Accipiter G. Goshawk
The story continues from where it left off in From Grey: Part I.
This is an older story I have re-edited, so the style is a little different from my more recent work. Let me know what you think!
A week passed quickly. During the following days, the young gargoyle did all he could to spend time in his special Place and paint to his heart’s desire.
He’d completely forgotten about his upcoming Dream Trial and was completely shocked when he realized how close it was.
“Ready for tomorrow night, Grock dear?” simpered his mother disgustingly.
He flinched reflexively, worried that his escapades had been noticed and that punishment was not far behind.
“Don’t gape dear, grin! And don’t act surprised. You know, tonight. Your Dream trial! The one you’ve been preparing for the past two weeks?” she uttered sarcastically spewing rainwater all over him. “Honestly, I don’t know how you manage to keep that head of yours attached to your shoulders!”
“Maybe, it won’t stay on for long,” growled the gravelly voice near his shoulder.
“Nonsense dear, he is ready. After all, it is his first try: he is allowed to make mistakes. Provided of course he doesn’t completely screw up!”
The last words came screeching out of teeth and lungs that had now become solid rock, sounding almost as menacing as his father’s threats.
Panic, confusion and terror reigned in his mind and for a second he considered escape. Then, the sun’s rays hit him and he was gone.
Later that day, many tourists were slightly puzzled and intrigued by the odd gargoyle that seemed to be clutching a pillar and sporting a grotesque expression of fear.
Night finally came. It took very little time for the members of the tribe to line the sides of the parapet, shaping a passage for Grock to follow towards the top of the tower.
As he strode forward, his parents hobbling beside him, he noticed many other illustrious nocturnal Parisians. The Count de Eifel, long toothed and pale; the Shade of the Bois de Boulogne; even the reclusive undead Emperor who now stood stiffly by the rooftop, one hand in his waistcoat, had made an appearance.
His parents had said nothing, but their eyes -and exposed fangs-, told him more than he needed to know. If he messed up, he would be in the deepest of trouble.
He tried to climb the ramp to the tower ghoulishly and once he reached the top, he turned.
Below him were at least one hundred creatures of the night, all gazing up it him with expressions that covered everything from boredom, to intense excitement.
He did as was expected of him and flashing a weak grin -less gargoyle and more frightened rodent-, he strode through the Barrier and into the Outer Planes.
The shift was similar to their daily transformation. He left his physical body behind, setting his spirit loose to travel in other places. It was through this ability, that gargoyles went about penetrating the nightmare of sleeping humans.
It was a job they did out of tradition and they took much enjoyment in finding creative ways to frighten the powerless denizens of the Dreamscape.
In theory, Grock’ss test was simple: he had to enter the dream of a mortal, frighten it and then return to the Outer Planes to await judgment by his peers.
It was common knowledge that his Father was the undisputed champion. He’d succeed in frightening a grown man to death on his first try.
As he trudged through the bizarre twisting mire that was the Dreamscape, Grock began to panic. Thoughts clouded his worried mind and he felt clueless.
He had no idea which human to choose; there were so many out here! And how was he supposed to manipulate a dream? What was he going to do? They were watching!
Some minutes later and with no solution in sight, he accepted the only available option: chance.
Taking a deep breath, he lunged at a shadow on a Dreamscape isle and without waiting another instant dove into the mind of a sleeper.
The dream he entered was…nice.
He found himself surrounded by autumn leaves, falling from a blue sky. There were no trees, but the leaves kept on falling, never resting on the ground.
It was a captivating dream; the artist within him longed for his paints.
“No! I must go on! Only this once; then I’ll be free!”
He shook his wings, spread them wide and then took to the air, searching for the dreamer.
Less than five minutes later, he spotted her sitting on a bench under the falling leaves, a book in hand.
He tried. He really did.
However, his feeble attempts weren’t enough to conjure something terrifying from the Dreamscape. The most he managed was to whip up a small gust of wind that swirled the falling leaves in a dazzling storm of reds, yellows and oranges.
In pure desperation, he swooped down and grinning his most horrible grin, forwards with his arms outstretched, roaring as menacingly as he could.
“RAR, RAR, RAR!”
The woman was startled for a moment, but then seemed to relax, as the odd creature with the open mouth danced in front of her, waving its arms and growling itself into a coughing fit.
He realized something was wrong when he heard her fail to contain a snort. He looked up into her red face and a split second later, she was laughing wholeheartedly.
His arms sank to his sides and he seemed to grow smaller. His growling subsided and all he could manage was to look at the floor.
It took her a while to stop laughing, but when she finally did, she was startled to see a single tear drawing a line from the gargoyles right eye down towards its misshapen muzzle.
She immediately sobered and years of teaching took over.
“Please, sit child.”
Grock could think of nothing better to do than do as he was told.
They remained in silence for a while.
“What is your name?”
He sighed deeply.
“A pleasure to meet you Grock, I’m Magda.”
“Hullo…,” he answered sullenly.
The teacher looked at him kindly and then continued.
“Why were you trying to frighten me?”
He didn’t answer, but only mumbled: “I’m sorry…I don’t want to be scary…”
The teacher frowned.
“Well than you shouldn’t be. Tell me Grock, what do you want to do?”
The air seemed to change subtly, as his mind climbed tentatively towards a light he wasn’t certain existed in this place.
“I…I want to paint, Magda.”
The freedom her words gave him was like the greatest gift he had ever received. Suddenly, her dream made itself available to him; tempting him with his passion.
The leaves disappeared. All that remained was white and the paints of his mind.
“Oh my…Grock, it’s wonderful!”
All around them, Paris blazed in all its nighttime glory, in colors springing from the heart of an artist and with a style born of long nights of solitary toil.
He admired his creation proudly and let loose a sigh of deep satisfaction.
He was so lost in his creation that he failed to notice the paint begin to curl away at the edges and turn black. Suddenly, the smell of Sulphur erupted all around them, heralding the arrival of someone who had little interest for art.
Darkness descended into the dream and the painting was snuffed out like a candle. The only light sources were two points of crimson that swooped down and wrenched him out and away, to the Place he had hoped to keep forever secret. He moaned piteously as his father threw him across the small space, sending paintings and easels clattering to the ground.
“You thought you could hide this from me?” howled the voice spawned from the fires of hell, as flames devoured his most precious creations.
“No, no! Please…,” he groaned as brushes turned to ash and paints splattered everywhere.
“Now, you will be cast down!” He was being dragged out again, out into the real world. His hand dragged through the fallen paints, as he was taken from what was left of his destroyed Place, leaving behind his broken heart. –
The story concludes in From Grey: Part III…