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.
Arvid collected bottles. Not of any particular sort. Some of them used to have drink in them. Others, fragrances. They weren’t any type of bottle, just ones that were beautiful on their own.
“Why?” Emine asked. She had meant to ask for a long time, but she had never been the type of girl to blurt out whatever she thought immediately. Or maybe she had been, when she was much younger. If that were so, she had long since grown out of it.
Arvid continued to dust off the bottles. Emine helped. “To be honest, I’m not sure why bottles specifically. All I remember is that when Ramar first Bonded with me, she always wanted to get me something. But I had no use for all of the particular trinkets she thought to give me. So I told her I was interested in bottles. These are all of the gifts she has gotten for me over the years.”
They were very interesting. Emine stared into one, made of blue glass and shaped for a human hand to grab around the body of it. “I would have told her I didn’t want anything.”
He chuckled. “Maybe I should have done that too. But she so wanted to give me things. And I… I just never knew what I wanted. I’m glad to have these bottles now.”
Emine tried to imagine a dragon like Ramar holding a bottle like any of these. No cracks, no chips, not broken. Despite all of the force she knew a dragon to be capable of.
While Emine knew she didn’t fully understand, she could comprehend a little more about Bonding.
“Time to divert it now.” The large dragon with the black and silver feathers usually came up with the solutions. Or was the one to say it out loud. Her name was Norro. Emine didn’t think Norro liked her. She had yet to acknowledge Emine’s existence. “Ramar?”
Ramar seemed pleased. “I’ll sculpt the mountain. I’ll not divert.”
“I’ll keep Ramar from destroying anything,” Andra commented. He had feathers of blue and talons of white. He was a little larger than Ramar, but his feathers looked longer, sleeker.
Emine frowned. Arvid chuckled. “Ramar doesn’t need help,” he assured her. “She just wants the company.”
“Sculpting a mountain is lonely work,” Ramar said to the two humans, voice quiet enough not to carry around to the other dragons.
“I’d go with you, you know.”
The sound Ramar made was almost a long inhale, but not the type to fill her lungs. Emine had become aware that was a way dragons expressed frustration. “You will not, my pet. You will be tended to here.” She focused on Emine. “Emine will tend to you directly, won’t you?”
Emine focused on the bridge of Ramar’s nose again. Despite the order, she didn’t mind it at all. “Of course. I like Arvid too.”
Arvid chuckled. Ramar seemed pleased.
Working in the Alcoves was harder than working in the town. Emine could point at the reason for that in a heartbeat. The dragons. They certainly acted as though they were in control of everything.
And they were. Emine had no way of forgetting, like she had before. The dragons were definitely in control of everything here and the rest of the country. They didn’t seem to mind if a small creature walked through the room as they debated how to take care of issues in many different places. She hadn’t even been aware there were so many problems in a country.
“The next earthquake that hits, that mountain is going to fall on all of them.”
“Well, it’s about time for it to crumble.” Ramar snorted, preening her wings with her hands. It was toward Ramar that Emine went.
Not for Ramar though. She walked over to Arvid, who sat at Ramar’s side, leaning into her feathers. Emine offered him the drink she was sent to bring him.
The older man smiled at her. “Thank you, Emine.”
She liked Arvid. Which was why she didn’t like his cough. Ramar’s feathers bristled, no matter how quietly he did so. It made Emine like Ramar better, though she wished she didn’t have to. She was hopeful this medicine would make him better soon.
Sanni said it would and Emine believed her.