CHAPTER 19

Not even the royal seal could help him.

The two knights denied the authority of the King in light of the heinous crime committed. It was clear to Fayte that this was more politics and spite than what they had been accused of. These two men were not knights of the Order of the White Shield. They might had been at one point, but their pilgrimage ended without Sera's blessings. While many stay on and serve as soldiers to try once more in the future, others leave in shame and anger, while some simply lose hope.

"Do not think having the Lord-Knight as your father will save you from your crime, White Shield squire," the knight said, tying Fayte up with a thick rope. "Not even your King is above the law."

This man definitely left the Order angry. Fayte winced when the knight tightened the knot. "Our King. And are you sure this is safe?"

"Fear not," said the knight, now tying the other end of the rope to the saddle of his gryphon. "I will not allow you to perish before you stand trial for your crime."

Fayte rolled his eyes.

The knight took out a second bundle of rope and approached Wilson.

"I am a priest from the Order of the White Rose," Wilson said, his arms crossed with Preston perched upright on his shoulder. The white dragon snarled. "I will not be subjected to such ridicule."

"Priest or no priest, you are a criminal and so you do as I say!" The knight snapped his finger and his gryphon let out a mighty screech.

Fayte flinched from the deafening noise. This gryphon was massive and up-close, the beast was nearly twice as large as the royal gryphons. Rakhor, a gryphon Fayte made friends while trying to rescue Emily, would not last long in a fight against this beast. The armour it wore was different from the ones given to the royal gryphons. While those in Rondiar bore plates of white, this gryphon was encased in thicker emerald-green plates, guarding its head and powerful limbs.

Wilson was unfazed by the knight's threat. "I will ride with you atop your friend. Either that or I free both my friends now and have the both of you brought to the King, for disrespecting and threatening a priest of the White Rose."

The knight drew his sword, his partner joining him after John was bounded.

"Listen to him," Fayte told the Gwedonian knights, seated casually on the grass. "I would if I were you."

The two knights glanced at him, contemplating, weighing their chances. Two men and two mighty gryphons against a single priest and a dragon whelp. They knew as well as Wilson did that he was not counting on strength alone to make them stay their blades. No, these men would think twice before raising their weapons at a priest. Not even their Magister-Lord would risk angering Sera just to protect them.

"I remind you, sir knights," said Wilson. "The Order of the White Rose does not stand alone."

Attacking a priest would anger the White Rose and then they would have the Elements and the White Shield to deal with as well. And so it was with that thought that they allowed Wilson to ride atop the gryphon. Fayte and John on the other hand were tied to the gryphons and both screamed their lungs out as the beast dragged them into the air.

"This is worse than flying in Ye'Jou's claws!" Fayte yelled, dangling freely from a single line of rope.

They flew past open fields and dense forests, soaring across the lands over hills and rivers. It was frightening at first, but soon Fayte heard John screaming not with fear but joy and exhilaration.

"I'M FLYING!" the man yelled, laughing and kicking his legs. "WOOOOOOO!"

And exhilarating it was when Fayte let go of his fear. He even took the time to observe the gryphons, how the two beasts soared with such speed despite the armour weighing them down. Gwedoniar City was once the castle of King Duriel Emerald-Talons. Their knights were lords of the sky with their gryphons, and even after the nine heroes had united Hylan under the rule of the Whiteart family, the King of Gwedoniar refused to bend the knee and for many years remained a kingdom of its own.

It was the Vlazion knights, who back then formed the bulk of the Order of the White Shield, who infiltrated the city and forced the last king to surrender. Since then Gwedoniar City had been a repeated cause of trouble for the royal family. Rebel uprising rose from the city frequently and often times prices of gryphons were raised beyond reason. The King would be forced to step in and mediate a negotiation. Fayte remembered reading about Magisters being assassinated during many of the uprisings. Back then the King would appoint an outsider to serve as Magister to the city and an eye for the King. The assassinations soon forced him to appoint someone from within the city. Thankfully that put an end to the murders.

"But would the title of Magister suffice? No it would not," Fayte could still hear Administrator Langton's voice from a few years ago as he went on about the troubles Gwedoniar City caused. "He demanded that he be named a Magister-Lord for he was in charge of the great gryphon city. Without his management Hylan would not be able to enjoy such an efficient flight system he said. I will have you both know, my Princess and young Fayte, that it was my predecessors who came up with the flight routes for the gryphons! They are the ones to be credited! Not some fat old man sitting on a throne that your grandparents and theirs decided to turn a blind eye to."

They flew south through the day very slowly. It seemed the gryphon knights were not in a hurry to get back to their city. Perhaps it was the load on their gryphons having to carry the three of them that slowed them down. They flew past sundown after a stop for the gryphons to get a drink and the knights a bite. They were offered no food but Wilson managed to get them some water. When they were back in the air after a time, Fayte was certain they passed the mercenary town of Redpath. Preston took off at that point much to the knights' anger but there was little they could do.

"By all means chase him down," Wilson had said. "I'm sure Sera would not mind watching two mighty gryphons hunting down one of her defenceless babies."

If the knights were willing still their gryphons were surely not.

Fayte actually managed to doze off. The remainder of the ride had been surprisingly smooth. He rested well but roused screaming not from his nightmares, but from forgetting that he was being dangled on a rope in midair.

"I'm glad to see that you are awake," Wilson yelled from above. "Look ahead."

A beacon of light touched the clouds. Torches and glowing lumastones were embedded around the numerous towers of Gwedoniar City. The fortress was built upon a mountain that served as a great natural tower. Upon it stood towers of bricks and stones, wide and thick, hidden in the night with its dark stones if not for the light. Archers patrolled on the walls held between towers. As they circled around the city, Fayte saw other gryphons flying about, patrolling the skies. Gwedoniar City was accessible only by air, making it all the more difficult to assault during ages past. The ground path on the face of the mountain was too narrow for any army to traverse. Gwedoniar City was a sight to behold in person for Fayte had only seen the gryphon city as drawings within books.

I must learn how the Order managed to take this city in the past, he noted to himself.

Next thing he knew, Fayte was free-falling.

A gryphon caught him in midair and tossed him to another. Fayte screamed as they passed him along, from one to another with their riders laughing away. His anger grew as he realized they were making a sport out of him, so he hushed himself until they lost interest and finally dropped him on the sloped roof of a tower. He roll off the roof and a sack of hay softened his fall. Fayte lay there with his eyes shut for a few moments to allow his head to steady itself. Before the sky had ceased spinning, he was pulled out of the hay and onto his feet.

"Well what do we have here?" a Gwedonian gryphon knight said, chuckling as he shook him about like a doll.

"A squire from the Order of the White Shield," the knight who arrested them said as he dismounted. "Rode one of our poor gryphons to death. Seize the priest as well."

Two soldiers with pikes took Wilson by his arms. A man screamed and landed into the sack of hay behind Fayte, and shortly after John was pulled out. The man was dazed with exhilaration, a dumb grin stuck on his face. He also looked like he was about to puke.

"A squire from the Order eh?" the knight holding him said, his breath stank of wine. The man drew his sword. "Don't get many of you passing by here. Never got me a squire of my own as well. Must be nice having a boy running errands for you! You damn White Shield knights and you little squires. I bet them knights use you squires for other stuff as well."

"Oh I'm sure they do," another knight yelled, standing with three other soldiers. "Them dirty sort of stuff if ya know what I'm talking about."

Fayte didn't, but when he heard the men around him laugh and slap each other on their backs, he knew that these men were insulting the knights of his Order.

"Hey, how's about we send this boy along to Lord Linus?" the knight holding him said. "Too late to have him taken to the Magister-Lord now anyway. May as well earn us a few silver pieces!"

The way they laughed and agreed that it was a good idea did not sit well with Fayte. There was something corrupted about the way they talked. This was not how knights should conduct themselves when handling official matters. If Fayte was arrested then he should be taken to a cell immediately.

"Fayte," Wilson called. "I know these men are trying your patience."

They really are. For these men sorely reminded him of the false knights he fought against in Eres Star City. Men who did not deserve the honour of calling themselves knights.

A burst of light erupted from Wilson's hands and the two soldiers fell away from him, screaming as their hands went to their eyes.

"I see no need for us to be patient anymore." Wilson snapped his finger as he waved his hand at Fayte. A flash of light cut him free of the ropes. "Defend yourself and the honour of your Order."

Fayte gladly did.

He swung his leg up between the knight's legs and seized the man's sword as he toppled over squealing. This was no spar or duel so anything goes. Wilson blinded the knights and soldiers who went after him and proceeded to knock them out with his mace. Fayte swung the heavy sword and jabbed the knights from beneath their chin where their helmets did not protect them. These men were strong but sheer strength alone was nothing without discipline and skill to guide that strength.

Knights they called themselves, but they fought no better than the soldiers beside them. These were gryphon knights, their domain the air and their true swords were their gryphons. Fayte and Wilson fought off the knights and their men but they were outnumbered and the knights grew tired of the fight. Four of the beasts landed upon the call of their riders. They stalked them now and Fayte and Wilson found themselves backed against each other, surrounded and outmatched.

"We did not think this through," Fayte said.

"I was expecting John to assist us," said Wilson, but the man seemed to have collapsed over the sack of hay. "And hoping that by now we've made enough noise to rouse half the tower."

"What good will that do?" he asked, and at that moment a gryphon lunged at him.

"STOP!" a gruff voice shouted.

The gryphon spread its wings and forced itself to land before colliding into Fayte. If not for the voice, Fayte would have impaled the beast with his sword but the gryphon would have also torn him open from shoulder to waist, even with his chainmail on.

"Away!" a Gwedonian knight commanded, stepping into view. "All of you, return to your roosts. NOW!"

The gryphons all turned on their tails and took off into the dark. Knights and soldiers around them hurried to their feet, except for those who were knocked unconscious by Wilson. This man who now stood before them was different. Though he wore the same suit of green armour this man had a commanding aura like the ones Captain Teynier and Captain Windon exuded. Also he did not stink of wine.

"I see my men injured and unconscious," he said, the blue of the lumastones reflecting in his eyes. His jaws large and his physique towering. Fayte found himself standing in this man's shadow. Literally. "By whose hands did this happen?"

"Theirs!" John yelled from behind, still bounded and apparently conscious. "Not me! Not me at all, sir knight! Nope!"

Kick John in the head, Fayte made a note to himself. "Your men-"

Wilson stopped him. He lowered his mace and touched Fayte on the shoulder to do the same with his sword. Wilson turned to the gryphon knight, a commander no doubt, and met his eyes steadily.

"By our hands and by my words," Wilson said. "The squire acted according to my command, sir knight, thus the responsibility is mine to bear."

The man furrowed his brows. "A squire you say?" He looked at his men and not one of the gryphon knights dared meet his eyes. "And for reason did you ask this squire to join you and attack my men?"

"Because your men insulted my honour and bore intentions of sending my ward to a noble by the name of Linus." A flash of recognition ran across the knight's eyes. "I swore a vow to the Lord-Knight to protect his son with my life. A priest of the Order of the White Rose does not break his vows."

The commander gryphon knight raised his eyes and looked at Fayte. "I don't need you to slip that boy's identity to me, good priest. Only my men are fools enough to not recognize Fayte Kaywin."

The knights and soldiers now turned to the one who brought Fayte in. All of them were glaring at him with a look that said, ‘You didn’t mention that to us!’

"As for you, good priest," said the commander. "Wilson Sayde is famed as the youngest priest with his dragon."

Wilson smiled. "Preston is away on business."

"No doubt waiting for us to give him a reason to bring the might of the Orders of Rondiar upon us." The commander sighed. "Forgive me for failing to take my men into hand. I am Darius of the noble Emerald-Talons family, Sky-Commander of the Fifth Talon."

Wilson's smile grew wider. "Emerald-Talons. You are a descendant of the Gryphon King."