For the sixth time that day, the piercing sound of a very angry dragon echoed through the cavernous corridors of Cathair Fionabhainn. The very nature of the Cathair meant that every single inhabitant heard the sound, and after a few moments of confusion, just shook their heads and carried on with their daily work. One of the greens was due to rise soon, and it seemed she was intent on making sure everybody knew she was extremely unhappy about the matter.
Everyone knew which green it was. Only the young Ainchisth, unused to the emotions brought on by an impending flight could possibly have been the source of all the noise. It was well known throughout the Cathair that she was very due, and had been incredibly proddy for the last few days.
What they didn't know was that Ainchisth, while a green dragon in body, had the mind of a male human, a mind that was most unhappy about the prospect of a mating flight, followed by a clutch. Had they know this, the male riders would have felt sympathetic, and the females, in all probability, would have snickered amongst themselves. Only a male could make so much fuss.
In the quarters Ainchisth shared with her, or more appropriately, his mate Ambroseth, the volume was even higher. Despite his agreement to at least rise to mate once, the four-winged green was having second thoughts.
Shhh, silly girl. It's too late now, Ambroseth crooned softly, trying to placate his bond. However, while Ainchisth usually took the 'girl' reference with good humour, this time it was met with a further explosion of draconic sound.
I am NOT a girl! Ainchisth yelled at the top of his mindvoice, flaring all four green wings and letting another bugle ripple through the Cathair.
Okay… okay… you're not a girl, but you are still silly, Ambroseth said calmingly. It's too late to change your mind now. You're going to rise soon…
Well I can't can I? The Sands are full already, so I can't rise, and I can't clutch. There isn't room for me here, Ainchisth snapped back at the sunset winged brown. He felt quite pleased with that deduction. There was no possible way he could be forced to have a clutch if there was no space for him to lay them.
You will go to Ryslen then, the calm, yet firm voice of starry Thentrith broke in. They have space for you, and Tiyanni has already informed my rider that you will be more than welcome. Left unsaid was the fact that Thentrith, still on the Sands with her own clutch, really wanted the peace and quiet that was the Cathair without a highly proddy Ainchisth.
I don't want to go to Ryslen! Ainchisth snarled at the Cathairte's dragon. They stare at me at the time. I'm not going back there.
It's already been arranged Ainchisth, Ambroseth cut in before Thentrith could say another word, knowing full well that his mate was more likely to respond to his words than those of the starry dragon. If they stare at you, I will eat them okay? he offered with the knowledge that while he would never act on the promise, it would please Ainchisth, especially in his current highly emotional state.
Okay, Ainchisth agreed quietly and moodily, realizing he had no choice if Thentrith and Kataela had already arranged this.
Good, Thentrith said, her tone of voice implying that the pair had better go immediately, before the flight began. As Ainchisth and Ambroseth took off from their ledge and para-shifted to Pern, Thentrith spoke to Litayth, warning her of Ainchisth's volatile state. He was irrational even for a green on heat.
In another part of the Cathair, another dragon overheard the conversation, and launched from his own ledge, leaving his rather surprised rider behind. He knew he'd been in trouble when he returned, but he wanted to catch Ainchisth, even at the risk of coming between the green and her bondmate.
And so when the three dragons arrived at Ryslen Weyr, there was only just enough time for Ainchisth to land, announcing his arrival, before the need to eat blazed through his mind and body, and he launched skywards again to get to the hunting grounds. He glided over the herds below him, chasing them in circles, before dropping down onto a herdbeast and dipping his muzzle to take a bite.
With the lack of a rider to order him to blood the kill only, Ambroseth shouted the command instead. Blood only!
Snarling, Ainchisth complied, draining the beast dry, before looking around him. Aware of the flight, Litayth had ordered the air clear, all apart from one dragon, who the green instantly recognised.
You should not be here! Ainchisth yelled at the brown-silver Glacieth, who'd come to Ryslen without his rider, Icewind. He'd been vaguely aware that the other dragon seemed to like him a little too much, but had never paid much attention. Ambroseth was the only company he needed.
Yes! GO! Ambroseth joined in, enraged that another dragon would dare come near his mate. Not just flying mates, but the one he'd chosen to be his bond when he'd hatched. None had the right to fly Ainchisth but him and him alone.
I will not! Glacieth responded with a challenging bugle. I have the right to chase!
Neither of you will chase me! Ainchisth interrupted with a high-pitched trumpet that ascended high above the range of human hearing, and was painful even for dragons caught in its blast.
Which both Ambroseth and Glacieth were, as both males were trying to get as close to the green as possible, despite the obvious risks involved. The few moments distraction caused by his shrill cry gave Ainchisth the time to launch vertically upwards and gain a significant amount of altitude before Ambroseth and Glacieth had even realised what was going on.
Rising high above the Weyrbowl of Ryslen Weyr, Ainchisth soared upwards, revelling for a few moments in the freedom of flight, all four wings flared open to catch the wind.
Of all the things in life, flying was one of the greatest joys Ainchisth had ever known, and with eight thousand years experience, he was more than qualified to make that decision. Now as he rose, his blood coursing quickly through his veins, he knew that this moment, with all the power and energy from the herdbeast's blood his to command, this was his moment.
The Weyr was watching him from below, and now the two males watching from behind, tracing his every movement with complete fascination. Today, the world was his, and they knew it.
Come Ainchisth, don't play games, Ambroseth said softly, knowing that in the end, he would be the winner. No one but him could catch this glowing beauty of a green.
I will play as long as I like! Ainchisth responded, folding his wings to drop down towards the Weyr, dive-bombing the watchdragon in pure exuberance, before opening his duo-wings once again to catch the sharp breeze that rose up along the edge of the Weyr, letting it take him quickly upwards, soaring high into the clouds.
Determined to be in with a chance, Glacieth beat his wings hard to follow Ainchisth, making use of thermals and his own pure muscle power to gain extra altitude. He would not be beaten by a green half his size, and certainly wouldn't allow himself to lose to Ambroseth.
Ambroseth, with greater knowledge of Ainchisth's mind, stayed low, cunning to the tactics he knew the green would use. There was little point wasting energy rising upwards when Ainchisth would only dive down again, leading Glacieth on a merry chase through the sky. The sunset-brown would wait, watching Ainchisth every moment in order to seize his chance.
But Ainchisth stayed high, ascending into the upper reaches of the sky where the clouds were thin and wispy, like delicate fronds caressing the pure blue of the morning sky. He knew Ambroseth's plan, and wasn't going to be fooled. They would never catch him. Not on this day!
His delicate frame and four wings allowed Ainchisth more agility than Glacieth, and so, quite literally, he was flying circles around him, swirling around the silver-brown in wide, lazy loops, before shooting forward again, two sets of wings beat in perfect harmony with his body. Always in time, always synchronised, and always utterly perfect in motion.
But his body was not designed for extended flight, being far more attuned to short, agile bursts of intense speed, and so now he was slowing, reaching the point where he would naturally wish to rest. The blooding of the herdbeast had given him an extra shot of energy, allowing him twice the distance he could normally cover, but that was beginning to wear off now.
Behind him, Glacieth saw his chance, and pushed forwards, beating his wings slowly but fully, and quickly gaining ground, before twining delicately around Ainchisth's delicate green body.
And barely a moment later, the silver-brown found himself alone, a combination of Ainchisth's struggling, and Ambroseth ramming into him at top speed. The sunset-brown bugled a warning to Glacieth, making sure it was clear no one would catch Ainchisth but him.
Glacieth stayed in the air however, hoping that he was still in with a chance, but when the exhausted Ainchisth relaxed into Ambroseth, he knew the flight was over. Instantly, the silver-brown para-shifted back to Cathair Fionabhainn, ready to receive the yelling he fully expected from his rider.
Ainchisth complained weakly as Ambroseth twined around him, still not entirely willing. But he was too tired from his exertion to now resist, and so he allowed the mating to occur. There would be trouble later on, when he had rested…