Journey to the East
Disclaimer: I don't own Gargoyles, or its spinoff Gargoyles: Bad Guys. That honor belongs to Disney. Characters created by Greg Weisman and distributed by SLG.
December 15, 1938, Shandong province, China
The wind howled ferociously and hail the size of golf ball rained down on three young Japanese gargoyles. They struggled fruitlessly to try to stay aloft. Finally, the leader, a jade-skinned male with three wing-fingers and ribbing called back to the two females behind him.
"This storm is picking up," Kai shouted back in Japanese to his rookery sisters. "We must find shelter before the dawn, which cannot be far off."
The trio bobbed and weaved among the stone spires that surrounded them; there were small farms below, but the gargoyles could not see them in this gale. Rain and hail continued to beat down on them.
"Kai!" One of the females, a blue skinned beauty with vaguely aquatic features, called back to him. "Look! There is a cave!"
Kai nodded to her, one simple nod to indicate that he had heard her. He then made a sweeping gesture with his arm and indicated that they should follow him. The three gargoyles landed at the mouth of the cave, which was fairly high up—atop one of the spires.
Kai cloaked his wings and glanced at his sisters. Umi, his blue sister, always carried herself well when she was wet…it seemed natural on her…probably due to her appearance.
She had webbed ears, as well as webbed talons. Her tail had two fins on the end of it, causing her to look for all the world like she belonged in the water. Her wings were the "blade" style, common in Ishimura. No wing fingers and no ribbing.
Sakura, his other sister did not carry herself with the grace and poise when sodden that Umi did. She had pure white skin, two wing fingers, but no ribbing on the membranes. She wore a sharp red hakama, in sharp contrast to her light skin. Her talons were two-toed, as opposed to the three-toed talons of Kai and Umi.
Sakura slowly began to explore deeper into the cave. Kai and Umi remained near the mouth, watching the storm.
"I can well imagine that a clan of tengu might take up refuge in these spires," Umi said casually. "Humans would have a difficult time scaling these granite towers. They might be left alone for some time."
"I think I see a light deeper in the cave." Sakura called back to her brother and sister.
"Do not stray far, sister," Kai warned. "I feel that dawn has almost arrived."
"Kai, I'm certain I see a light…how could there be a light this far up? Unless maybe it's the tengu clan!"
"If the rumors are to be believed," Kai said. "Then they should still be a good 100 miles from here."
"Kai, there's a staircase back here!" Sakura called back.
Kai and Umi exchanged a glance in surprise and immediately moved to join their sister. They did not get more than a few feet however, when the dawn caught them. Though it was still dark and stormy outside, the sun had risen, and the Japanese gargoyles were frozen in stone.
"There is no staircase," Kai said worriedly. "We've clawed almost three feet into a solid wall."
"Then where could our sister have gone?" Umi replied looking at Kai with panic painted across her face. "If there is no light…and no stairway…where could she have gone? It's as though she has vanished into thin air."
March 2, 1997, Paris, France
"To be quite honest your majesty," Griff said as they landed in front of the Louvre. "I'm not quite sure what this little trip is going to accomplish. I fear that it's only going to tear open old wounds."
"Perhaps Sir Griff," Arthur said as the gargoyle set him on the ground. "But I feel I need some closure…she was my wife…even if…"
"I understand," Griff said forlornly. "Perhaps better than anyone else."
Arthur nodded. He knew his gargoyle friend was speaking of Una, his once beloved. Had Goliath not skipped Griff from 1940 to 1996, they would have become mates. But she had mated with Leo…Griff's closest friend.
"I'll be here, and you?" Arthur said changing the subject.
"I think shall spend the day at Notre Dame," Griff said smiling. "It seems almost wrong for a gargoyle to spend the day in Paris, and not sleep atop Notre Dame."
"Then I shall see you at sunset my friend." Arthur nodded. Griff began scaling a nearby monument, preparing to take to the sky again.
A small sheet of paper fluttered in the wind and landed next to Arthur's foot. He bent down and picked it up. In three languages it advertised the latest exhibit at the Louvre.
The Diary of Queen Guinevere.
It had been discovered in a hidden antechamber at a monastery in Normandy. Considering the discovery of the Scrolls of Merlin just a few years earlier, this had caused quite a stir in both the archeological and historical communities. Many historians were rethinking their ideas on the rein of the "mythical" King Arthur.
Upon the announcement of the discovery, Arthur had known that he needed to see this diary himself. After 15 centuries, and her infidelity…he still loved her.
"Museum opens at eleven," Arthur read aloud and scowled.
Una always wanted to come here, Griff thought, contemplatively looking at the Seine. He casually flexed his wings. I wish things had turned out differently. It's strange how fate works…sometimes heartache is inevitable, I guess. Still, wouldn't trade my service to King Arthur for anything.
Except Old Pog; the London Clan was not the clan he had hatched in. Fifty-six years was a long time. And though the clan had welcomed him home with open arms, he still felt lonely.
Staghart and Constance had made the greatest effort to befriend the gryphon-gargoyle, and he was grateful for them. And Leo and Una were the same as always…except they were 56 years older and mates. He was grateful that King Arthur had broken into Westminster Abbey that night. Serving at the King's side, he no longer felt like the odd gargoyle out.
"And here I thought I was the last tengu in Paris," a voice behind him said, breaking Griff from his contemplation. He spun around in surprise to see a grey-colored gargoyle standing behind him.
"Bloody hell," Griff breathed. "I'm afraid you've caught me by surprise as well mate, didn't know there were any gargoyles around here…I'm called Griff."
Griff held out his hand. The grey colored gargoyle took Griff's talon in the clasp of the warrior's handshake.
"I am Yama," he said. "The mountain. And by your accent, I would deduce that you are a native to the British Isles."
"Right you are, my clan's based in London, and unless I'm off my mark," Griff said grinning and stepping back. "You're one of those Jap gargs. From Ishimura if I recall correctly."
Yama looked taken aback. "How could you know of my clan?"
"Well," Griff flushed sheepishly. "We had four members of Goliath's clan stay with us for a few months, they told us about your clan."
"Ah," Yama said nodding. "Of course…Goliath did not mention your clan when he stayed with us, but I'm afraid that further conversation must wait for sunset."
Yama pointed toward the eastern horizon. Griff nodded and the two gargoyles leapt upon the parapets, posing fiercely as the dawn's light froze them.
"This is not Guinevere's diary," King Arthur said disappointedly looking at the small book underneath the glass case.
"Really," a young blond woman standing next to him said. She had a distinct Scottish accent. "And how can you be sure of that?"
"It's not her handwriting," Arthur commented sadly. The blond woman cocked her eyebrow at the man curiously, but Arthur simply ignored her look and slowly made his way towards the exit of the museum.
As Arthur shuffled his way towards the doors, his warrior's instinct kicked in. He was being watched, he was certain of it.
The ancient monarch had grown quite fond of wearing a duster to cover his sword and armor. He instinctively reached into his duster and clasped Excalibur. He did not draw the blade, nor did he do anything to draw attention to himself. He slowly began scanning the hall around him.
There was a small crowd of Japanese tourists taking pictures of the Mona Lisa. He noted that the Scottish woman was observing the movements of everyone in the room. Not as though she was in any immediate danger, but as a warrior does, knowing that danger might strike at any moment. She was not the presence who had triggered Arthur's intuition.
He slowly slipped out of the room holding the Mona Lisa and the fake diary of Guinevere. That's when he caught sight of a tall woman with silvery-blond hair watching him from a distance.
He froze; there was something very familiar about her face…something that he couldn't quite place. Then, in a moment, she was gone. He moved quickly to the room she had entered. He looked it over carefully. Whoever she was, she was gone now. He no longer felt the presence of an observer, but the incident left him feeling very unsettled.
Shortly after Sunset…
"It was bloody lovely to have met you Yama," Griff said grinning. "And I'd love to chat some more, but I'm afraid I've arranged to meet someone."
"I too have a prior engagement," Yama said bowing. "I am glad I met you Griff-san. I had not realized how much I had missed the company of another gargoyle. I hope that we meet again soon."
"So after all that," Griff said scowling. "The diary was a bloody forgery?"
"Not entirely," Arthur replied looking at the glass pyramid that stood in front of the Louvre. "It was the diary of a woman name Guinevere. It just wasn't my Guinevere. According to what I read, she had run away from her father's house to avoid an arranged marriage to a nobleman. The historians seemed to think that this meant that she was my Gwen…and that I was the nobleman from whom she fled; at least…that's what the plaque said."
"Bah," Griff said shaking his head. "Historians never get that rot right…you should see some of the things that I've read about the 1930s and 40s. Utter rubbish."
"Still," Arthur said. "It is unsettling. Guinevere and I did love one another…once."
Griff smiled and placed his talon on Arthur's shoulder, comforting him. That's when he noticed movement atop the nearby Louvre.
"What ho? Your Majesty," Griff said pointing. "Do you see that?"
Arthur nodded and drew his sword. "There was someone watching me in the museum today, but when I went to investigate…she was gone."
"She?" Griff inquired.
"Yes," Arthur said. "It was definitely a she."
The warriors rushed to the nearby wall. Arthur sheathed Excalibur and wrapped his arms around Griff's neck as the gargoyle began scaling the wall—the Once and Future King on his back.
"It looks as though we have some thieves," Arthur said bending down and looking at the perfect seven foot diameter circle that was the hole in the roof of the Louvre.
"Looks like they used a blowtorch," Griff said. "But how did they do that without setting off the alarms?"
"I do not know," Arthur said grimly. "But our duty is clear, is it not Sir Griff?"
"Oh certainly," Griff said smiling. "We're going to stop the buggers."
Arthur drew Excalibur once more and jumped into the hole. Griff cloaked his wings and leapt in after him.
"Will you be much longer, Cliff?" Don Raymond snarled.
"Do you want this done fast or done right?" Cliff replied to his boss. Don Raymond was a tall, imposing man, with long dark hair, and an eye-patch over his left eye. He had a permanent scowl carved onto his face.
Cliff Jackson looked like he was once the nerdy type, with his sandy hair and thick glasses, but he had put on some muscle lately.
"I don't want to linger here any longer than we must. The longer we wait, the higher our odds of getting caught," Don replied.
"Got it," Cliff said pulling tablet loose.
"What is this thing anyway?" Don said, scowling more than ever.
"I dunno," Cliff replied. "Some ancient Egyptian thing…some rich American woman wanted us to lift it. Supposedly there's a spell that raises the dead inscribed on it."
"I do not believe that that belongs to you." Arthur said stepping into the room.
"So you'd better put it back," Griff said entering the room from the other side. The gargoyle's eyes glowing.
Don cocked his good eye at Griff, but other than that he had no reaction.
"What the hell?" Cliff said, nearly dropping the Egyptian tablet. "Is that a damn griffin?"
"Grog," Don said snapping his fingers.
"Grog?" Arthur asked frowning. Suddenly a huge human grabbed Arthur from behind. The man stood almost seven feet tall, and had muscular arms as thick as tree stumps.
Griff snarled and lunged at Grog. He slammed into the mammoth, and knocked the wind out of him. The goon released Arthur and turned his attention to the gargoyle.
Don and Cliff bolted from the room.
"I hope that Rose and Chet had better luck with the shopping list than we did," Don said.
"Don't count on it shmucko!" a voice crowed. "I think they're currently occupado."
Cliff and Don stopped as a bi-pedal cougar with bat wings was blocking their path.
"What the hell?" Cliff snapped. "Where are all these monsters coming from?"
Cliff turned and shot down a side hallway, Don remained and glared at the creature with is one eye.
"Hey where'd your pal go?" the mutate asked smiling. "The party's just getting started."
"I don't know what you are," Don said. "But you're in my way, so move or die."
A petite brunette woman sliced through the display case with her glass cutter. She smiled wickedly as she pulled a gold and silver necklace from the case.
"Well, well," a woman's Scottish brogue said. "Rose Jackson and Chester Roberts."
She looked up to see a blond woman dressed in black step out of the shadows. She wore a distinctive mask with three red slashes across the eyes.
"The Order of the Black Scorpion," she said coolly. "Professional thieves who work for hire. If the price is right, they'll steal anything. The order is infamous for leaving behind live scorpions as calling cards. There were three fatalities."
"Well," Rose replied in her own Irish accent. "We seem to be at a disadvantage. You know who we are, but I don't know who you are."
"You can call me Hunter," she replied. "And tonight my prey is you."
"Chet," Rose said looking at her companion. A five foot nothing shrimp of a man with greasy blond hair stepped forward. He held an enormous wooden mallet, and grinned wickedly.
Hunter smiled as Chet charged her, he hadn't made it more then three feet when a grey and black blur slammed into him and knocked him aside. Rose scowled and pulled out her own weapon of choice: a thorn covered whip.
"What's a matter, pal," the mutate crowed. "You don't want to play with Fang?"
He fired a volt of bio-electricity at Don, who did a back flip to avoid the blast. He landed nimbly on his feet, pulled out a pair of revolvers and calmly aimed them at Fang.
"Uh-oh!" Fang yelped and he began firing at the mutate.
"What the hell is going on here?" Cliff gasped as he turned a corner and tumbled into the room with the Venus di Milo. "What's with the monsters?"
"You know," Griff said. "We don't like being called monsters."
Cliff recoiled as he realized the griffin-goyle had followed him. He looked around and realizing that he had no way out pulled out a pair of knifes and flipped them around several times at a rapid speed, catching them by the handles every time.
Griff rolled his eyes, pulled out the lightning gun he had acquired from Macbeth and fired it Cliff. Electricity surrounded Cliff and he collapsed to the ground.
"Glad Lunette made me watch that Indiana Jones movie the other night," Griff chuckled to himself.
Grog was surprisingly fast for such a large guy. Arthur lunged with Excalibur, and Grog narrowly avoided getting decapitated. Then Grog charged Arthur and slammed into him. It was similar to getting hit by a rhinoceros, and Arthur had a similar reaction, and went sprawling across the room.
Grog grunted happily. He was enjoying this. He lowered his head and charged Arthur again. But before he got half-way across the room, a thick silver rod shot across his path, Grog's head hid the rod hard. He stumbled back dazed.
"If Fang were here," a thick Aussie accent bragged. "He'd make a joke about walking into a bar."
The silver bar melted into a liquid and shot back into the armor of the man who'd spoken.
"You look like you could use some help mate," he said helping Arthur to his feet. "Name's Dingo."
"My thanks," Arthur said. "Let us now dispose of this cur."
"Sure thing mate," Dingo replied.
"There is a strange energy reading coming from the man with the sword," the armor said. "I believe it emanates from the sword itself…our opponent will charge again in approximately 7.8 seconds. I believe I can incapacitate him."
"Did your armor just speak?" Arthur inquired looking at his new companion curiously.
Two silvery tendrils shot forth from Dingo's chest and wrapped around Grog. The metal 'ropes' thickened and warped until they bound Grog from neck to toe. The tied-up goon fell over and hit the ground.
Arthur cocked his head in wonder.
"What manner of magic is this?"
"Your Majesty," Griff said as he entered the Mona Lisa room and deposited the unconscious Cliff atop Grog's restrained body. "Are all right? I wasn't sure about leaving you with that brute."
"I was fine Sir Griff," Arthur said. "But I'm glad for your concern. Griff, this is Dingo and Matrix. They defeated the ruffian."
Griff turned to see a mustached Australian. Standing next to him was a silver being that appeared to be made of liquid metal.
"Are you a gargoyle mate?" Dingo said looking surprised. "Didn't know they made them with feathered wings…love the Mohawk though."
At that moment Yama entered the room with Chet slung over his shoulder. One of his katanas was in his right talon. When he saw Griff, he stepped back in surprise.
"Griff," He said as he dropped Chet on top of Cliff.
"When said I hoped to meet you again soon, I had not expected it to be this soon," Yama said calmly.
"Ah," Arthur said. "So this is the gargoyle you met at the cathedral."
"You know this guy?" Dingo said looking surprised.
"We met last night," Yama said sheathing his katana. "Just before dawn."
"And you didn't think to share with us the fact that there was another bloody gargoyle in Paris?"
"It was not pertinent to our mission tonight, or relevant to any Redemption Squad activities," Yama said.
"I would have to disagree," Matrix said. "His very presence here at the mission indicates that it was pertinent information."
Yama looked as though he was about to say something when Hunter entered the room.
In that second three things happened almost simultaneously.
Griff, upon seeing her, whipped out his lightning gun and aimed it at her face.
"The Hunter!" he snarled.
Half a second later one of Yama's katanas was pressed against Griff's neck, and Matrix had transformed one of his arms into a large S.C.A.R.A.B company bazooka-class particle blaster and had leveled it at Griff's head.
Hunter's eyes were wide with surprise at seeing Griff. Her jaw was slightly opened, and she was completely silent.
"Griff!" Arthur said looking at his knight with astonishment. "Why would you raise your weapon against a lady?"
"With all due respect you're Majesty," Griff said. "But that is no lady. That is the Hunter. I cannot let her live…the clan's safety is at stake."
"My blade is at your throat Griff," Yama said coldly. "Lower your weapon."
"I cannot believe you would defend her," Griff said glaring at his new friend. His eyes flickered as he spoke. "Do you know how many gargoyles have died because of her family? Do you know the amount of blood that stains her hands? The Hunters have wiped out over half the clans in Europe and Africa…they killed the last clan in Wales…"
"Matrix, Yama," Hunter said softly. "Lower your weapons."
Matrix did as he was told. Yama looked at Hunter in horror. His blade never moved from its spot against Griff's neck.
"He will kill you," Yama said.
"Then so be it," she said. "Your friend is right. My family is responsible for all those gargoyle deaths…indeed; we probably slew more clans he doesn't know about. Those deaths are on my head…there is no doubt that it would be justified. Let the gargoyles take their vengeance. It is only right and fair."
"Sheila," Dingo said looking slightly panicked. "Have you bloody lost it?"
Griff blinked in surprise. He didn't lower his lightning gun, but it wavered.
"You'd…actually let me…shoot you?" he said frowning.
"It's what I deserve," she said walking up to Yama. She gingerly placed her hand on Yama's sword arm, slowly lowering his blade from Griff's neck. "But for what it's worth…yuir clan was—and is—in no danger from me. The mantle of the Hunter will not be used to slay another innocent gargoyle."
Griff lowered his gun. "How can trust you?"
"You can't," she said. "I am the Hunter after all. You have only my word, but nevertheless, I will not harm you, or your clan. And if you should decide to enact the vengeance that the gargoyle race justly deserves, my team will not stop you."
"Griff," Yama said. "You never asked me why I was not living with my clan in Japan. I am disgraced…banished. I, and the others here, seek redemption for past sins...Hunter…the Hunter…no longer seeks the death of gargoyles. She has changed."
"Yes," Griff said looking at her cautiously. "I am beginning to see that."
She said nothing, and gave Griff no response.
"Redemption," Arthur said stepping forward. "Is a very noble goal."
"If she is sincere," Griff said. He hesitated, and then held out his hand. "I am a knight of the round table after all…I should give her the benefit of the doubt. I'm called Griff."
She tentatively took his talon and shook it.
"My name is Robyn," she said.
"Well that was tense," Dingo said. "Can I breathe again?"
"You are breathing now Dingo," Matrix said. "If you had stopped, you would be unable to speak."
Suddenly Griff let out a cry. The gargoyle glanced down at his leg, where the there was a sharp shooting pain.
Resting on Griff's leg was a large black scorpion, and it had stung him. It pulled its tail out of Griff's leg, and then stabbed him again and again.
"The scorpion!" Hunter exclaimed. Yama slashed the arachnid off of Griff's leg, but the green gargoyle collapsed to the ground. The world faded to black around him…
To Be Continued…