Shale awoke much earlier than she had meant to. That is, it was around noon. She had intended to sleep until the next morning. Between Sigleth and her persistent suitors, Shale hadn't had more than a few moments of true rest in the entire time she'd been at Ryslen and it was beginning to show. What would have been a harmless cold had all but confined her to her bed for the better part of the sevenday yet she still felt exhausted. This morning, thankfully, Sigleth was still soundly asleep.
"Please, please, please, don't rise today," she begged her sleeping queen. Sigleth's tail twitched in reply, showing that the gold was alert, if still dozing. Despite the glow of Sigleth's hide and her recent restlessness, the cool, crisp, semi-wintery air made Shale ache to get outside. Deciding that Sigleth would not rise, much less awaken, in the next hour, Shale pulled on warm clothes and started down the stairway from her guest weyr into Ryslen's weyrbowl.
The midday air had a definite springy feeling to it and Shale enjoyed it almost as much as she would have a swim in Quinalt's warm weyrlake back home. She found herself wandering down towards the much colder lake at Ryslen where a few dragons were bathing while their riders huddled together on the beach. Shale waved to them and they waved politely back, but she didn't know any of them. Why Sigleth had wanted to rise at Ryslen, among dragons and riders they didn't even know, Shale would never know.
Sigleth awakened very suddenly. The emotions coming from her gold made Shale stumble and fall to her knees on the Sands. She struggled to her feet, brushing away helping hands, and began running towards the feeding grounds as Sigleth emerged from their weyr. The gold's hide was shining so brightly that it almost hurt Shale's eyes to look at it. She moved with the flowing movements of a feline, graceful and sinister at the same time, to the end of the ledge where she lept and swooped down to the feeding grounds, bellowing a challenge.
Don't you dare eat, Sig! Shale yelled as she ran, trying to remember what she had been told before Sigleth's last flight but finding nothing to help her. Sigleth's mind was a chaos of emotions: a horrible, gut-wrenching hunger, anger, and, most of all, the need to fly. Blood only! Do you hear me!? BLOOD ONLY!
Sigleth bugled defiantly as she pounced on her first victim and began to tear at its belly. Shale felt her stomach turn over with fright. What if she couldn't control Sigleth? What would happen if she ate? Get away from that, Sigleth! You need only the blood!
With a snarl, Sigleth stopped disemboweling her catch and fastened her teeth on its neck and sucked. She drained the beast quickly and then moved her head as if to eat but once again was prevented by Shale's orders. The next herdbeast proved to be less troublesome, Shale only having to remind her queen once of what to do. By the third beast, Sigleth knew what she was really hungry for. Suddenly, she became aware of the males around her, eyes fixed on her growing form, and bellowed her outrage. With a powerful leap, she sprang from the ground and was rocketing up into the skies. The five males followed quickly and soon queen and her suitors were lost in the clouds.
Shale sank to the ground, completely exhausted by her efforts. All she wanted was to go back to sleep, Sig was the one doing the flying. Her tired mind, however, found itself swept up into the clouds, entwined as surely with Sigleth's as it had been from the day of their Impression.
Sigleth knew she was far ahead of her suitors and took the time to enjoy her freedom. They were puny, weak little males, and stupid to think that they could possibly match her speed and strength. She was no skittish little green, eager to be caught and twine necks with whichever blue outwitted his fellows. If they wanted to catch her, they would have to work harder than they every had. She, however, was free to play with them to her heart's content.
Her suitors began to catch up to her, giving Sigleth a clear view of her enemy. It was a respectable group, she noted, except for that one foolish brown, flying eagerly in the front of the pack. The two bronzes were both fine, strong beasts, flying neck and neck though each was obviously trying to outfly the other. It was the two odd colored ones who caught the gold's attention, though. The smaller of the two, though bigger than the other bronzes, had a pattern on his hide that reminded the gold of something furry she had seen before. The larger's hide was a striking contrast between white stars and black hide.
Sigleth decided to go after the brown first. Browns, she had always been stubborn in saying, did not belong in a gold's flight. They were best suited to greens or smaller females and should leave the queens to the bronzes and larger males. But, in every gold's flight, it seemed, there was a brown to be delt with, and Sigleth decided to have fun while dealing with hers. She swooped down low above him, allowing her tail to drag across his back before she flitted up into the clouds.
Elpeth gave a bellow of surprise and followed her, wings pumping hard so that he would not lose sight of his prize in the clouds. As he followed Sigleth, however, the poor brown did just that. She led him into an especially thick patch and then dove straight down. Elpeth continued up and found himself far above and behind the pack which he had once led. He dropped into place behind the pack, tired wings pumping steadily. He was too tired to be a threat, Sigleth knew, though she was impressed with his pride. Dismissing the brown, Sigleth flew for a little ways in front of the pack, toying with it, as she selected her next victim.
The two bronzes decided for her. Still flying neck to neck, they both rushed on Sigleth at the same time. Snarling, the queen barely evaded them by pulling up at the last moment. They had been ready for this, however, and did not collide, nor did they try to follow her. The simply swerved and kept flying, waiting for her. This infuriated Sigleth beyond reason, and, with a shriek, she dove straight for them. Startled by the diving queen, both bronzes backwinged to avoid collision with her. Sigleth flew neatly between them, crooning tauntingly at their clumsy attempts to foul her wings. Neither Retegrith nor Kagamith were harmless yet, however, and Sigleth kept flying warily.
On a sudden impulse, Sigleth sped far ahead of her four suitors and then bugled back at them, daring them to come try to catch her. They came, the two troublesome bronzes once again in the lead. Retegrith powered forward, every muscle straining for his hovering prize, sure he had won her. He gave a victoriuous bugle - and then found himself carried forward by his momentum when Sigleth dove at the last moment. Discouraged and knowing he had lost, Retegrith spiraled downwards towards Ryslen.
Sigleth intended to deal with Kagamith in a similar manner. She didn't, however, count on Sivilath. As she hovered, calling invitingly to the rushing bronze, she felt talons on her back. She screamed and twisted around to face her attacker, realizing too late that this had been his plan.
But I still have two more chasers! She protested even as she twined her neck with his and extended her wings, only slightly bigger than his, to slow their fall.
What a pity for them, Sivilath chuckled as they fell. They should have been faster if they wanted a chance at my Sigleth.
Shale suddenly found herself back on the ground, feeling as exhausted as before. "Riyenom!" she called to Sivilath's feline rider who was being led away by a greenrider. "Get away from that greenrider and get your furry hind end over here and help me up!"
Faster than her tired eyes could quite follow, she was embraced by the strong arms of Sivilath's rider. "I'm not too weird for you, queenrider?" he purred into her ear.
"Shut up already, you talk too much!" Shale declared and silence him quite effectively, leaving no question in his mind about whether he was "too weird".