“Skydancer, it is good to see you again.”
“I feel the same way, Deer Runner. My Flame Vision told me I would meet Shadows and as usual, it was correct.”
“You have agreed to join his clan, yes?”
“I have. I also wanted to see the hatchling.”
“Ah, yes. Silver Moon. She is sleeping at the moment. Follow me.” Deer Runner led the adults to his tent. Men and women greeted Skydancer happily and she returned the gesture. They reached the chief’s tent and stepped inside.
“Oh,” Skydancer breathed when she saw the wolf hatchling. “She’s so cute.”
“Thank you,” Shadows replied.
“There are no other gargoyles here?”
“No. You’re the first one I found. I know this is sudden, but I would like to make you my second-in-command.”
“Me!? Your second!?”
“Yes. I believe your magic and alchemy skills would be great assets to the clan and to the position of second.”
Skydancer was stunned. Shadows had just met her and he wanted her for his second. She was flattered by the offer. She wanted to say yes, but something prompted her to ask, “What if you find someone more suited for the position?”
“If you say yes, then it does not matter, for you will have already taken the position.”
“I do want the position.”
“Then, it’s yours.” Shadows found himself warming up to Skydancer. She knew what she wanted, but she considered possibilities that could present themselves later. It was a definitive mark of a second-in-command. He also found her to be attractive, but that was all. He barely knew her. It was way too early to say for certain that he loved her.
“The sun is rising,” Skydancer spoke up, cutting into Shadows’ thoughts.
Shadows nodded and the two gargoyles stepped outside and took up positions on either side of the tent as the sun peeked over the horizon.
The air filled with the sound of cracking stone before three gargoyles roared to the night. A new night had begun and Shadows was eager to move into their new home. They bid goodbye to Deer Runner and the tribe before heading for the Grand Canyon.
Skydancer was very interested in seeing the caves and was delighted upon seeing them. “You’re right, Shadows. The smaller cave would be perfect for a rookery. Do you think our clan will have a lot of eggs?”
“There will eventually be some, but not a lot. There are seven more gargoyles out there, alone and probably scared. Finding them is our top priority.”
“Of course. I doubt all of them are scared. Some of them may be combative or suspicious. We must approach them cautiously.”
“Just as I did with you. Yes, a cautious approach is the best way.”
A rustling sound came from the larger cave followed by a clicking sound. Alarmed, both of them dashed in to find Silver Moon alone. It turned out that what they had heard were her wings shifting and her claws hitting the floor.
Shadows and Skydancer laughed at their nervous reactions and relaxed. There was nothing to worry about. There were no humans around. The location was accessible only by river or by tour group walking by at ground level. A tour group was precisely why Shadows had sought a deep, long cave: It kept humans from noticing them should they take a passing glance at their home.
For three gargoyles, the connecting tunnel was an even better hiding place and that was where they spent the first day in their new home.
A lone, winged figure panted as she ran alongside the river at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Angry voices could be heard behind her as she ran. She felt grateful for the lack of moonlight, which made sense since it was close sunrise.
I need a place to hide before they catch up to me, she thought as her eyes glanced around anxiously.
She then spied a deep cave to her left and plunged into it. She didn’t stop until she reached the back and had hidden herself in the shadows. She heard voices and footsteps run past her and fade away before breathing a sigh of relief.
“I’ll sleep here today. I only hope no one finds me here,” she murmured before stone sleep overtook her.
Cracking stone filled her ears before bursting free with a roar, only her roar wasn’t the only one she heard.
She spun to her right to see a tunnel that she hadn’t noticed last night. She saw movement within the tunnel and quietly stepped closer. The movement turned out to be gargoyles! Just like herself!
I’ve stumbled upon a clan’s home, she realized. I don’t want to seem as if I’m intruding. I better leave. Before she could move, a female gargoyle turned and saw her, a ball of fire already in her hand.
Skydancer faced a faceless male who bellowed a challenge to her and she responded in turn. He leaped at her and she sidestepped his charge. He landed face-down and she jumped on top of him. It seemed as if the fight was over.
The male then flared his wings sending her skidding across the ground. She got up only to be knocked down again by a kick to her midsection. Her opponent was now on her, pummeling her face and body with punches. She couldn’t even summon a mild electric shock because she didn’t have her book. The scene faded to black and she burst free of her stone shell.
Skydancer roared to the night, Shadows and Silver Moon joining in. Their roars served to remind her of where she was and who was with her: She was in her clan’s home and the only male here was her leader.
Yet, the dream had seemed so real and vivid. Perhaps the dream was a future event. She’s been known to have such visions for as long as she could remember. The soft click of claws on rock alerted her to a presence behind her. She snatched up her book, summoned a ball of fire for light, and turned to see a scared, adolescent female before her.
She backed away from the fire-wielding female, her hands held out in front of her. “Please don’t hurt me. I-I didn’t know anyone lived here.”
“Whoa, whoa,” the other female replied. “Take it easy. I won’t hurt you. This fire is just for light. I’m called Skydancer. What’s your name?”
“Skydancer, is that a new gargoyle I hear?” a male’s voice called behind the sorceress.
“Yes, it is. Come meet her.” Skydancer stepped into the cave to make room for the newcomer.
Sunfire’s eyes widened at the tall gray male before her. In his arms, he held a wolf hatchling. He seemed friendly enough, but Sunfire was still unsure.
Shadows smiled gently at the young gargoyle. He was thrilled that they had found another. This young one seemed afraid, a reaction he was expecting.
“Shadows, this is Sunfire. Sunfire, this is Shadows, the leader,” Skydancer said, breaking the silence of the atmosphere.
Sunfire held out her hand shyly, a small smile finally coming to her face. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“The feeling is mutual, Sunfire.” Shadows shifted Silver Moon so one arm was free to clasp hands with her. Thanks to Skydancer’s fire, he got a good look at his newest member.
Her most prominent features were her beak and rich orange skin. Clearly her skin was where her name came from. Her wings were feathered with brown at the top that gave way to white and accented her long spiky brown hair. A gold bracelet with a ruby, an emerald, and a sapphire glimmered on her right wrist.
“Am I welcomed to join your clan?” Sunfire asked timidly.
“Of course you’re welcome to join,” Shadows answered. “Tell me, though, what skills do you have?”
“Yes. For example, I have expert hand-to-hand combat skills and Skydancer has skills in magic and alchemy.”
“Oh, I have artistic craft. I made this bracelet myself.” She held up her wrist.
“It’s beautiful,” Skydancer commented. “I can make gold and jewels for you to work with.”
“Great. So, what do we do now?”
“We’re going to find the other gargoyles that are alone in the area and ask them to join us,” Shadows replied.
“Sounds good. I’m ready.”
Shadows nodded and led the others outside. Another night had begun and the search was on again.