He panted. Hard.
What had always come so naturally to him required all his attention, the earth thrown off balance in one whip of cruel fate. He felt mocked; there was no other way to describe it. Even a beast, battered and bruised, could slap him away like a pest. Was his speed and agility only sub-par? It had always been his trump card until now. Perhaps it was true; he was not ready to fight real monsters after all.
When he realised he would be ruling the sky alone this battle, the adrenaline started to abate, granting him the chance to catch his breath. He glided, circling a particular updraft that allowed him to remain a constant height without much thought. Still more thought than he would have needed a few moments ago, he couldn’t help but note. Vision was a funny thing it seemed and not one that Istas was learned in. Aside from half the world plunged into darkness, it did not seem to have made much difference. At least, that’s what he thought until he tried to land upon the rocky cliff face. His beak bore a scratch from the attempt and his talons a few extra bruises. Now he was in the air, depth seemed obvious. The lion was on the ground in the distance; any idiot could see that. His fore-paw however…
Waving it in front his face, he struggled to tell how far it was from touching him. It was a slight hindrance but significant enough to have an effect. He moved it closer and found himself touching his beak half an inch sooner than he’d expected. Inside his head, something alike to nervous laughter sounded. It couldn’t be permanent. He wouldn’t allow it.
This was a test, nothing more. If life wanted to unnerve him, they would need more than an overgrown feline and a few well-placed war scars.
“Burn in hell,” he screeched, “You can’t have me!” He felt dizzy, his thigh throbbed, but the rush of battle was returning. With a golden one-eyed blink, it occurred to him that his opponent hadn’t been sitting idle through his revelations. The ground seemed to have disappeared in white. He ducked down a few metres. The air felt damp, humid. The griffin began to feel heavier as the steaming water vapour clung to his feathers.
His landing was silent, he was sure of it. The steam seemed to muffle any sound he might have otherwise caused. He couldn’t see anything – His fear spiked momentarily and his muscles turned weak but he managed to regain control. He folded his wings in tightly at his side and trod forward, keeping near to the cliff wall as he squinted through the mist, trying to catch the whispers of a shadow.