Emine (pt 2)

“I’m sorry,” Emine’s travelling companion said, after proffering water to help Emine swallow. “Did no one tell you what we do at the Heights?”

Emine shook her head, wordless.

“We run things for the humans that live there. Sometimes the dragons forget about some of our needs, so it’s good to have other humans around. Make sure nothing is forgotten.”

All Emine knew was that the country was very large. So large that she had never confronted the flying owners of it. It hadn’t occurred to her this would change. “We take care of people?”

“Yes. Humans tend to take one of three roles. You’ll be joining me down in the town, where most of the humans are. We run the place, really, no matter what anyone says. Then there are the Unbonded, who live up in the Alcoves. They are the ones we really have to watch over, because they have to do all of the things the dragons need.”

Emine nodded, digesting this new information. “What’s the third group?”

“Those are the Bonded. Those who have been chosen by a particular dragon. I believe a lot of people know them as dragon riders, because they are allowed travel on dragonback more often than the Unbonded.”

Swallowing, not food, but back the saliva produced by her nerves, Emine gripped what was left of the jerky in front of her. “I’m in the town then?”

“Yes, you’ll be in town. With me. My name is Sanni. Will you be all right with that?”

To be honest, Emine knew she didn’t have a choice. But Sanni still seemed really nice. Emine nodded and tried not to think about the Heights. They would be there in a month.

Emine (pt 1)

When she was ten years old, her family sent her to the Heights.

Emine might have protested more. Or cried aloud. However, at ten years she had long since become aware that she was the latest in a string of children her parents could not afford. While she wondered why they didn’t send away one of her less helpful siblings, she reminded herself that all of her remaining siblings had to be loved more than her. It was only sensible. (Even if she did not know why.)

She sniffled in the back of the cart, as quiet as she could manage. She had kept from crying as her parents bid her farewell. Now on the road, there seemed to be no point.

The woman sitting near her offered her some candy. Emine shook her head. “Sorry. I don’t like sweets.”

With a smile, the woman returned her candy to her pocket and pulled a stick of jerky out of her bag. As Emine chewed on that, the woman told her something she had never thought of. “You’ve come from a remote place. Ever seen a dragon before?”

That was right. The Heights were the centre of everything. The jerky stuck in Emine’s throat.