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The battle that never was

by Athena

The ship cut its way through the crest waves seeming to delight in slicing each in precise and measured fashion. Its prow nobly leading the way before a vast armada, their sails billowing in the wind sounding as great trumpets as they caught the breeze again in the trough of each wave. She was the “Talon” and pride of the Hippogryph navy.
On the foredeck of Talon stood the leader of that navy; Admiral Hightower. The Admiral was a gaunt figure and seemed almost lost within the swells as they came over the sides but ever as the water passed Admiral Hightowers shining feathers were revealed once again for all to see. Her gaze locked on the fleets destination with her beak set in a guise of grim determination. Setting such a stoic figure Hightower made a fine example to her crew. Many of them would have said she was scheming up the perfect solution for the battle ahead or that she was mustering the courage to face the great force they expected to reach in scant minutes.
In truth though the Admiral was lost in her own thoughts on poetry. She had been trained not just in the arts of war but the finer things as well and had come to accept the idea of a warrior-poet as not simply a fine ideal for a great commander but simply the best combination of skills to achieve true balance in a Hippogryph. She was still working through a better rhyme scheme for ‘ocean’ and ‘potion’ when a flag went up from one of her scouts on one of the vessels of port. It was the Keeneye and it said they had reached their destination.
Quickly the Admiral turned to her signalers toward the aft of Talon to convey the message to the rest of the fleet. They dutifully began waving their flags in a manner that was so familiar as to be a comfort to Hightower. The chance to observe the whole of her crew going through their assigned tasks with such professionalism always seemed a thing of beauty but it took on a new sheen on the leadup to battle. Though she never showed it the Admiral had the same fears as all her sailors and perhaps more since she felt deeply her duty not just to the mission and to her people but also to each and every sailor that served with her.
The ships second FireSkies came up to her side and reported “Ma’am, all ships have been notified of sighting and are moving to form blockade around the island.” Turning to face the stalwart Hippogryph she noticed that his hat was out of regulation position. She almost grinned inwardly at this. If a cocked hat was the worst that the fleet was suffering in this weather in the run-up to a battle they would do fine. “Any sign of the enemy Commander?” she inquired of FireSkies. “None yet Admiral although pickets report they should be arriving at any time.” FireSkies report was welcome. Perhaps they would be able to finish the blockade before the damnable parrots arrived. “Very good Commander bring us into position around the island and…” Her orders were cut off as cries went up across the fleet that the enemy had been sighted.
It wasn’t long before Hightower and the rest of the fleet could easily see the parrots.
Their fleet was quite large from all that was visible and they had brought with them a few of their damnable flying ships as well. Well even if their ships could fly that wouldn’t preserve them against the Hippogryph marines. Still, it was far from ideal, They had been caught out during maneuvers and would have to reform to effective line of battle while the enemy closed. This would be daunting and leave them far more exposed. It would be better if their heavy ships led by the Talon could provide some covering fire while the rest of the fleet reformed.
“Close to engage and bring up port broadside” She ordered. “Order the Pinyon and the Melodious to fall in behind.” FireSkies dutifully relayed the orders and she felt a bucking as the ship began to change its angle relative to wind and water. They were on their way to it at last.

The Talon was entering firing range. Already both sides had exchanged a few experimental volleys with minimal effect. But now HighTower felt sure they had dialed in their range and the pretty birds would pay for their insolence. The Admiral began to head to the main guns for more direct observation of the gunnery on display when the whole ship rocked and she only avoided being knocked onto her side by flapping her wings. Something massive was emerging from the water.
HighTowers first thought was that the dirty parrots had brought some new secret weapon to bear on them. “What are the parrots using?! She shouted at her masted observer. The reply came quickly and with a hint of puzzlement. “It doesn’t appear that they are doing anything Ma’am. In fact they are rocking just as hard as we are. Ma’am I don’t think this is the parrots doing there is a huge dragon looking thing coming out of the water.”
Now that the water was clearing around it the Admiral, her crews, her enemy and everyone else could see it now. A long serpentine thing with comical eyebrows far larger than any self respecting Griffon would ever have. Its tiny arms seemed almost ungainly against its massive body. When it spoke everyone was taken aback
“I’m so pleased you all decided to throw us a surprise party, no one ever remembers our anniversary.” The Admiral blinked several times attempting to process what was going on. A quick glance behind showed a clear similarly nonplussed.
“You know Bonnie and I just love this island, it is our favorite vacation spot. She should be here any minute. Just stopped to look at some interesting coral. She’s always been such a curious person you know but it does sometimes take a while getting places when she does that. You know I remember this one time when…” As the giant serpent continued to prattle on someone fired a cannon at the marines landing on the island. Her side had been under order to do long range testing fire so she couldn’t be sure it wasn’t them.
“Hey now” the serpent complained “You’ll damage our vacation spot although those are amazing fireworks you’ve got just be more careful.” As a couple of ships began trading fire the serpent came over and pushed them a bit apart causing their shells to fall harmlessly “You really do need to be more careful.”
After a few minutes of this is became clear that this battle wasn’t happening with the serpents in the way so after a bit of signalling the Admiral and her opposite number flew over to the serpent to determine the best course.
“What claim do you have to this Island?” The Parrot Admiral, named Azure, demanded to know of both the serpent and the Hippogryph. “You know our claim” said HighTower. “Those fruits have always been ours”. The serpent raised one giant eyebrow. “You mean those delectable tiny blue things? Oh yes those are scrumptious. We planted a few a while back and they’ve done quite well” At this both both Parrot and Hippogryph looked confused and slightly uncertain despite their military demeanor. “But… But…” Stammered HighTower. “Those fruits are only for royal purposes they are so rare. We’ve tried to grow them but this and only this island has the magic that allows them to bear such wonderful fruit. It is a special food and dye in our paintings. This is why the Parrots must not have it. They have vowed to keep it to themselves!”. She didn’t realize she was shouting but she was.
“Oh nonsense I bet the parrots think the same thing then?” The parrot Admiral just nodded almost numb. “You just need the right tools. Here I’ll show you”

And with that both sides sailed home no worse for wear save a loss of pride. But this was more than made up for by the small grove of happily growing trees with a bit of serpent magic on their main deck. The great naval battle was averted but a new friend and ally had been made in the most unlikely of ways.
In the years that followed the Serpents were invited to visit the Hippogryph kingdom and taught them much of what they knew about the art of gardening. They even helped HighTower finish her poem of that fateful day eventually becoming good friends. With far less to fight over the mutual kingdoms of the Hippogryphs and Parrots also found peace and the Island became a sanctuary to both kinds sharing their traditions around the blue fruits.