The Estate Grounds and Other Beasts

“Hey, check out my new joke,” Griffin said.  He did wait for Talon’s reply.  “What did the train engineer say when Electricity asked him how long it would take to move through the tunnel?  ‘Don’t ask me, I’m not a conductor.'”

Talon continued on her path without response.

“Oh, come on now, that was funny,” Griffin pleaded with a shout over his shoulder to the trailing Talon.

“Not really the best time for jokes,” Talon said.

Indeed, the timing of the joke left much to be desired.  The two were scaling the high granite walls of a palatial estate thought to house the villain who had long been a thorn in their sides.

“Where’d you get the grappling hook for this mission anyway?” Griffin asked.

“Do you know nothing of the art of silence?” Talon shot back with a terse whisper.  Griffin shrugged, but Talon’s tone was not lost on him.  The remainder of the climb was spent in quiet.  Once the wall was scaled they both knew silence was not a likely option.

“There are no guards,” Talon said as Griffin pulled her over the wall.

“If we’re in the right place I doubt the guards will be human,” Griffin said, half laughing.  He hoped to be wrong.

Talon grimaced and the pair set about taking the nearby stairs to the pristine grass below.  The slight curves and bumps in the yard played a nasty trick on the eye and the lawn seemed endless.  If not for an ornate fountain, flanked by ornately carved marble statues and lit by gas lamps, the feat of crossing the yard may have felt impossible.

The mansion filled the horizon.  Barred windows on each of its four floors, tall granite walls and a gravel drive made it look more like a castle than a simple home.  The two knew not who lived here, but clues found at the ferry crossing and the cottage led them to this spot, this one mansion.  There was no way to know if they had stumbled upon a red herring or an actual lead, but stopping this villain was job one.

The pair ran, bent at their wastes to keep a low profile, and made way for the kitchen entrance.  Only the flickering light from the gas lamps shined on them.  The house rested completely dark.

Passing the fountain, Griffin noted the intricacies of the marble carvings.  “Those look real,” he whispered to Talon.

She looked at the fountain just in time to see the statues move.  “You had to say something, yeah?” She chided Griffin.

The ground beneath their feet rumbled and shook.  The very grass had turned against them.  It moved up and down like waves in the ocean.  Talon and Griffin fell and scrambled to get away from the fountain.

The fountain had grown while the waves toppled the adventurers.  It stood a dozen feet taller now and the four statues screamed at the fallen heroes below.  Still stuck to their positions though, the statues could do little more than scream.  The real terror was only starting to emerge.  The center of the fountain, formerly an innocuous pillar circulating water from top to bottom, had grown a monstrous mouth and a half dozen eyes.  It could see in every direction, but it only cared to watch the two hapless mortals clamor away from it as the earth kept them in place.

“I think it’s laughing at us,” Griffin said hearing a rhythmic boom come from the fountain.  He was no closer to standing on his own two feet.

“At least we’re in the right spot,” Talon said.  She reached her hand out to Griffin.  With their combined force they were able to move a little faster to escape the rippling earth.

“Did the grappling hook make it into your pack or was it left on the wall?” Griffin asked, shouting over the ever louder booming from the sentient fountain and its screaming guards.

“Good thinking,” Talon said.  She let loose Griffin’s hand to fumble through her pack.  Fist sized rocks were now being hurled in their direction.  The statues now had control over their arms and were plucking stones from the water to throw.

“Got it!” Talon said, “take my hand.  As soon as this lands we’re heading right for the fountain.  Probably the mouth with the big stone teeth.”

“Don’t forget the rock throwing living statues,” Griffin was hardly surprised by the things they faced anymore.

“Here we go!” The hook fired and in what felt like the blink of an eye landed and gripped the fountain’s wall.  Talon hit the return switch, an action Talon was cautioned against taking if the hook was lodged into something, and the two were whipped toward the demon fountain.  Griffin’s shouts could be heard well above the statues’ shrieks.

They landed with a splash inside the fountain.

“I have no idea what to do now,” Griffin looked to Talon for a plan.

“Smash stuff?” Talon had not thought this far ahead either.

“You smash statues, I’ll find the relic that brings this creepy eyed monster to life,” Griffin said.

The monster’s mouth began snapping at the adventurers.  The statues swung their arms wildly trying to hit the heroes.  Talon attacked the statues with the grappling hook eventually chipping off one of the attacking arms.  Griffin splashed in what remained of the water in the fountain’s basin, but found nothing.

“Keep smashing,” Griffin said as he ran to other side of the fountain, “it has to be around here some…”  He stopped speaking as he saw what had to be the relic they were seeking.  Centered above what he was calling the monster’s eighth eye, a copper medallion was set into the stone.  The marks of an ancient civilization were etched into the disc.

“Found it,” Griffin said as he pried the medallion from its hold.

“Smash it!” Talon shouted as she knocked off another statue’s arm.

“Popular activity tonight,” Griffin muttered.  He began hitting the disc against an edge of the fountain intending to bend it enough to snap it.  Each bang against the fountain caused it to cry out in fear and pain.  Talon continued her defense and before long the medallion did snap.

At once the ground stopped shaking, the statues returned to stone and the fountain stopped trying to bite the limb nearest it’s stony mouth.  Then Griffin and Talon went crashing back to the ground.

Following a echoing thud, Talon stood, “we have to stop breaking these ancient items.”

“They have to stop trying to eat us,” Griffin said.  He opened Talon’s pack, still strapped to her back, and tossed the broken medallion pieces inside.

It was then they noticed the house lights had been turned on and the sound of the rolling earth and roaring living fountain had been replaced by a fast fleeing horse drawn carriage running down the driveway.  Griffin and Talon could only watch as their target, the ne’er do well who had long vexed them, slipped from their grasp once again.

Talon kicked the grass sending a divot to the sky.  She knew there was no hope to catch him.

“Well, at least came to the right place,” Griffin said.  “Let’s search the house.  At least the lights are on now.”

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Click here for the rest of the story so far

As is the purpose of Griffin and Talon…optional soundtrack!

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