After his arrival atop Morven, Tupper befriends statues throughout the stone galleries, but one of his first and best is a fire-bearer named Brand.
Tupper liked the way his master’s eyes were sparkling. Something good was going to happen. Quick to do as he was told, the boy approached the statue of a man dressed in strange armor; there was a sword at his side, and a helm upon his head. The soldier wasn’t like any person he’d ever seen before, for he had a large, hooked nose, and there were feathers where his hair should be.
“He’s my favorite,” Freydolf announced from his seat. “According to the notation on his heel, his name’s Brand.”
“Redstone needs fire.” Tupper looked hopefully at his master for further instruction.
“Aye, so turn up your lantern flame.”
Tupper did so, and the circle of its glow widened to include the red statue.
“Hang it from Brand’s hand so he can carry it for you.” Once Tupper had accomplished this step, Freydolf prompted, “Now, pull the pin at the top.”
Tupper located the slender rod, which was attached to the lantern’s handle by a fine chain. It came away smoothly, and the top part of the lantern opened like the petals of a flower. The exposed flame licked at the fire-bearer’s hand, and his long fingers immediately folded around the lantern’s handle as he lifted it higher.
The statue glanced first at Freydolf before peering down his impressive nose at Tupper. Then, Brand smiled and lifted his brows in silent inquiry, as if awaiting instructions. The expression was so real, Tupper reached out, wanting to see if he was truly made of stone. When he hesitated, the statue reached back, offering the palm of his free hand. To the boy’s surprise, Brand had curving talons on each finger, but the predatory feature worried him less and less. Placing his hand upon the cool red stone of the man’s palm, he said, “I’m Tupper.”
—excerpt from Meadowsweet, Chapter 13
Heart of a lion. The Grif people are the so-called dominant race on the Far Continent. Their territory encompasses the magical mountain that yields redstone, which calls for flame. Grif have a raptor’s characteristics—beaky noses, taloned fingers, and a fondness for feathers. But their namesake is actually the griffin, and they boast a lion’s courage. Their fighting style is uniquely acrobatic, a skill set that’s become world-famous thanks to traveling performers.
Brand’s sculptor hailed from a land where stone is red, and the statue was made in his maker’s image. He’s a fine figure of a Grif. Brand is important enough to Tupper that he made it onto the cover of Meadowsweet. Let’s zoom in for a close-up.
More about the Grif:
- The native language on their continent is Terse.
- In times past, the Grif were nearly as warlike as the Pred, and they enslaved their neighbors, the gentle Pika.
- Most Grif towns are built up around a specific artisan craft—smiths, potters, glass-blowers, sculptors, weavers, carpenters. Their goods fetch an excellent price on the world market.
- Throughout Grif territories, feathers are the fashion, with elaborate hats at the top of the must-have list. For formal occasions, the well-to-do wear feathered capes.
- Grif raise a special breed of chicken for their showy plumage. Their black feathers have a purple and green sheen to them.
- The Grif keep lions as pets.
More about Brand:
- Of all the magical stones, redstone is unique because it isn’t restricted by the time of day. It only answers to flame, so it can stir by day or night.
- Brand is a fire-bearer, a practical necessity for those who work deep in stone galleries. With these statues to hold the lanterns, a sculptor’s hands remain free.
- Like every statue, Brand is a testimony to his maker’s skill. One of the reasons he’s always been Freydolf’s favorite fire-bearer is because of Brand’s exceptional quality. He’s a masterwork—lifelike, expressive, and intelligent.
And as a special treat, I have a brand new portrait of Brand!
Do you have any questions about the Grif? You’re welcome to leave yours in a comment.
Last time: Flox & Pred
Next time: Pika
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