From Grey: Part I

By

Accipiter G. Goshawk

This is an older story I recently re-edited. It tells the tale of a young gargoyle and his dream of being something…different.

Enjoy!

He hated gurgling. He despised it beyond any reasonable doubt and had despised it ever since he could remember.

Unfortunately, he’d never had a real choice in the matter.

As a youngster, his word was worth less than pigeon droppings and so he was forced to do as he was told. He sometimes wondered if anybody else had to suffer as much as he did.

As the last rays of daylight melted behind the horizon, Grock de Notre Dame began to come back to life, his soul clambering back from the Beyond. His clawed fingers were the first to switch from cold stone to flesh, and he flexed them gently against the buttress that crowned the great monument.

He soon regained the use of his arms, legs and torso; he greatly anticipated the feeling of the evening breeze on his muzzle.

Behind and around him, he could hear the distinctive creaking and crackling of the rest of his kind coming out of their pensive slumber.

All at once, his mouth was free. The grotesque grin he’d grudgingly stamped on his face before the waking-sleep was quickly replaced by a small satisfied smile. He took great personal pride in not letting even the tip of his jagged teeth show over the ridge of his lips.

His eyes were the last; they sparkled a bright blue against the lights of Paris, taking in the life that surged below.

Grock coughed slightly, dislodging the last drops of water that had been trapped in his throat during transformation. He heaved a little and the remains of a dead pigeon catapulted out over the city, in a light rain of dried bones and flesh.

“Ugh,” he sighed heavily.

His eyes began their habitual tour of the city landscape, resting gently on each of his favorite spots.

“Hmmm…Quay des Orsays, I think…”

He quickly shook himself, letting his typical bat-like wings flutter briefly in the breeze. Then he stood up and walked briskly towards the door that led to the tower.

“Grock! Where are you going?”

He froze midway. His motionless grey-skinned body seemed to be made of stone one more. The perfect camouflage to survive in this dangerous world.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t fool them.

Crouching grotesquely on either side of the path to freedom were Mom and Dad. Or as they insisted on being addressed, Mother and Father.

They both descended from the original gargoyles that had inhabited the cathedral when it was first constructed and they were extremely proud of it. They often referred to themselves as the “de Notre Dames” and they were fanatics when it came to upholding tradition.

Grock had been dreading this meeting. He didn’t always see his parents during the night: they were often gone, supervising Dream-scares or attending social meetings with other important creatures of the night.

He could imagine his mother groveling even now: “Why yes Count, those dreadful chimeras are everywhere! Not real gargoyles at all! A truly different breed if you know what I mean”.

The problem, in a nutshell, was that ever since infancy Grock had displayed a very un-gargoyle like behavior. In the beginning, he was regarded as being a little eccentric, special and a late bloomer. However, in his young adulthood it was now becoming apparent that Grock had very little interest in the dynamics of water gurgling, the intricacies of grinning or the scare tactics employed in the Dream-state.

Moreover, if his parents ever found out what he was doing in the “Other Place”…

“You’re always creeping off into the Outer Planes dear. Not very proper you know,” his mother hinted a little icily.

“Yes son, we wouldn’t want you to neglect your duties now, would we?”

Father was a completely different bowl of soup. Where Mother was a grotesque and ugly gargoyle -fit only for horror and disgust-, Father was terror incarnate rendered in masonry. He was the lord of the present tribe and had fought his way brutally to the top through sheer physical prowess and through his perfect control of the edges of the Dream-state. Even now, he was shadowed; dark vapors flowing lazily around him, accentuating his ruby red eyes.

“I’m just off to plan my first nightmare Mother, Father,” said Grock bowing his head respectfully.

“Well, do hurry up Grock,” his mother simpered as snot gushed from one distorted nostril. “The event is in one week! All of the nocturnal brass will be there to witness your coming of age!”

“So you had better not disappoint us!” his father rumbled darkly.

He nodded and quickly took his leave of his two frightful parents. He edged upwards towards the tower, his mind already fixed on his dream; his passion; his secret.

From the top of the tower, it was easy to shift to the Outer Planes and from there, only seconds to his own Place.

It was a small cave of positive magic, too high up, deep down and behind things to ever be noticed by anyone other than himself. He was quite proud of his small hidey-hole.

In it, he had brought the things he needed to entertain his heart’s passion: chair, canvas, brushes, paints, watercolors, pastels, pencils and spray cans.

He had discovered paint when he was much younger. He had once had the great stroke of luck of crouching a whole day next to painter, drawing Paris from above.

Although he was blind at the time, he could easily tune into the thoughts of the artist and see his creation take shape.

It had changed him forever.

He knew that he would have no chance of pursuing his passion from atop the cathedral walls. So, he set about building his Place in the Outer Planes, slowly coaxing artistic ingredients and compounds from the surrounding interdimensional matter.

Once he’d finished, he’d realized that although he now had the means, he did not know how to paint, or even what to paint.

Therefore, he’d delved deep into the chasms of forgotten knowledge and had discovered how to look out of mirrors.

It was an old technique, originally used by the Boogeymen before they went extinct. It consisted in drawing a doorway in the Outer Planes and writing the desired destination in ancient Kirthzeran on a slip of paper. In theory, it worked for ponds and watery surfaces as well, but Grock had greater plans in mind.

It took him many nights of searching, but in the end, he found it: the Midnight Atelier!

Here, aspiring painters came to learn under the direction of the great and not so great. And it was here, through the great mirror on the wall, that Grock spied and learned to make art.

He learned about space, color, light, depth, Impressionism, Realism, Pointillism, the Renaissance, Da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Rembrandt and Michelangelo.

Through this window into a world of artistic ecstasy, Grock learned, perfected and soared into a new world utterly unlike the top of the grim Cathedral his tribe inhabited.

The bare walls of his hideout, soon welcomed his paintings and his sketches; they spanned centuries of style, emotion and thought.

Recently, he had taken to painting sceneries and tonight was no exception.

He swiftly penned out a name in the script of Night and threw it hurriedly at the great arch he had painted carefully at the far end of the room.

As soon as the little slip landed in the center of the doorway, it imploded into a vaporous purple mist. Soon the smoke cleared and an opening coalesced over the magnificent city of Paris. A perfect view of the Quay des Orsays.

“Hmmm…pastels,” he muttered picking up a wooden box and sliding the cover off lovingly.

He didn’t speak much after that.

His hands caressed the canvas; with deft strokes of blue, black, purple and yellow, he drew his Parisian night.

He smudged and pulled the color with his fingers; he knew nothing else in existence other than the texture of the oily paints touching his skin and the rich earthy smell, as they raced across the white surface of his creation.

The night was nearing its end and he was far from finished, but he was happy. He cleaned his hands in a basin of water, making sure to remove every trace of his activities.

He made his way grudgingly back through the Outer Planes, through the doorway and back down the steps of the tower.

He reached his pedestal as dawn began to glow pale in the east and reluctantly he put himself into position: hands by his side, wings folded, and mouth open. Ready to gargle.

Grin!”

He almost fell of the Cathedral.

Images raced through his mind of the few unfortunate gargoyles who had. Their bodies had become stone as soon as they’d hit the ground, their souls lost forever.

His father crept up next to him, his flaming red eyes peering at him from the shadows wreathing his body. He carefully looked down, noticing the beads of sweat forming on his progeny’s brow.

“Long way down, is it not? Don’t worry; only disappointments are unfortunate enough to travel that far. And I know,” he whispered into Grock’s ear, “that you won’t disappoint me.” Then, he was gone, leaving the frightened gargoyle only enough time to grin weakly before the sun hit him square in the face, turning him rigid.

7 thoughts on “From Grey: Part I

  1. I LOVE this. It’s so fantastical and yet I could see it all happening. Like Toy Story, but better. I love that Grock loves art and feels trapped (literally and metaphorically) by expectations! And the writing is great – “His clawed fingers were the first to switch from cold stone to flesh, and he flexed them gently against the buttress that crowned the great monument.” Brilliant job. 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much! I’m happy you liked Grock…he’s an old friend and I was happy to be able to re-edit and tell his story. I’ve found that the world is filled with artistic gargoyles who want to trade their grin for a paintbrush…it’s just a question of finding the courage. Thank you for reading!

      Like

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