponies were moved elsewhere... or killed. Raymond had been assured that the royal guards were highly trained, but he never really trusted anybody that wasn't a Ghost. Lived longer that way.
He fired off two more arrows, killing the guards outside the cave. That drew the attention of the ones by the tents, who quickly moved over to investigate the bodies as Shining's small group of guards quickly overwhelmed them with speed and magic. They lined up against the door, Shining waving back up to their position to let them know that it was clear, when...
One of the guards screamed as what looked like an eagle's claw smashed through the door and grabbed him by the neck and squeezed hard, snapping his neck. Raymond slightly flinched as even though he couldn't hear it, he definitely felt it. The strange creature that walked out of the cave easily shrugged off an attack by another guard, knocking him aside and then impaling the stunned guard by throwing a spear directly at his side.
"Oh, buck!" Watch said. "It's--it's a griffon!" He and Raymond began firing arrows, which seemed to do no harm as the griffon seemed to know how to dodge them. Raymond cursed the fact that arrows took time to reach their targets. If he had his M107 right now, he could end this all in one shot.
They watched as he quickly threw another guard to the side, a gray unicorn who smashed into the wooden wall. The single remaining guard, a pegasus, attempted to flank the griffon, jumping in the air behind him and preparing to dive in order to hit the griffon's spine. He was swatted out of the air as the griffon suddenly swung around, bringing his talons around as he did so, hitting the guard and sending him flying into the rock wall. Shining was charging a spell when the griffon flew straight at him, knocking him to the ground.
They had some sort of in-between with insults as the griffon pulled Shining in towards the cave as more diamond dogs came out, these ones with shields. That would make killing them a bit harder.
"Damn it!" Watch cursed, holding his crossbow steady as he tried to piece together a new method of action.
"Shit," Raymond said. He activated his local crosscom communicator. "This is Scope to Talon, over."
"...signal spotty... Scope... situation?" Talbot's voice was barely discernible at best through the static.
"Captain Shining Armor is down, along with four guards. Situation is FUBAR, repeat, situation is FUBAR."
"...down... if that's the case... then I'll speak... Celestia." Talbot went quiet for a moment as the sound of static played for several minutes. "...there we... and got it! That's much better. Thank you, Princess. I don't know how the hell you did it, but you boosted the signal. Alright, Scope, what the hell's going on?"
"Captain Shining has been captured. We have four guards down. We have confirmed civilian hostages. Hostiles sighted being led by a griffon. Situation is fucked, sir, please advise."
There was the sound of murmurs in the background as Talbot spoke with Celestia about the next course of action. "Well, Scope, now you get to do what you were trained to do. We can't risk the captain getting killed, and we can't reach you in time before they end up trying something, which, judging by the reports the Equestrians have had on their limited encounters, they definitely will. The griffon is secondary priority: the captain and the hostages come first. The situation is fucked now, so it's your job to un-fuck it, am I clear?"
It was fortune that Raymond wore a balaclava over his face, for the smile that he had on his face would have had every living being shit their pants out of fear. "Crystal clear, sir." He slung his bow over his shoulder and stood up, his mind taking in the situation that lay before him.
"Uh... Scope?" Watch nervously asked. "I heard the orders, but are you sure you want to go alone? I mean, maybe we should just stay here and wait for help."
Raymond looked at him, his eyes blocked by his tactical visor. His smile hadn't faded a single bit. "I don't know what you're talking about, Watch. I was never here." Watch's mouth opened agape as he witnessed Raymond's form quickly begin to blend in with his background as the Ghost's camouflage activated. At least Watch knew the reason why Celestia had wanted to send one of them along now...
There were five of them, armed with shields and spears, but Raymond had the advantage. These idiots were cannon fodder, and it showed: they were sloppily trained, fanning out in random directions with one actually sitting down at the base's gate and pulling out a flask to drink. Against a trained commando like him, they stood no chance.
He casually strolled in through the gate, turning left and walking towards a diamond dog who was poking his spear at the guard who'd been tossed into the wooden wall. The unicorn moaned and gave a small kick. The diamond dog's mouth gave what seemed to be a laugh that sounded like it was thrown into a blender. The dog raised his spear, about to give the killing blow.
Raymond stealthily walked up behind him, uncloaking in the shadow that eclipsed most of the camp. The canyon, although a good place to hide, proved to be very useful to Raymond as it covered any part of the camp that was without torches in near pitch-black darkness. He tapped him on the shoulder, uttering a single word that struck terror into the dog's eyes.
"Boo." The combat knife slid in cleanly at the base of the dog's head where his throat connected, going straight up into his brain and killing him instantly. The spear dropped to the ground with a dull clack as the body hid the ground with a hard thud. Good. That was one out of the way, with only four more. The unicorn seemed to still be alive, and the others hadn't noticed the untimely death of their comrade.
Raymond took a better look at the unicorn. Still alive, but he wouldn't live long unless he got help. And he wouldn't get help unless Raymond cleared out this place in record time. He took a knee and pulled out his bow, eyes narrowing through his nightvision as he surveyed his hapless targets. Naturally, the one sitting at the door would die last. The bastard was black-out drunk and sleeping now, making him an easy kill, so Raymond decided to leave him for last.
The other three were quickly dropped as the arrows found their mark. The range at which he was firing essentially meant that he couldn't miss. The snore of the gate guard was abruptly interrupted as a single arrow made its way into his neck. Raymond cloaked again, walking towards the door, but stopped at the body of the guard who'd had his neck snapped. The pony's eyes were still open in shock, neck twisted at an unnatural angle. Raymond crouched before him, uttering a whispered final rite, before closing the pegasus's eyes.
He stood up and gazed into the barely-lit hallway that led into the depths of this base... or rather, prison. All that was left now was to find and rescue Shining Armor and the hostages. And perhaps kill every single diamond dog he came across.
"You won't get away with this. The Princesses will make the Griffon Empire answer for this!" Shining shouted. He hit the ground with a yelp of pain as the griffon threw him into a cell and slammed the door shut.
"You damn ponies have had this coming for a long time now. You take our lands and spit in our faces? Well, guess what? After hundreds of years, we're going to return the favor. In blood." The griffon laughed loudly as he pranced off.
"Agh... damn, that hurts..." Shining said, standing up and looking around.
"Um... are... are you okay?" Shining looked into the dark corners of the cell, trying to see who had just spoken to him. A jasmine yellow pegasus with turquoise mane stepped into the light. "Are you a royal guard? Were you sent here to save us?" she whispered. "But if you're here, then..."
"The griffon got the jump on us, I'm afraid." Shining let out a sharp gasp of pain as he tried to stand. Raindrops quickly caught him before he hit the ground. "We... we had two more farther away, but I don't know if they can do anything now."
"I... I'm Raindrops, from Ponyville. Who are you?" The pegasus noticed that the unicorn's armor was purple, much more different than... oh, Celestia... could he possibly be...?
"I'm Shining Armor. Captain of the Guard."
"Oh, so you're...! You were the one at the wedding!"
"I see somepony remembers me," he laughed, before wincing again. "Gah... okay, I should stop doing that..."
"Do you know what the griffons want with us?"
Shining shook his head. "Whatever it is, it can't be good. We got reports of abductions in the area, so we came to investigate, but... I never realized that the griffons would be involved in this..."
"How can you be so sure? What if he's not working with them?"
"Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But we can't be too sure."
"So... what do we do now then? Oh, have you seen my friend Ditzy? She's a pegasus, gray fur, yellow mane?" She looked into his eyes, intent on finding out what happened to her friend.
"I'm sorry, Raindrops, I didn't see any other pony coming in here." She sat down, unwilling to process the series of events that had led up to this. And then there had been the body, which was a horrifying sight. They'd only just recently cleaned it out as she hoped that she wouldn't end up like the unfortunate pony did.
"Are we... going to... die here...?" she barely croaked.
"Don't worry." Shining put a hoof on her shoulder. "In the name of the Princess, I swear that I will get you safely out of this." It was most likely an empty promise, he realized. He didn't know what they would do, or whether he would live long enough to see her out of this. He just hoped that whatever course of action Celestia had decided to take, it would save them before things got worse.
The last guard stood quavering in his boots. His eyes quickly darted left and right, looking down the hallway, trying to see where the arrows had come from that killed the rest of the diamond dogs around him. It was sudden: one minute, they had been all conversing together and drinking, and before he knew it, the rest of his kin were all on the floor dead, arrows protruding from them.
"Come out!" he said shakily. "I--I know you're here!" He slightly lowered his shield to get a better look down the hallway...
...only to receive an arrow straight through his eye socket, killing him instantly as his body recoiled backwards and landed on the floor. Raymond quickly doused the torches with the cups on the floor, making the hallway pitch black. Just the way he preferred it. It made the enemies easier to stalk with his nightvision, and he always wanted to play the role of the Boogeyman.
There had been a lot of diamond dogs inside the cave, in the long winding hallways and the large high-roofed rooms. He'd taken express care to make sure every single one of them didn't live long enough to regret their decision in aiding the griffon. And for the griffon... well, he was sure that the son of a bitch definitely wasn't going to be leaving alive. Perhaps he could grab something useful from him. As far as things were concerned, rogue elements splintered from nations were common enough back home. Having information on whether or not this was an official operation could do a lot in diplomatic affairs.
"Well, well, what do we have here...?" he said, walking past the bodies and entering a grand entranceway. It had stairs that led to a second floor and various rooms, and a great red banner hung from the ceiling that depicted a rearing griffon. That was a pretty big tip-off that something official was going on here. Other than that, it seemed that the diamond dogs had been armed with well-forged armor and weapons, something that Raymond assumed that mongrels like them shouldn't normally have.
He quickly dodged behind a pillar as he heard shouting coming from above, and a figure walking across the balcony.
"...and don't come back until you've dealt with them all! Honestly, you diamond dogs are absolutely worthless! You're lucky that General Strongbeak hasn't given me an official legion yet. Maybe when they arrive, you can witness the might of a true griffon soldier. Now piss off, you damn dogs, I have a prisoner to interrogate!" The griffon huffed off through another door.
So that was where they kept the prisoners. Raymond weighed his choices: either find the office that the griffon had and pilfer everything he could for information, or follow the griffon and find Shining, then kill the griffon and free the hostages. The latter sounded like a much more appealing option.