Flying lesson fun.
(Unless you’re Vhen, I don’t think it’s ever fun for him. Cereyn on the other hand…)Continue reading “Misfits of Aquila: Chapter 26, Part 3”
Flying lesson fun.
(Unless you’re Vhen, I don’t think it’s ever fun for him. Cereyn on the other hand…)Continue reading “Misfits of Aquila: Chapter 26, Part 3”
Quality time with miryhls.Continue reading “Misfits of Aquila: Chapter 24, Part 1”
Of fools and old friends.Continue reading “Misfits of Aquila: Chapter 22, Part 2”
~ Previous Chapter ~
Sorry this is a wee bit late, I’ve been out enjoying the spring sunshine (not so much the wind, but it wouldn’t be Dartmoor without a brisk breeze).
Anyway… Derry to the rescue!
This deleted scene was taken out of what is now Chapter 12 of Wingborn, where Mhysra and Cumulo are flying over the Cloud Sea. In the book they spot a strange ship approaching Nimbys, which leads to meeting Captain Torven, who is something of a charmer, but originally they meet someone else first.
Hurricane – and not in a friendly way.
I removed this because a friend pointed out (quite rightly) that Cue was unlikely to risk Mhysra in such a way. Plus it didn’t really fit Hurricane either – and would have made things tricky between him and Cue going forward. So I removed it. But I still like the feral approach, which is why I’m sharing it now.
If you’d like to see a more canon version of Cue and Cane’s first meeting, Facing the Hurricane is a short story that deals with just that.
CUMULO TUCKED HIS wings in and dropped several feet, before catching them again – an airborne sigh. “You think too much,” he said, his voice a reassuring vibration against her.
“I was only asking,” she grumbled. “A fair question, after what you said.”
He clucked reproachfully. “I was joking. Since you started training you’ve lost all sense of humour. Not that you had much to begin with.”
She smiled into his feathers, loving the clean smell of him touched with a sweet hint of dust. “Did it ever occur to you that you’re just not funny?”
“Of course not. The fault has always been yours.”
“But even without a true appreciation for my genius, I’d rather have you than anyone. I can’t imagine a better flight partner. You’re my Wingborn. Even though I can’t live without you, I neither wish to, nor can imagine trying. I’m yours as you are mine. If I made disparaging remarks about the Choice it’s because I pity the arriving miryhls. They’ll never have what we do, nor comprehend what they’re missing. You are like flight to me.”
Stunned to hear such words from her proud and often irreverent Wingborn, Mhysra couldn’t speak. Instead she reached forward as far as she could and hugged him tightly. Tears stung her eyes, from the cold and the wind as well as emotion, and she buried her face in his feathers.
“Are you crying?” he rumbled. “You’d better not be crying. Your nose always runs when you cry and it ruins my feathers. I am not a handkerchief.”
Chuckling, she sat up and wiped her face. “I’m not crying.”
“Good. It would damage my reputation should anyone catch you being so unashamedly girlish. There is no room for maudlin sentiment in the Riders.”
“Yes, sir,” she chirped, saluting cheekily.
“Are you mocking me, student?” he growled, in an accurate impersonation of Sergeant Rees.
“Because if you were, student, I would have to take severe action.”
“I would never dare mock you, most gracious and brilliant sir.”
“Good. I should hate, for example, to have to do this!” His wings tucked in tight, clamping her legs against his sides as they plummeted into freefall. Had Mhysra been a little less familiar with her miryhl it would have been terrifying, especially when the world turned on its side and the clouds rushed up to meet them, but after years of flying together she knew him almost as well as she knew herself. Which was why when she felt his wings twitch, she gripped his neck feathers, tightened her thighs and held on.
She still screamed, though, when Cumulo began to spin. Her heart thundered, her lungs ceased to work and her eyes closed. The wind roared in her ears, slapping her face and pulling at her hair as it raced over them, and they tumbled down and around. With a final roll, Cumulo righted himself, swooping across the clouds and scattered rocks below.
Mhysra laughed breathlessly, her face buried against his neck. “You’ll kill me one day.”
He didn’t answer. A new tension tightened through him and he powered upwards with heavy beats of his wings, lifting them higher with each down draft.
Surprised, Mhysra opened her eyes and sat up. “Cumulo, what -?”
“Keep down,” he snapped, dropping sharply and rising again, jolting her firmly against him.
Winded and confused, she obeyed, while scanning the skies for the threat. She’d never known him act in such a way. It was completely out of character, not least because this way of flying usually took too much effort for his more indolent nature. She remembered the kaz-naghkt attack that had occurred just a few months ago, and her heart skipped a beat.
Then she saw it. A miryhl, unencumbered by rider or harness, heading towards Nimbys with easy flaps of its enormous wings. And Cumulo was headed straight for it.
“Stop!” she shouted. “Are you mad? What do you think you’re doing? Cumulo!”
Ignoring her protests, Cumulo shrieked a challenge at the unfamiliar bird, labouring to get higher and achieve superiority in the air.
“Cumulo, leave be!”
“You’re mine,” he growled. “I won’t let him take you.”
“He doesn’t want me,” she snapped, while the newcomer swooped around, circling to gain height. He showed no signs of attacking, but was clearly prepared to defend. Not that Mhysra felt comforted, especially when she took in his size. He was easily as big as Cumulo, and more. Older too, with fully developed flight and fight muscles.
Seeing this strange male in all his unrestrained glory reminded her how young her Wingborn was. By rights he shouldn’t have a Rider yet, and it was only through virtue of their bond that he had developed as quickly as he had. He wasn’t even fully grown.
“Cumulo,” she begged as the two males circled warily, both trying to gain height. “Cumulo, please.”
Ignoring her, Cumulo allowed the other male to go higher, then swept underneath, turning on his back, talons extended in a swipe.
“No!” Almost unseated by the unprecedented move, for the first time ever Mhysra hauled on the reins. Unlike a horsat or pyrefly bridle, the miryhl head collar had no bit and was designed for directional purposes rather than control. But if Cumulo’s attack had been unanticipated, Mhysra’s reaction was even more so. Jerked unexpectedly to the left, he missed his swipe and was forced to roll over or drop completely.
Enraged, he snapped at her over one shoulder, but when he tried to lunge at the other miryhl again, she pulled to the right.
“Stop it, Cumulo!” she yelled, desperate to be heard over his defiant screams. “Stop!”
Shaking his head, he swooped around for another go, but the male was gone. Mhysra spotted him first, flying like the wind away from Nimbys, and she was grateful for it. Such a large male would have been perfectly within his rights to fight back. It was rare for bonded miryhls to fight, taking their rank from their Rider or their own natural dominance, but an unbonded miryhl was still subject to the instincts of its wild cousins, and miryhls were a territorial breed. With the added restrictions of his harness and the weight of a Rider, Cumulo would have been at a disadvantage and could have gotten both himself and Mhysra killed.
“Maegla be thanked for smart birds,” she muttered, praying the other miryhl would keep flying at such a pace, since Cumulo was determined to follow. She considered trying to stop him again, but when she tightened her hands on the reins, he lowered his head and growled, the sound vibrating through his body.
“As you wish,” she grumbled, relaxing her fingers. He was tiring already, since the pace was not what he was used to, and he wouldn’t be able to keep it up much longer. Endurance was something that came with age, experience and regular exercise. At first they closed the distance to the stranger, but gradually as they flew on, Cumulo began to slow and drop back. Growling with frustration, he took long glides between each sequence of wing beats, while the other male continued to power away.
“That’s enough, Cue,” she advised in a low murmur. “You’ve driven him off.”
He shook his head, but was slower than ever and beginning to pant. Mhysra was concerned they wouldn’t make it back to Nimbys, and would have to find a place to rest. It was just typical that the stranger had been flying out over the Cloud Sea, where there wasn’t any civilisation for thousands of miles.
Cumulo sagged beneath her, the fight going out of him, and she gripped him in panic. “Cue?” she called frantically. “Are you well?”
Huffing, he tilted his wings and swooped in a wide circle until they were facing Nimbys again, far in the distance. He barely flapped as they drifted back home, though his heart still raced beneath her. “Sorry,” he muttered, clearly reluctant. “Thought he was feral.”
Mhysra bit her lip to keep from pointing out that of the two miryhls, he was the one who had behaved wildly, harnessed or not. “There are no feral miryhls now, Cue. You know that.”
“He took me by surprise. Couldn’t risk it.”
She growled. “You’re lucky he left. He was bigger than you, you idiot. You could have killed us both!”
Cumulo said nothing, just gave a surly flap of his wings and landed on a small outcrop, barely visible over the Cloud Sea. “But I didn’t.”
Knowing better than to argue, she kicked free of her stirrups and slid from her saddle, making her displeasure known by turning her back to him.
“Don’t be angry with me,” he crooned, lifting her braid and running it through his beak. “Chickling, don’t be cross.” He rubbed his head against her back and, when she started shivering, hooked his beak over her shoulder and drew her under his wing. “Sorry.”
Sighing, she snuggled against him, grateful that his feathers kept out the worst of the chill. The winds were strong down here, tricky and cunning, finding their way through clothes and feathers alike.
“Mhysra,” he purred, sticking his head under his wing. “Don’t be angry with me.”
“I should be furious,” she grumbled, and he huffed with amusement, sensing he’d won. She shoved him away. “Don’t do it again, Cue. I won’t have you fighting. Feral or no. Never provoke another miryhl like that. Especially not when Riders are involved. It’s too dangerous, to the Riders and yourselves. We’ll have more than enough fighting to do without you making things worse.”
“But you’re mine,” he rumbled. “I will fight to keep you.”
“You won’t,” she snapped. “You know I’d never leave you. I’m not some fickle mate, flitting off with a male who has glossier feathers. I’m your Wingborn. We’re tied together for life. No one can break that.”
Still rumbling, he preened her hair and repeated, “You’re mine.”
Defeated, Mhysra resigned herself to his possessiveness. He was still young, and barely approaching maturity. She hoped he grew some wisdom soon, or they would both be in trouble when they reached Aquila. If they reached Aquila. She still didn’t know what her parents would say when they found out what she’d been doing with her time in the city.
Pushing free of both her thoughts and Cumulo, she tucked her freshly preened hair behind her ears and looked around, wondering how far from Nimbys they were, and whether Cumulo was fit enough to take them back. She didn’t even want to consider what they would do should he prove unable.
Thanks for reading!
Taking place between Chapter 12 and 13 of Wingborn, this is a brief glimpse into eyrie life – and how Cumulo and Hurricane felt on first encountering each other.
Part One was Cumulo’s take on things, now it’s Hurricane’s turn to meet the Wingborn.
BREEZE STRUTTED THROUGH the eyries, confident without arrogance. She didn’t need to preen and fuss or puff herself up to show everyone how important she was. All she had to do was walk and the rest moved aside.
Hurricane tilted his head and watched her move. There was nothing exceptional about her feathers or form, but an invisible mantle surrounded her anyway. Maegla, he wanted to be Breeze when he grew up.
Skipping a few paces to catch up, he followed Breeze down the main aisle to a back corner, aware of the whispers rustling in his wake. He kept his head high, though, and tried not to listen too closely to the words. What few he couldn’t help but overhear sounded curious and complimentary rather than cruel, but he shook them off anyway. A swollen head would be just as damaging as a crushed spirit in the long run.
“Here.” Breeze paused before an impressive looking group, containing two of the largest and shiniest miryhls Hurricane had ever seen.
One was a female who was even bigger than himself. She was pure bronze, with black-edged wings and deep brown eyes that assed him carefully before she shuffled her enormous wings against her back.
“Lyrai’s bonded?” she rumbled, her voice deep and soothing.
Swallowing hard, Hurricane nodded, suddenly feeling his youth and inexperience compared to these birds. The other miryhls he’d met so far had been as young and foolish as himself, but these were Rift Riders, real Riders, with years of partnership beneath their wings. Hurricane had never even carried a human on his back before, only dummies filled with sand.
“I’m Atyrn, Lieutenant Stirla’s bonded.” She leant forward and tapped her golden beak against his. “Welcome to Nimbys. We’ll be seeing rather a lot of each other.”
Hurricane crackled his beak and felt the tiny feathers below his eyes rise with embarrassment. Beak taps were nothing, just a casual mark of affection and friendship. But Atyrn was a lieutenant’s bonded. She’d beak tapped him! He scratched at the floor with his talons and muttered something incomprehensible, suddenly shy in the big female’s presence. She’d been with her lieutenant for years already and now he was her equal.
Breeze huffed softly and Atyrn gave a low chuckle.
“And this is Cumulo,” his fellow lieutenant miryhl said, drawing Hurricane’s attention back up from the floor. “He’s even younger than you but, as you can see, just as overgrown.”
Hurricane stared at the glossy brown miryhl, whose feathers perfectly matched the ripe conkers of autumn, and tilted his head. Though just a fraction smaller than himself, this Cumulo was broader in the chest and much more muscular in the wings. Gold shimmered across those same wings as he shuffled them beneath Hurricane’s assessing gaze.
How could this miryhl be younger than himself? Hurricane wasn’t yet twenty years old and had learnt from others on the Thorncrest that he was considered rather young for a male headed to the Choice.
Cumulo straightened up, raising his head as high as it could go, bringing them eye to eye. “I am Wingborn,” he announced defiantly.
Hurricane blinked. Wingborn? He’d heard the stories and rumours and deemed them nonsense. Such a thing could never exist, and even if it did, it couldn’t be anything like as amazing as the legends made them sound.
He studied Cumulo again, seeing how fit and shiny the young male was, and how he already fit alongside the other miryhls, making Hurricane feel weak and skinny by comparison.
He stared his fellow youngster in the eye, reading an uncertainty there that matched his own. A Wingborn was surely as much of a curiosity as a marble miryhl, and likely just as big a target for jealousy as a freshly matched lieutenant’s bonded. They were both new to this life, both strangers in an eyrie full of old acquaintances.
Hurricane relaxed. “Well met, Cumulo,” he greeted, wondering if he dared beak tap his newest friend.
Cumulo bristled a little, drawing back at the slightest forward movement on Hurricane’s part.
Ah, no beak tap then. Maybe later.
Finding himself the focus of both Breeze and Atyrn – not to mention many others in the eyrie – Cumulo huffed. “Well met, Hurricane,” he growled begrudgingly, his golden eyes glowering resentfully at the newest member of the eyries.
Not two days ago, Hurricane would have backed away from such potential hostility, taking himself off to find friends elsewhere. Not this time. He was a lieutenant’s bonded now, he belonged in this eyrie.
Besides, despite their short acquaintance, it was obvious that Cumulo was young and prideful: Hurricane’s arrival had tweaked his tail out of alignment. It would be up to him to reassure the younger male that he was still special and important. It would be a lieutenantly thing to do.
Under the amused gazes of Breeze and Atyrn, Hurricane sidled his way through the group of smaller birds until he was beside Cumulo. Settling down close – but not too close – to the other miryhl, he tilted his head towards him and said, “I’ve never met a Wingborn before.”
Cumulo eyed him suspiciously. “Of course not. We’ve never met before.”
Breeze turned away with an unconvincing sneeze, while Atyrn suddenly developed a fascination for her talons.
Hurricane kept his own laugh inside his chest, letting it warm him as he shifted a little closer to his new friend. “Tell me, is it every bit as good as the stories?” he asked, allowing a bit of his natural scepticism into his tone to temper the sense of awe.
Cumulo narrowed his eyes. “It’s better,” he said shortly. “Flying with Mhysra is everything to me. As I’m sure you’ll find out once you finally carry Lyrai on your back.”
A prickle of possessiveness rippled down Hurricane’s spine at the casual use of his bonded’s name. Of course every miryhl in this eyrie knew his Lyrai better than he did. He would still be the only one to fly with him, though.
Watching him carefully, Cumulo crackled his beak smugly, having evidently noticed the effect his words had had. “Sixteen years we’ve been together, my Mhysra and I. Our partnership is perfect.”
Hurricane sighed wistfully, unable to imagine spending so long with any one human. Lyrai already felt like his and they’d barely met. “I can’t wait.”
Cumulo studied him carefully for a long moment. Then he slowly, cautiously, spread his wing enough to nudge against Hurricane’s. “So…” he began gruffly. “Lyrai, eh? How did that happen? The Choice isn’t until tomorrow. Wanted to stand out and be different, did you?”
It was Hurricane’s turn to feel smug, though he knew better than to let it show. He’d make a friend out of this eagle yet. “With a Wingborn in this eyrie? I haven’t a chance.”
Which was evidently the perfect thing to say as Cumulo’s back straightened once more, his golden eyes glinting with pride. “True,” he acknowledged, a faint chuckle in his tone. “But you make an impressive second. I can just imagine what you and Lyrai will look like at sunrise. Him all golden, you all… whatever you are.”
For the first time since leaving home, Hurricane chuckled at a comment upon his looks. Was it possible that Cumulo was a little jealous of his marble feathers? Well, Hurricane was more than a little jealous of Cumulo’s long partnership with his Wingborn and his prior knowledge of Lyrai, so they were even. “I think I’m going to like it here,” he announced.
Cumulo scoffed with amusement. “Wait until you meet the students first,” he advised. “You may wish to change your mind.”
“Never,” Hurricane said, feeling the truth of it down to his bones. This was where he was meant to be, with these miryhls, with these Riders. Here was home.
Atyrn leant forward and beak tapped him again. “Good.”
Hurricane ruffled his feathers with pleasure, even as Cumulo huffed beside him.
Atyrn beak tapped him too. “Behave, Cue,” she ordered.
He sniffed and tilted his head pointedly away from both her and Hurricane, towards where the rest of the group of miryhls had been watching them with amusement. “Where was I?” he announced loudly.
A small, black male ruffled his feathers and piped up eagerly, “Somewhere up a mountainside facing off against a raging wild bullwing bull, who was about to charge you down and eviscerate you and your Wingborn.”
Hurricane jerked his head back and caught Atyrn’s eye. “But -” he began, until Atyrn’s wink silenced him. Maybe things were different in the north and they had wild bullwings here. In South Imercian, though, they were far too valuable to be allowed to escape – and they’d never charge down a miryhl without having been challenged first.
Ignoring any hint of an interruption, Cumulo puffed up his chest importantly. “Thank you, Kerron, I remember now. So there we were, my Wingborn and I, facing down certain death…”
As the young miryhl settled into his grandiose tale of bravery and danger, Hurricane nestled beside him and let his mind drift. It had been rather a long day, almost as exciting as Cumulo’s tale was turning out to be.
Amused, Hurricane fluffed up his feathers, humming with contentment as Atyrn roosted beside him. Two lieutenant miryhls together in the Rift Rider eyrie, right where Hurricane belonged. It certainly wasn’t where he’d expected to end his day when he’d woken up that morning, but he wasn’t about to complain.
Especially not when Cumulo finally finished his tail and huddled alongside him. A Wingborn on one side, a lieutenant miryhl on the other: Hurricane had definitely gone up in the world.
“Welcome to Nimbys,” Cumulo muttered, now that most of the eyrie was asleep and few would hear him.
Hurricane heard, though, and sleepily reached over to tap his beak against the younger miryhl’s. “Good to meet you too, friend.”
Huffing, Cumulo hunched down and rumbled a low growl in his chest. “I barely know you, stranger,” he grumbled.
Hurricane just chuckled and pressed his wing against the Wingborn. He might not have won Cumulo over completely just yet, but they’d get there. Friendship was inevitable. Hurricane would make certain of it.
PERCHED AT THE top of the eyries, Breeze looked down over her sleeping flight and nodded with satisfaction. Lyrai was mounted again and young Cumulo had a real challenger in Hurricane. Their friendship and rivalry would settle them both down, helping them to find their rightful places in the Riders.
All was good.
Closing her eyes, Breeze settled down to sleep, confident that all had gone well for another day. She couldn’t wait to tell her Myran all about it in the morning.
Thanks for reading!