She walked into the bar just as the last few patrons were staggering out. It was an old place, all gleaming polished wood and candle light, one of the last true neutral places they could gather and relax without worrying about fights or sides for a few hours.
“Sorry, we’re about to close.” the bartender said as he gathered up a few more mugs from the bar.
“Enough time for a last pint and a bit of conversation?” she asked, walking to the bar and taking a seat on a high stool. Some regulars sat a few feet down at the other end of the bar; she let her eyes slide over them before meeting his gaze. “I was hoping to speak to you a bit more privately.”
“Whatever you wish to discuss, they’ll probably be privy to eventually. It’s been a long night and I wish to end it sooner rather than later.” he said firmly. He was a small man, probably of dwarf ancestry, wiry arms covered in red tattoos in a language she couldn’t read.
“As you wish.” she said reaching into her bag and pulling out a folder, she then set out a few bills to one side. “A whiskey, if you please, before we begin.” He poured her a dram and left the bottle on the bar to one side.
“How can I help you this evening? I haven’t had one of your kind in my establishment in quite a few years.” he said taking in the woman before him. She was thin yet muscular, the wiry muscle showing in her arms where the sleeves of her men’s white button down had been rolled up to her biceps. She wore a worn pair of jeans and a blue tee-shirt, a glint of gold drew his eyes to the thin collar she wore, a small tag or pendent hanging from it showing some sort of crest.
“Are we all included in this conversation?” One of the others asked, coming to sit next to the new comer. She was a pale girl dressed like she was headed to a rave, all dark lipstick and piercings. “I’m Meg.” she said with a grin offering her hand. The woman raised an eyebrow yet took her hand in a firm shake, a smile crinkling her hazel eyes.
“You can call me Gryphon.” she said with a small smile.
“Sorry, but can I be the token human for a moment and ask what are you?” The other three groaned with the bartender giving her an exasperated look. Gryphon laughed at this softly.
“It’s alright. I work with a fair number of humans myself, most days. I’m getting used to it.” she said with a grin taking a sip of her whiskey and making a hum of approval. “As for what I am, I’m half Gryphon and Sphinx, a bit of a mutt I’m afraid.” she said taking another sip.
The bartender blew out a breathe, “You’re Tatha’s granddaughter, then?”
“Yes, she sends her regards.” This made him grin and turn to pour the others each a glass of beer.
“Well met, Gryphon. I’m Sparrow as I am sure you already know. This is John, Meg, and Lysander.” he said gesturing to the others.
The two men moving to sit next to her were lean and muscular yet polar opposites, one dark, one light, one in jeans and a button down, the other in a full three-piece suit. The one in the suit gave a white-toothed smile in his dark face and a handshake, “Lysander, at your service.” he said, eyes sliding along her body in an automatic glide that she ignored. He had to be some kind of fae who used sexual energies, leering was simply part of his nature. The other just nodded and went back to his relaxed watching, he was the one to watch in a fight, his eyes assessing and weighing everyone in the room without conscious thought, a soldier at rest.
She took another sip of whiskey waiting for the others to be served before setting her glass down.
“To business then.” Gryphon said catching Sparrow’s eye. “I may still be a member of my mother’s clan but I wasn’t raised among them. I was cast out of the nest as a child and my Grandmere took me in. As a result I don’t get along well with my other nest mates or my mother. I have petitioned the Court to leave clan grounds and live on my own or to at least be allowed to live in the sphinx compound with my Grandmere.” She paused taking another sip of whiskey. “I’ve received no answer. My clan doesn’t approve of the change and have been trying to restrict my movements.”
“I’m not sure how I can be of much help. I hold no sway in the gryphon clans and precious little in the high courts.” Sparrow said with a frown.
“If the court responds in my favor, my clan will be displeased.” Gryphon said knocking back the last of her drink. “I’m asking to barter for you allowing me to have a doorway to neutral ground in your establishment.”
“A doorway?” he muttered shaking his head, “Sphinx, you can shadow walk. I wasn’t aware that you had the Sphinx abilities as well as the gryphon.”
“Few people are and we would like it to stay that way until I’m removed from the clan.” she said flatly. “If they realize just how powerful I truly am they will see me dead rather than ever let me leave.”
“What are you offering in exchange?”
“Information.” she said sliding, the folder across the bar to him. He took the file with a judging glance at her before flipping it open.
“Lord and Lady protect us.” he breathed, leaning on the bar, flipping rapidly through the pages. “Are you aware what’s in this file?”
“Yes, I assisted in collecting most of it. I have hundreds of similar files on every major player in the Courts. I am offering use of that information for every time I use the doorway in your pub.”
“I dislike being blunt but I need to know just how much trouble this could cause us. Gryphons have ignored neutral ground before.” the woman flushed at this.
“I cannot guarantee there will not be a threat but it’s only a small chance. I don’t see them hunting someone on neutral ground but as soon as I left I would be chased. I doubt there would be any real repercussions for anyone who helped me.”