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Rite of Leadership

A light spring-like breeze blew about the towers of Angel Castle. Standing on one of those towers was Katsuhiro, the former leader of the gargoyle clan of Moscow, Russia.

Katsuhiro was remembering the times when he was leader and Kayka was his second-in-command. It had been seven months since he passed the job on, but he still remembered the event vividly:

Seven months ago

Katsuhiro walked down the halls, waiting for the time when the daily warrior training would begin (author's note: Kayka seems to have discontinued this training when she became leader). He had been waiting all week for this night and he couldn't wait to begin.

Nine-thirty. It was time. Katsuhiro walked into the training room and looked at one side of the room, where the other eight members of his clan stood, ready for training to begin. Katsuhiro cleared his throat.

"Good evening. Tonight we will review hand-to-hand combat. Junip, Zackary, you two will demonstrate."

Everyone watched as the two teen-aged gargoyles took their places in combat poses. Endless seconds passed as the scene remained the same.

Suddenly, Zackary lunged at Junip. She dodged to the side and swept Zackary off his feet with her tail. She jumped on him, pinning him and all his appendages to the ground.

"Good you two. Everybody, pair up," instructed Katsuhiro.

Practice lasted two and a half hours. As the other clan members left the training room, Katsuhiro stopped Kayka for a little chat.

"You did excellent in your lesson tonight, Kayka."

"Thank you, my leader. When will I be able to take command?"

"It takes more than excellent fighting skills to be leader. You must prove yourself worthy of the role. A leader must make decisions that will benefit the clan, as well as him or herself."

Kayka nodded, "I understand." Katsuhiro smiled and bid Kayka good night.

Two weeks later, Katsuhiro left for an inspection of the city, leaving Kayka in charge of the clan. Five days passed. Kayka began to worry. Where was Katsuhiro? A city of this size shouldn't take five days to inspect. Especially inspection by gliding.

Kayka gathered all the gargoyles and their five human friends (remember Chris and Todd were still all human) together and said that they were going to search for Katsuhiro. He had been gone for too long. The gargoyles took to the air, five of them carrying a human and began their search for their missing leader.

Meanwhile, Katsuhiro was trapped in a cave-in. He had been trapped there for two nights now. He hoped the clan would realize that something was wrong and find him before the air ran out.

Moscow was a large city and Baska wasn't sure if they would find their leader before sunrise. Their search took them far from the bright lights and sounds of the city. There was nothing but a forest of pine trees and dozens of caves. One cave, in particular, had it's entrance blocked by rocks.

"Kayka doesn't that cave seem sort of strange?" called Baska, pointing.

"You're right, it does," Kayka answered. "Let's take a closer look."

The gargoyles and humans landed in front of the blocked cave. Kayka knocked on one side of the cave and called, "Hello? Is anyone in there?"

There was a reply from the other side. "This is Katsuhiro. Get me out before the air runs out!" Kayka gasped. Their leader was in trouble!

"Everyone start getting these rocks out of the way!" Kayka directed. The eight gargoyles each took up a spot around the blockage and began to push them away.

"We'll never make it before the air is gone," Junip stood back, defeated.

"Don't give up! We will make it!" cried Kayka. "We have to," she added to herself.

Meanwhile, in the cave, the clan leader heard his clan pushing the huge rocks away from the cave entrance. At one point, he started to feel the air starting to grow thin. No! He must not run out of air. Not now! Katsuhiro crouched on the ground, gasping for air. This was the end. His clan would not be able to get him out before he took his last breath. He collapsed to the ground and was about to head toward darkness, when suddenly, a ray of moonlight came into the cave! Katsuhiro coughed and gasped as the fresh air greeted his nose and mouth. Then, he got to his feet and helped his clan push the offending rocks away from the opening.

About half an hour later, Katsuhiro was free. The clan surrounded him and wanted to know how this happened. Katsuhiro explained how inspecting the city had taken all night plus an extra one or two nights and sunrise was coming, so he decided to take shelter in one of the caves on the outskirt of the city. He entered this particular cave and saw a grizzly bear. The bear attacked him and Katsuhiro fought back. He beat the bear, but throwing the bear against the wall caused the rocks to come loose. The beat escaped the cave-in, but Katsuhiro was trapped. Then, he turned to stone.

The clan and humans returned to the castle. While Junip and Zackary attended to the kitchen to make tea, Katsuhiro and Kayka sat in armchairs opposite each other. Kayka told her leader how she gathered the clan to look for him and her refusing to give up on digging him out.

"Kayka, I am proud of your skills of determination. You have proven yourself to be a worthy leader. I think the time has come to pass the role to you. Tonight's "test" has proven this," Katsuhiro announced.

"Are you sure? I mean, there are many years of leadership that are still left for you," objected Kayka.

Katsuhiro shook his head. "No. It's time. You will be leader. We will announce that tomorrow night. Baska will be your second. Which leaves someone for third-in-command."

"I think Wisca is best for the position. But, I want to be able to ask you for your advice on hard decisions."

"Very well. Good luck with your new role."

As the past was replaced by reality, Katsuhiro heard Kaameeleah call his name. He turned around.

"Where was your mind, another planet?" giggled Kaameeleah.

"Just the past," Katsuhiro smiled.

"Well, listen to this: Wisca has an egg inside her!"

"That's terrific. Let's go inside, so I can congratulate her." The two gargoyles went inside to extend their congratulations to the expectant mother.

The End

The Beginning of a New Friendship?.

Friends and Foes.

Size Isnít Everything

A Cute But Odd Couple.

The Circle Widens.

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