The figure in black looked across the Colorado River from the pedestrian bridge. It was sunny and the light played across the water as kayaks drifted by below. Swallows in orange and blue livery flitted past. It could have been a serene moment for Paelymax, but his shoulders slumped. His black-feathered wings drooped in tatters from many battles. “It’s been a difficult campaign,” he said.
“Difficult?” said the enormous lion lying on the pavement beside him. “I’d call it a fiasco.”
“The battle isn’t over yet, Great Mumganba.”
Mumganba chuffed. His bodacious golden mane fluttered in the breeze. “It may as well be. Billemont clutches the Ethyscian Gryphon. I cannot see how he will be defeated.”
Paelymax’s hand fiddled about in his coat pocket. “I understand your concerns old friend.”
Joggers and cyclists passed the odd pair by with nary a glance. Great Mumganba lifted his tail before a young couple, gazing with blissfully at each other, stepped upon it. Humans never saw the true form of the Naephylea. In their 5,000 years of companionship, Paelymax and Great Mumganba had been called many things, including angels and demons, for it was true they fed upon humanity.
Some, like the two on the pedestrian bridge, preferred beautiful places like waterfalls and ancient shrines. They lived where humans escaped to find serenity. Such feelings provided Paelymax and Mumganba all the sustenance they needed to continue living. Other Naephylea like Ecascus Billemont fed upon negative options such as despair. America’s bizarre spate of fiercely polarized politics, engineered by Billemont, had fed him like a wolf in a meat factory. He and his kin grew stronger every day.
A young woman stopped and asked an old man in a black coat for the time. “2:17,” rumbled Paelymax. She smiled before setting off again. Paelymax sighed happily at the positive flow of her energy. “I think I’m feeling better,” he said to Mumganba.
“Good,” said the great lion. “We need you back.”
Paelymax scowled. “What do you mean, ‘back?'”
“You’ve been fumble-fingered lately,” said Mumganba. “Do you forget that it was YOU who dropped the Ethyscian Gryphon in Baltimore?”
“Black Hedia has all those arms!” defended Paelymax. “She was bound to knock it away.”
“And this was how the Gryphon ended up in Billemont’s pincers. One hundred years ago you would never have lost it. And then, in Chicago, the attempt to reclaim the Gryphon was a miserable failure. ”
“You’ll recall I was trapped within the coils of Quifillus the Great Snake.”
Mumganba groaned and placed a dinner plate-sized paw over his eyes. “Even fifty years ago Quifillus could never have ensnared you. I still can’t believe you dropped the Sword of Gryscalia!”
Paelymax sighed. “Okay. Losing the Gryphon was a setback.”
“Setback?” squeaked Mumganba. An curious thing to hear from a lion. He began pacing beside Paelymax as he lectured. “The Ethyscian Gryphon absorbs all negative potentialities that might befall the owner. That means when Billemont directed a battle, nothing bad could ever happen to his plans. We’ve been losing ever since then. That’s not a setback, it’s a catastrophe!”
Paelymax smiled and withdrew his hand from his pocket. In his fingers was an onyx figurine of a gryphon. “There’s another side to the Gryphon’s powers.”
“The Ethyscian Gryphon!” shouted Mumganba. “How did you get it back?”
“Huzzah!” crowed Mumganba. “You’re back old friend! We can turn the tide now.”
“More than that,” said Paelymax, and the delicate, precious item slipped from his digits. It shattered on the pavement. Deadpan, Paelymax said, “Oops.”
“Paelymax!” screeched Mumganba in horror. “You’ve done it again, you fumble-fingered oaf!”
“There is balance in all things, my friend. If the Gryphon is ever broken, all the negative potentialities must find their rightful owner and enact themselves upon him…in a single, horrible, instant.”
“You…?” Realization spread across Mumganba’s features. “YOU! You planned this all along.” Mumganba swatted Paelymax across the shoulders.
“Ecascus Billemont would’ve been suspicious if I just handed it to him,” grinned Paelymax.
“We must find him and attack at once while he is weak!”
Paelymax pointed to a pall of black smoke and flame billowing above an abandoned warehouse. A passing military plane experienced a major failure. The pilot ejected and the crippled aircraft fell…straight towards the same warehouse. Smoke from a falling meteor scarred the sky as the rock streaked towards the very same, ill-fated, building. Bad luck was finding its way home.
Paelymax grinned. “He won’t be hard to find.”
Each week, the Grammar Ghouls convene for another round of amazing flash fiction. This week, the word prompt is: Bodacious. The media prompt is a painting by and brilliant surrealist and one of my favorite artists, Rene Magritte. It is the splash image for this story. Look here for more stories based upon the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-6-open/