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Griffin smiled slightly, happy that Chris was taking an interest in learning and also to cover up that they had no idea if an empty pen and notebook existed in the house.
"[#2b65a6 [b Uh... give me just one moment.]]" Griffin stood up and started walking back towards the house. "[#2b65a6 [b If there is a pen laying with the stuff there, feel free to scribble notes down!]]" They through over their shoulder towards Chris.
"[#2b65a6 [i Oh yes, that is very teacher-y. [b If] there is a pen, use it. I'll be looking for any free paper that exists in my entire house. Fuck.]]"
Griffin ran inside the house and up the flights of stairs into their own room and started rummaging through the millions of used notebooks they owned.
"[#2b65a6 [b Don't tell me that I don't own one fucking blank notebook...]]" They muttered to themselves and grumbled loudly. They pushed some books aside and behind them a small creature blinked out at them with large black eyes.
"[#2b65a6 [b Gatsby?]]" They asked as the tiny brownie ducked behind another pile of books. It chittered to itself and pretended that Griffin wasn't there.
"[#2b65a6 [b Gatsby... what are you doing up here?]]"
A small wrinkly black arm poked out from behind a stack of sketchbooks and waved Griffin off.
"[#2b65a6 [b No, no, no. You said you were going to try harder to hang out with the other brownies that are in the pantry. I thought they were nice.]]"
There was a small thump on the shelf and Grffin assumed that Gatsby sat down.
"[#2b65a6 [b What happened?]]" Griffin sat cross legged on the floor and waited. The little brownie didn't move for a long time before a small voice came from behind the books.
"[i I like it here.]"
"[#2b65a6 [b But it's not good for you to be alone.]]"
There was another louder thump and Griffin gulped gently. You never wanted to make a brownie mad.
"[#2b65a6 [b Gatsby...]]"
There was a tiny growl and Griffin stiffened up.
"[#2b65a6 [b Hey now... You don't have to go anywhere you don't want to but this is my room and you can't lay claims to it like that.]]"
The tiny humanoid poked his head from around the books and Griffin saw the book "Alice in Wonderland" in his hand.
"[#2b65a6 [b You were reading?]]"
He nodded and opened the page and showed Griffin.
"[#2b65a6 [b “Curiouser and curiouser...”]]" Griffin read with a smile. They pursed their lips and clicked their tongue. "[#2b65a6 [b Okay Gatsby, here is the deal. If you can find an empty notebook and a pen for me in this room, you can stay here and read to your heart's content.]]"
The little thing perked up and quickly Griffin added, "[#2b65a6 [b Provided you clean all your own messes and agree with me about living conditions given that we will be technically living together. Deal?]]" She held out their hand and Gatsby looked at them for a moment before shaking hands. With a small joyous jump, it ran underneath Griffin's bed and immediately came back with a college lined notebook and a pen. And not just a pen, but her favorite fountain pen.
"[#2b65a6 [b How did...]]" Griffin just shook their head. "[#2b65a6 [b Nevermind. Thanks Gatsby!]]" They scooped up the notebook and booked it back down the stairs towards the garden.
Chris came into view and Griffin held the notebook and pen above their head in victory.
"[#2b65a6 [b Chris! I found one!]]"
Well... They had a point. Griffin was putting in their time and effort to teach them something dangerous, and Chris wasn't so delusional to think they were perfectly safe here. Still, Griffin couldn't babysit them all the time, and when Chris was alone, they needed a good idea of what they were dealing with.
Chris watched Griffin with a strange look on their face. It was... fascination. Chris assumed they were too jaded for things like magic, but it turned out they were not. At that moment, the bitterness was gone for just a second, and Chris could just... wonder. Then the reality sank in again when they saw the pale scars.
That was why Chris had sought Griffin out, had asked to be taught. This was dangerous, and Chris absolutely needed control.
Hearing all of the intricate measure put in place for what looked like a simple spell made them realize they would need to work very hard.
At the end of it all, Chris had one question:
[b "Do you have a notebook and pen I could use?"] They looked at the books around them before laying eyes on the aforementioned encyclopedia. [b "If I take in-depth notes on my own, I can remember things better."]
Chris would prove to be a very independent student, at least. When placed in a group setting, they seemed to struggle due to their need for control. However, in a setting where they can study on their own, ask questions on their own, and seek their own answers out, one might see Chris making leaps and bounds.
Granted, this could be problematic too, seeing as an independent student could sometimes become overconfident and try to take on too much, but Chris was just starting, thus those conflicts had yet to develop. At the moment, they were just a student seeking a notebook and pen to start writing their notes.
Griffin listened to Chris voice their concerned over Griffin's teaching method. This was the first time Griffin ever taught someone the ways of Sanctuary, besides Jing Wei though that barely counted. Jing Wei taught Griffin more than Griffin ever taught him.
"[#2b65a6 [b Well, if you are going to work with me here you need to learn about what lives here and what may live here. If you want me to teach you, then you'll need to abide by my rules and my way of life.]]" Griffin thought that came out a little more harsh than they intended but they didn't feel bad about the underlying meaning. Griffin had seen witches that didn't respect the magickal creatures they shared the world with. They had seen the destruction that lack of respect could cause, the pain and suffering. Griffin would not teach anyone who would end up like that.
"[#2b65a6 [b The latin is for basic spell work.]]"
She held out her hand and said strongly, "[#2b65a6 [b [i Ignium]]]"
A small blue blaze started inside Griffin's outstretched hand and their burned small but strongly. Quickly enough thought, Griffin closed their fist and shook it, snuffing the small flame out.
"[#2b65a6 [b I wouldn't recommend doing that without a lot of training though.]]"
They moved closer to Chris stretching out their palm for Chris to examine.
"[#2b65a6 [b I was lucky to have the help of some of the world's best healers but you can see see the scarring in between my fingers.]]" Griffin moved their fingers to show the burns that were clearly visible between each of their fingers.
"[#2b65a6 [b It's not just putting fire there. You must be able to ward your hand from the heat, to be able to control the flames and put them out when it is time. You're magick will work differently than mine. I work with more elemental magicks. We still need to see the extent of yours. The more you learn, the better prepared you'll be for unforseen loopholes.]]"
Griffin moved away then, rubbing their still warm hand against their leg. They looked at Chris who seemed hesitant through this whole process.
"[#2b65a6 [b I would start with the Encyclopedia of Magickal Creatures. Read about every one but pay attention to those that are highlighted. Those creatures live here now and there is an english to latin dictionary somewhere around here. A really worn, well used book. You can borrow that if you want. It was mine so ignore the scribbles all through it. Notes.]]"
Griffin leaned back and kicked their feet up onto the hammock, seeing how Chris wasn't about to use it.
"[#2b65a6 [b Questions?]]"
Chris was startled by the anthropomorphic form. The voice was recognizable, but the shock had Chris' composure cracking. Then it smoothed out again, and they gave a curt nod. Jing Wei was making a point, and unlike Griffin, Chris could pick up on subtle behavior of humans quickly. Or, rather, human-like creatures. Maybe. What was Jing Wei anyway? At the moment, Chris was unsure, nor did they have time to care. Their guide was already on the move, and if Chris was left behind, their safety was not guaranteed.
They followed after Jing Wei quietly. They barely recognized their path, seeming to remember only a few landmarks close to the Sanctuary to begin with. Overtime, Chris expected that they would be able to memorize the path. They learned quickly when necessary, and if this place was dangerous to navigate ignorantly, then it was necessary indeed.
Stepping inside the familiar haven, Chris heard something they never expected to hear. Excitement! And not just that, but excitement over [i them]. No one was ever really excited to see Chris. In fact, most people would rather not go near Chris at all at this point. May was an exception, but May was also a busy body and possibly sympathetic to the loner.
Chris had little time to fret over this too. Griffin moved just as fast as May, causing a bizarre comparison in their head of the two. Chris had to rush to follow, almost stumbling over their feet.
The information came quickly, and Chris needed a breath to process what was asked of them. [b "I had Catholic parents at one point,"] they explained. [b "I learned a little for church, but not a lot. I'm sure it will not be difficult to learn though..."]
They took a seat in the hammock. The freedom of the fabric was uncomfortable at first. Chris was used to more firm and rigid furniture. After failing to get comfortable with the hammock, they chose the floor. [b "While I don't understand how this helps me, I have no other choice, right? Where do you recommend I start?"]
Chris didn't mean to sound ungrateful. Mostly, they didn't understand that a part of learning control was learning the context as well. If one was to control their powers, then fundamentals were important.
Jing-Wei followed Chris from his work to the forest's edge, not a spot to be seen to land. He distinctly remembered Griffin telling him that they told Chris that he would meet the mortal in the city but that was the thing with mortals... they had short lives and shorter memories. He followed the mortal until they reached the forests and touched down out of view, shifting half way into his bird-god form. His head was that of a sparrow's his legs were scaled and clawed and his arms were feathered. He liked this form and would see what Chris was made out of when he appeared before them like this.
He stepped out of the forest to Chris and beheld the mortal for himself. They seemed even on the outside, stoic but their eyes seemed to hold a storm of emotions. Griffin knew how to pick them.
"[i This way.]" Jing Wei spoke softly and motioned with a feathered arm towards Sanctuary. He walked slowly, making sure that Chris followed. They walked in silence for some way until Jing-Wei spoke up again.
"[i From now on, it would be best to meet in the city. It is dangerous to show up to the same place over and over. Patterns are created and can therefore be tracked. We don't want any unwanted attention drawn to Sanctuary now do we?]"
Jing-Wei made it sound pointed and cast a large black eye back towards Chris. He knew the mortal meant well but the warning was not as fake as Griffin's had been the day before. He hoped Griffin would take it easy on this one. Griffin was a miracle around creatures and a terror around her own kind. The irony.
Jing-Wei turned back around, stalking gently through the forest.
Griffin had gotten halfway through their book when they heard a trilling that announced Jing-Wei's return. They sat up and watched Jing-Wei and Chris emerge from the forest line. Griffin let out a small smile, half to be friendly, and half of real excitement and walked over to the two.
"[#2b65a6 [b You're back!]]" The enthusiasm in her voice equally as genuine and strained. Jing-Wei gave Griffin and pointed look down his beak and murmured something about checking back on the Pollo Maligno, leaving Chris and Griffin alone.
"[#2b65a6 [b Well,]]" Griffin started, trying not to miss a beat or make a strange silence. "[#2b65a6 [b I say we should get started. I thought the best way for you to make yourself at home here in Sanctuary was to read up on some of the inhabitance living here. I can definitely help with whatever questions you have. Once you have the basic knowledge and safety protocols, then we can work on your magic. How is your latin by the way?]]"
They lead Chris over to the hammock surrounded by books and motioned for them to take a seat in the swing.
Chris went to work with almost no hope that they would not merely be thrown back out. They were mildly surprised when no one said a thing to them as they went to their desk and started their day. They were not called back to the boss either, which was even stranger. However, the most notable thing was the lack of a certain coworker who was missing a finger.
Chris shook it off and kept working. At least there was still a job to do, and Chris would have to focus on that right then. They hardly even noticed when their lunch break came, if not for the petite woman who stopped by his desk and gently tapped on the edge.
Her name was May. May had bright red hair that made movie stars nervous, a bubbly smile that warmed hearts, and skin paler than snow in the morning light. She almost sparkled when you stared at her long enough.
Her voice was a startling opposite to the delicate appearance, though. It was husky, and often mistaken for a man when she was spoken to on the phone. Several around the office picked on her for it, but she was one of the only nice coworkers around. Whether she was nice to Chris because she was a kind soul or she felt bad for them was always up for debate though.
[i "Lunch time,"] she said, holding up a lunch pale with her usual meal in it. Chris had forgotten to make their own.
[b "I'm going to work through lunch today,"] they said. [b "Hey... Did something change around here?"]
May's lips pursed together as she tried to puzzle out what Chris meant. Then she giggled and nodded. [i "That's right! Rodney was fired. If you come to lunch with me, I'll tell you about it."] She winked and beckoned for Chris to follow.
Chris sighed and stood up. After logging out of their computer, they grabbed their bag anyway. They could always snag a granola bar from the vending machine. After settling in the break room with May, she set up her salad with extra ranch and small bag of almonds.
[i "Rodney mistook the boss' daughter for an intern. He smacked her ass when asking for something to drink."] May smirked. [i "Ass-hate couldn't keep his hands to himself, and now he's fired. No replacement yet, so the boss has been pulling some extra hours trying to cover it up, but I think they're going to promote Jordan to take his place."]
Chris sighed in relief. Jordan was an absolute coward who wouldn't dare approach Chris without a good reason. This meant that Chris would be left to themselves for the most part while they were working.
Work dragged on, and as soon as Chris was finished, they went to their apartment to change. After all, work might have been done, but there were still things to do. They had to meet up with Jing Wei, who was supposed to escort them back to Griffin.
Chris headed toward the edge of the forest. Mostly, they didn't quite remember where to meet the old man, but this seemed like a decent spot as any.
Griffin woke up the next morning with a face full of black fur. They backed up and spat some out of their mouth, making faces and unappealing noises. Balor raised his head to look back at Griffin, a look of disapproval on his face.
"[#2b65a6 [b Dude, I'm the one who is going to cough up a hairball.]]"
Balor just yawned, showing all three sets of his teeth. It still caused Griffin to shutter, to think if he was against Griffin rather than with them. Griffin swung their feet over the opposite side of the bed and stretched up tall. The sun shown in the windows that made up the entire ceiling, showing Griffin little wisps of clouds against a marvelously blue sky. They loved it. It would be a good day for everything. Griffin walked over to the counter where the candles had burned the night before. The candles were not burned to nubs so Griffin assumed that Balor had something to do with it. He did not like fire very much and only tolerated candle flames for Griffin. They walked over to the large creatures and put a small kiss on Balor's snout.
"[#2b65a6 [b I'll be out in a bit.]]" She said before headed to the bathroom.
It took her about 30 minutes to completely get ready. Shower, brush teeth, slight make up and getting dressed in working attire. Shorts, tank, flannel around the waist and the usual trimmings of piercings and the bird skull necklace. Jing-Wei had before spoken of his distaste for the necklace but it was important to Griffin for a number of reasons. It was the first token that Griffin extensively used magick on to keep it in a permanently decent condition, making sure it wouldn't erode or break. It was indestructible as long as Griffin remained alive. Before they could think of the other reasons, Balor's sudden exit of the room and getting stuck in the doorway, interrupted them from their thoughts. The large creature whimpered and sagged, his stripped white tail both fluffed up in alarm and hidden between his legs.
"[#2b65a6 [b Oh you giant furball...]]" Griffin muttered along with the words for enlarging doorways. He finally slipped through and Griffin followed behind, ready to find Jing-Wei before he set off to get Chris.
Griffin briefly met with Jing-Wei who was still tending to the Pollo Maligno. The Pollo Maligno ran around with lots of energy this morning, snapping their jaws at each other and making monstrous clucking sounds. The two spoke of Jing-Wei's adventure into the city, following Chris back to their apartment.
"[i I know the way and I will leave when the sun started to dip from it's place in the center of the sky. I will bring them back to sanctuary.]"
It was what he promised before shooing Griffin away to do chores. Griffin sometimes wondered who was more in charge but after they had gotten done doing all the chores around Sanctuary, they realized who really cared for all the creatures here.
Griffin had just finished mucking out one of the ponds when Jing-Wei walked back over to see them.
"[i I am leaving to fetch the second young witch.]"
"[#2b65a6 [b I am not that young you know.]]"
"[i Do you know how old I am?]"
"[#2b65a6 [b No. You never told me.]]"
"[i Then believe me when I say that you are very young, both you and the other young witch.]"
"[#2b65a6 [b As long as you mean it nicely.]]" She said flashing him a smile and their hand brushed along the strands of hair of a Kelpie, residing in the shallows. This one liked to stare at Griffin while they did their work around the pond. Pondstar Griffin called the Kelpie. Pondstar had never yet spoken to Griffin, a mutual trust needing to still be made, much like Chris. "[#2b65a6 [b I'll be waiting when you get back.]]" Griffin said, turning back to Jing-Wei who was already shifting into his Sparrow form. He took off without another word and started to fly for the city. It would be maybe an hour or two before Jing-Wei and Chris got back. What would Griffin do with so much free time?
They smiled wide at the prospect and ran inside to get some books, half of them for Chris but the other half for themselves. It took Griffin almost no time at all the gather them up in a satchel and take them outside by a hammock that Griffin had set up with a nymph who had taken refuse in Sanctuary years ago. She was long gone now but Griffin loved the memories of them laying in the hammock together, sharing stories of the world. Griffin climbed in it, the smell of the wildflowers they intertwined into it still as pungent as the day they made it together. Griffin opened a book and began to pour through it, resting a leg on the ground and swinging themselves back and forth with a small smile on their face.
No one... Well, it seemed a good thing that Chris made no real friends. As predicted, they followed after Griffin like a shadow. They stuck close to the other, trying not to lose them.
Chris already had questions, but it was already a pretty intense day. It felt like if they tried to take in more information, their buzzing head would already explode. Their worldview had only just finished adjusting to accept they had power to begin with, something Chris had never dreamed of having before. In a way, it was stripping some of the feelings of helplessness they had developed due to their own bitter past. However, Chris had long-since learned that to get what they want, fear, no matter how much was felt, would have to be overcome.
When they reached the edge of the forest, Chris waved goodbye as well. Then they started toward their home.
Home was not squalor, but it was not beautiful either. Home was a studio apartment with crumbling walls around the complex and windows that were barred to keep out thieves who might try to rob you in the night. One had to be buzzed in with an ID card or by someone already living there.
Chris carried their's in their pocket. They pulled it out and held it up to the sensor. An audible click signaled the door to the building unlocking. Then Chris started up.
The inside was not as depressing as the outside. Off-white paint on the walls and plenty of light. The doors were a sickly green color. It wasn't appealing, but it was clean and even under good condition. The doors were heavy too, once again preventing break-ins.
To be fair, Chris could afford a better place if they tried, but this was close to work, and it was extremely private.
Chris' own apartment was organized. Almost obsessively so. Their murphy bed was tucked up into the wall, and they had a vanity kept on the opposite wall. The bed was nothing special. It was a place to sleep. The vanity, however, had counter tops made of marble with their drawers and dresser sections made of a beautiful oak. The mirror was large and encased in a spiraling design from the wood as well. It was the nicest thing they owned, and the only vanity Chris allowed themselves.
Inside the drawers were clothes that Chris wore. Since their wardrobe was rather simple, many clothes never felt necessary. However, the top of the vanity had several necklaces hung around different edges and displays made from all sorts of materials. Okay, perhaps there was one other vanity... Chris removed the necklace they wore now and placed it with the others. Then they looked into the mirror, a frown etched into their face.
Their were a few pictures on the walls. Mostly of Chris as a child, shifting as always between the masculine and the feminine depending on what they could get away with at their last home. Long hair, short hair. Big and hopeful eyes gradually dulled with anger. Vibrant smile finally molded into something like a sculpture, representing what Chris wanted. Chris hated those pictures, but they were the only reminder that, at one point, they too were a child and not merely hatched from an egg, angry and always cynical.
They prepared for bed. Then, the next morning, they prepared for work. Chris hadn't even bothered to check if they were still employed. Perhaps they weren't, but if that was the case... Then there really was nothing tying Chris here. They could fully take on the education of their power with no other distractions. They wouldn't even have to live in their apartment anymore.
At the mention of the word "appearances", something old and ugly stirred inside Griffin's heart and mind. It was a word they had heard often enough in their childhood, a word that trapped them for years. Griffin just paused for a moment after Chris had stopped speaking, genuinely trying to let what Chris said sink in.
"[#2b65a6 [b I guess.]]" Was all they could bring themselves to say. They turned, put two fingers in their mouth and whistled. A dark shape with a skull for a face came bounding up the hill. Balor stopped beside Griffin, dipping his head for their hand to rub the skull, a purr coming from the large beast. Griffin looked back at Chris.
"[#2b65a6 [b If that's what you wish, then obviously I won't stop you. But know that no one from the outside is allowed to know where you go and [i no one] is allowed to come with you. Jing-Wei won't hesitate to take out anyone that dares try and follow you...]]" Their voice got a little dark with the last sentence, dark memories surfacing in Griffin's mind, countless names on the tip of their tongue like poison.
"[#2b65a6 [b Balor, Jing-Wei and I can escort you to the forest's edge. Then, Jing-Wei will escort you home, that way he knows where to get you tomorrow. You will be helping me around the sanctuary, have some questions ready.]]"
They nodded towards the border and started walking, knowing Chris would follow. She noticed Jing-Wei in sparrow form above them, circling and hovering, watching where they went.
They walked in silence with Chris for a while, the only noises being Chris' and Griffin's footfalls. Balor was silent as usual, just walking calmly beside Griffin. They didn't say much to Chris, a little bitter to half to walk so close to the humans again. They didn't understand why Chris wanted to go back. Chris had discovered that they had magickal abilities, sought the whole way out to Griffin's sanctuary for a teacher and still wanted to go back? Perhaps Griffin was biased. It was the humans that hunted their creatures to near or complete extinction. Some of the creatures they cared for were the last of their kind. Maybe Chris would come to understand.
When they reached the forest's edge, Balor lost his color and became invisible, stalking back into the shadows.
"[#2b65a6 [b This is where we leave you. Jing-Wei will follow you into the city. Let's say you come back tomorrow around... I don't know, before 5? It will give me enough time to introduce you to everyone.]]" They nodded to Chris and started to back up towards the sanctuary. With one last thought, they turned back and waved at Chris.
"[#2b65a6 [b See you tomorrow.]]" and with that, started to walk back home with Balor.
It didn't take them long to arrive back at sanctuary. The sun was starting to set and the bioluminescent creatures were coming out. Many of them were different types of forest fairies that took a liking to Griffin's sanctuary and came to visit often. Those that didn't cause trouble were allowed to stay. Griffin liked them a lot. They made the sanctuary prettier. Griffin made a note to search for bioluminescent plants to decorate with as well. Perhaps some of the water dwellers would like that. They made their way into the house and heard a creaking behind her that signaled something large trying to get in. They turned to see Balor with big, sad eyes staring at them with a whimper. Griffin sighed. Every so often, Balor would want to stay with them. They wondered if he had anxiety or depression but since he mostly took care of himself, Griffin let him do it. They motioned to the door frame with their fingers and muttered, "[#2b65a6 [b [i Maior]]]" and watched as the frame grew bigger, letting Balor inside. The whimpering stopped and the large beast pressed himself against Griffin's small frame.
"[#2b65a6 [b Okay, okay.]]" They smiled, patting his fur and began walking upstairs, casting the enlarging spell every time Balor got stuck in the fixtures. It took much longer for them to get upstairs to their room than normal but soon enough, Griffin and Balor were up inside their room. The glass roof showed the setting sun, the light streaking across the windowpanes, making the lines of Griffin's hard wood floors stretch up the walls lined with paper with everything from drawings to notes. Griffin laid down on the bed with a sigh and snapped their fingers with a quick, "[#2b65a6 [b [i lux in parva flamma]]]". The candles that sat on their desk burst to life, filling the room with the scent of lavender. Balor yawned and laid down beside Griffin's bed, large enough to still drape half of his body on the bed next to Griffin. They rolled over, laying against Balor's fur and closed their eyes, thinking about Chris and what was going to happen next in their lives.
Well... That was an unexpected response. What did they expect? Was this person so removed from reality that... No. Wait. Chris had very little room to judge. After all, they were wandering through a forest to find her, risking their own life in the process it seemed seeing as most of the animals here would eat them alive. Where she may not be familiar with people and the obligations they feel, she had a keen insight on the creatures other than human that inhabited the world.
And Chris knew people. At least, they knew people [i well enough]. It wasn't a perfect balance or anything, but they could at least calmly explain why it was important for them to go back to the city.
These explanations would need to be saved, though. Griffin was off again, and Chris was left to follow her closely. Again... eat them.
As they passed the creatures, Chris did as they were told and did not respond to them. It left them feeling rather intimidated by the entire prospect again, though.
Chris measured the man named Jing-Wei as they met him just over the hill. Whatever relationship the two had, Chris was a bit envious. Not over the fact that someone was so close to they teacher. They were envious at the prospect of a close friendship in general. Chris had... no one.
Not that it made them bitter. They just never understood how others could be so close like that.
Again, Chris remained relatively quiet. They were merely soaking in the information. When posed with the question though, the obvious one of "why", they saw their chance.
[b "People have responsibilities,"] they explained calmly. [b "I have my apartment in the city, and my lease won't be up for a couple more months. I have a job, too... Well, maybe. I might be fired if Rodney thinks I'm at fault for what happened."] And Chris was technically at fault. They would be shocked if Rodney didn't fire them immediately.
[b "I also have to keep up some appearances. You hide in the forest away from others for a reason, right? Well... I still have to hide in plain sight, and if I disappear..."] Chris trailed off as the realization dawned on them. Chris didn't make friends well, so no one would look for them. That entire reason might be flawed.
Griffin paused for a moment. They hadn't expected Chris to go back. By offering them a room, Griffin just assumed they were going to stay here and help.
"[#2b65a6 [b Well, I hadn't expected you to leave.]]" Griffin said, voicing their honesty. "[#2b65a6 [b I expected you to stay here.]]"
Griffin stared to walk back down the hall motioning for Chris to follow. They started to think of ways that would make it easier for Chris to come and go from the ranch as needed. It would be unwise to just let them wander in from a day in the city passed all the ponds and pens. Griffin wasn't exaggerating that some of the creatures might kill Chris given the chance. They could be like that with strangers they weren't used to, something Griffin was slowly trying to teach them all. Perhaps Balor could guide him? But trusting Balor to not get lost or eat Chris should he get annoyed was also unwise. Was Griffin going to need to go to the City? They groaned at the thought and made their way down the stairs, still riddling out in their head how to make this work.
"[#2b65a6 [b I guess we can work something out.]]" Only a half lie. They were still thinking on ways it could work. Perhaps Tweety could guide Chris; Tweety had found Chris to start with. That was when it hit her.
"[#2b65a6 [b Of course. I could always ask him.]]" Griffin said allowed, picking up their pace and hurrying outside.
Many creatures milled about, just going about their business, playing, talking, sunbathing, walking. Most heads turned to look at the new comer, some sending out calls that Griffin just ignored throwing over their shoulder, "[#2b65a6 [b Don't respond. A lot of them aren't fully trained yet to deal with humans and are steadfast in their old ways of, well, killing people. I try my best to make sure everyone lives in harmony.]]"
They walked over a hill and saw a man standing amiss a small flock of chickens. Griffin jogged over to him, calling out a friendly greeting.
"[#2b65a6 [b Jing-Wei!]]" She called with a slight wave. The man turned, his eyes black and sharp with an unparalelled intelligence, hair pulled into a tight black bun, small lips and sharp nose he looked with slight warmth at Griffin.
"[i Hello young one. Who is this?]"
"[#2b65a6 [b This is Chris. Speaking of, I have a favor to ask you.]]"
At this his face pinched a little bit and he was slow in asking his next questions. "[i What do you need Gé lǐ fēn?]"
Griffin flinched a little hearing their name said in Jing-Wei's native tongue. It generally meant that they were getting on his nerves.
"[#2b65a6 [b I'm sorry. I know it's a lot to ask but I am almost out of options. Chris needs someone to take them back and forth from the city to our sanctuary safely. You're the only one I trust to do this.]]"
"[i Just like I was the only one you trusted to watch the Pollo Maligno?]" He said motioning to the chickens.
"[#2b65a6 [b They haven't liked me very much to begin with.]]" They muttered before feeling something rubbing against her pant leg. It was a Pollo Maligno, brushing it's feathers against their pant leg, clucking gently as Griffin looked back up into Jing-Wei's unamused eyes.
"[i We will pretend I believe you.]"
It only took a second for the chicken to go from resting against Griffin's leg to poking around Chris's feet. It seemed to take Chris in, take their scent in and in one moment, the chicken's jaw unhinged and its entire beak was lined with razor sharp teeth. It lunged at Chris, tail swinging before being swatted away by Jing-Wei's cane. It fell on the ground in a heap and clucked once before hurrying away to join the others.
"[i Shoo.]" He chastised, glaring at the feathered demon before looking at Chris. "[i Fine. I shall help escort this Chris to and from the city. For you Gé lǐ fēn. Explain how this will work and I will be there tomorrow where ever you tell me to be.]"
With that, Jing-Wei went back to herding the chickens around and Griffin smiled wide, pleased that they were able to get some help.
"[#2b65a6 [b Yes!]]" They muttered, doing a small victory dance before remembering that Chris was waiting for the next set of instructions. Griffin cleared their throat. " [#2b65a6 [b Yes... right, um, follow me.]]"
They began walking around the property, Griffin always able to think better when they could move.
"[#2b65a6 [b Jing-Wei is a sparrow Hengeyokai. He is kind of like a shapeshifter but much older and more intelligent. Just don't call him a shapeshifter to his face. If he doesn't kill you, he will bore you to death with the history of Hengeyokai and all of Japan for that matter. He will be in the city to get you everyday and bring you here and take you back. You will look for either his human form or his sparrow form. You know what a sparrow looks like, right?]]" They stopped just in front of where they came into the sanctuary and Griffin looked at Chris.
"[#2b65a6 [b That's if you don't want to stay.]]" Griffin paused for a moment. "[#2b65a6 [b Why would you even want to go back?]]" They questioned, general concern and confusion in their voice.
Chris felt relief like a cold compress on a sprained ankle. However, the moment Griffin made their stance clear on what happened in response to betrayal, Chris was tense again. Balor was an extremely scary monster to Chris, something to be wary of.
However, Griffin had control of the beast, and Chris would have to put their trust in this stranger to get what they desired... And what did they desire? So far, it seemed to be control. If Griffin could teach Chris control over their skills, then it was all worth it in the end.
At first, Chris feared they were more lost than he had been alone. Then the illusion subsided, and Chris witnessed the small hut in some aw. They really seemed to survive out here alone just fine.
Chris watched the exchange with this "Tweety" with some amusement. One might not be able to tell they were amused though. Their features were often shaped into the same composed mask. Chris also expected the novelty of watching Griffin interact with their "family" to wear off after a little while. They were jaded that way sometimes.
If the outside was impressive, the inside was even more so. With the first step inside, Chris's composure cracked just a little. Their brows perked and their eyes widened just a bit, displaying the surprise they felt.
Chris made a mental list of where they were and were not allowed to go. It was simple enough. They had the guest room they were shown at the end of their tour... and that was it. Easy enough. Chris didn't need to be in those other rooms yet anyway. Their gaze shifted back to Griffin.
[b "How do I safely find my way here and out? I still have a life in the city. A job... well, maybe a job. Rodney is still mad at me."] If Chris was going to be regularly seeing Griffin, they needed to know how to get here without getting eaten, as Griffin was so keen to warn might happen.
Chris' statement took Griffin by surprise. Whenever Griffin offered that to someone, witch or human alike, they always tried to assure them of the good inside each other their hearts. People would bargain with Griffin, or show example of their good deeds, or swear on their lives or other lives.
No one but Chris had ever been so up front before. Chris seemed to tell the raw truth of it. Griffin couldn't be sure it was entirely the truth but it was impossible for them to know regardless. Griffin could read creatures, not people. Chris could be an alien subject for all it mattered, Griffin would not be able to read a thing.
But the cord was struck and Griffin gave Balor a gentle hand signal and he backed down gently, laying around Griffin's body, still at chest height.
"[#2b65a6 [b I like your honesty, or what you are giving me as your honesty. I don't teach or rather... I've never taught. Not people anyway. I'm ... different from other witches.]]" They made a small glance towards Balor who let out a large yawn, showing all his sharpened teeth. "[#2b65a6 [b If you mean what you say ...]]" They paused for a moment and breathed out. "[#2b65a6 [b Then yes, I will help you. And give me any reason to not trust you.]]" Griffin snapped twice and Balor leapt forward snapping his jaws inches from Chris' face before retreating back beside Griffin. They stared Chris down, their blue eyes suddenly icy.
"[#2b65a6 [b I won't hesitate to end you. This is my life and they are my family. You best take that to heart.]]"
Griffin started walking towards their home, motioning for Chris to follow with a short "[#2b65a6 [b Come.]]" The walk was short as well, only five minutes to the north of where Chris had been. It looked like a small hut, smoke coming from the chimney with a wide open yard. Griffin smiled and looked at Chris.
"[#2b65a6 [b Ready?]]" Griffin walked through the barrier, motioning for them to follow. When they were all through, the scenery changed. Griffin's house was large, many stories to it, looking like a cottage mansion rather than a single story home. Ponds and puddles, dotted the land scape while pens stood proudly in other spots. Creatures of all kinds ran wild around the yard, freely being who they were without a care stopping them. Griffin stopped and turned towards Balor, going through his fur with a concentrated look on their face.
"[#2b65a6 [b Tweety, I know you're in there. Come out ... nnnnow.]]" They said finally grabbing the small thing. It squeaked angrily and Balor shook himself out. Griffin nodded, setting the little thing down and it changed into bird form and flew off towards the trees.
"[#2b65a6 [b Stay away from humans Tweety!]]" Griffin called after him. They turned back to Chris adding, "[#2b65a6 [b I sound proofed this place. No sound goes out but we can hear if anything is coming. Come on. I'll show you the house.]]"
They walked up and stepped up the front porch. Something rattled underneath their feet but Griffin wasn't bothered by it at all. They opened the door to a sunny looking home. Windows dotted almost everywhere, lighting up the hallway they were in.
"[#2b65a6 [b Now, couple of warnings. My creatures won't be used to you quite yet so don't go wandering without me. Some of them would try and eat you. Don't go into rooms without permission. Again eat you. Don't go near the ponds if you can't swim or are easily fooled. Again eat you. And going into the pens is ill advised and this is because you can get trampled or eaten.]]" Griffin smiled a little and walked up the stairs immediately to their right. It was a short flight the lead to the second story. They rounded the corner and took another flight of stairs to the third and final story. They stopped at the door and Griffin pointed.
"[#2b65a6 [b This is my room. Perhaps one day you can come in here but for today, no.]]" They walked past Chris and down the stairs again, this time making their way through the hallway to the last door on the left. Griffin pushed open the door to a small room with a made single bed, a nightstand, and a dresser.
"[#2b65a6 [b I can't believe I have a spare guest room either. Parents I guess. Or something. Anyway, do you have any questions so far?]]" They looked at Chris expectantly.
Chris took a measured step back with the appearance of the beast. The creature was intimidating - alien, even. It was also terrifying to Chris, in part due to the unfamiliarity, but also because of the nature of the beast itself. Chris now watched the creature more than Griffin, glancing at the other only every so often to make sure they were still there.
There was little by way of defense that Chris would use for their previous action against their boss. At least, there wasn't a defense without explaining a little more of their own history, which they were always unwilling to do. [b "It was a dark moment,"] they said, making that the only offer as to why they used these "dark magicks" as opposed to something good.
Chris could feel the pain still, the phantom of the sensation where Rodney had poked them. [b "I could say that it was not my intent to make their finger fall off, but that was a lie. I just didn't think it was [i possible] for me to do that."]
Then it dawned on them. This was how they could gain Griffin's trust, right? [b "I can't promise I won't betray you. We haven't come to that bridge yet, so I don't know if I could ever cross it... But I will never lie to you."] Chris reclaimed the step they had taken to avoid this beast, putting them a little closer to Griffin again. [b "You will never have to guess what I am thinking or feeling. You will never need to try and predict my plans. Even if I plan to hurt you, though I see no reason to, you will know it. You will see it coming."]
After all, that's the only thing Chris could offer. They were aware of their own feelings enough to know that how they react to Griffin could change from moment to moment for any number of reasons.
Griffin listened to the person talk, asking them about uncontrollable powers, dark powers. Griffin had heard once of people like this one before. Back when they lived with Mom and Dad, Griffin had been told numerous stories of all kinds of witches, warlocks and forms of magick. Griffin remembered the good tales of the "good" magicks that caused plants to grow and weather to change to sun or rain. But Griffin also remembered the bad magicks, the ones that could raise the dead or make fingers fall off.
Griffin looked back into the person's eyes, trying to judge them for the type of person they were. It was a feeble attempt for Griffin had never mastered being able to do that with humans, only creatures. The person's eyes remained unchanged, solid, determined, unwavering. They had been looking for Griffin specifically. The rumors were not unheard of, even out there. A person who roamed the woods, seen here, gone there, even though they tried to keep the lowest profile. It was only a matter of time.
Griffin snapped their fingers and Balor came to her side, fully visible and teeth drawn back in a snarl.
"[#2b65a6 [b You may have found said person.]]" Griffin said low and evenly.
"[#2b65a6 [b From your words, you seem like a person who is good but the magicks you used are dark magicks. Very dark magicks.]]" She backed closer to Balor, who pressed against her.
"[#2b65a6 [b I want to believe what you say is true but I have been betrayed by people before. Why should I help you? How do you even know I can?]]
Griffin thought about it for a moment. They had been betrayed by both humans and magick folk alike. Promises were broken, innocent creatures hurt, captured or even killed and Griffin was even run from their home once. It was a dark time in Griffin's past and not one they were ready to relive. It had looked and still looked like this person needed help but their parent's old superstitions and teaching were still there, no matter how many times Griffin had tried to break them. They ran their fingers through Balor's fur as the large beast stared the person down.
"[#2b65a6 [b So? Why should I trust you?]]"
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