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.
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.
“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.
“We have discussed. You come to the Alcoves.”
The voice woke Emine up abruptly. She didn’t have to question what they were talking about. The voice was that of a dragon speaking the language the rest of them understood. Not Ramar, that much she could tell. Another dragon. Over the last couple of months, Emine had seen a lot of dragons. She could only keep a few of them straight in her head yet. Between them and the humans around, there were a lot of people to get used to.
They had to be talking about her. Sanni’s voice was angry. “No, no. You can’t do this to me. You don’t do things like this. What are you talking about?”
“The both of you are moving to the Alcoves now.” The dragon’s voice held no question.
“I don’t understand.”
“We like how she makes you act, Sanni. But other than that, you don’t need to understand.”
How she made Sanni act? Emine had no idea what they were talking about. However, it sounded as though that was all to the conversation. She watched the plants outside sway as the dragon took back off into the sky.
Getting out of bed, she had barely started to get dressed when she heard Sanni knock at the door. “Emine?”
She had tried to see this place as home, but it seemed things were going to change already.