Gryphon's Persistence

Story by Cheetahs on SoFurry

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Hello hello! Did you miss me? Because I sure missed you! This work here is the novella I promised to my 10$+ patrons. Some of you may be familiar with it, while others will simply enjoy a first time read of a tale that literally becomes better and more complex with each chapter.

To those who are familiar with Naran and Lira, skip to chapter 3, which is the new addition to the work, a behemoth of 19.000 words that brings this novella to one might satisfying conclusion that you have all been waiting for. I specifically made a table of contents to make it easy for you, so please use it!(assuming it actually works and sofurry is not a derp. If not, well, the chapters are bigger and colorful so it's easy to spot them)

I hope you will all enjoy Gryphon's Persistence. Although the first chapters may feel a bit iffy(it began as a short story, then grew into...this), please give it the benefit of the doubt until the end. The pace, as well as the relationship between Naran and Lira, his female gryphon partner, is very fulfilling, very satisfying, and quite complex, if I may add! Happy reading!

Gryphon's Persistence

A novella by Cheetahs

Table of contents

Prologue: The Warmest Night

Chapter 1: The Allure of Temptation

Chapter 2: Gryphon's Lust

Chapter 3: My mate, My love

Prologue: The Warmest Night

Lira shifted her hindquarters for the eleventh time. Naran kept track of it, for whenever she did, his gaze hovered to that sheen, right under her tail.

He tossed one more twig onto the fire, gulped over her drawn-out huff, then coughed. Barely any moisture remained on his tongue. He swallowed it all in his attempts to forget the sight of Lira's hindquarters, the fire's reflection upon the slick fur between her flanks, his own bulge. That was the hardest to forget, for he was harder than the boulder he stood on.

He tossed one more branch onto the fire, then another, and another. When there was no more wood, he began twiddling with his thumbs. When that proved ineffective, he inspected the cuts and scrapes along his arms, the torn leather across his flank where a sword struck. The night's chill crept through it, making his skin prickle.

If only the same chill numbed his throbbing cock. No matter how much he denied it, the problem persisted. To his left, Lira did the same. She busied herself with a wing, head tucked among mahogany feathers as her beak ruffled them with surprising dexterity. Like him, the gryphon preened herself more times than he could count since they set up camp. When she finished her left wing, Lira shifted her hindquarters yet again--this time in his direction--and began working on her other wing.

Naran gulped, so hard his tight throat hurt. Each flick of her tail revealed that tormenting patch of wet fur, and in its center, two wan, glistening lips surrounding her pink crevice. Naran averted his gaze from it, but the damage had already been done. His member writhed in its confines like a caged beast, pulsing and throbbing. Naran grit his teeth to suppress any sound that might alert Lira.

A stifled yelp passed.

Lira's head swung in his direction, her pupils large as coal beads in the penetrating gloom. She chirped--a low sound full of affection that made Naran shiver-- and got onto her feet.

Don't come here don't come here don't--

Naran's train of thought was interrupted by the rustle of grass and the flap of wings. Lira was on her feet. Stretching most likely. Yes. She leaned forward, her wings spread to their full length, then shifted her weight on her hindquarters. Her talons raked the dirt, and her tail stiffened with the motion. Her flanks rose to the sky...

And her smooth lips parted to reveal her slick, twitching tunnel.

Naran's teeth sank into his lower lip. His member rammed against his breeches, so hard he gasped and shifted one leg over the other to trap the damn thing. The added pressure only made it worse. A fire welled within his stiffened meat, demanding release. He removed his leg, only to shift it back on top of the other with blinding speed when Lira turned towards him.

Did it cover his bulge? He chanced a quick look, but noticed no difference. Lira's trudging footsteps forced his gaze back to her. He smiled as much as his numb lips allowed, and pushed himself up.

Lira croaked. Her head tilted to the side, eyes fixed on his groin. Naran's stomach sank, and his temples threatened to burst with pent-up pressure. He took a step towards her, then switched to a shuffle to accommodate the tightness within his loins.

The walk took forever. He only realized Lira dropped on her belly when he settled under a sprawled wing. Warmth radiated from her splotched coat. Ebony dots marred her feline hindquarters until they dissipated among a sea of feathers. Fluff coated the transition between her feline and avian halves, followed by wan feathers that grew in shape, color and roughness. Some started to molt to make room for more durable feathers. Naran dabbed at them, feeling their soft texture between his fingers.

Just when the bulge of his loins subsided, Lira's hindquarters began to sway--no, rock. She bumped against Naran, once, twice, thrice, until the human scrambled to his knees, away from her twitching wings. What could she possibly dream--

No, it wasn't dreams. Her swaying movement had a pattern. Back and forth, and shivers traversed her flanks when a clump of grass poked her nether lips. She rubbed her needy area against it, a mellow chirp rumbling in her throat.

Naran hardened instantly at her effort to scratch her bothersome itch, at the gooey shin coating the grass, at her shuddering lips. He knew how erratic gryphons became during their first heat. They ignored their human Riders and spent days at a time away, in search for potential mates to satisfy their urges.

Not Lira. Not his Lira. She remained at his side, mentioned nothing of her cravings, and used a clump of grass to satisfy her urges.

"Lira..." he mumbled as het pat her rump. The gryphoness froze. Naran chanced a curt glance, and sighed in relief when her eyes didn't meet his. Good. He wasn't able to look into her eyes, not during...this.

He continued to caress her rumps, to scratch along her back, to rub the sides of her belly, all the way down to her paws. Her pads were moist with the night's excitement, and more twitchy than usual. Her foot jerked from his grasp at a mere touch.

Naran wiped his clammy hands on his tunic, then dropped on his bottom by her hindquarters. His member protested with a jolt--a jolt that made him gasp so hard Lira jerked to her feet.

"It's nothi--it's nothing," Naran rushed his words. He pressed hard on her hindquarters, until she lay on her belly. How could she be so submissive, so serene in spite of this? Rivers trickled down Naran's skin within the sweltering confines of his tunic, and no matter how much he scratched and prodded at his member, the bulge didn't go away.

He dropped on his side along Lira's flanks and shut his eyes tight. He had to sleep. Tomorrow, they would search for the final bandit camp and thwart their attacks upon defenseless merchants and their wagons. It was a big day, tomorrow. Their final task before returning to the Ararie Peak.

When sleep didn't come, Naran began caressing Lira's flank. He liked her muffled chirp. Always soothed him. So he ran his fingers along her smooth fur, and stared at the starlit sky until his bulge subsided and her fur turned damp from the sweat of his skin. He closed his eyes...

And winced as his fingers trailed along a warm, uneven, and slick surface. He didn't need to look to know what that was. Why her fur clumped around a patch of smoldering skin. Lira crooned under his touch, and adjusted her hindquarters until his fingers fell against her nether slit.

Naran's cock lurched against his breeches, sending shivers along his spine. Each swaying motion hurt more than the previous. Naran unfastened his breeches with surprising dexterity, rolled them down, grit his teeth at the caress of leather against his sensitive flesh, and gasped as his cock burst from its prison. It bobbed once, twice, each motion sending ripples of pleasure through his hardened meat. He grabbed it with his left hand while the other prodded at Lira's shivering lips. The gryphon cooed under his touch. Her muscle stiffened, her wings twitched, and the undulating motion of her lips forced him inwards.

He inserted the tip of one finger into her slick tunnel, and groaned. Her muscles contracted around his finger, just as his left hand did around his cock. He slithered forward, wriggling his fingers to get a feel for her insides. They clamped around him, then loosened, only to clamp again. Lira's murmur became a pitch higher, and her paws and tail twitched with renewed vigor as he inched deeper, and deeper into her.

Naran began rubbing his cock with short, terse strokes, his jaws tighter than Lira's needy muscles around his finger. The motion, her pungent, earthy, yet sweet scent, her mellow sounds--they sent Naran on edge. His meat hardened in his grip, and Naran bit into his lip to suppress a moan as his peak approached.

He squeezed his member hard, so hard he gasped as he retreated from Lira's reluctant grasp. The gryphon slammed her shuddering hindquarters against his fingers, chirping and croaking. Naran rubbed her slit, enough to turn her chirps to a low shriek, before he plunged into her nether depths again. This time, he inserted two fingers.

Her entrance widened and squelched under the assault. Her muscles tightened in his wake, milking his fingers. Naran wriggled his way through, up to the knuckles, until Lira's tail stiffened. Her rippling insides shuddered, and squeezed, and shuddered in quick succession.

She was close. So close. Naran sought to pull out and give her a moment of respite, but her tight muscles trapped his fingers.

Lira's paws quivered, then jerked. Her talons curled, and raked at the earth beneath. Her shriek picked up until it became a roaring cry as the Gryphon's nether depths collapsed upon Naran. Fluids splashed against Naran's fingers, then burst through her occupied slit in thin spurts. Her spent muscles relaxed around Naran as the gryphoness slumped to her side, panting with the toll of pleasure.

Naran pulled out of Lira and latched his clammy hand around his rock hard cock. He smeared her fluids around his shaft. It took three strokes for pressure to well within his tight meat. It erupted with a thick spurt.

Naran curled in the grass, rubbing away the remaining bliss until it dissipated. He let go of his shrunken cock and chanced a look at Lira through bleary eyes. The gryphoness chirped, then scrambled to her feet.

She dropped next to Naran and extended a wing over him before beak sought his chest. Naran latched his arms around her neck to pull her into a tight hug. He didn't let go. Not even when Lira brought a forepaw around him and rested her chest against him. Her weight was a comforting one, and Naran fell asleep to her soft chirp.

Chapter 1: The Allure of Temptation

He woke up to her warm weight pressed against him. She cracked an eye open, trilled, but didn't budge.

"Too tight a squeeze," Naran mumbled. He blinked to clear the haze from his eyes and tilted his head. In every direction, feathers, fluff, plumes. He pressed a hand against them, pushed and pulled at Lira's wing, but she only pushed back.

Naran groaned. "At least tell me where the sun is."

"You can see for yourself."

He couldn't. Not from where he stood, pinned under Lira's heavy hindquarters, confined under her sprawled wing. He slithered his arm across the grass, groping at the dew laden grass strands. A chilling gust swept at his drenched fingers, confirming his suspicion.

"Not even dawn. Go back to sleep." Naran curled an arm and rested his head on top of it.

"Gryphons don't go back to sleep once roused."

"Pretend to."

"Gryphons don't pretend."

"Attempt to."

"Humans try. Gryphons succeed."

Word games. Always word games. And the damned sun didn't even rise.

Something else stood up in its stead, hard against his breeches. Lira shifted her hindquarters and placed a hind paw right on top of his bulge. The warmth of her pads seeping through his leggings only made it worse. "Fine. Now have the courtesy of removing yourself."

The quip earned him tail fluff in his mouth and a sore cheek where her tail struck him. Naran rubbed it and glared at the gryphon who poked her head past her wing, chirping in delight. Did she need reminding of what transpired last night? Of how he...

His member pulsated, and his hips jerked against his will. Lira's paw clenched around his member, hard enough to draw a soft rumbling from Naran. He opened his mouth to say something, but only a groan came out of his parched throat. "Scout. Get some rabbits, squirrels, whatever."

She cocked her head, removed her paw, and lowered her beak towards his bulge. Naran grabbed it and gave her a thorough rub, enough that her eyes closed and a smooth chirp rumbled in her throat.

"There, there," he said as his fingers caressed and kneaded at her most receptive areas, her chin and the sides of her beak. "You're good now. Awake enough to get something done than stare at..." he swallowed hard at that and let his hands convey the message instead.

Lira cooed in delight. She slumped on top of him, brushing her cheeks against his chest and nipping at his tough leather jerkin. Naran had to push her away, least she ripped to tatters, just like his previous tunics. When her tail flicked and her hindquarters shivered with the strain of movement, Naran stopped.

"That's enough. Off you go." He rolled to the side and placed a thigh on top of his erect member to cover it.

Lira squawked her displeasure. With slow, deliberate movements, she got onto her feet, stretched, ruffled her feathers and preened them, a soft chirp rumbling in her throat.

Naran sighed. He stretched his arms, then rolled onto his rump. His morning wood protested at the sudden movement with a twinge. A grunt escaped him, and Lira's gaze hovered over him. Her ears perked.

"I saw it already. Felt it beneath my paw. Why hide it?"

Naran didn't answer.

She spread her wings, crouched, and shot into the air, shrieking and twisting in a series of aerial displays before the sky swallowed her. Naran chuckled and shook his head.

"Not impressed!" He yelled. "Still won't mate you!"

Blood rushed to his cheeks when she responded with a high pitched cry. What started as a joke now made his stomach rumble due to nerves. What did she make of that, after what happened last night?

Naran shuddered at the thought, then scrambled to his feet to busy himself with the saddlebags. He strapped them onto the saddle, took a few hearty gulps from a water skin and splashed the rest onto his short cropped hair. Cold, watery snakes slithered down his hot skin. He wiped them, then paused when his joined hands covered his face. He stood like that for a dozen heartbeats, breathing in the dusty tang of his palms, mixed with Lira's sweet fragrance.

His nose itched with it, and his heart picked up as the memory of her slick depths clenching around him. She sucked him in, her tight walls squelching with the pressure of his meaty finger pushing against them.

"Gah!" Naran threw his hands in the air. "What am I supposed to make of this, dear Lira?"

Most gryphons left their Riders to quench their lust the first day and returned within the week. Some females waited it out for as long as three days during a mission before departing to find a mate, take his seed, and return.

Today was Lira's fifth day, and she was still here.

Or was she?

Naran's stomach sank at the prospect of her leaving him. His head swerved towards the morning sky, his gaze darting back and forth across the cerulean expanse. A scoff escaped him a moment after.

"She left not ten minutes ago, you bloody idiot." Yet, in spite of his words, he paced around, slow at first and faster with each breath he took. His steps became long strides when Lira's shrill sent ripples across his chest. Naran gasped and faltered due to the intensity of the sound.

"Out of breath, and not even hunting." A thump came, then another.

Naran's eyes shifted from the two plump rabbits to the approaching gryphon.

"I was packing!" He put on his best smirk. "You pack next time. I reckon you said your talons are more flexible than your own words. That will help. Surely." He drew back when Lira reached him. Gods, she was big. Her broad chest filled his vision, her forelegs were as thick as his, and she had to lower her head to reach him.

Naran wrapped his arms around her neck and rubbed her nape. "I wasn't really packing. I did pack. Some of it."

"And the rest?" she inquired with a squeak.

"After I eat."

"You told me food slows down a human's processes."

Naran chuckled. "Gryphon wisdom..." he trailed off as his hands shifted towards the sides of her beak. He dabbed and rubbed under her chin with the pads of his fingers, urging a mellow purr.

"Did you eat?"

Her purr deepened as she dug her head into Naran's chest. He staggered and gripped a fistful of feathers to keep his balance. Gods, she was strong! "I'll take that as a yes."

The rumble of her stomach begged to differ. Naran rolled his eyes at that.

"So we have two rabbits for OUCH--" Naran drew his hand away from her beak when she nipped at it. It only grazed his skin, but still had a damned sting to it. "If you consider eating me, at least take a hard look at what..." The pun died in his throat as Lira shook her head, rubbed her neck against his torso, and clacked her beak. Naran cupped one of her ears to rub between his fingers. It shivered and flicked away.

He trailed his fingers along her chin, through the thin feathers of her cheeks, rubbed the sides of her beak, where she liked it the most. She trilled at that, but still didn't favor him a glance. What came over her?

A throaty shriek left her beak. Naran yelped and stumbled three steps back, heart pounding in his chest at that sudden sound. Lira covered the distance in one step, settled her beak on his shoulder, and exhaled.

Naran kissed its smooth, warm surface. "You lied when you said you never get affectionate on an empty stomach."

She let out a soft chirp and trotted towards the rabbits. "These are yours. Prey stood away from clearings this morning."

Naran scoffed. "Prey never stays away from clearings. You're just trying to..."

The thump of her crashing bulk put a stop to his words. It wasn't like Lira to sulk over a failed hunt, nor evade a taunt when it hit her pride like a straight arrow. Naran drew his head back, squeezed his eyes shut, and took a deep breath.

"I apologize if I--"

That's when he noticed it, a dark patch of soaked fur spreading across the inside of her tawny haunches. It dried and clumped in patches outward, while the area closer to her pink slit still glistened with heat's sheen.

Naran bit his lip. She oozed so much! Some of it still trickled down her rump and formed thin, slimy strings as it dribbled onto the grass. Lira's hindquarters rocked against the thick base of her tail, and a moan escaped her when it rubbed against her slit. She swung her tail once, twice before it fell limp across the grass.

Her head swung towards him, emerald eyes bearing straight into his. "The last pack of bandits camps in the hills. Spotted the embers of their dying fire, but couldn't find a suitable spot to land."

"There's time for bandits, and times for cooking."

"And for snuggling." She lifted an inviting wing. "It will take them until sundown to get to Deer's road."

"I'd rather eat first."

She clattered her beak and flexed her talons.

He rolled his eyes. "Then again, the soul must be nourished in equal measure. Silly buzzard," he whispered under her breath.

"Scrawny two legs."


"Crows are birds." Lira said.

"You are a bird."

She lifted a hind paw and flexed her coal black toes, then did the same with a front leg. "They look rather different, and I happen to have a pair of each."

Naran shrugged, unfazed. "What about the feathers, the wings?"

"What about the clothes? Do they make you a walking blanket?"

"That's different! I already explained you the purpose of human coverings."

"So have I emphasized the purpose of feathers around a gryphon's chest, neck, wings."

Naran smiled. That was his Lira! A stubborn buzzard who made everybody's morning miserable. He rolled next to her side and hugged her neck when she settled her beak onto his lap. "That you did."

She chirped softly, basking in the caresses and rubs she received.

"You keep reminding me how few weaknesses you have," he said with half a mouth.

"That wouldn't happen if your memory didn't resemble a chicken's."

"Oh?" Naran grabbed her hind paw and squeezed it tight between her fingers. It was so slick! He knew gryphons only sweated through their paws, and that it only happened during intense stimulation or excitement. Her pads, being the only area of her body without fur or feathers, also happened to be extremely sensitive.

Even a faint rub urged a jerk of her foot. "I can tickle you to death."

Her toes curled inwards and claws left their sheath, enough to bite into his skin and force Naran to release her. He only managed a gasp before the same paw connected with his chest and forced him upon his back.

Naran didn't squirm. He knew better than that, when onyx claws almost the size of his palm pressed upon his belly. He sighed, and Lira chirped in delight. Her claws retracted as her paw slithered on top of his belly. Then, flexed her toes and protracted her claws just enough to knead at his stomach. Naran squeaked and squirmed. He tried to push the damn thing away, but her claws tore a thin gash in his tunic.

"I can tickle you to death as well."

"Point proven. Just--just bloody stop."

She stopped.

Naran removed her paw from his gut and scrambled onto his feet. "So much for cuddling."

Lira trilled. She trudged away from him, then rolled onto her back, flaring her wings and kicking at the air with all fours. Naran shook his head, and his eyes moved back and forth in their sockets when her ruddy slit came into view. Look at it, or look away? He did a little of both, until the subtle movement under Lira's tail caught his attention. Her slit shivered and spewed a glob of clear liquid onto the grass.

Naran hardened instantly at the sight, at the prickly sweetness mixed with earthy and herbal odors drifting from her. They became more pungent the closer he shuffled towards her, until his eyes watered and his cock pulsated inside his leggings. Lira's tail wrapped around his legs when he knelt beside her rump. She shivered with the craving to be filled. Begged for it.

Naran grabbed her paws instead, stroking her smooth pads with slow, gentle movements. Her meaty, central pad was as big as his fist, and the bean shaped toes slightly smaller, yet still bigger than his own fingers. Like her slit, they oozed the same pheromone-filled scent. The more Naran took in, the harder his cock throbbed, until a drop of pre slithered through.

He fell onto his bottom at that, yelped, and gripped Lira's tail for leverage. A jolt of pain ran through his tight erection, and his balls shuddered at the impact. Lira, too, brought her head up at the commotion.

Naran froze. His cheeks turned beet red and his temples threatened to burst with embarrassment. He stood not a hand span away from her oozing privates! "Uhm, I slipped." He feigned a smile to reassure her.

Lira chirped, lidded her eyes, shifted onto her side and trudged backwards. Straight towards him, her tail raised to expose her slit. Naran's eyes widened. He pet her rump, and she stopped before she smeared all that slimy ooze across his leggings.

Only, she wanted more than a pet. Her tawny hindquarters shook, urging Naran's fingers closer to her shivering slit.

Naran gulped hard, took a deep breath, and said, "Lira, are you in control? I heard instincts have a way with a gryphon's mind, especially..." he paused to lick his lips. "Especially when she's in heat."

"Male humans rub their serpents, and they don't have heat to blame." She bucked her hindquarters, the ripple of movement forcing Naran's fingers upon her smooth, warm, shivering slit.

Naran's gaze flickered for a moment as his finger caressed her twitching lips. Her fluids smeared his fingers in mere moments, and she tensed up when Naran penetrated her with a wet squelch.

"I'm a gryphon of superior intellect," she answered to his silence. She pushed harder, forcing his finger deeper within her squeezing depths. "I can make connections. Humans don't go into heat, but they still battle the urge by relieving themselves." She pulled back with a faint squeak.

Naran gasped when the soft gropes, the overwhelming warmth, that tantalizing, slippery moisture left his finger. He wanted back inside, more than anything, but her words gave him pause. He rested his hand atop her slit. It was narrow, yet broad enough for four fingers to slip inside. He rested two atop her folds. Naran rubbed the silken, throbbing flesh, and Lira trilled and shuddered.

"This is..." he shook his head. "It's not the same, Lira. Humans are more complex than that."

"Why not?" She twisted her head to clack her beak in irritation. "It's still a need, like hunger and thirst. And just like hunger and thirst, it has to be quenched."

"By a mate," Naran cut in. "Not by this," he wiggled his slimy fingers in front of her.

His stomach sank at the words, and his gaze drooped, unable to hold her eyes anymore. He loved her more than he loved himself! That's why she had to leave and find a mate to sate her urges.

He groaned when her tail settled onto his lap. Such a long, muscular, beautiful thing.

"Why didn't you leave?" He forced himself to ask. "A mate will fill your emptiness better than my fingers can." He turned beet red, and he had to clench his jaws to prevent the climax rising within his rock hard member.

Her tail flicked, and the fluffy tip filled his mouth and face. Naran spat and scrunched his eyes shut. When he opened them again, Lira's head stood where her hindquarters used to be. She pushed her cheek into his chest and chirped softly.

"What can a mate do that you can't?"

Naran's breath caught when her chin rested on top of his already sensitive erection. He pulsated within his leggings and hardened to the point where even a stroke would bring forth his peak. Lira's ears perked. "You're hard." She drew back and raised her hackles. "Harder than you've ever been." She dabbed at it with her beak, and Naran flinched.

Then she did it again, and again, and again, rubbing and pressing the sides of her beak against it. Naran grabbed her neck to push her away, but his strength faltered and stars speckled his vision. He bit his lip, hard enough to draw blood, but pain vanished among the waves of overwhelming pleasure.

He arched his back, thrust his hips forward, and gripped a fistful of feathers as he burst within his leggings. He cried out at each searing spurt that left his convulsing member until his throat turned raw and his muscles burned from the strain of climax. He crashed onto his back, panting under Lira's quivering beak.

"You released faster than a gryphon," she said. Her beak inched closer, nostrils flared as she took in his scent. Naran slapped it away. His clammy seed dribbled across his thighs, and each gust of wind turned it cold and disgusting.

"You will not speak of this." He scrambled onto his legs, fell on his knees when the seams of leggings bit into his sensitive tip, growled and pushed himself up. "You will not mention it, nor ask a damned question before I clean myself."

He shuffled to the satchels, one soggy, sticky step at a time, then threw their latch open and hurled their contents onto the grass. Tunic, scabbard, nothing, useless, shit, piss. Where were the damned leggings? Naran turned towards a washed grey sack covered with flies, only to scrunch his nose at the sour, decaying smell wafting through the linen. He wasn't desperate enough to wear blood stained gear, days after the deed had been done.

He picked a patch of oiled cured leather meant for his bow string and used it to wipe his seed instead.

"Is your superior intellect satisfied?" He growled. "Was the outcome to your satisfaction, o great, powerful, shrewd gryphon?"

He swiped his head around to catch a glimpse of her. As expected, she followed him. Didn't even have the courtesy to lie in the same spot he left her.

"Gah!" Naran jerked when her head appeared at the edge of his vision, and he swerved left, away from her inquisitive gaze. His temples pounded, his heart raced in his chest, and his throat itched with the urge to either shout or laugh at his ridiculous predicament.

He gritted his teeth instead, and dabbed at the blood welling on top of his lower lip with the tip of his tongue. When he finished cleaning himself, he pulled up the leggings, winced at the damp coldness between his legs, and turned towards Lira.

"There are certain boundaries a gryphon and her wing mate shouldn't cross."

She took a step towards him, but her paw froze in mid air. "Says who?"

"Me!" Naran said, louder than intended. "Is that not enough? Or do I have to become a gryphon before you start respecting my choice?"

Lira dipped her head into her chest, bowed in submission and turned around, tail flicking across her fluids smeared rump.

Naran took a step towards her and opened his mouth. He wanted to shout his apology, tell her how inconsiderate he was and how much he cherished her choice of sticking with him, in spite of her heat.

He couldn't. His tongue tangled within his mouth, and all that came out was a whimper, soft and pathetic.

"I love you, Lira," he whispered. "Enough to disagree with your silly choice."

He couldn't fulfill the role of a mate, and needed to make her understand that. Yet, whenever he thought of her words, his heart fluttered and his stomach churned with a swarm of butterflies. His knees buckled at the honor she awarded him. A strong, majestic female gryphon, choosing him as a mate rather than a male of her kind? It was unheard of, and it made Naran's head pound so hard he thought his temples would burst.

Food. He needed food. No good answers came on an empty stomach.

Chapter 2: Gryphon's Lust

"Go for a midnight flight. Chase a Riverlands Stripedpaws--mate with one, even. Other female gryphons do just that while you talk, talk, talk." Naran drew in a deep breath as Lira's smooth, charming voice rippled through the clearing. Such a melodious tune, laden with the weight of unnecessary and slightly irritating words.

Ever since they settled for the night, her beak didn't pause a second. Unnecessary worries, exaggerated affirmations, even veiled blackmailing found its way into her monologue. Naran thumped his feet idly on the ground while she, for the eleventh time, chided him for his poor self preservation instinct while dealing with the bandits.

They were dead. Lira and he killed them all. Why did the outcome still matter?

Naran focused on the sizzle of the skewered rabbits that seared over the campfire. He listened to the pitter patter of the dripping oil, hissing against the searing charcoals. Yet, over the savory scents wafting from the skewers and the pleasant sound of cooking meat, flowed her voice.

"....that." She stomped a front paw, and Naran's gaze shot towards her. "Typical for a human, to drool at the food while waiting for it to cook, as if that makes the flames grow stronger."

"They don't have to be strong, else I'll be eating charcoal," Naran said.

"Dead men can't eat, Naran. You'd be one of them if those bandits didn't drink so much during the day."

"At least I wouldn't have to put up with all this," Naran shot. "Being dead and all."

Lira cocked her head and crossed her talons. "Your race still chants before their graves. If they hear something down there, then so would you."

"You made your point." Naran grabbed his three-pronged stick to nudge the skewered rabbits away from the hungry, ruddy tongues. "I can't kill three drunken bandits who stumble rather than charge at me without getting wounded. I'm so weak and fragile I should let you carry me to a tree to piss."

Lira clacked her beak, hard enough to send a shudder along Naran's spine. "Would you let me?"

Naran threw her a glance. She laid on her belly right in front of him, a safe distance away from the fire and its rippling heat. Her emerald eyes shimmered with vermilion hues as she stared at the flames, and her talons curled in around themselves.

"Your pride is worse than a gryphon's," she said.

Naran chuckled. "Nothing is worse than a gryphon's pride."

"You are."

"Stripedpaws, apart from their midnight coats and silvery striped limbs, share a great deal of similarities with gryphons. Even their cocks are..."

Lira buffeted her wings, sending debris flying in Naran's direction. Naran shot onto his feet and yelped as a blanket of dust turned the auburn meat darker than it had the right to be. He gritted his teeth, glared at her, then sat back on his boulder, grimacing at the pain. The cut along his thigh burned hotter than his campfire. His arm throbbed where a cudgel connected with it, and the bruises lined up along his ribs, stomach and back pulsated with every single heartbeat.

"You only grimace like that when you have to relieve yourself." Lira shuffled onto her feet. "Do I have to carry you?"

Naran smiled wryly at her and raised a finger. "Gryphon humor. Come up with something that is worse than that."

"You, dead, lying under my wing in a pool of your blood."

Naran's stomach sank. Cold shivers crept through him, drawing soft gasps and yelps as his wounds flared to life. "Not going to happen."

"It will if you keep charging into battles for thrill's sake."

"Riiight," Naran drawled as he nodded slowly. "I, your redundant wing mate, have to stand cross legged in front of a fire, sipping wine while you fight."

Lira chirped in delight. "I'd like that."

"Oh, wouldn't you." Naran crouched before his fire and rotated the skewers to allow the rabbits to cook on the other side as well. "We would switch roles, nothing more. I'd be the one talking, and you'd be the one grimacing from your wounds."

Lira raised her head and let out a defiant squeak. "From the little bandits poking their metal toothpicks at a too agile and experienced gryphon?" She pointed a talon at him. "Next mission, you let me dispatch them. All of them. If they draw as much as a drop of scarlet upon my feathers, I'll give you my shinies for the month."

Naran shook his head. "You're already giving me your shinies."

"For safe keeping," she emphasized. "Until I find a nest and a mate to fill it."

Silence followed. Her gaze drooped, her posture slouched and her tail wrapped around a wing. "Deal?"

"Deal," Naran responded with half a mouth. His lips pursed, and his breath grew shallow. If Lira loved herself as much as she loved him, she could had had a clutch by now. Instead, she chided him for the wounds he got in a battle that wasn't hers to fight.

Naran brooded over the rebellious thought as he listened to the crackling of searing wood. The gryphons had sought the aid of humans to drive the wyverns away. Everybody knew that, yet few questioned the necessity of the bond centuries after the last wyvern perished. It was practical to use gryphons in human warfare--efficient, as the Lord Commander put it.

"Find a mate," Naran found himself whispering. The words tugged at his heart with painful wrenches. His knees buckled, and his chest tightened, drawing the breath out of him. Yet still, Naran spoke, louder and louder. "Leave me, Lira. What are you doing, fighting petty bandits while you're in heat? Your instincts scream at you for attention. Heed them."

He somehow found the courage to look into her eyes. "I'll be a farmer, a tailor, a spell crafter, you name whatever boring craft you can think of. Leave the bandits to other gryphons and their wing mates. I can even come by to see the chicks when--"

"Eat," she said with a stern clap of her beak.

Infuriating relief washed over Naran. His taut muscles relaxed against his will, and his wounds suddenly hurt less. Why? Why was he so selfish?!

Naran swallowed the lump in his throat and grabbed a skewer. "And after this?"

"You extinguish the fire and I help you to your constantly aching feet."

"I won't need help."

"That cut along your thigh begs to differ."

"I don't need help," Naran pressed.

Lira squawked in displeasure, but added nothing to the argument. She stretched out a wing and began preening herself while Naran feasted in silence. Her beak flowed across the smooth plumes of her wings, nipping at them with practiced dexterity before moving down her lower belly. Lira lifted her haunch to reveal her wet, pink blossom. She chirped softly, then dabbed at it with her beak.

Naran stiffened. "Isn't that...a bit sharp?" he finished when Lira's gaze met his.

"It itches and throbs," Lira said as she brushed her tail against her slit instead. She only managed to smear her arousal and get more irritated in the process. "Instincts and urges. These are the worst aspects of a gryphon."

A chuckle burst from Naran's throat, forcing him to spit a mouthful of meat. "That's my quip you just stole."

"You said featherheads steal, so I'm only meeting your expectations." She rolled onto her side, one hind paw aloft and a wing unfurled to make room for the talon sliding across her belly.

"Lira don't." Naran swallowed hard to prevent chocking when he realized what she was doing. "There is only one thing meant to enter you, and it's a bit less sharp than your talons."

Her head twisted towards Naran. "Your fingers did, Naran, so that makes it several things." She planted her forepaws onto the ground and rolled onto her belly. "You can either come here and stop me, or wait and watch."

Her voice shook with lust, or desperation, or maybe both. Naran bit his lower lip and swallowed the last mouthful of meat. He rested the skewer atop the same boulder that held his saddlebags, then got onto his feet with a wince and a lurch. His wounded thigh protested by sending waves of raw pain through his frame.

Lira's ears perked. Her wings stiffened, and a soft coo left her half parted beak before she darted towards him. She covered the distance between them in two strides and pushed her chest against Naran while her neck directed him into the soft embrace of her feathers.

"I can walk, you bloody inconsiderate buzzard." Naran chuckled and groped her neck with stiff, greasy fingers. "Think about my pride and the things you said about it."

"You didn't walk, you wobbled," Lira said before she drew back to allow him enough room to stand rather than stoop. "I didn't mean to interrupt your dinner."

"Nah, you didn't," Naran said with a flick of his wrist. "I was done anyway. The rest is for packing and the long journey home. Now sit and let me groom you."

She nipped his thumb with the tip of her beak hard enough to make him yelp. "Grime me, you mean. There are juices all over your hands."

Naran wiped himself on his leggings. "Not any longer."

Lira didn't argue with that. She trilled softly as she settled onto her belly, one wing aloft for Naran to curl under.

He wrapped an arm around her neck instead and stroked her nape while fondling an ear with his other hand. "What you were about to do is bloody moronic, Lira."

She blinked her piercing leaf-green eyes. "I never inserted anything in there. I heard tales of human ladies using vegetables and other smooth objects to ease their burden." Her voice dropped to a hushed whisper as the gryphoness turned her head away from Naran.

He simply laughed out loud, dropped onto his knees and hugged her neck. "You heard. There's your issue, believing nonsensical tales simply because they seem convenient."

"I don't know what to believe, Naran. This heat's-" Her voice shattered into soft squeaks as she brushed her head against his stomach.

Naran placed his palms on the sides of her beak and rubbed her, flaring her squeaks a pitch higher. "Believe in the possibility of finding a gryphon mate."

She drew her head back at that, her ears flat against her skull. "What can a gryphon do that you can't?"

Naran froze. Strength seeped from his limbs, replaced by creeping weakness. She had asked him this question the day before, and he didn't have an answer to it. Now, when his eyelids drooped and his temples throbbed, finding that answer seemed a most distant possibility.

"I can't mate with you for a dozen reasons, Lira," he blurted out.

"Name one."

"Well," Naran scratched his head while searching for the proper words. "It's a trick, the deepest form of deceit. It may seem fulfilling to have me inside you, but no eggs will grow in your belly."

She rested her chin onto his shoulder, trilling. "Put yourself inside me first, and then concern yourself with the implications of our coupling."

Naran closed his eyes and took a deep breath to still his raging blood. It surged through his veins, empowering his ache and rousing his sleeping member.

Lira's head twitched and an excited squeak escaped her as her tail began to swing back and forth with impatience. Her eyes followed Naran's fingers as they slid to his waist to grip the seams of his leggings. Her beak clacked due to excitement as he groped them ever so softly.

As soon as she blinked, Naran reached into his pockets, pulled out the Amulet of Binding, clutched it in his fist and recited its incantation before throwing it on top of Lira's forepaws. The gryphoness only managed a sharp caw before several smooth and flexible roots burst from the ground to wrap around her forelegs. They coiled around her forepaws, squeezing her in a tight embrace before the emeralds in the amulet faded to blackness.

Lira didn't squirm, or shriek, or flap her wings. She merely stared at Naran, her ears erect and her beak sealed tight. "You kept that amulet in your pocket when that pockmarked bandit charged you. He slashed you across your thigh and battered your enchanted chainmail until the wards wore off. And still, you didn't use it, or call for me." She cocked her head and tucked her wings tighter against her sides. "Is my heat more dangerous than his blade?"

"More unpredictable for sure," Naran rasped. His throat became as dry as his thoughts. "I couldn't let you put a talon inside yourself. That can cause more harm than good."

"And depleting an amulet that requires shinies to be recharged seemed the better alternative?"

Naran nodded, and Lira released her audible sigh before her beak pecked at the thinner roots.

"It will take you until morning to break through them."

"Better think of what I'll do when I'm free of your bindings," Lira said as she cut a thin root in half. It grew back as soon as she switched to a thicker one, curled around her limbs and fled back into the ground.

"Or I can think of means to distract you and slow you down long enough for the sun to rise. You'll go hunt, I'll have breakfast, and then we'll fly home together."

Lira didn't answer over the steady thumps of her beak pounding at the roots. She tried shifting her body and tugging her forelimbs, but she only squawked in displeasure when the roots chaffed her wrists.

Naran grabbed one of her fallen plumes that rested on the dried, shriveled grass and fondled it between two fingers as he shuffled towards her.

"You are as stupid as they say, Naran," Lira said in between her efforts to cut through her tethers. "You fight along me out of principle, use expensive magic to prevent me from harming myself, and urge me to find a mate when I'm still here during my fifth day of heat." Her head swung towards him. "That's why I love you, and you alone."

Naran stopped in his tracks. He expected some wicked things to escape from that devious beak of hers, but not this. His stomach lurched as butterflies filled it to the brim, his heart fluttered, and his head became light--so light, he floated rather than walking towards Lira--his Lira.

"Chasing a mate means trading away the time I have you. It means passing on opportunities that prove me how inferior humans are compared to gryphons."

Naran smiled, so wide his lips hurt. "No gryphon can put up with your temper, so you pester me instead. That's what you're saying."

Lira stopped her struggles to break free and rested on her side. "Possibly. The few we've met are a sliver of what you are to me, Naran."

What am I?

Naran clenched his jaws to keep that question contained. He knew the answer--feared it more than he feared death.

He sat besides Lira, his back rested against her shoulder and one hand placed on top of her light brown brow. "We can't just let your heat pass without any other awkward incidents, can we?"

"Gryphons mate whenever they please."

"And there's nothing I can do to change your mind?"

Lira dug her beak into his chest and let out a series of melodious squawks. "You tried. Don't further embarrass yourself."

Naran smirked. "I can distract you."

Before Lira had time to process his words, Naran grabbed her beak with one hand and brushed the tip of the plume against the sensitive leathery sides of her beak.

Lira shot back, shrieking and squirming before her eyes fixated on Naran's plume. Her beak thrust forward to grab it, but Naran swung it to the side and out of her reach.

"You said you can tickle me to death. Let's see how well you fare, dear Lira."

Naran tried to grip her beak and hold her still, but her strength far outmatched his. She only had to jerk her head to send him toppling over her forelegs and roll him onto his back with a mere nudge.

"Better than you," she squeaked, only to thrust her head back when Naran brushed the feather against the entire left side of her beak. Her nostrils flared, and her beak stretched wide open to let out an almighty sneeze.

Naran shielded his ears against it, leaving his stomach wide open for her feathery head to rub against. Lira took the opportunity to brush the sides of her beak against Naran in turns, in spite of his thrashing limbs and kicking legs. He managed to roll away from the onslaught, panting over Lira's mirthful croaks.

"You devious crow," Naran growled.

Lira sprawled her wings and flapped them thrice. The gusts of wind sent all of her fallen plumes flying, leaving Naran unarmed in his battle to subdue this blasted bird.

"Nothing is more devious than using my own plumes against me."

"You know what? I don't even need them. There are more sensitive spots I can exploit."

Naran rolled onto his stomach, pushed himself up and strode towards her exposed flank. His fingers latched onto the base of her wing. It was thick, meaty, smooth, with only fluff to cover it. He threw her a glance. "I know my gryphon anatomy, Lira," he said before he scratched at the soft fluff of her wing joint and dabbed at the sensitive skin underneath.

"Doesn't seem so," she chirped defiantly.

Naran pressed his fingers into it. The effect was immediate. Lira lashed out with her hind paws, flailing them up and down while her tail whipped at Naran's side furiously. He gritted his teeth against the strong, stinging lashes and kept rubbing at Lira's wing joint with gleeful determination.

Her breath grew labored within seconds. No matter how she squeaked and squirmed, or how hard she flapped her wing, Naran's fingers remained lodged into that sweet spot, kneading at it with abandon.

Lira's squeaks turned into shrieks, and her toes flexed in an effort to get those claws latched onto Naran's swaying form. He drew back, towards Lira's feathered half, when her back arched and her hind paws gained a few inches closer to his torso. He backed away so much his grip faltered on Lira's beating wing.

That's when her hind paw caught him square in the chest, sending him down on his back with a muffled scream.

Lira's head loomed over him a second after, her wide eyes full of concern. "That's why you shouldn't tickle me. You are too fragile for your own good."

Naran grabbed her beak to pull it close enough for a kiss. "And you're so damn ticklish."

Lira squawked and pulled him close enough to her side with her talons to rest a hind paw on top of his gut.

"You remember the last time I had my paw on your stomach?"

Naran nodded.

"The outcome as well?"

"Me pleading for mercy. Only, I'm done with games." Naran grabbed her paw instead and began stroking her smooth pads with slow, gentle movements. "You had enough."

She let out a murmuring trill under Naran's pleasant caress.

Her meaty, central pad was as big as his palm, and the bean shaped toes slightly smaller, yet still bigger than his own fingers. She twitched slightly in his grip, but her mellow chirp betrayed her. She enjoyed it, so much her pads turned damp as she grew more aroused from Naran's tantalizing strokes.

"How comes your feet are more receptive than your own beak?" Naran inquired.

"We use them to test the ground's texture, to feel the softness of the materials we use to build the nests." She flexed her toes for a quick demonstration and then curled them inwards around his fingers. "Males have coarser pads and longer talons, while females have soft, meaty pads for this purpose alone."

Naran groped one of her toes between two fingers and squeezed it until Lira's paw jerked in his grip. "Isn't your eyesight good enough for that? For feathers' sake, you pierce the veil of night like it is bright daylight."

"We're not birds, Naran. Get that silly thought out of your head. Birds perch, gryphons lounge. That means the comfort of a nest matters a great deal, even more so for the chicks."

It made sense, even more so when her paw sweated from their combined heat. Her pads were warmer than his skin, and oozed out a faint, pheromone-filled fragrance meant to lure potential mates and lead them straight to a female's nest. The more Naran rubbed Lira's paw, the stronger the sweet, earthy fragrance grew.

He got up, still squeezing Lira's paw between his hands while moving towards her hindquarters. Lost in her bliss, with her head sprawled on the side and her eyes half closed, Lira didn't even notice him slinking past her lower belly and jumping over her other paw. Naran crouched, grabbed it in his other hand, and stroked it several times before his eyes shifted to the dry patch of fluff nestled between the crevices separating her toes.

He smirked, then brushed the tip of a finger against it in repeated strokes, so fast Lira kicked her hind paws and jerked in her tethers hard enough. She cried out as her body twisted more than her bound limbs allowed. A jolt of panic ran through Naran, stunning him for the brief moment Lira needed to shove him onto his butt with a well placed thrust of a paw.

Naran grunted before he broke into a fit of laughter. "That small patch of fur is your one greatest weakness."

"I dare you to get anywhere near it again."

Naran threw her a side glance, winked, and pulled out a second Amulet of Binding from his other pocket. Lira shrieked and writhed in desperation, only to fall silent once roots fastened her hind paws together. Naran knelt before her bound paws, staring at her coal black pads. He smiled at their pleasant shape and at how her toes flexed and relaxed.

"I'll take mercy on you, though you can always plead like I did. Worked for me," Naran said before he grabbed her paws in each hand. Lira tensed up at first, squeaking in distress, but Naran only fondled with her toes and caressed her central pads. They bore such exquisite shape, and the claws poking from the sheaths of her toes were sharp enough to rake the skin off the offending limbs. Lira, however, didn't curl her toes inwards, nor did she protract her claws past their very tip. She probably fought hard to suppress her instinct to claw at Naran's hands, yet he wasn't about to let her loose. Not before she got a taste of her own medicine.

He started with the patch of wan fur trapped between her dark pads, rubbing it slow at first and harder and faster once Lira's toes curled inwards and her wings flapped with abandon. Raw shrieks burst from her throat, and her eyes turned bleary with tears as the gryphoness squirmed and thrashed.

"That doesn't--even tickle--it's more--enjoyable than you think," Lira said it through her ragged huffs.

"Then you'll like this as much as I will," Naran said. He grabbed one of her paws right under the pads with one hand, curled the fingers of his free hand into a whisk, and drove them between her pads and into the crevices surrounding them.

Lira's body stiffened for a fleeting moment before her paw jerked in Naran's grasp. She shook it, so hard and fast he had trouble holding it still. Then, her claws left their sheaths just as her toes curled enough to drive the sharp tips into Naran's skin. He hissed from the searing pain, but didn't let go of her paw. He continued to wriggle his fingers into the sensitive depths of her paw crevices, then grabbed her other paw to apply the same treatment.

Lira's shrieks turned into a continuous screech as her tail curled around Naran's shins. Her wings stretched to their limits, her back arched, and her toes flexed to their maximum width mere moments before a hard squirt took Naran straight into his groin.

He let go of Lira's paws and stumbled back, blinking hard and fast. The slick warmth seeped into his leggings. It pierced through the leather, enticing his cock to grow under the promise of warmth and moisture. And it smelled! A sweet, prickly fragrance that numbed down Naran's senses one by one, until all he felt were the rhythmical throbs of his rock hard cock.

"Why did you--that was a cheap shot," Naran stammered. His breaths grew heavy as he shuffled towards her head, one wobbling step at a time. Soft, steady chirps left her half opened beak. Her eyelids rolled down to shield her eyes, and all of her limbs and wings twitched with ecstatic shivers. Only her tail remained in place while her shuddering folds leaked a steady stream of translucent arousal--no, juices. They were thicker--so thick they formed ephemeral bridges between her trembling lips and the grass below.

Naran knelt by her rump, his fingers itching to delve into her slick tunnel and bring her total fulfillment.

"Lira, did you, by any chance, had your moment of great pleasure?"

She didn't answer. Her beak clacked as a hazy eye fixated on Naran.

She did.

He chuckled in spite of himself, grabbed both of the amulets in each hand and recalled the spells back into them. As soon as the roots retracted, Lira swung onto her back, kicking her paws at the air while trilling.

Naran looked around the clearing, at the sky, at his boots, anywhere but at her. If he did, she would share his glance and observe his erection. Better to wait for it to subside.

It didn't. His cock responded with a throb to each thump of his heart, and Lira no longer kicked her paws. She now rested on her side, her hind paws tucked under a wing and her bleary eyes fixated on him.

She raised her wing for him and nodded once.

Naran licked his lips, bowed his head and settled under her wing.

"I can finish you off. With my fingers. If you still have the craving for it," the words fled his numb lips against his will.

Lira's head poked through the feathery curtain. Her beak stood eye level with him, so close that her hot breath washed over Naran's ruddy cheeks. "Would you do it if I accepted your offer?"

"No, but I can promise not to tickle your paws that bad ever again," he said, and Lira squeaked in delight. She fixated her gaze onto the wet patch on his leggings, and brushed her beak against it.

Naran stiffened, if only because his cock lurched hard enough to draw Lira's attention.

"You're hard," she observed.

"I'm not. It's just your goo, splattered all over my leggings."

Lira snorted and poked her beak at his bulge. Naran winced and bit his lower lip as a shudder of elation rippled through him.

"Will you wait it out or do something about it?" Lira inquired.

Naran paled. "It's not--it's not really something I..."

"I can rub your serpent off with my hind paws if that feels better than your hand. They're soft enough to--"

"NO!" Naran thundered, almost ready to stumble back. "It's will pass, just give it time."

Lira hooked the tip of her beak onto the seams of his leggings and tugged lightly. "At the very least, you should let it out before you release inside them like last time."

"That was your fault. You rubbed me. Against me, I mean. With your beak." Naran licked his lips and rolled his eyes in distress. "Why are you so curious about humans anyway? You should go pester a Stripedpaws until he mounts you. Gryphons share more similarities with them cats than with any other being."

"I may, if only to shut you up." Lira pulled at his leggings harder. "Right now, I'd like to see it when it's grown."

Naran's head whirled. He couldn't argue with a lustful buzzard. Whatever edge he had over her retreated along with the roots that bound her. His vision swam, his temples throbbed, and Lira's scent filled his nostrils. Her fragrance addled his mind, to the point where he clutched the rim of his leggings and pulled them down to his thighs. His rock hard member burst from its confines, along with a lustful groan. He looked to the sides to avoid Lira's gaze and gritted his teeth.

"There. You saw it. Satisfied?" he hissed.

She squawked and moved her head from one side to the other, chirping and squeaking and trilling. "Only the tip left the sheath. Why?"

Naran scoffed. She knew he was a virgin. She knew he never mated. Why ask?

"Can I touch it with a hind paw?" Lira asked excitedly. One of her hind paws trudged closer to him, until her toes rested on top of his right thigh.

"Don't press your luck."

"It's softer than your own hand, warmer than a human and slick enough--"

"Enough, Lira," Naran growled. "You've seen how an erect male human looks like. That's all you get from me."

Her head shifted so that one of her eyes filled his vision. "You pleasured me a few nights ago with your fingers. As your wing mate, I'd like to return the favor."

Naran cackled when she wriggled her toes. "With what, your foot? The one you walk on?"

She slid it against his leggings with quick, curt strokes. "Clean now."

"Your definition of clean differs from mine," Naran said. He squeezed his jaws tighter as his cock bobbed up and down with renewed vigor. Lira's scent--it had a certain allure to it, a potency that enflamed Naran's blood and brought him on the verge of release without even a mere stroke along his shaft.

"It's still a foot, Lira, no matter the way you put it."

"Your hands are feet when you walk on all fours as well."

Naran scoffed. "Gryphon logic."

Lira's beak returned to his cock. Naran knew it, for her hot breath fell right upon his sensitive tip, across his rock hard flesh. "I want to pleasure you in the ways I can, Naran. You either mate with me, or let me knead at your serpent with my hind paw."

There was a harshness in her voice, a touch of stubbornness that Naran had grown to love over the years he had spent with Lira. His gryphon never backed down when dared, nor would she now. Naran cupped his face in his palms, released a shuddering breath and pointed at the saddle bags. "Get me a water skin. Nothing happens until I wash your paw."

She gently lifted herself off the ground, dug her head into a saddlebag and returned with a water skin in her beak. Naran grabbed it. He waited for Lira to curl around him, grabbed her proffered hind paw, uncorked the water skin and poured a steady stream of water over it. Lira twitched it at first, but she got used to it the more Naran rinsed her pads with thorough strokes.

"Hold it off the ground," Naran said. He laid onto his back, head rested against one of Lira's forelegs as he surrendered his manhood to her whims.

"Give it here. Your so called 'hand'."

Lira's paw found his hand. She trilled while Naran rubbed it until blazing heat returned to her pads. Her toes flexed in anticipation, and her wing shivered at the edge of Naran's vision. Somehow, he knew she was as distressed as he was, just like he knew her offer to pleasure him had an important meaning to her. Gryphons had certain bonding rituals that ran deeper than any vow. Her desire to show Naran that she, too, could pleasure him, was one such ritual.

Or so Naran thought. It seemed beyond ridiculous at first, and yet, the more he inhaled her pheromones laden scent, the less he cared. No principles, no silly reasoning, would stand between him and Lira. He loved her too much; so much, that he slowly lowered her paw onto his groin despite the absurdity of such act.

Both him and Lira held their breaths. Naran lowered the paw, slowly, until warmth surrounded him from all sides. He groaned softly, throbbing once in the encasing warmth. Lira's toes pressed against his tip, urging his foreskin to roll further down and expose his sensitive head to her ministrations.

That was a bit too much, even for him. Naran gritted his teeth against the fire welling within his groin. Trapping his cock was one thing, and stimulating his bare flesh another. Naran groaned and gasped, trying to hold the surge of pleasure back. The pressure exerted by Lira's toes against his sensitive flesh already brought him far too close to the edge of delight. He couldn't spill like this. Not so quickly.

"Let go of my paw," Lira demanded. "Let me pleasure you."

Naran's grip relaxed, but he didn't let go. Not when Lira began rubbing her paw along his shaft with broad strokes while kneading at his tip with her flexing toes. Naran huffed with each throb that forced him closer to his climax. He squinted at the overpowering sensation rippling through his body and moaned when Lira's paw descended upon his tip to reveal more and more of his glans. Her paw felt so tight. So hard.

His hips bucked, thrusting his length through her pads and into the sensitive crevice surrounding them. Lira's paw jerked, but she kept kneading at Naran's tip while her central pad rubbed against the base of his shaft.

Naran sucked in a deep breath. His peak approached while his control over his body lessened. His hips lurched against his will, thrusting his cock into her paw with terse strokes. His cock squelched with lewd, wet noises, smearing Lira's pads with slippery pre.

Lira was not only soft, but warm too, and Naran's aroused senses perceived the silky shelter as something more than a mere paw. For a short moment, the clutch of her toes around him resembled the wet confines of Lira's tight sex. The pads he thrust against were her tense muscles, rippling with elation under his strokes. Lost in lust's thrill, Naran picked up his thrusts, venturing deeper and harder into her paw until the seething clutch around his member became unbearable.

"I'm-I'm about to..." He grabbed Lira's paw and squeezed it tight as he began thrusting into her pads with erratic strokes. Lira's squeak, her claws pressed against his hands, the pain of his throbbing wounds--they all faded before the wave of bliss flooding Naran's being.

He lodged his cock in with a last, powerful thrust and let go of the fiery torrent welling within him just when Lira's toes clenched around his tip. He drew his head back to cry out as his first spurt traversed his tight length and burst into Lira's shuddering paw. The gryphoness clacked her beak with lust as the pressure sent the seed bursting between her toes. She moved her head closer to sniff, tightening her paw around Naran every time he throbbed. Fresh ropes of sticky seed rammed against her warm paw, turning the insides into a wet, sticky mess. Naran unloaded everything he had, rubbing himself until the last drops left his spent cock.

Once his spurts subsided to dull throbs, Naran drew in a deep breath. He pushed the paw off his messy groin, winced at the lewd noise, and lifted his head to look at Lira's reaction.

She dabbed her beak at the slimy goo, wriggled her toes and jerked her paw as she tried to get rid of it. No amount of toe spreading or poking took the slimy strings off her. She needed a tongue, and a beast large enough to wield it.

Lira chirped her frustration and settled her beak onto his belly to face him.

"Your essence is far stickier than I expected."

"Let's not talk about it," Naran said. His mind suddenly felt clearer, lighter, like the clear blue sky after a storm. Did Lira's pheromones lead to his lapse in judgment? Or was it his fault? Naran pulled up his leggings, much to Lira's displeasure, then rubbed her chin and brow until her melodious chirps filled his ears.

"Can a gryphon's scent lead a human astray?" Naran asked.

Lira's ears flicked. "Only humans lead themselves astray by assuming it's wrong to follow their instincts. Your views are narrow, your concepts limited. These," she paused to fill Naran's left hand with her clean paw, "can do as much as your hands, but you call them feet and create all manner of assumptions about them."

"Maybe humans and gryphons are fundamentally different," Naran mused out loud.

Lira pushed her head further up his chest until the fluff of her cheek filled Naran's lips. "Or maybe that's one of your limited concepts that you forced yourself to accept. We are mates by right of bonding, no matter the species."

"I said what I had to say about mating, Lira," Naran said. "Just because you pleasured me with your paw and I pleasured you with my fingers doesn't mean my seed will magically grow eggs inside you."

She said no more after that. Naran basked in the warmth of her head rested against him, cupped her hind paw into his palm and stroked her pads with the tips of his fingers. As much as Lira loved him, her heat would return, stronger and more demanding with each year. Unlike humans, gryphons had to bear eggs. Their instincts urged them.

And when Naran's seed wouldn't quicken...

He bit his lower lip at that, frowned, and forced himself to sleep.

Chapter 3: My mate, my love

Naran scrunched his nose, his lips trembling with the urge to sneeze whenever fuzz tickled his nostrils. Half asleep, he tried swatting it aside with one arm, groaning in displeasure.

It came back, again and again, a clump of silken threads that rubbed against his face until he let out a sneeze strong enough to jerk upwards, onto his bottom. He caught the culprit between his hands and pulled, hard enough to make Lira screech and unfurl her wings for balance.

"Insufferable creature," he mumbled, blinking the drowsiness from his eyes. "How high is the sun?"

"High enough to resort to desperate measures." She swung her fluffy tail tip across his face one more time, making Naran sneer at her.

"I will pull your tail harder."

"I'll pretend it hurts and screech just to give you a measure of satisfaction."

He let go of her tail to cup his face in his palms, rubbing his sore eyes while Lira's mirthful chant filled his ears. He recognized that series of high pitched chirps, the demeaning swishing of her tail across his legs. Lira must have woken up hours ago, and instead of wrestling with a Stripedpaws to quench her restlessness, she chose to pester him.

And for good reason. Every time her tail swung to the side, it revealed the glossy pinkness of her sex, swelled with desire. Soft tremors jolted through her lips, the outcome of eleven days of little to no relief from her burdening heat. He considered dipping his finger inside her if only to test her reaction, but slapped her on the haunch instead.

"Give me a moment. Better yet, indulge me with a story of your morning adventure." His voice was hoarse, raspy almost, and his head felt heavy, in spite of the hearty dose of sleep. Lira had it right; the sun had already made it past the canopies, casting its garish light upon the clearing they slept in during the night.

She tucked her tail across her exposed privates and turned around to face him, none too pleased about his indifference towards her heat.

"I filled my belly, foraged for you, played with a Stripedpaws by the river to pass the time."

"What about the details? It's all in the details."

"One glance doesn't suffice?" She asked nonchalantly, making his breath hitch from the suddenness of it.

"I played with the Stripedpaws. Playing leaves me vulnerable before my instincts."

"Or you can just--" he pressed his lips shut and waved her off dismissively. "Don't mind me. All I need is a moment."

She splayed on her back right next to him, her wings tucked to the sides, her emerald eyes watching him intently. "I needed to hear your voice Naran. Needed you to distract me."

Distract her? Naran rolled to the side, right on top of her, making Lira caw in surprise as he rested upon her chest. She was thrice bigger than him, with a broad, strong chest that could have supported a weight much greater than his frail body.

"You need more than just distractions. You're a female gryphon in heat, I was sleeping soundly, you stumbled upon a male Stripedpaws by the sound of it. Tell me the thought didn't occur to you." He cupped her ears into each palm, stroking them gently, his face inches from her light grey beak.

"My only thoughts were of you."

Her plumes fluffed up, and her beak began to shudder lightly as the comforting weight of his body made her talons clench and her wing tips to jerk lightly. During the pinnacle of her heat, even a foreign body pressed against her was enough to stimulate her senses enough to make her croon with longing.

Naran rolled away from her just as her talons kissed the smooth texture of his dark leather tunic. A moment longer, and her embrace would have put him in a very awkward position.

Just like last night.

The mere thought of it urged blood to rush to Naran's cheeks, coloring them a bright red, making his temples throb with sudden guilt.

He mated a gryphon's paw. Lira's paw, even. He allowed her to pleasure him, sprouting the desire for something more within her lust addled mind, making her think that from now on, everything lied within acceptable boundaries. That had to stop, before things got out of hand.

"You're quite bad at this, Naran. The Stripedpaws I met hugs better than you, and for more than just a couple of heart beats," Lira teased as she rocked from side to side, kicking her paws at the air, grasping at the shafts of light falling upon her lithe form. It made her feathers shimmer with an eerie glow, and her slick hindquarters glisten from the copious amounts of arousal she oozed. That pesky tail had spread it all over her haunches and tawny belly, turning her fur a deeper shade of brown.

"Why did you leave him then?"

"He licked me. Tasted me. Liked it enough to mar my tail tip with his arousal. That was my cue to leave."

"By all the gods, Lira. Mate already," he said, louder than intended. He took a deep breath, exhaled it in the form of a raspy sigh, and licked his lips. "You don't need my permission. Just mate. As long as you don't put your talons, beak, or anything sharp in there that might hurt you, anything goes. Mate, instead of speaking to me about your desire to mate."

His temples pounded, his throat became drier than a desert, and his temper stretched thinner and thinner the longer Lira tortured herself due to her irrational stubbornness. She was in heat, gods be damned. Why didn't she mate?!

She rolled on her belly at that, her eyes narrow, her ears erect. "Maybe I already did. Had more than enough time."

"Maybe you already did," Naran drawled, then thrust a finger at her lower belly. "First, your haunches are drenched with your arousal. I'm a human, and can still smell that prickly sweetness from all the way over here. Secondly, there are no traces of seed. Thirdly, you're as tight as ever."

"Your keen eyes put an eagle to shame," she trilled playfully. "What else have you seen?"

Her plumes practically shivered in anticipation. Her tail swung faster and harder to the sides, and her talons kept clenching and releasing the fistfuls of dirt she gathered into her front paws.

"The tree where I'll make my water." He shifted onto his feet, but Lira lunged in front of him, mantling to block his way, directing his gaze with one wing towards the feast she gathered for him.

"I take my words back. You're not deserving of my praise."

"Maybe it's because the first thing I woke up to these past few days is your rump."

"And maybe I'm testing your ability to deal with distractions."

"No you aren't." He patted her on the beak and stroked those smooth edges with the tips of his fingers. "You're a huge tease, is what you are."

Naran gulped hard in an attempt to contain his budding embarrassment. Here he was, chiding Lira for ignoring her heat, while he thought of nothing else but her heat. The ridiculousness of the situation made him smile to himself and turn towards her gift for him.

The lavish feast lying under the shadow of an oak summed up Lira's morning efforts, which far surpassed his expectations. The gryphoness piled the nuts and berries atop a bedding of broad leaves, hunted three rabbits for him, even though the fawn on the far right had more than enough meat to quench his hunger.

"Staring at your meal won't stop your stomach from growling like a ravenous beast." Her tail tip, flicking across his nose, attempted to diffuse some of the gathering tension, but the harm had already been done. Lira had never been good at concealing her distress, and her tail didn't sway back and forth with pent-up excitement. She was nervous, irritated by his indifference towards her heat.

And most of all, disappointed by his suddenly cool demeanor.

"If you can let me take a piss first, that would be great," Naran said, lifting a hand to stop her from following him. Her wings drooped slightly, and so did her head. Naran couldn't help but chuckle and throw her half a smile.

"So bored you want to watch me make my water now?"

She didn't answer, much to his relief. Ever since he woke up, Naran's morning wood hadn't died down. Sure, his member softened somewhat, but barely enough to allow him to relieve himself. Out of habit, he glanced behind, soft shivers running through his flanks at the thought of Lira sneaking up on him.

It shouldn't bother him. Lira was a gryphon. An overly curious and assertive one, yet still a lovely featherhead without a shred of common decency. And why should she, when she already walked around exposed, her puffy vent inviting to any male who took a peek under her tail

It even stirred him, more than it should have, considering his circumstances. Although he made his point clear to Lira, his body plotted against him, making him lust for his very own gryphon, one that he loved enough to know better than mate.

She'll be grateful to me, Naran thought as he unlaced his leggings and pulled them down, wincing at his half erection sprung with a terse bobbing motion. Once her heat subsides and clarity returns to her thoughts again, she'll realize the good I've done her by not playing her game.

Maybe she would even get a gryphon mate of her own when they returned to the city. Naran imagined her tucked in her nest, surrounded by her clutch, warmed by her mate's wing. Yes. That was how things should be.

And yet, the picture sent an ominous shudder through his frame, making him frown and bite his lower lip from the pang of jealousy that struck him. No--not jealousy. Concern, worries that her mate would fail to provide her with the love and affection she deserved.

He began shifting his weight from one leg to another, drumming his fingers atop his bare thighs as he waited for his half erect member to relax enough to let go.

When he finally did, Lira's caw interrupted his focus. Naran's cock lurched, spraying a jet of urine high across the tree trunk. He stumbled back at that, pushed his half erect cock into his leggings, then threw a fugitive glance behind. Did Lira see him?

No--she had her head tucked under a wing, her melodious chirps filling the grove as she preened herself.

Naran's sigh didn't alleviate his rapid heartbeats, nor did it make that one pressing thought which made him simmer go away.

He desired Lira. Enough to make him harden to his fullest from the brief glimpse of her perfect, bestial body. Enough to suddenly envy and resent every gryphon that would attempt to snatch her away from him.

"No worth dwelling on this. You know better than that. Mindless lust, is what it is," he reassured himself. "She's in heat. You got a bit carried away, and curiosity led you astray. Big focking deal. At least you're not one of them selfish bastards who mate their gryphons."

He wasn't, and wouldn't be, not ever. The moment he put himself inside Lira was the one when he doomed her to a life of loneliness, with no clutch to call her own, spent alongside a human with a life span ten times shorter than hers.

He kept saying that to himself, a flimsy mantra that only made him feel more bitter about this whole situation. Instead of soothing his taut muscles, it made his fists clench and grab the seams of his leggings on the way to the clearing.

Lira poked her head from behind a wing, her sharp gaze making Naran freeze in his tracks and swallow the lump in his throat.

"You had to wait until it went away, didn't you?"

"Wait for what?" Naran said on his way towards the meal she procured for him.

"Human males can't pee while hard. I'm the featherhead here, and still remember that tidbit of information."

"I wasn't that hard," Naran objected.

"You were hard enough to take your sweet time." She shifted onto her feet and took a step towards him. "You're not the only one who dreams of mating and wakes up overly excited."

She turned around to present him her rump, along with her swollen folds. Naran pursed his lips, and Lira crouched for emphasis, forcing her lips to part open a notch and reveal her pink nethers. Arousal clung to her silken walls, making them glisten in the sunlight. Visible spasms rippled through her muscles, making her crevice shudder and her walls to clamp shut a moment after.

"I didn't wake up hard. Or maybe I did. I don't remember. And turn around!"

She did, much to his relief, yet playfulness still sparkled within her eyes. Whatever happened, Naran had to distract her, get her mind off her pressing urges, least the situation degenerated into something much, much more.

"There's good dreams, and there's bad dreams. Forget all of them, is what I say. Useless to dwell on them," he rasped, then threw her a side glance to make sure her head faced him and not her sex. "What did you dream about?"

Curiosity bested him. AGAIN!

Lira tilted her head to the side, her eyes twinkling with pent-up mirth.

"We mated," she said with great nonchalance.

"Color me surprised." Naran forced his eyes off her as his cock stirred within its confines. He continued his shuffle towards the oak under which his meal rested, one rocky footstep at a time. "At least I know why you're always soaked down there."

"It's not always because of dreams, Naran," she corrected him with a clack of her beak. "Some stir me, some don't. This one, however, was particularly stimulating..." her dreamy voice faded into a chirp, warm and full of desire.

Naran couldn't help himself but entertain her, absurd as it seemed. "How did I look as a gryphon?"

"You weren't a gryphon."

He wasn't--what?!

Lira's smooth, sweet voice made him stop in his tracks.

He didn't turn around. Didn't want to meet her eyes, gauge her expression, feel even more awkward than he already did.

"I have had dreams with you as a gryphon, dark as midnight with a light grey belly so soft I melted in your embrace. Ever since my heat began, however, I dreamt you just the way you are, with that unkempt hair, gaunt jaws, firm chest, strong loins."

Naran quaked from the implication of that last remark. Goose bumps formed across his arms, and he suddenly simmered within his dark leather tunic. He wanted to rip it, toss it, break free of its confines, but he couldn't. Not with Lira around. Who knows how many dreams she had had of him? Who knows how much she desired him?

He licked his lips to wet them and resumed his pace, shrugging his shoulders. "Dreams tend to be ridiculous, even more so when you're too focused on one thing. I mated you numerous times in my dreams as well, but that doesn't make them any truer."

Hard thing to admit, yet strangely satisfying. Sharing his most intimate of secrets with Lira relieved that burden off his chest, making him relish the deep breath of crisp air he took.

"Did you...did it feel right to mate me? In your dreams?"

"It did," Naran admitted it. "But at the end of the day, you're still a gryphon, and I'm only human."

Lira said no more. She resumed preening herself, her warbles laden with a joyous hue that made him smile in spite of himself.

_That bloody featherhead. Once she fixates on something, she has to have it,_he thought as he sat cross legged besides the bundle of nuts and berries. Lira foraged five different types of berries for him, an equal amount of nuts, their shell already cracked and splintered for his perusal, and gathered them in a pile big enough to quench his hunger just by looking at it.

He began with the nuts, chewing on them slowly, deliberately, listening to Lira's squeaks as she rolled through the grass. Her wings, flapping against the ground, put a smile on his face, and he turned around to watch her display.

Encouraged by his interest in her, Lira rolled onto her feet, swaying her neck with fluid grace, her wings flared out to emphasize her grandeur. Naran's hand fumbled for more nuts, berries, whatever his fingers gripped, popping them into his mouth while his other hand scratched that tangled hair of his with uncertain strokes.

That was a mating invitation, not a dance. Naran had seen its likes; undulating movements, fluttering wings, tail raised to allow the fluffy tip to stand erect, like a flag pole, while Lira presented him with a lavish display of gryphon dexterity. He wanted to look away, but try as he might, Naran couldn't. His jaws grew stiff, and his neck tightened, making the berries stick in his throat when she tumbled upon her back.

She splayed on the ground, her tail pulled all the way to the side to reveal her wet blossom. She reached forward with her forepaws to grab her kicking hind paws, holding them in a tight grip while she craned her neck forward. Big, hopeful eyes stared into his, whispering Lira's most intimate of desires into his mind.

Mate me. I'm yours. All you have to do is claim me, that wide gaze of hers meant. You will love it. Every second of it, every breath you take, laden with the crisp fragrance of my plumage. There is only one being in this world that I desire, and I'm staring right at you.

Naran brought a fist to his mouth, coughing, turning towards his meal slowly, awkwardly. His heart pounded, his blood surged through him like wildfire, coaxing an untimely erection.

She's getting under my skin, his frantic thoughts came. She's a gryphon, and she's actually considering trading her life, her potential, for me. Me!

He felt deeply humbled, embarrassed, and awed at the same time.

"Rawk, I'll let you finish your meal while I go down to the river," Lira's sweet voice interrupted his train of thought.

"Yea, go, sure," he mumbled, flicking his wrist dismissively at her.

It was only after the audible flap of her wings launched her into the air that her words sank in.

Wait don't, I don't want you to leave, I want you here with me, Naran wanted to say, but his lips turned numb, and his erection stifled any rational thought from his confused mind.

She flew away, before he had the chance to stop her, too fast for comfort. She must have taken his silence as yet another rejection, didn't she?

Maybe that was for the best. Words failed to convince her of the futility of her pursuit, and even though the memory of their previous night made Naran's temples throb with renewed embarrassment, it only served to steel his resolve.

Humans were not meant to couple with gryphons, ever. Whatever happened between him and Lira was the product of unbridled curiosity. After he had pleasured her with his fingers and relented to her whims of using her paw to prove her point, the novelty began to wear off. He knew it, she knew it. That's why she left. To put her thoughts in order and allow him to do the same.

Naran shrugged.

"Whatever," he whispered under his breath. "Better this way. You always did hate sharing a clearing with a fire pit. Once the stink of smoke gets into your feathers, it's there to stay for a fortnight."

He finished his meal of fruit, thinking of possible routes for their return home, when it hit him.

The river. That was where Lira had met that Stripedpaws.

He chuckled at first. Then he smirked at the implications of Lira playing with the Stripedpaws. Ultimately, he frowned, his teeth clutching his lower lip in a vicious grip for a fleeting moment, during which he felt no pain. Only the sharp tinge of remorse, amplified by the memory of Lira's playful dance. She invited him to play with her in the most affectionate of ways, and he dismissed her request without even voicing his reasoning.

"She's just...wrestling with her newfound companion," he mumbled while his gaze glided over the hearty breakfast she had gathered and hunted for him. The three dead bunnies urged his stomach to clench, and the fawn made his heart skip a beat.

All of this, for him. And what did he do to deserve it? Nothing but cause her heartache, over and over again.

"You deserve a heartfelt thank you for the meal. I'll give you that, but that's it."

There was more to it than that. He strode to her saddlebags rather than walking, and his hands snaked straight towards the Netherbound bracelets, rolling them across his arms before he tapped a Waypoint medallion with his index finger. It began to glow an eerie forest green, attuned to the magic he inherited from Lira. He grabbed the other Waypoint medallion, wrapped it around his neck and tucked it under the neckline of his tunic to conceal it.

That done, he rolled a hand through his hair, closed his eyes, and felt for the spark of magic smoldering deep within him. It only needed a tug to slither through him in the form of tingling snakes, the rush of power making him shudder with both excitement and doubt. Use a complex spell just to catch up with Lira? One had to be incredibly dense to do that.

He smirked, then spoke the incantation to activate the Netherbound bracelets and shifted out of the physical plane and into the spiritual realm. Everything around him faded to a stark black sea, losing its sharpness, becoming a series of weaving patterns and symbols made of tiny, runic symbols, bearing the same emerald green, arranged into shapes to match the very things they represented into the physical plane.

Grass was nothing more than a carpet of tiny runes through which he sank up to his torso. Trees were nothing but jagged outlines, too smooth and foreign to his eyes. And the sky was--there was no sky, no earth. Only blackness, lit by the runes that made up the world.

Naran closed his eyes, fighting back the nausea that always claimed his senses after a phase shift. He no longer stood upon solid ground; he floated, at a speed he could control with his mind alone. He only had to think of his destination, and there he went.

A plethora of formations zipped past him, the magical runes too tiny for him to read, yet resonating with a hum that made him instinctively pinpoint its physical counterpart. The tall, rune-bound pylons around him were trees, and the flickering line ahead was a river. Naran floated past it, through it, guiding his astral projection towards Lira. Her magical signature attracted him like a magnet, and before he knew it, Naran stood next to her, a mass of runes outlining her physical body.

Too close. He retreated on a hillside, behind the cover of a tree, and assumed his physical form. As soon as he did, he crashed on the ground, his limbs sprawling in all four directions. Even a few seconds spent in the spiritual realm were enough to make one's body feel foreign to them, and it took Naran a moment for the numbness to wear off and for his dizziness to subside. He removed his Netherbound bracelets, then hugged the tree trunk in front of him for support as he looked upon the pebble ridden riverbank below.

No sounds came but for the murmur of the river's waters rushing downstream. A few feet to the side, Lira sprawled on her back, her tail tip twitching invitingly for the male Stripedpaws who took a tantalizing step towards him.

Naran bit his lip to stifle his words. Not yet. Not before he had his confirmation. Maybe they were still playing. No sane male, especially one who snarled from the potency of her scent, would have second guessed himself when faced with Lira's appetizing crevice.

This one did. A great deal, in fact. The ivory stripes marring his haunches all the way down to his white feet gave the name of his species. This male Stripedpaws stood almost as tall as Lira, with jet black fur, piercing aquamarine eyes, and a white tail tip that flicked back and forth with suppressed nervousness.

Lira tried to ease him into it, her tail wrapping around his neck, one of her hind paws thrusting into his muzzle playfully. Instead of following her cue, the male let out a frail, uncertain growl as he began lapping at her paw, his broad, pink tongue making Lira fluff up and spread her toes in delight.

That only flared the male's courage, his licks becoming slower, broader, more careful, urging Lira to present him with her other hind paw.

A great weight lifted off Naran's heart, making him release his drawn-out sigh. They weren't mating. Lira just found herself a play mate with a skilled enough tongue to make her warble, flutter her wings, and curl her toes from his pleasant ministrations. That male was too young, with ear tips that had yet to turn white. It took a gryphon with Lira's persistence to even get him to lick her paws, let alone entice him to...

Naran drew in a deep breath and shielded his mouth with a hand to muffle his yelp when Lira shifted. Not on her right side. Not on her left side, but on her belly, with her tail swaying to the side invitingly while her haunches shifted and rocked with sudden impatience.

Naran thrust his head to the side, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment as his stomach lurched. That was his Lira down there. His gryphon, his wing mate, his beloved. To see her frame shake, to listen to her increasingly louder chirps--

He opened his eyes, wiping the sweat off his furrowed brow with a hand as he steeled himself. That runt wasn't going to mate her. Lira just needed to discover that on her own, and once she had her confirmation, she would return to him and seek solace in his embrace. Yes. That worked.

And yet, watching Lira coaxing the male into exploring her body made his heart clench and his temples to pound from the apprehension that filled his very being. Naran tensed up in unison with the jolts that wracked Lira's body. He turned his gaze towards the male just as she did, his gasp muffled by her needy, drawn-out screech.

To flare his courage, Lira swished her tail from side to side, smearing her arousal across her rump, spreading her alluring scent into the wind. Her potent fragrance stunned the male, whose front paw froze in midair as he raised his head to snarl and lick his muzzle. His flared nostrils sucked in her heat, making his glistening pinkness twitch and pulse. Although Naran had his doubts at first, the male's uncertain steps towards Lira made him reconsider.

"No no no," he whispered under his breath. His hands dug into his hair, scratching at his scalp with fervent strokes, pulling his hair back every couple of seconds due to nervousness.

He closed in on Lira. One shaky, tantalizing step at a time. The pink pads of his toes tested the ground uncertainly before putting his weight onto his limbs, and his gaze shot from her rump to Lira's head every time her warble picked up, as if he expected her to lash out at him any moment now.

She would have. But she didn't, for she was in heat, and her own pride meant little before the pressing need for relief.

And so, Lira waited to be taken by the Stripedpaws, just as he advised her to.

Naran squeezed his eyes shut, his head spinning under the weight of his own thoughts. He didn't mean it. It was just a jape, a playful tease, a friendly taunt. He never expected her

"Get away from her you bastard," he whispered to himself. "You can't even cum properly, least mate my Lira."

The shudders of doubt ran through the male's frame, making his nape bristle, his tail to tuck uncertainly between his legs. He probably assumed there's a catch. That it's too good to be true, for an impotent runt like him to get inside such a fierce, majestic predator of the skies. And yet, he pressed on, until his dark nose met Lira's swollen lips.

Her frame stiffened right away, electric jolts rippling through her shifting haunches from the blissful touch of warmth upon her sex. Her tail swung across her back to give the male complete access over her rump, and fervent caws burst through her beak with each dab of the male's tongue upon her wet, sweltering crevice.

Naran watched him, wide eyed, as he attacked Lira's slit with relentless tongue stroke. He half licked, half suckled on her pussy like a ravenous beast, making Lira fan out her wings and shriek her bliss to the skies. Her sudden cry made the Stripedpaws leap away to the side. His limbs twisted and shook from the awkward landing, making him fall to the ground and whimper like the scared little kitten that he was.

"Now's your chance," Naran said breathlessly. "Fly away. Leave that bastard. You teased him enough. Have some dignity, you bloody featherhead."

It all happened so fast to Naran's blank mind. Lira's harsh cry at the touch of his tongue upon her swollen sex, the Stripedpaws' leap... It felt surreal, like a dream, the sort that always made Naran's heart leap in his chest moments before he woke up.

He was already awake, however, lying on a hillside overlooking a river, stiff as a statue, listening to his drumming heart while the cat summoned enough courage to return to Lira. Her head, tilted in his direction to face him, helped not one bit, and her musical chirps had the opposite effect on Naran. They made his fists clench hard enough for his nails to bit into his palms as he blinked back his disbelief.

It happened. It actually happened.

How? Why?

That pitiful male should have lacked the courage to straddle Lira, to pin her down with his chest, to bury his muzzle into the plumes of her scruff. And Lira--she actually thrust her head back, rubbing her cheek against him, crooning her desire right into his ear.

Naran's jaw dropped. That loving touch used to be reserved for him, and him alone.

He drew a step back, inspecting the ground, searching for a quick route down onto the river bank, his gaze skipping between the ground and Lira. He still had time. The male busied himself with her beak, and Lira began nibbling on one of his ears, drawing a lustful growl from him.

His back arched, and in one swift stroke, he plunged his erect member straight into Lira's folds, all the way to his shuddering sack.

Naran quaked when he pierced her; his knees buckled from her sharp shriek that reverberated within his chest. His throat stiffened in an instant, and try as he might to look away, he couldn't avert his eyes from the product of his ignorance.

He watched the male's haunches close in around Lira's, hugging her tight, rippling with the rocky motions of his thrust. He noticed Lira's copious amounts of arousal that dribbled past her stretched lips and onto the rocks with each rocky thrust, painting them a slick grey. He winced in unison with her faltering caws, growled when the male growled, and slammed his fists against the trunk of the tree in front of him, again and again, faster and harder with each thrust.

He mated her, like only a Stripedpaws could, with rapid, jerky thrusts that made his balance waver from the overwhelming bliss that flooded his body. His features scrunched into a fierce snarl, his lips pulled all the way back to reveal his glistening fangs. Claws poked out of their sheaths, kicking rocks aside to bury themselves into the ground for balance as the male neared his peak.

Lira loved it. So much, that her wings splayed uselessly to her sides as her cries came to a stop. Her head slumped, beak resting against the ground as the male's perfectly shaped member stimulated her better than Naran ever did. Her body quaked from his deep, rapid strokes, her fluffed up feathers a mess of colors.

"I told her to, I told her to," Naran repeated with each hit he landed upon the rough bark. It grazed his skin, made his knuckles bloody, but he didn't care. It didn't hurt. Nothing did.

He only stopped when the male buried himself deep inside Lira, his girth drawing the most beautiful and melodious of screeches that ever graced Naran's ears.His jaw hung, just like her beak, and his neck throbbed with pent-up rage as the male spilled himself inside her, moaning and growling.

Lira thrust her head back, seeking solace within her mate's embrace. The Stripedpaws was no gryphon, however, so he merely slid his head to the side, perplexed by the sudden burst of affection, his senses claimed by the raw desire to breed. Every time he spurted a string of seed inside Lira, his haunches bucked, and his roar raised a pitch higher.

It scratched at Naran's ears, that horribly sharp sound, and the swaying motions of the two bodies pressed against each other made him bit his lower lip hard enough to draw blood.

After he tapered off inside Lira, the Stripedpaws' entire frame shivered from the toll of mating, his paws scrambling for purchase as his fangs kissed Lira's scruff. He tried to grip her, like Stripedpaws always grabbed their mates, but her buffeting wings quickly made him reconsider and lick her nape instead.

As soon as he emptied himself into the silken confines of her nethers, the male disengaged with a leap, licking his muzzle with victorious tongue strokes as his hungry eyes watched Lira's shuddering folds splash out their combined juices, her virgin depths too tight to take all of his seed inside.

Naran's eyes moistened at the sight. He grew weak all of a sudden as an icy jolt rushed through his spine, making his frame shiver from the harsh, brutal truth.

That Stripedpaws mated her. He released inside her. A runt, barely old enough to--

Naran froze when Lira's gaze met his. He hurled himself against the tree's trunk, drawing laborious breaths. Did she see him?

The flapping of wings, along with the Stripedpaws' confused growl at Lira's departure, only served to fuel his hysteria. His hand acted on instinct, clutching his pendant and tapping the central gemstone. The world vanished around him, then reformed into the clearing where he had left the other Waypoint amulet in.

Naran lurched to the side, too heavily, his frame too stiff to readjust itself.

He crashed to the ground, uttering the faintest of yelps before rolling onto his back to stare at the sky. He felt empty, just like the blue expanse stretching above him. Thin, like the clouds marring the edge of his vision. The sun blinded him, but he didn't care. He had been blind for so long, to think that Lira would stand for everything he put her through. All that teasing, all of those rejections. Sooner or later, she would have sought an answer to obtain much needed relief.

Naran anticipated the outcome. Toyed with it, and when it actually happened...

He cupped his face into his palms, barely able to contain his tears of rage and regret aimed at his ignorance. Lira did what her body and instincts dictated. Nothing more.

Her shadow loomed over him, and it took Naran several blinks to realize that it was indeed her beak that tapped him on the brow. He clutched it, realized it's real, and yelped in surprise.

"Wha--"he rolled to the side, tried to gather his feet underneath him, failed and sprawled on his belly instead. "You shouldn't have--when did you even...?"

"If you can teleport to a Waypoint amulet, I can as well. It's my magic you're using to spy on me Naran."

Spied on her? He didn't spy on her! He just...he simply...of all the replies surging through his mind, Naran's most prominent one was to cry. It took all of his willpower to shove aside that riptide of emotions and keep his gaze low while he wiped his budding tears off the corners of his eyes.

"Something in your eyes?" Lira asked, her voice laden with both concern and genuine surprise.

"Tears," Naran said curtly. "Is what us humans get when we stare at the sky for too long."

"Why stare if it hurts you?"

"It doesn't hurt me, it's just--why are you even here?" He blurted out.

"I can ask the same." Her gaze shifted from his face, to his arms, and back to his face. "The Netherbound bracelets. A desperate measure for one who already knew where to find me."

"I uh...wanted to see the Stripedpaws. Magnificent cat, that." He flung his arm forward to urge her away, but Lira did the opposite. She advanced upon him, her encroaching shadow forcing him to look up at her with bloodshot eyes.

"That's what you told me to do, Naran," she said, her voice smooth yet overly heavy. "My beak is not fit to scratch my itch, my talons are too sharp, and you rejected me more times than any mate has the right to."

This matter again?

"I'm not your mate!" Naran lashed out, too impatient to deal with platitudes after his heart twisted upside down over at the river. "Unless you meant wing mate, for which you only have to add one blasted word. It makes all the difference in the world to you, to me, to everyone."

Lira settled besides him, draping a wing over him. Naran pushed it away, jumped onto his feet, and began circling her, staring her down with a condemning look.

"Look at me, Lira. I'm a human. A being that you can brush aside with a swipe of your talons. I can't give you hatchlings, I can't shelter you under my wing. I can't build a nest for you, for I don't know how, and by the time I figure out how, I'll be old and useless while you grow stronger and stronger."

He began panting by the time he finished. Deep, wheezing breaths that made Lira's ears twitch and shift.

"I don't see a human. All I see is the confused mate I took who needs time to accept that a lithe and majestic being such as me chose him to spend eternity alongside with."

He thrust a finger at her. "The only thing that you got right is the well deserved praise."

She tried to let out a mirthful chirp, but it came out as a squawk, low and awkward. She stretched a wing open for him, lifted a haunch for him to rest under.

Naran shook his head. It baffled him, how she could be so calm and collected when speaking of things that altered her very future. How could she be so casual about choosing a mate? It made no sense! Not to him, not to a gryphon, not to anyone!

Naran's eyes shifted back and forth, until they settled on the ivory snakes coating the insides of her thighs. His stomach sank at the side, and his jaws rocked with the urge to berate her for letting that runt cum inside her.

Instead, he blinked and said calmly, "There's Stripedpaws cum matting your fur. The very thing he could've done in gratitude was at least lick you clean."

That remark hurt him more than it hurt her, and Lira knew it. She trudged towards him, guiding him with a forepaw into the feathery embrace of her chest, where Naran released his pent-up frustrations and regrets through a deep, satisfying sigh that brought him on the verge of tears.

"You have the strangest of ways to let your feelings known," Lira cooed. "That's why I want no other mate but you."

"Because I'm so good at blaming everyone but myself?"

"Because you help me understand myself and my needs. And because your wit matches that of a gryphon."

She ran her beak through his hair, preening and nibbling on his rebellious strands.

Naran closed his eyes, relishing the fresh scent of mountain flowers and pine needles that oozed from her plumes. Her warmth cascaded over him, engulfing him from all sides with a silken caress, making him melt into her embrace.

"Did he...did the Stripedpaws scratch away your itch?" he whispered.

"Hardly." Lira's soothing croon filled his ears, making his skin prickle from its suave touch. "It was over too quick, and the only measure of relief came from recalling the dream I had of you."

Naran perked up his head at that. "W--what?"

Lira's beak bumped him on the nose, making him smile faintly. "I thought of you, Naran. I always think of you wherever I fly, during my hunts, while the Stripedpaws took me."

He loosened a hoarse chuckle at that, his darkening frown dissipating. "That's either the most romantic thing you ever said to me, or the most disturbing one."

He patted her on the neck, but that felt forced, trivial.

He hugged her instead, latching his arms around her neck, pulling her head tight against his chest, where his lips had access to her beak, cheeks, brow. He kissed her, over and over again, warm shudders slithering through his frame due to her sharp, surprised chirps. They softened into a mellow trill right away as Lira rubbed herself against him, her eyes closed to savor his sudden burst of affection.

"Don't--"he paused to kiss her on the sensitive side of her beak, "mate another Stripedpaws again. Don't--please don't..." his fingers tightened around her neck, and his words faded into Lira's pleasant chant while he kissed every inch of that beautiful head of hers.

"I won't," Lira agreed with a shuddering whimper. "You're the mate I chose, Naran. I won't mate anyone ever again but you."

His knees buckled at that, and he found himself crumbling onto her foreleg for support, his face covered by the pristine burgundy plumes of her neck. He shouldn't feel so relieved, so...empowered by her promise.

"I need time," he found himself whispering. "I the mate you deserve, but I need--please give me time."

Lira's embrace was an answer in itself. She directed him with her beak under the shelter of her wing, where she cradled him like a newborn hatchling. She stared at him, her eyes sparkling with concealed satisfaction and relief.

Gods above, he truly was in love with her, wasn't he? A quick glance at her angular features, and his heart soared to the highest imaginable beak. A whiff of her scent was enough to enkindle his senses, and the caress of her feathers against his bare skin sent tantalizing shudders through his muscles.

He shook his head to dispel the miasma brought by her embrace, then pushed at her persistently, until Lira rolled onto her side with a puzzled caw.

"Now that we've reached a higher understanding of one another, I assume my first duty to my mate is to wipe that cum off her--"

Lira rolled onto her limbs and launched herself into the air before Naran had the chance to continue. He snorted at that, and chuckled in spite of himself. Lira...ever the considerate gryphon. She spared him of soiling his leggings with his own seed. That's how hard he throbbed after the pact they made. Touching her down there would have surely sent him over the edge. Of that, he was certain.

Naran's whirling emotions settled into place by the time Lira returned, her tawny hindquarters soaked, the wet fur only serving to emphasize her swollen, black on the edge and ruddy on the inside slit.

"As if it never happened."

Lira clacked her beak. "But it did. If you wouldn't be such a tease and actually mate me..."

She stopped when Naran raised a finger in objection. "Time. We both agreed I'll have some of that, yes?"

"And a rabbit or a fawn haunch to go with it. I didn't wake up to hunt before the sun even rose just to have you stare with wide, thankful, enthusiastic eyes at them."

"Don't flatter yourself."

"There's nothing more flattering than feeding my frail human."

It was remarks like that which made Naran want to slip the Netherbound bracers onto his arms and use the Waypoint amulet to teleport himself back to the clearing with the biggest, fattest of bucks he came across.

"I wonder what you like more. Flattery or belly rubs," he said with a wink before strolling into the woods to gather firewood. Lira offered to help, but he waved her off, the trees too squat, their boughs too dense for a gryphon.

He returned with an armful of tinder to find Lira crouching over the rabbits, their pelts lying to her side. She flexed two bloody talons at him as she beckoned him forward.

"That's three rabbits I skinned for you. Make that a thorough belly rub, all the way to my tail tip, then across my haunches and up to my paws." Her tail tip already jerked with excitement, even though she didn't turn to face him.

"I didn't ask you to skin them."

"You didn't have to. Between getting your hands bloody and my tawny hide, I already know which one you'll pick."

Naran scoffed, shook his head, dropped the pile of timber on the floor, and ignited it with a word and a thought. Featherheads...

"You can have the fawn. Three rabbits are more than enough for me."

"And leave you wanting if these skinny little critters don't quench your hunger?" She cocked her head and snorted. "All I need right now is a belly rub from my mate. I'll even get my fur dried for you."

She flopped onto her back, her wings splayed to the sides to bask in the warm glow of the midday sun. Naran skewered the rabbits, watched her swaying limbs and jittery tail while he waited for them to sear. Lira looked so peaceful, with her eyes closed and her toes curled inwards. She was a truly magnificent creature, with sleek plumage that bespoke of her hunting prowess and thick, powerful haunches.

Yet, of all the things Naran could look at, he chose to stare at her slit, a splotch of pink and black standing out in a mass of tawny fur. Her heat already leaked past her puffy lips, coating her tail hole and the thick base of her tail in a layer of translucent sheen. A tinge of remorse crept through him at the sight of the tiny rift between her lips. It exposed her silken, glistening insides to him, making him shudder and clench his jaws to suppress his building rage.

Nobody would be able to tell otherwise, but Naran knew. He had been with Lira for the better part of his adulthood, and threw more than an occasional peek at her privates whenever he got the chance. Her lips always kissed each other, sealing her tunnel, shielding her insides from unwanted eyes.

That bastard of a Stripedpaws stretched her. By a hairsbreadth, yes, but he was the first to enter Lira, the first to cum inside her. Naran's blood boiled within him, making the veins of his temples bulge. He closed his eyes, taking deep breaths to calm himself, yet even that proved difficult. Lira's first mating should have been special, full of warmth and passion, not a one minute romp by the river, on top of a riverbank littered with sharp stones that probably bit into her hide.

He sought relief within the tender, juicy meat of the rabbits. A full stomach soothed him somewhat, but his jaws remained firm, his gaze hard, in spite of Lira's cute, rocking form. Naran licked his fingers clean of rabbit juices, then cupped one of her hind paws within his palm to get her attention.

She shook it, her eyes snapping open in an instant. "So fast?" she murmured, blinking her eyes slowly, lazily.

"Shh, you can rest, my dear Lira," Naran said as he fondled her hind paw. "You hunted, and mated--" his jaws sealed shut at that, but the harm had already been done.

Lira pulled her paw out of his grip, rolled to the side and got onto her feet, fluffing up her feathers to get the dirt out of them.

"Let's fly home. I long to sleep in a proper nest, for once."

"You were sleeping just fine."

Lira didn't answer. She padded over to the saddle, hurled it across her back, then tried to fasten the straps all by herself. Naran rushed by her side to help, rubbing his lips together to contain the myriad of thoughts that rampaged through his mind.

She hurt, even more than him. Naran noticed her fleeting gaze, never lying on him for more than a brief moment. Her tail fell limp, tucked between her thighs, and she kept her ears pinned back and her nape low.

"We have enough water to last us for the whole flight back, so you can fly over Tharazar desert."

He swung up on the saddle, slipped his boots into the stirrups, and petted Lira's neck with one hand while he gripped the wooden handle in front of his crotch with the other. She crouched, and with one mighty shove of her wings, the gryphoness launched herself into the air, flapping hard and fast to burn through her frustrations.

Lira wasn't one who needed to be pitied or comforted. She made her own choices, right or wrong, and came to terms with them. What made Naran's stomach turn, however, was his contribution in all of this. His stubbornness to mate her forced Lira to seek solace in the embrace of a distant relative of the gryphons. His selfishness gnawed through her conviction, until she truly believed that her mate, the one she loved so much, lacked the desire and interest to join bodies with her.

"I'll mate you, Lira," Naran said to the whipping wind. "I always loved you, treasured you, and took your heat for granted. How could I have been so blind?"

It baffled the mind, how Naran preferred to believe that Lira just hadn't found the right mate, when the answer stared him right in the face. She made her choice, his dear Lira, from the first day of her heat, and it took him ten more days to come to terms with it, as well as a mating with a Stripedpaws to summon the guilt necessary to snap him to his senses.

"I'll mate with you. I'll be the mate you deserve, the mate you always waited upon, the mate..." his train of thought came to an abrupt stop as Naran gave in to his tears. Up here, in the sky, nobody but the wind heard his pitiful sobs, with only the icy gusts to swipe the crystalline tears off his ruddy cheeks.

Naran kept his chin tucked tight against his chest, and a hand draped over his face to hide his shame from Lira, in case she turned her head around.

Much to his relief, she didn't. She focused on the wide desolation sprawling before her, on the rhythmical beating of her wings that pushed her higher and higher. Gryphons had great stamina, but part of that had to do with the timing between flapping and gliding. Lira broke through the layer of clouds, then stretched her wings to their limits for a steady glide, her tail rocking back and forth to adjust her angle of flight.

They shared no words while they flew. A gryphon and her wing mate needed no words. Squeezes of different intensities around her flanks spoke volumes, same for neck strokes, pats, or the tilt of Naran's body. Their bond allowed Naran to understand most of Lira's thoughts. Anger, remorse, bitterness, a strong desire to punish herself for betraying the trust of her mate. She coped with it by flying, from noon to dusk, while maintaining the same rapid pace.

The last few rays of light fell upon her beak, sprawled wide to suck in deep, wheezing breaths. Every fiber of her body shivered from exertion, and her form began to rock from side to side as she found it increasingly hard to keep her flight straight.

Naran didn't signal her to stop. She wouldn't do it anyway. All he could do was push the wooden handle to the side, lie down on his chest, and hug Lira's neck. His fingers stroked her plumes idly, and his face buried into the feathery sanctuary, where her warmth kept the chill of the night at bay. Soon, light faded, and with it, Naran's sight. He closed his eyes, groaning as he shifted his sore thighs to rub off some of that numbness. If the saddle turned his ass raw, he could only imagine how it felt to Lira's back after a prolonged flight.

His strokes picked up, pleading her to land and rest. She flew for far longer than necessary. She earned her penance.

Lira thought otherwise. No matter the sharp squeaks of discomfort leaving her beak, she pressed on, leaving the desert behind, flying over the Dunevrim mountain range, gliding over the Dunevrim highlands. The full moon cast its cold light upon her plumage, giving it an eerie glow that reminded Naran of the Spirit Realm. He could simply phase shift them both, spare Lira of the prolonged flight home by depleting the remaining energy within the Netherbound bracelets.

She would never go for it. Lira was too proud to use magic in order to cheat flight. So she flapped, and flapped, and flapped some more, until her wings grew too fatigued to maintain high altitude. She swerved towards a forest of birches, making Naran's heart leap in his chest in the process. Finally, some common sense!

He only spotted the rising column of smoke from a campfire when it was too late. Lira already touched the ground, making a black gryphon perk his head and his white tiger companion to tuck her knees to her chest as she turned to face him and Lira.

"My greetings, dear feather, fellow wing mate." Excitement oozed from her crystalline voice, and her whiskers twitched with interest as she took in their scents.

Felines. A rowdy and overly curious sort. Naran lifted his hand in greeting and nodded at her and her gryphon. Lira simply squawked, her gaze fixated on the male gryphon who began to look to the sides, uneasy for some reason.

The tigress wore a brown leather skirt that revealed her shapely thighs and a loose tunic of the same color which brought out the voluptuous curves of her chest. Dark stripes brazed the pristine white fur of her body, thin across her face and neck, becoming thicker and more prominent over her limbs, all the way down to her pink, meaty paws. Her posture relaxed somewhat, a knee sat on top of the other, her bean-shaped toes flexing and tucking.

"Am I certainly glad to see other gryphons who adhere to the old codes out there," she said, her voice rich and suave, like a smooth waterfall. "Share my fire, and whatever else there is to share. You know how things go."

Her wink disarmed Naran. He knew how things went, as she put it. All too well. Gryphons and their wing mates had the habit of getting together out here, in the wilds, for more than just a meal and a night of chatter. His back, however, was too stiff, his ass too raw, and his mood too foul to indulge the tigress with more than a curt nod.

"Well then, name's..." she trailed off, frowning for a split second as she turned to her gryphon. "Tari, you stiff bastard, make yourself useful. She's panting so loud even I can hear it. Go give her a drink," she urged, and nodded at Lira.

The dark gryphon sprang onto his limbs, grabbed the metal bucket filled with water standing by the fire in his beak, and padded over to Lira, his amber gaze low and his shoulders even lower.

"He's usually a sprightly fellow, until a female in heat lands in front of him. He thinks of convoluted ways to pursue them when the obvious stares him right in the face."

She slapped Tari across his rump, making the gryphon stiffen his back and tuck his tail deeper between his haunches. The bucket rattled within his beak as he held it up to Lira's beak. She motioned him to put it down, which took Tari a good ten seconds to comprehend. That earned him another slap from his wing mate.

"Focus, you crow. Her fragrance may be intoxicating, but no female gryphon wants a constipated male around her.

Lira let out a mirthful chirp, then dipped her beak into the water, drinking with breathless, audible gulps.

The tigress stared Lira down, stroking the midnight fur of Tari's back, who now sat on his haunches. "She's shaking like a leaf. For how long have you been flying?"

"Long enough," he said, his mind preoccupied with the speckle of pink poking between Tari's haunches. The gryphon tried to conceal it by wrapping his tail around it, but he grew too big, too fast, the soft barbs covering his thick base flared with raw desire.

"With no pause for your gryphon? MRArrrrrrr, you humans!"

Naran tensed up, startled by the tigress' loud voice. When did she appear at his side? Her paws latched around Lira's wing joint, rubbing her with tender strokes. The gryphoness stopped drinking and turned to face the tigress, who grabbed Lira's head to kiss her on the brow.

"My dear, sweet feather, you did wonderful today," she cooed while rubbing her jaws. "Very few gryphons match your great endurance and agility. It must have taken quite a deal of willpower to fly over the desert, thirty and sore, with your wing mate to weigh you down on top of that."

Lira blinked her eyes in confusion, looking at Naran for answers. He had none, for he was equally perplexed by the tigress' sudden gesture of good will. Gryphon Riders always looked after one another, but most of them still preferred to keep to themselves. This one, however, eased Lira's head onto her bosom, cupping one of her ears into her padded palm while the stubby fingers of her other paw glided over her cheek, drawing an appreciative trill from Lira.

"Our gryphons deserve our admiration, our respect, and more than a kind word when they push themselves to their limit. It's a test of strength to them, but what they secretly seek is to impress us," she explained over Lira's mellow warble.

That certainly applied to Lira. She already beamed from the praise, her head aloft, her eyes regarding the tigress with renewed fondness.

"Along the years, I realized that us, the bipedal kind, take our gryphons for granted. They can fly away to the mountains whenever they want, form colonies, chase mates, raise young, away from the civilized world. We helped them chase away the wyverns. We liberated their peaks. They earned their moment of respite, and yet, they're still with us."

Hard to argue with that. Naran swallowed to wet his parched throat, and chanced Tari a glance. The black gryphon stared at Lira, his dark beak shuddering with pent-up lust, his pink erection too obvious against the midnight fur of his hindquarters. Just like Naran, he had no clue what to do or say.

So the two waited for the tigress to give Lira one more kiss on her beak and release her from her embrace.

"She is three kinds of charming, so calm during these trying times for a female. She mates enough, I take it? And why isn't her mate with her? Still building the perfect nest for her?"

Blood rose to Naran's cheeks, smothering his thoughts, making his mouth open and close several times as his wild eyes sought Lira's help.

"I didn't mate yet," Lira said, shrewdly avoiding the tigress' bait. "Naran and I had more pressing matters to deal with."

The tigress tilted her head to the side, an exasperated groan escaping her. She turned her aquamarine eyes towards Naran, her slitted pupils wide as berries under her darkening frown.

"And you did nothing but believe her lies and assume the tug of her instincts is just something that fades away at night?"

"I--I--" Naran mumbled, his mind blank, his jaws too numb.

"He helped," Lira cut in. "I haven't found the right gryphon to call my mate, so Naran helped in his own way."

"Can he help himself down from your back as well?"

She didn't wait for Naran or Lira to reply. She strode up to him, her paws latching onto the saddle stirrups to undo them, but Naran shook his leg, grunting dismissively.

"It's fine. I got this."

No he didn't. The tigress undid the clasps of his stirrups, and even grabbed his arm for support as he dismounted Lira. His legs shook, his balance wavered, and the tigress took advantage of that by wrapping an arm around his torso and forcing him to lean against her.

"You're wobbling like a drunkard. Now put yourself in her place, the one who actually flapped her wings to get you here."

"Uh huh."

That earned him a soft slap across his left cheek. "She deserves more than an 'uh-huh' from her wing mate."

She let go of Naran, blessedly, and strode to Lira to pet her neck and chuff at her lovingly. "You may love your wing mate, but he doesn't understand heat. He probably dismissed it as something trivial that you can simply fight against."

Lira clacked her beak, at a loss of words herself. Although spirited and assertive with Naran, Lira lacked that smooth approach with other gryphon riders, especially when they stroked her ego and pressed all her right buttons.

"I can fight against it," Lira said, and emphasized her strength with a sharp caw. "So well that I need no gryphon to pamper me or Naran to chide me every passing minute about how irrational my choice to stay at his side is."

"There is strength in accepting the role of your instincts," the tigress murmured, shuffling along Lira's side, her paw wading through her plumes. "They guide you, teach you, nudge you in the right direction."

Lira's beak unraveled, her reply lost among the moans of bliss that left her beak. The tigress certainly knew how to caress her belly, how to massage her haunch, her slow strokes blissful to Lira's sore muscles.

She knelt by one of Lira's hind paws, dabbing a finger at one of her toes. "May I?"

Naran snorted. It was just a paw, a foot! He almost reached out with a hand to stop the tigress, but her icy gaze made him draw back and reconsider.

"He can't be that ignorant towards the proper triggers that stimulate a female, can he?" she inquired of Lira.

"He pretends to. It plays well with his ability to surprise you when you least expect it," Lira said, proffering her paw for the tigress' inspection. "Naran's a late bloomer, but when he...miirrrp....when he....awwwk."

She turned her head around to inspect the tigress' doing, her eyelids twitching with the effort to contain the pleasure that suddenly flowed through her in response to the tigress' soft, alluring touches.

"Mrrr, don't speak. Just savor the moment."

The tigress ran her fingers across Lira's pads, flashing Naran a toothy smile in between her strokes, her eyes wide with uncanny fascination towards her paw.

"Oh, so, so soft, and smooth, like the finest of silks. Yes, yes, it's truly fascinating, how females can have such squishy paws. Almost makes you want to kiss them and lick them all over," she mumbled to herself.

Her fingers twined with Lira's toes, her thumb working on her sensitive central pad with slow, suave strokes that made Lira's nape bristle. Euphoria rushed through her like a tide, electrifying ripples rushing through her muscles, making her wings jerk in their sockets.

That was the tigress' cue to lie flat on her back and trudge under Lira, holding her paw inches from her flared nostrils. Lira tried to shake her off, but the tigress' grip didn't relent, nor did her hearty purr.

"Allow me just a while longer, lovely feather. Tari's paws are like a wolf's, rough and hard, whereas yours...mrr..." She pressed upon her central pad, hard enough to make Lira's toes bloom like a flower. Her purr became a gentle growl, full of wonder and desire for the touch of Lira's pads upon her fingers.

It made Naran scratch his head and smile wryly at the awkwardness of it.

"Did you know that gryphon paws moisten for various reasons?" Her gaze shifted to Naran, making his back stand erect and his shoulders to stiffen.

She didn't wait for his answer. As soon as she turned towards Lira's paw, her pink nose dug into her pads, her lips twitching from the exotic fragrance. Lira lifted her paw, interrupting the tigress, whose tongue dashed over her lips.


"Usually, they're dry, but during heat, they moisten a tad. This way, her pads leave pheromone-filled footprints for males to track the horny female. Would be hard to do so otherwise, eh?"

She resumed fondling Lira's paw, nuzzling her in between her deft strokes, turning Lira's pads a gleaming onyx from the intense stimulation she put her through.

Naran rolled his eyes, one fist cupped under his nose to muffle his cough just enough to make it seem less rude.

The tigress didn't flinch.

He coughed again, louder.

Her smile broadened, and her tongue poked out between her canines to dab at Lira's paw.

The gryphoness squirmed a bit, but her chirps intensified, and her eyes half lidded as she thoroughly enjoyed the attention she received.

Her reaction stoked the tigress' lewd licks. Her tongue traveled across her central pad, visiting each toe in turns, wrapping around them, her hands holding Lira's twitching paw in place so she could taste her fully.

"Grrrrrrr, delightful," she said, drawing back to catch her breath. "No trace of musk at all. They taste just like her sex, you know. Due to the pheromones I mentioned earlier."

She resumed licking Lira's paw when the gryphoness eased it onto her face, demanding more licks. Naran's stomach twisted at that. He had to look away, least he snapped at that damnable tigress.

It happened again. Although she didn't mate Lira like the Stripedpaws did, the tigress pleasured Lira in quite the scandalous of ways. Naran would have laughed at it--or even ridicule her for her idiotic means to get under Lira's feathers. But she did. She really, really did. Slowly but surely, Lira's talons drew furrows across the ground, her beak clacking due to shudders, her eyes scrunched to fight back the fire of lust welling within her underbelly.

If this wasn't foreplay, then Naran didn't know how else to call it.

"Look at her. See how she squirms. No wonder the first thing Stripedpaws do is lick a female's paws."

Naran jolted at that name, an icy shudder creeping through his limbs. He went to a nearby tree to rest against, his hands clasped at his back, nails digging into the bark.

"Some say that climbing to a female's heart is through her hind paws. Quite the smart strategy, to exploit such visible weakness, assuming the females trust you enough with their paws." She winked at Naran and drenched Lira's paw all over from the thorough tongue strokes, making her stagger and scramble for purchase as her defenses faltered.

Just remove your paw, you lust addled buzzard, Naran thought, practically simmering from the lewd show he was forced to witness. His words could have snapped Lira out of it. Of that, he was certain.

And yet, his lips trembled with guilt whenever he opened his mouth. He had ignored Lira's needs for so long. Why intervene now, when that tigress' tongue was infinitely more skilled than his?

"A female gryphon's paws are particularly sensitive. They can orgasm from a too intense stimulation, something which males aren't capable of. Oh, they miss on so much, those unfortunate featherheads."

She licked Lira's paw one more time, fondled her toes one more time between her fingers, and pushed it away.

It wasn't that easy. Not with Lira.

She planted her paw upon the tigress' face, her toes kneading at her muzzle in an attempt to coax more licks. That made the tigress giggle and indulge her right away, all too happy to comply.

"You had enough. Let's switch to the other one as well, shall we?"

She petted Lira's rump to let her intent known and rolled away from the gryphoness and onto her fours. Suddenly engulfed by the coldness of the night, Lira's paw shook and twitched, testing the ground warily, unwilling to let the tingles creeping through her pads fade away.

"Mrr, you needy feather," the tigress purred, weaving around Lira to reach her other paw. She sprawled onto her back and gave her the same treatment, starting with a tantalizing massage and ending with a plethora of licks, so warm and wet that Lira loosened a shuddering screech, barely able to withhold her orgasm. Hefty strands of arousal trickled down her rump, dribbling onto the grass in a steady stream that made Naran's cock lurch.

He scratched at his bulge, whistling to himself, trying to distract his mind from the appetizing sight of Lira's drenched nethers.

"Tickles give a female a fast, explosive, spectacular climax," the tigress' smooth voice came. "A hefty massage keeps them on the edge, for hours, and licks..." she emphasized the purpose of licks by rolling her tongue across Lira's toes, drawing a series of muffled caws from the worked up gryphoness.

"Maybe it's best you show Lira one day. There is nothing more rewarding to a female gryphon than her wing mate to acknowledge the sensitive and practical nature of her paws. Many humans see them as nothing more than feet, but they're much more than that. Why, we shake hands, kiss hands, hold hands, use hands for a myriad of purposes. Why should gryphons be any lesser?"

Lira raised the same point when she had his cock deep into the warm shelter of her pads. At first, Naran had fought tooth and nail to prove her wrong, but the flexibility of Lira's toes, her suave strokes...

"Ahem," he coughed, louder than intended. That snapped Lira and the tigress out of their reverie, who finally realized that they were not alone in this glade.

Naran took a step forward when the tigress went to Lira's hindquarters, but froze in his tracks when her paws wrapped around Lira's tail, pulling it to the side to reveal the mess she made of herself.

"Oh my sweet feather, you're like a waterfall down there. Stand still for a moment."

During that moment, the tigress lowered herself on her knees, placed Lira's tail atop a shoulder, and pressed her muzzle against her moist vent, her tongue delving into Lira's dainty passage in one curt stroke.

Naran's jaw hung. He watched Lira's frame quiver and sway with wide eyes, his throat too tight, his limbs too stiff to do anything about it.

And neither did Lira. The tigress' moist tongue, lapping at her vent and piercing her overly sensitive folds, made her screech, flutter her wings, and draw deep furrows across the ground as pleasure flooded her being. Visible ripples slithered through her frame, making her feathers fluff up and her eyes to squeeze shut against the overwhelming bliss brought by the tigress' ministrations.

Her limbs already weakened from her prolonged foreplay, Lira crashed onto her belly, lifting a hind paw towards the sky to allow the tigress complete access over her needy area. The lithe feline flattened herself on the ground, her aquamarine eyes bearing into Naran's for a fleeting moment, her muzzle, drenched with Lira's arousal, glistening in the amber light of the campfire.

She caught Lira's hind paws with her hands, squeezing them tight as she pushed her tongue all the way into her passage. Lira's eyes shot open, and harsh, sporadic caws broke loose as the jerking motion of her thighs signaled her release.

The tigress didn't mind the jets of female gryphon cum plastering upon her neck and bosom not one bit. Her muzzle stood glued to Lira's shuddering entrance, swallowing her essence with hearty gulps while her tongue twisted and turned inside Lira. The gryphoness' caws became a quaking screech, so intense Naran's hands went to his ears.

He stopped halfway there as realization struck him. The tigress had it right, hadn't she? Lira had waited for eleven days for this moment of respite, during which she spurted jet after jet of translucent heat upon the one who brought upon her release. She had so much in her. Too much.

And Naran did nothing but offer her empty promises of a possible mating.

That thought made his jaws harden and his fists clench. Although the tigress didn't mate Lira, she gave her the pleasure that was his responsibility. Not hers. And yet, Naran knew better than to chide her in front of Lira, in front of her own gryphon.

Naran's eyes hovered in Tari's direction, but he no longer sat besides Lira. A small, ivory puddle lay in his stead, along with a thin, weaving trail of sticky gryphon seed that started from the puddle and continued into the darkening woods, where Tari went to finish off on his own most likely.

Naran smiled for a split moment before his features grew solemn once again. Everything happened so fast, so sudden. He didn't know what to think, or do, apart from listening to Lira's fading cry of bliss.

The tigress pushed herself onto her fours, her soggy fur clumping from Lira's fragrant essence that covered her chest and neck. Naran's own nose scrunched from her prickly sweetness, the pheromone-laden concoction so pungent it made his cock throb with the ominous urge to cum right there and then.

"It's my great honor and pleasure, dear feather," the tigress said to Lira when the gryphoness squeaked in an attempt to form a cohesive reply. "Now lie down. Rest. Remember the way I pleasured you, so that you can ask your wing mate to do the same in the days to come."

Her eyes fell on the puddle of seed, a scoff escaping her before hearty laughter ensued. "Oh Tari, you lustful creature. You got a little too excited again, didn't you? Better that you did. This is one feather you will probably not get to pierce," she said to herself. Then, her head turned to Naran, and she jerked a step back, as if she had forgotten he was still here.

"Oh, you. My boulder perch by the fire not comfortable enough?"

She knelt by the bucket Lira drank from and splashed some water over her face, purring audibly. "I've never seen a gryphon cum so hard. She claims you tended to her needs, but you'll have to forgive me if I assume otherwise."

Her obsession with Lira's heat only served to enflame his guilt. There was no excuse for ignorance, so he dipped his head in shame and waved her over to the fire pit.

The tigress rushed over to his side, extending a paw, the one covered with Lira's juices. Naran shook it, giving her a firm grip in spite of the female gryphon cum coating her pads. She had such soft pads, such a gentle grip in spite of her stubby fingers.

"I'm Naran, and my gryphon is Lira."

"Varany, and don't give me that look. I know what I'm doing. Better than you, by the looks of it." She pointed at the boulder she used to occupy. "Take a seat and look at her. Tell me she's not the most wonderful thing you've ever laid eyes upon."

Lira's limbs twitched faintly, and her wing tips shook lightly as the gryphoness rolled around, relishing her afterglow. Her thin, melodious chant filled the grove, so soothing and exquisite Naran shuddered to awareness when Varani's paw rested on his shoulder.

"You're not a good first impression, Naran. Forgive me for my bluntness, but most of the humans are either ignorant towards the needs of their gryphons or downright selfish. Which one are you?"

It came surprisingly easy to Naran to answer to her insult. "Ignorant. I told her to chase a mate, to leave me, to pursue her own happiness. She's in heat, for crying out loud! What is she doing, standing by my side?"

His raised voice flared Varany's purr. She settled on the grass besides him, her toes flexing in front of the fire pit as she enjoyed the warmth upon her bare pads. "Good. I can work with the ignorant kind. All they need is solid proof, which I already delivered." She craned her neck towards Lira. "Forget shame. Forget your human heritage that keeps you fettered to a bunch of nonsensical restrictions. Lira didn't want to leave you because she truly believes that a frail being such as yourself can offer her the same love and satisfaction that a gryphon is capable of. Can you?"

She shifted around to face him, leaning back against her elbows, her feet swaying from side to side.

"I don't know," Naran said, his voice as heavy as his mind. "I'm a human. She's a gryphon. Our species are fundamentally different."

"Start by mating with her," Varany said with great nonchalance. "She's very desirable, and her sweet, pungent nectar, mrrrrrrrr." She licked her lips dreamily, throwing Naran her most provocative of looks.

He shifted on his boulder, the numbness left by the saddle all but forgotten as he began to seethe within his leathers. Naran licked his lips to dispel the thick awkwardness of the situation and raised a finger in objection.

"You're saying that, but gryphons are--they're better endowed than I am," he blurted out when nothing better came to his mind. Varany chuckled at that, a series of mirthful mewls that quickened his blood and made him sweat from every inch of his body.

"That's what concerns you? The size of your member?"

"Not that," Naran shot, louder than intended. He threw Lira a curt gaze to make sure she still rolled around, then switched his attention back to Varany. He couldn't hold her gaze, so he stared at her paws instead.

"It--it won't make a difference. My seed will never bloom inside her. She may not even feel me, when I..."

He trailed off, occupying his thoughts with nothing but the suave movements of Varany's paws. She had the bean-shaped toes of a feline, thick, equipped with smooth, meaty pads over a bigger, central one. She must have walked on them a great deal, yet, in the faint light of the campfire, they looked softer than Lira's, and so smooth! Almost glossy, like silk.

"Oh, she most definitely will. Gryphons have tapered members that thicken towards the base. Some have soft barbs, others are perfectly smooth. What every gryphon has in common, is that they lack your bulged head, so you will make Lira cum faster than she would from a male gryphon's member. Trust me, I speak from experience."

Naran opened his mouth to say something, but only a groan came out when her toes groped at his shins, her claws protracting to latch onto the dark leather. For such big feet, she sure didn't lack dexterity. Even from her current position, Varany's paws massaged his muscles in the most pleasant of ways, her toes kneading at his shins while those puffy, central pads applied soft, blissful pleasure to his sore limbs.

"I am mating my gryphon," Varany said as her paws clambered up his legs, all the way to his knees, where her toes curled inwards to cup them.

Naran cocked an eyebrow at her, his throat suddenly tight and dry. She did--she what?

His incredulous expression shifted her purr a pitch higher as she flashed him a toothy smile. "You've seen Tari. He lacks Lira's confidence, that's why he is out there on his own, trying to understand why he spent his seed just by watching Lira and smelling her heat. He is young and not quite ready to breed, yes, but I can teach him about mating better than a gryphon can. Not that a gryphon ever will. Who would raise her tail for a crow like him?"

Varany shrugged, letting her paws drift past Naran's knees and along his thighs. He bit his lip to suppress a moan, and clamped his legs shut to stifle his budding erection. Those paws didn't make it any easier, though, Varany's kneading motion picking up as she inched towards his groin.

"So you're like--like his mentor," he said, trying to distract Varany's attention from his beet red cheeks.

"I'm his mate, his lover, his mentor. I'm whatever he needs me to be, and so should you. I took Tari's egg under my care because I knew a black one like him won't have it easy. Lira, on the other hand..." she trailed off to lick her muzzle before smiling at him in the most salacious of ways.

"She can have any mate she wants, but she chose you. You, a human! That's the greatest of honors your kind has ever known."

It didn't seem that much of an honor, not when Lira stood so far away and this tigress had her paws in his lap. She wiggled her toes, prying open his legs slowly but surely as she ran her pads across the length of his thighs. Naran tried his best not to fret or push her away. She already thought of him as a weakling. Giving her further satisfaction by succumbing to her caress meant proving she had been right all along.

"I'm honored to be her mate. I truly am. I love her, more than I ever loved anybody."

"Then show her!" Varany snapped. "Honor her by mating her! She's been waiting for you for so long, it took only a few tongue strokes to unravel her. She squeezed so hard, so fast, the poor, horny thing..."

One of her paws fell upon the bulge of his groin, and Varany growled inquisitively when she found him hard. Her paw began to surround him in a delightful embrace, but Naran grabbed her feet in each hand, cupping those warm, overly smooth pads within his palms.

"So Lira does make you hard. Or is it me?" She winked playfully, her toes curling inwards to trap his fingers in her soft, tantalizing grip.

"It's Lira," Naran blurted out. "I don't know you. I've barely met you, so don't flatter yourself."

"I already have a mate. My needs are satisfied for now, but you intrigue me a great deal, Naran," she said, her eyes twinkling with hidden intent. "Who have you mated recently?"

"No one, I'm--I'm on my own," Naran stammered, trying his hardest not to think of that one time when Lira pleasured him with her paw.

"On your own, eh? And selfish enough to keep all that seed to yourself, unless you use your hands to mrooowr," Varany growled, sprawling on her back as Naran began to massage her pads. His fingers slipped between her toes to hold her paws in place while his thumbs ran across the length of her central pad, applying light squeezes every now and then, making Varany's paws twitch and shake in his grip.

"You're so good at this, mrrrr," she purred in satisfaction. "Some say that climbing to a female gryphon's heart is through their paws. They're overly sensitive...and incredibly soft...helping them test our various surfaces..." her voice shattered into a steady purr.

Their combined heat turned Varany's pads slick, making Naran's task easier to fondle her toes in turns and stroke her central pads with broad, sweeping strokes that made her purr sway between higher and lower tunes.

Varany's thighs spread, one of her hands trailing down across her belly to grip her skirt and roll it all the way up to reveal her nethers to him.

Naran gulped hard at the lewd sight. Her narrow, pink lips stood out in the sea of white and black fuzz, the area around them drenched in her juices. She resembled Lira's slit a great deal, only bigger and long enough for her lips to part the more she stretched her thighs, until she revealed her silken tunnel to him, delightfully tight and wet.

"Try me out before mating Lira," she crooned. "I'll tell you if you're good enough."

A pang of guilt wracked his frame at that. The promise he made to Lira filled his mind, slashing through his lust with fiery claws and making his cock shrivel from the remorseful shudders rippling through him.

"I'll mate her. I lacked conviction, but your guidance steeled my resolve."

"Don't I deserve an earnest thank you for that?" she purred.

"Don't tempt me."

"Hrrr," she growled at him, snaking her tongue out between her canines, her eyes soft and pleading. "Mate me. It's custom. We don't have to mate with only a single being, like gryphons do."

"I intend to do just that," Naran said, but Varany bumped him on the nose with one of her toes.

"I admire your conviction, but I'm so wet that I can't think of anything but getting you to GHAAAH," she cried out as Naran thrust his index between her toes, tickling that sensitive fuzz sprouting from the crevices that ran between her toes with his finger tip.

Varany squirmed in his grip, shaking back and forth, but Naran joined her paws together and began using his thumbs for more than just pleasant strokes. Just like Lira, Varany's paws were quite susceptible to tickling. All it took was the right pressure applied to the clumps of fur rising from the crevices between her toes and fast, curt strokes. If he delved his fingers too deep, Varany's toes would curl around him and her claws would bite into his skin. If he stuck to the surface, she would recover her breath and fight back.

Luckily, Naran knew his way with a feline's paws, and Varany's pink and too smooth pads allowed his fingers to glide along their surface with great ease.

"I love your paws Varany," Naran teased, loud enough for her perked ears to pick it up over her raucous laughter. "They're incredibly soft and smooth."

"You're welcome to--teeheehee--caress them but s--stooop---this--hissssssssssss--"

"What?" Naran inquired as he used the rest of his fingers to brush that receptive fuzz of her paws, faster and faster. "I don't hear you over that too loud laughter."

"Stopp--ghahaha--stop, I beg...I beg youuu," Varany cried out, her lithe body squirming on the ground like a fish fresh out of the sea.

Naran didn't relent. No matter how hard she tugged, his clutch retained its fierceness. Although Varany twisted her legs--sometimes at odd angles that made Naran's heart leap in his chest--her hearty purr showed him the way. Varany said no, but her toes, wrapped tight around his fingers, meant a solid yes.

He kept at it, teasing Varany's paws, taking advantage of the innate weakness built within those wonderfully squishy pads. It made him feel surprisingly good, to clutch the tender feet of such fierce predator, to make her squirm and laugh her heart out, even though his venture earned him a few scratches and cuts along his hands.

In his heightened state, Naran barely felt the pain. His face was thoroughly flushed, and he couldn't help but join Varany's breathless laughter, unable to contain his own mirth. Her torment only stopped when his fingers became too numb and sluggish. Naran let go of her, a wide grin plastered upon his face as Varany grabbed her paw in her hands and bent forward to lick her abused pads. Her tears colored her flushed cheeks a deeper shade, and Varany blinked hard to clear her gaze.

"You're a--ungrateful bastard--to take advantage of a feline's greatest weakness," she said between panting breaths.

Naran thrust his head towards her pussy, drenched in her arousal, her lips swollen with want and her walls shuddering, only inches from a climax.

"I got you quite worked up. I think I showed you a good measure of my gratitude."

"Worked up? I almost came!" She shouted, then broke into a fit of frail giggles as she patted him on the shoulders with the paws he tickled just moments ago. "If only you put those fingers to good use on Lira as well..."

"I did, and she came."

Varany poked out her tongue at him, and licked the air to blow him a kiss. "What has she done to deserve such...enjoyable punishment?"

"Pleasure herself with her talons," Naran said. He slipped down from the boulder, his back aching, his ass numb from its hard surface. "I didn't want to let her hurt herself down there, so paw tickles."

Varany patted the grass on her side suggestively. Naran lied down besides her, resting against an arm, losing himself into those clear, aquamarine pools.

"Lira should be equally honored and grateful to have a mate like you. Not many refuse to mate me, and even fewer use tickling to enforce their opinion."

She licked him across the cheek, then pushed her skirt down to cover her privates and rolled onto her feet, swaying a little before she found her balance.

"I'll go finish myself off and wash off my cum while you explain everything that happened to Lira."

Naran's heart sank when the tigress stepped away to reveal Lira's form. She sat on her haunches, staring right at him with those piercing eyes of hers.

"So uh..." he snorted and scratched his nose with one hand while the other ran through his tangled hair. "You didn't sleep as soundly as I thought, did you?"

"Not while Varany screeched and roared loud enough to wake up every beast for miles around. You could have just mated with her, keep things smooth and quiet."

"Gah, I don't...Lira, I can't just mate anyone I come across. You know that."

"I know that our wing mates don't get together only to have their paws rubbed, as delightful as that may seem." She tilted her head to the side, ears erect to emphasize her incredulous look. "Is that her arousal I smell?"

"No, it most certainly isn't."

"Yes it is," Lira pressed on. "It's sharp, fragrant, bittersweet, like that of a Stripedpaws. Are you lying to me, Naran?"

She got onto her feet, suddenly huge and imposing. He felt small before her, pitiful and insignificant.

"If you can smell her arousal, then you know I didn't spill my seed."

"There are more ways to pleasure somebody than through your member, and a mating is a mating, regardless of the means you employ."

"Now you're just teasing me. I made you a promise, yes? I didn't go back on my word. Not once, not ever."

"Hard to believe, when her thundering roars roused me from my senses."

Naran had no choice but to cup his face in his palms and draw a deep breath to settle his stomach. It churned with nerves, accentuated by the prospect of Varany's return, any time now. His lips pursed at the earthy scent that permeated his hands. Varany's scent rubbed off on him, a tangy aroma that filled his mind with her melodious laughter and flashes of her wriggling toes that clutched and released his fingers with feverish strokes.

"How much have you seen?" Naran said breathlessly. His hard gaze bore into Lira's. His teeth rattled a little from the shock of Lira's discovery, his temples throbbed, and his face turned beet red from the effort to keep himself from snapping at her. He wanted nothing more than to confront her properly, with solid arguments and proof, but first, he had to know just how much she had seen. For a gryphon who mated for life, to see her chosen mate give pleasure to another while she slept a few feet from them...

"Enough to want to fly away from here."

And with that, she lowered herself onto her belly, motioning at him with her beak to hop into the saddle.

At first, Naran scoffed. Then, he gave her a skeptical look.

Lira cawed at him, loud enough to alert Varany and send a jolt through his frame. Naran didn't clamber into the saddle--he hurled himself upon Lira's back, forgetting the stirrups and everything in his rush to leave the clearing before Varany decided to follow them. She would have done that in a heartbeat, that infuriatingly attractive feline. Everything was a game to her, his relationship with Lira included.

Naran wiped off the sweat gathering on his brow, taking deep breaths of crisp air. The chilling breeze made him shiver life a leaf, yet he felt invigorated by it, empowered by the whistle of the wind that filled his ears.

"Seven hells," he said to himself. "That look in Lira's eyes. She either wanted to watch me and Varany go at it or murder me on the spot."

A faint chuckle escaped him. With Lira, things were never straight forward. One moment, she urged him to mate his bipedal kind, the next she abandoned him for betraying her trust by going against his promise. Proud creatures, these featherheads, yet so loyal Naran couldn't help but smile and pet the neck of his mate.

Lira chose a forested hillside to spend the night, littered with firs tall enough to obstruct the shafts of silvery moonlight. She wove between them with fluid grace, squawking for praise moments before her paws touched the ground.

"You did wonderful," Naran said with a thinner, growly voice, his attempt to mirror Varany's. That made Lira sprawl her wings and hoist herself onto her hind paws, shaking her body hard enough to send Naran tumbling down from the saddle.

Her talons were upon him before he even drew his breath, the curled tip of her beak pressing against his chest.

"I could have broken a wing trying to get you to a forested shelter where Tari cannot land. I deserve more than a jape."

Naran opened his mouth to apologize, but Lira's mirthful chirps, followed by the persistent rubs of her cheeks against his, made him groan instead.

"Not fond of my humor, I take it."

"Your humor's rude and inconsiderate most of the time," Lira said, running the smooth side of her beak up and down his neck, her soothing chirps filling his ears. The soft vibrations seeped into his skin, making him shudder from the warm jolt that spiked through his body.

Lira cawed her laughter, but Naran squeezed her beak shut. "No, it's not rude. I merely paid homage to the wonderful voice of Varany."

She shook her head out of his grip with a flick of her powerful neck and stared him down. "Then speak with her voice. Better yet, walk back to her. She reached every possible pitch, thanks to your pleasant ministrations."

Naran's jaw hung at how quickly things escalated. His attempt to defuse Lira's tension and poke some fun at Varany's odd behavior had the opposite effect on this thrice-damned featherhead.

"I tickled her paws. Just like I tickled yours. That's all there is to it. At least I didn't let her tongue inside me."

That was a cheap shot, one that didn't faze Lira one bit. She drew back her head, clacking her beak in thought.

Or so it seemed to him. Her eyes sparkled with renewed desire, and her pinned back ears revealed the meaning of her next reply before she even spoke it.

"It is you I wanted inside me all along. Fingers, tongue, member, it made no difference to me, so long as my mate took my infinite amount of cues."

"Well, I--"

"I let it happen," Lira interrupted, her voice graver. "You had to see what all this waiting did to me, and the extent of my desire for relief."

How could he forget it? She came harder than any female had the right to, and faster than he could even process what had happened. Guilt slammed upon his heart, making him wince and his shoulders slump in defeat. He had nothing to say in his defense. Varany had it right. He preferred to put his vanity before the obvious needs of his mate.

"You heard what I said to her," he mumbled, his lips too dry, his throat too tight.

"And I heard what she said to you. But did you?"

She shifted off him to pace around, her tail flicking, her ear tips twitching.

"It seems...It's just..." He had to say it, now or never. No matter what it earned him, Lira had to know it.

"It's stupid to take me as a mate. It's a senseless, selfish decision which I never agreed with." Even though his temples threatened to burst from his pent-up emotions, Naran felt surprisingly calm. His voice retained its strength, its smoothness, devoid of shudders or feelings towards her.

"Give up this ridiculous chase. Get a gryphon mate, one that you can raise a clutch with. I can't give you that. I never will."

"Go on," Lira urged him. "You've kept this inside for so long. I noticed you practicing it every time I tried to coax you into mating me, so go on. Give me a logical argument that I can agree with."

Naran had that, and more.

"I hoped your heat will smother this infatuation you have for me, but it's nearing its end and you have to know this, Lira. You have to know that I can't fly by your side, because I am no gryphon. All I am is the weight that chaffs your back raw."

He panted like a dog, with deep, ragged, wheezing breaths. Sweat oozed from every inch of his body, and his muscles grew so taut his limbs began to throb. Naran didn't care, however. He stood still as a statue, holding Lira's gaze, unable to wipe the droplets of sweat slithering down his smooth brow.

"That is all you had to say?"

Naran nodded; a curt, rocky motion that made his head spin.

"Because you missed quite the important argument. My choice."

"Your choice is based on nothing but..."

"A lifetime spent at your side, Naran," she said, her warble seeping away his strength, cutting through his icy resolve.

No. He had to keep strong for her sake. Had to...

"It wasn't a gryphon who raised me. You did, with compassion and understanding that far surpasses that of my kind. The mates you urge me to chase can fly at my side, yes, but with you upon my back, I have the strength and confidence to tackle every threat there is."

She dropped onto her haunches, her ears flicking back and forth, her beak clattering as she scratched the fluff of her cheek with a talon. "A gryphon can't hug my neck while I fly. They can't embrace me, caress me like you do. I would have faltered numerous times on my own if it wasn't for you Naran. You're my mentor, my love, my mate. Gryphon or not, I chose you."

So, she did listen to Varany's words. That damned feline. If it wasn't for her, his Lira wouldn't...

Of course she would have, that nagging thought at the back of his mind whispered. Naran never truly hoped to convince her otherwise. Yet he tried, and failed, and that made his heart swell and his stomach fill with a thousand butterflies.

It was so incredibly selfish of him, to feel so relieved all of a sudden. He doomed Lira to a life of loneliness, spent at the side of a frail being who she couldn't even play with properly. And still, he couldn't help but let out a frail chuckle and look at her, his eyes already wet in spite of his efforts to keep them dry.

"You'll never bear a clutch Lira. Think about it, long and hard."

"This is what I battled with during my heat, and I found no answer on my own. That's why I rely on you to provide one."

"There isn't one."

"You had years to mull over your thoughts. I deserve the same courtesy."

Oh, his dear Lira...always stubborn and terribly selfless. He was both incredibly proud of her unyielding conviction and utterly confused by her strong desire to be with him, of all beings.

"I owe you a belly rub, don't I?"

His ploy worked. Lira was more than happy to comply. She lied down upon her side in an instant, raising a hind leg invitingly for him and stretching one of her wings to beckon him forward.

Good. The last thing he wanted was Lira to notice his tears and see his weakness slipping down his sweltering cheeks. She closed her eyes, like she always did, which allowed Naran to wipe his tears with his sleeve and gather his feet underneath him.

Then, he shuffled towards her, his steps rocky due to a mixture of both excitement and uncertainty. He knew why Lira swished her tail with such obvious nervousness. It was all too visible, basked in the faint dapples of moonlight. He tried averting his gaze from it, but his cock already swelled within his leggings, hardening in unison with his breath.

Lira's trill increased in intensity the closer he got. Gryphons had a well developed sense of smell and even better hearing. Her perked ears listened to the rustle of the grass, just as her beak picked up the soft musk of his sweat.

Naran hated the clammy feeling of his tunic plastered upon his moist skin. It smothered him, clutched it in a wet, sweltering embrace.

He undid its laces, removed it, and tossed it to the side, shivering not from the cold, but from Lira's gaze, one eye cracked open to look upon him. He froze for a moment, but her inviting croon lured him closer to her, until her hind paw filled his hand.

"Varany was good, but your fingers are the best."

He sheltered her paw between his hands, stroking it with his thumbs for a few moments before he leaned in to plant a kiss upon her toes. He didn't mind the dirt upon his lips, the slick touch of her pheromone-laden sweat, the sweet tang that filled his nostrils. For some reason, he wanted to kiss her. Every feather, every toe, every strand of fur. To show her just how much he treasured her love and companionship.

Lira's paw shuddered at the touch of his rough stubble upon her sensitive pads. She fluffed up in an instant, her tail wrapping around his wrist and directing it upon her paw once again. Naran stroked it with slow, satisfying strokes, if only to make her purr climb a pitch higher. It was her most beautiful chant, one reserved for him and him alone. Her toes bloomed within his palm, spreading to their limits as a needy caw fled her beak.

Her forepaws reached for his shoulders, sharp talons biting into his skin as they dragged him into the silken embrace of her downy feathers. Naran lowered himself onto his knees at first, then wrapped his arms around her neck under the persistent squeeze of her talons.

"Lie on top of me and rest, my beloved," she said, her voice low, wracked by the shudders of lust.

Naran melted into her embrace. Her forepaws latched around his sides, her talons kneading at his back softly, sensually. Although Lira had talons sharp enough to pierce the hide of a wyvern, she knew how to use them, her strokes so tantalizing Naran couldn't help but moan in delight.

"I like your bare skin Naran. So soft, so vulnerable. It's this side of you, bare before me, that made me fall in love with you."

"Just because I'm at the mercy of your talons," he whispered into her ear, kissing it lovingly, squeezing its rim between his lips until Lira jerked out of his grip.

She turned her head to face him, her beak slapping against his cheek, making Naran chuckle and Lira squeak in delight as he brought his hand around to scratch the fluff on her cheek. She loved that so, so much. His touch always made her squirm, kick her paws, warble her bliss straight into his ear.

The melodious sound rippled through his muscles, rousing his senses, stirring his heart, quickening his blood.

"Lira, I..." he kissed her cheek, a long, satisfying touch which made him harden to his fullest in his breeches from such intimate contact. He became intoxicated by the tingles rushing through his frame, by the alluring fragrance permeating her feathers, by her joyous coo. His kisses picked up in speed, his lips gliding across her beak, all the way to her brow, where he licked at the sensitive patch of fluff above her beak.

She squeezed him tighter, a soft squawk bursting from her beak, along with a few weak shudders that dispersed through her chest. They made her feathers rise and fall in unison with her ragged, excited breaths, and her eyes to snap open. Naran directed her head to his chest, cupping each of her ears in his grip, stroking them with his finger tips.

"I know Lira. You don't have to say it. I know..."

He didn't need to hear it. Her mellow chirps stirred his heart more than her words ever did. Her plumes embraced him from all sides, caressed him, stroked him in the most salacious of ways. Whatever he used to believe paled in comparison to what Lira meant for him--to what she was.

His mate. Always his, until the end of time.

He kept her distracted by kissing and licking her cheek while his hands worked on unfastening his breeches. He tried wriggling out of his leggings, but the foreign motion of his body was too conspicuous, and Lira too alert not to notice.

Her caw of surprise faltered as her eyes fell upon his member. His temples pounded too hard, and his heart beat too fast to feel embarrassed about it. Not that he would notice it over the fire raging within his chest. It wiped away every trace of doubt from him, replacing it with a warm, soothing glow that urged him to do one single thing: Show his mate the extent of the love he bore for her.

Naran flowed across her belly, massaging her taut muscles in his wake, letting his muscular chest glide across her. The tantalizing massage took Lira's breath away, urging her to shift onto her back and splay her wings to the sides, allowing him complete access over her body.

Naran bit his lip to suppress his own gasp at how exquisite her fur felt upon his bare skin. With no leathers to hinder his senses, Naran opened himself to the smooth touch of her leonine half, the short fur extremely soft and slippery, almost like silk. By the time he reached her haunches, Naran's cock pulsated with want, forcing him to grit his teeth against the unrelenting waves of pleasure battering his frame.

With only a few inches standing between his member and Lira's drenched haunches, Naran's instincts took over. He placed his knees on each side of her, bent forward to let his chest rest against her belly, and arched his back to grip his member and direct it straight towards her nether region.

"Ghah!" he gasped once his tip met her scalding, shuddering lips.

Lira cawed her lust for him and bucked her hindquarters, hard enough to push her slit straight into his cock. Sudden warm engulfed his bulged tip, squeezing at him so hard and so fast Naran had to shut his eyes and grip her paws for leverage.

His first time inside Lira overwhelmed his senses. She wasn't only tight and overly slick, but also surprisingly warm and strong. So strong! Her muscles kneaded at him from every side, cutting through his resilience, urging him to push himself deeper and deeper.

Naran did, his scrunched features a mask of pure bliss as he stretched his mate for the first time, his bulged head pushing apart her clamping walls in its wake. The rest of his shaft followed, slowly but surely, Lira's clutch too strong, and his member throbbing too hard to continue his advance.

He had to stop, gasp for breath, recover before his passion for Lira spilled into her. Her paws jerked in his grip, her toes clenching and curling around him as ragged cries burst from Lira's throat. Just like him, she teetered on the edge of her peak, her senses taken aback by the intensity of the moment she had waited upon for so long.

"Nghhhhh," Naran released his feral groan, fighting back the blissful pleasure welling within his loins from her terse kneading motion. Her insides were the smoothest of silks, her juices the richest of nectars, and the spasms wracking her depths only served to enkindle his lust for her. Naran continued to push the rest of his shaft in, his jaws clenched so hard his teeth hurt.

When Varany said that his member would stimulate Lira better than a gryphon's, she didn't lie. The tail of his lovely mate curled around one of his thighs, squeezing him with abandon as the fluffy tail tip jerked back and forth. Claws protracted from her hind paws, urging Naran to let go of her toes and squeeze her central pads instead. Lira's squaws became a screech, loud and smooth, and her talons drew soft scratches upon his shoulders, across his back, before the sharp tips bit into his flesh, holding him in place.

"Naran--my love--my mate...rawwwwwwwwwwk," Lira cried out.

Naran held his breath, and in one swift shove, he buried himself inside her all the way up to his sack, his groans muffled by the blissful shriek of his mate. Her insides caved in all of a sudden, and stars speckled Naran's vision from her powerful clutch. It only lasted for a split second, but it was enough to bring him on the edge of his own release.

Her fluids, gushing out between each terse spasm of her walls, did the rest. Spurt after spurt of scalding female gryphon cum battered his member, the strength of the jets caressing his rock-hard tip, splashing upon it, urging him to give into the persistent tugs of his mate. Naran's hips bucked instinctively, but Lira's embrace was already too tight, and him already weakened by the fragrant nectar that drenched his groin.

Naran buried his face into her belly, clutching her paws with an unrelenting grip as he broke loose inside Lira. His seed burst out of him like an avalanche, his cock throbbing harder than ever against her clamping walls as his essence speared past her muscles to drench her innermost sanctuary. It felt so good to cum inside Lira, and it felt so right. All it took was one thrust for it to happen, yet the intensity of his climax spoke for itself.

Both of them soared towards the highest peak, Naran's brow furrowed in effort and Lira's feathers a mess from the toll of pleasure. When Naran's throbs died down, so did Lira's clutch. She now milked him with slow, suave strokes, squeezing out the remnants of his seed from his softening member.

"Ghaa...haa...haa," Naran panted, more exhausted than ever. His arms fell to his sides, weak and useless. All he could do was look upon Lira and smile weakly at her half opened beak and lidded eyes. She chirped, ever so softly, her expression the embodiment of bliss.

"You still owe me a belly rub," she whispered, her voice faint, devoid of strength.

"I know," Naran said, his finger tips scratching her taut flanks. "I made a promise...after all..."

He didn't pull out of her. Lira screeched and whipped him with her tail every time he attempted to, until Naran gave up and simply lied upon her belly, smirking to himself.

That stubborn featherhead. Always had to have it her way.

Not that Naran complained. It felt exquisite, to lie within Lira's embrace, their bodies joined together, their heart beats slow and relaxed. Naran pressed his ear upon her belly, falling asleep to the sound of that perfect rhythm, one that resonated with every fiber of his body.

***THE END***

Ohkay, this is how it ends. Naran and Lira finally get intimate with one another and their relationship is better than it's ever been. I hope you liked reading this novella, and I invite you to in the comment box to discuss this story if you'd like. Quite a lot has happened, ranging from Lira's playful teasing to Naran's irrational rejections. Things seem to have worked out in the end for them, though a certain tigress sure played an important part in it all :)

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A Leopard's Warm Embrace

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The Serpent and the Gryphon

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That Little Corner of Heaven

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