Flashes of Silver
The elf’s green clothing was stark against the grey rocks, pointing Elyssa
out as unnatural in the hard landscape. Waves crashed below her into the
side of the cliff.
From this angle she could see the beast stalking the coast below her. Even
through the rain she recognized this gryphon, it had the same scar across
its hip. Elyssa readjusted the bow on her shoulder and started down a small
path carved through the harsh rock. Rage thrashing deep within her rose
closer to the surface the nearer she got.
Lightning crashed above her, and her mind was thrown into the past.
The sky lit up with a loud crack of thunder as Elyssa walked home. She
shuffled through the forest, her shoulders already tense, ready for the
oncoming rain. After a long day patrolling Elyssa was ready to sleep,
especially since she’d need to be up with the sun tomorrow. Her
sister’s initiation was tomorrow and Violen would kill Elyssa if she
didn’t make it. She sighed as the rain began to pelt against her, could
the day get any worse?
Halfway down the rock face she crouched to watch the gryphon pace. It was
waiting for something. Every few steps it looked out towards the ocean.
This close, she could see the patchy feathers and new scars scattered on
its face. One wing was bent on the wrong angle and hung loosely, dragging
on the ground. For the first time Elyssa hesitated in her quest, it looked
pathetic, scared even. She almost felt sorry for the beast.
Elyssa froze in shock. The inside of her house was now open to the
elements. The lightning flashed and revealed a magnificent gryphon that
Violen had been hunting for the past week, standing in the rain. The
feathers practically shimmered and Elyssa couldn’t tell what was blood
and what was water.
She had trained for years in various weapons and fighting styles, yet
everything inside her seemed frozen. The gryphons golden piercing eyes
turned to look at her which jolted her out of the stupor, she fumbled
to grab the bow on her shoulder and pulled out an arrow.
The gryphon had already spread its wings and was disappearing into the
The gryphon stopped moving and stood facing the sea. Every muscle was tense
as it watched the crashing waves. Elyssa grasped her bow, there would be no
fumbling this time. She nocked an arrow and took aim. One shot, that was
all it would take. She took a deep breath in and prepared to release.
She hesitated, her fingertip barely holding the bowstring taut. The gryphon
skittered back from the water’s edge, its chest moving rapidly. Her eyebrows
furrowed, what could scare a gryphon? She lowered the bow and stared at the
crashing waves, there was something moving.
From beneath the water a silver serpent rose, almost five times the size of
the quivering gryphon. The serpent hissed and its lips curled, revealing
Its head snapped forward and ripped at the already broken wing of the
gryphon. The screech that the gryphon released cut through the storm like a
sword. Elyssa didn’t know if it was the sight of the gryphon bleeding or
the ear--splitting sound, but she was already moving. She raised the bow
and released an arrow straight towards the serpent. The arrow bounced off
its scales and was swept away by the churning sea.
Elyssa squared her shoulders; she was a trained warrior and refused to be
Standing halfway down the cliff made her eye level with the serpent who
flashed sharp teeth in anger at her. On the side of its head fins fluttered
over a rippling gill. The serpents head jabbed forward, and Elyssa dived
out of the way. As she did, she sent an arrow straight into its gill. It
pulled back, twisting in pain, before disappearing into the inky black
Elyssa released a breath and quickly traversed down to the sandy cove. She
approached the gryphon carefully. With its wing damaged it couldn’t escape
the cove by air and was too large to fit along Elyssa’s path. The gryphon
squawked painfully as she approached.
Upon inspection there was no possible way that she would be able to fix the
wing, fresh blood mixed with the sand as it bubbled from new cuts. Across
its entire body she could see scabs and half healed wounds.
“How long have you been trapped here?” She whispered to herself. The
gryphon shuffled away from where it was pressed to the rock face and
revealed a small alcove. Elyssa sucked in a breath of surprise. There in
the crevice was a tiny and battered gryphon. The baby was young and the
effects of starvation obvious on its figure. Hip bones pressed against
skin, and its eyes had a distant faraway look.
She rummaged through her bag, there had to be meat in here somewhere. Right
in the bottom she grasped her hands around the morsel of meat left from
last night’s kill. She unwrapped it and offered the food to the baby
It was cautious, slowly moving closer until it couldn’t resist the tempting
smell and wolfed the meat down. She laughed as the gryphon searched her
hand for more,
“I don’t have anything else for you buddy,” Elyssa turned just in time to see
the mother gryphon thrown across the cove and slam into the rocky wall on
the opposite side. One very angry serpent looked down at her. This time
with a friend. She cursed, one she could have dealt with, two was a
different story. She glanced over at the mother gryphon; she wasn’t
breathing anymore. “Looks like it’s you and me, little guy,” she said
dropping her bow in favour for scooping up his slender body.
Both serpents lunged forward, and she took off sprinting out of the way.
Elyssa skittered on the sand to get onto the tiny path. Whoever had carved
it, did not take into consideration having to run up its length. As she
moved tiny sharp rocks tore at her clothing and the gryphon in her arms
began to cry desperately.
She heard the serpent head whistling through the wind and slid to a stop.
The head of the serpent missed them by inches. Elyssa spun, whipped out an
arrow and stabbed it in the eye. The creature withdrew hissing in pain.
She was already moving again.
There was no stopping.
She was holding the baby gryphon in her arm facing away from the serpents
to protect him. But when the other serpent gripped onto her free arm, she
dropped him. He sprawled onto the wet rock. Elyssa couldn’t focus on him at
the moment though, she just had to hope he didn’t have a broken leg from
Pain popped behind her eyelids and there seemed to be a fire coursing
through her entire body. Blindly she reached for an arrow and the serpent
withdrew at the sight of it. She knelt on the path, blood pouring down her
arm and thought about not getting back up again. The pain was just getting
worse, throbbing incessantly. She was so wet with blood that even the rain
couldn’t wash it away.
Then Elyssa looked down at the small crying gryphon in front of her, she
knew there was no way that he was being left here to be the serpents chew
toy. She took a deep breath, gathered the baby gryphon in her good arm and
The rain was heavier now, she couldn’t even see the cove let alone a few
feet in front of her. Elyssa squinted through the rain, there was no sign
of either serpent, she couldn’t even hear them. They were almost to the top
of the cliff now, almost safe. Her heart froze as she saw the serpent head
bobbing in the rain. It wasn’t moving or attacking, just glaring at them.
Her grip tightened on the baby gryphon. The serpent snapped its pointed
teeth at them and hissed loudly. She let a breath escape in relief, it
couldn’t reach them, they were too high up. She almost cried with
It only took a few more minutes to reach the top of the cliff. She lay the
baby gryphon on the ground and rummaged through her pack for something to
tie around her arm. She needed to stem the blood flow. The arm just hung
loosely by her side, completely numb. Once that was done, she located her
dagger and tucked it into her waist since her bow was lying back at the
bottom of the cove.
The rain was beginning to clear up now and the sun brought to light the
devastating state the two of them were in. She picked up the baby gryphon,
“First thing we need to do is find you some more food.”
Then they would start the long trek back home.
© 2023 Rhiannon Bird
Bio: Rhiannon Bird is an
Australian Author who has had short stories and poetry published. The
most recent of which was The Beast in the Basement published in an
Anthology by Black Hare press, Lockdown Fantasy 4. You can find out
more on her website rhiannonbird.com
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