Zakhin’Dakh looked at what Almonihah was looking at. It looked like a funny little cloud. Something about it made him a bit uneasy.
“Come on,” Almonihah murmured, urgently, breaking out into a ground-eating trot.
The big griffon screeched in response and followed.
They covered ground quickly, and soon both could see the source of the smoke, one with draconic eyes, the other with aquiline. There was a fair-sized stockaded town downslope from them. Even their sight could make out little detail from this distance, but it seemed that part of the stockade had been knocked down, and something within the town was blazing.
Almonihah took this in quickly. “Stay here,” he said to Zakhin’Dakh. “I’ll call when it’s time for you to come.”
Zakhin’Dakh screeched disappointedly, but settled down to wait as the Ranger sprinted toward the town. Almonihah ran his hardest, wings clamped to his back so they wouldn’t drag him back. Soon he could make out some people working to put out the fire, as well as several armed guards standing near the breach in the wall, watching the ground and skies nervously. One of them spotted him, and soon four were marching out to meet him.
“Who goes there?” One yelled as soon as they were close enough to be heard.
“Almonihah. A Ranger,” Almonihah yelled back.
The guards halted and conferred for a moment. Almonihah walked a bit closer and then stopped, too. Now wasn’t the time to crowd them.
After a few seconds, one yelled again. “What do you want here?”
“It looked like you had a problem. Thought I could help.”
Even from here the half-dragon could see the doubt on their faces at that response. Then one of them suddenly looked thoughtful and took a couple steps toward him.
“I think I’ve heard of someone like you…” He wasn’t quite yelling, but Almonihah could still here him easily.
“Gold scales? About my height?” The guard nodded hesitantly. “He trained me.”
The guard that had come forward turned back to his fellows. They talked for a little while again, then he turned back to Almonihah.
“How can you help?”
“Since ‘t doesn’t look like you’re fighting now…” he thought a moment. “Can help with the fire. Get your biggest barrel out and we’ll dump water on it.”
The guard looked a bit confused. “We?”
Almonihah turned and shouted as loud as he could. “Zakhin’Dakh!”
The griffon, which probably looked like little more than a shape on the horizon to the humans behind Almonihah, perked up at the call, and flew over to see what his friend was calling him for.
The guards shouted and formed a line with their spears pointing outwards as Zakhin’Dakh flew closer. Almonihah turned back.
“Don’t worry,” he yelled. “He won’t hurt you.”
They didn’t seem reassured, especially not when the big griffon landed next to Almonihah and his true size was apparent. Zakhin’Dakh looked curiously at the guards.
People? He asked.
Almonihah grinned a bit. Yes, and they’re a bit scared of you.
Zakhin’Dakh puffed his chest out. Because big! he screeched happily.
The half-dragon’s smile widened. Yes, but we don’t want them to be frightened. Try not to look so big and scary.
Zakhin’Dakh screeched unhappily at this. Glancing back at the guards, Almonihah saw that they had relaxed a little bit when no attack came, but they were definitely not at ease.
“’f you don’t want us in town, just bring th’ barrel out here and point us t’ th’ nearest water,” he yelled to them.
After another moment of discussion, one of the guards yelled back, “Wait here!” and then the whole group marched back to the town.
Zakhin’Dakh screeched inquisitively. Almonihah looked back over to him, a bit of a grin playing around his lips again.
People tend to be nervous about big creatures like you around their towns. Things like that, he jerked his head at the damaged stockade, tend to happen when something your size visits.
Oh. While Zakhin’Dakh’s screech wasn’t actual Great Eagle, its meaning was clear to Almonihah. His next sound, however, was his favorite Great Eagle word… after big, of course.
This took Almonihah a little while to answer, and he responded in Common since he wasn’t quite sure his friend’s Great Eagle was good enough to understand the explanation. “Depends. Some ‘re just hungry ‘nd too stupid t’ realize th’ danger. Some just like killing things… they’re just evil. Others…” he shrugged. “Don’t know.”
Oh. The big griffon responded again, and was actually quiet for a bit as he thought. Almonihah could make out the guards talking with others at the (undamaged) gate to the town, and after a little while, a man came out rolling a barrel.
I’ll need to ride you for a bit, I think, Almonihah said. When Zakhin’Dakh looked over at him, beak open to speak, he added, It won’t be for long enough for the problems to matter.
Okay! Zakhin’Dakh screeched happily, kneeling down a bit to make it easier for Almonihah to mount.
He was sitting at the base of the griffon’s neck by the time the man, obviously nervous at the sight of Zakhin’Dakh, stopped rolling the barrel.
“River’s just on the other side of the town,” he yelled, not quite close enough to speak normally and be heard.
Almonihah nodded at him, and after a moment, he took the hint and started jogging back to the town. Once there was a bit of distance between him and the barrel, Almonihah murmured to Zakhin’Dakh, Think we can take that barrel and find that river?
I really need to find more words for bird sounds. I overuse screech, shriek I reserve for when he’s really loud, chirp is too… small for him…
Anyway, this is leading somewhere… any guesses as to what?