Gryphon: Part 5
A new chapter for my serial, Gryphon. Enjoy. Clink on the links below if you need to catch up on the previous posts.
Two hours later Gryphon set the last of the covered dishes on the long table. Lana was hovering in one corner making small adjustments to sauces and the desserts. The guests had already started to arrive, most seated around the large open living room area. They all knew better than to bother Lana while she was cooking, Gryphon thought with a smirk.
The creatures and half breeds that filled the flat were a mixed bag of both light and dark fae. Some of them had already shed their glamor to lounge, relaxed in their true faces. One or two were not powerful enough to cast a glamor that would stand up to close inspection so they shed layers of clothes and jackets instead.
Most races tended to lean toward light or dark in general but there were always exceptions. Those exceptions filled her family. During her years of exile from her nest she’d made many human and half-blood friends. Many had followed her to the US when she first escaped.
Terry, a half human/troll who chose light when troll clans are primarily dark and was cast out of his den. Michael, a siren who was dark, the same as his clan, but who loved a human and was an outcast in the dark community since he wasn’t with the human just to feed. Jenny, Ace, and Britt were forest fae whose families had been killed when human’s started construction on their lands.
Richard wandered in, greeting Gryphon with a soft huff before taking a place near the fireplace. The half vampire settled into a dark corner next to Eve, a goblin who’d been cast out for being too timid. She sat with her three set of arms wrapped around her nodding along to whatever Richard was saying.
“Dinner’s ready, everyone. Come get a plate and help yourselves.” Gryphon said with a smile, waving them on ahead.
This was the core of her family. There were others who were part of the traveling clans or who worked late shifts and would not be able to attend. She made a small mental note to schedule a breakfast later in the week to catch them up on any decisions they might make tonight.
She made sure Lana had a small plate of her own and cup waiting on her spot on the kitchen counter before gathering her own plate. The foods were varied to suit the tastes of the many races represented. She choose one of the blue steaks along with a few starchy sides ignoring the face that Jack gave her across the table. Too many of them were hard wired to prefer uncooked meat to ignore the craving on occasion.
Gryphon let everyone eat their fill keeping the conversation light until everyone choose a dessert to nibble. Standing she went to the kitchen for a glass of bourbon knowing every eye was on her back. She only drank when the situation was dire.
“Before everyone finishes up there is a matter we need to discuss.” She said, standing next to Lana as she sipped from her tumbler.
“Something the matter, Gryphon? Is it the Counsel?” Terry, asked pushing his cup of bread pudding away.
“Yes and no. Tatha has asked me to look into the recent murders of hidden fae in the city. The Counsel has assigned Davin to the case and she wants a second opinion.”
“Is he that bad?” Jack asked, sipping at his beer while Richard looked on with a slight look of envy, the vampire couldn’t eat or drink anything but blood.
“He’s an utter ponce.” Michael said with a grimace, “He tried to pin a murder on my clan a few decades ago. They still talk about the idiotic accusations he made, the man has no idea how the dark fae live.”
“Tatha said as much. He keeps to the light and neutral families and she doubts he will even try to contact any of the hidden, dark or light, for statements or questioning. That is where we need to come in if you’re willing.”
“You know we don’t mind asking around if you need it, Gryphon. What can we do?”
“I have the files if you want to see them but what I mostly need is to get the word out to the hidden that sanctuary is being offered if they need it. If they need some place less urban I can contact Tatha and get them moved to a safer location otherwise they are welcome at any of our safe houses. If any of knew the fae that have been killed I would like to talk to them but that is not mandatory for sanctuary.”
“Some of them won’t leave their homes no matter the danger, Gryphon. We can offer but many are not going to budge.” Britt said in her high chiming voice, her own family had died unable to leave the land they were bound to. Only Britt was found by another local fae and trained to ignore her fae instincts enough to travel about the city.
“We can at least warn them and have them pass on any rumors they hear, Britt. If they need more they can ask but we can’t force them to leave their homes.”
“Yeah.” She said with a sigh, leaning into Ace’s embrace.
“I want everyone to keep a weather eye out. We don’t know if the being doing this is human, half, or full fae. Right now it could be anyone. Don’t be stupid, travel in pairs if you go out until farther notice. So far this person’s attacking the hidden but it might not stay that way.”
“Jack, I have a list of everyone I’ve already tried to contact I’ll send you. I want to keep track of who needs what and who knows what. We need to figure out which areas are most vulnerable and get word there first.”
“Alright. I’ll set up a map on the wall here. We can tag each person and where they live as we find them.”
“Good. Anyone have anything else to discuss?” When no one said anything after a long moment she tossed back the last of her drink letting Lana float the glass to the sink. “Well, that’s it. Everyone stay safe and have a wonderful night. Thank you for coming.”
She left the residents to clean up, gathering her coat and bag. The night market was opening in an hour and she might as well head out. She said goodbye to the stragglers, nodding to Richard with a smile as she passed him by the door chatting with Jack. She hoped the two got over themselves soon, they’d make a cute couple.
The night was clear but cold making her wish for wings, she’d always enjoyed night flights over the desert. Stuffing her hands in her coat pockets she leaned into the brisk wind and headed for the subway. The last train of the night took her to a mostly deserted station with only an old man standing next to a boarded up door.
“Good afternoon, Franklin. Busy day?”
“Coppers are being annoying again but most have learned to leave me be. Heading to the market?”
“Once the clock chimes. Are you in need of anything? I know you don’t get to go through often.”
“Not at the moment, Miss, but I appreciate the offer. Maybe next time.”
“Not even a scent of tea?”
“No thank you, Miss. I need to keep me girlish figure anyway.” He pulled out a silver pocket watch and checked the time. “Any moment now.” He said straightening his grey suit and stepping away from the wall. The faint chimes of a nearby church filtered into the subway as the clock struck midnight. As the last chime faded away, the doorway morphed into a marble archway.
“Have a good night, Franklin.” She said to the ghost with a fond smile as she walked through the archway. The British man had died on the floor of a subway train and refused to pass on, bugging the fae and sighted humans who could see him for news and a cup of tea. Eventually he’d been given the task of guarding the market entrance.
She walked steadily down the stone corridor doing her best to ignore the way the exit never seemed to be getting any closer until it was suddenly at her fingertips. Ducking through she grinned to see the bustling market that was already filling with shoppers. The underground night market had been going for centuries as the fae met to exchange goods and gossip.
Gryphon slid through the people calling out an occasional hello as she worked her way deeper. Her first stop was for one tin of smoked tea and a small bundle of rowan berries and cutting. She couldn’t resist buying a small bag of honeyed nuts to suck as she wandered looking for a certain shop that always seemed to change location each time she arrived.
“What you doing wandering the back ways, child?” A rough voice demanded from behind her.
“Looking for you, Mother Rose.” Gryphon said with a grin, spin around and giving the large woman a hug.
“Much too thin. Look at you! You could take a side job as a will-o-wisp.” She said as she guided Gryphon into her shop, gesturing her to a chair set next to a black pot belly stove. “What brings you to the market this night?”
“The same as always, rumors and troubles.”
“You and your grandmother, fingers in too many pies, child. You’re going to get burned one day and soon. You two need to learn to let the dark do as they would. Some things are not meant to be looked into.” Rose said fiercely, thrusting a brimming tea cup and a wrapped package at her violently yet somehow not spilling a drop.
“I’ve no quarrel with the dark, Rose, as you well know. I just want everyone to be able to follow their nature without hurting each other.” She said tucking the package away to investigate later before sipping at the rose hip tea.
“And what of the ones whose nature is to hurt? Huh? Some feed on the pain as much as on the flesh.” She said bustling around her shop shifting through the piles of junk and antiques that covered every surface.
“And there are always some willing to let them feed. I just don’t want them hunting the innocents.”
“Faugh, we will be talking in circles will first light. What do you need of an old woman?”
“If you’re old, I’m an egg just laid.” Gryphon said with a snort, “You know why I came. Someone is twisting the dark. I’m sure you can feel it, the shadows leaning just a bit too heavily as the night falls. Someone’s invoking and I don’t think they know what they are calling.”
“Eye, you always were sensitive to the balances.” Mother Rose said with a sigh, “How many have died?”
“Five, all hidden fae.”
“They will need more if it’s meant to be a ritual. What races?”
“Trow, brownie, and tree sprites.”
“Five of the earth. That is not a balanced invocation.”
“Be careful, child. If they do manage to complete the invocation, the summoned energy must be laid to rest as it was raised.”
“I thought as much.” Gryphon said finishing her tea and setting the cup on a small table. “I’ll be careful, Mother Rose.”
“It will take more than luck and wit this time, child. Be wary. Some darkness has nothing but hunger. They take and take until there is nothing left. No bit of rowan will shield you and no spell will cloak you from its sight once it has your scent.” She pulled a white metal broach from a pile of jewelry and fixed it on Gryphon’s coat. “It’s but a trinket but maybe it will bring you luck.”
“It’s lovely. Do you need anything, Mother?”
“Bring your new man to see me next time.” She said with a leer, “From the smell he must be a treat.”
“There’s no one new, Rose.”
“Then why do your cheeks burn so prettily?” She cackled, “Get the gone and finish your shopping. The night moves fast this turning.”
Gryphon took the warning for what it was and quickly finished her shopping. She only stopped a few times to leave messages for different fae asking them to contact her, trying to keep moving. Time has a way of moving strangely in the market if you were idle, most fully hidden fae places worked the same warping the laws of nature and physics as magic gathered and grew.
She stepped out of the market just as the warning bell started to sound. Rushing down the hall she stepped through the arch just seconds before the doorway closed with a soft sound of rushing wings in her ear. Franklin cocked an eyebrow at her as she resettled her bags.
“Cutting it a bit tight there.”
“Time got away from me.” She said with a wry twist of her lips.
“Seems to be doing that a lot the last few weeks.”
“Did it start about a moon ago?”
“Yes, now that I think about it, around the dark of the moon it was. Mean something to you?”
“Nothing good.” She said with a sigh. “Have a good morning, Franklin.”
“You as well, Miss. Take care along your way, things are stirring and I don’t like the feeling.”
Gryphon nodded and caught first train of the morning when it reached the station. She ignored the looks she was getting from the early morning shift workers shifting her bags around so she could check her phone. Yep, dead. Most electronic things didn’t last long around high concentrations of magic. She’d given up on watches after her fifth one died or started running backwards but cell phones were just too useful.
The warehouse was deserted when she got in but she left the shopping where everyone could claim their items from the piles. Separating her own things out she headed to her room. She stripped out of her smoke scented clothing and pulled on jeans and a tank top before heading to the library with Rose’s box.
Curling on the couch she picked out her horde and felt a small bit of tension leave her shoulders. Hidden in plain sight, she thought with a snort as she cut the twine with her claws. A small silver box slid out of the heavy paper wrapping.
She jiggled the lid but the box was locked. Figures, Mother Rose was an ancient power in the fae world. She often knew of things rising in the dark that could threaten those around her but her attempts to help often harmed as much as they helped. The contents of the box would probably prove invaluable but it was up to her to figure out how to open the damn thing in time.
Tugging a blanket over her lap she set the box on the floor and watched the rising sun paint red and gold lines across her horde. She let her eyes trace it and savor the moment until the sun light moved past. Closing her eyes she hummed softly to herself as she slowly slipped into sleep. Riddles and death, looks like they would be having an interesting three weeks after all.