Gargoyles: Pendragon


Guatemala, November 2, 2004

There was a cracking sound, and a single beam of light pierced the darkened cave. The stone that had blocked passage to this cavern for 456 years had at long last been removed. Two figures descended into the cave.

"Ha!" Professor Ezekiel Stone yelled. "I was right! There is a hidden chamber down here. I knew that there was more than just a ruined pyramid!"

He leapt down into the cave and flicked on his flashlight. There was a thrill running down his spine. For the first time in his career, he felt like Indiana Jones, investigating the tomb of a long lost artifact.

The centuries had not been kind to the pyramid above them. Near as he could figure it, it was abandoned sometime in the 1200s, and had been abandoned for 700 years. 700 years that had been very unkind to the pyramid and had crumbled it apart.

If the usual pattern held, the ancient Mayans had built five pyramids in these parts. One at each cardinal direction, and one in the center. The Center Pyramid, ChacIxchel, lay deep in the jungle, in a large tract of land owned by Cyberbiotics and designated by them as a nature preserve.

KawillAhPukuh lay almost 20 miles to the north, and had been severely damaged in the 1500s by Spanish Conquistadores. The Guatemalan government owned the land it was on, but Nightstone Unlimited had purchased the ruined pyramid itself at quite some expense. A venture that many indigenous Mayans and Archeologists were protesting, as it was becoming clear that Nightstone was planning on copying the actions of David Xanatos from a decade ago, and moving the pyramid—Like a certain 10th century Scottish Castle—To the Big Apple.

The remaining three pyramids were lost, deep in the jungle. Until a week ago, a banana farmer stumbled upon the easternmost pyramid, CamazotzKukulcan. It was right on the edge of his property, he'd just never realized it, because it was covered in creepers and vines, and a few small trees. The banana farmer had honestly thought that it was a big hill.

Professor Stone was already doing a field school dig in the area, and as an expert on Guatemalan Pyramids, he was called in to investigate.

It had taken him very little time to find the secret door into the cavern below.

He shined his flashlight around the room, examining the walls. Bats and Serpent carvings lined several Mayan statuary. Stone absently placed his hand on a sharp chunk of obsidian, jetting out of the wall.

"Ouch!" he yelped. He'd cut his palm.

"You all right, Professor?" Hector Jones, one of his students who had climbed down after him called.

"I'm fine lad," he said. "Look at this."

Stone shined his flashlight upon what appeared to be a large altar. Bound to the alter was the strangest looking statue that Stone had ever seen. Nine feet long, from head to tail; it was reptilian in appearance but its face was strange in that regard. A blend of snake and bat like features. The face was very serpentine, with an open maw revealing sharp cobra-like fangs. It's nose and ears, however, resembled those of a local vampire bat. Upturned and quite large.

It had arms, strapped to the sides of the altar, and a large pair of very bat-like wings upon its back, draped down over the sides of the altar. The cavern had clearly been undisturbed in some time. Erosion had done nothing to this statue, it was as sharply defined and clear as ever. The leather chords that had 'bound' the statue to the table, however, had rotted away several hundred years ago, and were barely a sliver over the statue's arms, wings, and serpentine waste.

"Take a look at this, lad!" Stone said. "This is incredible. I've never seen an altar like it. Morwood-Smyth is going to owe me a fine bottle of port, after this! And he thought that the so-called 'Scrolls of Merlin' were special. I've never seen an artifact anything like this altar, ever before in my life."

"What is it?" Hector asked.

"I'm not entirely sure, actually,' Stone said. "If I had to hazard a guess, this statue is some kind of bound god. The pyramid is called CamazotzKukulcan, after all. The bat-god and the serpent-god, together. Perhaps fused together—Like the Egyptians sometimes did-and bound on this altar somehow. Some Mayan belief that they could control the gods, control nature through this altar and ritual bloodletting. Feeding their god and giving him power."

"Like so," Stone said, taking his bleeding hand and dripping a few drops of blood from the wound into the statue's open mouth.

"And voila," Stone replied. "Our friend here gets his first meal in almost 500 years. Come now, lets return to camp. We can start cataloging this place in the morning…and taking lots of pictures of this altar. It's going to rewrite our books on early Columbian era Maya. But for now, the sun has almost set, and we've still quite a bit left to do."

The teacher and grad student climbed up their rope ladder, and departed the temple chamber. Forty minutes later, the sun had set outside the temple, and a lattice of cracks began to appear upon the surface of the statue, spreading rapidly across its stone body.


New Camelot, Antarctica, November 5th, 2004

Fleur walked out into the castle courtyard, a large thin box underneath her arm. She looked up at the two statues sitting on the parapets over the drawbridge, one on either side of the gatehouse.

The first statue appeared to be a heraldic griffin with a Mohawk, dressed in (stone) leather. The second statue was very feminine in appearance, but mostly resembled a winged Japanese oni with wings.

Fleur casually leaned upon the third statue in the castle. A large, four-footed creature, which, annoyingly had turned to stone down in the courtyard instead of the parapets like he was supposed to. She waited patiently, quietly, as the artificial sun dipped behind the castle, and an artificial 'night' began to appear upon the massive dome above them.

A lattice of cracks began to appear on all three statues, and Fleur took her weight off of the one she had been leaning upon. With triumphant roars, the two gargoyles (and lone beast) of New Camelot awakened triumphantly atop the castle parapets.

Griff and Sakura glided down from their perches and landed next to the beast, a great big red beast with swept-back horns.

"Sakura," Fleur said, her French accent making the female gargoyle's Japanese name sound more flowery than usual. "Eet has come."

Fleur handed the Japanese gargoyle the box that she had been carrying.

"The Gassan Sadatoshi!" Sakura exclaimed excitedly, without even having opened the box. She tore it open and pulled out a brand-new freshly made Japanese katana. She drew the sword from its sheath and tested the weight in her talons.

"It's perfectly balanced!" Sakura said.

"It was custom made to your exact specifications," Fleur said. "It should be pas de surprise, non?"

"Still," she said. "Even Ishimuran swordsmiths—Who make katanas for us all the time, have such difficulty. This. This is even better than I expected."

"Bon," Fleur replied. "You can test it on your Quest."

"A quest!" Griff exclaimed. "We have a Quest?"

"Two quests, actually," Fleur said. "Both require gargoyles."

"So we will have to split up then," Sakura said, quietly.

"Oui," Fleur said. "The first quest is simple enough. There've been rumors circulating lately of gargoyles in China."

"Such rumors have circulated for years," Sakura said. "My clan attempted to follow the rumors, which is what led to my being captured by Quong Po, and imprisoned and ensorcelled for 57 years."

"Oui," Fleur said. "But you didn't have the knowledge that we do today. Namely that Brooklyn of the Manhattan Clan has been to the Chinese Clan's location. Or at least, their location as of the 12th century. He's given us a loose starting point. Who wants to take it?"

"What's the other Quest?" Griff asked.

"The Mayan clan has requested help."

"Damn," Griff exclaimed.

"What?" Sakura snapped her head and looked at Griff. "What's wrong with that?"

"The Mayan Clan does not care much for humans," Griff said. "Even humans that they like such as Elisa and King Arthur. If they're requesting help from us, the situation must truly be desperate."

"I will take this Quest," Sakura said, stepping forward. "The Mayans need us. It sounds the more difficult of the two Quests, and I have yet to prove myself and my worth to this cohort."

"On the contrary," Griff said. "Arthur chose you to be a knight. That's proof enough for all of us."

"Nevertheless," Sakura said. "I choose the Mayan quest."

"There's no standing stones near ChacIxchel," Fleur said. "At least, not yet. We'll have to get there the old fashioned way."

"Yes," Griff muttered. "Hovercrafts. So much more old fashioned than ancient magical teleportation network."

Fleur smirked at the gargoyle, but Sakura remained steel-faced.

"Griff," Fleur said. "You're the First Knight. You get pick of the Quests."

"I have no inclinations either way," Griff said. "Sakura can help the Mayans. I'm just a bit surprised that she doesn't want to finish what she started in '38 and find the Chinese clan."

"I am not overly eager to return to China," Sakura said. "And I chose the Mayans, because it already sounds the more difficult of the two tasks, and I thrive on difficulty."

"Fair enough," Griff said. "Take Shisa with you though. Poor bloke's been lonely ever since Rory and Barghest went back to Ireland for their three week spell."

The red colored beast whimpered and nuzzled against Sakura.

"You'll also need a second Knight at your side," Fleur said. "You know Arthur's rules. Both of you."

"I'm thinking Nick," Griff said. "I want a bit of a grounded scientific mind, if I'm to be hunting rumors and memories."

"Parvati," Sakura said, cloaking her wings and bowing. "I like the idea of having a tiger at my side in the coming battle."

"You know that she can only be a tiger for two hours per night, right?" Griff asked.

"Which is two hours more than you can become a tiger, Griff-sama," Sakura smirked back.

"Touché" Griff commented.


Guatemala, September 22, 1548

There was a cracking sound and the entrance to the cave beneath CamazotzKukulcan opened. Two gargoyles and a human leapt down into the cave entrance.

"We should not be down here," the male gargoyle said. He was dark bluish-green. His body was serpentine in nature, with a pair of bat-like wings attached to his back. His face was his most unusual feature, however. With large bat-like ears, and an upturned bat-like nose.

"Don't be such a hatchling, brother," the female said. She was quite a beauty. Scarlet red skin, with cobalt blue lining the interior of her wings. She had pterosaur-like wings and joint spurs on each of her limbs. She had long black hair and prominent crest ridges.

"Yeah, Camazotz," Three-Monkey, their human companion said. "Lighten up."

"I told you not to call me that!" 'Camazotz' protested. "Except for the Pendant Bearers, Yu'ux, Ya'ax, Box, and Kan, we couatls do not use names. Names are for humans."

"I think he's taking the whole naming thing a bit too personally," Three-Monkey said. "Don't you think Xnuk Ek?"

'Xnuk Ek' was busy looking around the cavern. "Fascinating," she murmured to herself.

"We should go," 'Camazotz' said, attempting to climb the wall, his talon struck a sharp obsidian spike jutting out of the wall.

"Ouch!" he exclaimed, jerking his talon back. "The clan will be missing us!"

"The clan is busy mating," 'Xnuk Ek' said. "They won't even notice we're gone until tomorrow night. And we'll be back before then. Why should we miss this perfect opportunity to explore and find out why CamazotzKukulkan was abandoned?"

All three of the explorers were quite young. Too young to be taking part in the mating flight that was happening back at ChacIxchel, the home-clan of the two Mayan Gargoyles. 'Camazotz' and 'Xnuk Ek' were 30 years old—The equivalent of fifteen-year old humans. And Three-Monkey, their human friend, actually was 15 years old.

There was a squeaking sound, and Three-Monkey drew his obsidian sword, while the two gargoyles flickered their eyes.

"It's just bats," 'Xnuk Ek' said after a beat.

"I hate bats," 'Camazotz' said.

"But you look-," Three-Monkey started to say.

"Which is why I hate them!" 'Camazotz' said.

"Then you're not going to like this," 'Xnuk Ek' said, gesturing her friends over. "Look at this! I think it's jade."

"Like the jade pendant?" 'Camazotz' wondered as he slithered over. It was indeed jade. A jade bat's head, jutting out of the wall over a basin—also embedded into the wall.

"Jade is rare in these parts," Three-Monkey said. "It's usually imported for u meyah xwaay."

"Well maybe we can activate it!" 'Xnuk Ek' said excitedly.

'Camazotz' hesitated but then spoke. "I'm already bleeding.'

Mayan sorcery and talismans required blood to activate. Blood was considered the life-force of the universe. Using it to grease the wheels of sorcery was the only way Mayan Sorcerers knew how to activate spells.

'Camazotz' reached out with his bleeding hand and placed it on the jade bat's head. The stone head glowed green and its mouth opened. Water came pouring out into the basin.

"Water?" 'Xnuk Ek' muttered in disappointment.

"Magic water?" Three-Monkey suggested.

"Oooh! Yes!" 'Xnuk Ek' said. She cupped her talons and took a scoop of the water and pressed it to her lips.

"Nothing," she said. "I don't feel any different."

'Camazotz' hesitantly did the same and took a talon-cup full of water and pressed it to his lips. He then coughed and gagged.

"My blood," he wheezed, holding up his still bleeding talon. His companions laughed at him.

"Come on," 'Xnuk Ek' said. "Let's see if there's anything else down here."

'Xnuk Ek' and Three-Monkey turned around, to explore. Just missing the fact that their bat-faced friend's eyes were now glowing green.


Guatemala, November 2, 2004

Professor Stone was awakened by a loud crashing sound outside his tent. Quickly pulling his boots on, he ran back outside in his jimmies, holding his flashlight.

"Hello?" He asked. "Is anyone there?"

He shined his flashlight upon the six tents that contained his Grad Students for his field school. Hector emerged from his tent.

"Hector my boy!" Stone said. "You gave me quite a fright."

"My boy,' Hector said. "You gave me quite a fright"

"I'm getting jumpy in my old age," Stone said.

"I'm getting jumpy in my old age," Hector repeated.

"Hector?" Stone asked, frowning. "Are you okay?"

"Are you okay," Hector repeated.

"Hector?" Stone asked, slowly starting to back away from the Grad Student. Stone's flashlight suddenly fell upon the open tent flap of Hector's tent. Stone gasped. Hector was laying upon the cot inside his tent, pale and unconscious—possibly dead—with profuse bleeding coming from his shoulder.

The thing that looked like Hector glanced back along the beam of light, and then back at Professor Stone. His eyes suddenly glowed green and shadows surrounded him, transforming into a creature from Stone's nightmares…The same serpentine bat-like form that had been bound to the altar in the tomb.

Stone turned to run, but it was no use. The creature hissed at him and lunged, biting down on Stone's shoulder as the aging professor screamed in a mix of pain and terror.

To be continued…