Emine (pt 18)

On Emine’s eleventh birthday, she flew.

“Hold on as tight as you need, you can’t pull out my feathers.”

Those were the first words Norro had ever said to Emine. She had picked Emine right off of the ground and placed her at the base of her neck, a ways before the place where her wings met her torso. Emine had no fear of pulling too hard on the feathers, she had cleaned off Milwurl’s and Milwurl’s had been strong. Norro’s were stronger. These feathers could not be compared with a bird.

“Do not worry about falling. Even if you let go, you won’t.”

Whether that meant she would still be able to cling onto Norro’s back or if Norro meant that she wouldn’t let Emine hit the ground, Emine didn’t know. But from where she sat, holding onto Norro, she didn’t think she would be going anywhere that neither of them wanted.

“Have fun!” she hear Sanni shout.

Then Norro took off. Emine’s heart beat in her throat. She held where she was, before pulling herself forward with Norro’s feathers until she could see properly off the side of her neck. There was the Heights, becoming smaller and smaller as they ascended.

Everything was so small. Like from a dragon to a human. Dragons made more sense.

Emine began to laugh, unable to help herself. And as she did so she heard Norro, in such a foreign and draconian fashion, do the same.

Emine (pt 17)

“You have to dress warmly for flying,” Sanni told her.

Emine almost couldn’t hear her. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She wanted it, of course she had wanted it, but she didn’t believe that the dragons had agreed. She wasn’t Bonded. This wasn’t for a reason. It was just because she wanted to. And apparently it was okay.

Sanni helped her decide which coat to wear. “There is more you’ll be putting on, so it can’t be too thick.”

Emine nodded, following Sanni out from their rooms to the Alcoves. They met up with Tove, Ghelli’s Bonded.

“I had this made when my girl was about your age,” they told Emine, handing over the jacket. “It should fit you. She grew up way too fast and didn’t get to wear it much. It’s for longer flights, after all.”

After putting on the jacket, she got to put on Tove’s daughter’s gloves. Those fit perfectly, unlike the jacket which fit well enough. Emine could tell she was trembling. Tove put one of their hands on her head.

“You’ll be fine. If it’s too much, say so. No matter the gravity of the situation. Say so and come down if you need.”

Finally, between Tove and Sanni, Emine could speak. “Who’s taking me up?”

“It took them quite a while to decide,” Sanni admitted. “Apparently there was some fighting over you.”

Emine stared up at her. Sanni smiled down. “We’re going to Norro’s nest. Come.”

Norro? Emine couldn’t believe it. But with Tove smiling after the two, Emine followed Sanni there.

Emine (pt 16)

As far as Emine knew, people didn’t ask that sort of thing of a dragon. Even if humans tended to ask more of dragons than she would have initially imagined. Sanni certainly hadn’t been expecting it. Emine wondered if she’d overstepped her bounds.

Sanni took her to Ramar’s nest. Why Ramar? Emine didn’t know. Sanni and Ramar just had some sort of connection that wasn’t a Bond, but something else. Emine wasn’t sure.

“Ramar? Is Arvid here?”

Ramar had to have known they came in, but she took her time in turning around to face them. “Why?”

“I’m here, Sanni,” came Arvid’s voice from the other side of the red dragon.

Sanni didn’t go over to Arvid though. She fixed her look onto wherever it was she had deemed it safest to stare at Ramar. Ramar stared back. “How dare you wait to ask something of me until making certain Arvid was here.”

Sanni remained unfazed. “It’s Emine’s birthday tomorrow.”

At first, Ramar said nothing. She was quiet for long enough that Arvid was able to walk around her and into view. “Why is this the first I’ve heard of this?”

“She wants to fly for her birthday.” Arvid stopped walking then. From Emine’s vantage point, she could see Ramar’s eyes focus in on Sanni. Then to Emine. Emine wondered if she should look away, but Sanni didn’t back off. “Which one of you would give her a flight?”

Ramar then acted very peculiar. Her feathers rustled, but because of a shift of her muscles underneath. Without a word, Ramar left.

Emine would have been concerned, except for the fact that Arvid began to laugh.

Emine (pt 15)

“What do you want for your birthday?”

Emine hadn’t known anyone here knew her birthday. She shouldn’t have been surprised Sanni did, but she felt it nonetheless. Her birthday. Eleven years old. A year since her parents cast her out.

Sanni’s expression went from a measured amount of excitement to some concern. “Emine? Is something wrong?”

She shook her head. “I… No, nothing is wrong. I wasn’t thinking about it. I don’t know.”

“Surely there is something you want.”

Sanni sat down on her bed and Emine, after a moment, went to sit next to her. Sanni did something her mother used to do, which was put her arm around her while she sat next to her. Emine barely remembered it though, because she had been very young when her mother had done so.

“Yes.” There were quite a few things she wanted. But a birthday was when you asked for something you didn’t think you could ask for during the rest of the year.

“Tell me about it.”

Emine’s mind raced. What did she want right now that she might not get the rest of the year? Surprisingly, her mind settled on something quickly. Something Sanni couldn’t give her. But Emine wanted it nonetheless.

“I want to fly on dragonback.”

Emine (pt 14)

Milwurl’s Bonded were a couple, Lorens and Bo. They were the only people who had their own room actually built into the side of their dragon’s nest. While the other Bonded were never that far away from their dragon, most had to do more than open their room door to answer a call.

“They aren’t here right now,” Milwurl said. “Bo’s brother had another child, so I let them go see the newest addition.”

Emine nodded. She knew they had gone to see family, after all, even if she hadn’t known the specifics. Much like how she knew that Milwurl liked human hands to help her clean her feathers, though she had never done such a thing herself.

When the dragon sprawled out into the dirt that she insisted still always line her nest, Emine realized she was probably in a bit of trouble. “What did you need me to do?” she asked, as though she didn’t have an idea.

“They aren’t here right now. My wings are caked in mud.”

She knew it. Emine frowned, examining the situation. “Well, a lot of you is, actually. It was the rainy season and your nest was all mud.”

“Mud is nice, when you are in it.” Milwurl didn’t look at her, those eyes were already closed. “It is not nice when it’s dry.”

This was pampering, pure and simple. Emine knew that. Milwurl knew that. With a sigh, Emine gave in.

Emine (pt 13)

Milwurl had a tendency of standing on the ceiling of any given room. Emine didn’t know if she liked surprising the humans who hadn’t gotten used to looking up, or if the dragon did it for her own purposes and the startling of people was an amusing addition.

Emine had been startled already. Several times. This time, she had already darted her eyes upward to see Milwurl there. She did not crane her neck up to look. She had passed that phase. When Milwurl’s long brown neck, flecked with black and grey, came down, Emine did not jump.

“You are not busy.”

Emine had just been busy, but Milwurl was correct. While she had been hoping to return to her room now, hopefully see Sanni, Emine was not busy. “You have whatever energy I have left,” Emine said with a shrug.

“This is why I like you.” Milwurl’s head didn’t move, while the rest of her body made it down the wall. She had a much longer neck than any of the other dragons. As well as thicker nails and shorter wings. She didn’t fly as often, she would glide. “You are much like Sanni, you are honest.”

“I didn’t know honesty wasn’t common.” After all, Emine would think a dragon would know. Very quickly, if not immediately. Emine couldn’t imagine hiding something from any of them.

“It’s not to say the others are liars, dear Emine.” Body on the ground, Milwurl shifted her head into a different position. She still looked directly at Emine. Emine looked at her wide nostrils, where she could see Milwurl’s dark grey and green eyes. “They simply choose to keep certain things to themselves. Or come up with an excuse, which is true, but an excuse nonetheless. Now come, I have need of you.”

Emine (pt 12)

The dragons were having a fit. As far as Emine could tell. However, they weren’t in the Alcoves, but up outside of the cliff and on top of their home. If she looked out any of the opening, she could see them on the other side of the valley, discussing whatever it was above there. She could even hear sometimes the dragons that were above the side she was on.

Emine had never seen this before. Even when other things were going on to upset them, all of them had never been outside to chatter. At least, she was pretty sure it was just about all of them. Most of them.

“Are they still going?” Sanni asked, looking out over Emine. Her tone was subdued.

Emine nodded. “Is something wrong?”

“They found some broken eggs.”

Sanni usually explained what things like that meant immediately, but this time she didn’t say anything. Emine couldn’t imagine why, but by looking up at Sanni’s face, she had somewhat of an idea about the enormity of the situation.

She didn’t ask, but eventually she heard a sound from one of the dragons she had never heard before. Staring across the way, she saw it come from Norro.

Emine didn’t have to think long or hard to know it was grief.