All the characters appearing in Gargoyles, Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles and Gargoyles comics are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company.
No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder.
All original characters are the property of Storyseeker and Hardwing.
Here it is, the newly revamped saga! With fresh new/extended and altered scenes!
Once again, this story was co-written with the great author Hardwing! Many thanks!
This fic saga is set in an alternate universe, in Wyvern's past, with characters from the Gargoyles comics, the Dark Ages Saga in TGS and some of Hardwing's own characters. It starts off right after the events shown in the show's episode 'Long Way To Morning' in 984 A.D. where the events in that chapter lead to a different conclusion for the clan. It is also set in the same timeline as the show in that era, with two small differences… and that's Goliath didn't get his name until 984 A.D. and the eggs hatched soon in 995 A.D.
Oh, and in case some people get offended at some of the sexist remarks in this saga… Please remember that it is set in the medieval ages (things were different back then).
Many thanks to Kimberly Towle for her suggestions, and to the author Aesop for all his proofreading!
One Hour Later:
A short time later, the Princess, Magus and Goliath made their way down to the courtyard where the sorcerer-turned-donkey was being kept.
As they arrived in the courtyard, they met up with the Trio and the four other young Gargoyles who had terrified Katherine with their game of 'Catch' some months ago. They appeared as though they were on their way to the donkey-pen as well.
"What are you seven up to?" Goliath asked, eyeing them suspiciously.
"Err…nothing," the red one of the Trio said nervously, while all the others gave equally nervous smiles.
Goliath gave them all a long look, but in the end decided he had more important things to deal with now than spying on immature Gargoyles, and walked on ahead.
Katherine spared them a glance, but said nothing as she followed her husband.
"Err, Your Highness?" the green web-winged one and the smoke-black one with the beak both said simultaneously.
She paused briefly, giving them a hard stare. "What is it?"
The two smallest members of both their groups pawed anxiously at the ground with their claws.
"We just wanted to say…" the green one said.
"Well, that we are…" the black one continued.
"What we're trying to say is…"
"What is it?" she said impatiently. "I have somewhere I need to be right now, so please hurry."
"We wanted to say we were sorry," they both finished together.
She looked at them for a few moments. "Oh," she said finally.
"That goes for all of us," the red one with no hair added.
"Yes, including us," the large crested one stated.
"We never meant to hurt you," the tall red one with the long beak said. "We were…I guess we were all feeling pretty angry by what you had said to us before, but that was no excuse for the way we treated you. I'm…we're all sorry anyway."
Katherine said nothing for a moment, as she looked at them all curiously. She opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the Magus calling out for her.
"I have to go," she said, and hurried off.
She soon reached Goliath and the Magus at the pen where even now the donkey was hee-hawing like mad, scrambling to get away from the lavender giant and the Magus.
"You are sure he will be able to understand us?" Goliath whispered to the young sorcerer.
HHHHhhyyhhhgge nodded. "The spell that was cast on him was designed to only change a person's outer appearance, but not their minds. Spiritually and mentally speaking, he should still be the same as he was before his transformation."
Goliath nodded, and then slowly approached the edge of the pen, speaking lowly but clearly. "Sorcerer," he said, addressing the pen's current resident. "Listen to me; I have a proposition for you."
The Ass did not come near him, but his ears pricked up at the sound of the word 'proposition,' which did not help anyone better control their amusement. At the sight of his ears snapping to attention, Goliath had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing out loud, a reaction that was shared by the Magus and Katherine also.
"We…we know what you did to Princess Katherine's cousin, Prince Maol Chalvim," Goliath talked as though he was breathing heavily, but only because of his difficulty to control his laughter. "We also know of the spell you cursed him with."
He swallowed hard, regaining some of his self-control and composure. "Our Magus requires your help in undoing the spell. If you agree to do this, then we will reverse the spell that was cast on you, thus give you back your true form, along with your freedom. Refuse…and you can look forward to a future of carrying heavy goods and eating hay in this pen for the rest of your life."
The Ass stared at him in horror, as he began hee-hawing again.
"Silence!" Goliath boomed, his thundering voice quietening everyone, even making Katherine and the Magus jump. "Be warned, sorcerer…we are not so naïve or foolish as to just give you back your true form and release you. Our Magus has read from the Grimorum and learnt of the spell to change you back, but also of a way to permanently bind your powers so that you may never practise sorcery again."
If the former Mage wasn't horrified before, then he certainly was now. For a sorcerer to lose their power was like a great King being reduced to life as a beggar.
"Those are our terms, Valmont," Goliath stated, using the Mage's true name. "For working alongside Constantine, you are fortunate enough not to be executed for high treason. The only reasons you are not are because we need your aid in restoring my wife's cousin, and the fact that you are not a Scotsman, but English. Upon Maol Chalvim's release, you will be sent back to your country of birth. So either you cooperate and live the life of a free mortal man…or you may continue as you are, as an Ass. Walk forward if you agree."
The former Monk and sorcerer stayed where he was for a few moments, pawing at the ground with his hooves as though in a state of agitation. When it seemed as though it would never make up his mind, he began to slowly walk forward.
The donkey-mage stood before the Gargoyle Monarch, holding his head low as if in submission. It was clear he had no choice in the matter, as what was the alternative…spend eternity eating hay?
Goliath nodded in approval. "A very wise decision," he told him, though from the look the donkey cast his way, it was clear Valmont did not share his optimism.
"Magus, have the preparations been made?" He turned to the white-haired wizard.
The Magus nodded. "The spell in the Grimorum is ready to be used," he stated. "I talked to the Captain, and he is already arranging a group of soldiers to come with me and Constantine's former soldiers to wherever they are holding Prince Maol Chalvim's stone-body. After I have reversed the spell on the dark Monk, we will leave on our journey immediately. Once I am there, I will reverse the spell on the Prince and then return."
"You are certain you will be able to bind the Mage's powers effectively?"
The keeper of the Grimorum nodded. "Indeed. The spell is composed of powerful and delicate magic, but is fairly simple to use. I can cast it right here if you wish."
Katherine gave a long frown, making them both look on her worriedly.
"It's the only way, Your Highness," the Magus assured her, ignoring the increase of Valmont's hee-haws behind him, who was obviously eager for his return to humanity, knowing that she was not too keen on the idea of letting this power-mad sorcerer go free. "Without him, I cannot hope to release your cousin from their curse. The risk to him would be too great."
She sighed, nodding at him. "I know," she said admittedly. "But it just makes me so mad that the only punishment that this cowardly magician will get is to spend a short time as an Ass."
"And be stripped of all his powers, Highness," he reminded her. "For any sorcerer, especially one as power-hungry as this one, to lose all his magic is a fate worse than death."
Katherine was about to say something further when…
"Who says that's the only punishment he has to get?" a new voice suddenly spoke up.
The three of them turned in surprise to see the seven young Gargoyles whom they thought had left, standing right behind them.
"What are you young ones doing here?" Goliath demanded, staring at them hard.
"We were…listening," the crested one of the Wild Four said hesitantly.
"We were curious about what was going on," the web-winged one of the Trio added.
"So you decided to eavesdrop on other people's conversations," Goliath stated none too approvingly. "Didn't the elders ever teach you not to do such a thing?"
"Umm," the crested one said unsurely. "They might have mentioned something about it, yes."
He gave them a thin-eyed look.
"But anyway," the younger warrior quickly said. "We overheard what you were saying and… Well, we were thinking, and I can't stress enough on the word thinking, about what you were planning to do with the, err…Mage."
"What about him?" Goliath asked, curiously.
"Well," the tall one from the Trio added, but paused. "Actually, maybe we could speak to Princess Katherine first about this. Would you mind, Your Highness?"
Katherine raised her eyebrows in question, but nodded and walked a little forward with the two groups of Gargoyle youngsters until they were out of earshot of the two adults.
The tall one from the Trio eased his long beak up to her ear, seemingly whispering something to her and pointing his talon at the larger member of his small group who smiled briefly at her.
Katherine, for some reason, had a reserved look when she looked on him, but in the end gave him a small smile, while continuing to listen to the red one's suggestion.
The others around them seemed to be acting a little excited, smirking and such, the way they usually were whenever they were planning something, which made their leader all the more nervous.
Eventually they finished talking, and she started to walk back towards Goliath and the Magus, but she did it with a smirk on her face.
Goliath quirked an eyeridge at her, wondering what she and the youngsters had been discussing, as did the Magus.
"What have they been saying?" he asked her when she came back up to them.
She didn't answer, and just asked the Magus another question. "Magus, the spell to return the Mage to human, do you need to cast it straight away or can it be done anytime?"
He looked confused, but nodded. "The spell has no time limit on it, no."
"Good. What about the Captain? You said he had already begun making arrangements for your journey to my cousin. How long will that take?"
"At least another few hours or so. The Captain still has to gather some food, and for that we will need to pick fresh fruit and vegetables from our farmlands. And some of the men have yet to be seen by the court physician for their wounds received in the battle."
"That should give us plenty of time then."
"For what, Katherine?" Goliath said, looking perplexed at her.
She turned her head to look at the disgruntled donkey. "I agree with your young warriors, Husband," she said to him. "Who is to say that this punishment is the only one he should have, considering all the grief he gave us?"
The Magus shrugged. "What do you have in mind, Princess?"
She walked up to the pen, gazing in and addressing its lone occupant. "While the Captain is busy preparing everything for their journey, and you are stuck in this form, you can make yourself useful by completing a…small task for me."
She gave him a hard but amused stare. "I have always meant to time how long it would take someone to reach Wyvern's nearest hill in case of an emergency. So I will time how long it takes you to get there to be sure. Naturally, we will send someone with you in case of any danger or if you try to escape, however unlikely that will be."
The nearest hill that she spoke of was a great tall one just around the edge of the forest. It was not all that far, but it was still a good hour walk, and the climb up the hill was bitter work for the legs. Even Gargoyles were often left feeling tired after climbing it.
Goliath blinked. "And who is to be accompanying him?" he asked.
She only smiled, as she heard someone approaching from behind them.
They turned and saw the large aquamarine Gargoyle of the Trio, as he came up to the pen.
"Oh, and just so you know," she suddenly added, still addressing Valmont. "Because you are still technically a prisoner of war until the Magus releases you, then that means you will be doing all the walking."
The donkey-mage's ears fell back, and he began shirking away from the huge shadow of the young Gargoyle standing before him, like a giant. He wasn't as big as Goliath, but he more than made up for his lack of height with the mass in his stomach.
The aquamarine Gargoyle grinned down on the former sorcerer, who at that moment looked terrified beyond belief, before grabbing his stomach with both his hand-claws, lifting it all the way up to his chest, only to release it, as it came down with a loud flop like a large barrel full of wine.
"Who's up for a walk?" he said, grinning like mad.
One Hour Later
As Katherine and Goliath made their way back inside the castle, he could not keep a small smirk off his face.
"I must admit something, Princess," he said to his wife. "I am not surprised by this plan, considering who it was that came up with it. But I am most amazed that you went along with it. It seems so…out of character for you."
She smiled, shrugging her shoulders. "I was never one for practical jokes, but even I had to admit that your young warriors' suggestion was too good to pass over. It was a perfect opportunity to give the Mage a good taste of humility at long last. Mayhap he will consider the consequences of his actions next time he tries joining forces with a tyrant."
They walked on for a little longer in silence, until he finally decided to ask her something that had been plaguing his mind lately. "Katherine, would you mind answering something for me?"
"What is it?" she asked, looking at him.
"Well, you recall the night when I took you into the forest to share some bread, and talk?"
She paused for a second, but nodded.
"Well, if I may ask, why did you run away like you did?"
She blushed a little, but frowned. "If you must know, I…" She groaned. "I was afraid that you only brought me there because you were planning to…mate with me."
"Mate with you?" he said in surprise. "Why ever would you think that?"
"Well, you looked as though you were about to strip yourself in front of me," she reminded him. "When you were gripping your loincloth buckle."
He sighed. "I always do that when I'm at unease," he said. "I never intended to strip, at least not in the open forest. And I have never forced myself on you before. Why would you think I would then?"
She shrugged. "Well, I was talking with one of your clan before you came to collect me. He told me about how you Gargoyles sometimes…went out to that spot to begin trying for an egg."
His eyes widened in surprise. "Who on earth told you that?"
Katherine frowned, wishing that Gargoyles would all take names. "It was that male with the brown skin, a crest of horns on his forehead, and a…" she paused, seemingly nervous to continue.
"Well, I don't wish to insult one of your clan," she told him honestly. After all that had happened recently, and the battle they had fought to keep her castle and their whole country safe, it would be too disrespectful. "But… Well, there was something about him that made me feel uneasy. He had a sly look about him that made me forever think that he was planning something behind my back."
That, more than anything, told him whom she was talking about.
"I know whom you mean," he said, his eyes flaring slightly. "My sly brother has that affect on everybody, mainly because he usually always is up to something. But tell me, was he the one who told you I intended to take you to the lake to mate?"
"Well, not exactly. He just told me that maybe you were planning to start trying for a child, which was why you intended to take me out to that place."
His eyes flared. "Even if that were true, the only way to make eggs is on the night of The Breeder's Moon. No other time is possible."
"Maybe he was just rushing his words," she suggested. "Like I said, he didn't exactly tell me you were going to try anything. He just…"
"Indicated that I might be," he finished for her, frowning. "With my brother, that is often what he does."
Katherine opened her mouth to say something further, but shut it.
"It's probably nothing," she said hurriedly.
"With my brother involved it is rarely nothing. What else did he say to you?"
"About that night at the lake, nothing. But…there were the other times."
Iago walked past the battlements, viewing the land at a time that no other Gargoyle ever had done before…during the day.
He had to admit the beauty was breathtaking, but at the moment he was not in the mood for admiring the scenery. His plans to unravel Goliath's status as clan-leader were slowly coming apart. His efforts had been working perfectly up until when Goliath had placed Katherine in the damn rookery!
For some reason, helping to take care of the eggs had somehow managed to sweeten her mistrusting nature against his clan. Even worse, thanks to that stupid Constantine and the clan being forced to help defend the castle against him, thus saving their home and all of Scotland from the tyrant, Goliath's reputation had been enhanced a thousand fold.
He growled beneath his breath. Mere whispers, white lies and suggestions were not going to cut it this time. Goliath's victory had assured everyone he was their rightful leader, and even the humans would not deny it now.
Iago looked over to see his brother with the malformed horn coming over toward him.
"What is it?" he asked, not in the mood for one of his brother's attempts to escape work.
"The leader demands your appearance in the courtyard immediately," Thersities told him, and then turned around, preparing to go. "I suggest you hurry."
"What fo…" he began to say, but Thersities had already hurried on ahead of him.
Growling again, he took flight and glided down to the courtyard, where even now it seemed more than half the clan were waiting for him. At the front stood Goliath and, most surprisingly, Princess Katherine, both of them staring at him hard.
"Is there a problem, my leader?" he asked with a stone seemingly resting in his chest.
"It seems you've been spreading tales," Goliath told him directly, and Iago noticed that he did not address to him as 'brother' like he usually did with his other siblings.
"What tales would they be, prithee tell?"
"For starters, you may recall you were the one who once suggested that I take my mate here to visit that spot by the lake, in the forest."
He shrugged. "I do…recall something of that, yes?"
Goliath's eyes narrowed. "Then mayhap you recall that at that same time, you also spoke to Princess Katherine, and told her that I was planning to mate with her once I got her there!"
Iago bristled. "I never said that…"
"So you do remember it then?"
He fumed. "I merely told her that the place you were intending to take her to was isolated, perfect to be alone."
"And that he might be planning to start trying for an egg," Katherine added, remembering his words exactly.
The rest of the clan sniggered a little at that remark, forgetting again that she knew very little about their species' ways.
"Well, I…" he stuttered.
"That is also not the only false bit of knowledge you've been supplying our Princess with," Goliath added. "Princess Katherine has informed me you have been making numerous insinuations about me making certain advances towards her. Not to mention that it was you who directed her down into the courtyard on the night that we were all celebrating our brother and sister's future mating night. And I remember now that it was you that night who told me that the Princess wished to speak with me, yet she has told me she never did. You directed me to our quarters, giving Katherine plenty of time to reach the celebration, and then returned to me to say where she truly was, claiming you had misunderstood her."
"I...I…this is all nonsense! You can't prove I was to blame for anything you're saying!"
"Do not bother with anymore of your lies, brother!" he said disdainfully. "We all know the truth of your words. You were deliberately manipulating and lying to all of us, just so you could discredit me, end the peace between our clan and the humans that we have all worked so hard for in the past few months, and…"
"No," a new voice suddenly spoke up.
Goliath turned in surprise, and saw none other than his rookery brother, the one who Brother Edmund called Javin, looking at him in distress.
"Our brother here was not alone in his attempts to cause chaos," he admitted, looking guilty. "We…that is I…I played a part in it, too."
Goliath stared at his brother in shock. "You?" he said in disbelief.
"Nay, not just him," another voice added, and he saw four more of his brothers step forward. One who looked like the red one of the Trio, but with a beard, from his own rookery. And the other three who were from the generation previously, one who was a clouded white male with four horns, a black skinned one with fin-like ears, and the huge bull-like male who Edmund called Minos in his journals
"Aye, we're all to blame," Minos said, looking down at his feet. "We knew this scoundrel wasn't to be trusted, yet we were all taken in by his words."
"And what words, prithee tell, would they be?" Goliath asked, still in shock that his sly brother could recruit any of his brothers to his mad scheme.
Minos grumbled beneath his breath, so his clouded brother took over.
"He made us all believe that you were allowing the Princess to take back control of the throne, and that once more we'd be living under her in submission as before." He looked shame-faced at his leader. "Leader, I am so sorry, we all are! We never should have believed him, but… Well, what he said at the time sounded so true, and we were so afraid of things returning to the way they were…"
Goliath stalled his words with a raise of his claw. "No need to explain that, brother," he said admittedly. "I know full well how our brother's words here can often twist the truth to his own liking."
Iago glared at the seven of them hatefully.
"Apparently, your year long banishment was not enough for you to contemplate your previous actions," Goliath snarled. "And now you have committed far more devious crimes. For that you shall be banished for…"
"Wait!" Katherine suddenly called out. "Do not banish him!"
He turned to stare at her with a cocked eye-ridge. "Considering his crimes brought forward to us today, eternal banishment seems the only punishment severe enough."
"Maybe," she asked. "But he has not only broken the laws of your clan, but of mine also. By inciting unrest between our respective races, he threatened all of us. My kind would call this only one thing…treason! Our law demands justice, and although banishment does sound adequate, might I suggest another one?"
He was more than surprised that she would actually say a word in this trial. He had asked her to attend simply because it was her word that played a part in revealing Iago's guilt, but Goliath had never expected her to sound her voice in front of everyone.
"If you wish," he agreed.
"For your dark brother here, I doubt that mere banishment, even an eternal one, would have little affect and cause him to rethink his past actions," she explained out-loud to everyone.
"But at least he'd be out of our hair," Minos whispered to his brothers, making them all chuckle.
Katherine ignored him and continued. "Instead of banishment, mayhap he could serve out his punishment by serving both our clans."
"How so?" Goliath asked.
"Well…" she smiled a little. "For example…I understand they're always looking for help cleaning the stables, washing the floors, clearing up after the animals, and of course the local farmers always need a little muscle with all their back-breaking labour…"
Iago's eyes flared white. "I am not some slave to be passed about at other people's convenience!" he roared.
Goliath snarled at him. "As of now, you are!" he told him. "The second you tried to turn us and the humans against one another, you made yourself an enemy of both clans!"
"If he does not desire this sentence," Katherine then added, "then there is always another form of punishment that we humans give out for treason."
Iago looked at her questioningly. "And what's that?"
"Execution," she said simply.
Iago's eyes widened. He looked to Goliath, as if for help, but he saw no mercy in his leader's eyes.
"Look not to me for salvation, my former brother," he said to him. "The moment you attempted this wicked deed is the moment you ceased being a brother to our clan. You are and always will be part of this clan, as by your hatching, but no more are you a brother to us. Remember that."
Iago looked around in desperation, but everywhere he looked, he saw not a hint of pity in any of his sibling's eyes.
Finally, with a bitter growl, he looked back to the leader, or more precisely his human mate. "It appears I am without choice," he said, his rage and humiliation barely suppressed. "I submit myself to your judgement and punishment…princess."
She nodded. "Would someone mind taking him to the pig-pen?" she said. "They are the ones in most dire need of cleaning."
Most of the clan laughed then, as Othello and his mate came forth, grabbing Iago by his arms and leading him to the place of his allocated duty. Othello's mate, known as Desdemona by Brother Edmund, seemed to take special delight in dragging him away harshly.
"What of the others?" Goliath then asked, pointing to his brothers. "They did aid in my sly brother's plans, albeit misled."
Every one in the clan held their breath, as Katherine looked on the five Gargoyles.
"Before I say anything," she said, "I would like to know one thing…the night when you and your clan were having that celebration, the one which I…intruded. Were you all really as drunk as you claimed to be, when you were dancing with me?"
All five of them blushed brightly.
"Ummm…" they all said in unison.
"Mostly?" Minos said hesitantly, smiling sheepishly at her.
Katherine gave him a hard look.
'Here it comes,' everyone thought. 'She will have them shattered for certain.'
A few moments passed, and just when they thought she had gone to sleep, Katherine spoke…
"I see no reason for any further punishment," she said, surprising everyone.
Actually, surprise would be an understatement. Shocked and flabbergasted would be more accurate, and even that would only be half right.
"I myself was fooled by the deceiver," she explained. "If I were to punish everyone for that, then I may as well punish myself also. You all allowed yourselves to be deceived by him, and in doing so worked against your brother and leader. You will have to carry that knowledge with you now for the rest of your lives. For me, that will be sufficient punishment enough for all."
The five warriors bowed their heads, ashamed.
"Indeed it will," Javin remarked.
"We pray for your forgiveness, Our Leader," the clouded white one said to Goliath.
"Aye," Minos added. "We should've not been so stupid as to believe the wicked one's lies."
The red one nodded. "We all knew he wasn't to be trusted since the nights of our hatchling-hood, yet still we allowed ourselves to be fooled by him."
The dark one said nothing, but his eyes spoke volumes of the guilt and shame he was feeling right at that moment.
Goliath stared at them all hard. "As my wife here said, you will all have to live with the knowledge of your sin. That is punishment enough for anyone who acknowledges their blame in a crime."
The warriors bowed their heads again, submitting to their leader and his mate's judgement.
"This trial is finished!" he called out. "Please, go enjoy what is left of this day!"
The clan hurried to do so, as many still wanted to explore how different the rest of the land was in the daylight. At the same time, though, many were also whispering amongst themselves, all amazed at the Princess's wise words and kind judgement. No one had ever expected the human, who had once loathed their clan with a vengeance, to ever express such wisdom.
The five warriors were among the most amazed, as they stared at the Princess with complete surprise etched on their faces.
Katherine replied their stares with one of her own, before saying "I believe your leader said you could go?"
At their continued stares, she sighed. "This day is not going to last forever, friends," she remarked, not really thinking on what she was saying, as she was just eager to leave. "And I wouldn't count on anything like this happening again anytime soon, so I recommend making the most of it while you can."
With that she turned and walked away, leaving behind five very stunned Gargoyles who were now even more shocked than they were before.
'She called us friends!'
A Few Hours Later:
Valmont had, needless to say, been more than reluctant to allow the thick aquamarine Gargoyle to ride on his back out of Wyvern. Unfortunately, the worst part about being a donkey is that you don't have a voice with which to speak your opinion. And the fact that the person riding you is a Gargoyle over six-feet tall, with large fangs and claws, and who could flatten you in one go, doesn't help much either.
Nevertheless, the changed sorcerer had resisted quite thoroughly at first, kicking out his legs at him or anyone who dared to come near him, and even tried biting them a few times with his now oversized teeth. Alas, his resistance came to an end when the huge youngster managed to get behind him, swung his leg over, and then, with a satisfying thump…sat on his back.
The Gargoyle's rear rested quite comfortably on his back, which took all the load from his enormous weight, causing Valmont's leg muscles to crackle and pop, as he struggled to stay standing, making low whining noises.
The Gargoyle further taunted the four-legged Mage by whipping his backside with his own tail, calling out, "Giddy-up, Jenny!" He had heard some of the humans say that when they rode their own donkeys. He didn't know what the Jenny part meant, as he was sure none of them had been named that, but he guessed that 'Giddy-up' meant something like 'hurry up.'
It was very likely that Valmont would have continued his insistent and annoying cries if he could, but the crushing weight on his back left him with very little air in his lungs to do so.
He had at first been moving very slowly, which was to be expected, but the sharp whip on his bottom from the beast's tail, and a kick to his sides, certainly made him pick up his pace.
The young Gargoyle was certainly enjoying himself, as he was not used to riding anything on four legs. His large weight was part of the reason, but it was also because a lot of animals tended to stay clear of his race. Horses were particularly spooked by their kind for some reason, as were donkeys.
The two of them passed through the gates of the castle, as he rode Valmont out to where he would take him beyond the forest, and up the steep hill where the soldiers would be awaiting them.
As he rode through the gates, his departure was viewed by several others on the battlements, most of who were guards on duty, and Gargoyles. Everyone else was inside either attending to their duties or clearing up after Constantine's attack.
Amongst the watchers were his two closest rookery brothers and the Wild Four, standing with the Princess above the gate of the castle where they had the best view.
"Seems our brother is enjoying himself," the Gargoyle with the long beak noticed.
"Maybe we should have tried it, too?" the smoke-black one suggested.
"Too late," his brother replied. "He is already on his way."
"Pity," Katherine added, being a most startling sight between the four Gargoyles. "My father had a long, strong whip that I have never used before. I should have liked to have tried it on him."
"Giddy-up!" they heard the Gargoyle yell excitedly in the distance. "Come on, move faster, you stupid ass! We'll be lucky to get there before nightfall if you don't pick up the pace!" A sharp, whip-like noise then sounded, followed soon after by the ass's moaning hee-hawing.
"Princess?" the small green one with the web-wings said hesitantly. "I know we have already said this, but…I wanted to say again how…sorry we all are for the way we treated you."
At her unsure look, he added, "I swear we never intended any harm. It was just a joke, one that got out of hand, and… I guess…we just weren't thinking." He cringed beneath her look. "It tends to happen a lot with us."
Katherine looked at his sorrowful face, which was shared by the others in his group. Part of her was still angered by their treatment of her, but after all that had happened in the last few months, their childish prank seemed unimportant now.
"Your kind believes in new beginnings, do they not?" she asked, "In letting go of the past and starting things anew?"
The six of them looked at her and nodded, earning a small smile from the Princess's face.
"Then, mayhap, I should take a page out of your clan's book and honour this custom of yours. You have been punished, and you have tried to make amends, so you are forgiven, hence we will speak no more of this."
The youngsters all looked thrilled, as they beamed at her.
"Thank you, Your Highness!"
"You won't regret this!"
"We'll do anything you wish to make up for our mistake!"
"I knew you weren't all bad!"
She half-smiled at the last comment that came from the large one with the shark's fin on his head. She was still unsure of them, but after everything she had been through with Constantine, Valmont and her poor cousin, everything else seemed meaningless.
Not too far away, the Magus was watching them, happy that the Princess seemed to have recovered from her ordeal at the hands of the Monk-turned-Mage, when he noticed Goliath walking in his direction.
"Goliath," he greeted him.
The leader of the Gargoyle clan and castle stopped, looking at the white haired Human.
"I wanted to thank you personally, Magus," he said. "Not just for the way you protected the Princess and the castle, but also for me and my clan. It was your spell that saved the castle..." he paused, "…and gave my clan a wondrous gift."
At the Magus's confused look, he added, "The chance to see the dawn, something that all Gargoyles have dreamed about since the nights they were hatched, will be something my clan will never forget. And neither will I."
For a long few moments, the Human didn't know what to say, feeling overwhelmed with the Gargoyle's praise, while at the same time still having some slight regrets for his part with the English Priests, and also for lying about his supposed involvement with the dark Monk's transformation.
He still didn't know the full story about what had happened, as he had been unconscious the whole time. When he had awakened, the Princess had just pleaded with him to tell Goliath that he had been the one who had changed the dark sorcerer.
When he had asked what had truly happened, she had just told him that she could say nothing more, as she had promised not to reveal anything. And what with him being the loyal and love-struck Mage that he was, he naturally obeyed.
He was about to thank Goliath for his kind words when he quickly remembered what he should have told the clan already about the spell, the part about the risk of longer waking periods.
"Goliath, I forgot to..." he began.
"Goliath," a soft female voice stopped him. "I would speak with you."
The large Gargoyle looked to the source of the voice, finding his wife in the middle of six of the seven young Gargoyles.
"Excuse me, Magus," he told the wizard politely, as he stepped by him without looking back.
"But…" the Magus started, but stopped. 'Oh well, he will find out eventually,' he thought, as he watched the large Gargoyle approach his wife. 'I'll let the Captain know, just so they have no need to worry.'
With those thoughts, he turned and made his way down to the courtyard, where the Captain and some of the soldiers were waiting to take him to the hilltop, where they would rendezvous with the aquamarine Gargoyle, the Mage-donkey and the other soldiers waiting for them. Because of the Gargoyle's large mass, his and the donkey's arrival there would most likely not be for a while yet, which was why the Magus and everyone had waited to depart now, giving them a head start.
Although he had already said his goodbyes to Katherine, he couldn't help looking behind himself to give her one last look. The Princess noticed this, and mouthed the word "goodbye" at him, while giving him a warm smile.
The Magus smiled back, and continued going down into the courtyard.
"Katherine, what has happened?" Goliath asked, as he approached his wife, while at the same time noticing that only one step was between her and the young ones. "Have they been causing problems again?"
At the tone of his voice, the youngsters winced in union.
Thankfully, the Princess shook her head. "No, indeed not," she said, smiling. "They fought valiantly during the battle, as well as coming up with that good idea on how to handle the dark Monk."
He looked at her in mild surprise, which he shared with the young Gargoyles behind her back.
"So what is it?" he asked.
"Two things really," she noted, crossing her arms. "First of all, as your…mate, and ruling partner of this kingdom, I would like to suggest that in light of their bravery and aid, you lift their punishment. I see no reason for it to continue, as I have now forgiven them for their crime against me."
This again surprised both the young warriors and their leader. Though the latter didn't show it, but deep down he had been thinking about suspending their punishment long before now. But he would never have imagined that Katherine would be the person to suggest it, though.
After a long minute of silence, with him staring intensely at them, he finally spoke. "Because of the bravery and valour you all showed in battle, and because the Princess asks for this…" he began, looking at the six while they looked hopefully at him, "your punishment is now over."
The last words he spoke were soon buried beneath the ecstatic roars of joy coming from the young warriors. In a moment of sheer joy and gratitude, the one with the long shoulder and knee spikes suddenly embraced the Princess.
At first she seemed alarmed, but after a moment she just smiled and patted his back, carefully avoiding his shoulders.
When Goliath saw her do that, he smiled as well.
One and A Half Hour Later;
The ocean coloured Gargoyle, who was definitely not just big boned, directed his carrier up to the top of the hill, where the Captain was already waiting for them, together with the Magus and some guards who had already arrived. The Magus, although having left at about the same time as the young Gargoyle, had had the advantage of not having a lot of excess weight, resulting in a slow moving donkey.
The Ass heaved and panted, as it walked a snail's pace up the hill. Judging by its appearance, no one could have ever imagined that something as small as it could carry something as enormous as the Gargoyle on its back.
The Gargoyle grinned, as the Jackass finally reached the top of the hill, looking as though its legs were ready to break.
"And here he is!" he announced, as he dismounted the donkey, while giving it one final, sharp whip on the backside with his tail, to which it responded with a very painful sounding heehawing. The beast then slowly limped a little over to the side, looking ready to pass out in the dirt.
"About time, too," the Captain commented from his horse, while looking down at the beast. Although he admittedly found this punishment appropriate and highly amusing, the time they had spent waiting was definitely not.
"Sorry about that," the Gargoyle apologised. "I tried to get him here as fast as I could, but…" He patted his huge belly, smiling. "Well, you can't blame him really, can you?"
The Captain smiled. The young fool might have a big gullet, but he had a friendly nature, as well as a heart of gold. He had no delusions about his weight, as he knew he was bigger than most of those in his clan, but he didn't let it bother him. He took any joke thrown at him with great dignity and mirth.
"Magus?" he then said, turning to the young sorcerer, indicating to him that it was time. They had waited long enough as it was. They had to embark on their journey right away, to get even a few miles out of the remaining day.
The white-haired Human nodded, and turned to the donkey-Mage who was waiting anxiously for him to begin. He opened the Grimorum and raised his right hand, as he recited the spell from the book...
"Carmina inficiatur; metamorphosis eorum convertatur, vires eorum vinciantur!" Let the spell be undone; let the transformation of them be reversed; let their powers be chained!
The effect was instantaneous, and was quite a sight to everyone gathered, especially the Captain's soldiers who had never seen magic at work before.
Between the soldiers, there were also some of Constantine's men, ready to be transported back to Constantine's former castle, where they would be judged for their actions in serving the tyrant. Among them were the boy Gillecomgain and his father, Mail Brigti, who seemed to have a terrible glare permanently fixed to his face.
They were to be transported along with the soldiers, until they reached the roads that would take them beyond the borders into England. Mail Brigti had, needless to say, not been pleased when he had heard his fate, but in the end decided that it was better than death.
The donkey at first seemed just to become nervous, as it pawed at the ground with its hooves, only to suddenly begin heehawing ecstatically with pain. It began kicking its legs out from under, as its flesh started to shift and bulge, and its bones twisted and cracked before everyone's eyes.
Its heehaws turned into shrill screams, as its snout shifted back into a Human face, and instead of pawing the earth with hooves, he, as it was now a he, was clawing the dirt with newly formed fingers.
"Mary, sweet mother of God," one soldier whispered to the other behind the Captain's back.
Finally the transformation ended, and since the fur on his body had now disappeared, a lone and naked Human was kneeling down in front of the group, glaring at the Magus with a mix of anger, humiliation…and exhaustion.
"Can you talk again?" the Captain asked.
Brother Valmont opened his mouth, seemingly testing himself. He coughed a little, as though he were afraid that if he were to start talking then all that would come out would be more heehaws.
"Ye…yes," he said, trying to keep some of his dignity by talking in his usual proud and arrogant voice, but not managing it in his current state. He moaned, as he tried straightening his back, eliciting a sharp snap and cracking sound from it. The Gargoyle had really done a number on him.
He didn't stay straight for very long, though, as the sniggering from the soldiers, as well as the cold breeze, reminded him that he was now unclothed. His robe had come undone and fallen off at some point, while he had been an Ass, and he hadn't noticed because of all the fur covering his whole body.
He instantly hutched his back, covering what he could of himself with his hands, while glaring at the laughing soldiers.
"Good," the Captain said simply, not taking any notice of the Mage's nudity. "In that case we can start our journey, and not a blasted moment too soon."
"Am I to be walking all the distance like this?" the former sorcerer snapped, as he still glared at them all.
"A good idea," the Captain replied, grabbing a sack lying beside him on his horse. "Bit more walking might do you some good."
He had actually brought an extra horse for Valmont, but saw no reason why he couldn't walk a few more miles. After all, if he could walk this far with the large Gargoyle on his back, as a donkey, then he could certainly do it as a man without him.
"But we can't risk offending a lady on the way now, can we?" he then added.
With those last words, he threw down what everyone at first thought were some garments over to the naked man, all of which didn't look much better than the bag they had just been pulled out of. In fact, as it turned out, the garments were actually nothing more than just a mere bag with three holes cut in it for the head and arms to pass through.
Valmont glared murderously at the Captain.
"You dare expect me to wear such coarse material?" he hissed. "I will not…"
"So you would prefer going naked then?" he replied in amusement, making his horse move forward to seemingly take the clothes away from him.
The powerless Mage just grasped the cloth bags tightly, and began placing them over his head as quickly as he could.
"Fine," the Captain said, satisfied. "Then it's time to go. You will help carry some of the provisions, too." He pointed to some small bags that were filled with fruit and vegetables for their journey, indicating him to pick them up.
"You expect me to carry these things as well? This is an outrage! How dare you…!"
"As an Ass you would have had far less problems with it," the big Gargoyle suddenly commented, feeling ready to laugh at the sight of this senseless pride of his.
Valmont shot a dangerous look at him, though his anger was also mixed in with a little fear. It wasn't just the fear of having a Gargoyle in his midst, but also because he feared that if he were to anger him then, Human now or not, he might force him into giving him another donkey-ride. His back was still aching from the ordeal.
"Or maybe a pig?" the youngster continued, speaking to the Captain. "That way, if he causes you any problems, you won't have to search very far for food if you need any."
The Magus smiled at that, staring hard on his former fellow sorcerer with a look that made him take up the provisions quicker than lightning.
The soldiers and Gargoyle all laughed raucously at the sight.
"All right now, lad," the Captain said good heartedly to him. "I reckon you've done your bit for tonight. You'd better be heading back to Wyvern now before Goliath starts wondering where you are."
"All right, Captain," the Gargoyle said obediently. He paused for one moment whilst looking at the former donkey. "Many thanks for the ride, my friend. And know that there will always be a stable open for you back home, should you need it."
Valmont would no doubt be snarling right now if he could, as he glared daggers at the fat beast, while he laughed and leapt off the hilltop, taking to the air.
Castle Wyvern; Same Time:
The former Gargoyle leader stood on the battlement of the castle that faced the sea. He stood relishing the warmth of the sun, as he watched over the ocean, trying to see as much as his single healthy eye allowed him. The light that sparkled off the waters shone brighter than any diamond or star he could think of.
It was the sea he had named his mate after, his 'Angel of The Sea' who had been so strong, yet her skin so soft, much like her spirit had been.
"Oh, my Angel," he thought aloud, and the longing in him hurt more than any wound he had ever received in battle had. 'If you could only stand beside me now and see all this... '
But she couldn't, for she was gone, having died while defending her clan and their allies, her body claimed by the sea that she had loved so. When she had died, he had wanted to join her, but now he knew he couldn't help but go on living by defending her memory and all that she had stood for. It was a struggle in which they had made a great deal of progress in the last few months.
So engrossed was he in his memories and the heavenly sight before him that he didn't notice someone approach from behind.
"Ahem?" the sound of someone coughing from behind him woke him out of his thoughts, and made him turn around. For a moment, he was angry at the disturbance, and had every intention of venting his anger at whoever had disturbed his reverie, until he discovered who it was.
Princess Katherine stood before him, the expression upon her face unreadable.
"Princess," he greeted, bowing shortly before her.
She said nothing at first, as she stared at him in a strange way that he couldn't really define. It almost looked like she was…sorry about something?
"I wish to speak to you about my father," she began, her voice sounding more strained than he had ever heard her before.
The old Gargoyle nodded slowly, as she seemed to be having a personal battle within herself.
She stood there a few moments longer, as she opened and closed her mouth like a goldfish. Seemingly she had something to say, but she could not find the words with which to say it with.
The last several months had taught her much. For many years she had held onto her hatred of Goliath and his former leader. It was only during the past few months, what with Constantine and the threat of her cousin's deaths that her hate was beginning to subside. Many of her people had felt like giving up when Constantine's forces were approaching, and yet, through it all, the Gargoyles had never ceased risking their lives for them, despite how she had treated them over the years.
She knew she had mistreated them, as that could be the only word for it. She remembered the many nights when Goliath and his clan had single-handedly rescued the castle from invaders, only for her to repay them with her contempt.
In all honesty, Katherine still felt the old icy hatred in her heart whenever she saw this elder, and the rest of the Gargoyles would forever make her nervous. She doubted that would ever change. But the past few days, the sacrifices made, and the almost endless fighting had earned the clan her respect and thanks, and this old warrior had been there fighting on the frontline with his clan.
She owed him.
"I know you weren't responsible for his death," she said finally. "I know you tried everything you could to save him, and it was…" She paused. "I know it was…wrong of me to blame you for this from the beginning. I realise that now."
"You were a..." the old Gargoyle began, but she raised a hand and stopped him.
"I know that I was young back then," the Human replied. "But I am not now, nor have I been for many a year. There is no excuse for my behaviour, so please…accept my humblest apologies."
He had to wait more than a few seconds; still feeling a bit shocked by this revelation and request, until finally he nodded.
"I know you were one of my father's closest friends, for that is what he tried to tell me in his final moments," she continued, her face a mask. "But I didn't listen. I don't know if... No, I don't think we can ever become that. Despite what I now know, I still feel... "
She stopped, the memory of her father on his deathbed flashing in front of her eyes.
"I will honour his friendship with you," she finally promised. It was not much, but it was all she could afford at the moment.
The old Gargoyle nodded, realising how hard this must be for her. Although she had seemingly come to terms with her father's death at long last, it was obviously not easy for her to let go of years of hatred for someone overnight. It was going to take time.
"Your father would be proud of you," he said honestly.
"I hope so," she replied quietly, and then added more loudly. "Thank you, and good day."
With that, she turned and left, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
No, she was not ready to forgive and forget just yet, but she had taken the first step by forgiving him. In time, he had no doubt that all her psychological wounds would heal. It was just going to take some more time. And after all the waiting their clan had done so far, he could wait a little longer.
After all, no matter how great a person's wound is, they heal eventually. And scars fade, given enough time.
Just Before Sunset:
The rest of the day had gone by peacefully. Most of the Gargoyles spent the whole day just looking at everything, at how different it all was in the sunlight.
The young ones, the Trio and the Wild Four, had spent nearly all of the day celebrating their newfound freedom. The large aquamarine Gargoyle, once he had returned home and discovered his extra chores had now finally come to an end, had celebrated in his own fashion…meaning that he had spent the whole day in the kitchens and food storehouse.
As for the Humans, after they had finished cleaning up after the battle, they had spent most of the day resting in their beds. Katherine, too, was even now rousing from her sleep, but that was nothing new, as she usually slept during the day now.
She yawned, as she awoke. After blinking the sleep from her eyes, she looked around, but saw nothing of Goliath. Obviously he was either out doing his clan duties, or perhaps still marvelling at the way everything was bathed in golden light. She had to admit she found their naivety at the day both amusing and refreshing. Since she lived in the sun every day, she was long since used to it and found nothing particularly special about it.
She soon got up and dressed herself. Even though she usually had handmaidens to dress her, the last few months of being married to a Gargoyle had taught her how strong she could be when she wanted to, so she had stopped using her servants for every job she could do herself.
After she was dressed, she decided to go and have a walk first around the battlements before having breakfast, and it was there she found Goliath.
Like many of his clan, he had spent most of the day marvelling at the sight of the earth's golden star, never growing tired of its beauty, especially the sunset. He never knew the sky could turn red.
He knew the Magus's spell was not permanent, and that after today they would return to normal, stone by day and flesh by night, as all Gargoyles were hatched to be. The thought made him a little sad… To be presented with this great beauty, and knowing that he might very well never see it again seemed almost cruel.
"Greetings, Goliath?" Katherine's voice greeted.
He turned and saw his wife approach him. "Good evening, Katherine," he said, smiling. "Did you sleep well?"
"Very well, thank you," she replied.
"How fares our guest, the Lady Finella?" he then asked.
"I haven't yet checked on her progress, but from what the Royal Physician told me earlier, she still requires a lot of rest before she is able to return home, but in a few more days she will be fine."
"That is good," he remarked.
They remained silent for a few moments after that, standing still where they were, both unsure of what next to say to the other.
Goliath on the one claw did have a feeling of what to say to Katherine, but he wasn't entirely certain of how to tell her.
When he had married her, he hadn't thought for one second he would even be considering telling her what he was thinking now. But after she had forgiven the youngsters, and after what his Mentor had told him of their conversation earlier, he realised that the impossible had happened. Unbelievable as it was, Katherine had now apparently embraced him and his clan as full citizens of her kingdom.
They had always known that this would be a possibility, but after being mated to her for so long, he had thought it would never come to be. But it had, and now because of it, as they had originally planned, he had to tell her something. It was just trying to find the right words to explain it to her that was vexing.
"Katherine, I…" the clan-leader started. "I have something that I need to tell you."
"What is it, husband?" she asked, looking at him curiously. She hadn't known him to be so hesitant before, at least not in the last few months after he had finally taken a stand against her.
While he stuttered to find the right wording, he missed the last few rays of sunlight, as they disappeared below the horizon.
"I need to tell you that…that…ohhhhhh…" he groaned, as he felt a wave of dizziness and nausea come over him.
"Goliath?" two Katherines seemingly asked him, as his eyes developed double-vision. "Goliath, are you all right?"
He felt he was anything but, and it wasn't just him, but all of his clan. All around the castle there was a chorus of countless groans, moans and retching. Some of the clan had even fallen right down into the ground the moment the sun had set.
Goliath bent over the battlement, fighting hard to keep the contents of his stomach from decorating the castle walls below. If all of his clan were feeling as he did now, he dreaded to think what the walls and floor of the room where the large youngster of the Trio was looking like now.
"Ohhh my head," he groaned, seemingly in pain. "I haven't felt like this since… since… "
"Since the night when you and that soldier decided to…sample some of the castle's fine wine?" Katherine finished for him.
He gave another groan.
"I know a hangover when I see one, Goliath," she told him, remembering all too well the night he and that soldier had tried besting each other in a drinking contest, and having seen it plenty of times already from the other men in the castle at meal-times. But she had never seen one come over so suddenly before, as Goliath had been dead sober a few seconds ago.
"I haven't drunk anything stronger than water for weeks," he swore to her. "And I haven't even drunk anything in the last…ohhhhh, my head…my stomach... My everything!"
Katherine cautiously approached him, not wanting to risk him heaving his stomach contents all over her fresh new gown. She had lost one too many gowns to the clan as it was.
"Come, let's get you back to our chambers," she told him gently. "We will learn all that has transpired soon."
Staggering, Goliath followed her with his claw on her shoulder to guide him…and very nearly dragged her down with him when he collapsed down the stairs.
After having nearly all of the castle-guards come to help carry him back to the Royal chambers, Goliath lay on the bed with a cold damp cloth upon his forehead, feeling as though his head had been used as a punching bag, his stomach like it was about to burst, and feeling just plain miserable.
Katherine sat by his side, occasionally dapping his head with the damp cloth.
"You don't have to stay here with me, Katherine," he told her.
"After all that you did for me, saving me, my people and my castle from Constantine, how could I do any less?" she replied. "Besides, as your wife and ruling partner it is expected of me."
Half an hour later, Goliath's former Night-Angel came into the room…or rather she staggered in.
"How are the others?" he asked her.
"As well as can be expected," she said, groaning as she spoke. "Though I can't say I'm too surprised at the outcome of this."
"What do you mean?" he said, looking curiously at her.
His azure sister shook her head as though in pain, but was in reality mentally rebuking herself for nearly giving her secret away. She had expected something like this to happen from the start, because a spell as powerful as the one to keep Gargoyles awake during the day would definitely have some kind of price to pay. Obviously they were now feeling the side-affects.
"I spoke to the Magus before he left," she lied. "He warned me that there would be certain side-affects to the spell that he used on us."
"Define side-affects?" Goliath enquired, still groaning.
"Well," she replied, "basically, it would be like what the Humans call a hangover, when you've drunk too much wine. Until we have a decent day's sleep as stone, I'm afraid we'll be feeling the ramifications of today's adventure till sunrise."
Goliath's groans deepened.
His former Angel shrugged. "You did ask for an explanation."
"Yes," he said, smiling a humourless smile. "Remind me to be careful what I wish for from now on."
The rest of the clan were also spending their night in agony, as they all curled up in corners, hunched over battlements, and some, like Goliath, had to lie in human beds that they had borrowed. Everywhere, from one end of the castle to the other, there was not a single Gargoyle that was not groaning and wishing for a quick death.
But the worst part was yet to come…
From the other side of the castle, Goliath's Second and rookery brother was going through his own magical side-affects, and was not coping very well with it.
"Come on, friend!" the loud cry of an excited young soldier yelled, as he strode up to the Clan-Second, slapping him hard on his back.
Normally, any kind of slap, no matter how hard, from a mere human wouldn't do anything to even rouse a Gargoyle, given their superior strength, size and stature. However, the circumstances were far from normal.
The one that the Captain and Brother Edmund called 'Othello' fought a wave of nausea, brought upon by the friendly, if not overdone, slap on his back by the young human.
"Hey, what's up with you?" the young guard called Connor asked.
Othello glared at him. "Nothing," he muttered. "Just…nothing." He moaned.
"Well, come on then!" Connor repeated eagerly. "We've just spent the whole day clearing up after that bastard Constantine's attack, so now we're ready to get down and celebrate!"
His eyes widened at him. "Umm, friend…" he said unsurely. "Don't take this the wrong way, but… "
"Think nothing of it," he assured him. "We have already prepared everything in the Great Hall. We've got more barrels of wine than all the Kings of the world! Not to mention everything that the Cook could rustle up from the storehouse. Trust me, we're gonna be shouting the halls down tonight!"
Othello felt his headache begin to worsen, and he had a feeling it was only going to get worse.
He had been right.
The young soldier, Connor, had not been lying about the planned events for the night's activities. The guards of the castle must have brought up every barrel from the cellar that they could find. The tables were all loaded with food of every type, with goblets filled to the brim, and the castle musicians playing their finest tunes.
The whole of the Gargoyle clan at that moment wanted nothing more than, as the humans would say, to be buried in their graves.
Even the large Gargoyle from the Trio felt ill, as he stared at the endless rows of tender roast meats and sweet fruits before him. By now he would usually be tearing into the meats as though there were no tomorrow, but unfortunately the constant churning in his stomach prevented him from enjoying the feast.
Goliath was there, of course, as it was expected for the Prince to be at the festivities. He sat at his throne, watching as the humans celebrated in full cheer, but for once he felt no glee at seeing his clan and the humans sitting side by side in peace.
At that moment, all he wanted was to crawl back up into the bed that Katherine had so kindly let to him in his night of need. Even now he had to bite his tongue every time when one of the maids came up with a plate of something for him to try.
Every Gargoyle was the same, as they sat with their heads between their hand-claws, attempting to rest them, hoping that the constant beating in them would soon lessen.
Even the poor hound-beasts lay on the floor with their heads beneath their massive paws, whimpering loudly, only taking the occasional slurp of water from their bowls.
"You should have seen the one soldier I fought!" one of the guards said loudly, as he chatted with his fellow guards and two of Goliath's clan, both of whom looked as if they would rather be anywhere but there. "I swear the coward wet himself when I came at him with me sword!"
All around, Humans were chatting, shouting and laughing out raucously at everyone who looked as if they were even remotely interested in their stories.
"I heard Constantine fell on his own sword, the idiot!"
"My brother and I had to keep a whole troop of them away from the gates!"
"The cowards ran away as soon as we let our arrows fly!"
"Sure it wasn't your breath that got them scared?"
Goliath winced, praying to the Great Dragon that the Humans would just lower the volume of their voices, if only for a short while. He briefly wondered if this was what humans went through when he and his clan were in good health. He would have to make a note of asking his clan-mates to perhaps cut down on the sound of their roaring from now on.
"Hey there, old friend!" a loud but familiar voice shouted in his ear.
Goliath shuddered, but looked to his left to confirm his suspicions. Sure enough, the voice turned out to belong to none other than the same human male who had introduced him to the exotic potent wine that had left him a drunken lout for one whole evening.
"Greetings, my friend," he replied, giving him a false smile while underneath he was thinking, 'Ohhh by the Great Dragon, have mercy!'
"Haven't seen you in a while!" the human belched. Obviously he had not lost his thirst for the drink, especially at a party. "Been hitting the drink again, have we?"
Goliath just gave him a curious stare. "Apparently not as much as you, my friend," he told him. He still didn't know the man's name.
His comrade laughed out loud. "Too right, too!" He reached over to the other side of the table, retrieving a large bottle. "So what say you and I show all these amateurs how it's done and pick up where we left off? As I recall, you once claimed no mere Human could beat a Gargoyle at holding a drink, therefore…I hereby challenge you to a rematch!"
Goliath felt his insides beginning to churn again, as he stared practically in horror at the large bottle of wine that his 'friend' was holding out to him.
"Great Dragon,' he moaned mentally, 'Give me strength…and a sword to strike myself down with, please.'
Goliath did not awaken with a roar, as was common with Gargoyles, but with a low moan that rang back and forth inside the leader's head. Fortunately, it soon dissipated.
The terrible queasiness he had suffered the day and night before, along with the rest of his clan, together with the alcohol that that lone Human had made him drink, had thankfully faded. He still felt weak, but at least the headaches and nausea were now gone. The stone-sleep had rejuvenated him and all those of his clan, curing them of the Magus's spell's side-affects.
Groaning, he tried to sit up, only to end up falling back down again, not realising at first that he was actually lying down instead of standing. When he realised that, he felt around, feeling the softness beneath him, and discovered that what he felt was actually a Human bed.
'I'm in her bed again,' the leader of his clan thought, realising that he was in the old bed in the Princess' room.
Remembering the last time he had slept there, and who had nearly ended up being crushed because of it, the large Gargoyle quickly rose, expecting to find Katherine flattened beneath him, but was relieved to find merely a creased pillow there instead.
He heaved a sigh of relief.
"I was luckier this time," he heard his wife's voice from behind him, and turned around to see Katherine sitting in the chair near the fireplace, a book resting in her lap.
She looked at him with an expression of bemusement on her face. "Though this time you didn't even make it to our room before the celebration had even ended," she then added.
Slowly, Goliath's memories returned, though as they did he wished they would just stay behind the thick fog he felt in his head. Yet appearing through this fog, he saw himself being half-led and half-carried by two guards to his and Katherine's room, with Katherine beside him.
He groaned, holding his head in shame as the memories this night flooded through him. 'Not again,' he moaned in his mind.
"I'm sorry," he apologised, trying to fight the small bit of alcohol still left in his body, while thinking how much damage his lack of self-control might have brought to all of them. "I'm so sorry, Katherine. This is the second time my ridiculous…"
"Don't be," his wife replied, rising from her chair and walking closer to her Gargoyle husband "Despite the alcohol, you weren't the only one with problems. I heard all of your clan felt ill."
He nodded, but still felt none the wiser. "Still," he said, "this is the second time that I have offended you with my behaviour, and I did not help matters by consuming more of the drink that…"
"There's no need to apologise," she assured him. "You aren't the only one suffering from effects of the drink last night, and I speak not just of those of your clan, but of mine as well. You forget that last night was a night of celebration for our victory over Constantine. Even now, many of my soldiers are still feeling the ramifications today, as yours were last night."
Goliath gave a small smile, feeling slightly better as he took notice of her soft and definitely not angry voice. She obviously bore him no ill will, for if she had done then she would have undoubtedly let him know by now.
He frowned, as he remembered how bad he and his clan had already been feeling, even before their Human friends had decided to have a great celebration, and insisted on them taking part in it.
"I must see to my clan," he said, trying to stand up and finally managing it…though with some shaking in his legs.
"No, you must not," she insisted, stepping up to him and pressing her left hand against the Gargoyle's masculine chest, making him nearly fall backward, giving him final proof of how weak he really was at that moment. "I have ordered the Captain's best soldier to look after my…I mean our warriors, and assist them if need be. As for your clan, I am sure your Second is more than capable to take care of things."
Goliath looked as if he were about to resist, but then after a quick moment he seemingly relaxed and nodded in resignation, agreeing with her. "Very well," he told her. "But I expect to be informed on all things, no matter how small or insignificant."
She nodded. "You will be," she assured him.
Goliath nodded back, and then added, "Thank you."
The two of them stood there like that for a few moments until Goliath cocked his head and eyeridge at her and said, "Umm, you can take your hand off my chest now, you know. I swear to you I am not going anywhere."
Katherine blushed, as she realised that she had been standing there now for over a minute, her hand resting on his heart.
"Sorry!" she squeaked in embarrassment, pulling her hand back and hiding it behind her, her face going red.
She always knew that Goliath was powerfully built, as one would have to be blind not to notice that, but she had never fully realised it until just now how well built he was. His chest felt almost as hard now as it did during the day, yet it was as warm as a stove-fire, and she could feel his heart beating as steadily as a warrior's drum.
"Relax, and let me bring you some water before we see anyone!" she said quickly, her face still flushed. "This is the least I can do for you saving my people."
If Goliath was curious about what had just happened then he did not show it, but he did say…
"Our people," he replied softly, referring to both their clans as one people, not just the two.
She stopped and stared at him for a moment, before she smiled again and nodded. "Our people," she agreed.
With this she turned and walked to a corner of the room, where a serving-maid had a short time ago brought in a clay-jug full of chilled water, and two metallic cups, leaving Goliath to look at her, surprised…and very thoughtful.
Looking at her now, one would never believe that she was the same Princess of Wyvern from all those months ago who would sooner see all Gargoyles dead than acknowledge them, let alone marry one. Yet now, she had apparently accepted him, his clan, and had even grown close to one of the new hatchlings in the rookery, almost as though he were an adopted son of all things.
There was no doubt about it. She had definitely changed. She had made peace with the old Mentor whom she had blamed for her father's death all these years, the young tricksters of the clan who had humiliated and frightened her, and even he her husband who had dominated her and seemingly stolen her throne from her.
He had considered telling her before he had fallen ill yesterday, and despite his less than respectful behaviour last night at the Humans' celebration, she had still treated him with kindness. Something the old Katherine would have never done. That alone gave him proof that the time for concealment had passed, and the time for revelations had finally come.
"Katherine, we need to talk," he said simply, as she came back with the two cups in her hands, patting a spot on the bed beside him as a request for her to sit down.
"What is it?" she asked curiously, but did as she was requested to by sitting down.
He sighed. "I need to tell you something," he started. "As you know, your father arranged our marriage as a means to bring our two clans together, to show everyone that peace and co-existence between us was possible." He took one of the cups of water, having a hard time controlling his voice. "But there is more..."
She stiffened, feeling a coldness creep up into her limbs, as she tried to imagine what else her father had thought up. She now understood how right he had been, but this didn't make her shudder any less at the thought of what more he had had planned.
"Don't tell me I have to do the Ascendance Hunt?" she asked fearfully.
Goliath had to laugh out loud at that, as he imagined Katherine running around in the forest in a loincloth and ragged top, hunting with only either a Bow and Arrow, or a spear.
Whenever young Gargoyles would reach a certain age, they would undergo various tasks and trials to prove that they were now of full age and ready warriors. The Ascendance Hunt was one of such trials, where they would go forth into the forest to hunt down and bring back a beast, using only the barest of necessities such as a Bow and Arrow, a dagger, or even just their bare claws.
He laughed. "No, no, nothing like that."
"Oh, well, what then?"
Goliath sighed again, the amusement faded. "While Prince Malcolm wanted us all living together in peace, he still did not want you to be trapped in a marriage against your will…at least not if it wasn't necessary," he explained. "He made it clear to us that if you ever showed any signs of humility, any sign that you no longer regarded us as your enemy…then we were to set you free."
She blinked. "Free?" she asked.
He nodded. "Our marriage has been a long and trying thing for you, Your Highness," he said, referring to her once again as Her Highness, something he had not done in months. "For both of us," he added. "At the time it was necessary, but now… Now I think it is necessary no longer. So if you wish, we can arrange for our marriage to be annulled as soon as possible."
Katherine's jaw dropped.
"But the Church," she began unbelieving, watching as he sipped a little of the water. "Surely they wouldn't allow it?"
He held up his claw. "We talked all this through with Brother Edmund years ago. Because you and I never…err…" he began to look nervous. "Well, that is to say…because you…because we…we never consummated our wedding vows. That means the marriage was in a way never made official, meaning we can have it undone whenever we wish."
"But…" she began again. "How will you…?"
"Brother Edmund will see to it, as he has promised," he replied, calming her down. "He will write to the Church, explain the situation about how we were never able to…you know, because of Constantine, and that we have since then come to realise that neither of us are well suited to one another. The Church should then grant the annulment.
"And what if they don't?"
"Brother Edmund seems to be sure they will, but if they don't then we have planned something else by…stretching the truth further for them."
At her inquisitive look, he continued…
"As you may guess, neither Brother Edmund nor your father or the Captain were too keen on the idea of lying to the Church, but hopefully this will not come to that. If the first plan fails then we will claim to them that you discovered some things about me after we were wed, such as suspecting me as having contact with things not of God's earth, which is more or less true concerning my clan. We will use this and a number of other fabrications, hopefully resulting in the Church finally granting us the annulment. But like I said, Brother Edmund seems certain they will do so once we have explained the situation."
He looked at Katherine, who still looked doubtful but said nothing. "Once this is over, if you wish to, you will be free again to marry whomsoever you desire. Not to mention…" he added playfully, "no longer having stone-skin scattered all over your room anymore."
She still said nothing, feeling unable to speak, as sudden and unexpected emotions raced within her.
'Does he wish to be rid of me?' she asked herself, and was surprised she was even asking it. After all, this was what she had been hoping and praying for ever since she had first learnt that she was to become Goliath's wife, to be free of him. So why on Earth was she questioning it now?
She stayed where she was, her thoughts and feelings churning within her. Part of her was glad that this whole sorry affair had now finally been brought to an end; that she would regain her throne and things would get back to normal, but…for some reason, she didn't feel as gay or joyful as she would have expected herself to. She neither felt happy or sad, just…empty.
"Your clan would no doubt welcome it if you could mate with one of them instead," she heard herself say in a neutral tone.
"No doubt many of them would," he replied, thinking of the elders. "But…" he hesitated, "I would like to say that even if I did ever find another mate, or even if by some miracle if I reunited with my former love...no one would ever be able to replace you."
She stared on him in surprise, making him shrug his massive shoulders.
"You are a pretty hard mate to forget, My Katherine," he admitted.
She smiled, as she stared at him. "And I can honestly say that even if I was to search the whole world from one end to the other, I would never find anyone to fill your shoes…assuming you wore any that is."
The two of them chuckled.
"So…" he finally asked. "The choice is yours, My Wife. What are we to do?"
Katherine for once could not find anything to say, as she stared at the Gargoyle that had brought so much misery and anguish into her life, and yet so much joy, wisdom and humility. Through him, she had learnt the error of her ways.
She had looked down on his clan with contempt instead of treating them with honour and respect, held onto past grudges against those who were not to blame. And she had learned the true beauty of what it meant to be in a clan…something she had almost forgotten since the death of her father.
She found her doubts growing by the moment, as she looked deep into his eyes, the eyes that she had come to respect and found to be his most appealing feature.
She couldn't be sure, but was that a glimmer of affection in them?
Her thoughts grew jumbled, and part of her wanted to run out of the room right then to escape them. What she was thinking…and what was she feeling?
Goliath then smiled at her, as though to be encouraging, and for the first time she realised just how handsome he was when he did that.
Finally, Katherine smiled, and made her decision.
Yeah, I know… What the Hell, where's the rest of it? We had considered writing a conclusion to this, but we couldn't decide whether to have Katherine get with Goliath or just split them up, so we decided to leave it at a cliffhanger so everyone could dream up their own ending! Anyone who wants to write their own conclusion, though, please feel free to do so!