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~ Previous Chapter ~
A walk through Nimbys.
Requests and Reunions
IT WAS SO strange to walk through the streets of Nimbys again, tracing the same path she’d once taken every day, full of despair and frustration. Back in those days Mhysra had been so obsessed with joining the Riders and getting Cumulo out of the squalor of the city eyries that nothing else had mattered. How naïve that seemed now. What she wouldn’t give to return to those simple days. It had only been a little over two years, but it felt like a lifetime.
At this point two years ago, she was training her heart out at the selection school under the disapproving gaze of an ice-eyed lieutenant she was certain didn’t like her. Mhysra looked at Lyrai now and smiled. How much had changed. It had been a while since she last saw ice in those blue eyes.
He glanced back at her, smile stiff, eyes distant. Poor Lyrai. She knew just how he felt being back here again. Nimbys was a city with so much to recommend it. Such a shame that both their families happened to live here too.
Mhysra shivered at the prospect of seeing her family again. Even the thought of Milluqua made her feel queasy. How could it not when she would have to tell them what had happened to Kilai? Maegla, she knew it was cowardly, but she really didn’t want to.
“It will be all right.” A thickly-gloved hand gripped hers, and she looked up, surprised.
Lyrai’s smile was warmer this time, his eyes more focused, concentrating on her rather than his own troubles.
“I know,” she replied, not the only one capable of telling lies.
His wry smile acknowledged their mutual mendaciousness and he dropped her hand. There were enough rumours about their arrival flying around already, and plenty of people had stopped to stare as they walked past. It would be best if tales of Rift Riders holding hands didn’t join the gossip.
So they walked close enough for their hands to brush occasionally, but nothing more. Honra led the way with Goryal by his side, next came Corin and Jaymes, with their backpacks of secrets, then poor Dhori was in charge of keeping Reglian out of mischief, while Lyrai and Mhysra brought up the rear. The atmosphere hanging over them was strained.
Leaving the docklands behind, they strode through the shadow of the cathedral and up the main market way. Beyond that lay the broader thoroughfares where shops and other businesses resided, then on through the lower residential districts. The way grew steeper the deeper into the valley they walked, streets and passageways climbing inexorably up towards the Stratys Palace.
Just looking at it made Mhysra shiver on Lyrai’s behalf. Her own family residence was thankfully out of sight, high up on the eastern side of the valley. She resisted all curiosity to search for it, not wanting to tempt fate too far. Instead she trudged on through the slushy sleet, keeping her head down against the rain. The well-known path led them in front of the palace gates, around and behind towards the flying fields beyond.
The offices loomed before them, the base of the Eastern Flying Corps, as well as the local Rift Riders and selection school. It was in there that their fate would be decided. Honra paused and their group huddled together indecisively at the point where the paths diverged. The rain fell even harder and there was nothing welcoming in the offices’ grey aspect.
“Eyries first,” Lyrai announced, and the Riders shared sheepishly relieved smiles. It might be cowardly, but they were going to do it anyway.
“Shall we go ahead and introduce ourselves?” Reglian asked, already two steps down the path towards the offices.
“No!” the Riders cried together.
“Not yet,” Honra continued more calmly. “It’s best if we go together. But we should probably check on the miryhls first.”
Reglian wrinkled his nose, but Dhori grabbed his arm. The black dragon sighed heavily. “Oh, very well. Coddle your birds if you must.”
“We must,” Dhori insisted, marching the Thunderwing firmly towards the eyries and leaving the others to follow however they would.
Mhysra shared a grin with Corin and Jaymes, her nerves easing as they entered the familiar shadow of the eyries. The sights, sounds and smells had been with her throughout her life; how could she not feel better here? Even in the gloom of a rainy day, an eyrie full of miryhls was enough to lift the darkest of her spirits.
She’d not made it a step past the door before the others halted up ahead.
A Rider stepped out of the shadows, expression stern as he looked them up and down. “Well met, lieutenants, and what brings you to Nimbys?” Captain Myran asked, and limped out to meet them.
~ Next Chapter ~
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