Xiorayith was perfectly aware that she was going to rise at any time. The light-gold took it in stride, and displayed little of the irritability that she was feeling. She made sure Viresa was aware and prepared as well.
But this, this was a lovely day, cerulean-skied, and with some of the heat of the tropics coming back without dampness. The light-gold stretched easily, each wheat-gold wing in turn, aware of several dragons' eyes -most outWeyr, though there was a single Ryslen brown-following her movement hungrily. The sun and wind stroking her hide made a wildness well within her breast, and those prismatic eyes' dumb vigil irritated her beyond belief. Muzzle held high, she quashed her annoyance and bore their regard stoically.
I think it is time, Xiorayith said softly to her rider, and walked--walked--with decorum toward the Feeding Grounds.
It took the five males a moment to catch on. Tshoth of Talor Cliff, an awkward, cheerful brown, was the first to figure it out, and he leapt into flight with a startled bugle, snaring a beast before Xiorayith had done more than look at them.
As the pale queen vaulted lightly onto the wind's back, the sleek, gold-tinged Ordeth, a green's-clutch bronze from Aneris, sprang into the air at the same time as the much older Dark Moon bronze, Horuth. They snorted at each other, jockeying for position even as they killed and ate.
Another Dark Moon bronze, a two-toner by the name of Alleonith, was quick to follow, his muscles rippling under brassy skin. Close on his tail was the last of the chasers, the Ryslen brown, Fivrith. Alleonith killed his beast rather bloodthirstily; Fivrith matched Xiorayith's scientific precision, though he and Tshoth took fewer beasts, lest even the blood weigh them down.
Xiorayith even paid heed to her rider's firm reminder to blood, slaking her driving thirst on the life fluid of several beasts. She was larger than any of her chasers, though they were all older than the light-gold.
To the air, she commanded coolly, and the wind made oil-shimmers on the gradients of her flanks. Platinum-tipped spars stung the air seconds before darker-hued wings began to beat. And they were away! The skies were spring-cool, brisk and brittle, and they fit Xiorayith's mood. She let the swift breeze blow through her as she shot past the clouds, too intent on her task to even take note of which riders were where on the ground. What did she care? That was Viresa's domain, and Xiorayith knew that her rider could handle it.
The light-gold assessed the situation logically. Closest behind were the speedier browns, neck-and-neck, while below their flanks small Ordeth flew. Horuth and Alleonith had taken up side-positions-dangerous if she swerved into them, and too far away to recover should she dodge suddenly. She decided to test this theory.
With a snap of her wings, she plowed into Horuth, sliding nimbly away from the startled bronze's grasping talons. Already too far away to regain his place, Alleonith keened his frustration and fell in tandem with the older bronze.
Three left, she told herself, and though her pleasure was sucked away by the driving purpose, she knew that she couldn't shake all of them. But two more, at least... A pity that there was only the one bronze left. Ordeth was handsome, but he was going to get a surprise in a moment...
Sacrificing speed for altitude, she shot up at a steep angle, cupping her 'sails as she flew to force herself to greater heights. And as she had suspected, the young bronze overshot, keening wistfully as he turned his head toward the Weyr. Two more to go. Both browns-well, browns were agile enough, especially this pair. She'd have to outlast them...
So Xiorayith flew at a breakneck pace toward the horizon. She could feel the burn on her shoulders and keel, and had no doubt that the browns were feeling it worse than she was.
When her breath came short, she risked a look behind her. Far, far back, the disconsolate form of one brown fell. Which one, which one? Who had won her fairly?
Wild with impatience, she dropped back and down, waiting for brown claws to ensnare her. And they did! Cinnabar wings echoed her own as her catcher's forefeet brushed her neck.
Fivrith! she caroled as she at last caught sight of him.
In very deed, Al'jan's brown replied.
As her lifemate fell soft as thistledown beyond her sight, Viresa smiled at an awed and exuberant Al'jan. He had gotten his wish.