Welcome to the Adventure!
This week’s adventure is a continuation, at the request of a few readers, of Mythical Sight. If you missed that one, just know that you can see mythical creatures, Dryads and such, walking around in our own world. You’ve made friends with two dryads, Tarin and Callan, and helped them escape from an Oread, a rock nymph. In the process you broke your left leg.
Now on to the Adventure! Thanks for stopping by.
The cast’s finally off but your left leg looks like a stick. All bone and no flesh. The Doc says it’ll take a while to grow strong again. He advises you to take it slow for the next week but to be willing to walk on it.
You glare at the toad like creature in the corner of the room who’s laughing at you. It’s a mythical creature, obviously, but you’re not sure what kind. Half your time lately is spent just figuring out what you’re seeing. Tarin or Callan could probably tell you but they only drop in when they’re sure they won’t be seen speaking with you.
The creature laughs harder, its sides heaving in and out like a balloon.
“Here are your crutches,” the Doc comes in through the door and hands you the crutches. “Use them just as you need them.”
You thank him and wobble out of the room, ignoring the creature still laughing even though it hops out the door behind you. After paying, you work your way out the front door of the office and hail a taxi.
To your dismay, the toad hops onto the seat beside you. This is the first time a creature other than the dryads has tried to interact with you. You’re not supposed to be able to see them, so you’ve kept from speaking to the various creatures you now see all the time. By law, any mythical creature who finds out you can see them is supposed to make you disappear. To some of the more violent ones, this means your death, so it’s just safer for you not to let them know.
But this toad like thing obviously knows. You continue to ignore it so the cabbie doesn’t think you’re insane but when you get out and head toward your apartment, you decide to figure out its intentions before it follows you through your door.
“Stop laughing,” you say.
It grins but the heaving of its sides stops.
“Why are you following me?”
It works its tongue, which reveals very pointy fangs. “Gu…” it growls. “Guard you.”
It thumps its chest with one bony hand and says, “Gargoyle. Guard you.”
A lot of questions run through your head but you simply settle for asking it, “Why?”
“Dryad Mot…” it works its tongue again like speaking isn’t easy and then tries again. “Dryad Mother want see you.” It grins, thrilled at getting the words out.
“Dryad Mother?” You turn to wobble inside and the gargoyle follows. It’s no longer laughing at least.
Settling your crutches against the wall, you drop your keys on the entry table and turn to find the gargoyle has perched on the back of your couch. It’s still grinning manically.
“You have a name?” you ask.
“So why does this Dryad Mother want to see me?”
Brut nods and his jowls jiggle. He looks nothing like what you would think a gargoyle is supposed to look like.
“When does she want to meet?”
“Now,” Brut hops down from his perch to open your window. He settles on the sill and points to the mini-garden in the yard of the apartment complex.
You don’t see anything in the garden but that’s not surprising. There are several trees down there that could conceal a dryad.
So do you…
A. Go down to meet the Dryad Mother?
B. Send Brut to bring her to your apartment?
Mythical Choices Option A: Go to the Garden
“All right,” you say, “take me to this Dryad Mother.”
If possible, Brut’s grin goes from maniacal to creepy because his lips pull back to show all of his teeth.
“You know, you’re creepy,” you tell him as he leads you into the hall.
His giggling starts again with his sides heaving in and out.
“And what kind of gargoyle are you?”
“Deformed gargoyle!” There’s pride in his answer. You enter the mini-garden on the end of his exclamation.
“That’s why he’s with me,” says a smooth, low voice.
You look up to find an auburn skinned woman standing in front of you. Her eyes are also brown but there’s a tint of yellow around the edges like when a leaf starts to turn.
“Dryad Mother?” you ask.
Instead of answering, she sinks into a sitting position, her skirt flaring out in a circle around her.
“Right.” You hesitate but then sit down in front of her.
“My son speaks highly of you. I’m trying to figure out why.”
Who’s she to judge?
“I came out here because your son’s a good person. In the future, I won’t make the mistake of believing all dryads are as good hearted as he.” You push to your feet to walk away and hear a growl. You snarl back at Brut and he cowers behind the Dryad Mother. Some guard he’d be. This frog like gargoyle had been laughing at you most of the day. Serves him right to get a taste of his own manners.
The Dryad Mother snaps her fingers and Brut turns to lean against her back, providing her with a backrest.
You take a few steps toward the door when you hear, “My son is perhaps too kind hearted but he made me promise. So I’m here.”
“Promise what?” you ask as you turn slightly to look at her.
“He’s been taken by the rock nymphs. He made me promise, if this were to happen, that I’d ask you for help in saving him. Something about you being a brave soul.”
Tarin taken? That’s not good news. “Why would he want me involved. I’d think a human would be more of a hinderance considering.”
She snorts in a delicate sort of way. “Because I have to power to turn you into a mythical creature in order to help save him. By doing so, the law will no longer require you to vanish.”
You almost laugh. Tarin manipulating his mother. You never would have thought him capable but obviously he knows his mother rather well.
“All right,” you say, “what are we talking about? Will I become a frog or something?”
She eyes you for a second. “That depends,” she finally says. “I can turn you half dryad, which will help you communicate with the plant world but will probably turn you more docile. Or I can turn you half gargoyle, which will help you see in the dark and fight better but you’ll have a harder time fitting in with your human world. Consider, the oreads are holding Tarin in a system of caves to the west of here.”
“I’ll help,” you say, “but only because it’s Tarin.”
So do you pick…
Mythical Choices Option Ab: Gargoyle
Considering Brut, you don’t want to end up looking like him but being able to fight could be a huge advantage if you run into a group of rock nymphs.
“I’ll go with gargoyle,” you say, wincing as Brut jumps with a gleeful laugh.
The Dryad Mother’s face is implacable as she stands. “The things I do for my son,” she mutters. “Hold hands with Brut.”
You hesitate but then take both of Brut’s hands. His fingers are bony with sharp claws but his grip is gentle. Such an odd creature. He’s grinning his toothy grin.
“What will happen?” you ask as she raises her hands but she doesn’t answer.
There’s pain along your shoulder blades and above your ears. You gasp and pull away from Brut but even after releasing his hands, you’re still aware of him. His heavy breathing hisses between his sharp teeth and the soft pat of his feet as he hops in agitation sends subtle ripples through the ground into your soles.
You’re also aware of another without looking at her. The Dryad Mother’s body radiates with energy that’s mimicked through all of the trees in the mini-garden. Her body, although very still, also emanates a vibe you can only term as nervous.
“What are you hiding from me?” you ask.
Her eyes widen. “You were only to get the physical attributes,” she says.
“Answer my question.” a strange sort of heat rolls along your skin at her evasion. You’re not an angry person but there’s so much sensation all of a sudden that it’s unsettling.
She lowers her head and mutters, “they have Callan too.”
“And where are they keeping Tarin and Callan?”
“In a cavern with a lake. The rock nymphs have solidified the water around their feet to hold my son and his friend. You can reach this cavern through the culvert systems off of 52nd and Wallabe.”
“I don’t suppose you want to come with me?” you ask.
“I cannot be directly involved. It would chance a much larger war. Brut will accompany you.” And with that, she turns and disappears.
“Helpful, isn’t she?” you comment.
Brut hops up and down a few times. “She Mother.”
“Right.” You turn toward the apartment to gather a few items, still limping on your left leg. You stumble and reach to catch yourself. It’s a second before you realize you reached with something more than your hands. Twisting to look over your shoulder, you see bulges against your shirt. Wings.
“Wo-ah! Can I fly?”
Brut laughs. “Jump and see! Jump and see!”
You pull the back of your shirt high enough to release the wings and then you jump. Your wings extend and you experiment with a powerful flap of the leathery appendages. It sends you sailing up at the top of the apartment complex…where you come face to face with a long fanged gargoyle that puts Brut to shame.
Tumbling onto the roof, you spin to face the creature. It touches its curved horns, its face perplexed. You reach up too to feel small horns sticking through your hair just above and behind your ears.
“Welcome,” the gargoyle rumbles. “You have been charged to guard something?”
Thinking of Tarin you reply, “charged to save someone.”
It rumbles, as though thinking. There are answering rumbles and you glance around to see you are surrounded.
“The Dryad Mother gave you a charge, that is good, but she did not do it honorably.”
“What do you mean?” you ask.
“She sends you to die, not to save her son. You are her distraction.”
“Why do you tell me this?”
“You are one of us now. We serve honorably to guard and to save. We will help you serve as you should. Not as the dryad uses you.”
For some reason you believe this stern creature. Perhaps it’s the new gargoyle side of you but the honor in serving resonates with something within, like it fulfills your being.
“How would you like to proceed?” the creature asks. “We can follow the way the dryad said or we can follow her instead.”
Aa1. Go to 52nd and Wallabe?
Aa2. Follow the Dryad Mother?
Mythical Choices Option Ab2: Follow the Dryad Mother
The Dryad Mother tricked you. Although Tarin’s a good friend, his mother is quickly becoming one of your least favorites in the mythical world.
“You know where the Dryad Mother went?” you ask the large gargoyle.
“A few of us followed her when she left,” he answers.
“Then let’s pay her a visit. I don’t fancy being oread bait.”
The gargoyles respond with deep growls of agreement. The dryad’s words about you being able to fight as a gargoyle run through your mind. Your blood thrills with excitement, like it’s made for the fight.
“You are indeed one of us now,” the large one says. He introduces himself as Gadron just as Brut gains the roof by climbing a drain pipe.
Gadron growls at him. He scurries to hide behind you and then blows raspberries at the larger gargoyle.
“Really?” you ask him.
He blows more raspberries.
“Let’s fly,” Gadron says. “I won’t carry it.” he nods toward Brut and takes off from the roof.
Brut looks at you with pleading eyes. “Purpose,” he says. “I help you.” And holds out his arms for you to carry him. His words convince you because you feel the thrill of a purpose in your own veins. He’s a gargoyle. Deformed and without wings, but a gargoyle none-the-less, who’s fulfilled by serving his purpose.
Also, he’s a companion to the Dryad Mother. You’re not sure you want him out of your sight.
You sling him across your back between your wings and take off after the other gargoyles. After the first couple of wobbly minutes, your flying steadies out to an even glide that makes you think you’ve been missing out your whole life.
You spot the other gargoyles circling a large building and, as they fold their wings to land, you follow them to the roof. It’s an old supermarket that’s an empty husk of a building with a retaining wall along the back.
Gadron points toward the retaining wall and you sink to your stomach to crawl to the edge of the building. Below, you see a large hole dug into the retaining wall. Four dryads, including the Dryad Mother, are standing around that hole.
“I’ve set up the distraction,” the Dryad Mother says. “Let’s go.”
“Your distraction is flawed,” you call out and the dryads freeze. “It’s a lot easier to be a distraction when I know what role I’m playing.”
The Dryad Mother glares at you as the others look at her uncertainly. You fly down from the roof with the other gargoyles behind you.
“I’m not here to fight you,” you say to reassure the other dryads. “I’m here for Tarin and Callan but I won’t be just a piece in your game.”
“We still need a distraction,” one dryad says softly.
Gadron steps up to stand at your shoulder. “How many oreads are there?”
“Five,” answers the Dryad Mother with a haughty tilt to her head. Gadron meets her stare until she looks away. It’s kind of reassuring to see her give a bit.
“And you just need them away from the cave?”
“Then give us a five minute head start and then follow.”
The dryads look nervous about the arrangement but then the Dryad Mother nods and moves away from the hole in the retaining wall.
You lead the way into the dark since this is your mission, after all. Even in the near black of the tunnel, you can feel the gargoyles behind you. Gadron is a deep, hulking mass of energy whereas Brut’s a coil of tight nerves. Brut follows so closely he hits your knees a few times with his head.
Then you sense something ahead. There are five beings that are as cool as the earth beneath your feet but far more alive. Oreads. The temperament you sense from them resembles the rocks they call home just like their skin is mottled like the rocks. At least the Dryad Mother didn’t lie about how many oreads there are.
In addition to their presence, you feel two beings set apart, cool as the night air but not cold like the oreads. Tarin and Callan.
“There’s the tunnel the Dryad Mother originally told you to take,” Gadron whispers in your ear as you come to a stop before entering the cavern ahead. “Let’s drive the oreads toward that tunnel. We can hold them there until the dryads can save your friends.”
You and the other gargoyles grunt in assent. Brut tugs at your leg and you haul him to your shoulders since he can’t fly. What he can do you’re not sure and, at this point, you don’t really care.
You don’t plan more, almost like you don’t want to. The desire to fight the oreads clouds out any other desire.
You rush into the cavern, flapping your wings and making loud cries in challenge. The oreads stand, startled, and then you and Brut dive at one. She’s heavy shouldered like the others but can’t reach you as you back away with another flap of your wings. Luckily the cavern’s big enough for flying, which gives you a clear advantage.
Brut pokes at her eyes each time you dive toward her. She throws rocks but follows as you back away toward the other tunnel. You dive again and back farther. She follows. You’re almost to the point where you can change direction to drive her into the tunnel when a lucky shot with a rock glances your side. You spin under and hit the wall. Then you drop, stunned.
Brut’s hissing is what warns you. Glancing up, you roll away as the oread lunges for you. Brut catches her ankle and she crashes into the wall with an explosion of rock. It’s enough of a distraction. Grabbing the tiny gargoyle, you’re back in the air and you realize Tarin and Callan are gone. The Dryad Mother’s been and gone. There’s no need now to corral the oreads into the tunnel so instead you dive for it as an escape route, making an instinctual call as you go. You sense the others follow close on your heels. In no time you’re out and flying away from the curses of the oreads. You’re grinning so hard it hurts.
“Well done, new gargoyle,” Gadron compliments you. “We shall meet again.” Then he flies away with the others.
From time to time they return, teaching you about your new senses, but it’s the friendship with Tarin and Callan that drives your life. Perhaps the Dryad Mother intended it, perhaps not, but when she bid you to save her son, she planted in you your gargoyle purpose. You now guard them constantly with Brut, who refuses to leave you. At first it’s strange, this new association with your dryad friends, but after a while you grow used to it and are content in your purpose.