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In which Rhiddyl feels very sorry for herself.
“THERE YOU ARE!”
Rhiddyl startled out of her doze. After speaking with Vhen and Atyrn the day before, Rhiddyl had decided it would be impossible to find a miryhl she could work with and that she couldn’t become a Rift Rider without one. So instead of turning up at the Choice that morning with the rest of the prospective students, she’d slunk out of the city before dawn and flown for leagues upon leagues, trying to forget what she was missing.
It had been hard and she’d circled back more than once, but it must have worked at some point because after settling in a patch of sun, determined to convince herself that she wasn’t upset, she must have fallen asleep. How else would a pair of all-too familiar miryhls have snuck up on her?
“We’ve been searching for you all day. What are you doing all the way up here?” Atyrn was the first to land and came bustling over the boulders towards her, wings out to the side, great body comically waddling from side to side as she scrambled and slid.
Not that Rhiddyl would ever laugh. Atyrn was one of the miryhls who’d entered World’s End, fought off the last of the kaz-naghkt and emerged victorious. She’d done far more than Rhiddyl had to save the Overworld and she’d done it completely cut off from her natural element. Miryhls were made for the sky. World’s End had been entirely underground. No, Rhiddyl would never laugh at Atyrn.
“We were worried about you.” Atyrn hadn’t come alone. Landing elegantly behind her and crossing the rocks in light little bounds was Latinym, Lieutenant Dhori’s eagle. At least, so he currently claimed. Rhiddyl took a deep breath and huffed at the tingle the miryhl and his Rider always caused somewhere between her nose and brain. If Latinym really was a miryhl under all those feathers, Rhiddyl would eat her tail.
Still, he had been in World’s End too. Whatever he was beneath the skin, Rhiddyl respected him. Respected them both. Although that didn’t mean she had to be happy to see them.
“I am well,” she sighed, sounding anything but.
Atyrn cocked her great head, while Latinym eyed her knowingly with his silver-bright eyes.
“I had no notion that dragons could sulk,” the larger of the two miryhls murmured.
Latinym snickered while Rhiddyl flicked her tail irritably. “You didn’t travel with Reglian long enough.”
Latinym laughed and even Atyrn gave a small chuckle.
“Besides I am not sulking,” Rhiddyl added belatedly. She wasn’t sulking, she was wallowing in self-pity. There was a difference.
She rested her head back on the rocks and sighed. She liked these miryhls, but they reminded her all over again of what she would never have. No flying partner, no Maegla-blessed bond – if such a thing could be granted to a dragon, who had her own Divine Family to honour – no Rift Riders. As kind as it was for them to feel concerned enough to come and find her, she wished they hadn’t.
There was a slight scuffle as Latinym nudged Atyrn with his wing, to which the larger female took exception and almost shoved him off the mountain in retaliation.
“Say it,” the smaller eagle hissed. “Go on. It’s your mess to clean up.”
Rhiddyl pretended not to hear them, flattening her ears against the sides of her head.
Pebbles creaked as the larger miryhl crept closer. Atyrn cleared her throat. “I… umm.”
“Go on,” Latinym urged firmly.
Atyrn shot him a dark look and cleared her throat again. “Imsorry,” she said in a rush.
Rhiddyl was so startled to hear the great bird apologise that she lifted her head too quickly and almost knocked Atyrn flying. The miryhl stumbled backwards into Latinym, who grunted at the impact.
Rhiddyl was too startled to apologise. “You’re what?”
Bruised in pride more than anything else, Atyrn stepped away from Latinym and shook out her feathers. “You heard me, although I’m not certain I still am.” She sniffed and preened her wing, trying to restore some dignity.
Rhiddyl stared at Latinym instead.
The silver-flecked eagle sighed. “She is sorry. In fact she’s very sorry that she ever implied we wouldn’t be able to find a miryhl to partner you. It was wrong of her.”
Atyrn raised her head sharply. “No, it wasn’t. It is no lie that finding the right miryhl capable of partnering a dragon is a difficult task.”
“Finding the right miryhl to partner anyone is far from easy,” Latinym reminded her. “There are many things to consider. Rhiddyl just needs a few little extras, that’s all.” He nodded sharply at Rhiddyl and her belly scales flushed pink at the approval in his gaze.
Atyrn huffed. “That’s what I meant. I didn’t mean to imply it was impossible or even nearly so. Especially when Stirla had already set Mhylla Wrentherin on the case.”
“Mhylla Wrentherin?” Rhiddyl asked, having heard many a tale about the great miryhl breeder during her time with the Riders. “Mhysra’s aunt? The greatest miryhl breeder on the Overworld?”
“Yes, her,” Atyrn agreed shortly, having been bred in the West by what many considered to be inferior breeders.
Rhiddyl blushed again. “Oh, I – I didn’t mean -”
“I know,” Latinym interrupted soothingly. “She knows it too, she’s just being extra difficult today.” He shot his fellow miryhl a dark look.
Atyrn tossed her head and sniffed again. “I am always difficult,” she announced grandly. “It is part of my immense charm.”
Rhiddyl and Latinym shared a look.
“Yes, well.” Atyrn shuffled her wings. “Regardless of all that, we did actually track you down with a purpose.”
“Other than to check you were well,” Latinym added, as if Rhiddyl might feel hurt that they’d followed her for any other reason.
She tilted her head curiously.
“We,” Atyrn pulled herself up to her full height, proud and ever so grand, “have found you a miryhl.”
“Well, Mhylla did,” Latinym added, scratching his head in such a way as to avoid the fulminating glare directed his way.
“With our help,” Atyrn half-growled, making Rhiddyl wonder if the miryhl had taken to using the royal we. “Yes, that,” Latinym agreed cheerfully, and winked at Rhiddyl. “Would you like to meet her?”
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