by Sara "Demonskrye" Allen

{Disclaimers: "Gargoyles" is copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney company. All original characters presented in this story (Emilia and her three gargoyle sisters) are copyright Demonskrye and may not be used in any way, shape, or form without her permission. All other characters, whether identified by name, title, or description, belong to Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No one is or should be making any money from this and no copyright infringement is intended.} 

Acknowledgments: Thanks go out to all the regulars at the Station Eight Gargoyles Comment Room, whose obsessive dedication to minor details of the series have helped to inspire me and keep up my interest in the show. Thanks also to Ms. Christine Morgan, whose massive contributions to "Gargoyles" fan fiction were another big inspiration and who probably originated the idea of the spot between a gargoyle's wings being pleasantly sensitive. :) 

A huge heap of gratitude goes out to the Gatekeeper and Trekker9er, for their invaluable help in proofreading and praising my little tale before I set it loose upon the web. 

And last but never least, a great big thank you to Mr. Greg Weisman, former creator and producer on "Gargoyles." Mr. Weisman deserves full credit for the ceremony described at the end of this story and also unknowingly helped to inspire and flesh out several events and characters that show up here. 


Castle Wyvern was enjoying a festive night.  Fires burned brightly, both indoors and outdoors, and the heavy scent of roasting meat hung thick in the air. Warriors talked and laughed merrily with one another while they spun fantastic tales of brave deeds performed in the battle the night before. Even though the humans and gargoyles kept largely to their own kind, neither band of warriors seemed to begrudge the other their merriment. No soldier feasting inside the castle muttered irritable remarks about the loud reveling from outside. No gargoyle warrior turned away in snarling irritation from another chorus of a seemingly endless drinking song. Man and gargoyle were united in the spirit of victory and celebration; at least for one night. 

The gargoyles were spread out around the castle, while the humans kept their festivities confined to the dining hall. The captain of the guard was overseeing the roasting of a great feast of cattle and many gargoyles were crowded near the fires, eager for a meal. Some of the young warriors, thirsting for more adventure, had gone off to explore the coast or into the woods to hunt.  Goliath stood on the top tower, talking of the battle with his mentor and his second. Along the castle walls below them, other gargoyles talked among themselves. Most were going over details of the previous night's fight; but some were speaking of other matters entirely. 

Three female gargoyles were perched on the castle's seaward wall. They were rookery sisters with a reputation in the clan for being very close. They had been good friends almost from the moment they had hatched and one was rarely seen without the other two close by. This night, they were huddled quite near to one another and speaking in lowered voices. 

"'Tis a disgrace to the entire clan," said the first one, a pale green creature with an aquiline profile. "If he keeps on this way, there will be trouble, no doubt about it. Goliath should put a stop to it here and now." 

"Our leader can't do anything now," argued her large eyed, deep blue sister. "Our brother hasn't broken clan law yet, you know that. But really, someone ought to tell his mate what he's up to." 

"Aach, what good would 't do?" asked the third, spreading her pale tan talons in a gesture of hopelessness.  "Have ye never noticed the way she is when he's about? Sweet to a fault, our poor sister. She fair dotes on him. If she knew what he was up to, it'd be the dea..." 

She stopped mid-sentence and all three gargoyles gasped in unison. Another gargoyle was walking hastily towards them, through the shadows around the castle. The three were utterly silent for a moment. Then all at once, they launched into a loud and animated conversation, making certain that the other gargoyle could hear them quite clearly. 

"Did ye mark your mate battling with the Vikings last night? Bashed their heads together 'til they could hardly walk straight! I near started laughing right then and there!" 

"Aye, but he'll be much happier feasting on wild boar tonight, I imagine." 

"We should go down there and have some ourselves, 'afore it's gone." 

The other gargoyle didn't seem to notice the three sisters. She passed them without so much as a nod in their direction. As she departed, the three gargoyles let their conversation trail off into silence. 

"Best we don't say a word," whispered the tan one. "If she knew, t'would break her heart." 

Emilia continued walking at the same brisk pace until she was well out of sight of her talkative rookery sisters. She crouched down in a small corner of the castle ramparts, a quiet, lonely spot that had been ignored by the rest of her clan in their celebration. It was nearly always empty and Emilia appreciated the privacy. Strange as it was for a gargoyle, she often felt most comfortable when she could be alone. 

She sighed, thinking back to the sudden yet not unexpected silence as she had walked past her sisters. On most nights, their gossip did not bother her. She would often try to sneak up on them unnoticed and listen to their conversations. But Emilia had no patience for such things tonight. When the clan had awakened from the day's slumber, her mate had deemed her worthy of no more than a slight grunt of acknowledgment before taking off on some personal errand. To make matters worse, the slight had been noticed by several other gargoyles and was probably common knowledge in the clan right now. 

There were times when Emilia wanted nothing more than to tell her clan the truth. The elders had always told her that "secrets and lies can destroy a clan as fast as any weapon" and Emilia had plenty of secrets. But if she were to unburden herself, even to the most sympathetic ear, the one question that she had no answer for would surely come up: why was it that her mate still lusted after another gargoyle? 

Whenever she came to this secret hideaway, Emilia always found herself pondering that particular puzzle. She stood up slowly and struck a pose, as if admiring her reflection in some unseen glass.  She wasn't an unattractive creature. Gargoyles of all generations had been known to complement her appearance from time to time. She had pale turquoise skin, a short crop of red-orange hair, deep green wings; all fairly pleasing to the eyes of most males. She was also a strong fighter and could more than hold her own in many a battle. Though her wit could hardly compare with that of her clever mate, she was certainly no fool. But in the eyes of the one gargoyle who truly mattered, this was not enough. 

Emilia settled back into her corner and reflected on her relationship with her mate. She believed that she had always loved Iago. Perhaps she hadn't taken particularly special notice of him when they were young; but almost from the moment that the first thoughts of mating had entered her mind, there was no question. She loved Iago. She was meant to be with Iago. Now and forever, she belonged with Iago. 

The problem was, Iago believed that he belonged with someone else. 

The rest of the clan hadn't seen it at first, but Emilia had known. She had lovingly observed Iago long enough to know his mannerisms, the little almost invisible half-smile when he was pleased with himself, the slight rise in his tone when he was talking about something of greater importance, the brisk shake of his wings when he was angry. So when Emilia heard Iago's smooth tones and saw his nervously lashing tail whenever he spoke to their golden-haired sister, she knew that he loved another. 

Those were hard times for Emilia. She had often wished that something would happen to turn Iago away from his pursuit of Desdemona. Such feelings were always followed by deep guilt, for how could she wish unhappiness on her beloved and her sister? She had often sought out the shelter of her little corner of the castle in those days, doing the best to hide her grief from the clan. 

She had not expected what happened next. Observing Iago had told her that he wanted Desdemona for his mate; but Emilia had failed to notice that Iago had competition. While Iago was doing his best to woo her, another young male was also courting Desdemona. At first, this went largely unnoticed by most. Soon though, the whole clan knew of the competition between Iago and Othello for the heart of Desdemona. The hostility between the two brothers grew until rumor had it that they were about to come to blows. Fortunately, Desdemona made her choice clear before that could actually happen. Maybe it was Othello's quieter, simpler way of speaking, his wild strength in battle, or some unknown quality that Emilia couldn't figure out. Whatever the reason, Desdemona chose Othello for her mate and Iago found himself alone and bearing a grudge against his brother. 

Emilia had tried not to be too hopeful this time around. She knew how Iago had longed for Desdemona. After such a rejection, he might have decided not to take a mate at all.  But Emilia was smart enough to realize that her regret if she didn't try to win Iago over would long outlast the pain of rejection if she tried and failed. So she began, slowly and shyly, to talk to him, to seek out his company, and to show him how she cared for him. And to her utter delight, Iago accepted her. 

Even now, Emilia could not help smiling as she thought back on those sweet nights spent by Iago's side.  She could remember everything so clearly: soaring together over the forests, relaxing in the cool waters of a secluded pool, hunting down prey for a private feast. Emilia was equally content when they did nothing at all and she could simply marvel at the fact that Iago's charming smile now fell upon her. But what she loved best of all was listening when Iago talked to her. She had long admired Iago's quick and witty tongue, as had the rest of the clan. Iago could praise the deeds of a comrade with more flair than the finest of storytellers. If anyone dared to make an enemy of Iago, he could insult his foe so discreetly that the poor fool would merely smile and nod.  For Emilia, nothing could compare to the things Iago said to her. No poem ever written, no song ever sung had ever sounded so sweet and so beautiful anything he had whispered to her on those long ago nights. He spoke of her beauty: her fiery hair, bewitching eyes, and down-soft lips. He described what he saw when he watched her in battle: a strong, agile creature who scattered the ranks of her enemies with a single swipe of her talons. She could never forget the one night when he held her in his arms and said, "My love, I can never be full of the scent of you. You're like a spring rain falling at twilight when I awaken." He had pressed his face against her neck and breathed in her scent so lovingly that Emilia felt she would burst with joy.  That was when she told him that she was his now and forever. 

The rest of the clan had been more than happy to see the two young lovers mated. Many were also relieved that Iago had seemingly forgotten his infatuation with Desdemona. Emilia had never looked and felt so completely happy, so alive. 

All too soon, the trouble began. The clan thought to this day that Emilia was completely oblivious to it and that it had to be kept secret from her. But she was the one who truly had a secret. She knew. How could she not, having loved Iago for so long and having known him so well? Of course she had dismissed the signs at first. She was hardly unaware of his subtle efforts to spend more time with Desdemona or the way his praises to her seemed just a little more distant. What gargoyle wouldn't look back on a past love and wonder what might have been? Emilia had worried a little, but she was still confident in Iago's love for her. 

Slowly though, that confidence began to ebb away. Iago sought out Desdemona whenever he could. He carefully kept the encounters friendly so as not to arouse suspicion; but he had seemingly endless reasons for being away from Emilia. He tried to make it seem as if things were unchanged when he was with Emilia; but she had noticed every time his eyes looked elsewhere as he spoke to her. She noticed that every moment of touch between them was a little more formal and a little less passionate. One time when she had been lovingly massaging the joining of his wings, for a brief moment, his eyes had glazed over in what she had to accept as boredom. 

Emilia began seeking out the shelter of her secluded corner once more to confront her painful suspicions. The worst was the thought that Iago's loving words that had so wholly won her over were no more than that; pretty words used to win an all-too-eager young gargoyle simply to soothe Iago's wounded pride. 

Despair had nearly overtaken Emilia. She spent many lonely nights, angry with both her mate and her golden-haired sister, but unable to really hate either. Yet in her grief, thoughts had come to her that gave her hope. She knew  Iago so well that she always been able to see what he was up to before almost anyone; but when he had courted her, he had given no sign that he was lying. His caresses had felt warm and genuine. His voice had been fluid, never faltering. His eyes had fixed on hers and never looked away for a moment. Remembering this, Emilia came to discover her other great secret, one that was hers alone even now. Iago did love her, somewhere so deep down inside that he didn't yet realize it himself. 

From that night forth, Emilia had quietly endured everything that happened. She pretended not to notice Iago's slights and absences. She ignored the comments and whispers of other gargoyles who had noticed her mate's behavior but assumed she didn't know and was better off that way. Mostly, she watched Iago, trying to figure out what sort of schemes he was working on and looking for any sign that he might be starting to come back to her. She knew that the time would come when Iago realized once and for all that he loved her.  From what she had recently found out, she dared to hope that the time was fast approaching. 

Emilia had been helping to train the young ones for battle when she heard Iago's voice. She continued to go through the training routines, but kept her eyes and ears focused on her mate. He was engaged in conversation with Goliath's mate, the clan's second-in-command. She didn't catch everything that Iago was saying, but the general idea was clear. Iago was suggesting, in such a careful manner as to avoid any kind of suspicion, that Goliath was becoming romantically entangled with none other than the fair Desdemona. Emilia strained to hear what the other gargoyle's response would be, but she needn't have. Goliath's mate had blinked a few times, then simply laughed. Iago had been a bit taken aback, but had regained his composure quickly. He had not spoken to Goliath's mate on the subject again; but once she had time to think about it, Emilia realized that the matter was almost certainly not over. 

Obviously, Iago was trying to stir up strife by insinuating that Desdemona and Goliath were being unfaithful to their respective mates. He had tried the ruse out on Goliath's mate; but she had been unfooled, knowing full well that Goliath was doing no such thing. Now Iago was more than likely to turn his attentions to Othello. Since the competition for Desdemona, Iago had been careful to stay in Othello's good graces. Othello seemed completely unaware that Iago was anything but a trustworthy friend. Iago had no doubt noticed how surprised and delighted Othello had been at winning Desdemona's heart and guessed at how worried he sometimes was that she would be taken from him. Othello would make a much easier target for Iago's clever lies. Before long, he would believe that his mate and his leader were both betraying him. 

Emilia had thought long and hard about telling someone what she knew. If Iago wasn't stopped, Othello could turn on his mate or Goliath. Emilia had no wish to see that happen; but in the end, she came to realize that this was best kept secret. 

Iago was clever, but not as clever as he thought. He might deceive Othello, but others of the clan were sure to notice that something was amiss. They would watch Desdemona's descent into confusion and despair as her mate began to show such unreasonable jealousy. They would wonder what could have caused Othello's sudden change. And before long, they would discover the truth. 

Deceiving one's rookery brother and trying to cause fights within the clan were serious matters. Once he was found out, Iago would be banished for some time. Othello would despise him for his trickery. Desdemona would turn away from him. Iago would find himself alone. 

When that happened, Emilia would be waiting for him with open arms; and at last, Iago would look at her and truly see her as his mate. His mate who had loved him always. His mate who had known of his schemes, but had not betrayed him. His mate who he had wronged so many times who now offered her total forgiveness. They would go together into Iago's exile and forge bonds stronger than before. When they returned to the clan, she and Iago would truly be one, now and forever. 


Emilia looked up from her reverie. The three gargoyles she had passed by earlier were calling out. Not wanting to be discovered, Emilia pressed herself into a corner. She remained silent as the calling continued. 

"Sister, are ye coming to the celebration?" 

"The food's nearly gone. You wouldn't want to miss it." 

"And the elders will be telling stories." 

Emilia broke out in a broad grin. Her sisters knew where she was, but they were taking pains not to disturb the privacy of her secret corner. Gossips or no, they were her sisters and at that moment Emilia wanted nothing more than to enjoy their company. She ran to the edge of the castle wall and leapt off, spreading her wings and arcing gracefully around to join her friends. 


"Have you found him?" 

The old gargoyle shook his head sadly as he came to a landing in front of Goliath. He caped his wings around him and laid a hand on his young friend's shoulder. 

"Sorry, lad. We've looked high and low, but there's no sign of him. If he's still near, I don' think he wants t'be found." 

Goliath sighed heavily. Banishing Iago for a year's time was one of the hardest tasks he had performed as leader. The clan had stood behind him; but he had still been plagued with doubt. And now those doubts were returning to him. Should he have been more lenient? Had his decree somehow contributed to the loss his whole clan now suffered? 

"Best to go on with it." 

His mentor's words brought Goliath back to the present. The entire clan was gathered on the high cliffs near the castle. They talked amongst themselves in low solemn whispers. Many had tears in their eyes and some were weeping openly. Desdemona stood near Othello, her face streaked with tears. Othello had his hand on her shoulder and his jaw was drawn tight. Goliath turned to face his clan once more. There was no point in prolonging this time of grief. They had said their farewells to the fallen warrior and now looked to him to give his voice. Taking a deep breath, Goliath began: 

"Friends, we have listened tonight to many stories of she who was our daughter, our sister, and our friend. We have spoken of her skill in battle, her gentle nature, and what she meant to each of us. We have remembered her life; her joys and sorrows and how we shared them. And we have remembered her death as a warrior, fighting to protect her clan and her home. Many of us have spoken of the recent hardship that she bore. But..." 

Goliath paused. What could he say now? What counterpoint was there to his rookery sister's grief in her final nights of life? She had died in battle, not an uncommon fate for a gargoyle warrior; but many gargoyles had noticed the change in her after Iago had been found out and banished. She had become solitary and silent, showing little interest in much of anything. Some had said that she had lost her will to live. Was it true? Had Iago's banishment been too much for his mate to bear? Had Goliath's action led to Emilia's death? 

A scene entered Goliath's thoughts. It was moments after he announced that Iago was to leave the clan for a year's time. The clan was watching Iago with contempt. Othello was glaring at his once trusted friend as he held Desdemona close to him. Emilia had been standing near Iago, watching him intently. 

Iago looked defiant, his head high and a sneer on his lips. He had turned from his clan and said in a voice they all could hear, "I'll go alone." 

Goliath remembered Emilia. Her eyes had grown wide as she had heard her mate's words. Her hand had gone to her mouth and her breathing had quickened slightly. As the rest of the clan had left, Emilia had remained, watching Iago until she could no longer see him. 

Goliath opened his eyes and looked into the expectant faces of his clan. 

"But I believe that she knew what her mate had done. And still, she loved him and forgave him for his wrongs. I hope that her forgiving spirit is still with us when it comes time to welcome her mate back to the clan." 

The gargoyles bowed their heads. Goliath turned and his rookery siblings stepped forward to join him. They all bent low and took the ashes of their departed sister in their cupped hands. Moving as one, they stood and opened their hands to the breezes of the night. In unison, the clan spoke the ancient words of final farewell: 

"Ashes to ashes or dust to dust. All is one with the wind." 

Goliath and his siblings spread their wings, as did the rest of the clan. Slowly, they soared from the heights of the cliffs as the night winds carried the ashes of the dead warrior high into the sky. 

Iago growled as he fought his way through the thick forest. Already he was tired of this isolation. He despised hunting alone, sheltering alone, and traveling alone. Mostly, he hated knowing that he was so far apart from Desdemona. Even if she despised him for his trickery, knowing she was near was some consolation. So unlike the presence of his mate, whose every word or movement only served to remind him of the fact that she was nothing like Desdemona. At least this banishment brought him time away from her. A soft breeze came through the forest. Iago paused for a moment to take in its scent. He was slightly puzzled. The ground was completely dry, yet the smell of the breeze made him think of the spring rains when he awoke from the day's sleep. 

For a brief moment, Iago felt at peace.