Dragonbound: Redemption (Book 1)

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Chapter 23

Kiaran stood in the throne room once more with Cyrin alone. “What would Ritiann say if I were to decline the crown to return to my home with the Zeil?” she asked.

His brows raised and he answered, “It is difficult to say.”

“I belong there already, and they need me more desperately than your people do,” she explained.

“You needn’t explain,” he said lowly, his voice like a song. “However, you were drawn back, Kiaran. That is an accomplishment of which only a set number of people bring about. You are gifted and we need that. Otherwise, we’d be in a bad predicament.”

“What about you?” she asked.

He was thrown by the question and he slowly replied, “What do you mean?”

“What is your position here? I am sure you are not a teacher for whoever may return.”

“No,” he agreed, “But I am not a ruler.”

“Now you understand,” she breathed. “Neither am I, but I am told I must be. I have been told I have been many things, but I have yet to give myself a name. Finally, once I say I am a Zeil, it is ripped away from me to be replaced with the name of Avestitian, and Drakeling, and Krutia. I cannot do this.”

Nodding his head, he replied, “I understand. But that is who you are.” There was a long silence between them before he finally continued. “To be completely honest with you, their intent was that we may be married and rule together.” She lowered her brows and turned her head, completely unwilling to hear anymore. “Once we saw the men you came with, we figured you had other interests and did not press any further on the subject.”

“What if I were to marry another man who was not Drakeling?”

“He would be with you here,” he replied. “We do not worry so much about blood or where someone hails from.”

She nodded slowly, interested. “You may take my place. I cannot leave my people behind. They rely on me, and I them. They have done more for me than anyone ever has in my entire life.”

“I understand,” he sighed. “Perhaps we can continue this on a later date. As of now, we must talk more of Kriettor.”

“Yes, please do.”

“Well, he is the most important of all dragons; we believe to be leading them in a way. There has only been one person to connect with this dragon. It was my great-grandfather. He was a young warrior at the time and there was a very strong, bloody war happening. There was a war against another country and Rigain was protecting him,” he explained. “However, once he was connected, his body was changed. He became more dragon-like, his eyes sharper, his ears pointed like knives. He became a legend, an unimaginable leader.”

“Are you looking for another ‘Rigain’ to protect Kriettor?” she asked.

“We believe we have found her,” he smiled a bit as he stared at her.

“Well,” she shrugged, “what next?”

“Once you are healed and have more necessary knowledge, we will visit this beast. However, I find it important that I speak with your mother on your decision.” He turned to leave, but looked to her once more, asking, “Are you thinking of marrying one of your comrades?”

“No,” she answered much too quickly.

Grinning, he replied, “It is complicated?”

“There is nothing complicated about it,” she spat.

“Not at all. It must be clear, considering you stayed with one of them the other night.” She glared at him and he added, “Someone spotted you as you left his room. If you fool around, keep it under lock and key. Many people will use this to their advantage.”

“Nothing happened,” she argued. "And I wasn't in there but for a few minutes."

“That would not be a proper response if someone questioned you about it,” he said in a jesting tone. “If you are to tell them, it’d be best to make something more convincing.”

She shook her head angrily and left.

Kiaran stood in her room, holding Alana’s sword. She ran her fingers down the cleaned scabbard. It was once a beautiful blue, but had lost much color and had been damaged badly in past battles. Kiaran’s eyes filled with tears as she held the sword tightly. Sniffing, she wiped her face with a forearm and headed out the door.

She found herself in a vast room where an artist and her friends awaited her. Torin was sitting on a stool as the artist tattooed a band around his leg. He put several marks through it, counting out eight for the eight lives he shot down. He gripped the leg of his pants as he held it out of the man’s way. His eyes landed on Kiaran as she slowly walked to them, her hands tightening on the sword.

Stella and Davin stood by him, watching the ink stain Torin’s skin, mixing with his blood. Hesitantly, Kiaran stood at Davin’s side, trying to keep her sights on the artist. Unable to fight the urge, her eyes glided to Davin’s belt where his sword hung.

Stella stood excitedly on his other side, awaiting her first set of tattoos as a Zeil. Kiaran finally faced to Davin who looked at her. Her brows lowered and she clenched her teeth tightly. She glanced at Torin quickly but finally walked aside, Davin following her.

Keeping her eyes low, she said, “I apologize.”


“You have lost many lives,” her voice choked with tears. “I seemed to have forgotten how painful it could be to lose someone. You lost Alana, and I am sorry for my insensitivity.”

He remained quiet, his expression troubled. The wind ruffled his hair, the sunlight washing over his shaven face. Running a hand over his chin, he said, “You needn’t apologize.”

“Here.” She held the sword out to him and he gazed at it. “She was family to you. You deserve her sword.” He was stunned, eyeing the weapon with misty eyes. “You worked with her for years. You’ve fought and bled with her, laughed and rejoiced...You were her closest kin. I could see it in the way she watched you.” Still, he did not take it. “Here,” she urged. She grasped his hand and placed the sheathed sword into it. “Take it, Davin.”

He took the sword and stared at it with utter depression in his eyes. His brows creased as tears formed. “She will be missed,” he swallowed his sadness away. “Thank you, Kiaran.”

She smiled weakly, touching his arm. His eyes lifted to her and she froze. “Alana had a note with her,” she said, forcing the words out. “She wishes for you to be the next king of Rishana.”

His brows lowered and he shifted a bit. “Me?” His tone didn't reflect any surprise. If anything, he had been waiting to hear it.

“Yes,” she said. “You are to rule Rishana while I battle off being the queen of this place, just so I can go home.”

“You don’t want to be queen?”

“Not really,” she shrugged. “Davin...You asked me to be at your side forever, and you do so by my own customs, but you will not be living with the Zeil or going on journeys…You are becoming a king...There is much wrong with what is going on, and I--”

“Kiaran,” he hissed, cutting her rambling short. She was obviously nervous and upset and uncomfortable. “I know.” She swallowed hard, clenching her teeth once more…so much more that her jaws ached. “Follow me.” He took her hand and they walked out the door to the side, into the fresh air. Looking her face over, he removed the feather from his pocket and tossed it. The wind carried it away and he turned and walked back inside without a word or a second glance at her.

Her heart sank into her boots as she stood alone. He seemed so angry, upset…broken. What happened?

Solemnly, she reentered the room just as it was her turn for her markings. Her eyes moved across the room, Davin nowhere in sight. Sighing, she took her place at the stool and pushed her skirt aside as he began marking her down. The single line was wrapped around her thigh with a gap to signify the break in the life cycles of those she killed. He marked through it…a mark for each death. Fifteen before she made him stop.

“That is it,” she said beneath her breath. Standing, she looked to Stella who grew nearly too excited to sit still. “She needs the mark on her cheek, one on her back, and on her heart.”

“All right now?” the man asked.

“Begin with the cheek, I suppose,” Kiaran replied as she walked away.

Kiaran and her comrades sat at a table with Ritiann and Cyrin. Andrew, also, was with them, his body still in bad condition from the battle. He was a good captain, right beneath Davin’s rank.

“We have many things that must be settled, between yourselves, and between us all,” Ritiann explained. Her eyes glided over the people, landing on Kiaran whose eyes were dark and tired. Nurra rested his head on the edge of the table as he sat in her lap, also watching Ritiann. "One of which is who should be placed in Murdock's position. Because we are helping you, we have a say in who will lead your people."

"That is a choice for Rishana, not you," Davin said lowly. They glanced at him. "For all we know, you want someone weak so you can attack again later."

Ritiann let out a warm laugh, saying, "I have no such interest. I just want to be sure it won't be a weak-minded man who will attack us again."

Torin handed Kiaran the note from Alana underneath the table. Taking a deep breath, she sat it in view and spoke, “Apparently Davin is requested to become king of Rishana once Murdock is gone.”

“I see,” she nodded slowly. “And is Davin accepting this request?” She turned to Davin who stood a few people over, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked very powerful, strong, and…yet lost. He nodded his head. Ritiann could see the ruler within him. His very stance was king-like, noble. His fearlessness in questioning her was a good point, too.

Kiaran kept her eyes on Alana’s handwriting. Her fingers pressed out the wrinkles on the paper.

Ritiann explained to everyone about the dragon called Kriettor. They were in shock, watching her intently. Davin, the only one knowing of the dragon already, was paying little attention. His eyes were glued on Kiaran’s hand as she fiddled with the message. Noticing this, Ritiann finally asked, “Is there something that one of you need to say?”

Kiaran and Davin glanced to each other and looked to her mother.

“There is something on each of your minds, and it is a distraction. You are no longer children; whatever is going on must be out in the open among us all. If you are to be rulers, you cannot hide anything or you will be known as liars.”

Her words made sense, but neither of them were willing to speak. It was rather embarrassing. Torin ran a hand over his face, sighing heavily. There was much going between them and he knew it where no one else did.

Andrew finally spoke, “It does not surprise me that Alana wishes you to be king.” They turned their attention to him and Davin. “She spoke very fondly of you, Davin. She had nothing but confidence in you.”

"I have heard tales of you, young Holloway. And from what I've gathered, you seem a wise enough boy. I think, unless we find someone more suitable, I am willing to see this happen as well," Ritiann stated. "I wish you luck, Davin. You'll be sitting on the throne soon enough."

Soon, the meeting was finally over and they exited the room. It took everything in Kiaran to keep from rushing off and attacking trees once again. Her muscles were flexing and her eyes were narrow. Torin kept close to her, Nurra sitting on her shoulder, his tail wrapped around her neck loosely. Wherever she walked, he walked with her. Everyone went their own way pose for Kiaran and Torin. Making their way outside into the marketplace, they walked quickly.

“How dare he,” she kept her voice low but harsh, “Why would he ask me of such a thing?” He remained silent to allow her to vent, to get the anger and new feelings out. “I cannot be some little wife, taking care of him hand and foot, having children, cooking--It is not my nature. He was aware of this, and then just to throw the feather to the wind as if it were nothing. He is toying with my emotions.”

He was surprised...Davin had tossed the feather? He eyed her for a short moment. “Had you never given that sort of life any thought?” he asked, trying to keep his voice calming.

“It is not worth the thought. It is not in my heart,” she said coldly.

“I don’t know about that...why else would it bother you so much?” She glared at him. “I remember not long ago, you wanted me to keep something in mind.” Their pace slowed slightly. “Kiaran, you wanted me to remember that you are a woman…that you still have a heart, no matter how deep inside of you it is. I cannot let you scare yourself away from something that could be good for you.”

Her eyes were stuck on him, fixated in his words. She had nothing to reply with, but her face was enough for him to understand. She swallowed hard and finally said, “Things are already different from when he first...suggested it. So many choices to make, it is killing me, Torin. What am I to do?”

His eyes lowered and he shrugged his shoulders. “Whatever you choose, I support it and will be at your side always,” he answered.

Patting his arm, she softly said, “That is just it. I am tired of making the decisions. I do not want to lead anyone, I never asked of this. Please, Torin, just tell me what I must do.”

He sighed heavily and finally found a reply, “Whatever decision you make will be a good one. There is no right or wrong answer to this.”

There was a long pause, before she asked, “What do you believe should be done?”

There was so much confliction in his heart. Persuade her to stay with the Zeil and possibly fall for him, or he could help her make the right choice for her own heart…But she has blood family in Avestitia. This is where she certainly, truly belongs.

“If it is this difficult for you to choose, then it must be obvious,” he finally sighed. “If you did not love Davin, you’d forget all about this option. But here, Kiaran, you have family, this is where you are to be, Kriettor drew you in…and for a reason, no doubt.”

Her brows creased and she was fumbling for a response once again. She understood what he was talking about, even though she still knew not what her heart needed. She touched her fingertips to Nurra’s nose and he trilled gently. She felt his sense overwhelming her that she needn’t worry. Take care of what today needs, and once it passes, her chance to decide will come eventually…But not now, it is important to focus on Kriettor and Murdock.

"Kiaran. As much as you don't want it...I believe you belong here," he said quietly. She inhaled deeply, looking to the people around.

The streets of the village were quiet as Kiaran and Cyrin walked through. He was showing her the few villages just outside of Vintar, their city. The people would hush their voices and watch as their future queen strode past. She kept her eyes straight, her chin angled gracefully and powerfully, in a classy manner. It was appealing to see the two together--it truly looked as though they belonged together. They complemented one another well. However, her scars gave her a more intense look, something that Cyrin couldn’t match very well.

It was amazing to be outside of the palace walls, seeing the country she was born in. Even the small villages were in good condition, the people respectful and clean. “You have nearly no poverty,” she said in astonishment.

“There is poverty, Kiaran,” he corrected. “But they are good people and are treated as thus. We do not look at others as rich or poor, but as people.”

There was a farmer in the marketplace, taking a cart off his horse. It was a very weak looking creature, dying on the spot. The man was near panic as he tried to keep it standing, cursing beneath his breath. The apples and carrots on his cart spilled into the street, rolling ahead of Kiaran’s feet. The man fell to his knees as his horse fell. He buried his face in his hands, attempting to keep his cursing under control. She watched him, her blood washed with empathy.

Bending over, she picked up as many apples as she could carry. Taking them to him, she piled them into an empty basket near him. She sat on her knees beside him and sat the basket ahead of herself. She leaned forward and hesitantly touched his shoulder. The people in the markets watched, their voices falling away in the wind. The man looked to her, his face covered by his graying beard. His silver eyes were burning into hers, his brows lifting once he noticed who she was.

“L-Lady,” he dipped his head, “What do you need?”

“I was just hoping to help you,” she replied softly. “What can we do for you?”

He looked over his shoulder at Cyrin who observed closely. “Perhaps return to my barn and fetch me my other horse?” he asked lowly. “Oh, I cannot ask the princess of that,” he moaned, bowing his head and hiding his face in his hands. “I apologize--”

“We will do this,” she nodded.

“Oh, my Lady, you shouldn’t,” he shook his head.

“Allow me to help. I am able,” she shrugged.

He told her where he lived and he touched his hands to her feet as she stood. He thanked her over and over, saying, “Lady Kiaran, I thank you, I thank you, Lady.”

Meeting back with Cyrin, she walked on with him close to her side. “That has certainly grasped the attention of the village folk,” he said. “If any of them had doubts about your ruling, they will now be at ease with you.”

“I am not so sure I will be leading, however,” she replied. But with each hour, she felt more certain that this was her place.

They were making their way up the dirt road between two vast forests, dense mostly with evergreens. Nurra watched the branches above him.

“No matter,” he sighed, “Whatever you choose, you must talk to Ritiann, not me.”

It was growing late already, the sun falling close to the horizon. The trees were covered in green needles, filling the air with their sweet scent. “This place is remarkable,” she said.

“Aye, it is, Kiaran,” he nodded. “I have yet to see anything like it.”

Her heart sank slightly as she wondered how Alana might enjoy such beauty. Her eyes slowly lowered to the dirt beneath their feet. Her brows creased further as her mind wondered back to Grace. Wiping a hand over her face to clear her thoughts, she sighed sharply.

His voice was hesitant, but he asked, “May I ask...what happened in your time away from Avestitia?”

Her teeth were stuck together, unable to open her mouth to reply. There were no eyes like his that could cut into her so easily. Softly, she parted her lips and said, “It is nothing to dread on, I suppose.”

“How so?”

“I am who I am because of what I’ve endured,” her words were strong. “Ritiann is right…even if I hate myself half the time, I am who I am.”

“Why would you hate yourself?” he questioned.

Growing puzzled, she watched him momentarily, as if it should be obvious. She answered slowly, “I am cold hearted. I do not behave like a woman, but a soldier. There are things I should not have said or done--”

“You really must learn not to dwell on such things. Everyone does something from stupidity or irrationality. It is in us as humans. We are imperfect.”

She smiled at him, feeling somewhat comfortable. He seemed…wise. His teeth shined valiantly as he returned the smile. Nurra grew edgy as he paced on her shoulders. “Go,” Kiaran breathed. He leapt away and climbed up the trees, disappearing in the web of branches.

“How long have you known your dragon?” Cyrin asked.

“A few weeks,” she replied. “Does everyone have a dragon?”

“No,” he shook his head, “Not all Avestitians are Drakelings. It is said that only those who share blood with dragons are to be in the palace. You cannot rule unless you can bond with a dragon. And to do so, you must be a Drakeling…One of dragon's blood.”

“Do you have a dragon?” she questioned.

“No,” he answered slowly. “That is why I cannot lead this country on my own. If I were to, I must first be married to a Drakeling or have a dragon of my own.”

“Why is it that so many places must have so many rules?” she muttered.

“If there was no order, imagine these villages. They’d be left in the dark, would they not? There would be so much chaos in our land without certain rules.”

“I suppose,” she shrugged a shoulder as her eyes moved to his faultless face. At eye contact, he smiled kindly, harmoniously. It warmed her insides as his smile caught the light. Her gaze slinked down to his chest where metal clasped fur onto his red and black shirt. The fur wrapped across his chest and stretched down to his belt where little metal rings kept it in place. He was a beautiful man, and the clothing fit him well.

The sky was now very dark, the moon shining brightly with small clouds strung across the sky, highlighted in white. Not too far down the road stood a tall farm house. Behind it were the two barns the man had described to them.

Cutting through the grass that licked at their knees, they made their way to the second barn where the horses’ stables were. The windows of the first barn were illuminated slightly and there were sounds within it. They slowed as they walked passed it.

Sounds of deep rumbling--almost breathing--came from within the walls. Heavy chains were rattling and there was a thud, as if something very heavy fell to the floor. A soft, but very deep trilling filled the air, vibrating their bodies.

Their eyes moved to one another and they both had the very same thing in mind. Moving quickly, they tried to open the door, but it was unmoved. Kiaran moved her hand to her belt, forgetting she was without any weapons. Before she could say anything, Cyrin had already swiped his blade between the two doors and moved it up, unlocking the latch on the inside.

Pulling open the doors, they were appalled by what they found. A rather large dragon was chained to pillars and the floor. Its head rested on the dirt, its purple eyes gazing into Kiaran’s like a pool of helplessness. Every scale across its body was black and shined brilliantly. A few were scuffed up from excessive cleansing. Kiaran rushed to it, falling to her knees she slid slightly as she moved to a clasp on the floor. Her hands grasped it tightly, but were unable to move it.

Cyrin stood still, engulfed by the magnificent creature ahead of him. Kiaran looked over her shoulder and shouted for his attention, but he was lost.

Her gaze moved passed him to a tall, skinny boy, a bucket of fresh meat in each hand. She stood quickly as he raced in, shoving Cyrin aside. The man grasped a hatchet that hung on the wall not far from him. Drawing his sword, Cyrin stood ahead of Kiaran as if to protect her and the dragon. She did not need protection…

The man seemed insane, lunging freely and knocking the blade from Cyrin’s hand. He hacked at him, merely nicking his arm. Cyrin moved backwards quickly, trying to miss the next blow. He tripped over some debris, slamming to the ground. The boy raised his weapon into the air, and Cyrin kicked his knee inward. As it snapped backward, he fell to the ground, howling as he grasped his leg.

“Why must you be here?” he yowled between whimpers.

“It does not matter,” Kiaran barked. “What matters here, is the fact that you have this beast tied up as if it were a rabid dog.”

“I am protecting it,” he said, his eyes wide and irritated much like a nervous squirrel.

“From what? This dragon is capable of protecting itself,” she spat. “You are killing it.”

“You should leave,” he threatened. His eyes were on her as his fingers felt around for the hatchet once more.

“Not before you give this creature what it really must have. If you cannot bond with it, it does not belong to you. These things are friends, allies, not pets or ornaments.” Her fists tightened slightly as she stepped forward, taking all attention onto herself as Cyrin slinked away, grasping his wound tightly. “You cannot do this. If you are Drakeling, it will come to you. You have a dragon out there, but this one is not for you.”

He forced himself to stand, the hatchet in his hand once more. She could see the mind of this young man was rather mad. His thought process was…off kilter.

Taking another step toward her, he lunged, swinging the hatchet awkwardly. She blocked him by slamming her hand into his wrist, sending the hatchet flying. Taking hold of that wrist, she twisted his arm in midair. Grasping his other wrist, she pressed a foot to his chest and he crashed to the floor. She still held his wrists as she kept one foot on his chest, pinning him to the dirt. He wriggled, trying to free himself, but to no avail.

“Listen to me,” she growled. “You are not fit for this creature. If you do not let it go, I will see to it myself that you do.” Her voice was much harsher. She was not so pleasing once attacked.

Pulling him up, she kept one hand on his shoulder as she shoved him into the darkness. “Get out of here,” she howled. He tried to run, his wounded leg dragging behind him. Kiaran turned around, fuming. She looked over the area and she found a weak clasp in the ceiling. Cyrin walked to her, following her gaze. Gesturing toward it, she sighed, “How can we reach it?”

“I shall hold you up,” he suggested. “You cannot weigh so much.”

“And what of your wound?” she asked.

“It is not so bad,” he shrugged.

She snickered as she rolled her eyes. Placing her hands flat on the pillar, she put one foot on Cyrin’s shoulder. He held her foot as he slowly raised her up. As he lifted her, she thrust herself up, using the wood to pull herself. Reaching out, she grasped the metal hook and brought all of her weight down at once. The metal fell from the ceiling, the heavy chains crashing with her. She fell with Cyrin, landing on his leg and stomach. He grunted and she rolled over, sitting on her knees.

“Excuse me,” she chuckled.

“Aye, excuse me, Lady,” he laughed as he stood and dusted himself off.

The dragon stood, flexing its wings timidly. Small white spots dotted its belly like the night sky. Gently, it moved its graceful, narrow face toward Kiaran’s, touching its nose to her chest. Thanks and gratitude washed over her like warm water. Her eyes closed as her hands moved to the sides of the dragon’s face, touching the smooth scales.

Ruthianna…Beauty of the world. Sights of the most stunning scenery. “Ruthianna,” she breathed as she brought her fingertips to the small horns just above her eyes. Looking at her, she smiled. Before ever reaching the tribe, she remembered seeing something glide through the sky…Ruthianna’s belly matched the night sky beautifully. The dragon blinked, washing her with affirmation. She was what had flown over her in Rishana.

Cyrin stood nearby, watching them in awe. Stepping back slightly, Kiaran looked to him. “I have never witnessed a joining before,” he said lowly.

“She is my third dragon now,” she admitted.

“Third?” he nearly spat.

Laughing, she nodded her head. “Kita is a dragon of compassion and healing. She healed my eye,” she pointed to the deep scarring. “That dragon was a Great Snake in the desert of Rishana.”

She could see disappointment and astonishment in his eyes. Biting at her bottom lip, she looked aside, watching Ruthianna momentarily. “You are sure to find your dragon, Cyrin,” she said softly.

“No…I believe my grandfather had drained all the dragon blood from our family when he met with Kriettor,” he nearly laughed.

“I am not so sure,” she replied. “Come,” she held a hand out, gesturing for him.

Hesitantly, he walked to her. She stepped aside as the dragon looked him over. Her violet eyes looked into his and instantly, there was a connection. She touched her nose to his chest and Kiaran smiled. After a few minutes, he gasped as they parted. His eyes widened and he looked to Kiaran quickly. “Ruthianna," he gaped eccentrically.

“Yes,” she nodded.

They made their way to the second barn to retrieve a horse. Finding one, Kiaran mounted it as she watched Cyrin mount his new companion. “Are you not connected to your dragons that you ride into battle?”

“Not usually,” he shook his head. “They are all connected to someone, but that does not mean it is their rider. That would make our number of soldiers very low.”

“This is completely new to you,” she breathed. She was excited to see him becoming attached to a dragon. It was something amazing to feel, and something amazing to see, as well.

“And off we go,” he gleamed.

“Aye,” she nodded.

The horse raced down the road, the dragon soaring just above her. She looked up, a smile stretched across her face. As it flew over her, its belly blended in with the starry sky.

It did not take long before they reached the town square, where lamps lit the streets. Nearly everyone was closed up and off to bed while the man waited, shivering beneath his layers of clothes. The horse trotted to him and Kiaran leaped off. He stood quickly and her attitude changed drastically.

“I’ll have you know that you shall never keep a dragon in custody like that boy did. Was it your son?” she asked.

His brows sunk low as his face filled with sorrow. “Gerrock? My lady, I am sorry. My son is not in his right mind, and I hope that he will be healed one day...”

“Enabling him to keep a dragon is not the way to go about it,” she said sternly. “Perhaps, once I am done with my mission, I will take him to a dragon who can help.”

“Oh, Lady,” he fell to her feet. “That would be much appreciated.”

“Stand up,” she sighed. “Keep your wits about him for he has none of his own.”

“Aye, ma’am, aye,” he nodded.

Turning around, she headed back up the road where Cyrin and his dragon awaited her. Ruthianna’s wings fluttered softly as the moon flowed over her like grace. Holding a hand out, Cyrin silently invited her onto the back of the dragon. A smile curled the corners of her lips and she grasped his wrist, pulling herself up. Sitting behind him, she tightly held the sides of his coat.

Just before Ruthianna took flight, Nurra raced from the trees. “Nurra,” Kiaran laughed. “Come join us. See flight once more.”

He climbed up the dragon and perched on Kiaran’s shoulder. She pulled her fur hood up, keeping Nurra safe within it from the strong winds. Ruthianna’s wings slammed toward the ground, thrusting them into the sky.

She was as quick as the strongest gusts of wind. The air grew frigid, their hair frosting over. The sky at the horizon all about them was a light pink shade, gold lining the curvature of the earth. It was breathtaking. Nothing could have been so beautiful, so…perfect.

Cyrin looked over his shoulder, admiring the love in Kiaran’s eyes. She glanced to him and he smiled at her. Smiling back, she laughed. Nurra snaked his head out of her hood, following her gaze to the world around them.

“Beauty of the world,” Kiaran whispered, “Suiting…”

Suddenly a thought struck her and she whipped her head to Cyrin. “Can we make a stop somewhere?” she asked, her voice loud as to be heard over the wind.

“Perhaps,” he half-smiled.

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