In spite of their best efforts, their stay stretched out to several days. After telling Whitepaw all he could, Garkhen mostly rested. He hated admitting it, but he needed the rest—he had drained himself too thoroughly over the past days, and needed to rebuild his strength. Whitepaw occasionally called him in to discuss something with him, but other than that he rested or, sometimes, spoke with Tirel or the other Wyre.
Wyre seemed to drift in and out of the little refuge. Garkhen couldn’t quite follow why some stayed and some left, though he gathered that sometimes Whitepaw requested that one or another of the Wyre do something. But for the most part, they seemed to come and go at their own volition.
Almonihah recognized what was going on. It wasn’t so different from how the Rangers worked—partly independent, partly at the direction of a leader. In fact, he enjoyed being with them—they were fellow worshipers of Naishia, and he found he had a fair amount in common with them. Though even here he was still an outsider to some degree, but… he was used to that. At least they didn’t think he was a monster or something.
Zakhin’Dakh thought the Wyre were really cool, what with turning into animals and animal-people and stuff. He liked following Almonihah around while he was talking with them, or just following them around in general, watching what they were doing and trying to talk with them. He was a little jealous of them having hands and being able to be animals at the same time. Hands were useful! But he was a griffon, so he didn’t have hands, so it seemed a little unfair that they could be things like eagles or tigers and still have hands, but it was okay he guessed. At least he had more friends with hands now.
In spite of feeling more at ease here, Almonihah couldn’t really relax. Not with that Amulet around. He checked in frequently at Whitepaw’s hut to make sure it was still there. It always was, but… he was pretty sure the wolf-Wyre looked at him approvingly as he came, as if she appreciated his concern for the dangerous artifact.
At last she called the three friends together, coming outside with a small wooden box in her hands.
“This is all I can do,” she explained to them. “Though I studied it long, I have found no method to destroy it. Its power is beyond my understanding. Where you might go or what you might do… I know not, save that I feel you should go north.”
“North?” Almonihah repeated. He thought a moment. “S’pose there’s th’ Midport Mage’s Guild. Supposed t’ be the biggest bunch ‘f wizards anywhere.”
“That may be your best hope,” Whitepaw said. “This was worked by a sorcerer of great skill and power, from what I have seen, and so perhaps wizards may succeed where I and other Druids have failed.”
Almonihah snorted. “Or they could try t’ take it.”
“Only the very foolish would do so,” Whitepaw replied.
“I doubt we will find such leading a Guild of such repute, Almonihah,” Garkhen said, trying to forestall further argument.
The half-bronze dragon grunted, but said nothing further.
“Very well, then. You shall depart in the morning with all haste. Even contained, this Amulet sickens me, and I cannot imagine its presence here has gone unmarked this whole time.”
“And I’ll come, too!”
Everyone turned to see Tirel jogging up to join the group. He grinned a bit as he met the quartet of gazes.
“This Amulet thing’s got trouble written all over it, and I figure you could use another hand. Or paw.”
“I, for one, would be glad for your company, Tirel,” Garkhen replied, smiling back. “What do you think, Almonihah?”
Almonihah shrugged. “Help if th’ Javni’Tolkhrah attack again.”
Garkhen turned to the big griffon. “What of you, Zakhin’Dakh?”
Zakhin’Dakh shrieked happily and nodded. He liked having more friends!
“Then it is decided,” Whitepaw said. “Prepare as best you can and rest well. You shall need your strength in days to come.”
The Wyre sent them off the next day with a simple but hearty farewell. Tirel led the little group away, back south and west towards the ocean and the ships that could carry them to Midport.
As they traveled, Zakhin’Dakh looked over at Almonihah.
Where we go next? He asked with an excited screech.
The Ranger grinned just the slightest bit at his friend’s eager, innocent question. “Back t’ the ocean. You remember th’ place that had other griffons?”
Zakhin’Dakh screeched an enthusiastic agreement.
Zakhin’Dakh likes friends. Friends are good. They’re really cool! 😀