10~ Free the Gryphon

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Previously on LW:
The gryphon (who scared Aiden when he was twig-hunting) was captured by strange enemy men in the woods...
Chase insists on trying to free it, so Aiden comes up with a plan! And Hailey improves the plan, because she enjoys not being dead.

Chapter 10

Chase and I crawled through the undergrowth of the forest, getting closer to the bound animal. When we had gotten as close as we could while still staying hidden, we stopped. Chase counted to three minutes, while I watched the camp. There were no sentries, but five men kept watch around the fire while two others, sitting near the tents, played a game with what could have been dices.

"Alright," Chase said. "Aiden should be back, now. " He had gone to tell Autumn of our endeavor, and was supposed to go back to our previous spot.

The happy whistle of a bird joined the more ominous sounds of the forest.

"He's ready," Chase told me.

"What kind of bird is that anyway?" I asked.

Chase laughed. "A lark."

"Is that supposed to be funny because of his last name?"

"With him, probably."

We inched forward. The gryphon rose his head as best as it could and watched us through the branches.

"Don't worry, buddy," Chase whispered, though I doubted we were close enough for it to hear. "We're here to help." He slipped a knife out of his boot and left the cover of the trees. I remained behind, as per our agreement, and looked out for anyone approaching.

Chase rested his hand on the animal's flank. I could only see his shadow, but I knew he must be whispering something to the animal. It surprised me that Chase suddenly seemed so attached to this gryphon, since he wasn't really an animal person. I guessed anyone would feel reassured by an animal whose first reaction was attacking all that moved. Not.

Chase started sawing at the ropes, which snapped one by one. The gryphon remained obediently still. At least, with its beak bound, it couldn't make too much noise. I looked back at the men around the fire, who were oblivious to our presence. So far so good.

Someone stepped out of a tent and stretched. I frowned. This wasn't a man. He was just a boy, not much older than us. He turned towards the men at the fire, and I held my breath, hoping they wouldn't turn their heads towards him -and us- but they paid him no attention.

Chase crawled forward to reach the ropes that restrained the gryphon's forelegs. The animal half-opened his wings, straining his feathered head against the remaining ropes. Chase tried to calm him, while remaining as flat on the ground as he could. My attention snapped back to the men at the fire. None of them even looked up. The men playing dice? They looked half-asleep and hadn't moved. I breathed a sigh of relief, before remembering the newcomer. My eyes searched for him. His feet hadn't moved either, but his head had. He was staring right towards us.
Unconsciously, I flattened even more on the ground, wishing I could somehow warn Chase without attracting more attention to ourselves.
A lark whistled, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God Aiden had seen the boy as well. Chase froze, putting is hand on the gryphon's neck. It seemed to understand the danger, because it stilled, tucking its wings back.

Near the tents, the boy took a few steps back, and grabbed a long staff. One of the men playing dice rose his head, said a few words to him, and laughed. The boy huffed, but the man resumed his game.

I had hoped the boy would relax, but it seemed to have guessed something was wrong. His long stick pointed towards us, he padded closer to the gryphon. I stiffened. Near the fire, some of the men were watching him. One of them said something in a taunting tone. The boy didn't react.

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