By Linette Morgan

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High on the rim of a sloping plateau Lothau, King of the Griffon race searched his valley for any threat. The talons of his great forelegs dug into the rocky earth as golden eyes scanned the lush, green valley floor.  Today Lomere, his son and heir, would learn to fly.  The very thought made the immense, feathered breast swell with pride.  For two full cycles of seasons, the small griffon young had been bound to the earth, their wings weak and under-developed.  But now, with full wings and powerful muscles, they could leap into their new role as predators of earth and sky!

The ridge was strewn here and there with stones, and even a few small, stripped bones from previous snacks.  The larger kills were carried to the pride for a celebratory feast.  Rarely, but on occasion, a horse and rider would find his way to the griffon valley after taking a mistaken fork of road in the wrong direction.  Most often, the griffon’s lived on meals which were the likes of wild boar and antelope.  Lothau would catch a rabbit here and there to appease his hunger until a larger quarry would innocently stroll through the valley.  It wasn’t those he worried of now, it was his large cousins, the Lions.  They were the biggest threat to the vulnerable fledgling cubs.

Lomere was winding playfully around his father’s legs.  “Can I fly now, Father?  Nothing’s down there… Can I?”

“Patience, my son…  One more sweep.”  The king’s voice rumbled deep in his chest as his great feathered head swung from one end of the valley to the other, slowly searching once again for earth-bound predators.

The fledgling watched his father’s head, waiting for it to reach the end of its sweep.   His body perched expectantly on the edge of the plateau, “NOW Father?”

“Yes, now Lomere.”  Lothau Watched as his fledgling cub leaped up from the crest of his favorite hunting spot hovering momentarily, and dropping to roll down the slope.  He turned and ran up the steep slope to his father’s side.

The cub was flexing his wings angrily as he reached his side; “Father, they don’t work!”

“Try again, my son,” he nodded towards the rim of the plateau and almost chuckled.

Once again, Lomere, the fledgling cub leaped from the ridge, his downy white wings flapping like mad until he fell to the ground again and tumbled down the hill.  Lothau again struggled to restrain a chuckle as he heard his son let loose with a string of screeches and growls.  The small griffon was becoming frustrated; it was now time, the king decided, to show him how it was done.

“Come, Lomere…  You are doing it all wrong, let me show you.”  The prince came again to the top of the ridge, scowling at his father.

“They’re broken Father!  They won’t work!  How can I fly if they aren’t going to work?”  The fuming prince flopped to his side and a puff of dust clouded around him.  He gave a little sneeze and stared out over the ridge, a few of the other young ones had managed to take flight.  They didn’t fly far or high, but at least they could get off the ground…  What kind of prince was he, he wondered to himself.

Lothau lifted the cub and sat him up.  “Pay attention Lomere.  When flying, it is not only the wings which carry you.  You must put your back into it… Like this.”  With that, he extended his wings and pushed off the ground.  His back muscles flexed powerfully and he lifted just a few feet before dropping again to the dirt.  “Now you try.”

Lomere watched, and then spread his wings again… He flapped hard and a snowy feather fluttered in the air…. the king of the griffons put a clawed foot firmly upon his back.

“From here!”  The king let his foot up again and the young prince started to flap again, this time concentrating hard on the muscles in his back and his shoulders.

Lomere felt the ground slip from beneath is feet.  Excited, he flapped harder and turned around to face Lothau.  “Look, Father!  I’m flying, I’m flying!”

The prince hovered there, floating backwards.  He did not realize he was over the edge of the plateau until he stopped flapping.  He had fully expected the ground to be there when he stopped.  Instead, he dropped 15 feet before he hit the sloping ground, rolling to the bottom.  The king laughed of course.  How often did you get the chance to see the expression change that quickly in your son’s eyes?  It was priceless!

When Lothau had regained his composure, he extended his wings and soared down to the prince’s side.  The king lifted him gently to his feet.  “Good, my son.  Now, let us try again.”  He was not going to let him give up.  The prince must learn to fly.   His very survival depended upon it…  Not to mention the fact that he was heir to the pride lands.  Who had ever heard of a king of Griffons who could not fly?

After preening his ruffled feathers, Lomere tried again.  He lifted his wings and pushed the air from under him.  The muscles in his back rippled powerfully.  He was angry now, and determined to succeed.

Up into the air Lomere flew, not high at first, but he remained steady and sure as he rose.  The fledgling prince screeched with joy as he began to spiral above his father.  Little by little the prince became bolder, swooping shallow dips as he flew farther and farther away each time.  He raised high into the sky, reveling in the feel of the crisp breeze as it moved over his golden chest feathers.  He was flying!

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