. . . Jan peered ahead of him into the dimness, but could make out nothing. He listened, hearing nothing. The narrow space smelled old and goaty. But presently, his nostrils quivered as a new scent reached him, strange and musky--not one he recognized. Jan frowned, breathing deeper, and limped forward a few paces into the earthy darkness of the cave.
His eyes had grown accustomed now, and he discerned the uneven wall opposite the one near which he stood, the continuation of the grotto's crevice back into the rock. He started forward again--but halted suddenly. A large mound lay at the back of the cave, just before where the chamber narrowed to a crack too close and dark to see beyond.
The half-light from the outside had grown warmer, redder as the unseen sun dropped lower in the sky. Jan's vision improved: tawny fur and azure feathers. The musky odor swam in his head. At the back of the grotto, not five paces from him, lay some animal. . . .
His heart contracted, jerking him back. Jan recognized a gryphon curled upon its side, wings folded, limbs drawn against its body. Its head was turned to one side, beak tucked beneath one wing. Its eyes were closed.
Its furred and feathered side rose, fell softly with each breath. There was blood upon its feathers, its talons rust colored with blood. Its wings looked battered, its fur muddy and wet. It lay still and bedraggled, like a newly pipped hatchling, as though the earth itself had given it birth. . . .