Hi all. I don't know if anyone still reads this. It's been a very long time but I was suddenly motivated today to write some more. This came all at once but I think it turned out okay. Enjoy.

You soar over the fields; majestic, free, and proud. Master of all you survey, you can see the smallest mouse scurry in the grass, hear the scrape of scales from the most cunning snake on the rocks, taste the rain from the approaching storm on the horizon. None can compare to a griffon in full mastery of his domain. Your kind shared the skies in the realm of the gods but in the mortal world you rule the heavens. As the sun sets behind you, the river below turns silver and the cliff face flashes in the sunlight. The day birds chattering begins to die down while the hoot of owls signals the beginning of the night. All is well tonight. Peace reigns through the territory. You cry out once to remind those who might wish to disturb the calm of your presence. You hear the acknowledgement of the sparrows who have become used to you and faintly, further down the valley, you hear a hunting horn answer your call.

A wave of longing washes over you and you tuck your wing and begin your descent. You speed past the cliffs, noting that the young falcon hatchlings are nearly old enough to leave the nest. You open your wings at the last moment and glide, following the glimmering snake of the river at sunset. The fish begin leaping and the bears have congregated at the top of the rapids to snatch their flying snacks from the air. A few brave young males roar a challenge as you glide over them but quickly return to their meal. A lone elk wanders the woods along the banks, the velvet completely worn off his antlers. His points are sharp and ready. Rutting season will start soon and you dread the bellowing and clashing that will come from it but for now all is calm.

The wooded banks abruptly give way to fields full of crops. Harvest time is coming for the mortals and the gods have been kind this year. No human in this territory need worry about food this winter. Rows of white corn tassels wave in gentle breeze and you can smell the slight tang of the cotton fields as they mature. You give into temptation and swoop low enough to ruffle the wheat and startle a crow away from the squash. Watching the poor creatures scramble to leave always gives you small sense of elation.

Amusement flows down the bond and you raise your eyes to the horse and rider sitting atop a hill. The dappled roan horse is no longer the fastest or strongest in the stable but he remains a loyal mount and one of your staunchest allies in protecting his rider. His ears tilt forward in the most miniscule acknowledgement of your arrival before he returns to the practiced bored expression of one who seeks to please no one. Amusement flows from both you and the rider as you both know the old horse cares far more than he will ever willingly show. Your gaze finally settles on the rider and you pour your pride and peace into the bond you share.

She is no longer the swiftest of fighters you once knew but she has gained wisdom and a sense of peace and self that many beings, divine or mortal, would envy to possess. You lower your neck and gently place the crown of your head to her stomach. She gently runs her long, nimble, fingers through your feathers, soothing the wind-ruffled ones and lightly tugging free a loose. You squawk and grumble in mock indignation and she smiles. This is a routine that has stood for years now and you hope will stand for many more. And then you feel a shift in the bond. A warning of an upcoming event that will change everything. Unease seeks to settle itself in your heart but the peace of the moment chases it away for now. Something a mortal once told you comes to the front of your mind. There is no need to borrow trouble. You can't change the future; focus on the time you have.

You raise your head from the rider's stomach and turn your molten copper eyes back to the valley spread out before you. Normally the inherent pride of the divine blood in your veins would demand you announce your power to all but the calming scent of the rider next to you soothes the fire flowing through you and you let the world go undisturbed. As gently as possible you nudge the rider toward the gates of the village to your left and leap into the air. You feel exasperation tinged with grudging amusement as you circle once overhead. While the rider seems determined to stay where she is, the horse has decided it is time to return to his clean stall and waiting dinner. You watch as the horse feigns ignorance as the rider tries futilely to stop his gentle trot through the gates. She gives in soon enough and dismounts before sending the old horse off to the stable where you know her chick is waiting to remove the riding gear and prepare the horses for the coming night. As the rider begins her journey through the village, she is immediately flanked my two mortals. One with brown hair, mischievous green eyes, and an overly dramatic flair and the other with black hair, dancing sapphire eyes, and lately a distinct desire to not let the rider, the Protector, out of his sight. Both begin fussing over her the moment they reach her. She turns to give you a look that clearly states she will get you back before beginning the suddenly much longer journey through the village. You watch her turn a corner and know you have left her in good hands.

With a leap and a glide, you make your way to the stable roof. Several grateful villagers have made a shelter over your perch and you take up your position as the silent sentinel over the camp. As night truly falls, you allow yourself to fall asleep. It is nearing the call of the midnight hour when intense pain rips through your bond. It is so strong as to be nearly crippling in its intensity. It ebbs away after a few moment and you are able to leap from the roof with some coordination. You would take to the sky to reach you destination but you can feel the pain build again and fear for your safety and the safety of the village if you were to attempt it. You run through the streets with the speed of your feline aspect. You have to pause your sprint as the pain builds to high again. As it falls away again you continue your desperate race. You arrive at the healer's building just as the Protector cries out in pain. Your cry echoes hers and the lights in the village are slowly being lit as more mortals become aware that change is afoot. You know when the mortal with emerald fire soothes your kin-sister and the pain ebbs down to a dull ache. You pace back and forth for what feels like an eternity but is only a few hours. You feel when she finally falls asleep.

The mortal healers knew this was going to happen soon and after a moment a young apprentice guides you around the building and through a door that was made especially so you could enter. The mortal woman in the bed looks nothing like the Protector. She is weak and pale. The fire that normally burns bright as a bonfire within her seems barely more than a candle flame. You feel her through your bond though. The steady thrum of life that grows stronger with each passing moment. You can be assured that the Protector, your kin sister, will return as strong as ever. You turn your eyes to the mortal man sitting by her side. He looks worn as well. His black hair looks mussed as though he spent much of the time running his hands through it. He lifts his gaze to meet yours. His blue eyes are tired but filled with joy and pride. His attention returns to its former focus. In his arms you see the cause of all this pain and fear. You watch the scene for a few moments more before turning and plucking one of your strongest feathers and presenting it to him. He takes it gently and examines it before looking at you and nodding. You turn around and lie down. Tonight you will remain vigilant. Nothing will dare think of harming the Protector now. Behind you her sergeant-mate begins humming a lullaby and the newly born chick giggles while her father attempts to carry a tune. You listen to the joy and peace in this moment and know that now you have far more to protect than just the Protector.