Adler is right. The champions are very near to the griffin sanctuary. As they walk on, they find a wider area. The cliff is as though split in two and three, with pillars of rock standing high here and there. There are also some holes and caves inside the rocks and cliffs, bigger than other areas in the Griffin Cliff.
‘This must be the sanctuary,’ says Adler. ‘But it’s so silent here. Where are the griffins? Are they trying to ambush us or something?’
‘I have no idea,’ says Chris, now walking by himself as his condition gets better. ‘Father Bernides, my tutor once said that we must earn the griffins’ respect first before they let us in.’
Eidos shakes his head, ‘This is odd. Something’s not right. Let’s go in farther and find out.’
The other three nod, and they walk into the sanctuary area.
Suddenly Iris shrieks, ‘Eek! Look, there! It’s a griffin! And it’s... it’s dead!’
The champions rush to the dead griffin’s side. What a horrible death. That majestic beast was mangled, scratched, fell from the air and broke its own neck. It was a battle versus another monster – flying monster.
‘Could it be giant bats?’ Eidos asks.
‘I’m afraid not,’ says Chris, extracting his knowledge about griffins from his studies about Arcadian griffin riders. ‘The griffins consider the giant bats as food, so the odds for a giant bat to kill a griffin are very slim. The killer must be an intelligent and powerful monster – or monsters.’
‘Look! There are more!’ says Iris.
Chris, Adler and Eidos look around and find more dead griffins, broken griffin nests and lots of blood all over the place. Also, there are other dead creatures scattered as well: creatures that look like women with wings as hands, claws as feet and bird feathers all over their bodies. Adler recognizes them at once.
‘Harpies. Dark soldiers of
Before the champions can inquire any further, they hear shrieks and sounds of aerial fight approaching. They look up to the sky where three griffins – one red and two yellow – are engaged in a dogfight against four harpies and a dragon-winged woman with pale-blue skin – a succubus. The combatants move closer to the ground and Chris sees that the succubus is holding something.
‘Look! The Helmet of Truth! The Dark Side got it!’
‘Not if I can help it!’ says Iris. The elf quickly puts an arrow on her Wysteria Bow and shoots! Using her skill, the Heartsteal Shot, the arrow vanishes in mid-air and reappears, knocking the Helmet of Truth off the succubus’ hand.
The succubus is shocked and immediately dives to fetch the helmet. But the red griffin rams and knocks her away! The helmet lands on Adler von Bachmann’s lap, and the Viscount immediately wears it.
The helmet shudders on impact between its holy aura and the dark aura on Deathblade, and Adler immediately pumps his neutral aura of nature to suppress and quell the conflict between light and dark, positive and negative auras.
The harpies shriek and pull away from the battle to protect their mistress. The three griffins then use this opportunity to land before the champions. Soon, several other griffins also join them, all wounded and battle-scarred.
The fiery red griffin moves forward. Its majestic long mane waves like fire. Its beak, wing feathers and chest hair are gold in color, and its wingspan is one and a half times longer than other griffins. If not king, it must be the champion of the griffins.
Recognizing it as Acavela, son of Avracense, Cristophe also moves forward and takes a bow before the griffin in awe and respect. Acavela pauses and bows its head back to Chris. The other three champions follow suit, and other griffins also bow back to them.
Just then, Iris hears flapping wings from a distance and warns all, ‘The harpies! They’re coming back!’
Acavela senses that too, and points his head at Chris and its back.
‘He wants you to ride on him, Chris!’ Iris understands at once.
Chris responds, ‘Right! C’mon! Let’s help them and fight!’
Chris climbs and rides on Acavela the red griffin. He never rode a griffin before as his knowledge is only theoretical, but as Acavela takes him up in the air, flying in high speed, he feels that he has rode thousands of times already. Adler and Iris ride on the yellowish griffins, while Eidos stands ready on the ground, giving magic support if necessary and tending to the wounded griffins. The rest of the griffin fighters also take off, following their leader to intercept the harpies.
Acavela flies against the wind, slicing the air with the speed rivaling Aegis the thunder bird, the fastest creature of the skies. The passenger on its shoulder doesn’t bother it at all until it spots a large group of flapping wings ahead.
Spotting the enemies, the harpies split into three groups and attack the champions! Iris quickly summons Eshmyria and shoots three arrows at once, killing one harpy, hurting the other and missing the last one.
Cristophe tries the long-range technique he hasn’t used before: the Air Slash. He swings his sword a few times, but no wave comes out.
Ah, I haven’t mastered it yet. C’mon, Chris, concentrate!
Chris tries to concentrate his aura on his sword. He aims, and slashes! Suddenly, a harpy’s wing is severed and the monster falls all the way down.