The night was dark and stormy, the wind howling out in agony. Glowing red eyes stared out from a cave, watching as lightning flashed. As the thunder quickly followed with a loud crack, the figure almost shivered from the cold chill. Frightened whispering reached the figure's ear, making them turn and look. Behind them was a group of terrified people huddled around a small fire. The tall figure made its way to the group, the fire illuminating their form.
In the soft light of the fire revealed them as a statuesque female gargoyle standing straight. She was white as marble with a soft, angular and, almost fae-like face. The glow in her eyes dimmed to their natural black as she looked from one scared person to the next until she met the eyes of the leader, Prince Alexander. He looked up at the gargoyle with trust in his eyes, no fear of what might come to him or his people, the man believed in her protection till they made it to Castle Wyvern.
The wind outside the cave they were in picked up, blowing into the cave. As quickly as she could, the gargoyle opened her wings as much as the cave walls would allow and blocked the frigid wind from the smaller humans and their fire. Prince Alexander watched on as her long, wavy blonde hair whipped around her from the brisk wind. She was doing everything she could to get them to the safety of Castle Wyvern, even though some of his people openly despised her presence.
Those that did still felt the harsh sting of betrayal from when the rest of her clan attempted to take their lives. She had just managed to get half his people to safety, fighting off and killing most of her own rookery siblings. The soft look in her dark eyes told him that he and his people were not the only ones suffering pain from this. He couldn't imagine the pain that came from killing one's own sibling. Just the very thought of harming his dear sister, Princess Katharine, in some mild jest hurt him. He truly pitied the pale gargoyle, she knew she was hated and unwelcome, not only by the humans here but her own clan for defending them.
A small, shivering and crying child caught her attention. She kept her wings outstretched while kneeling to hug the child close to her chest. He was orphaned, she was too late to save his parents from her clan leader. She softly hummed, she would watch the human women do this to the children at night to calm them. She continued to hum even as his small fist hit her shoulder and held him closure as he began to hit her harder. She could take it, he needed to get his anger out if he was ever going to move past it.
“Gargoyle... How long will the storm last?”
The prince had enough of watching the woman take the child's beating, deciding to take everyone's attention away from her. She kept her eyes on the crying boy and answered in a soft voice.
“It shan't be long now. The storm will subside within the hour. It's still early in the night, if we make haste, we should be at Castle Wyvern just before sunrise.”
Her words brought relief to those that heard them. Many of the people were not soldiers but simple farmers and tradesmen that had managed to survive. However, these people were not used to so much traveling with the news that they so close to safety revitalized them. They knew she was not the only one to help save them, there were a few others of her clan that rose with her, however, they were quickly struck down by the rest of Clan Steele.
A mere hour had passed by and just as she had said, the sky had cleared up and soon they were headed out. The prince couldn't help but wonder if his sister had received the letter he sent. He hoped his messenger made it to her in time. He looked ahead, his eyes widening at the sight before him.
During the course of their escape, the sky was mostly overcast though with her skin color being as it was, she was easily seen during the night. However, the sky was clear, the clouds had since gone and the moon shown full and bright. The silvery glow it gave off had given the female gargoyle an almost angel-like appearance. He had to admit, unlike most of the gargoyles of Clan Steele, this one looked almost completely human.
She stopped and turned around, looking back to make sure all the humans were accounted for. Her gaze caught the prince's, she tilted her head as the young man's face slowly turned red. Was the prince becoming ill? If so she would need them to pick up the pace and she couldn't risk the humans losing their beacon of hope.
Alexander grew confused when their gargoyle escort turned and headed his way. His confusion quickly turned to embarrassed shouting as she picked the man up and continued on.
“Let us hurry! If we make it over this valley we shall reach Castle Wyvern, quickly now!”
At her shout, many people picked up their pace. Men and women not carrying this picked up what children they could and walked faster. Meanwhile, the prince stayed still, looking up at the blonde warrior completely enamored. From this angle, the moon's light gave her a halo. He admitted to himself that she truly was an angel sent in his people's time of need.
It had been a few hours, and surprisingly, none of the humans, even the elderly, had slowed their pace. It made the gargoyle woman smile, she was exhausted even after stone sleep, the mental toll from the last few weeks had finally started to hit her. A cry immediately caught her attention, making her set the prince down and rush to see what happened.
Her worry was quickly doused with relief when she realized that the humans were cheering as the castle came into view. She could just barely see figures of soldiers lined up awaiting the prince and people. She quickly pat the prince on the back with a grin.
“Looks like we've made it to safe harbor, Your Highness.”
The man responded with loud boisterous and jovial laughter as he and man other started to run towards the castle's gates. Deciding to err on the side of caution, she crouched down and ran on all fours, making sure to keep up with the slowest of them.
Awaiting them was a well dress woman with a mage at her side awaiting patiently, however, a large smile lifted itself on her face at the sight of the prince. As soon as the two were close enough, they embraced tightly.
“Oh, my sweet baby sister! Look at you... My how much you've grown my sweet Katharine!”
The gargoyle woman had quickly made her way through the now happy refugees, looking fondly at the happy reunion between family. While some still despised her, most reached out to touch her, giving pats and squeezes in thanks for protection. She quickly made her way to the prince with a smile, only to be stopped and surrounded by other gargoyles.
She looked between them, before looking at the largest one of them. Her nerves were shot, and given the look from some of them, she could tell she was not welcomed here. She was a possible invader on their clan territory and must be treated as such. Having never met another clan, she did what one of her standing in her own would do to show passivity.
Villagers watched, apprehensively, as the gargoyle ducked her head and dropped to her knees. They recognized it as Clan Steele's way of showing submission and weakness towards opponents. This submission of power normally ended in the death of the weaker, and many of the survivors looked on mortified. Alexander was quick to let go of his sister and rush to try and protect the benevolent guardian. He was beaten by some of the small children who rushed and stood around her.
The largest of the gargoyles looked down at the terrified, yet defiant faces of the youngling humans. Their small legs were shaking and most looked close to tears, but they continued to keep a brave face. One of them, the crying boy from earlier hugged her arm tightly and tried to pull her up.
“Alba, get up please!”
“Leave Alba alone!”
Alexander quickly made his way between the children and the gargoyles.
“Please, don't kill her. She has done nothing but protect us and guide us here.”
He quickly turned and pulled the marble gargoyle up to her feet, clapping the side of her arm. The resident clan stared on as more of the humans that arrived rushed to check on the woman. It was odd to see more humans other than small Tom be unafraid of their kind, even so far as to check one over for their welfare. The face of Princess Katharine soured seeing her brother be so welcoming to the monster.
“From what clan do ye hail, small one?”
The young gargoyle shook her head and looked down, her wings wrapped around the child as a breeze blew past.
“I am clanless now, I abandoned my clan when they chose to destroy those we vowed to protect.”
The gargoyles looked to the largest of their clan, waiting to see what he would say. Should she be allowed to stay or sent away?