Gargoyles Timedancer:

Bloodstone

11. 1. 16. 8. .6

As the phantasmal flames of the Phoenix surrounded us, the temperature took a sharp, steep turn. Going from the bitter cold of what Brooklyn had referred to as the tallest mountains in the world, to the tropical humidity that I had grown up with all of my life.

I am Zafira. Actually, I've had many names in my life. More so than most gargoyles, I would wager. My human friend Three-Monkey called me 'Xnuk Ek'. When I donned the Sapphire Pendant for my clan, I became known as 'Ya'ax' or 'Blue". And most recently, I have acquired the name "Zafira". From what I have gathered, it is the feminine form of the name that Sapphire Pendant Bearers will be called in the future.

I like it because it's what my mate calls me. His name—yes, he has a name too—Is 'Benuthet' which apparently means 'Phoenix of Thoth' in his native tongue. He and his friend Brooklyn arrived in the Green one day, and helped the ChacIxchel Clan forge an alliance with Spanish deserters and Mayans against the Spanish Conquistadors who were ravaging the Green.

Benuthet also managed to save my life, and steal my heart in the process. After making certain that he felt the same about me, I chose to join him and his friend Brooklyn (so many gargoyles with names!) on their journey through time itself.

Brooklyn had been catapulted from his own time by the Phoenix. Now he was seeking a path home, to his own clan. That path had taken him to Benuthet's time, and Benuthet had unwittingly joined Brooklyn. Together, they had come to my time. And I had chosen to join them.

It had been a strange and wild ride. We had fought against an evil gargoyle bent on destroying the human race, a bizarre snake-demon who had possessed Benuthet's younger self, gotten ourselves mixed up in an actual war between two clans of gargoyles, battled pirates and a gigantic bird of prey, and most recently, fought alongside a small enclave of monks in a snow-covered mountain pass to defend them from a horde of invaders who slaughtered all in their path.

That one had been trying. I had never been so cold before in my life. Neither had my mate. I came from the tropical jungles of the Green. He came from the vast deserts of Egypt. Only Brooklyn came from a land where cold weather was known and even expected.

Strangely, he complained the most.

But the Phoenix had seen fit to take us from that mountainside temple. We tumbled through the flames and then suddenly found ourselves landing on soft grass. It was quite warm. I tore my thick mountain coat off, and tossed it aside. My mate and companion did the same.

As the flames faded around us, I looked around. It was bright out. Midday, or around thereabouts. It took me a moment to register that, actually. Having spent 12 years as the Sapphire Pendant Bearer, relinquishing the daytime takes quite a bit of getting used to.

"Day!" Benuthet snapped. "It is daylight!"

Our two beasts, Fu-dog (who was Brooklyn's pet) and Kebechet (who was Benuthet's) howled and looked confused by the bright sky.

"Okay people," Brooklyn said looking around. "We've got about two minutes, give or take until our bodies catch up and we go stone. What have we got?"

"A village of some kind!" Benuthet reported.

"A Mayan village!" I exclaimed, suddenly looking around. The architecture was a little different, and the clothing styles were older than my time, but this was undoubtedly a Mayan village. A tall black pyramid loomed over the village, and I realized that we were on the edge of a corn field.

"Are we back in your time, Zee?" Brooklyn asked. 'Zee' is my final name. A nickname that Brooklyn gave me that—frankly—I never understood. I don't know why he calls me that. But Benuthet has also taken to using it sometimes, and I like the way it sounds coming from his lips.

What can I say? When I fell for him, I fell hard. I make no apologies for it.

"No," I said, shaking my head. Several Mayan villagers were approaching us with curiosity. "This is earlier, before I hatched. I don't know this pyramid."

Or did I? The tall black-onyx pyramid definitely looked very familiar.

Benuthet was rifling through his satchel. He did that often. He had a habit of picking up trinkets and talismans from our journeys. He would retrieve them if he felt that they might be of use.

"Ah-ha!" He pulled out a small, glowing blue crystal from the satchel and tossed it at me. As soon as the crystal touched my talon, it turned to solid sapphire for the briefest of moments.

"Use it wisely, my love," he said, before turning slate gray and hardening into stone. Brooklyn shuddered and then transformed as well. Fu-dog and Kebechet quickly followed, leaving only myself as flesh.

I hung the Orichalcum pendant around my neck. This was my mate's handiwork. He was an accomplished sorcerer back in his own clan. When he came to my time period, he had been able to use the Orichalcum crystals to mimic the effects of our enchanted pendants. Temporarily, anyway.

He had kept one for emergencies. I suppose he gave it to me, because I was Mayan myself. The fact that I was still flesh meant that whatever the date, it was sometime after 10 Baktun, 8 katun, 7 tun, 0 uinal, 10 k'in. That was the day that the Sun Amulet was forged.

The Mayan Calendar is very specific, and our clan storykeepers keep excellent records.

My suspicions were confirmed when a large black gargoyle glided down and landed in front of me.

He was a muscular, tall serpentine gargoyle His skin was black as coal, but his reptilian belly was white, as was his hair. His feathered wings were black and white patterned, like a falcon or harpy-eagle. His face was reptilian, though he had a goatee on his lower jaw.

He was pretty young. My own age, if I was to hazard a guess.

I cloaked my wings, and using my wing fingers discretely tucked my Orichalcum pendant behind my poncho-top.

"Greetings!" he said, smiling excitedly. "I am Obsidian! Leader of the Obsidian Clan here at CamazotzKukulkan. I'm so pleased to meet you!"

So, I thought. This is the era when Pendant Bearers were named after the stones themselves, rather than their color like in my day. That was…Three hundred or so years ago.

I considered calling myself "Orichalcum" but thought better of my self. I told a half-truth.

"I am Sapphire," I said, naming myself after the pendant that I used to wear/would someday wear.

"These are my friends and companions," I said.

"Yes, yes," Obsidian interrupted. "But I have never met another Pendant-Bearer before. The Jade, Sapphire, and Turquoise Clans all live so far away. I would be honored if you might join me for lunch?"

"With all due respect, Obsidian," I said. "I would rather not leave my friends."

"They will be safe. Our village is friendly."

"I would rather not leave my mate," I emphasized, placing a talon on my stone lover's mane.

I found my mate to be very attractive. Okay, I know that all females think this about their mates, but I have yet to see one compare to mine. His fur and mane are white, pure white, and his feathered wings stretch out behind him, also white.

His face, framed by his mask-like mane is quizzical, and looks like a pure-white jaguar face. It's especially cute when he's reading or thinking hard and he scrunches up his nose, just like a jaguar.

"You…your mate?" Obsidian said, drooping slightly. He was very lonely, I realized suddenly. Not that I blamed him. Being the only gargoyle in your clan to remain flesh while the others sleep would be incredibly lonely. It was a feeling that I knew very well as a former Pendant Bearer myself.

By the Creator, even right now, I was wishing for my lover's wisdom, or one of Brooklyn's strange quips.

I glanced at Benuthet's stone form.

"On the other talon," I said, feeling sympathetic. "I do know how lonely it can be, being a Pendant Bearer. My friends should be quite safe in your village?"

"Of course," Obsidian said, cloaking his wings. "You have my oath."

"Then perhaps a tour would not be remiss," I said.

"Excellent," Obsidian said, grinning. "You're going to love it here at CamazotzKukulkan!"

My stomach twisted into knots at the name of the pyramid, and I began wringing my wing fingers over each other. I did know this pyramid, though I tried not to think about it often. I quickly kissed Benuthet on the cheek, human-style, and walked away from the stone forms of my friends.

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"Tamales!" I exclaimed excitedly. I hadn't had tamales in weeks. Not since leaving the Green. I did miss them.

"Eat," Obsidian said. "Enjoy!"

A massive table, covered with food rested at the base of the large black pyramid. This area looked so different in my time. Overrun by jungle, and the onyx pyramid partially buried. But in this time period, it was vibrant, bright. The jungle was mostly cleared away, and a large, sprawling Mayan village surrounded us.

I could see roughly 80 or so gargoyles resting in stone sleep at various intervals atop the onyx pyramid. If I remembered my clan history correctly, at this point in time, there were three other clans, each roughly the same size, maybe bigger, maybe smaller, at three of the 4 other pyramids. ChacIxchel, where I hatched, was the centermost pyramid. I wasn't sure if there were gargoyles living at ChacIxchel yet, though. Originally the four clans lived in the outer four pyramids, each with a village to protect beneath them. This was the arrangement with the Mayans.

At a certain point, the Sapphire clan was forced to flee from IxtabGukumatz to ChacIxchel, which prior to that migration had been a ceremonial pyramid. But I wasn't entirely certain when that had occurred.

In fact, I wasn't exactly sure when I was now.

"Obsidian?" I asked, unwrapping my tamale from the plantain leaf that surrounded it. I took a bite, and savored the hot peccary meat in the center of the gooey wrapping.

I loved tamales.

"Yes?" the Serpentine gargoyle said.

"What year-Er—I mean, what is today's date?"

"It is 11 Baktun, 1 Katun, 16 tun, 8 uinal, 6 k'in," He said, looking confused indeed. "How do you not know the date?"

I didn't answer him, as I was doing the math in my head. I had left my clan to travel with Brooklyn and my mate from 11 baktun, 17 katun, 0 tun, 15 uinal, 1 k'in.

.1, form .6…

Three hundred Haab to the very day, unless my math was off. Which is wasn't, as I am impeccable at math.

Almost a full baktun. The Spanish had not yet arrived in the Mayan territories. Indeed, they hadn't even left their own lands.

"Sapphire? Are you well?" Obsidian asked.

"I am fine," I said, stepping away from the black-skinned gargoyle. "I was just calculating something."

"Is there something that you want to-," he started to say.

"Cacao!" I said excitedly. I hadn't had proper cacao in weeks. I truly had missed some of the finer points of our clan. I picked up the cup containing the beverage and took a deep sip.

Bitter and spicy, just as it was meant to taste. It soothed my nerves. The sweet cacao bars that the Germans of the twelfth baktun ate were all right, but this was proper cacao drink. The beverage of the Mayan Kings.

"Do I detect jalapeno?" I asked, taking another sip.

"Oh yes, it is the local recipe," Obsidian said. "Do you like it?"

"The Sapphire Clan recipe is better," I said truthfully. "The jalapeno should be more subtle, your recipe overpowers the bitter flavor of the cacao plant."

"I'll be sure to pass that knowledge on to the village cacao farmers," he said.

I was about to say more, when I heard a sound that shook the entire village. I could see dozens of birds taking off from the cornfields.

I dropped my cup in a panic. Benuthet!

My mate's sleeping form was in danger, and I left him there unguarded.

I mentally cursed myself, dropped to all fours and began loping towards the cornfield.

"Sapphire, wait!" Obsidian yelled after me, but quickly found that he could not keep up.

I trick I had learned as a hatchling. Having legs gave you an advantage over your serpentine siblings in one regard. Loping on all fours, you can move far faster than they can slither.

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There were more than a dozen creatures emerging from the cornfield. They were bizarre looking. As though someone had taken a goat, a beast, and a howler and melted them together over a fire.

Large, sharp fangs, like that of a howler. Three-clawed feet, like that of a beast; and like a beast, I suspected that they were capable of piercing stone. And curved, ram-like horns erupting from atop their head. Their eyes glowed red, like a female beast's eyes.

I had never seen a creature like them before, but I did know what they were. I'd heard stories about them since I was a hatchling. The Huay Chivo, the devourer of livestock.

All the stories about the Huay Chivo indicated that they lived north of here, though. I had no time to dwell on that; however. The creatures were entering the village. Not only were the villagers in danger; so were the sleeping forms of every gargoyle in the village.

I drew my obsidian sword, and lunged at the nearest one, which was sniffing at Fu-Dog's stone form.

I sliced clean through its head, and the creature crumbled to dust. I hadn't expected that. Apparently this had angered the other Huay Chivo. They surged towards me. Before the first one got near me, however.

"Baat!" Obsidian declared. A glowing green war axe appeared in his hand, and he hurled it at the nearest Huay Chivo. It crumbled into dust, much like the first one.

The axe dissolved into green energy.

"U meyah xwaay?" I asked, turning and looking at him.

"You are a sorcerer?" I asked him.

"Baat!" he replied, and two more battle axes appeared in his talons. He sliced at the Huay Chivo and they looked at him in confusion, before immediately scampering off in the direction of the jungle.

"Gratitude," I said, walking over to my friends, inspecting their stone forms for damage. There appeared to be none. I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Those creatures shouldn't return," Obsidian said. "If you wish to return to the feast…

"No," I said firmly. "I won't leave my friends again."

"I'm sure that they are safe," he said.

"'No,' means no," I said.

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There was a cracking sound as Brooklyn, Fu-Dog, Kebechet, and Benuthet awakened with roars, and I could hear the roars of the CamazotzKukulkan Clan awakening on the nearby pyramid.

"My love," Benuthet said, wrapping me up in his feathered wings. "You were magnificent today, those goat-creatures did not stand a chance."

"You saw that?" I asked.

"One of those Bob-Dream things?" Brooklyn asked, bending down and petting Fu-Dog absently.

"Ba dreams, Brooklyn," Benuthet said, rolling his eyes. "As I've told you before. And this must be Obsidian. It is a pleasure to meet a fellow sorcerer. I was most intrigued by that axe spell you cast."

Obsidian had slithered around the corner of the cornfield to greet us.

"You…Wait…How did you…?"

"It is one of my mate's more…Annoying magics," I said, teasingly. "His spirit wanders about while he is stone. Apparently he was with us today."

"For a time," Benuthet said. "After those goat-creatures fled, my spirit followed them for a while. Back to their nest. I think it was a nest. A cavern, filled with bones, likes some sort of midden."

"You know where our attackers sleep?" Obsidian asked, sounding very surprised.

"Yes," Benuthet said. "It is not far."

"This…this is good," Obsidian said. "Those creatures have been plaguing our village for far too long."

"You didn't mention that before," I said, turning and looking at Obsidian.

"I did not wish to upset you," He said, bowing cordially. "You are a guest in my clan's home after all."

"As are my friends," I said, gesturing to Brooklyn and Benuthet.

"Of course," he said.

"Look," Brooklyn interrupted. "Not all of us have Bob-Dreams. Or get to spend the day not napping as concrete, so I kinda feel like I'm playing catch-up here."

"I will fill you in," I said. "Sufficient for now, Brooklyn, this is Obsidian, the leader of the local CamazotzKukulkan clan. We are some…"

I hesitated, trying to recall the distance measurements that Benuthet had taught me were the standard in his land.

"Twenty-Five leuga from ChacIxchel, where I hatched," I said, running the calculations in my head again.

"Okay," Brooklyn said. "Next question…what the heck is a 'leuga'?"

My beloved sighed heavily. "Brooklyn, I've gone over this before…"

"Anyway!" Brooklyn said, interrupting Benuthet. He held out his arm towards Obsidian. "Pleasure, to meet you."

Obsidian clasped his arm in return.

"Benuthet," Obsidian said, turning towards my mate. "I wonder if I can get your opinion on a few spells and talismans that I have been forging. I haven't really had another waay to consult with."

Benuthet brightened. He was always eager to learn, as well as pass on his own knowledge of sorcery.

"I would love to!" he said, brightening. I began wringing my wing-fingers in each other again.

"I have a mirror that I am working on, when complete, it may be able to transfer souls!" he said.

"Soul transfers are tricky," Benuthet said. "And require voluntary participants."

"And have very loose definitions of the word 'voluntary'," Brooklyn interjected angrily.

"It is that difficulty for which I wish to seek your opinion. On it, and on other projects."

Benuthet nodded, and glanced down at my cloaked wings, and frowned. Taking my talons in his he directed us off to the side, leaving Brooklyn and Obsidian alone for a moment. They politely stepped aside to give us further privacy.

"Are you all right, my love?" he asked. "You are doing that thing with your wing fingers again. Which you do every time you are nervous."

I blinked. I hadn't realized that Benuthet had picked up on that habit of mine. I immediately made the conscious choice to stop.

I took a deep breath.

"It's fine. I am fine, my beloved Sak Chakmool, I said. White Jaguar. My moniker of love for him.

"If you are certain my Meryt Nefer," he responded. We stroked each other's hair, before parting ways. Benuthet followed Obsidian.

"I smell food," Brooklyn said, looking at me. "There's food nearby, right?"

"Yes," I said smiling half-heartedly. I began wringing my wing-fingers again.

"Okay," Brooklyn asked. "You've been acting...Weird since I woke up. And based on Benny's reaction a few minutes ago…I'm guessing you've been acting pretty strange since we got here."

I leaned up against the wall of a nearby hut, taking a deep breath.

"When I was thirty, I snuck into CamazotzKukulkan—Which has been abandoned by my time—with my rookery brother and my close human friend Three-Monkey."

"And…"

"And I am the only one who made it out alive," I said.

"Jeeze, Zee…" Brooklyn said. "Did you tell Benuthet this?"

"No," I said. "And I don't intend to. I don't need him worrying about me. I will be fine."

"I don't know," Brooklyn said. "I don't think that this is the sort of thing you should keep from your mate."

"And how would you know?" I asked him.

"Ouch," Brooklyn said, looking directly at me. The hurt look in his eyes made me instantly regret my words. I knew that Brooklyn was very lonely. He had spent quite a bit of time alone before he had met Benuthet and myself. And the fact that we had become mates was probably somewhat awkward for him.

And with a careless word, I had hit him where he was most vulnerable, and I think that I had done it because I could. Just to be mean.

"Brooklyn," I said, suddenly stepping forward. "I'm sorry. I said that just to hurt you."

"It worked."

"But I didn't mean it," I said. "I was just lashing out. This place…Even though it hasn't happened yet, this place brings back bad memories."

"Yeah," Brooklyn said. "I'm no stranger to those. Do you think that the Phoenix has brought us to this time and place to help you deal with your childhood trauma?"

"No, Brooklyn," I said, looking over at the tall black pyramid. "I'm terrified that the Phoenix brought us to this time and place to help cause my childhood trauma."

To Be Continued…