If you listen carefully, you can hear the whispers of Fate. Those were the words Ernas used to tell me. They were meant as an encouragement – I could do it if I only kept trying – but I took them as chastisement then. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I needed to do more.
Eventually, I did learn to understand the language of destiny. But I’ve since come to regret it.
They did not foretell of my death or some horrific tragedy, no. It was much worse. They foretold that all my dreams would come true.
And now this life seemed, somehow, not enough.
Before Fate whispered in my ear, I was content. Why did my dreams make ordinary life so…insufferable?
Now, the whispers were speaking to me again. Not of my destiny, but the fate of my people. Tell them peace will come to your generation. Tell them to be patient, and keep their faces lifted to the sky.
Villagers shuffled their feet, as they stood watching me. It was an effort not to groan aloud.
“It’s the same as always,” I told them.
Some of the villagers did groan.
“They don’t give a date?”
“I’d even take knowing the year.”
“A generation is a long time.”
“Too long for me and my old back.”
“And my neck hurts from always looking up!”
The villagers continued complaining, but I swept through the crowd, heading away from all the noise. If I lingered, people would start asking to know what Fate said about them. If I thought about it, I might hear the answer. That would likely bring trouble. And what was the point of talking to them, building relationships here, when I was meant to leave this place?
If only it could be soon. I was sure I was ready.
My life as a Perceiver felt pointless. I foretold the same whispers over and over. I was helping no one here. I was wasting my own time; try as I might to go after my dreams, every effort left me right back here. I didn’t understand why Fate was making me wait.
Nearing the south end of the village, I glanced around to make sure no one was watching. It wouldn’t bode well for me if the other villagers knew what I was doing in my free time. Things looked clear, so I hurried into the woods. The quiet restored me, and I took my time walking to a small cave deep in the forest. I stopped only to grab my pack, pull on my gloves, and fill up my water pouch from the nearby stream.
Not a single twig cracked under my boots, as I made my way along the stream. After a couple of hours, I spotted some tracks. As I bent to examine them, my heart began to beat faster. These were not the tracks of a common forest animal. They were just the tracks I was looking for.
My movement through the forest was quieter than the breeze through the trees. I had to be sure that even an animal with supernatural hearing wouldn’t be alerted to my approach. It wasn’t long before I heard some rustling ahead. I slowed my pace and examined my surroundings carefully. There.
Ahead to the east was a magnificent creature. Its hindquarters were covered in golden fur with a whip-like tail with a tuft of hair at the end. Its back paws were sturdy and had small claws, while its front legs were thinner and ended in talons. It had the head of an eagle, with feathers covering the front of its body. Most awe-inspiring were its wings.
Each one was longer than I was tall. They were tucked along its body, but I could imagine the force of the wind as they pushed into the air. I would need to be quick, but careful.
I reached my right hand back to the side of my pack, pulling my rope from the loop attaching it. I moved to put the creature just within the reach of my rope, which was made with magic fibers to be unbreakable by even the strongest beast known to man. I had saved for years to purchase it, the staple of a Beast Master.
If I had been appointed as a Beast Master, I would have been given one by the Premier. Instead I had been appointed a Perceiver, according to my natural gifts, and given a sum of gold to equal my expected talent. Which, apparently, was not enough to afford a lariat.
I began to twist the rope and, with a well-practiced flick of the wrist, launched it toward the griffin. It landed around the creature’s neck, and I gave it a sharp tug. The griffin began to pull against me, trying to yank the lariat from my hand. I held tight, calloused hands helping me grip the rope. I dug my feet into the ground, as I recited a spell to calm the griffin.
Once it stopped trying to pull away, I approached. This was the crucial part with the taming of a griffin: I must get it to let me ride it. I stroked its furry back, careful not to touch the feathers, and spoke softly to the creature. After a couple of moments, it dipped its head to the ground and slid its front legs forward so it was bowed low to the ground. In one quick motion, I mounted the griffin behind the shoulders.
It raised itself back up, and I gripped with my legs to steady myself. Grinning from ear to ear, I removed the lariat and leaned forward against the griffin. As soon as I was settled and holding on, it flapped its wings and pushed off the ground.
The powerful wing beats raised us into the sky. For an instant I felt weightless, and my stomach fluttered. Wind whipped my hair and swept away my cry of triumph. This. This feeling was why I wanted to be a Beast Master: the thrilling mix of fear and excitement.
I was determined to fly my new griffin straight to the Premier and make him see that I deserved to be a Beast Master.
What do you think of the story so far? Do you think taming a griffin will convince the Premier that she should be a Beast Master? Click here to read Part 2!
Thanks so much for reading!
-Clever & WTF