Those of you who were here for the original, welcome back! If you want to read the old version, it's still here on the site.
Those of you who are reading this for the first time, I'm glad you made your way here.
So what should you expect?
The same characters, more or less, though their backgrounds and circumstances may have been altered.
The same overall plot. The exact story may remain unchanged in some places, and may be completely different in others. Hopefully it's improved all around.
Half-asleep though he was, the young man could still hear someone pounding on the door to his parents' home next door. He tried to ignore it, but the pounding continued, an annoying thudding that seemed to bore into his head. Eventually, he sat up, blinking groggily.
His parents had finally woken as well. The pounding stopped, soon replaced by talking. "Where is she?" the young man could barely make out.
Grunting softly, he quietly crawled to his window and lifted the wood-and-leather covering just enough to peek outside. At this time of year, the moon set soon after nightfall, leaving the land dark until sunrise. But the young man could just make out the scene before him, dimly lit as it was by starlight. His father was standing just inside the doorway to his home, obviously irritated at having been called from sleep. Facing him, his back to the eavesdropping young man, was a warrior dressed in full gear, his hand on the hilt of his sword.
"Who?" his father was asking, a slight growl to his voice that indicated irritation, or the remnants of sleep, or both.
"Don't play dumb with me," the warrior replied. "Where is she?"
His father narrowed his eyes and motioned with one hand to someone in the house behind him, as if telling them to stay back. "I thought she was with you."
"Is she not with that idiot son of yours?"
The young man furrowed his brow at this slight of his character.
His father was likewise angered, and stepped out of his home, pulling the door covering into place behind him. "You come here in the middle of the night and wake my family just to insult us?"
The young man ducked back into his own home, debating if he should join his father as the arguing men's tempers flared and voices rose to near-shouts. Then a thought struck him. 'He hasn't seen her lately. I haven't, either. So where is she?'
He did leave his home them, though by a smaller exit in the back rather than the front door. Glancing behind himself to ensure that he hadn't been noticed by the other men-he hadn't been-he quickly and quietly jogged the short distance to the paddock. He easily swung himself over the fence and scanned the herd. A few nearby gryffs shuffled away from him in sleepy surprise, while one instead raised his head and hooted softly, as if in greeting.
He frowned. 'She left Kitty.'That could mean any number of things. The most likely of which, he thought, was that she didn't want anyone to know she had left. Seeing her mount missing from the herd was a sure giveaway that she was gone.
Even more to the point, he suddenly realized, was that she had left by herself during the darker phases of the moon. Gryffs could move in darkness, but they could not become the darkness, as she could.
She had left without notice, and with the intent to stay unnoticed.
'She's gone.' The young man could only stare dumbly across the fields. 'She's really gone this time.'And the warrior who had woken them was not happy about this.
Kitty had made his way over and bumped the curved edge of his beak against the young man's arm, begging for a treat. But the request was lost on the man, who could only think, 'This is not going to end well for anyone.'Then he looked down at the gryff and rubbed the beast on his forehead, earning him a contented purr. He smirked.
'But I have a pretty good idea of where she's heading.'