• Published 22nd Oct 2020
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Realms of Magic: The Realm of the Gryphons - TheEighthDayofNight



An elf, Kathranis Shadowsong, is transported to the realm of Equus by wild magic. This story follows his explorations of the different races and civilizations a new world has to offer.

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Chapter 15

“So?”

“So what?”

Deyenidal grinned from the doorway she was leaning against.

“So are you going to run Shadowsong through the gauntlet?

Aquila flushed red, while Dranidal let out a soft gasp, momentarily pausing her preening of Aquila’s wings. They were busy preparing for bed, the dinner long over. The elves had went there own way rather quickly, no doubt their minds already to task of deciding on whether or not to fight. Aquila knew Shadowsong would help though. He was ferocious when he could be, and once he viewed the humans for himself, he would all to happily lend a hand in their defeat.

“That is inappropriate to ask your princess!” Dranidal admonished. “Shame on you!”

Deyenidal scoffed.

“Like you don’t want to know.”

Dranidal straightened, her posture perfect as she went back to task.

“That may be, but you could have been more tactful.”

Aquila half-turned, her eyes wide.

“You too?” she squawked.

Dranidal smiled, plucking a loose feather.

“Of course your Majesty. It is clear to anyone who knows you that you are very interested in Master Shadowsong.” She sniffed, her brows furrowing. “Whether he can tell that is another question entirely, and though Deyenidal is blunt, perhaps a touch of bluntness is what these elves need. It’s certainly worked wonders for her relationship.”

“I’ll say, give me two more nights, I’ll have him in bed.” Her wings shuddered as she purred. “Then he’s never leaving. He’ll be all mine.” Her eyes flicked to Aquila. “But we all knew that, so spill; are you getting Shadowsong to warm your egg or what?”

Aquila let out a nervous squawk, and her wings flapped, slapping Dranidal in the face.

“I suppose that’s answer enough,” she said, unfazed by the feathery assault. She picked up right where she left off as Aquila buried her face in her hands.

“I can’t,” the princess said. “I can’t pursue a potential enemy of Gryphonia. What would I do if Shadowsong says he’ll leave, or, Harmony forbid, sides with the humans?”

“Do you really think he’ll do that?” Dranidal asked.

“Fordred won’t,” Deyenidal said. “He loves it here. He loves me. He’ll stay no matter what.”

“Are you sure?” Dranidal asked, glancing toward her larger sister. “You’ve heard them speak. Each is over a century old, and they have fought together for much of that. Is your three-day love strong enough to break the bond of blood-brothers?”

Deyenidal straightened, her arms crossing over her chest.

“He’ll stay,” she growled.

Dranidal’s eyes shifted back to Aquila’s wings. She ran her claws gently through the carefully plucked, shimmering feathers.

“I don’t need to remind you how many “nestmates” you’ve run through Sister. I believe you made a game of it not long ago. Do not-”

“He is mine!” Deyenidal screeched, flapping across the room.

Aquila darted out of the way as Deyenidal slammed into her sister, carrying her from the bed. She was surprised as the two set to rolling about and fighting. It had been years since their last good scrap; usually Deyenidal would simply go bed another gryphon, or stallion just to spite her sister whenever her “evening activities” were brought up. Judging by the feathers and clumps of fur falling loose, this time was different. She was playing for keeps.

Dranidal was no slouch in a fight however, and though she was at a size and surprise disadvantage, she quickly seized hold of Deyenidal’s tail. She yanked, causing her sibling to yelp, turning away to try and free the limb. Wings were quickly seized, and Dranidal let out a huff, tossing her ruffled head feathers into a semblance of their formal selves.

“You really need to work on your wrestling,” she said, wrapping her legs around Deyenidal’s torso as the larger gryphoness tried to struggle free. “Now, there is no need to get so defensive over a little cru-”

Deyenidal let out a bone-shaking shriek, of which Dranidal bore the brunt of.

“Over a big crush,” Dranidal corrected.

“It’s not a crush you empty headed feather-brain!” Deyenidal spat. “Fordred is mine! I’m going to claim him!”

“Dee, it’s okay,” Aquila cooed, crouching in front of her friend. “We know you care about Fordred, but Dranidal is right, it’s only been a couple of…”

She paused as she spotted something small and black on the gray stone floors. Deyenidal noticed, and her struggles increased in their intensity, while her voice took on a begging tone, even as she screeched with anger.

“Stay away!” she cried. “He’s mine! He’s mine!”

Aquila gently picked up the strange object and held it up to the candlelight. She gasped as she realized what the tiny object was; a tightly wrapped bundle of black hair, a common gift that non-gryphon’s exchanged with their winged mates.

She locked eyes with Dranidal, then both immediately set upon Deyenidal, cooing and stroking her head-feathers supportingly. The larger gryphoness calmed, especially once her fingers closed around the small bundle of hair.

“He- he won’t leave,” Deyenidal whispered, more to herself than the gryphons beside her. “He promised never to leave.”

“Shh, he isn’t going anywhere,” Aquila said, nuzzling her friend’s cheek. “You’re right, Fordred loves you very much.”

“I am sorry,” Dranidal said. “And I admit my full depth of wrongness. He is your beloved, your mate, and I apologize for calling that into question Dee.”

It was Dranidal’s unusual use of Deyenidal’s nickname that fully calmed the larger gryphoness, and she let out a shaky sigh.

“It’s… it’s fine. Sorry for attacking you sis.” A swift punch drew a hiss of pain from Dranidal. “But you deserved it. The little elf is mine, and he isn’t going anywhere.” Her thumb rubbed the bundle of hair. "He promised."

Dranidal smiled, rubbing her arm. Aquila grinned as they separated just slightly.

“So," the princess said. "I guess I should be asking you; are you going to put Fordred through the gauntlet? You’re already so far along with a feather exchange.”

Deyenidal smiled, tucking the bundle of hair back into her wings.

“I will, in a few days. He is a scrawny little thing, I imagine from living off woodland scraps of so long. A few more meals from the castle kitchens should give him a little more meat.” She purred and shuddered. “But not too much. Can’t let my little elf get fat. Then he won’t need me to keep him warm.”

Dranidal sighed, rolling her eyes.

“Please keep your words from the gutter while we’re discussing love Deyenidal.”

The larger gryphoness grinned at Aquila.

“I am, it’s how Aquila’s seducing Shadowsong after all.” Her eyes flicked back toward her sister. “I’m surprised that you would accuse your princess of sensual misdeeds Dray.”

As Dranidal sputtered, Aquila turned a deep shade of crimson, covering her face slightly with her wings. Deyenidal laughed and hugged them both close.

“This is no time for bashfulness, it’s time for celebration!” the gryphoness crowed. “We need to lay plans for our princess to claim her blinder-than-a-bat elf!”

“Don’t insult Shadowsong,” Aquila complained. “He just doesn’t know any better!”

Deyenidal grinned.

“That’s why you have to take a page from my book Princess. Grab him, drag him away, and make him yours. Shadowsong seems to be many great things. The kind of mate who takes hints is not one of them.”

“That’s not true, he-” She paused, combing her way through all of their encounters. “Well, I mean it’s not his fault. He’s just busy, and-” she blushed “-I was a bit forward that time...”

Deyenidal rolled her eyes.

“Like I said; blind.”

Dranidal nodded in agreement.

“Hints are not Master Shadowsong’s strong suit, but in most regards that is a benefit! It means he is not the plotting sort, and he likely will not play games with his mate.” She tilted her head. “But as Deyenidal says, it also means he is blind to any sort of romantic hint. A more direct approach is probably necessary to get your interest through his thick skull.”

Aquila squawked as Deyenidal’s grin grew wider. Shadowsong was dense, but thick-skulled? What was he, a minotaur? Romance merely wasn’t his expertise, one could only have so many! He was clearly a devout priest of a kind, an astounding warrior, a proud leader, not to mention kind on the eyes; he couldn’t be absolutely perfect! There would always be some kind of weakness, and romance wasn’t a terrible one.

“Don’t slander Shadowsong like this-” Aquila chided “-either of you!” She shot to her feet. “He may be a touch dense, but he could be more brilliant than anyone knows! He could be initiating a unique, one of a kind chase! He might be forcing me to be better for him!

Deyenidal’s beak opened, then clacked shut as she tilted her head in thought.

“That’s not a bad play actually. He’s the hot piece of tail on the market right now, and he’s clearly unique in terms of culture. Maybe the females did the chasing in his world.”

“He’s been nothing but receptive to your advances so far,” Dranidal continued, nodding slowly. “He might be subtly urging you on to become more open with them. It is a chase of sorts, though not quite as physical, and since he is uneducated in gryphon customs, he likely has no idea that you are signaling the exact same thing in reply.”

Aquila grinned smugly and crossed her arms.

“See, there’s more to Shadowsong than-”

“There’s also the possibility he’s denser than a rock and he’s just taking all of this as you two being friends,” Deyenidal said.

Aquila’s grin snapped into a scowl and she glared at her friend as Dranidal continued to nod.

“That is a very real possibility as well,” she agreed.

“Enough,” Aquila snapped. “I’ll prove you both wrong. I’m going to be so open that Shadowsong will have to admit his love for me.”

“Good,” Deyenidal said, grinning. “You should already have the Blademaster locked down before some other harpy swoops in and carries him off.”

“And I will,” Aquila said. “I already warded off that point-headed princess. Once Shadowsong is claimed, nobody will come near him. He’ll be mine just like Fordred is yours.”

Dranidal cleared her throat.

“I do not mean to dampen what are quickly sharpening spirits, but I would caution you to consider this Princess; what if he has been kindly avoiding your advances as a way of rejecting them? He is here at the mercy of your father after all. He may be trying to keep the peace while he secures a future for his people.”

Deyenidal swung a wing at her sister as Aquila recoiled visibly. As the princess sat on the edge of her bed, Dranidal slipped away from the offending wing.

“Don’t say something like that!” Deyenidal spat. “I know King Terran taught us to look for the worst in people, but Shadowsong clearly isn’t like that! He’s far more likely to be a romantic idiot than some sort of leading-on, heart-breaking wretch!”

“It has to be addressed,” Dranidal said, defending herself. “I will not let Princess Aquila base all of this action in false hope. She needs to be aware of what might happen, however much it hurts!”

“No,” Aquila whimpered, curling her knees to her chest. “H-he isn’t. He wouldn’t.”

An overwhelming sadness washed over her body, and she was unsure why, or rather, she knew why, but she was unsure as to how the feelings had built up so quickly. It had only been days, but it hurt to so much as breathe without Shadowsong’s scent filling her nose suddenly. It crushed her to think that the little elf didn’t love her back. Underneath that feeling of saddness was building something far more primal, and she curled tighter within herself as she tried to rationally handle the oncoming burst of emotion.

“Now look what you did!” Deyenidal screeched. “We had a plan of action, and now you threw a heaping bucket of doubt into it! He’s going to get away because of you, and Aquila will be miserable!”

Miserable? Aquila quivered. Yes, that would definitely be a part of it. But the other part… Her talons dug into the fur of her arms as she hugged herself tight. No, Shadowsong was interested in her. She didn’t dare think it was love, not yet, but that would come. Once she had him firmly at her side. She would need to make that happen though. There were hundreds of eligible gryphoness’ in the city alone, not to mention the thousands and thousands that would come from far and wide to claim the bachelor elf. He had power, uniqueness. It would be a natural attractant. They would seduce him away. Aquila snarled at that thought, the tears staining her fur beginning to dry as protective fury won out.

“Princess, it’s alright,” Dranidal said, still standing off against her sister. “I don’t mean to speak ill of Shadowsong, but this is merely an application of every ‘bad luck’ lesson your instructors have tried to teach you. You must plan for something to go wrong, so that you can-”

“This isn’t a battlefield,” Deyenidal spat. Turning to Aqulia she said; “Princess, it’s okay, please come out. Let’s talk about your plan to put yourself out in the open for Shadowsong.” Fingers pried at Aquila’s closed wings. “Please, it’s okay. He would have said something if he didn’t reciprocate!”

“It is okay,” Aquila growled. “Because Shadowsong is mine.”

Her wings parted just slightly, and she noticed Deyenidal’s comforting look morph into a sly grin. Dranidal sighed and shook her head.

“Princess, you’ve only known him for a few days-”

“And he’s mine!” Aquila barked. “I said he is, so he is!”

Dranidal raised her hands as Aquila began to rise from her seat.

“Alright, alright, there’s no need for anything rash Princess, but you need to be calm when thinking about this sort of thing.”

“Says you,” Deyenidal grumbled.

Dranidal shot her a glare, but Aquila found that she agreed with her friend on her point, even if she was wrong on others. She let the anger at potentially letting her mate slip away fade with her more primal urges. She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths before opening them again.

“Alright,” she said. “Then let’s talk.”

“Why him?” Dranidal said, sitting at the foot of the bed. “What makes him better than any of the many gryphon suitors you’ve neglected over the years? You are Princess Aquila, you can have your choice of any of the best mates anywhere. Yes, marriages of diplomatic nature are better, but you can justify marrying anyone, whether they be gryphon, pony, or otherwise.”

“Then it’s good I choose otherwise,” Aquila smiled. “Shadowsong is the newest player on the diplomatic table, and he has demonstrated quick wit, honor, and power. He is also an excellent conversationalist, and he just has so many stories! He's the kind of mate bards sing about! He could tell a new story every day for the rest of our lives and he's never repeat one! If everything would just slow down, I would snatch him away to talk for hours.”

“He checks all the boxes,” Deyenidal said. “And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Fordred seems to be a mage on par with most unicorns. We just haven’t seen either at their best yet. They could be the most powerful set of allies Stonetalon Peak has ever seen.”

Dranidal nodded slowly.

“Alright. But physically, you like his lack of wings? Are you aware that there is a distinct possibility that he cannot give you a child?”

Aquila shrugged.

“I’ve heard that ponies can do wild things with their magic. I’m sure compatibility is among them, and besides, Valan is responsible for carrying on the bloodline. I could adopt a nest of chicks should I desire young.”

“That does not answer my first question.”

Aquila flopped on her back and smiled at the ceiling.

“What is there to answer? He is a small thing, and as Dee can likely attest, there is nothing better than holding an elf close and wrapping him in fur and feathers.” She blushed, hugging herself tight, imagining her little elf bare in her arms. “Shadowsong gets so embarrassed, but you can tell he just loves it, and with his new clothes…” She purred and shuddered. “I cannot wait until I get to tear them off him. They show off his muscle tone so well. I may not be able to fly with him, but there is still a lot I can do with one of his… ability.”

She sat up and looked at Dranidal, who blushed, staring pointedly at the floor. Deyenidal stared smugly at her sister and crossed her arms.

“That sounds like real love to me,” the taller gryphoness said. “At minimum, that’s physical attraction, and that’s half the battle.”

Dranidal swallowed and nodded.

“I concur. I…” she sighed and met Aquila’s eyes with a smile. “What can I do to help Princess?”

Aquila leaped from the bed and pounced on her friend, wrapping her in a hug.

“Yes!” she crowed, rocking Dranidal back and forth. “The three of us can come with the perfect plan to woo Shadowsong, no matter how dense he is!”

Dranidal coughed lightly, subtly nudging Aquila away. Once the princess was again seated on her bed, the ruffled gryphoness brushed out the wrinkles on her tunic and straightened. Straightening and returning her expression to a calm neutral, she put on a slight smile and met Aquila’s eyes.

“Alright Princess, I have some formal educated in courting, and I believe I have a good plan for courting Shadowsong.”

Deyenidal rolled her eyes.

“Oh joy, the formal approach, that’s going to work well with the cave-human.”

Dranidal paid her sister no mind, her smile not dimming at all as she spoke.

“My plan is to continue as you have, but after a few more teasing steps, tell Shadowsong your intentions in as many words. If you don’t pull him close, he will drift away out of confusion alone. Be open, make him see your assets, and then tell him what you want. I have few doubts that he will reciprocate.”

“Few doubts?” Aquila said.

Dranidal shrugged.

“I will leave the blind optimism to Deyenidal.”

Said larger gryphoness looked toward the ceiling, her beak opening for a moment before closing as she gave an appreciative nod of agreement with the sentiment. Dranidal continued.

“But thus is my plan Princess. If he is attracted, and there are many signs to believe he is, then you already have him in the palm of your hand. The coming days are merely confirming your grip and pulling him in tight.” She tilted her head. “But you will need to work with some speed. Suitors will be coming for you both, and while you have developed a reputation for being picky, Shadowsong has not, and he may not be in a position to refuse.”

“Then I take my next step tomorrow,” Aquila said, grinning at Drandial. “Say, in that formal romance education, did you ever hear about dueling a mate into submission?”

Dranidal sighed and held her head in her hands as Deyenidal began to laugh.