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Somewhere, not so very far away - yet far enough not to void the value of your real estate - there stood a mountain. Though I'm not sure what kind of mountain it was exactly, I can assure you it had at least one pointy end and looked at least adequately mysterious.

This mountain happened to harbour creatures that you might not even believe to inhabit mountains: Gargoyles. Not the downbred tame type you find in cities, lazily sitting on a rooftop at night, waiting for some ignorant city-person to come along to nibble at. No Sir, these gargoyles were real bastards. They killed, plundered and burned, not under some ridiculous pretense of having to 'guard a building', but simply because it was in their wicked hearts. Some were even rumoured to have magical abilities. But all of them, it was certain, could fly.

Except one.

You see, most tales will tell you of servants becoming kings or beggars becoming wealthy men. Not this tale though. This one, I might say, offers a slightly different taste... 

 

* * *

Hidden behind a wide horizontal crack,

 all the way up the mountain called Shimmer by its tasty neighbours, a surprisingly roomy cave could be found. Gargoyles had lived and slept in this almost hall-like expanse for years; Its littered interior had seen abundant signs of feast and bloodshed and consequently bore a nasty stink of dung and vomit. The walls in the back of the cave were lined with stolen soft objects, fit to be used as pillows and matrasses. More to the front the gargoyles would feed, drink, laugh and unavoidably, quabble.

That night the ambiance was particularly good as the hunting pack had decimated a group of farmers that had been waiting in the fields, set to trap the gargoyles. Before help could arrive the stupified lot had all been ripped apart and clawed to bite size portions. Children and wives now wept as limbs and organs got roasted for all the gargoyles to enjoy.

"Young one's buttocks taste juicy juicy. Gimme summore," shrieked Roy, a skinny little gargoyle that sat near the cook fire. Impatiently he pounced from leg to leg, his small wings flapping frantically.

"You've had too much already, you greedy bat," Boomed Jallo while turning a dripping leg over the fire. He was a heftily built hunter, known for his good nature. Startled, the youngster almost fell on his back and screeched angrily, then gave a harsh look and hurried toward a bigger group of gargoyles eating nearby. Jallo laughed and shouted that there would be leftovers later. Then he took a sip of his brew and started tending the meat again.

The big group sat together, munching and listening. They formed a circle of all sizes and postures, their skin coloured from green to purple to red. In their mid stood their leader, dramatically boasting of the great hunt that had taken place this night, of the ferocious fighting he and his hunters had endured.

His real name was Gregoriath, Slayer of Mortals, though in the cave everyone just called him Greg. Greg was the alpha-goyle. He had it all: titanium nail polish, surgically enhanced teeth, acidic wingtips, and above all else, weekly photo shoots for PlayGoyle. It didn't seem to bother Greg that he had no magical powers like his predecessors did. He had charisma and class and with all his weapons, he was as horrifying as the next gargoyle.

Still, as their chief, he was subject of much gossip, especially among the weaker gargoyles. Rumors went that secretly, Greg held an unhealthy fascination with humans and human things. Some gargoyles bore scars of confronting Greg with his supposed human-fetish. Now like most rumors, much of this was exaggerated, but in this case, part of it was true. Greg was indeed very much intrigued, not by human culture, but by human women.

This was his best kept secret, the fuel for his dreams, the cause of his nightmares. If it would be outed, Greg knew his social status would be diminished to nothing. He would be an outcast, a freak.

To make matters worse, there was the legend.

Being one of the oldest gargoyle legends, it told of an amorous gargoyle king that had a human female for a concubine. She was no ordinary human, however, but a feared and skilled witch and she was as dark as she was beautiful. Before the king had bedded her she had cunningly cast a curse that would take away his flight. Only after weeks of intoxicating lust, in a moment of clarity, had the king discovered his disability. The which then unfolded her ploy: She would satisfy his lust and grant him flight when she was near, but only as long as his rule followed her will. The king agreed and the night ended in xenophillic fornication. But the next morning, he confessed his plight to his court and subjects and took his life upon his throne. The witch was infuriated and hissed her decree for all to hear:

 

"Our kinds shall be separate eternal, lest that done unto your king shall be done unto you."

 

For his entire life, though he wasn't sure the curse was real, Greg had suppressed his urges. He had avoided killing human women, boasting males were a bigger sport. But as a crook is drawn to mischief, as a murderer to slaughter, so was Greg drawn to his obsession. And one night, in his weakest of moments, Greg snuck past the gruesome snores of his fellow goyles. At the mouth of the cave, big Jallo kept watch. "Heya Jallo, just going out to stretch my wings, can't sleep," Greg lied, to which Jallo nodded distantly.

Then Greg jumped into the darkness and was met by a cooling wind rushing past him. As he had plunged into that darkness, it had felt like a switch was flicked. His heart raced as he drifted toward the nearby town of Curpin. Adrenaline clouded his brain. His muscles burned with energy. His blood boiled. His eyes pierced the sky ahead. Then a tiny voice inside him wondered: Is anyone following me? Will someone see me? He looked back to see the blackest of black and shook the thought away.

In the distance the fires on the city wall started appearing as tiny flickering specks. With great velocity Greg hurdled towards them, and just before he would come into range, he steeply swooped upwards and flew over the wall in a smooth arch. He landed on a dark and unlit roof and quickly looked about for signs of notice. As it seemed he was safe, Greg silently hopped from roof to roof making his way toward a street where he knew prostitution to be common. When he found the street he climbed town a stack of timber and hid in a shadowy patch. The street was in fact more of an alley than a street. Every few meters there stood a woman, leaning against the wall in a long robe, or talking to a customer. The alley was surprisingly busy for this time of night.

Greg searched out a woman he could approach unnoticed. With his heart in his throat he made way to a blonde-haired woman that stood at an intersection. He banished his last doubts.

In one swift move Greg jumped out and pulled the woman around the corner. The woman tried screaming, but his claw was already around her mouth. She struggled to get free, but her strength was no match.

In jagged and broken speech he spoke the words he had recited in his head a thousand times. "Will not hurt you, please keep silent. Have money to pay service." In his other claw he held 3 gold pieces. The woman stopped her struggling and glanced at the gold. She kept still for a while then shook no.

From the alley, a voice screamed. "Beatrice, are you there? Is all well?"

 

To be continued....

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