Just bow and be polite, the boy told himself over and over again as he walked down the path that led to the valley floor below. Just bow and be polite.
The king’s party was only minutes away from landing, and Myka couldn’t stop himself from trembling as he anxiously awaited their arrival. Bylanth was constantly whispering little reassurances into the small boy’s mind as he walked next to Cadyn. The older teen kept his hand on Myka’s shoulder to steady the boy as they made the descent to the bottom of the cliff.
Bow and be polite.
Myka could feel his legs trembling by the time he made it to the bottom of the path, and the boy was grateful that his dragon was waiting for him so he could lean against the head that was nearly as big as he was. Bylanth’s skin was warm to the touch, and Myka couldn’t stop himself from pressing more of his body against the dragon. Myka hated being cold, and the clothes he was wearing did little to dampen the wind blowing through the valley. The heavy boots he wore, though, were lined with thick furthat kept his toes warm from the elements.
‘Are you ready for this, Bylanth?’ Myka asked his dragon without looking away from the group that was circling to land. Bylanth huffed with laughter. Myka patted his friend gently on the snout as he giggled. ‘I’m scared.’
‘What if they don’t like me, Bylanth?’
‘Just bow and be polite, Myka, and everything will be fine,’ Bylanth reassured the small boy. ‘His dragon has assured me that he does not bite.’
‘Do not be afraid, Myka,’ Bylanth told him. ‘You have nothing to be afraid of.’
‘That’s easy for you to say, Bylanth,’ the boy retorted. ‘You can easily just bite him in half.’
‘Exactly,’ Bylanth responded with a snap of his teeth. Myka flinched slightly from the sound of the dragon’s teeth crunching together.
‘I get your point,’ Myka said with a shiver.
‘It’s about time, Myka,’ the dragon said as Laryth backwinded just before his feet touched the ground.
Myka watched in awe at the sight of the dragon’s graceful landing, and he couldn’t help but smile as the snow flurried up beneath his wings, sending sparkles of light in every direction.
‘We will fly together, soon,’ Bylanth told his Rider.
“I can’t wait,” Myka said dreamily.
Cadyn chuckled making the boy blush as he realized he had spoken out loud.
“None of us could wait for our first flight, Myka,” Cadyn reassured the boy. “Trust me.”
“Laryth’s landing was beautiful, Cadyn!” Myka said, barely containing his excitement.
‘Laryth says Thank you, Myka,’ Bylanth relayed, making Myka blush even harder.
‘I didn’t know he could hear me.’
‘Dragons have excellent hearing, Myka.’
‘That would have been nice to know before I made a fool of myself in front of the King of Erewhon!’
Bylanth nudged his Rider with his snout.
‘Stop thinking like that!’ The green dragon commanded. ‘The king is going to love you, just like everybody else.’
‘Everybody except my cousins,’ Myka thought bitterly. ‘It’s their fault that any of this is even happening.’
‘I’ll take care of them, soon enough,’ Bylanth said with a growl.
Cadyn looked at Myka suspiciously.
“You might want to get your emotions under control before Bylanth goes hunting for two little boys, Myka,” the older Rider said with a chuckle. “That wouldn’t look very good to Queen Orina.”
“Sorry,” he apologized meekly. “I’ll try harder.”
“Just relax, Myka,” Cadyn said as he reached over to rub the boy’s back. “You’ve got nothing to worry about, today.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“I’m always right, Myka. You’ll learn that, eventually.”
Myka giggled lightly at Cadyn’s comment.
“That’s better,” the Rider said with his own grin.
Then, they both turned their attention to the approaching party. King Asharyn held the arm of his wife, Queen Orina as he helped her through the ankle-deep snow. Rider Mogan walked to the king’s left, and two armed guards walked slightly behind the king. Myka felt his nerves starting to get the better of him as the King and Queen stopped directly in front of the boy. Myka did exactly as his dragon instructed.
“It is an honor to be in your presence, your Majesty,” Myka said with a deep bow. “Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit the weyr of my dragon and me.”
King Asharyn looked at the boy with a solemn expression on his face as he studied the hazel-eyed youth. The king’s gaze shot to the Cadyn.
“Yes, your Majesty?” Cadyn quickly responded with his own bow.
“Rider Mogan tells me that this child recently underwent a traumatic injury, is that correct?” King Asharyn inquired dutifully.
Myka felt his heart drop. He knew for a certainty that the king was going to take his dragon away from him. Bylanth growled as Myka’s emotions hit him, making King Asharyn look up at the emerald green dragon with curiosity in his eyes. His blue eyes went distant for a moment before he frowned and looked at Myka with a grave expression on his narrow face.
“I would never try to take a dragon away from someone as brave as you, Myka,” he said as he knelt in front of the boy, the knees of his robes making the snow crunch beneath his body weight. “I was only asking out of concern for your health and safety, Rider Myka. Someone who has been suffering like you have been should not be out in this weather. I was only going to chastise Rider Cadyn and Rider Mogan for bringing you out in this cold.”
Myka looked at the king in disbelief.
Did he just apologize to me?
Then, the king stood and did something completely unprecedented. King Asharyn reached down and lifted the boy into his arms with a warm smile on his face.
“There,” he said happily as he patted the back of the surprised boy. “He’s not heavy at all.”
“A light breeze could knock him down,” Queen Orina said with her own bell-like laugh. The woman reached over and touched Myka’s cheek. “He is precious, Ash.”
“I know,” Asharyn replied, still grinning. He turned his attention to Rider Cadyn. “Rider Cadyn, would you mind escorting us to Rider Myka’s Weyr?”
“It would be my honor, your Majesty,” Cadyn replied with a lavish bow before he motioned for the king and queen to walk with him up the path.
“How did you even find this place?” Asharyn asked in wonder as the small party made their way up the narrow path.
“I believe it was Bylanth that chose this place for him and his Rider,” Cadyn said. “That’s what Jamys told me, at least.”
King Asharyn nodded in understanding.
“How long have you been here, Rider Myka?”
“I’m not sure, your Majesty,” Myka replied meekly. “I wasn’t really conscious the entire time.”
“Ahh,” the king said with a knowing chuckle. “I should have considered that before I asked you, Myka.”
Myka shivered slightly as the cold began to seep through his clothes, and the king frowned.
“Sorry,” Myka tried to apologize, but he was cut off as King Asharyn reached out and smacked Rider Cadyn in the back of the head.
“Your Majesty?” Cadyn asked with a hint of fear in his voice.
“If you ever bring Myka out into this type of weather without making sure he is properly attired, I will personally make certain that you spend a month cleaning out weyrs,” King Asharyn said darkly, making Myka’s hazel eyes open wide in fear. “Have I made myself clear, Rider Cadyn?”
“Yes, your Majesty,” Cadyn replied meekly. “It won’t happen again.”
“Good,” Ash said with a nod before he smiled again. “Now that business is handled, let’s see what kind of cave system your new friend has found for you, Myka.”
Asharyn sat across from Myka with a look of horror on his face as he listened to the brown-haired youth tell him about what had happened between him and his cousins. King Asharyn’s blue eyes flashed black in fury as Myka described being pushed over the edge of the cliff. The boy had thought for certain that he was destined to die at that moment and had even thought that he was dead until he had woken up to find Lady Tamera taking care of him.
Myka felt like he needed to tell the king everything, so he refused to hold back a single detail. Every emotion that the boy felt was clearly displayed on his lips as he told the story of his life. His feet dangling off of the edge of his cot would swing every now and then as the boy got to an exciting part of his story. Myka’s entire frame would droop if he spoke about something that bothered him or made him sad in any way.
With the help of Laryth, Ash was able to maintain his cool as Myka continued to talk, the red dragon promising to remember every detail for his Rider. Asharyn was going to handle the boys himself. He had made that decision the moment Myka told him about how his cousins always treated the smaller boy. Nobody bothered the man and boy for several hours as King Asharyn managed to pull every detail that he could from Myka.
‘Bylanth says his Rider is getting tired,’ Laryth stated in an offhanded manner. ‘The boy’s pride is the only thing keeping him awake, right now.’
Asharyn thanked his dragon as he studied the boy. Even though Myka was talking about his parents, the happy looking boy sounded exhausted. His hazel eyes didn’t seem as bright as they had before, and the boy wasn’t talking nearly as fast as he had been only a moment ago. Bylanth and Laryth were right.
‘Of course, we are right,’ two voices echoed in Asharyn’s head, making him nearly fall out of his chair. Myka looked at him in worry, afraid the man might be coming down with his own medical condition.
“Sorry,” Asharyn said with a grin. “Laryth told me something that shocked me, Myka.”
“Oh,” Myka said with a hint of relief in his voice. “Do you need to go?”
“Only for a little bit, Myka,” King Asharyn said with a smile. “I promise that I will be back before night falls over the valley.”
Myka looked surprised that the man had promised him something, making Asharyn chuckle lightly.
“Remember, Rider Myka,” the king said softly. “I am just a normal person like you are.”
“You’re not, though!” Myka blurted out before he quickly covered his mouth with his hands.
Asharyn chuckled as he moved to sit next to Myka on the cot. The boy’s hazel eyes were wide in disbelief as Ash put his arm around the child and pulled him into his side.
“You’re right,” Ash said softly. “It was wrong of me to try and say that. Neither one of us are normal, though, Myka. You may be just a boy, but you’re already a Dragon Rider! A fortnight ago, you were the son of a prominent Trader, who spends his winters with his aunt and uncle, so his parents can make sure he’s being taken care of. Now, you’re the Rider of an emerald green dragon that would do anything to keep you safe!”
Ash smiled at Myka.
“I wasn’t born into the crown, Myka,” he told the boy who gasped in surprise. “Yeah, it’s true. I was an orphan that King Hagre adopted. My mother, Queen Sella – was barren, Myka, yet she always wanted to have her own child. It was luck that put me near the castle gates when the king and queen returned from looking around the orphanages within the city. It was Queen Sella that stopped the entire procession just to ask me where I was from. I remembered trembling in fear as I told her that I was from a few blocks over. My parents had died in a fire only a few weeks before that, and I was trying to hide from the officials after hearing horror stories about what happened to children put into the local orphan homes.”
Asharyn sighed happily at the memory before he continued on with his story.
“King Hagre and Queen Sella talked for a few minutes before the king came over and knelt on the ground in front of me. I was only six at the time, so it took everything I had, not to scream and piss my britches when he asked me to be his son,” the king said with a laugh. “It was one of the happiest days of my life, Myka. I said yes without hesitating and I’ve never looked back at what might have been. My point, Myka, is the fact that you and I are both cut from the same fabric. We’ve both come from nothing and have risen up to who we are now. My father didn’t have to name me his heir. He could have picked any one of his advisors, or someone from one of the other head families to take the crown, but he didn’t. He chose me, Myka, because I proved to him that I could do it. From the moment King Hagre adopted me, I pushed myself just so I could make him proud. I took the opportunity that was given to me, and I made the best out of it that I could. Do you understand?”
“I think so,” Myka replied quietly. “I’m sorry, Your Majesty. I didn’t mean to assume.”
“It’s not your fault, Myka,” Asharyn said with a chuckle. “Now, why don’t you get some rest while I see what Laryth wants with me?”
Myka nodded meekly.
“Thank you, your Maj-.”
Myka was cut off as King Asharyn put his hand over the boy’s mouth. Asharyn chuckled lightly, again.
“Myka,” the king said with a faint plea in his voice. “For the love of Draconis, please, stop calling me Your Majesty when it’s just us. If there is a need to be formal, I will let you know with a sign that we’ll work out, later. Okay?”
Myka giggled and nodded his head.
“Yes, your Majesty!”
Asharyn looked indignant for a moment before he proceeded tickling the twelve-year-old until the boy howled for mercy. Not even Myka’s dragon was willing to help the boy.
“Such insolence, from such a tiny boy!” Ash teased the boy until Laryth told him that Myka might wet his own britches if the man didn’t stop. The moment Asharyn stopped with his torture, the boy was running for the small alcove where his chamber pot was.
“Sorry!” Myka called out over his shoulder as he ran from the cot. The boy’s face was red from the king’s tickle-session, and he was still trying to catch his breath when he climbed up next to the King of Erewhon. “Thank you, umm, Asharyn,” the boy said softly before he suddenly hugged the king.
“Thank you, Myka,” Ash replied. “I have one more thing that I would like you to think about while I’m gone, Myka.”
“I want you to consider joining me in Dragonsholme,” the king told the boy honestly. Ash quickly put his hand over Myka’s mouth, again, to keep the boy from speaking. “Do not answer me until you are truly ready to answer me, Myka. Okay?”
“Yes, sir,” Myka replied once Ash removed his hand.
Asharyn motioned for the boy to lay down and pulled the blankets up over Myka’s small frame once the boy was comfortable.
“Asharyn?” Myka spoke in a low voice.
“Why do you want me to come to Dragonsholme?”
Asharyn smiled and patted the boy’s chest.
“Think about the story that I told you, Myka,” the king said with a grin. “If you haven’t figured it out by the time I get back, I will tell you why I want you to come to Dragonsholme. Now, get some sleep. That’s an order, young man.”
Myka giggled and nodded before he exaggerated snoring loudly. Asharyn shook his head and poked the boy in his side before he stood from the cot.
“I’ll return shortly, Myka,” King Asharyn said as he left the boy alone, the king’s own thoughts were all over the place as he made his way over to the larger cave where Orina was waiting with Mogan and Cadyn.
It was Orina that noticed the conflicting emotions on her husband’s face, and she stood to meet him as he joined them. Asharyn’s arms slid around his wife’s waist before he kissed her on her cheek.
“Did you ask him?”
“Not quite,” Asharyn replied. “The boy has other things on his mind that need to be dealt with, first.”
‘Yes, my friend?’
‘Could you ask Bylanth to make sure that Myka sleeps until I return?’
‘Ash, Bylanth says to be careful,’ Laryth warned his Rider. ‘There is something much worse going on in Greyson Valley than we have yet to realize.’
‘I don’t like what you’re implying, Laryth,’ Ash said darkly. ‘Am I losing control of my kingdom?’
‘No,’ Laryth replied honestly. ‘But the Lord of Greyson Valley is twisting your words to his benefit.’
“I think it’s time to make a visit to River Village once I am done at Carter Farm,” King Asharyn said as he stepped away from his wife. “Mogan, I want you and two guards to come with me. Everybody else is to remain here with the boy and my wife.”
“Of course, your Majesty,” Mogan said quickly before he left the table to do as the king commanded.
“You’re leaving me behind?” Orina asked in disbelief.
“I am,” Ash said with a brief nod. “The situation calls for me to expose a side of myself that I have never had to call upon before, my love. I would rather that you were not there to bear witness to this.”
“Okay, Ash,” Orina said softly. The look in her husband’s blue eyes was enough to make her stay behind. “Don’t do anything that you’re going to regret, though.”
“I never have,” Asharyn said darkly before he purposefully left the cave behind to get his dragon.
Back and forth.
Swooping and diving.
The Rider and Dragon danced through the cloudless sky as the sun shimmered brilliantly off of the snow-covered ground. Myka couldn’t help but shout with joy as Bylanth carried him through the heavens. He leaned his head back and crowed as loud as his tiny body would let him, hoping that he was pleasing Draconis herself with how well he and his dragon were flying together.
Bylanth continued to do trick after trick, building the bond that connected them together, each of their minds rejoicing to the feel of the other as their souls became more intertwined. The bond was so firm that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Dragon and Rider just by their thoughts alone. You would only be able to see their differences just because they were only different physically. Myka and Bylanth thought as one. They were one.
Only death would be able to separate the pair, and neither one was willing to even let that tear them apart. They belonged together. They knew that their connection was different from other weyrmates, and they vowed to keep it a secret that they would only share with those they completely trusted. For Myka, that wasn’t going to be very many people.
Bylanth rose into the heavens before he dove towards the snow-covered ground, using his speed to carry him back up into the sky with the cheering boy upon his back. Again, and again. Down and back up. Bylanth carried his Rider without complaint. They were just getting ready to make their next dive when a huge shadow passed over them.
Myka screamed when he felt a surge of air push down around them, and Bylanth rolled to the left, just barely missing the gleaming red claws that had nearly snatched the boy from his back. Myka caught a glimpse of a dark red wing as it passed over his head before Bylanth was swooping in the opposite direction.
Myka looked back at the furious growl coming from behind him and felt his heart drop when he saw the large red dragon coming for them. Each downstroke of the dragon’s massive webbed wings brought the beast closer and closer to Myka and Bylanth. The beast roared with a fury that Myka had never existed, before the sound was choked off and a massive ball of fire erupted from its jaws.
Bylanth dove, the fire just passing over the duo, before the emerald green dragon banked hard to the left. Bylanth’s own webbed wings were beating furiously, trying to gain some ground on the rogue dragon that was chasing them down. The dragon was faster than his size would have you believe, though, and he easily caught up to Bylanth.
This is it, Myka thought grimly as he felt the air pressure drop behind him before the heat of the fireball enveloped him and his dragon.
Myka woke up screaming, only to find himself safely wrapped in the arms of Queen Orina as Cadyn, Lady Tamera, and Nikolai all looked at him with fear written plainly across their faces.
“Shh, child,” Orina said softly as she rocked the sobbing child back and forth. “It was just a dream, Myka. You’re safe, now.”
‘Bylanth?’ Myka pushed out with his mind. ‘What was that? It felt so real?’
‘We will ask Mogan when he returns,’ Bylanth said sharply, the dream had bothered the dragon as much as the Rider.
Then, Bylanth pushed happy thoughts towards the boy, forcing Myka to relax enough to fall back to sleep without any further prompting. The other humans just continued to look on in disbelief until Bylanth ordered them to give Myka some space. The king had given him very strict orders to keep Myka asleep until his return, and Bylanth was not going to disobey.