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GREDEL ENJOYED THE flight today; Audi had settled into her new spot and appeared to enjoy the view. After he moaned to the other guys about the dog's antics they'd come up with the idea to convert one of the saddle bags and put her in there. It worked well and she had an even better view now. The dog settled down to watch it all and Gredel could stretch out in the saddle in comfort.

He looked forward to seeing the women's reactions to the basin. The highest peak, MountArtonay, was where he'd taken Citaan when he'd proposed. He was quite proud of that, people so often proposed at an event where others could witness it but he knew Citaan would like such a special moment to be private and she'd loved it. So much in fact, they'd given serious consideration to getting married there. But, in the end, the logistics weren't great, and several older members of Citaan's family had been upset by the notion of not having a "proper" wedding.

'I guess in the long run the normal wedding was easier.' Phroma thought to Gredel.

'I'd been thinking the same thing. Although our idea would have been far more interesting.'

THE MOUNTAINS GREW higher and the griffons climbed with them until they cleared the summits. The view literally stole your breath at this high altitude. It didn't bother the griffons at all, this was what they were built for, but the humans found the sharp cold air harsh on their lungs.

Loi's jaw dropped at the sight of the cavernous basin, created by four mountains clustered together in a semi-circle, their peaks sheer and bleak. One of the mountain peaks had broken off at some point in time and massive slips of shingle fanned down its sides. Sabyn tightened his arms around her waist a little and leaned forward to point at one of the slips.

'That's where we surf,' he called.

Forgetting she was mad at him, Loi turned, her eyes wide in surprise. 'You slide down that? Isn't that dangerous?'

He winked. 'Only if you fall.'

Loi shook her head in disbelief. That must come under the extreme sport category, she thought while continuing to study the area. The griffons dropped lower into the basin and the air stilled in an instant, the high mountains creating a natural wind-break.

'THIS IS OUR practice space,' Alek smiled at Cat, happy to show off the impressive area after all the fascinating images she'd shown them. She stared around the mountains in open admiration.

'What do you think?' He demanded when she remained silent.

SO TAKEN WITH the view I couldn't respond at first; hauntingly beautiful with high treacherous peaks that dropped into sheer faces and shingle that extended to the tree line far below.

'Incredible,' I breathed. Alek leaned in close to hear me. 'Absolutely incredible.'

'You can see why we practice here, lots of space and essentially no wind.'

I nodded in agreement, still staring and twisted around in my seat to get a better view.

'Come on.' He seized me around the waist. 'Upsy daisy.'

I clung to his chest like a limpet until we both stood steady then he turned me so I leaned against his chest and began to point out various areas. It astonished me to learn that they actually slid down the shingle faces for fun. It made me remember the time I'd done it as a kid, with a friend of mine, while on holiday. Dad had nearly had a fit when he caught us. It hadn't occurred to us that we could have been crushed in it, but kids never do think of those things. I mentioned it to Alek who laughed.

'It's possible, but the griffs keep close, ready to grab us if necessary.' He helped me back to my seat and casually lowered into his. It felt like watching an acrobat, the way he did it so easily. The heavy beats of Loushka's massive wings didn't throw him off balance in the slightest. I sighed, after ten years of jujitsu my balance had improved lots, but things like this made me look as gangly as a newborn calf.

The Arrival, Book one of the Birthright TrilogyRead this story for FREE!