A frigid winter wind blew across the scoured stony floor of the Sighing Valley. It tore at the hood of Redknife Savra Belabranta’s hood, pulling it back and cause her black hair to whip into her face. Raising her chin, Savra gathered the errant strands into her hands, and with a quick twist, tied her hair back in a tight pony tail. Out of the corner of her eye Savra noticed Beebo admiring her profile. Beebo was not subtle, about anything, and Savra gave her a acknowledging half-smile.
Ever since Savra had met Beebo, after the heros had hired her to run the stables at Feathergale Spire, Savra had taken note of the woman. Beebo had an understated beauty, and her amber eyes always shown with an engaging intensity. More then once Savra had imagined those eyes alight with passion. What is more, Beebo and Savra were the only survivors of the Cult of Howling Hatred’s revenge attack on the spire. They had both seen the atrocities of the cultist first hand perpetrated on people they had come to know.
Savra blocked out the gruesome memories of the attack, once again looking upon Beebo.
“What would mummy and daddy think,” Savra thought, her internal monologue affecting the highest of Waterdhavian inflections. The scandal would not come from the fact that Beebo was a woman. Savra’s parents had known for some time that her romantic interests were not discerned by gender. No, the scandal would come from Beebo’s station. After all, the Bellabranta family could never be acknowledge a romance with someone as low as Beebo.
“They don’t know the half of it,” Savra said under her breath, flushing with equal parts embarrassment and frustration as she thought of her early and inadvertent involvement with the cultists that now terrorized the Dessarin Valley.
“Was’at?” Beebo asked loudly, trying to be heard over the wind.
Savra was amazed Beebo heard anything at all. And despite her rough inflection, her voice was quiet nice.
“Nothing,” Savra smiled back, restoring her hood. "What is this “surprise” that warrants us being out here in this bitter cold? I am freezin’’ me tits off!" Savra said the last in perfectly inflected low common, like Beebo’s way of speaking, smiling teasingly at the trainer.
“Wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you,” Beebo turned and continued plodding through the shallow snow drifts that had been blown on to the valley floor. “If your Highness will attend?” Beebo called over her shoulder as she walked.
They plodded through the valley all morning. It was rough going over the cold, and uneven terrain. Savra’s armor was frost-covered, and heavy, but she wouldn’t dare traverse the valley without it. She hunted the manticores within the valley with The Society, and seen the knoll packs from overhead. The gauntlets Gundren Rockseeker had loaned her granted her improved strength, which helped. But, come late morning, she was glad to see Beebo stop atop a craggy out cropping, in front of a gash-like crevice, and begin unshouldering her pack.
“If only we had a way to fly,” Savra breathed out as she hauled herself the rest of the way up the ledge.
“Don’t want Jon and Winddancer up here,” Beebo said, removing heavy leather gauntlets like the ones Savra had seen her father’s falconers sport so often. “Perhaps her Highness can use her nose more’n her mouth for a tick?”
“I’ll have you know, her Highness has never had a complaint about the volume of her usage of her mouth,” Savra quipped.
As soon as Beebo mentioned it, Savra registered the smell. Even through the gusts Savra detected the carnal stink of decay. Letting her pack slip, Savra adjusted her great sword just in case, before cautiously approached the crag. Beebo seemed unconcerned and just waited patiently for Savra to come close.
It took Savra’s eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness, but she soon saw the source of the smell. Lying within the crag was a the bloated corpse of a female griffon. The majestic body was riddled with long black spines, the wounds around the spines were inflamed and wept viscous green fluid. Savra could only get so close, as the shelter of the cave seemed to store, and compound, the scent of putrefaction.
“Manticore got ’er,” Beebo said matter of factly.
Without further discourse Beebo reached her arms in and grabbed the corpse by the rear leonine legs, then gave a great heave. The bloated corpse jammed in the crevice, and the pressure caused the postmortem gases contained within the corpse to expel loudly in a flatulent-like explosion. Savra would have laughed, but she was too busy retching. Beebo heaved again. The corpse, now deflated, came loose, and Beebo drug it over to the side of the crevice. The corpse landed on the floor below in a squishy thunk.
“So,” Savra mused. "You brought me out in the cold, to brave the manticore and gnoll infested valley, to watch you throw a dead griffon off a cliff. How did you know that was what I always wanted?
Beebo smiled tartly at Savra and tossed her chin toward the craggy opening she had just pulled the dead griffon from.
Savra watched as a beaked head, like an eagle only significantly larger, feebly poked it’s way out of the crevice. The creature’s eyes were dull, and it shook as if straining under the effort of raising its own head. The head was as large as Savor’s chest, only slightly smaller than that of the dead griffon, and bore coarse black feathers in a line down the otherwise stark white plumage.
“I’m thinking’,” Beebo said returning to her pack where she fished out a large leather sack that was darkly stained at the bottom. “This one was still young, or youngish. Mum prolly spat some food into it, but the manticore’s poison was already in her. Weren’t enough to do for the babe, but it is in bad shape.” Beebo undid the bag she held and pulled out a side of raw mutton, still dripping with fresh gore.
“Like as not,” Beebo continued, placing the meat far enough away from the griffon that it would have to come out of the crevice to eat it. “This’un’ll die unless we take it in. What’s more, you and the others have been running aground of some nasty things of late. I seen you gettin’ pretty good at fighting atop Winddnacer, and I get concerned, for Winddancer of course. Winddancer is good, but hippogriffs can only do so much. Griffons, they can do a bit more. If you are inclined, I can help you train this one. It will take some time, and a herd’s worth’a meat, but I figure we can do it.”
Savra was over come with excitement. Ever since she had joined The Society she had wanted to ride a griffon. She grew up on the tales of the famed griffon cavalry of Waterdeep. This was a childhood dream come true!
Beebo could see that Savra was pleased. She focused on coaxing the young griffon out of the cave. After a time, the creature came, and was too weak to put up much of struggle as Beebo slipped on a hood on it’s raptor head. Next Beebo put a hobble on the creature’s legs. Try as it might, the griffon could only thrash weakly when Beebo lashed down its wings. Resignedly, the poisoned griffon flopped on its side, breathing shallowly.
Her work done, Beebo gathered her things strewn about the ledge back into her pack, then shouldered it. Making her way to ledge, she looked back at Savra expectantly.
“What?” Savra said, confused.
“Grab the damn thing,” Beebo exclaimed as she indicated to the bound griffon. “You’re strong as a bloody giant, and I am not going to carry it back.”
Savra made her way to the griffon and threw the creature over her shoulders, a pair of legs on either side of her head. It was heavy, and would have been impossible to carry were it not for her gauntlets. Savra couldn’t help but notice the strong talons on the fore legs, and the sharp feline claws of the rear-legs, so close to her face. She shifted the load a little to get it balanced, then began plodding her way down of the ledge.
“Don’t get used to this little one,” she said to the griffon bobbing ridiculously on her back with each step. “Next time we meet, you will be carrying me.”
Taming the Griffon will cost 1,000 gp in total and take 40 days of downtime. Beebo can do up to 30 of them, but Savra will have to spend at least10 days of downtime to get the griffon used to her.