Perhaps it was because teams like the aerial squad were fast at both attacking and retreating, and were rarely ambushed, or perhaps it was because there had been very little disturbance, everyone in the camp seemed relaxed. After the night patrols returned, the day patrol did not immediately depart. Instead, they were still chatting with their companions.
General Mintel made his rounds of the camp, but did not try to discipline any of the soldiers before returning to his tent. He treated the situation the same way his men did. Life was life, and war was just a way of life. If he did not have any fun, then life would be too boring.
After their meal, the griffins seemed uneasy. Their ruby eyes were slowing becoming bloodshot, and their eye color was getting darker. However, no one took notice of this strange phenomenon.
Some of the knights finished their meals and walked into the griffins' dens, ready for the daily check of their rides. However, no matter how they whispered or yelled, the griffins would not leave their dens. The beasts leaned against each other, rubbing against each other and growling.
A twelve foot griffin was the first to attack. It struck its rider with its sharp beak. The rider was the deputy leader of the squadron and was powerful enough to be a senior platinum knight. However, he had not expected his ride would be attacking him, and did not have enough time to summon his combat power. Under the impact of the griffin’s beak, the man crumbled to the ground. A large wound on his chest began gushing blood.
The other knights and the griffins' caretakers looked on, shocked. These griffins were all well trained, unlike the new, wild griffins. Normally, these griffins would never attack their riders.
However, the griffin did not keep on attacking. It moved over and pushed a smaller griffin to the ground. Then it lunged at the smaller griffin, its wings flapping and creating a strong gust of wind. The knights were still holding on, but many of the caretakers fell from their feet because of the strong wind
The smaller griffin flapped its wings as well, but instead of struggling, it looked like it was cooperating with the larger griffin.
The other griffins made their moves. All the griffins were flapping their wings and trying to push each other over. Griffins were smart and knew how to cooperate with humans, but they were still beasts, and had physical needs.
This squadron was a fighting team, and most of the griffins chosen were males. Among the seventy-plus griffins, there were only a dozen females. Therefore, not every griffin could find a partner.
In human societies, when the two sexes were unequally distributed, there would be chaos trying to find a partner. Among beasts, this was even more common. After the initial chaos, the griffins that did not find a partner were angered and began attacking the griffins that had found partners. Even the leader of the pack was not spared.
However, a griffin’s anatomy was similar to that of a dog’s. It was easy for a male griffin to initiate things, but ending it was hard. Normally, the larger griffin would have no trouble fighting four smaller ones. However, now it was stuck and could not move around easily. It could only try to block the attacks with its beak, and was at a disadvantage. After a few minutes, it was already severely wounded, but it was still fighting, unwilling to give up.
The den became a fighting ring, the wind from the griffins’ wings was getting stronger, and the howls were getting louder. The feathers falling from the beasts danced through the air like snowflakes. The soldiers couldn’t tell what was going on. The dust and the feathers had obscured their sight.
Griffins were ferocious by nature. Historically, there were records of armies losing their food supplies, and subsequently losing control of their griffins, who resorted to eating the horses and even their own riders. Even though starvation was the most dangerous thing that could happen, having the griffins going into heat at the same time was almost as bad.
One of the knights climbed out of the den, covered in blood and feathers. "Find the general!" he yelled at the soldiers with raspy voice.
"So this is what you’ve been planning," Suzanna said. She stared at the Eye of the Sky with wide eyes.
"Suzanna, do you know that you messed up back there?" Anfey grinned. "Remember the mission with seven-winged magic flies? Those were all missions I told Vonmerge to post."
"Why didn’t he tell me then?" Suzanna asked, though it was unclear whether she was blaming Anfey or Vonmerge.
"I told him to keep it a secret," Anfey said. He thought highly of Vonmerge. Even though they were fighting for Suzanna’s affection, Vonmerge did not try to sabotage anything. He knew what was more important, and Anfey knew he could be trusted.
"I did not realize you would do something like this," Black Eleven said with a sigh.
"I only just now learned that fighting a war is like burning money," Anfey said with a shake of the head.
"Burning money? How? That is a waste of money," Black Eleven said. In a world where paper money never existed, it was practically impossible to burn money.
Anfey nodded. "The money spent on the flies, the potion supplies, and some other miscellaneous supplies combined already cost me three thousand gold coins."
"We will make it up to you," Black Eleven said. "Three thousand coins aren’t bad. Do you know how much an aerial squad is worth?"
"And two magic scrolls."
"Alright, I got it," Black Eleven said, shaking his head. "As long as you can destroy the aerial squadron, you can have anything you want."
"Anfey, should we act now?" Riska asked.
"Not yet." Anfey said, turning to look at Christian’s Eye of the Sky.
"What if the griffins return to normal before we can do anything?"
"It’s not that easy," Anfey said. "Hagan told me that those potions were enough for fifty thousand people. Griffins only have to eat once a day, and consume around a hundred boarbeasts. They consumed enough potion for ten thousand people at once. I doubt they will return to normal anytime soon."
Mintel dashed out of his tent and headed for the griffins' den. His entire body shook after seeing the den being obscured by dust and feathers.
He left Kumaraghosha in charge of the supplies, because he was afraid the mercenaries would try to trick them. He even sent most of Kumaraghosha’s men with him. Except for the Griffin Knights and some foot soldiers, there were only around two thousand camp followers left. If they were ambushed right now, they were as sure as dead.
This was not the worst thing. For a Griffin Knight, a griffin was a necessity. Griffins were rare, and their reproduction rate was low. After centuries of controlled birth, they only managed to create one Aerial Unit. If they lost all of their griffins, and all his men were forced to be foot soldiers, what would happen to him and his family? Who would be responsible for this?
"Tell me, what happened?" Mintel grabbed one of the knights and yelled.
"They-They're mating, sir!" the knight said.
Before he could finish his sentence, two figures crashed through the wall of the den and fell to the ground. The two griffins were tangled together, tents, fences, stakes, and fire stations all turned to dust under their bodies. Both griffins were gravely injured. One had a bloody hole on its neck. Through the wounds, one could catch a glimpse of bones. The other was gutted, its entrails falling out of its body. However, they were still fighting and showed no signs of stopping.
"This is mating?!" Mintel yelled again. If it had been possible, he would have eaten that knight alive.