Griffin's Gauntlet Sample Chapter
"THIS is my treasure hoard, human," the griffin said with obvious pride. "Grander and larger than any dragon's, it is a collection I have accumulated over the centuries. Nowhere else in the world will you find a greater and more immense assortment of earthly value."
Sharon did not doubt the griffin’s boast, so dazzled was she by the wealth before her. Much of the gold, silver, and platinum was fashioned into statues and silverware, many of them embedded with precious gems. Among them were shields and armor made of ordinary metals like steel and iron, all of which were polished to a shining brilliance that nearly matched the radiance of the surrounding treasure hoard. The griffin’s vast accumulation of wealth would easily exceed one’s most materialistic avarice.
Among the griffin’s riches, one particular item drew Sharon's attention. It seemed to call to her, beckoning her. Sharon turned her gaze toward this mysterious object. It was a gauntlet, like any other that blacksmiths forged for battle. It looked to be made of ordinary steel, and no gold or gems adorned it. But Sharon sensed there was something extraordinary about it. Somehow she knew that this gauntlet was the very same that she and her companions had been seeking. It was the Griffin's Gauntlet! And now, at last, it was in view, just a few steps and a short climb up the treasure trove’s slope to where it rested.
“Such wealth is fit for a god, don't you think?” said the Griffin, interrupting Sharon’s thoughts.
“Yes,” said Sharon. Her eyes darted from the tantalizing object of her quest and continued to gaze upon the magnificence of the griffin's treasure hoard. “Yes, it is.”
“All the more reason why it is rightfully mine. Much of what you see has been bestowed unto me, along with many virgin sacrifices, all in acknowledgement of my godhood. I am pleased that you acknowledge it as well.”
Sharon blinked in bewilderment, not sure if she heard correctly. She turned her eyes toward the griffin, inquisitively. “A god?” Sharon said. “You consider yourself a god?”
The griffin's expression changed from pride to shock at Sharon's words. Then, in an instant, it altered to one of outright fury. He slammed a great talon on the cave floor before Sharon with such force that cracks appeared on the stony surface. "I do not 'consider' myself a god!" the griffin bellowed. In terror, Sharon stumbled backward and toppled before the power of the griffin's rage.
“I AM A GOD!!!” The volume of the griffin's voice shook the walls of the cavern as Sharon covered her ears, cowering before the mighty beast’s rage.
“Look at me!” said the griffin as he reared back upon his haunches, spreading his great wings. His talons balled into fists as every muscle tensed in a striking display of power. “How can you look upon me and not consider yourself in the presence of the divine?!” The griffin beat its tremendous wings, fanning the air into a whirlwind that pushed Sharon up the slope of treasure as gold coins and priceless gems swirled and clattered about the cavern floor. His point made, the griffin folded his wings behind his back.
“Many humans have made the same faulty conjecture as you have. They thought me a beast, a monster, merely an animal no more cunning than any other predator, but I demonstrated the error of such notions. At first, they gave me their virgin daughters to appease my appetite. But they quickly learned that such sacrifices were not enough. I demanded earthly wealth as well, for I am not merely a carnivorous beast whose only instinct is to forage for food. Thus, they rendered unto me their most precious and prized possessions. Even treasures once possessed by the elves from centuries past were willingly bestowed unto me, lest they incur my wrath! But there were others who refused to acknowledge me as their deity. So I descended from the heavens and wreaked my divine vengeance upon them. Nothing could resist my holy wrath. Not their armies! Not their fortified cities! Nothing! Yes, human. Many have paid dearly for denying me! So have a care about questioning my divinity.”
Sharon stared at the griffin in disbelief over his egotistical rant. “So you have terrorized and killed to get this treasure hoard of yours?” said Sharon, gathering all of the courage she could muster.
“I have,” the griffin replied, “and what of it? I am a god! My needs are far superior to those of mere mortals.”
Sharon was shocked at the griffin's profound egocentricity and sociopathic stupidity. What reply could there be to such insane pronouncements? There could be none. Obviously, one who held such delusions was far beyond a call to reason and sanity.
“So what will you do now?” Sharon asked. “Will you kill me? Is that it?”
“Kill you?” said the griffin. He paused to consider and then shook his head. “No, human. Though I see in your eyes that you fear and respect my size and power, as well you should, you still perceive me as a beast. So if I killed you, would only have been at the hands of a monster in your mind, instead of the bearer of divine retribution that I am.”
Sharon rose cautiously to her feet, closely watching the griffin. The creature appeared composed now, but the griffin could revert to hostility at any time. He seemed to suffer from considerable mood swings as well as from delusions of godhood. Indeed, all it would take was one ill-chosen word to provoke the beast.
“No, human. I will not kill you,” said the griffin, shaking his head. “Such an act would do little to serve my needs, but it is foreseeable that in time, you will come to acknowledge me as your god. So I shall award you the honor of being my slave.”
“Slave?” Sharon said in a tone of distaste.
“Or ‘pet’, if you prefer,” said the griffin in an atypical display of consideration. “Indeed, that would be a better term. You see, human, I admit that I am unsociable and extremely competitive by nature. Yet I have lived alone for far too long and yearn for some form of social and physical contact. Being a female of your species, you seem suitable enough to fulfill that need.
“Therefore, as my pet, your obligations will be to groom me, sing to me, call me 'master', and accompany me whenever I wish. In return, you shall be pampered and spoiled within my aerie. You may even play with the treasures of my hoard, so long as you remember that they are mine and mine alone!” Sharon listened to the griffin’s proposal in disgust. She found the thought of being this narcissistic monster's groomer, songbird, and companion to be abhorrent. She must seek a way out of here and find Justin and Darklin Reed as soon as possible.
“Well, human? Is this arrangement suitable?” asked the griffin. The look in the creature's eyes told Sharon that since the offer was suitable to him, it very well better be suitable to her.
Wishing to live through this encounter, Sharon saw no other choice but to go along with the griffin's demands, for now. Not daring to say anything else, Sharon muttered, “Yes.”
“YES, WHAT?!!!” thundered the griffin, glaring at her with ferocity. Sharon sprawled on the ground in shock and terror.
“Y-y-yes, master!” Sharon cried in fear. She cringed in disgust at the words. The griffin nodded in satisfaction.
“You learn quickly, human. That is essential for survival in my home.” The griffin turned and headed toward the tunnel leading out of the chamber, his tail flicking in the air. “You may acquaint yourself with my treasure. Make yourself a nest, if you wish. In the meantime, I am off to eradicate your companions. They will not take me by surprise again.”
But when the griffin reached the threshold of the tunnel, he paused, and then looked over his shoulder at Sharon, frowning. “One more thing, human,” he said. “When I asked you why you three were on my plateau, I had assumed you were after my treasure hoard; but you were unaware that I had one until I showed it to you. Do not deny it!”
Sharon did not. But she remained silent, her eyes dropped to the floor to avoid the griffin’s stare.
“If you did not come here for my treasure hoard, what did you come for?” he asked.
Sharon timidly glanced at the griffin, shuffling her feet. She knew she should say something in response - think up some lie, but her mind was completely blank. Her fear began to build. Once again, she felt the pull of the gauntlet's influence on her mind, urging her to look in its direction; but she dared not.
The griffin slowly approached Sharon. “Answer me, human!” he demanded, his eyes blazing with mounting rage.
Sharon’s fear of the creature rose to its peak. She wanted to look at something else, anything else but the griffin's threatening glare. Before she could catch herself, she turned her eyes toward the item that beckoned to her - and looked directly at the Griffin's Gauntlet.
The griffin followed Sharon’s line of sight. When his eyes found the gauntlet, his expression changed from one of suspicion to realization as fear emerged in his widening eyes. Then his fear transformed into fury, his uneasy expression converting into a vicious scowl as he glared once more at his captive.
“My gauntlet,” he said. “The very thing I took from Oresteia after its king failed to kill me.” The griffin's voice became louder with each word, expressing his growing wrath.
Sharon rushed toward the exit in terror, but the griffin moved too quickly, blocking her way. His eyes flared in rage as his muscles bulged with lethal might.
“The very item I wrested from the blackened corpse of King Devon after I smote him in divine retribution for daring to think he could possess a god!” said the griffin. “AND YOU WOULD DARE ATTEMPT THE SAME?!”
The volume of the griffin's voice knocked Sharon off her feet and sent her sprawling on the stone floor. The griffin towered over his captive as rivulets of electricity swarmed around him.
“Wishing to raid my hoard I could understand, and forgive! But you have come to do far worse. You have come to steal my soul! The soul of a GOD!” Sharon scrambled across the floor in a frantic effort to flee; but the griffin's talon pinned her down, rendering escape impossible.
“For such a sin, there can be no forgiveness!” he shouted. “Forget my offer for a new life! Forget the luxuries I would have bestowed upon you as my pet! For you, there will only be death! I cannot destroy that accursed gauntlet, but I can destroy you! Feel my godlike might slowly crush the life out of your pitifully frail form!”
Helplessly pinned to the stone floor, Sharon felt the tremendous weight of the monster begin to compress her, slowly crushing her to death.
“GRIFFIN!!!” roared a familiar voice.
The griffin reared his head and perked his ears at the unexpected sound. Distracted, the griffin eased the pressure against Sharon’s chest as she struggled for breath.
“Griffin!!! Where have you hidden the girl, you cowardly half-bred freak?!! I will either rescue her or avenge her! And the gods help you if it must be the latter!”
The voice came from the griffin’s main chamber. And Sharon knew to whom it belonged.
“Justin! Justin, I'm in here!” Sharon cried.
“Sharon?!” said Justin, his voice filled with relief. “Thank the gods you are still alive!”
The griffin's expression betrayed the slightest scowl. “So, the knight has finally come, eh? And the sorceress is no doubt with him as well.”
He removed his talon from Sharon and glared straight into her eyes.
“Would you like to watch as I kill your companions? It will be quite a show, and I do enjoy an audience,” he said with a malevolent sneer. He turned and headed boldly toward the main chamber. “And after I devour your friends, I shall have you for dessert!” Then he disappeared into the tunnel, his lion's tail speeding behind him.