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~ Previous Chapter ~
Checking in with Rhiddyl.
RHIDDYL RESTED JUST inside the mouth of the cave she and the vulardis had chosen as their residence and sighed. It was a damp morning down below, with the city shrouded in mists, making the Cloud Sea seem higher than ever. Up here it was clear and cold as she rested her chin on the snowy ground and sighed again. The girl resting against her neck, sheltered from the wind by her head, also sighed.
She would never understand humans. They were surprisingly more complicated than the stories had led her to believe. Mhysra and Cumulo had arrived a little while ago, all cheer and bounciness. Then Cumulo had taken the vulardis off for a little exploration, leaving Rhiddyl in the cave with a suddenly sombre girl.
It made no sense to her, but at least Mhysra wasn’t crying. Now that was something Rhiddyl truly didn’t understand. Such a terrible waste of water and salt, and so strange. At least when Clan Flowflight dragons leaked, they could always reabsorb the moisture afterwards. With humans, Rhiddyl couldn’t even work out how it happened. Water dripping from their eyes. Humans really were the oddest of creatures.
Mhysra sighed again and Rhiddyl curled her grip inward, touching the Rider gently with a claw as she rolled an eye towards her. It was a strain to focus, but she could just make out the sadness in the Rider’s expression.
“Are you well?” she murmured.
Mhysra stroked a hand down Rhiddyl’s cheek, the touch warm and ticklish against the sensitive scale-less skin behind her jaw. She rumbled happily, making the Rider smile.
“I saw my sister last night,” Mhysra said.
Rhiddyl didn’t have any direct bloodline siblings, but she she’d grown up with enough Clanmates in the Skystorm nursery be able to rumble her sympathy.
It made Mhysra chuckle. “I like my sister.”
Which brought Rhiddyl back to not understanding humans again. Especially when Mhysra sighed and rested her head against her. “I had a brother once.”
“Ah.” Rhiddyl curled in another claw and squeezed gently. She was beginning to understand. “Aquila?”
The Rider didn’t seem to have anything else to say, and Rhiddyl wasn’t one to pry, so they sat in silence, watching the mists creep up the mountain. Another set of clouds was slowly sinking from the higher slopes, spreading icy moisture through the air.
The two foggy veils had almost met across the mouth of the cave when a black shape appeared in the gloom. As it grew closer and remained alone, Rhiddyl realised it wasn’t Cumulo and the vulardis returning as she’d first thought. It was much better, she realised, as it revealed itself to be made from pale shades, and carrying a Rider upon its back. She rumbled with relief – just the human she needed.
Mhysra stirred against her neck and Rhiddyl raised her head as Hurricane swept in to land.
“Well met, Lyrai,” she fluted to her favourite Rider. She knew she shouldn’t have favourites amongst her new friends, but she did like the lieutenant’s bright hair. And his red jacket. Besides, Lyrai was a sensible fellow who always treated her with kindness. Rhiddyl liked him.
“Good morning, Rhiddyl,” the lieutenant greeted, sliding from his miryhl’s saddle and deftly untacking the eagle, stacking his harness beside Cumulo’s. “I’m glad to see you’ve found shelter. How are you settling in?”
Rhiddyl burbled about herself and the vulardis while the lieutenant worked, explaining about the search for just the right cave, as well as sharing her thoughts about the city and the mountain. Thankfully, Lyrai finished before she had to start repeating herself, and Rhiddyl gently nudged Mhysra out of the way to stretch her cold muscles.
“I do believe it’s time for my morning flight,” she said, as if it had been planned all along. “Would you care to join me, Hurricane? With luck we might find the others.”
The miryhl cast her an amused glance as he agreed, and the pair of them strutted out into the misty rain as if it was the finest of mornings. The icy moisture sent shivers rippling beneath Rhiddyl’s scales and she sighed. The things she did for her friends. Hoping that by now Cumulo and the vulardis would have found another cave to shelter in, she spread her wings and followed Hurricane into the mists.
MHYSRA SHIVERED WHEN Rhiddyl’s sheltering bulk was removed and she sat alone on the cave floor, staring up at Lyrai silhouetted by the entrance.
He watched her for a moment before crouching down and taking her hands in his. “I’m sorry,” he murmured, kissing her fingers and pulling her to her feet, towing her deeper into the cave to where the wind couldn’t reach and the dragons had already scattered a handful of shimmering glow-globes. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there when Milli found you. I’m sorry you had to tell her on your own. I’m sorry you lost Kilai.”
Unable to speak, she simply rested against him, letting him wrap her in his arms. She had no idea how long they stayed like that, but it felt good and right and perfect. There were times when she wished she could stay in Lyrai’s arms forever. She wasn’t stupid, she knew the real world waited for them beyond the confines of the cave, but as far as she was concerned it could wait a little longer. They were alone at last with little chance of being disturbed. There was no one else here but Lyrai. They’d never had such a chance before.
Pulling back, she brushed his hair away from his eyes and asked, “How was the captain?”
Lyrai smiled. “Sensible, thank Maegla.”
“Good.” It was about time someone acknowledged the benefits to having dragons on their side.
“I learned some interesting things too,” he said, looping his arms loosely about her waist. “You won’t believe some of the things Goryal and Reglian said yesterday. I’m not sure I believe them myself.”
“Lyrai,” she murmured, sliding her arms about his neck, her thumbs stroking his nape.
“Yes?” His eyes locked on hers, the pupils widening, swallowing up the blue.
“Does anyone know where you are?”
“I left Milli talking to Dhori, then asked Corin and Jaymes if they knew where you’d gone. They pointed me in the right direction. Then there’s Rhiddyl, of course, and Hurricane, Cumulo and the vulardis, who could all come back at any moment…” His smile deepened.
“What about this moment?” she whispered, as he bent his head towards her.
“This moment?” he breathed against her lips. “For this moment we are alone.”
“At last.” Their lips met and she lost herself in him.
~ Next Chapter ~
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