“Who are you?” The black gargoyle demanded, glaring him down as if one would a fool, who he’d just saved from grasps of death. Which wasn’t far from the truth, considering he’d been paying very little attention to the werewolf.
He didn’t reply, he couldn’t shake what he’d seen from his mind fast enough and the image was stuck in his mind. His heartbeat was loud enough for the black gargoyle to pick it up, so instead Gale smacked his hand away and took few shaky steps away from the edge of the roof. He knelt on the roof floor and tried to get his breathing under control.
The large gargoyle was nothing like he’d seen before. He was black like obsidian, absorbing all the lights and giving him the image of a large shadow with no beginning or an end. His eyes looked foreign in his squared face surrounded by long hair and bright colored beads weaved into his hair to give him some kind of color. He wondered if it was courtesy of somebody else as the gargoyle himself was dressed in dark clothes and seemed to rather enjoy his blackness in his long-sleeved shirt and jeans, yet the beads screamed of a female’s touch. Someone young and friendly, tolerated.
Gale’s eyes fell on his neckline when something glinted there and his eyes widened, when he saw a dog collar like one the slaves used to wear when transported around. How old was he? Could it be he’d slept since those times? But that was more than a century ago, wasn’t it?
“Who are you?” The gargoyle asked again, but wouldn’t touch him again while he was kneeling in front of him, keeping his eyes on his level.
The gargoyle’s eyes widened for a second, then he pushed himself up and took a step back as his eyes narrowed. “You’re way off your lands, Wenalan.”
Gale let out a low snort. His family had a reputation which could not be called honorable in any way. They were greedy punch and that knowledge had been around long enough for the entire clan to be known for it. The general public hadn’t learned their latest endeavors, but it was doubtful other gargoyle clans hadn’t heard of them selling their own children.
“Ah yes, well, I’m not really part of them. We had ethical differences.” He doubted the gargoyle believed him, but as long as he would just give him the benefit of a doubt, he’d take it. “So! Who are you?” He asked back, trying to make light of the day.
“I’m Emgar Rasner.” He bowed lightly, his eyes never leaving his face, still evaluating. “That dragon – that’s yours?”
He nodded. “We were passing through when they took him down.”
His brain searched feverishly for any kind of an excuse the gargoyle would buy. As it wasn’t uncommon to move around as friends, dragons did not make good friends with gargoyles, especially after it became clear the dragons had been secretly buying their frozen eggs.
“He hired me.” He decided to go with it. Technically, he hadn’t signed the paper, but it would make sense to prying eyes.
Turned out the gargoyle’s mouth was not black inside. Instead he had long fangs against dark pink interior. “For a bodyguard, you are doing one lousy job.” Gale gritted his teeth, letting the insult sink in. He’d used the lie, so he had to bare it. “But with the attitude he has, it must be hard.”
Gale walked to the edge and could see clearly in the room from where they stood. Accark was still cradling his head, curled up like a little babe. He hated seeing him like this. Hated others seeing him like this. When they got away from this town, he planned to make a small stop wherever they could stay for a day or two and teach the fluff to whom he could show his soft belly and who should never see it. Then again, he would probably have it worse if he didn’t do it to this bastard.
“He is a gentle soul.” He whispered and turned just in time to see Emgar’s surprised look before the grin widened and Gale knew he was sporting a generous blush around his neck.
There was familiar sound of a communicator and Emgar brought one out from his cargo pants pocket.
“Emgar! Ogalic wants us to meet with someone, can you get to his place in ten?”
His eyes fell on Gale in front of him, studying him for a moment longer before answering the call and say he was on his way. “So!” The gargoyle sighed, putting the communicator back. “Are you coming?”
Gale hesitated for a moment, he didn’t want to leave him alone there, but it was long enough for Emgar to reach out and grab his shoulder. “Valbis is narcissistic idiot, who loves crawling! And it seems your dragon has got that part down! He will be safe for couple of hours.”
Gale felt the earth fall away from under his feet as he listened the chuckling in black gargoyle’s voice. It was humiliating to even be seen with a male acting like that, but he really couldn’t go against that punch alone.
They took off from the rooftop together and Emgar led them over the maze of the streets to the small roof that belonged to the lizard Ogalic. There was a small hatch and they had to press their wings together to get through, but with the swift movements Emgar did it first, it was clear this was his usual way to enter this house. He helped him down, whispering instructions on where to set his foot before quietly sneaking through the bedroom and between the beds where the children were sleeping.
This was not a safe for children, he thought suddenly, his eyes glancing up at the hatch. He swiftly climbed the few steps again and hooked the lock closed before following Emgar, who sent him one questioning look and then nodded approvingly. They climbed down to the first floor and Emgar went to greet another black gargoyle, who was slightly smaller than he was and looked older with his peppered hair shining bright against his dark features.
This had to be Aniue. This gargoyle had dark gray eyes full of worry and pride which made Gale pull back immediately and he wanted to lower his eyes in respect. When Emgar still carried the smoothness of youth, making him look now way younger than Gale first guessed him to be, then Aniue was all corners and hardness that came with age and responsibilities. He was clearly the leader.
“I found Gale sneaking around Valbis place.” Emgar stood by his chief, who hadn’t raised his gaze from him. “Heard they caught a new pray an hour ago and went to check it out.”
“You are a Wenalan.” Aniue’s voice was husky and low, like he didn’t use it very often, but it wasn’t bare from accusations. So they had most likely heard of his ex-clan’s deeds. Gale stiffened. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement that came usually after somebody had had dealings with his folks and set him up to be the same.
“I’ve been on my own since I reached maturity.” He defended himself.
The look the two gargoyles exchanged was telling, but they nodded then and something in the way they held their bodies, changed.
“The dragon was hurt when he fell, he can’t fly yet. I doubt he is well enough to move on his two feet if we get him out of the cell.” Emgar continued and Gale breathed easier, feeling they discarded his heritage for the better good.
“Ogalic mentioned you needed a third to take them out?” Gale asked.
“It would even the odds, yes.” Aniue agreed and Gale didn’t miss the frown on the younger gargoyle’s face. “I can’t risk it alone, but he has been using our town for trafficking live bodies for higher bidders. Travelers are beginning to avoid us and it’s getting us too much government’s attention to provide us safety.”
Government was fine when it was far away, that’s how the saying went. As much as the laws had made their lives easier, too much its attention was never a good thing. Especially if it included a battalion.
So that made nine against three? Or would it be two?
“Will it cause bad blood between you and the locals?” He asked. The small minds, as Ogalic called them, could be nothing but hired locals.
“No, he just came in with his gang and set his foot down. Ogalic can get couple more locals to help with them. We need to take down the werewolves and Valbis.”
The way Aniue counted who took down who made Gale’s skin rise in goosebumps. There were four sizes of dragons – smaller kind, to which he guessed Accark belonged to, the slightly bigger than gargoyles type, the large ones that could weight up to two tons and then fourth, who had returned to their ancestral ways, shed anything resembling limbs and became snakes in the water. Those could grow however small or big they chose. However, the third kind could make anybody’s day should they be on the wrong end of their anger.
They stared at each other for a long moment in silence, before the lizard walked through between them with glasses and something hot. “Sit down!” He demanded. “We’re on the same side!”