After almost a fortnight if rest, Scyleia and Artemis had recovered from the Gryph attack. They were anxious to go out and about again, hating to sit still and rest for too long. Shelala and Orion frequently needed to persuade them both to take it easy and today, they finally got a ‘go’ from the Amazon Healer.
‘Thank Artemis! Finally!’ Scyleia exclaimed after the good news and jumped to her feet.
Shelala stood at the doorpost of the Healers hut, smiling at her friends excitement. She didn’t see her so excited many times so it was a nice treat.
The pair walked out of the hut with the Healer on their heels, assessing wheather Artemis also got the ‘go’. The Healer examined the nicely healed snow Tyto and exchanged a smile and a nod with Scyleia.
‘She’s fully recovered’ the Healer confirmed and Artemis bobbed her head up and down while emanating excited chitters. Orion padded towards them, curious what the excitement was all about and soon picked up what was going on and cawed happily too.
‘So girl, what shall we do with our new earned freedom?’ the brunette Amazon asked her Stryx.
Artemis trilled, not knowing what to do but anything except staying here Earthbound was good enough.
Shelala smirked at the opening, she had kept a plan to herself and waited for the right moment, which proved to be right now.
‘How about another adventure? Lets say, to the volcanic area of volcano Methana?’ she suggested. Three curious pairs of eyes locked with the blonde grey ones.
‘Minerals and gemstones can also be found there. It’ll be some nice goods to sell to get a new saddleback and furs after that monster on wings made us lose them’ she added.
‘Sounds like a plan!’ Scyleia agreed.
The Amazons tacked up their Stryxes and left for Methana. They took camping gear and looked forward to their next trip, hopefully not one that would end in drama again. The volcano was about a day’s flight from the Amazon village.
Late in the afternoon, the surroundings started to change. Meadows and forest made way for more and more rocky terrain. The rocks also were very dark in color, they started to enter Hephaestus’ lair, God of fire, volcanoes, blacksmiths and metallurgy.
‘Volcanic rocks’ Scyleia observed. The change in temperature also proved they were close. It had become hotter and the four of them arrived at their destination. Helios would finish his round in about a candlemark or two so they had made nice progress.
They descended towards the foot of the volcanoes proximity, slicing the clouds layer towards the ground. Then a particular scent was drifting on the wind currents, such a scent that shot them all in full alert, it smelled like death.. As they pierced the clouds last layer, a small battlefield was seen. A fight had happened and multiple corpses were scattered across.
‘By the Gods, what happened here..?’ Shelala asked in shock at the sight as they landed.
‘Carrion is what happened..’ a male voice said, his words thick with anger and grief. ‘He claimed this area as his own and kills anyone daring to enter it’ he added. He noticed the Stryxes and gear and weapons of the women.
‘Are you Amazons?’ He asked and the women nodded. ‘Please help us’ he pleaded.
The Amazons hesitated. A cry for help was hard to ignore, especially for them as Amazons and their honor but they needed more information. Who was this Carrion? Was this threat also a threat to their Nation if not stopped soon? The man answered their questions and the Amazons showed a flicker of fear across their eyes at the thought of another Gryph, another of those beasts that could be the end of many.
Right before they could respond, a sound was heard behind the five of them. Soft shuffles and followed by heavy steps of something bigger. The Tyto and Corva went into alert, so went the Amazon warriors.
A vulpine form appeared, clothed in a blueish dress-like cloak lined in white fur at the bottom. The cloak showed a blue tribal symbol, which made the Amazons think of the Sun God. Behind the dress, a red and orange shoulder cape flowed downwards and she was barefooted. The being resembled both a human and a fox and had a mysterious air around her. Instead of skin, she had a silvery grey pelt, hair until her shoulder blades and auburn eyes which shined with mystery and a tinge of sass. She had a spear and dagger with her.
Behind her, a big Stryx appeared which resembled neither a Tyto or a Corva but more so a mighty Eagle. She was of Soil genotype, with silvery hues across her wings and tail, a white mask with light colored feet and blue eyes, similar to Orions. The eyes shined in power, it showed the fire inside of the female Harpia and it watched them intently. It made the smaller Stryxes slightly on edge.
‘This must be a Harpia I have heard off’ Scyleia said softly and Shelala nodded in confirmation. She had heard of them too but they had never seen one before. It was a mighty beast, bigger than Artemis and Orion, but smaller than the Gryph monster they had encountered before.
‘We are here to help too’ the vulpine spoke. ‘My name is Luvesea and this is Starla’ she motioned to the Harpia next to her. Starla had sat down on her feet, eyeing the new arrivals. ‘I will not let this beast spread havoc and kill and eat others. It’s a big beast but we can fight it if we work together’ she added.
The Amazons exchanged a look. Not sure if they could trust the stranger but her words sounded true and a Harpia as help would be a good asset. A silent conversation occurred between the Amazon friends and they nodded.
‘I’m Shelala and this is Scyleia’ she introduced them, then moved her thumb towards the Tyto and Corva. That are Orion and Artemis’ she added.
‘Lets do this’ Scyleia said, swallowing her fear from what happened last time. As Shelala nodded in agreement, a loud screech was heard, similar to that of the monster they encountered before.
‘He’s here..’ Shelala spoke and they were mounting their Stryx.
‘Wait!’ the man stopped them. ‘Let me at least give you something to help out’ he added and he showed them all brimstone. ‘I only have one but it will help you in the fight. Fight fire with fire’ he added. He handed it over to Shelala since she was closest to him. He quickly explained how it worked and that Orion could breathe fire with this item. There was no time to decide who got it, Carrion was moving towards his newest targets!
The man had fled and the females mounted their flying steeds, making themselves ready for the fight.
Carrion made no effort following the small man and went straight for the Stryxes. Another bunch of idiots who tried to invade his claimed territory, thinking they could stop him. If he could laugh, he would. Similar pale golden eyes that had haunted the lands before now turned onto the three Stryxes and their riders.
‘Here we go again!’ Scyleia yelled. She was assessing her enemy. He looked strong. They were happy they had a strong ally, a Harpia would be a fine asset.
‘He’s wounded but that only makes him more angry!’ Luvesea assessed and the Amazons agreed. They were angry at the Stryx, attacking everyone and even eating his targets, it was repulsive. Underneath Luvesea, Starla was trembling slightly in anticipation, she was looking forward to this fight. She didn’t care much for the other two Stryxes or their riders, she just wanted to show this beast who’s boss. She screeched an aggressive remark at Carrion, challenging him. This sent Carrion into a rage, how dare this smaller Stryx challenge him like this?
‘Strong spitfire’ Shelala chuckled at the Starlas display. Orion was listening to the sounds, trying to lock them into his memory for later mimicking. He went into his fighting mode, similar to his hunting mindset. He became serious and swore to not let the same thing happen like last time. He would protect not only his Shelala, but also Artemis and Scyleia.
Artemis was intimidated by the Gryph. Memories of last fight surfaced and she knew this was an even stronger opponent, and also a male. Scyleia noticed.
‘Don’t worry Artemis, don’t let fear get to you. Stay focused and use what we have learned from our last fight’ she coaxed both gently but firmly since she needed Artemis’ dragoness side in this fight
‘Stay away from the beak!’ Scyleia shouted to everyone. Carrion approached, he was almost upon them now. It was a full-frontal attack. Starla wanted to attack immediately but Luvesea steered her away, first dodging, then attack at a more advantaging angle.
Starla dove downwards, towards the scorching ground while Artemis and Orion dove to either side and more horizontal. Carrion turned, and it took him more time than the other stryxes due to his size.
The Tyto and Corva went for quick faint attacks, diving towards the beast and retreating again before Carrion could strike. Starla watched for weaknesses and kept riling the Gryph up with threatening screeches. These attacks continued for some time, they wanted to wear him down first. They also wanted to use the area to their advantage. The volcanic area could either help them or prove a problem to them.
They three Stryxes lead Carrion away from the nearby village close to the Methana to stop him rave havoc for a while and give the villagers a chance to process what happened and say goodbye to the casualties.
Hardened black rocks raced underneath them as they lead the brute away. They flew closer to Methana and the surroundings changed even more. Black rock made way for crusts of blackness and fire red dripping through, to streams of glowing rocks, emanating the light from within the Earth. Lava streams broadened as they neared the mother volcano. Heat increased and made the Stryxes feathers vibrate from the change in atmosphere. At the foot of Methana, gas-geysers spewed their toxic gasses upwards rhythmically and magma bubbled in her crater. If they weren’t in a fight once again, the Amazons would have been amazed by the beauty and power of the Gods over Mother Earth. But they had no time to enjoy the view, they had to fight and use the powers and beauty the Gods lend them.
They flew closer to the geysers, Artemis and Orion up front, Carrion following them and Starla in the back. Just as the Tyto and Corva passed this big geyser and Carrion followed, the geyser spewed. It was very sudden and Starla involuntarily screeched a startled screech. Carrion noticed and took his chance at the biggest thread, in the time Starla needed to recover, he had turned halfway and slid his wing claw towards her. Starla saw the attack coming and tried to dodge it, she was partly successful.. Just as she dodged, thinking it all went well, a scream from her back was heard. The claw had sliced at Luvesea! Her arm had a long wound, red tainted her silver-grey fur and she squinted her eyes from the pain. Starla was furious at Carrion for wounding someone so much smaller than him. She was about to get head-on towards the offending Gryph but a sliver of rationality went through her too. Luvesea would not be able to fully hold on and they had to make frantic acrobatics during this fight, with the red and fiery magma underneath them. If Luvesea would fall here.. The Harpia shook her head to dismiss the dreadful thought. She didn’t care about the other two Stryxes right now, all she needed to do is make sure her Rider was safe. She veered away from the Gryph to solid ground as gently as possible. Orion and Artemis noticed what happened and understood. They distracted Carrion while Starla brought her precious cargo to safety.
Artemis screeched while Orion emanated the new calls he had learned to confuse the beast. It worked, he did not go after Starla. His focus was on them. Scyleia and Shelala had shot some arrows to the beast but it either barely hit target or it was only felt like small needles to the hugu Stryx.
Orion went for his head, then it was Artemis’ turn. They rotated each other’s’ strikes but it did not phase the Gryph much. Orion wanted to fire his brimstone fueled breathe but couldn’t find a good aim. He had one chance so it must be a good hit.
Starla by now approached the fighting trio once again. Luvesea was safe, and she wanted to finish the job, kill this savage beast. They now flew above the crater of the volcano, heated air drifted up, creating more leverage for the Stryxes wings and they ascended more. They wanted to put this monster into the volcano and put it to rest once and for all. The trio moved strategically around Carrion, striking one by one. But not just to attack him, they subtlety lowered his mass, closer and closer to the Earths fiery depths. At first Carrion did not notice and he was just blindly on the offence, not knowing which to attack first because each time one attacked, they retreated and another attacked from a different direction.
As his feathers started to curl by the intense heat closely underneath him, he understood what they were trying to do. He became furious at them for trying this dirty trick and at himself for letting them. He screeched louder than ever, expressing his rage.
‘Centaurshit!’ Scyleia yelled. ‘He knows!’ she added.
Carrion was spinning his body around to increase his momentum to both escape the trap and still make sure his enemies could not reach him to do damage. He ended up above the three other Stryxes. His stilled his desire to strike immediately from this advantaging angle and choose safety, retreating from the volcanic mouth.
Orion and Starla harbored the most anger about their plan failing and raced towards the retreating form. Orion was smaller than Starla so he was the fastest but Starlas aggression made her faster than Artemis.
Shelala assessed the new battleground. They were back at the geyser field, it both made her nervous and exited. Nervous at what happened to Luvesea but excited that they could use it to their advantage.
As Orion closed in to their enemy, Shelala took some heartbeats to calculate the approximate rhythm of the spewing geysers. She took note inside her head and told her intelligent mount what to do and she pointed at a particular big geyser which had just erupted and was quiet again. They had to get him towards it. Orion started to be extra obnoxious to the Gryh so he would follow him. The blonde noticed Starla was on their heels too. This was dangerous, she had to calculate it exactly to not create danger for her companions but only for Carrion. She could not communicate with Starla and could also not tell her plan to Scyleia, many aerial paces behind her. She inhaled deep and exhaled again, stilling her heartbeat at the risky plan she had. Orion tensed his muscles, understanding the danger and he also made himself ready to release his fiery breathe at the right time.
They approached the geyser and descended slightly, closer to the ground, they were almost upon the black hole in the Earth. The pairs ears picked up the rumbling sound they wanted.
‘Now Orion’ she whispered. The Corva nodded in agreement and accelerated one more time, Carrion did the same. He crossed the geyser, Carrion hot on his heels and the Corva inhaled deeply, sparks tickling from his beak, he was ready.
Just as he made it across, the geyser erupted its hot and toxic gas and steam, stopping Carrion and also Starla dead in their tracks. Both big Stryxes screeched, startled.
The steam evaporated again, Carrion needed to catch his bearings, his chest still exposed by the sudden halt. When his eyes focused fully again, it was too late. He heard the rumble and sparks of the brimstone properties he so vehemently protected as he had claimed this territory as his.
The Corva released his fiery breath, hot blue flames shot out of his wide open maw towards the hated target.
Starla saw her chance, she had recovered quicker due to her being farther away from the geysers eruption as Carrion. She shot forward once again and latched onto the Gryhs tail, talons sinking deeply into its flesh while screeching loudly and aggressively.
Artemis and Scyleia had caught up to the rest by now, attacking from behind, aiming at Carrions base of the neck and shoulders..