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>> Chapter Eleven
The Shadow Stalkers
A Gryphon Guild Novella
There is a world, spun far away in a distant galaxy, where stands a lone mountain in the midst of a great valley. Arcing high into the cloudless blue sky, it has been called a monument to diversity and companionship. For those inhabitants living and working in conjunction with a myriad races are known as the Gryphon’s Guild.
The Guild mountain was once a part of the great chain to the northeast, the majestic, craggy Cetnes, great grey structures thrown up by the earth millions of years ago. To the immediate west of the ancient Cetnes are the younger, more vibrant Silvertops, so named because of their glorious capped peaks in the winter. Some of this chain are so tall that they retain their caps well into summer and a rare few all year. Southeast of the Centes is the mage-created Hellar Desert, a testament to one mage’s strive for perfection in that there is a pair of everything in Hellar: palm trees, oases, shrubs, etc. Traveling across Hellar, one will reach the border of the City of Masks, the Sleth River. Further than that, not much is known in the Guild consciousness. Masked City inhabitants are strange creatures called Darkhounds and they are phobic of any other race baring themselves, thus the moniker “masked” – derived from the fact that Darkhounds wear masks over their faces in public.
Here and there, winging on high or romping on the grassy valley are the Guilders. Coming from all over the world (and many from different worlds entirely), they are participant in the single greatest melting pot in the Universe. Gryphons of all shapes, sizes and colors make up most of the population, but there are also dragons as varied as their winged brethren; the immortal Phoenix has a few representatives, as does the unicorn, pegasi and hippocampus. Fewer still are the humanoids: the elves and their cousins. But they all have one thing in common – the drive for unity and acceptance where other races have failed. It is this acceptance that keeps the Guild running, that draws folks from near and far, regardless of background to the mountain. A warm bed and good food is always available to the weary traveler, shelter and entertainment a plus. But to those who wish to remain, they become a part of an entity like no other ever seen before.
Come, there are four main ways to access the Guild: the large slab of a main ramp jutting out into the warm afternoon, the twin side ramps a bit higher up on the mountain face, and the bottom entrance ensconced within a great garden. If one is of a risky type, there is a small ramp located on the very peak of the mountain – topped by a distinctive weathervane – that those high-flyers like to show off on. It is quite small, so larger creatures wanting to circumvent the main entrance should avoid it at all costs. Entering the Guild is preferable (for newcomers) by the main ramp, through which there is access to the Common Room, a large affair that takes up most of the floor on this level of the mountain. Here there is a side-entrance through which newbies (as they are affectionately called) are taken account of by whomever is on duty, be it a changeling chaos dragoness, an Auroragryphoness or a golden Vahazayi Phoenix. They are catalogued, given a form to complete and once done, sent to an Admin for their temporary dorm room.
In the Common Room itself there are a myriad cushions, chairs, and lounges, the whole gambit for one to lie down in and socialize. There is a fire pit in one corner, kept blazing by those with fire talent. Gaze upon the drawings framed on the gallery wall, the pride and joy of the Guild artists in all their many talents or simply take your pick from the small rack of books kept in rotation on a trolley. The main library, guarded zealotly by the bibliophile and historian to the Guild, the gryphon Eclipse, is located up the staircase at the back of the Common Room, on the floor above. Tread carefully there, for any missing tomes will be devotedly sought after and one might have to be subjected to a cleaning session with the librarian.
Around the corner, through the back entrance to the Common Room is the cafeteria, manned by a small force of Guilders who take care of the culinary needs of the inhabitants who do not wish to hunt on their own. Three windows are open through which food is served, and beverage if you wish it. Large tables and chairs, some smaller, are strewn about the hall, almost always filled with chatting Guilders. A disposal unit and several cans are placed around and emptied into the communal midden, kept clean by magical means – this also means the Guild has internal plumbing as well, a blessing for such civilized creatures.
The rest of the mountain’s vast space is taken up by the dorms. These living units are tailored to size and species. Smaller Guilders live near the peak, where the rooms are condensed only in inner size; the hallways remain the same width and height. Most dorms have three units: a small common room, a bedroom and a small bath. Each is accessible through a door, decorated upon the owner’s whim, with a mailbox attached to the side and a nameplate. Dorms can hold one occupant, or more, depending on how the person feels. There is a limit of five, though, no more, for hazard reasons.
On the sixth floor there is Admin Hall, where all the Admins have their offices. The doors are always open, though the Admin in question might not always be in, leave a message on a proffered board and they will certainly get back to you. Thus is the Guild and its way of life.
Copyright 2002, Crystal Shekeira. All Guilders are © themselves. The Gryphon's Guild is trademarked to Tserisa Supalla. All other names, places and events are © MH. Do not alter, copy or distribute.