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Gliding Night

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“Why are ye bowing, stand proud like the gargoyle ye are!”

It was the portly, tan one that spoke once more. Looking at her submissive stance and bowed head, it was odd to see such a display. And what was this odd talk of killing her?

“Why would we kill ye? Ye protected the weak, last I checked that is what we do.”

The alabaster gargoyle whipped her head up, she was in awe of his words. She stood straighter, at her full height, looking from gargoyle to gargoyle. Her eyes finally met the largest of them all. The lavender-skinned leader looked down at her with curiosity, a curiosity which she shared. Though he looked similar to the tall and brutish leader of Clan Steele, there was just something about him that gave the opposite feel.

She turned back towards the older gargoyle and spoke.

“I'm sorry, it is what my clan did to the weakest of the clan. If we are defeated in battle we are no longer worthy of living proudly. I assumed that this is how every clan lived...”

She could see how wrong she was when the look of shock and horror filled the faces of the others. Meanwhile, most of the humans had left to stay in a small abbey with only the orphaned children and Alexander remaining. The human prince looked down with a grimace at her words, he knew from growing up at Castle Wyvern that it was not the case, however, he was useless to speak out against it.

“I think its best if we go and speak to Father in the castle and inform him of what transpired.”

The prince's words were soft as he gently pat the woman on the arm and walked towards his sister. The other gargoyles dispersed except for their leader. They followed after the humans, the smaller of the looking around enamored and smiling. When they had fled the Steele settlement, she never got the chance to admire the human buildings. She had spent most of her time in the caves just outside the human settlement, keeping to herself like many of her brothers.

The small group made their way inside the castle, the smile adorning her face dropped into an awestruck one. She spun as she walked, looking at everything she could, making the prince laugh mirthfully. His sister kept a straight face as they made it to the main hall, where their father sat. Bidding the two of them good-by she retired for the evening, not wanting to be near either of the gargoyles. A large smile filled the prince's face at the sight of his father.

“Father! It has been far too long!”

“Alexander! Indeed it has!”

The two men grasped each other's hands and smiled, the older of the two clapped his hand onto the younger's shoulder.

“You had me worried when you sent your sister that letter.”

The prince nodded to his father before regaling him with what had transpired at the Steele settlement. Malcolm followed along, looking from his son to the female gargoyle and back every so often. Those in the court remained quiet until Alexander was done speaking. His father stroked his beard and turned his head to his old friend, the captain of the guard. The both of them looked to Alexander's gargoyle companion, the same question swirling in their heads.

“Why did the majority of your clan attack?”

“We were fending off marauders for a number of nights. On the final night, we were successful just as the sun rose. We had no time to return to our roost so we stayed at the settlement.”

She looked down sadly, her body working against her as it started to shake. Tears welled up in her eyes as her breath hitched. She forced the words out, a painful heaviness filling her chest. Everyone was looking at her which made it harder. Even Alexander wondered why most of the gargoyles that fought so hard to protect them would turn around and try to kill them.

“It wasn't until we awoke that night and upon returning to our home...”

The white gargoyle fell to her knees, her wings drooped and splayed out around her. Her eyes glowed red as large tears began to fall and sobs wracked her body. Fighting to get the words out as she could, the hand of the larger gargoyle rested itself on her shoulder in support.

“The brother we left behind to guard the rookery was smashed to dust... A-And our eggs...” A whimper fell from her lips and she sucked in a breath, biting her lip harshly at the fresh memory.

“All our eggs were destroyed... Every last one of them smashed to pieces.”

Those listening looked to her in horror, her fellow gargoyle next to her recoiled in shock, rage filling his gaze at such news. The three human men in front of them wore equal faces of disgust, pity, and mortification. It made sense now why they had attacked them, grief was a strong motivator. However, grief from the death of an unborn child and many at that possible made them blind to all reason.

“Do you know who?”

The question came from a deep, powerful voice shaking in rage. Looking towards the male next to her through her glowing eyes, she shook her head. She stayed in a heap on the floor, having no more strength to force herself to stand. Alexander made his way to him, only to be stopped when the other gargoyle stood in front of her protectively.

“No, but I know in my heart it wasn't any of the villagers. At worse, some were wary, but not hateful. Our clan leader did not share my belief. He claimed that since your settlement had a vague idea of where we lived it had to be your people. Not the marauders that were hiding in the very forest we lived.”

Her voice was soft as she looked at her hands as they lay limply on her lap. The red glow in her eyes dimmed as she stared at the ground with dull eyes. Her tears continued to fall as she relived the fall of her clan and the death of those she held dear. Her lip quivered at the memory, she had gone against her own clan and killed her own mate, for the rest of her life her hands would remain stained with their blood.

“You will join ours should you choose to.”

She nodded to him in subdued confirmation. Maybe if she agreed, she wouldn't feel so hopeless and empty. She felt herself get picked up, it was as if he knew she couldn't lift herself from the weight of her grief. She stayed limp in his hold as he headed outside.

“The sun will rise soon, you'll feel better after you rest.”

She could only nod at his words, standing when he set her down where the rest of his clan had congregated. She paid no mind to what he told them, her eyes still downcast and face tear-stained. She moved almost mechanically with the rest of the clan as they each took their own perch. Her final glimpse across the land left her heart aching as her skin slowly turned to stone.

As night fell later that day, Alexander made his way to the stone sleeping woman. A smile was steadfast on his face as she burst forth from the stone with a snarl. Her eyes curiously turned towards him once she fully awoke. The same smile was all she was greeted with along with a leather-bound book pushed into her claws.

“In my youth, when I found myself stuck in lonesomeness I would read. I thought it might help you.”

She looked from him then down at the book. She was touched, no one had even given her a gift before. However, a new sadness came with the reception of the book.

“Thank you so much, but... I'm afraid I won't be able to use this. I can't read.”

A look of shock filled him and he quickly grabbed her wrists in excitement. The gargoyles around them overlooked the pair quizzically.

“Than I'll teach you! Nothing brought me more joy and comfort than reading in dark times.”

She looked over to her new leader in silent permission. Alexander followed her gaze with a smile and called out to the imposing clan leader.

“Goliath, I'll be taking Alba later this evening.”

The gargoyle turned from the female he was speaking with, looking between the two before nodding. The man smiled at her before leaving to get everything ready to teach her. Goliath made his way to where she stood, she looked lost. He supposed that made sense, she had been taken in by a new clan that was radically different from her birth one. While as terrible as it was, she had an established place in her previous clan. Whereas here she has to stumble and trip to find where she would belong. She wasn't as young as the trio, but the same age as him and his angel.

Even though they matched in age, her innocent and childish wonder towards everything she saw showed how sheltered she had been kept. She didn't seem to have the hardened exterior of a warrior, she was more so soft, like a caretaker. It would take some time for her to acclimate to their clan life.