King Asharyn Tyret walked towards the front doors of the Town Hall with an impassive gaze on his face, his bodyguards flanking him on either side, not knowing Lord Claymon’s true feelings towards the King of Erewhon. River Village was the main village in Greyson Valley, and it was where the majority of the valley’s trade negotiations took place. Asharyn had only been to Greyson Valley once when he had first ascended the throne, rarely able to get away from Dragonsholme because of his duties.
‘I like it here,’ Laryth stated drolly.
‘You like Bylanth and Myka’s Weyr,’ the king told his dragon smugly.
‘Maybe,’ Laryth said.
Ash snorted in amusement. ‘What brought this on, Laryth?’
‘It’s pretty here,’ Laryth told him, honestly. ‘We need to visit here often.’
‘We will,’ Asharyn replied. ‘I promise. Besides, it wasn’t that bad of a flight to get here, either.’
‘It was windy,’ Laryth stated dryly.
‘You like it when it’s windy, Laryth.’
‘Not when it is as cold as it is,’ the dragon complained, unexpectedly.
‘That’s a first,’ Asharyn observed. ‘Since, when did you ever care about it being cold?’
Ash chuckled when he felt his dragon’s mental shrug.
‘Does it matter?’
‘Maybe,’ Asharyn responded, repeating Laryth’s answer from before.
The stone steps of the Town Hall led up to where two guards stood on either side of the large-wooden doors. The two-armed guards promptly pulled the doors open for the entourage before they snapped to a near resemblance of a salute to King Asharyn.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” he greeted them with a brief nod as he walked beside Mogan, who had chosen to come along of his own accord. Ash had to clench his teeth tightly shut to keep from vomiting the moment he caught a whiff of the musty air inside of the main room of the stone building. A fire burned in the hearth to the left of the door, but the heat only exacerbated the smell. The king noticed a pasty-white man wearing glasses, sitting at a desk near the hearth. There were seven wooden benches to the right of the main door, sitting a single row to the back wall. A frost covered window was the source of any outside light, and it appeared to Asharyn that the window didn’t even open. ‘Judging by the odor, I don’t believe that there is a single window in this entire place that is capable of being opened.’
‘The herd-beasts are scrawny,’ Laryth snorted with distaste.
‘We won’t be here long, Laryth,’ King Asharyn promised. ‘I just need to deal with this slob of a Lord. I think it’s time for some new leadership in Greyson Valley.’
‘I agree,’ the dragon replied from outside. ‘Who though?’
‘I know the perfect person,’ Asharyn replied smugly as he crossed to where the receptionist was seated, his crooked nose focused on the stack of paperwork in front of him.
“Can I help you?” The man asked in an annoyed voice as he continued to work on his task.
“I need to see Claymon, right away,” Ash said in a stern tone. He was barely managing to control his anger at the steward’s dismissive nature. “It’s important.”
“I’m sure it is, but Lord Fresno is a busy man, and he refuses to see anybody, short of the King of Erewhon himself, without an appointment. . .”
The man’s voice trailed off as he glanced up to see a very angry looking, King of Erewhon glaring at him. The steward jumped to his feet and threw himself to his knees in front of the king.
“Please, forgive me, your Majesty!” The man groveled, almost in tears as he remained close to the floor. “My partner left me this morning, and I haven’t been myself at all, today. I am so sorry, my King!”
King Asharyn studied the man kneeling before him. The man was young and looked as though there may be potential for him, so he decided to offer the man an opportunity for redemption. “Rise, Steward, and tell me your name.”
The man rose to his feet and stood with his hands clasped behind his back and his head bowed slightly. “I am Rylo Erys, son of Mory and Lisa Erys, of Hirostho Village,” the young man said quietly.
“How old are you, Rylo?” Asharyn asked.
“I am nineteen, your Majesty,” Rylo informed the king.
Asharyn nodded and glanced over at Mogan. The two had been working together for so long, that they could almost read each other’s mind. Asharyn was certain that the Rider would be able to utilize Rylo as a squire for the short term, until they could come up with a better position for him around the castle. Mogan nodded his acceptance to the King’s silent suggestion before Asharyn turned back to face the young man trembling before him.
“I have a job offer for you, young Rylo,” Asharyn began smugly. “But first, I have urgent business with Lord Claymon Fresno.”
“Of course, your Majesty!” Rylo Erys responded quickly as he bowed in respect to the king before leading the men down one of the side corridors. “Lord Fresno is usually in the dining room at this hour, your Majesty.”
“Lead the way, Rylo.”
Claymon Fresno sat in one of the center seats at the table on the dais. The obese man had a half-eaten chicken carcass occupying the plate in front of him and his grayish beard was matted with grease. Lord Fresno wiped his fingers across the front of his tunic in a casual manner as he saw his squire enter the room.
“What do you want, boy?” The man demanded in a gruff tone. He knew the young man was far beyond being a boy, but he also knew that Rylo was soft and would always flinch when he was in the presence of Lord Fresno. “It better be important.”
Then, Rylo called out in a suddenly proud voice that startled the man. “Lord Fresno, I have the honor to present His Royal Majesty, King Asharyn Tyret!”
Fresno, believing his steward to be trying to pull the wool over his eyes began to laugh. “King Asharyn Tyret? Here? That poor old bastard wouldn’t be able to find his way out of his castle if his whore of a mother held his hand,” the man spoke with disdain in his voice. The man scoffed at this own wife, spitting chunks of his food onto the table between them with his own. His wife, Sharie Fresno, was clearly not impressed with the man’s actions, and turned her head away from him. She quickly rose from her seat before moving to the foot of the dais, where it was customary for the Lord and the Lady of the Village or Keep to meet the incoming member of the Royal House. Fresno just laughed in mere amusement at his wife’s antics. “Stop your groveling, bitch! King Tyret wouldn’t come here if his life depended on it! It’s time to do more of what you’re good at.”
Sharie refused to move from the position, even enduring the harassment of her husband as he started tossing bread rolls at the back of her head. The woman kept her head bent low, kneeling respectfully as she waited for the King of Erewhon to enter the Hall.
Claymon sneered at his steward. “Bring the imposter in here, Rylo! Maybe the King will give me a Barony for weeding out a filthy imposter!” Rylo hesitated at the man’s words before he moved to obey, listening to the words that were being whispered to him from just outside of the room.
“As you wish, my Lord,” the teenager replied with a slight incline of his head. He didn’t move from his position though. Instead, King Tyret entered the room with Mogan one step behind him. Rylo seemed to appear smug at the bewildered look that had crossed Claymon’s round face. “Lord Fresno, I present King Asharyn Tyret, King of Erewhon, and his Chief Advisor and Bodyguard, Rider Mogan Rysher.”
Sharie gasped as she glanced up to see the two men striding purposely towards the dais. The older woman quickly lowered her gaze, only watching the feet of the approaching monarch until they stopped directly in front of her.
“Please rise, my Lady,” the king addressed Sharie warmly. “You are not the one on trial here, today.”
Sharie nodded mutely as she stood. Mogan smiled politely at the woman as Asharyn made certain that the woman wouldn’t need any more assistance.
“You may leave if you like,” Asharyn told the woman in a soft tone. “But I would prefer if you would remain and bear witness to what I must say.”
“As you wish, your Majesty,” Sharie quickly nodded.
“Go ahead and sit down, my Lady,” Mogan instructed the woman, noticing that her hands were beginning to tremble. “You have nothing to fear from us.”
“Thank you, Rider Mogan,” Sharie replied properly, the tremble in her voice betraying her fear before she quickly sat in the nearest chair.
Claymon remained silent as the two men directed their attention to him. His eyes darted around the room until he focused on Rylo standing next to the door.
“Get my guards!” The fat man commanded, but Rylo didn’t move. “Are you deaf, boy, or just stupid?”
“Neither, my Lord,” Rylo replied shortly.
“Then, do as I ordered!” Lord Fresno bellowed, his face turning a shade of near purple.
“No, I won’t,” Rylo replied with a shrug. “I don’t work for you any longer, my Lord.”
“Then, get the fuck out of my house, you ungrateful sod!”
“No,” Asharyn spoke up. “Rylo won’t be leaving until I give my permission.”
“Guards! Guards!” Fresno began to yell, over and over, but his summons drew nobody to his aide. Asharyn just smirked as he studied the man. Claymon Fresno glared at the men standing before him. “You have nothing on me!”
“Guards?” Asharyn Tyret called over his shoulder.
A line of men wearing the armor of soldiers from Greyson Valley entered the room and filed past the king, giving the slender man a wide berth as they headed directly for Lord Fresno.
“What? What are you fools doing?” Claymon demanded angrily. “Arrest the Imposter King!”
The Captain of the Guard stood directly behind Lord Fresno, his eyes fixed on the king. “Your Majesty, what is your command?”
“This is your last chance to submit to the New Way, Lord Fresno,” King Asharyn Tyret stated calmly. “Too many people have suffered at your hands, as is.”
Claymon spat on the floor beside his chair and sneered at the king. “That is what I think of your New Way. Your father is proba-”
The man’s words were cut short as the handle of a table knife suddenly sprouted from the man’s throat, a shower of blood spraying out from around its silvery shaft. Everybody’s attention turned to where Sharie was now standing. The gray-haired woman bowed her head slightly to the king and kept her hands firmly clasped together against her stomach.
“I won’t apologize for ending his tirade, my King, but I will apologize for not letting you finish with him, first.”
Mogan burst out laughing as he slapped the king on his shoulder. The Captain of the Guard was staring between the king and the lifeless corpse in front of him, trying to understand what had just happened. Asharyn just shook his head with his own laughter before he turned and bowed his head to the older woman. “Thank you, my Lady,” he thanked her gracefully. “I believe that you can handle things from here. I will be needing to take Rylo with me, though.”
“His talents are wasted here, your Majesty,” Lady Fresno agreed with a soft smile towards the teenager. “He will do well in your service.”
“Do you swear to adhere to the New Way and everything that it stands for?” King Asharyn Tyret asked the woman in a formal tone.
“I do, your Majesty,” Lady Sharie replied firmly.
“Do you swear to uphold the laws and values of Erewhon?”
“I do, your Majesty.”
“From this day until your retirement, you shall be known as Lady Sharie Fresno, the Ruling Lady of Greyson Valley.” Asharyn announced. “I will send out a Royal Proclamation once I am back in Dragonsholme. Now, there is something else that I need to discuss with you before I leave, my Lady.” The man smiled at the older woman and motioned towards the dead body. “Is there somewhere else that we can go?”
“Of course, your Majesty,” Sharie said with a curtsy. “We can go to my private apartments.” She turned her gaze to Rylo. “Would you be willing to do one last favor for me, Rylo?”
“Of course, my Lady,” Rylo agreed with a smile. “I’d do anything for you.”
“Will you have someone dispose of this mess for me?” Sharie asked Rylo.
“It would be my pleasure, my Lady,” Rylo stated. He bowed his head to the woman before he bowed to the king. “My King.”
Once Rylo was gone from the room, Sharie fixed her gaze on Asharyn. “Promise me that you will take care of him? Rylo is like a son to me. I’d be beside myself with grief if anything were to ever happen to him.”
“I swear on my life that I’ll never let anybody harm Rylo, my Lady,” Asharyn told her in a serious tone. “Now, let’s go get our business out of the way. My dragon is demanding that he gets to meet you in person.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been around a dragon,” the woman said in wide-eyed amazement as she led the king from the room.
Myka twisted and turned in his enforced slumber with Queen Orina rubbing a dry cloth across his forehead. The woman was humming softly as she spent a little time with the child while his dragon was feeding itself. Bylanth had refused to leave Myka’s side until the tiny queen gave him an order that he couldn’t refuse. Then, only with the reassurance that Orina would not leave the boy’s side, did Bylanth allow himself to succumb to his hunger and go hunt.
The air inside the cave was chilly, barely being kept warm by the three fires burning in the two main caverns. Nikolai made certain to keep the fires closest to Myka burning higher than the one near the entrance. The last thing he wanted was for his love to get a chill. The boy peeked in at the queen and Myka every few minutes to ask if they needed anything. Orina would smile patiently each time, knowing what the two meant to each other. Nikolai’s antics reminded the woman of her relationship with Asharyn in their younger days. He would always act the same way.
‘Love,’ she thought with a whimsical smile. ‘I remember those days.’
The boy beside the woman stirred in his slumber causing the woman to look at the child. His face was scrunched up as if he was angry about something and his eyes were darting back and forth beneath his closed eyelids. Orina was about to send for Tamera when the boy mumbled a name in his sleep that sent a chill down the woman’s spine.
“Deshan,” Myka uttered in a fearful tone before he rolled over and fell into a deeper sleep. Orina heard the roar of Bylanth from nearby and knew the dragon would return shortly to check on his Rider.
‘That name, though,’ she thought grimly. ‘How would he even know that name?’
Orina heard the distinct ‘thump-thump’ of dragon wings and smiled inwardly. Bylanth had returned. The queen didn’t know how she could feel all of the dragons in the world, she just accepted it and used the gift as wisely as she could. It helped during the early days of her husband’s rule when a group of rebels had tried to overthrow the castle. Her heart raced as she thought about the way her king had looked in the midst of that fight. ‘He is small, but he is a fighter!’ The woman remembered thinking at the time as the man moved through the enemy ranks with ease. There was no stopping him that day, or in any battle following those early ones. Asharyn was a hero.
‘He will save us again if Deshan has truly returned,’ she thought hopefully.
Then, Bylanth returned, the sound of his claws scraping on the stone floor of the cave echoed from the walls. Bylanth ducked his head as he entered the chamber and moved to the head of Myka’s bed.
“Welcome back, Bylanth,” Orina said with a slight bow of her head. Bylanth returned the gesture with an amused snort that moved Orina’s hair. “I think it’s time we had a talk about Myka’s dreams.”
Bylanth cocked his head to the side for a moment before he nodded at the woman.
‘I agree,’ the dragon’s voice echoed in Orina’s mind, surprising the woman.
“Well, that’s a first,” she said in amusement. “I always know where you are, but I never expected to actually speak to one of you. Not even Laryth has granted me that privilege.”
‘That’s silly,’ Bylanth snorted. ‘How else would you know what I wanted to say, your Majesty?’
Orina couldn’t help but laugh at the dragon.
Asharyn entered the cave with an angry gleam in his blue eyes. The man was seething as he made his way to Myka’s chambers where he knew Orina would be waiting. Nikolai jumped to his feet when the king entered the room, but Asharyn quickly waved him down. “Sit child,” he commanded. “When we’re not in a formal or public setting, you do not need to act in such a way. You’re family now, whether you like it, or not.”
Nikolai’s blue eyes went wide in disbelief. “Sir?”
Asharyn chuckled lightly, letting the boy’s disbelief help to ease his anger. Then, he looked at his wife. “Can we talk, my love?”
Knowing the tone that her husband was using, Orina nodded and motioned towards the door. Once they were alone in the outer chamber, Orina turned to her husband with a frown.
“How bad was it?”
“Worse than you could imagine, my Queen,” he told her, barely containing the anger he felt. “Sharie has her work cut out for her, though.”
“What happened to Claymon?”
Asharyn chuckled and shook his head. “The man was disrespecting me when a knife handle suddenly appeared in his neck.”
“What?” Orina asked in shock. “Someone killed him?”
“They could have gotten you, though,” Orina stated in concern.
“They could have, but they didn’t,” Asharyn replied. “It was Lady Sharie that killed her husband, if you must know, though.”
“Remind me to invite her to our Christmas Banquet next week,” Orina told her husband before she kissed his cheek. “Now, tell me about the rest of it before I get Laryth to tell me, instead!”
“It turns out that the Valley Council has been doing some dirty trades with Republica,” the king said scornfully. “Riders are in route to arrest the lot of them for treason.”
“Republica, though?” Orina quailed at the thought. “Why them?”
“I’m not certain,” Asharyn replied. “They have always stood against the Dragon Riders. They stand against everything we believe in. They don’t even share the belief of Draconis!”
“Don’t they have their own dragons?”
“They used to have them,” the man said softly. “Now, they just have one, and that one is believed to be a myth.”
“Deshan,” Orina uttered. “Myka whispered it in his sleep.” The woman added when she noticed the strange look that Asharyn was giving her.
“That’s not the only name he goes by, though.”
Orina hesitated for a moment before she changed the subject. “The riding clothes for Myka arrived while you were gone.”
“Good,” Asharyn replied with a relieved sigh. “Let’s go see if the boy wants to properly ride his dragon.”
“Just relax, Myka,” Cadyn said with a grin. “Let Bylanth do all of the work. All you need to do is hold on tight to the straps! Got it?”
Myka nodded nervously. “Yeah, I think so, Rider Cadyn.”
“Good,” the older Rider said before he instructed Myka to give Bylanth the sign for mounting.
‘I don’t see why he insists I learn the signs, when we can mind speak,’ Myka told Bylanth as he held up his fist and pumped it twice.
‘You will learn the reasons when we get to Dragonsholme,’ Bylanth replied.
‘So, we’re going?’ Myka asked his dragon.
‘You’re the one that has already made this decision, Myka,’ Bylanth reminded his friend. ‘There’s no turning back, now.’
‘What do we do about the dragon from my dreams?’
‘We’ll figure it out when we get there, Myka. For now, we will learn everything that we need to learn,’ the green dragon said confidently as he lowered his head and stretched out his foreleg. ‘Do it just like Cadyn suggested.’
‘I’m not going to hurt you, am I?’ Myka asked nervously.
‘Never,’ Bylanth responded.
Myka took a deep breath as he reached out and put his left hand on top of the massive paw stretched out in front of him. ‘You’re really big, Bylanth.’
‘And you will grow,’ Bylanth said as if it should have been obvious.
Myka just giggled as he climbed up until he was standing on Bylanth’s front foot. Then, the boy reached out and put one hand on the dragon’s scale-covered throat before he started walking up the foreleg. After that, it was only a matter of seconds before Myka was straddling Bylanth’s neck and clasping the riding tethers to the harness around his waist. Myka tapped the dragon twice on the right side of his neck before he took the riding harness in his hands. He gripped the leather strap tightly as Bylanth slowly rose to his feet. Myka leaned forward to keep himself from feeling like he was sliding backward as Bylanth sat on his haunches. Together, Rider and dragon enjoyed the moment in the early afternoon sun while they waited for Cadyn and Mogan to join them.
‘Lean into the back of my neck and make sure your feet are planted firmly in the stirrups,’ Bylanth reminded the boy sitting astride his neck. ‘I’m going to have to freefall from our ledge a little bit since there are other dragons close.’
‘Freefall?’ Myka asked as he made sure his feet were secured in the stirrups before he leaned forward, adjusting his grip on the strap in his hands. ‘What’s that?’
‘The best feeling ever when you know you’re not going to hit the ground,’ the dragon said in an amused tone. Myka felt a sense of dread come over him not realizing that his emotions were transferring to Bylanth. ‘Relax, little one. I would NEVER let anything happen to you. You are my soul mate!’
‘Okay,’ Myka replied nervously. ‘Let’s do this before I lose my nerve and chicken out.’
‘Relax and enjoy it,’ Bylanth advised the boy. ‘Oh, Jamys says to put your goggles down.’
Myka did as he was told before he resumed his former position of leaning forward over Bylanth’s neck. Then, Myka gave the command for Bylanth to fly as he saw Asharyn wave his right fist in the air in a clockwise circle. Bylanth took two giant steps forward before he lunged off the ledge with his mighty legs. Myka slammed his chin into the dragon’s neck, biting his cheek as he did.
‘Sorry,’ Bylanth apologized as he tucked his wings against his back and arrowed down towards the ground. ‘We will both learn how to fly together properly.’
The boy told the dragon that it wasn’t his fault before Myka’s entire view of the situation changed.
For a brief moment, Myka felt himself hovering in midair before he had to use all of his strength to maintain his delicate grip on the strap in front of him. The roar of wind filled his ears as the ground rushed up to meet him and his dragon, but Bylanth spread his wings outwards and the couple was soon soaring back into the air. Myka let out a whoop of joy as Bylanth gave several powerful wing strokes, shooting them forward of their escort. Then, Bylanth shot upwards towards the clouds, urging the boy to hold on tightly before he did several barrel rolls that would have thrown the boy from his seat if he had not have been warned. Myka felt weightless again as Bylanth leveled out before plummeting back towards the ground below. Myka crowed happily as his face was buffeted by the cold air assaulting him. Then, Bylanth swooped back upwards at a lazier pace, letting their momentum carry them higher before he started using his powerful wings to fly.
‘Jefyk doesn’t want us to get too far ahead of him and Jamys.’
‘Okay,’ Myka replied as Bylanth started flying in lazy circles. ‘Where’s Asharyn and Laryth.’
‘Flying with Jefyk and Mogan,’ Bylanth informed his Rider. ‘Jamys is catching up to us.’
Myka looked back towards the cave to see a glistening blue dot heading towards them. ‘I see them,’ the boy told his dragon. ‘Why are you so much faster than everybody else?’
‘They just wanted to give you space to play around,’ Bylanth informed Myka.
‘So, why aren’t we playing around?’ Myka asked. ‘We still have time before they get here.’
‘As you wish,’ Bylanth replied with an amused chuckle. ‘You better hang on tight, Myka.’
Just as Myka leaned forward, gripping the leather strap tightly in his hands, Bylanth folded his wings back against his body and dove towards the ground. Myka began laughing uncontrollably as he was pushed down into the dragon as Bylanth swooped back towards the sky, spinning and twisting the entire ascent towards the clear blue sky. Dragon and Rider repeated their actions multiple times before the other three Riders managed to join them.
‘Asharyn would like us to land for a little bit,’ Bylanth told the boy when he started spiraling towards one of the open fields below. Before they got to the ground, Bylanth hovered for a few moments.
‘What are you doing, Bylanth?’
‘I must warn you of something,’ the dragon said softly. A feeling of love and support washed over Myka as the dragon’s wings kept them afloat just above the ground.
‘What is it Bylanth?’
‘The King has received word back on your parents, Myka,’ Bylanth informed the child. ‘Their wagon was found at the bottom of a ravine on the far side of Dragonsholme. They both passed in the accident, Myka.’
Myka’s stomach dropped. He took one last look at the blue sky above before his eyes filled with tears. Myka laid his cheek against Bylanth’s warm neck and let his grief overtake him.
‘I am sorry, little one,’ the dragon whispered soothingly before he landed in the snow-covered field. Bylanth pushed as much love as he could to Myka, helping to help soothe his grief, as much as he could. The emotional waves made Bylanth’s own eyes mist over before the dragon was able to shield himself from the boy’s torment. ‘I love you, Myka. I will always be here for you, no matter what.’
“Thank you, Lady Tamera, for everything that you have done for me,” Myka said with tears in his eyes as he hugged the elderly woman. “I’ll forever be in your debt.”
“Just promise to take care of my grandson, Myka,” the woman whispered loud enough to only reach Myka’s ears. “He loves you more than life itself.”
“I promise, Lady Tamera,” Myka agreed. “Will you come visit?”
“As often as I can,” the woman promised, tears filling her green eyes. Then, she shooed the boy away. “Go. Before I refuse to let you leave. The remainder of your belongings will be shipped to Dragonsholme once the passes are clear of snow.”
“Goodbye, Lady Tamera,” the boy said sadly before he turned and walked away from the older woman. Tamera put her hand over her mouth to stifle her sobs. The last thing she needed was for the boy to hear her breakdown after everything he had been through. The woman thought of the boy as her own grandson, loved him and cared for him as her own blood.
“Make sure you get your replacement trained up over the next year, Tamera,” Orina said softly as she joined the older woman. “Your services are needed in Dragonsholme.”
“Thank you, my Queen,” Tamera replied with a curtsy. “I look forward to being in your service.”
Then, Tamera went to the rear room of the cave to make sure she didn’t leave any of her supplies behind. Orina watched the woman go for a moment before she turned and followed Myka out towards the ledge where the remainder of the group was waiting. Myka was in the process of helping Nikolai secure the last of his bags to Bylanth’s back, while Cadyn and Mogan were instructing the boys on the proper way to tie the knots they needed. The dragons seemed to be having their own discussions as they watched the activity happening around Bylanth.
“Remember, Myka,” Asharyn was saying with a chuckle. “You shouldn’t do any huge tricks when we take off. You may lose your passenger, as well as all of your belongings.”
“If he drops me, I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your life, your Majesty,” the blond-haired boy teased the king.
“Good thing that I’ve got wards to protect me from daunting spirits,” Asharyn responded with a chuckle.
“Oryn is going to love having brothers, Asharyn,” Orina told her husband as she joined him. Then, she placed the palm of her hand against her belly. “I wish I could have given you more children.”
“You have given me plenty, my love,” Asharyn told his wife as he placed his own hand over hers and used his other arm to pull his queen close to him. “You are my everything. Oryn will make a great leader someday. Until then, he gets to enjoy his childhood a little while longer.”
“The glory of youth.”
“If only we could go back and do it again,” the king said wistfully. “I would have done so many things differently.”
“The past is the past for a reason,” Orina reminded Asharyn. “We must never dwell on it but use it as lessons for the future. The past must never be repeated.”
“The Old Ways must never return,” Asharyn finished for her, the lesson from his own childhood was clear in his mind. The way his professor had stood at the front of the classroom, the woman’s hands clasped firmly behind her back as she recited from “The Laws of History”. Every royal family member was required to memorize the book as if it was their own private religion, using it to guide their decisions and to keep Erewhon progressing towards a future filled with love. The king sighed and shook his head. “We can never go back.”
“We will never go back,” Orina added. Then, she kissed Asharyn lightly on the cheek. “So, when will the two cretins be brought to Dragonsholme?”
“Myka’s cousins will be brought to the city in one month,” the man replied. “They are currently living in the dungeons in River Village under Lady Sharie’s watchful eye.”
“Good,” Orina said with a grunt. “Let them believe they are getting off easy before we send them to our own dungeons for the remainder of their lives.”
“That’s too good for them,” Asharyn stated. “I’m certain that we can come up with a creative punishment that suits their crime.”
Orina couldn’t help but giggle at her husband’s comment. “Come on, love. We’ve got places to be.”
“Like always,” Asharyn added with a roll of his eyes. The man watched as Lady Tamera came outside to give her grandson one last hug before the boy mounted Bylanth and sat behind Myka. The young Rider made sure his passenger was secure, like he had been trained to do, before he made himself comfortable and fastened his own safety harness. Then, Asharyn helped Orina onto the back of Laryth. “He’s stronger than we thought, Orina.”
Orina followed her husband’s gaze to where Myka was smiling and joking with Nikolai. “When we get home, I’ll check on him as much as possible.”
“I knew I could count on you,” Asharyn responded before he gave the signal for everyone to take off. ‘Let’s go home, Laryth. I want to see my own son, now.’
‘Finally,’ the red dragon rumbled grumpily. ‘I am beginning to get homesick, myself.’
‘It has been nearly a month, Laryth,’ the Rider reminded his dragon as the creature’s webbed wings lifted the king and queen into the sky.
‘Time is nothing for a dragon,’ Laryth reminded his Rider with a chuckle. ‘The boy and dragon fly well together.’
‘My thoughts, as well, Laryth.’
Asharyn glanced around him as he heard childish laughter echoing in the air behind him, bringing a smile to his own face. Orina squeezed him around the waist as she leaned her head against his back. The man patted her arm gently before he grabbed the reins and urged Laryth higher into the sky.