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.
“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.
“What is your name, small human?”
Sanni appeared as fazed as the horses were by a dragon. Emine tried to act the same. “Emine.”
Ramar stared at her. Emine had the idea she shouldn’t look into her eyes. At the same time, she didn’t want to look like she was cowering. What the middle ground was between those two positions, she had no idea. She looked back, deciding to fix her gaze on a particular point on the bridge of Ramar’s nose. From there, she could see the dragon’s eyes without looking at them.
It still made her feel a bit dizzy. She heard a sound that she had no idea how to interpret. Something distinctly draconian, not a hiss or a growl. Like a sigh with clicks.
“What’s so funny?” Sanni asked.
“Nothing.” Ramar’s head pulled back. “You’ve picked well, Sanni. Good for you.”
Emine didn’t know what that meant, but Sanni’s face flushed slightly despite saying nothing. Ramar didn’t await a response either. She took off into the sky, meeting another dragon somewhere halfway up the closest slope.
There really were dragons everywhere. Emine stared for a while before looking back at Sanni. “Am I okay?”
Sanni started out of her thoughts and looked down at her. “Yes. Yes you are. Ramar is a little pushy, but she already likes you. That’s good. Let’s go home, Emine.”
Home. The word meant nothing to Emine now. But it was time to redefine.
By the time they arrived at the Heights Emine had gotten used to seeing dragons in the sky. This was good, considering the bright red dragon was there to greet them before they could even pass by the entrance into the valley.
“You’ve brought new blood, I can smell it. Show me.”
The words were creepy, but the tone was far too smooth. It actually made it a bit more creepy, that Emine didn’t feel as bothered out by the words because of the tone. She hid behind Sanni, who appeared to be waiting on whatever it is the man behind the reins said.
The horses didn’t appear to have any problems with a dragon right next to them. Emine squeezed her bag to her chest.
“Why don’t you ask her yourself?” Sanni called forward.
Emine could feel her heart in her throat as the long neck snaked over. The face of a dragon wasn’t what Emine had imagined. The feathers became smaller and smaller, to the scales that surrounded the eyes and mouth. On this dragon, the smaller feathers were gold. Her eyes were not serpentine, as Emine had thought they might be. They appeared to have several pupils that were not black, but white against a ruby backdrop, moving independently of each other.
A hand appeared in front of her face, breaking her concentration for a moment. “Please, Ramar. Don’t make me warn her not to look into your eyes. They’re so beautiful and I’d hate for her to have this first time spoiled.”
“Flatterer,” the dragon called Ramar said.