The wind whipped at Flint’s face like a thousand tiny needles. He was slogging through snow up to his knees, his pack heavier on his shoulders with every forward movement, as if the very mountain was trying to keep him out, pushing him back a step for every two he gained. This was the third such peak he had climbed in as many weeks, searching for the rocky eyrie of the half-gyrfalcon, half-snowleopard griffin. He knew the chicks would be older now, this late in the year, but they also matured much more slowly than hawks and remained in their parents’ territories.
The soldiers the Duke had managed to spare were back at the camp, huddling around a warm fire and probably digging into his food rations. Flint grumbled to himself, but couldn’t blame them. They had no personal investment in this venture, and had not been shy about expressing their opinion about his sanity. Flint gave a silent laugh; he wasn’t quite sure about it himself, and he was becoming less sure w