A Punishing Descent (Part Two)
After a short rest, the group agreed to continue down the cliffside in search of the griffons' nests. While the pelts and skull were nice, the group hoped to find a bit more loot.
Vi happily acted as the party's guide as she led them to the nest she knew of. A short trek downwards led the party to an alcove. However, the entrance wasn't easy to get to.
The ledge narrowed to where Vi had to shuffle across with her back pressed against the wall. The first to follow suit was Odarod. He was quick and limber, so he passed with ease.
Darlynn too managed to reach the alcove without fear of failure. Her small stature made it easier for her than the others. Finally, it was Angus's turn.
Vi tossed him a rope as extra insurance before he tried to follow his friends and Vi across the narrow ledge. Unfortunately, he was too large.
The ledge gave way, and even with the rope, it looked like he would be the subject to a tragic death.
Fear rushed through the group as they tried to react. They all rushed to the edge, but there wasn't much that could be done. Even with the rope they had prepared, Angus's life was in danger.
Then, almost on instinct, Darlynn's shadowy tendrils shot out to grab hold of Angus. They quickly reached him, but they did not know what to do at first.
Pain shot through the red tiefling as the tendrils reeled him in. The shadows wondered if he was their next meal.
Luckily for him, they released him back on the cliff's edge, his body still intact. As they released him, Angus stumbled forward into Darlynn's arms.
"What a woman." Angus smiled at his knight in shining armor, and Darlynn blushed in response.
"Yeah," she murmured before quickly moving further into the alcove.
The rest of the group continued with her to one of the griffons' nests.
It sat about five feet off the ground, so Angus helped boost both Darlynn and Odarod into the nest before climbing up into the large nest himself.
Vi too managed on her own, while Darlynn struggled even with Angus's help. Still, the group managed to reach the first nest.
As they stood there, it was evident that the nest was filled with treasure. A morsel of knowledge was bestowed upon Darlynn as she looked at the nest.
Griffons protect and hoard valuable objects. That thought caused her gold lust to grow even more feverish.
Angus's eyes were on Darlynn when she received knowledge from her patron, and for a brief moment, he saw her eyes grow dim.
However, he couldn't tell if it was a trick of the light or something else.
The party began to dig through the nest, with the exception of Vi who seemed more interested in organizing the loot instead of putting it into her bag.
Still, the party managed to find quite a sum of gold pieces, some silver, three gold bars, and an iron sphere. Darlynn also managed to find a bag of platinum on her own.
Once she found that bag, she quietly tucked it away before she sweet-talked the party into giving her half of the gold coins.
Oddie took the silver and the iron sphere, which Angus identified as an Iron Band of Binding.
In exchange for the iron sphere, Odarod had offered Vi a gold bar and his Venomous Dagger in exchange. That left Angus with the other half of gold coins and a gold bar for himself.
"What are you, part dragon," Odarod scoffed as Darlynn greedily hoarded her share of the gold.
Darlynn simply smiled as she tucked the coins and bar away. "Well, I am a draconic sorceress."
"So, basically you're part dragon," he sighed. "That explains a lot." Darlynn's smile transformed into a wily smirk in response. Gold was perhaps her third great love, and it
With the nest sufficiently looted, Vi jumped down from the nest, followed by Odarod. Nervous, Darlynn was swept off her feet by Angus. He descended the nest with her cradled in his arms.
He felt the landing in his ankles, but it was an easier descent than he thought it would be considering he had his half-elf in his arms. And once Angus landed, Odarod set the nest ablaze.
Nest ablaze, the group discussed what they should do next. "I'm okay with heading back to town," Darlynn murmured, satisfied with the loot she had managed to claim as her own.
"Well, there's still the last griffon" Vi chimed in.
As Angus set Darlynn down on her own two feet, Angus asked, "Why do you want to go after the last griffon?" His caution and skepticism had yet to subside. He didn't trust her.
"Well, we still haven't solved the town's problem yet, right? Shouldn't we do that? Isn't that what heroes are supposed to do." Vi's eyes brimmed with optimism and hope.
"When did we become heroes," Darlynn scoffed as she grabbed hold of one of Angus's arms.
"Probably when the king named us the Defenders of Avalon," Odie answered, words oozing snark. The two half-elves locked eyes again and bickering between the two broke out.
Quips back and forth flew before Darlynn stormed off, inadvertently the way they came.
"How could my own adopted brother say that," she bemoaned as she turned her back and stomped into the distance.
Brother? Oddie thought to himself as he watched her leave.
Angus meandered after her and sang a light tune as Vi and Odarod continued to discuss what they should do moving forward.
It didn't take long for Angus to reach his darling Darlynn, who had stopped upon realizing she had gone the wrong way. Her arms were crossed, and her expression was sour.
Still, Angus simply smiled at her and offered her his arm. "You're going the wrong way."
"Yeah, I know that now," she huffed as she linked arms with him and headed back to where Vi and Odarod stood. You're the worst, Darlynn messaged Oddie.
Her bitter words rattled inside his head, only for him to hear.
"You don't have to remind me," he hissed back.
"Remind you of what," Vi asked in confusion.
"Nothing, never mind," he sighed.
With Angus and Darlynn back in tow, the group decided to continue downwards in search of the two remaining griffon nests as well as the last griffon.
The cliffs grew steeper and harder to traverse than before, so the trek downwards took significantly longer.
Hours passed between each of the nests the group arrived at, but once there they would quickly loot and plunder what they could from the nests. Gold, silver, copper, etc.
While they had managed some loot, it was not nearly as extensive or valuable as what was found in the first nest.
Vi attributed this to the fact that the first nest belonged to the flock's leader. Still, Darlynn's dragon-like heart couldn't help but be disappointed.
Her motives weren't nearly as pure as Vi's appeared to be.
After looting each of the remaining nests, Odarod made sure to set them ablaze. It was for the best, that way new griffons would have a harder time settling near the town.
It wasn't foolproof, but it was better than nothing.
Once the last nest was looted, the party found a small tunnel beneath the nest. It was dark yet intriguing.
Oddie, Angus, and Darlynn quickly and quietly entered, Vi - the sneakiest of all - in tow.
The dark path didn't take long to traverse, as it quickly became evident that this was where the last griffon was hiding. It was fast asleep, recovering from some severe wounds.
"Should we wake it up and try to reason with it," Angus asked. Griffons were intelligent beasts after all, and they did have a druid - according to Darlynn - that could speak to it.
"I think we should just kill it," Darlynn murmured. "Faster, safer, easier." Oddie nodded in agreement, so Angus reluctantly agreed as well.
The Defenders of Avalon readied their weapons and spells before attacking the sleeping beast, and a moment later, it was gone. It too had become ash.
With the final griffon dead, the group decided to rest for the afternoon. Despite it only being a few hours into the afternoon, the day had felt long and arduous.
The ride out of town, the battle with the griffons, the trek down the cliffside. All of it had taken its toll.
As they settled down, each of the party members went to work on different things.
Oddie worked on the hides he had gathered from the fallen griffons, Darlynn began crafting a letter written in Sylvan to her beloved, and Angus decided to console a downtrodden Vi.
The griffons were dead, and the town was safe. However, Vi couldn't help but feel that the cost was too great. She had come not to slaughter the magnificent griffons, but to appease their wrath.
Was that what it meant to be a hero?