26    The Griffins Hunt


Deciding to check if it is the right place the friends are hunted by enormous griffins.  


The griffin flew above them gaining altitude.
They saw it outlined against the moon as it circled overhead.
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Along the house ran a raised terrace topped by a short wall of delicate columns and eight stout plinths, each holding a shapeless statue.

“What was that?” yelped Ken in surprise.

“What now?” Jack snapped.

“One of them statues moved.”

“Don’t talk stupid... Which one?”

“The end one there.”

Jack looked at the end statue. It was stone still. He was about to tell Ken to calm down, when he glimpsed movement. He could clearly see the shape of the statue’s head, a bird with a wickedly curved beak. It sent shivers down his spine.

“They are statues of eagles.”

“Not eagles,” Jack shot back.

“But you can see the wings,” she insisted.

“I saw them when I was in the mirror.”

She realised what he meant.

One of the statues stood up on its plinth. It looked more like a lion than a bird; until it unfurled huge eagle wings. Catherine and Ken stiffened, before looking at each other in disbelief. On the plinths, all the statues were moving. All were the same, a lion’s body with an eagle’s head and wings.

“I think we need to be in the woods,” Catherine whispered to the boys.

Reaching the shadow of the trees, they looked back. The statues were stretching on their plinths like cats in front of the fire, and unfurling wings as if readying for flight.

“They are griffins,” Catherine sounded awestruck.

“They’re what was trying to eat me down that hole,” Jack muttered grimly.

“So it’s the right place then!” Ken joked; humour falling flat.

“We should get out of here,” Catherine prompted.

“Hang on a minute. Look!”

“Never mind hang on a minute, Jack!”

She pulled his arm, but Jack, rooted to the spot, stared at the griffins. Despite herself, Catherine could not help looking too. The creatures on the plinths were sitting to attention like guard dogs. Their eagle wings were unfurled so that the tip of each wing touched its neighbour’s wing tip.

“We should run Jack,” Ken insisted.

“What am I telling him?” Catherine groaned.

Still Jack did not move.

Catherine made for the woods.

A great whoosh of air broke the still morning as a griffin took flight. It was all Jack needed to start after his friends. Through the trees, all they heard was the rhythmic beat of wings washing over them like a wall of sound.

    

 

    from Chapter 26    The Griffins Hunt

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Why she couldn’t get a dog like normal people!
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“They’re meant to frighten us,” Ken revealed. “When we ran they could have caught us at any time, but one only landed when we panicked and they couldn’t see us. They didn’t want us wandering to the house.”

“Of course, griffins are mythological guardians of magic places,” Catherine added; struggling with a reluctant Jack.

Jack stopped resisting. “That’s what Thomas said! He laughed at me for being scared. Why she couldn’t get a dog like normal people!”

Ken grinned, retorting, “Hurry up Jack, wouldn’t want you to get eaten.”

“Very funny!” grumbled Jack, falling in step. “But what if you’re wrong?”

“If I’m wrong, we’re not going to be able to do much about it. I wonder if we’ll be bird food or dog food.”

“You mean cat food,” Catherine wittily shot back.

“Shut up you two!” Despite himself, Jack chuckled.

“Hi there,” shouted Ken to the griffin.

“Ken, no!” Catherine warned.

“They’re probably illusions!” Ken insisted.

“If they are, they’re good ones,” hissed Jack.

Standing less than ten meters from the griffin, he could clearly see the huge beast in the brightening daylight. Could hear it breathe as its chest moved. Hear the gravel scrunch as it shifted its weight.

Taller than a man, its eagle head was covered in sharp black feathers that glistened as if made of metal. The feathers flowed onto the shoulders, where a lion has its mane and here the wings started, now folded neatly along the length of its back. Its front legs were like a bird’s, covered in feathers and ending in talons the size of meat hooks. While the hind legs were a lion’s with massive square paws, bigger than their heads.

from Chapter 26    The Griffins Hunt

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