The wind was bitter cold that cut through any type of insulation like sharpened daggers. Flurries of soft frozen snow fell from the light grey abyss of the sky also obscuring anything as far as a few feet. Polls of thick trees disappeared as quickly as they appeared in the ground, each of them looking exactly like the last turning the mountainous forest into a confusing fogged maze of wooden spires and snow covered shrubs. Three large hulking figures lumbered through the haze of grey and white with great gasps of white misty breath.
"We shouldn't be here! We'll freeze to death!" Yeltson, the youngest of the three, shouted over the howling wind.
"Quiet Yeltson! Darthlar claims we are almost there!" one of the other dragons yelled in reply while turning back to face the hooded figure of Dathlar that was riding on the dragon's back. "We are almost there, is that not correct?" He asked in a deathly serious tone.
"It is correct, my brethren. There is no need of violence as of yet," Dathlar replied while giving a quick smile under his cloak.
The band of dragons continued on their course for what seemed hours. Icicles were beginning to form underneath their chins and ice was collecting on and around their horns. Yeltson held back a whimper as he began to limp but something caught his nose. He turned a little to the right and sniffed the frigid air. The faint scent of burning pine drifted in through the icy atmosphere.
"Everyone, do smell that?" Yeltson asked hesitantly.
The other two dragons paused at Yeltson's question before sniffing the frozen air. "Fire
? Impossible, fire cannot even have a chance of existing in this blizzard.
A grin spread across Dathlar's muzzle, "Follow the scent brethren. It shall lead us to shelter."
The trio turned into the stinging wind to follow the newfound scent. Gradually, the scent became stronger and eventually a blocky silhouette seemed to appear through the white haze of snow on the edge of their vision. More detail soon followed as they continued onward.
A two-story brick dwelling imposed on the path of dragons. Two rows of ice coated windows and a single redwood door were the only breaks in the red stone brick. A towering stack of stone with black pine scented smoke billowing from the top stood to the right of the pine door. Dathlar casually slid from the back of the lead dragon and into the sea of knee-high freezing snow.
"Wait around back of the structure," Dathlar commanded. With a snort the dragons obeyed.
The room was quite warm due to the roaring fire in the grey stone fireplace on the far side of the room. Flickering light danced throughout the bookcases and the single desk. It would have been the only source of light if it were not the several white wax candles that stood on the desk. The light of the candles proved to be sufficient for the grey colored bipedal bird creature, or gryphon, that contently read through a book about political science while it comfortably rested in his large padded chair. No sound, apart from the crackling wood of the fire, penetrated the study's secure walls. A creek of a door on iron hinges suddenly broke the serene silence and the gryphon's concentration.
With an annoyed sigh and without looking up from his book the gryphon spoke, "Magna, what is it now?" His voice sounded masculine.
A soft chuckle that ended with a slight hiss was the only reply. The gryphon looked up to see a hooded figure in a black cloak. "I do not believe that your maid Magna will be joining you," the figure spoke. He sounded smooth and the words seemed to flow through the air like smooth glass.
The gryphon tilted his head slightly, while concealing his expression of surprise. "I know that voice. Mr. Dathlar, right?"
The hooded figure seemed to glide into the center of the room while the door shut behind him with unspoken consent. "Please, just call me Dathlar."
The gryphon hesitated slightly, "
That's right. What brings you to my private home? More business?"
"It would seem that way and you are partially correct, Mr. Strout. Are you the CEO of Rocket Manufacturing Incorporated?"
Mr. Strout nodded, but with a hint of nervousness, "What of it?"
"Nothing, I just wanted to make sure I had not come this far for nothing. It seems that you have not kept your word, even when I kept mine," Dathlar slowly approached the dimly lit desk.
complicated," Strout replied.
"If that was the actual case then it may have been unwise for you to come here." Dathlar then pulled a small blue book from the inside of one of his cloak's sleeves and opened it to a selective page.
A look of horror came over the CEO's face, "M-my ledger."
A grin slipped its way across Dathlar's unseen muzzle. "It would appear and would you look at this, a purchase for addictive narcotics. I believe these kind of drugs are not of the legal kind." Dathlar flipped to another page, "And here, gambling the company's money? Last I heard Redar's government leadership looks down upon such actions."
Strout stammered to find an explanation, not only for his less than legal transactions, but also just how exactly Dathlar came into possession with such a threatening ledger. "D-do you want the funding? I can help you out with that, just as long as you return
"Return?" Dathlar chuckled again, "I do not believe I can let such crimes go unnoticed, but this funding you mentioned. I think we can start there."
"Yes, yes, full funding for whatever you need. Just don't release any of the information you have there," Strout pleaded.
"Excellent, but your treachery has not gone unnoticed. Leave this place as soon as the weather will allow." Dathlar then strode through the same door he entered and it closed once more without any consent.
"I have never seen one of these before. I've only heard about them from the stories of old," Yeltson stated while looking up at snow-covered house.
The leader responded while the other dragon curled up in a tight ball of scales in the snow, "I have heard that there are bigger and grander of these elsewhere." The leader pawed lightly at thin, but large metal door that faced him. It was just big enough for a dragon of his size.
Just before Yeltson had a chance to reply the large metal door ascended upward, allowing warm yellow light to flood outside. A room was revealed with strange flameless lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the floor and walls was a flawless molded stone. The dragons cautiously walked into the extraordinary cave.
A wooden door within the walls swung open to reveal a very panicked housemaid being shoved toward the monstrous lizards that had just entered. Behind her, Dathlar came into view.
"Brethren, this snow storm will last for sometime, so please help yourself to this offering."