Turned out flying mice loved waterfalls. But it was enough that they were finally satisfied with a place that could be their new nesting site. This meant the mini cats finally told them where to track down the key to getting them out of this strange fantasy land. That was the one thing they agreed on. The three friends were ready to get back to normalcy and to where the showers lived. The only ones still enjoying the climbing and traveling through branches were the cats. Nadya, on the other hand, was feeling the opposite. They had found the colony that the mini cats told them about which turned out to be a gathering of griffins. Half panther/leopard, half-bird of prey. They were willing to share the key but it came with a catch. “Anyone else getting the feeling that we’re nothing more than errand girls?”
“Why because everything we meet wants us to jump through hoops?” Anya asked. She was out of breath and her legs were aching, actively protesting the long walk.
“We’re all exhausted, sis,” Nadya said. She took a minute to rub her legs as Nemehiss blew past her at top speed and lept over a branch. “Well, some of us are.”
Gülay leaned against a branch. “I read fantasy books. This is not what I imagined.”
“Depends on the book,” Nadya said. “But this is better.” She plopped down on a branch and stretched out her legs. “Nothing is actively trying to kill us.”
“There will be now.” Anya swatted her sister on the arm. “Jinx.”
“Look at me,” Puddy Tat called as he went leaping through the branch tunnel and landed on a lower one.
“Very good,” Gülay called. “Very proud of you! Stay close!”
Ricky Ticky Tabby yawned and lowered himself at Gülay’s feet. “Can I nap now?” Tookie made her way up to the top of the large cat’s head and curled into a ball. Gülay had tried several times to get the flying mouse to return to the others but she actively refused each time, thus RTT now had a pet. A pet that the other cats had actively tried to eat.
“Yes, sweetie.” Gülay stroked his neck. His fur felt the same even if he was now much larger than his normal size. She hoped her sweet babies returned to their usual selves when they finally made it home.
“How much further do you think it is?” Anya asked.
"It can't be much farther," Gülay says, more out of hope than actual belief.
Nadya opened her mouth to reply but was shushed by a big paw shoved in her direction. The three friends lowered behind a branch and peered through the layered canopy.
"If I hear one more word about Ginger Skies and that ridiculous dagger, I'm going to get violent." A griffin with bright sunburst-colored feathers above a sleek panther's body whistled shrilly as she ducked and swerved around a vine hoop.
“You’re just bitter because you were on watch duty.” Frosted Almond beat her wings faster as she moved through the air. There was always a sense of freedom when she flew. It made her feel like she was part of something bigger than herself. She was a griffin that was mostly brown with tips of frosted white on her wings and dark spots on her sides.
“I’m bitter because Bright Flame is dim,” Sunburst Cloud said.
“As soon as we find Ginger Skies and get the dagger, the sooner we can return and the sooner you can stop being so bitter.” Frosted Almond bumped against the other griffin with a playful movement.
Sunburst Cloud sniffed the air. “Do you smell that?”
Frosted Almond hovered mid-air. “I do indeed.” The two griffins shared a look and disappeared out of sight.
“Where’d they go?” Nadya whispered. She peeked a little further over the branch, but the two griffins had disappeared out of sight.
“Behind you,” came a voice that startled them.
Ricky Ticky Tabby jolted awake with a squeaky meow while his rodent friend scampered down from his head. He hid behind Gülay despite the fact that he was much too big to disappear. “It’s okay, sweetie,” Gülay said. “We were just on our way to fetch something for Blue Iris. We made a deal.”
“Oh, we heard about that. Didn’t we, Sunburst Cloud?” the brown griffin asked with a gleam in her eyes when she glanced at the other.
“We did,” the orange griffin agreed. “We heard all about that. We thought surely it was a rumor. I guess Blue Iris wants Ginger Skies found more than I thought.”
Anya crossed her arms. “So we’ll just be on our way then.” She eased closer to her sister and Gülay. The head griffin had been quick to offer them a deal when it came to giving them a key but only after they tracked down a missing griffin that Blue Iris once loved.
“Or,” Sunburst Cloud said. “We could offer you another deal.”
“We’re already getting what we want. What could you offer?” Gülay asked. She scanned the branches around them for any sight of the other cats.
“All we ask is that when you find Ginger Skies, you also retrieve a dagger.” Sunburst Cloud stepped forward.
Gülay looked at her friends. “A dagger? Sounds like something we shouldn’t get involved with.”
“What if we told you that Blue Iris doesn’t have the key?” The brown griffin swished her tail as she let the words register. “The key was stolen. Blue Iris is using you to track down Ginger Skies who she once loved. She’s using you. She wants to find her long-lost love before Fuschia Rose can. That’s our leader. She wants the dagger Ginger Skies stole. You get us that dagger and we’ll give you the location for the key.”
“Why should we believe you?” Anya asked.
“Why do you believe Blue Iris?” the brown griffin asked.
The three exchanged a look. “That’s a fair point,” Nadya said. She sighed. “Fine. But if you nix our deal, you won’t be finding your dagger.”
“Deal,” Sunburst Cloud said. The two griffins flew off through the gaps in the branches.
“I’m really starting to hate this place,” Gülay grumbled.