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The Griffon’s Lair
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ISBN-10: 1-89484-162-X
Genre: Young Adult
eBook Length: 134 Pages
Published: July 2002

From inside the flap

Eleven-year-old Tawnee Morgan and her toddler sidekick, Kira, are on a predestined adventure in the Underworld. Their task is to collect the missing treasures that will restore the Magical Pond’s powers and save the Protected Territory from the Gorgon’s rule. Guided by a kindly and wise unicorn, the threesome clash with evil mythical characters like the notorious Griffon. Throughout the journey, the ruthless Gorgon and her partner, the Gargoyle, add more stumbling blocks to the challenge. Unable to aid the brave trio with their quest, Tory, Margr?t, and the Innocents wait, wondering who will become the next ruler of the Protected Territory?or if they will all perish.

Billie Brannock’s ?The Griffon’s Lair? will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride into a fantasy world unlike any other. Step into this exciting journey, and experience the thrill of a lifetime. The unexpected ending will take your breath away.

The Griffon’s Lair (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

?Haruum-bah-lah! Haruum-bah-lah!? chanted the trolls as their bowling pin bodies swayed back and forth. They formed a tight circle around a brightly glowing campfire that illuminated the limp figure of an unconscious young girl staked and bound upright between two gnarly trees. Behind the girl stood the Gargoyle as he fingered her unruly locks of blond hair. Threads of drool trickled from the smirking corners of his cruel, thin lips. His slanted yellow eyes gleamed with excitement.

’Stop it, you fool!? commanded the Gorgon as she slapped at his hand.

The Gargoyle hissed at the haggard woman and drew back a claw in defense. His leathery wings sprouted up from behind like spring-loaded umbrellas.

The Gorgon extended a razor sharp nail, poison oozing from beneath the filthy tip. ?Do you really think you stand a chance against this??

The tension grew. The chanting stopped as the evil-eyed trolls watched with mounting anticipation. Their long green noses quivered and snorted in sharp retorts.

With slow deliberation the Gargoyle retracted the claw, his knobby shoulders humped forward in obedience. Like an accordion, the wings snapped into the folds along his back, then trembled tightly together in a butterfly’s embrace.

Fresh blistering pustules popped open along the Gorgon’s cheeks as she smiled. The greenish-gray ooze slid down the wrinkled cracks and flowed toward the open black cavern of her rotted mouth, where a crusty pointed tongue lolled forth to collect the festering pus and savor it with relish. The Gargoyle looked away in disgust. The Gorgon’s crackling laugh echoed with malicious mirth.

?Continue. Don?t stop,? she encouraged the trolls. The chanting resumed, but their beady black eyes glowed with obvious dismay. They had hoped to witness a bloody battle between the two evil entities and were disappointed.

The young girl began to moan. As she stirred, her head rolled along her shoulders like a ball bearing. She began to pull against the leather restraints, then relaxed when she discovered that her efforts were in vain. Slowly her amber eyes opened, closed, then opened again. She appeared stunned?unable to comprehend what was happening to her.

?Wh-where am I?? she stuttered. Her lips were chapped as she attempted to moisten them with her tongue.

The chanting ceased immediately. Everyone’s attention was fixed on to the young girl. She blinked at the scene before her in confusion.

?Why am I tied up??

The Gorgon gripped a handful of hair and yanked back, forcing the girl to look directly into the old woman’s piercing eyes.

?You?re in the Underworld, you pitiful excuse for a child. Perhaps you should explain to us why you have trespassed into the Badlands. No Innocents ever cross over and live to tell of their experiences later on.?

?I-I don?t even know how I got h-here,? the girl again stammered. ?This must be a dream or something, because you can?t be r-real.?

The Gorgon doubled over in laughter. As if on cue, the entire congregation of trolls squealed and snorted, barked and belched with glee. Even the Gargoyle, who leered at the young girl, snickered with pleasure.

?What’s your name, child?? the Gorgon asked.

?Tawnee Morgan. S-so, when can I wake up? Can I count to three and I?ll be back at home in bed??

The hag glanced at her attentive crowd, alert and bug-eyed. She enjoyed taunting the girl. ?I don?t know, my dear. Why don?t you close those pretty eyes of yours, count to three, then open them up to see??

Tawnee squeezed her eyes shut, praying that she was experiencing the worst nightmare of her life.

The Gargoyle clamped a skeletal hand around his amused mouth, delighted with the girl’s terror.

?One?two,? she hesitated.

The wicked old woman raised her hands to emphasize total silence, thoroughly enjoying the trick.

?Three!? finalized an unknown voice from the shadows behind.

Both the Gargoyle and Gorgon turned toward the stranger, their faces drawn with surprise.

Tawnee’s eyes cracked open, but she was unable to turn around and see the intruder. She strained against the leather thongs.

?Be still, girl!? demanded the Gorgon as she punched her in the stomach. Tawnee gurgled and gagged. Her body drooped in the restraints as she writhed in pain.

?Old woman, you shouldn?t have done that.?

From the shadows stepped a magnificent white unicorn, his dense beard trailing to the ground. He pointed his glossy horn at the leather thongs supporting the girl, snapping them like pieces of thread. Tawnee fell forward and gripped the bubbling cauldron, only to scream as she seared the palms of her hands.

The trolls began to rustle and jump, hopping about like popping kernels of corn. They bounced into one another, uncertain where to go. The Gorgon lashed out at them.

?Attack the Unicorn, you blithering idiots!? Her face was twisted in fury, knotted so tightly that goo squirted from the infected pores like water spraying from leaky pipes.

?Tawnee, come quickly,? encouraged the unicorn with a raised hoof.

Tawnee turned toward the beautiful creature with the entrancing voice, realizing that he was her only way out. She was still confused, but the burning pain in her stomach, and now her hands, assured her that everything was quite real and her life was in danger. As if in slow motion she turned toward the shadows where the unicorn waited, crouched for her to mount.

The Gorgon suddenly became aware that the girl was slipping away, and screamed at the Gargoyle.

?Help, you fool!?

Tawnee had started to run when the Gargoyle’s arm snaked out to grab a lock of her hair. She saw the filthy claws out of the corner of her eye, and pushed herself forward, just beyond his grasp. The black rakes snapped into the open air with a metallic grind, and the Gargoyle yelped with rage. He leaped after the scrambling girl, but in the process stumbled over his own tail and landed flat on his face before the Gorgon. The trolls also piled onto the hag and Gargoyle, and like a big plug the entire group collapsed into a sluggish, confused throng.

Tawnee hopped onto the unicorn’s velvet back, her hands wrapped into his thick white mane. The fabulous animal reared before the mass of tumbled bodies, and pawed his graceful hooves before the group of angry upturned faces.

?Like I said, you shouldn?t have done that.?

With a swish from his lion’s tail, the unicorn clambered up the rocky mountainside surrounding the area, then disappeared into the nearby forest.

?Get off of me, you dim-wits!? yelled the Gorgon as she pushed the trolls aside. Clouds of dust settled upon everyone’s face in silted masks, creating raccoon eyes. The Gorgon kicked the Gargoyle in the back, sending him tumbling.

?You are useless!? she spat. ?Now we?ll have to send out spies to find the girl.?

The Gargoyle glared at the hag, his lips peeled back over sharp canine teeth in a sneer full of hatred and bitterness. After several heated moments, the two evil counterparts dropped their hackles. They both stood to stare at the forest, perhaps expecting the unicorn to return. With a huff the Gorgon collected her cane, poked at the remaining trolls with displeasure, then began her strategy to locate the girl and eliminate the meddling unicorn. Behind, the Gargoyle scowled as he contemplated revenge upon the old woman. Soon his moment would come and he intended to wallow in pleasure as he made her misery last.

?Come along, you twit.? The hag ogled him with doubt.

?I?m at your service,? he replied. He bowed as his claws drummed the cold hard scales of his taut stomach, patient, determined. Then he faced her with a sly grin.

The two hobbled off, keeping a wary distance and a cocked eye at one another. The trolls meekly followed with dark, inquisitive whispers.