Chapter 1: When Everything Changed
I was born in a time of darkness and hatred. As a gargoyle I lived with the rest of my clan at a castle in Scotland in 994 A.D. We all had different looks and features, though none of us had names except for our leader Goliath. We had once lived on the cliffs without the humans, but when the humans came we made a deal that we would protect them. All of this was so we could live in harmony, but even that was just an idealistic dream… The humans soon showed their true selves though; my kind was ostracized for our appearance. However, this was all before I was born, and I had been but an egg.
The alienation of my kind in the end led to the extermination of my family. The fateful day it all happened was when a Viking attack had struck the castle…
The shouts and yells of the humans below was exhilarating, I dove down swiftly knocking the Vikings off of the castle wall. Nothing was more fun than holding off invaders, the thrill of battle rejuvenated me. I lived for it. I smirked when I saw my friends on top of a tower, gliding down I landed behind them. One was a deep burgundy red color, one had webbed wings with a green color, and the last had a round stomach and was a light blue color.
"Come now, you're missing out on the fun!" I jabbed, walking past them, but stopped as my burgundy friend grabbed my wrist.
"I was trying to let you get a head start, so you wouldn't be so disappointed when I took out all the Vikings," my friend corrected, I rolled my eyes and surged forward jumping off the tower, letting the breeze carry me.
"First to thirty wins?" I challenged, as I flashed him a taunting smile, daring him to say no. He grinned, quickly jumped off the tower gliding past me towards the Vikings below.
"Come on you two!" I yelled diving back to the battle raging below.
"Not afraid are you?" the webbed gargoyle teased to his companion.
"Afraid? Me? Huh! Why all of nature's trembles in my passing!" the light gargoyles proclaimed, as he lifted his belly up making him appear lean and buff, before the force of gravity caused it to fall back down in a tremble.
"I can see why," the webbed gargoyle laughed, poking his friend stomach, before they glided down to where their other two friends were.
I saw my two other friends join us and I quickly glided towards them and besides my webbed friend.
"Be careful alright," I warned grabbing a shield that some Viking had raised in the air, throwing it away.
"Yeah, make sure you're careful," my burgundy friend called, mocking my voice as I sent him a slight glare, as my light blue friend joined him both laughing as our webbed friend glided away in a huff.
I groaned before diving down and grabbing a Viking who screamed within my grip as my claws easily pierced his wooden shield. He raised his other arm that held his axe trying to swing his axe down on my head. I let out a growl as my eyes glowed throwing him away from me and into another viking hissing as I jumped above the crowd of fighters, letting the updraft catch my wings bringing me onto a tower as my claws dug into the stone. I winced as I released one arm from the wall to see a deep gash on my right arm, I hadn't noticed it when I was fighting.
Before I could even move, my burgundy friend all but crashed into the wall, his claws easily tearing into the stone, his eyes flying to my arm.
"What happened?" he growled as he worriedly looked at my arm before gently grabbing my arm, craning his head down to look at the wound more closely.
"Don't worry it's fine," I promised, shrugging his hand off, as he slightly growled at me before pulling me up to follow him to the top of the tower.
It was silent as the fight raged on beneath us, I quietly watched as he tore a piece of fabric off my white skirt and wrapped it around my forearm tying it into a tight knot. His gaze never left my arm, gently I pulled my arm away from him crossing my arms, my left hand resting on top of the bandage.
"It's just a cut," I murmured, tightening my grip on my arms.
"It's dangerous," he replied, and I scoffed rolling my eyes. "When has it ever not been dangerous, and why are you freaking out?!" I growled, I could hear the cheers of my clan and the humans, the battle was over.
"I have to go find Goliath," I sighed, as I moved to the edge of the tower, "and I won by the way," I said over my shoulder before jumping off. My eyes immediately found him surrounded by my clan surrounding him and the captain.
Goliath stood out against my clan he was the tallest of us all with his lavender skin, dark brown hair, and daunting black eyes, the power he emitted was comforting to the clan and frightening to those not within. As a hatchling I had once tried to climb him, claiming he was a mountain and his response was to merely shake me off of his leg as I clamped myself onto his leg.
I landed in a crouch behind Goliath and his second in command, wincing as pain shot up my arm. I felt someone grasp my uninjured arm, I was gently pulled up to see the concerned faces of Goliath and his second in command.
"Are you alright," the female gargoyle asked her harsh black eyes softened as she looked at my wrapped forearm, her blazing red hair framing her face.
"Yes, it's just a cut," I offered, feeling myself go red from the attention. I was third in command and yet I was still treated like a hatchling by Goliath and the second in command.
I blushed when I felt Goliath's hand ruffle my silver hair, my taloned hands quickly brushing his away, as I smoothed down my mane of hair.
"You treat me like a hatchling," I huffed, slightly pouting at him, as Goliath simply laughed, and I could only sigh. I was a full grown female gargoyle, my azure skin contrasted against my violet, almond shaped eyes.
"I'm surprised you aren't hanging out with those three," Goliath noted, and I shrugged, quickly waving to the Captain of the Guard as he made his way over to us. Feeling thankful that Goliath seemed to accept my lack of response.
Goliath's second in command wrapped up his hand from when he was wounded in battle, the Captain heaved a heavy sigh and gratefully looked at my leader, "Goliath we owe you our lives," as he turned to look at the troops below.
"As we owe you ours everyday," Goliath smiled at the Captain, as he flexed his newly wrapped hand. They both grinned relishing in the victory, whenever I looked at the Captain I couldn't help but feel hope that one day humans would accept us, he thought so much of us and appreciated our strength and bonds.
"You should join us for the banquet," the Captain offered and I rolled my eyes, as I looked at the second in command.
It would be terrible, it was no secret that the princess didn't like my kind, and being near her would be torture, she wasn't known among my kind for her tolerance. But of course Goliath accepted, so that's how I now find myself walking through the castle to the dining hall.
"I do not think this is a good idea, Goliath," I commented as we walked down the halls.
"I agree, these humans do not want us there," the second in command stated.
Goliath turned, looking at us before sighing and nodded, "I understand your hesitance, but it does us well to get along with the humans," he then pointedly looked at me and added, "behave."
I knew he was referring to the last time we had been allowed to go somewhere with the humans and I had growled when they had started to insult our kind. I didn't see why Goliath was so insistent on wanting us to share our home with these humans, but I nodded at Goliath in assurance that i wouldn't do anything. As we continued our way towards the dining hall his second in command spared me a smile before moving forward to stand next to him. She understood my outburst when I growled at the humans, had come to my defense when I had gotten in trouble. I knew she had a dislike for the human stronger than my own and also wondered why we had to share our home with these humans, who were insistent on treating us unfairly. We reached the doors of the hall, where I could hear music playing and the humans celebrating "their" victory.
We stopped once we saw the Captain at the closed doors, "I best go in and let the princess know you'll be joining us." Great, she doesn't even know we were coming, this could only turn out well.
"Do not pay attention to their remarks when we enter," Goliath warned, placing a comforting hand on my shoulder.
Goliath knew how much the human's remarks about my appearance hurt my feelings. I had never understood their dislike for us, we protected them, and yet they called us monsters because of our appearance. We stood their for a brief amount of time before the doors opened, and I heard the gasps of horror.
"Filthy monsters in the castle," gasped one woman in disgust.
Goliath briefly placed a hand on my shoulder meant to comfort but seemed more like a restraint to me, as the insults continued to whip around the room. We stopped before the princess and my gaze hardened on her wishing she would disappear.
The captain then stepped forward, "Your pardon, your highness I took the liberty of asking them to appear, and be recognized for their bravery."
I felt my lips twitch into smile, my eyes softening on the Captain, at there were a few humans who would stand up for us.
"Captain, we are most seriously displeased to allow beasts into the dining hall," the princess said indignantly.
"You speak wisely princes, these are unnatural creatures. no good can come from associating with them," the Magus agreed as he turned to glare at us.
Okay, maybe at least one human would stand up for us. Undeterred Goliath continued walking towards the princess, and I had to hide my smirk as the princess collapsed into her chair in shock as Goliath straightened out his wings before folding them close and sweeping into a bow.
The captain chuckled at the display, "Goliath, we named you well it seems, you are as good a soldier as the philistine giant who fought David," he praised.
"you would do well to remember captain that the biblical Goliath was also a bully and a savage," she reminded.
I turned and glared at her and bit down a growl, the Captain also turning to look at the princess disgruntled by her comment. I couldn't hold it in any longer I had to say something!
"Excuse me, your highness," I spat her title in disgust. "You have on right to say such things about Goliath if it weren't for us beasts, you wouldn't have won this battle. If anyone's a bully it's you, and all the people in this hall, us so called monsters risk our lives for you, while you and your people do nothing but look down on us and insult us. I bled for you! I'm wounded for you and your cursed kingdom! I have lost brothers and sisters for this castle. My first battle I spent hiding in the rookery as a hatchling as I heard the screams of my family above me protecting me from your invaders! What have we done to make us monsters? Look different? If you can't even look past appearances, then you're not fit to be a ruler!" I screeched, I felt Goliath pull me against his chests as I made to jump at her, and I let out a feral growl struggling, trying to make Goliath release me.
The Princess stood up making her chair clatter against the stone floor, as she stepped away from me. Goliath tightened his hold me lowly growling in my ear, and I stopped struggling as I felt Goliath drag my form from the dining hall.
Goliath quickly spun me around one I saw the doors close and I was silent now, I had nothing to say.
"My apologies Goliath," the captain said solemnly.
"No apologies needed, we are what we are, her opinion will not change that," explained Goliath I could feel his eyes on me, but I was too defeated to even look at him.
"I've disappointed you," I whispered, I know I had,I lost my temper all too quickly.
"You-" before Goliath could say anymore his second in command stepped forward, "Have you no pride, no sense of justice, we saved their lives and they repay us with contempt," she argued.
"She is right Goliath, you deserve better than this," the Captain agreed.
"These cliffs were our home ages before they built their stone fortress. They should bow to us," she continued before turning to me, "you were not wrong, you did your clan proud for speaking against our oppressors."
"Thats enough," Goliath ordered, and it was silent in the hallway.
"I understand your anger, but you mustn't let this change you. I know it is difficult to let go, and you're too young to understand but you must learn to stay calm. What happened when you were young….was no one's fault, we give our life for our clan and the humans are apart of this clan. We protect our own, they don't see it yet, but one day they will, and I'm asking for you to be the first to accept them. It is the nature of humankind to fear what they do not understand. Their ways are not our ways," Goliath said gently staring at me before turning to look at this second in command.
"There are times when your patience astound me, my love," she replied, looking at him adoringly.
It was quiet as we all exited the castle, it felt like a weight was resting on my shoulders and once i felt the cool night air hit my face I breathed in a gulp of air.
"I'll try to get along with the humans, can I please go?" I asked quietly, Goliath nodded before lightly placing his hand on my head lightly ruffling my hair, I stepped away from him gliding down to try and find my friends.
"Thank you for going easy on her," the second in command breathed, watching the young female glide away.
"She holds anger within her, and it doesn't do her well to let her keep it bottled up. Because one day she will get into trouble and I won't be able to get her out of it," Goliath sighed tiredly.
"She has always admired you," his love smiled, moving to hold his hand.
"I know," he smiled, his third in command had followed him around throughout her hatchling life causing mischief wherever she wandered. She had a special place in his heart; he had been the one to guide her the most even though the whole clan was meant to raise the hatchlings. That was why Goliath, didn't want to see her hold onto this anger because if she ever hurt a human there would be consequences he wouldn't be able to spare her.
I hastily glided over to my burgundy friend and my webbed friend who were on a tower overlooking the courtyard.
"Why do you get to go with Goliath everywhere," complained my webbed friend.
"Isn't it obvious, to make sure she doesn't get in trouble," joked the burgundy gargoyle.
I was silent and quickly walked over to my burgundy friend and wrapped my arms around him in a hug. I felt his muscles tense beneath my arms. My anger at his hovering was forgotten as I tightened my grip seeking comfort from my friend.
"Are you alright?" I heard my webbed friend asked, as my burgundy friend returned my hug slowly wrapping his arms around my waist and resting his head on my shoulder.
"I really don't want to talk about it," I mumbled into my burgundy friend's shoulder. No one bothered to say anything, and I was grateful that they didn't pester.
The Next Night
I was sitting on one of the crates filled with food, as my green and burgundy friend played catch with a ham, and my blue friend stuffed his face.
No one brought up the other night, and I was extremely grateful, my burgundy friend seemed glued to my side now, constantly beside me. His hovering came back, but I was too grateful for the comfort to deny it, his presence was comforting and I was too selfish to say no.
I turned to my blue friend who was stuffing his face, "Do you ever get full?" I asked disgusted as he tore some meat off the bone.
"Nope, want some?" he asked through a mouth full of a few chunks flying out of his mouth.
"Thanks, but I'll have to pass," I grimaced, where did he put all that food?
My attention was drawn back to my two friends, I saw the ham in the air, and pushing myself off the crates I caught the ham intercepting their game, laughing. They looked at each other and then let out small playful roars, chasing me trying to get back the ham. I felt my burgundy friend grab my waist, in surprise I released the ham and my webbed friend caught it whooping in victory, as I turned to my friend growling at him playfully.
"Quit it you two love birds," my blue friend taunted and I laughed lightly elbowing my burgundy friend to release me. He hesitated before letting me go and I hopped back onto the crates, him joining me as we watched the guard dog chase our small webbed friend. My webbed friend hurled the ham our way, and my burgundy friend quickly jumped down catching it, and jumping back up beside me with the gracefulness of a cat. My ears twitched as I heard small footsteps approach us and I turned to see a human boy staring at us; he had blond hair and was wearing a light blue tunic and some breeches. I cautiously looked at him not noting any fear on his face just curiosity, what a strange human.
"Hey pass it here!" yelled my webbed friend on the ground, my burgundy friend hurled the ham only for the watch dog to jump in the air and catch it in his jaws before nestling down to munch on the meat. I laughed as they groaned at the disappointment of their ended game, "I'm Tom, what's your name?" we heard a small voice boldly ask.
I turned to see the small human boy with blond hair in front of us, standing with his back straight and trying to act bigger than he actually was….how adorable.
"Besides Goliath we don't have names," my webbed friend responded gently.
"How do you tell each other apart?" he asked curiously.
"Well we look quite different don't we," I teased, while leaning forward towards the boy.
"But what do you call each other?" he asked.
"Friend," my burgundy friend replied next to me, while gesturing towards me.
"Your eyes, they are so pretty. I've never seen someone have purple eyes," Tom said in awe, and I couldn't help but slightly blush at his compliment. I looked up to see a woman running towards us and I could only assume it was his mother, and before I could tell Tom to leave she was behind him grabbing her son.
"Tom!" she yelled, "get away from those monsters," she scolded while dragging him towards her, while Tom desperately struggled in his mother's grasp.
My burgundy friend jumped down to the ground with a thud, "We wouldn't hurt the lad, ma'am," my friend assured her softly.
"Keep away from him you beast!" she yelled, throwing a block of wood at him.
A loud thwack could be heard as the wood connected with my friend face, sending me hurtling down towards him my hands gently cradling his face.
"Are you alright?" I whispered, he grabbed my taloned hand and gave it a squeeze nodding. I turned to the woman growling as my eyes turned a pure glowing shade of purple as I hissed at the woman. The second in command came down before us her own growl stronger than my own, hers held pure anger, "You're the beast human," she growled, her own eyes glowing a demonic shade of red.
I stood up with my burgundy friend as my webbed friend moved to stand beside the second in command.
The sinister grins that crossed my friend's faces caused a gasp to leave the woman, and I almost felt bad for the woman. Almost.
"No, if they think we're monsters," my burgundy friend cut in, "Then we best live up to the name," my webbed friend taunted.
"After all monsters don't have any control," I added, grinning as a growl rumbled from my form, my eyes connecting with each of the humans before they rested on Tom. Tom… he was so afraid, his hands clutching his mother's skirt to hide himself from the monsters. Which were us….
"Stop," I ordered my friends but they ignored me and continued to growl, frightening the humans who had come to stand next to the woman and her son. The second in command watched them proudly with her taloned hands on her hips grinning. With a roar from the watchdog the humans ran back to their area screaming.
"Are we being attacked?!" my blue friend yelled, leaving his pile of food.
"No-" I began, but I stopped as I saw Goliath and our past leader land in the courtyard with us.
"You five down to the Rookery until I return, I'll deal with you then," he growled at us; my friends gasping in shock only hatchlings were ever sent down to the Rookery if they misbehaved or if you were on egg duty.
"Goliath," I called out to him, but he sent me a sharp look that turned me silent, as I moved back towards my friends.
"And take him with you," he added pointing at the whimpering watchdog.
"We meant no harm," my burgundy friend offered to placate Goliath, but his glare said enough as we all march dejectedly down into the Rookery. We reached the bottom I smiled at all the eggs that lay clustered in the small cavern.
"Ugh sent to the Rookery, how embarrassing!" exclaimed my burgundy friend as he hunch over next to the eggs.
"We shouldn't have done that, they were so afraid…"
"We didn't do anything! We weren't even moving towards them," argued my burgundy friend.
"They are defenseless, the woman was just trying to protect Tom, we would have done the same if they threatened an egg," I argued. The silence that engulfed us was only filled with the sound of the occasional drops of water echoing in the cavern.
"Do you remember when we hatchlings and we heard our first battle?" I asked, looking at my friends.
"I remember the screaming, the shouting, the banging on the door," whispered my webbed friend as he clutched his ears as if to block off the phantom sounds.
"I remember how we all huddled together in the corner, crying" my blue friend murmured.
"Our first sense of battle, what an awful day," sighed my burgundy friend.
"We remember that day, and yet we are the monsters. Not the humans who killed our kind and the other humans but us. Hatchlings. We are the monsters to them."
I crouched down turning the eggs gently, my hands wanting on a distraction.
"What are you doing?" my blue friend inquired.
"If they are not turned occasionally they will crack soon."
"Ah right you're on egg duty," my burgundy friend teased.
"They'll be hatching soon?" my webbed friend asked, I nodded smiling down at the egg in my hands.
"This will be the first hatchlings since we hatched," cheered my blue friend, and we all chuckled at his cheer.
"The sun should be rising soon," I warned my friends, they all wordlessly back away from the eggs not wanting to hurt them when we awakened.
I promise you will never have to hear the screams of battle like I did or see your clan die. I said solemnly to the eggs in my mind, as I felt myself fall into sleep.