One of the more unusual pairs of dragons who had hatched from Ryslen, Khalbalahath and Saktishanatath, remained on while Sakti matured. Even without a rider, Sakti was a skilled performer in the air, racing around her much larger light-brown companion Khal. Though Khal’s rider had been killed, he remained alive and well – something to do with the air of changes around many weyrs and the Kshau Protectorate encouraged him along the way. One of the things that his lovely irridescent green bond didn’t seem to realize was how ... well, how mature she really was getting. But in the meantime, they needed some kind of reason to remain on at Ryslen, rather than returning to the Kshau isle on Alskyr. And Khal knew just the thing.
Khalbalahath had spoken to the weyrling master and the trainers for the younger dragons, and his ‘bond’ Saktishanatath grew more popular than ever when she would get chatty and demanding of the young rider pairs.
Come along! You will have to do better than that! Look out for the thread! She called to the group – but something more was on her mind, even if she did not admit it. Her moodiness was coupled with a dramatic rise in her feeding habits, and the beautiful luster of her skin grew even more impressive over the course of the spring. She continued to snap at the fledgelings and they responded sharply, marching and ducking in formation, then finally taking to the air to practice those same moves in three dimensions instead of on the parade grounds.
Khalbalahath flew overhead, and with the aid of several other riders and trainers, helped toss down “fake” thread onto the dragons below. Simulating a ‘fall, something that while not entirely necessary at many weyrs any longer, was done to keep the dragons interested in duties and their riders in shape. Perhaps it was the other way around – Khal didn’t much need any encouragement, seeing the flight of fighting dragons below made his heart swell as if they were his own.
That’s all wrong! Sakti bellowed, letting out a piercing scream. You’re getting it all over you! If you can’t head between, you’re going to have to dive more quickly!
“She’s getting kind of testy today,” muttered one of the riders, and Khal mentally agreed.
She ... heh, she’s glowing, friends. What a great time to pick to have a flight – tell your females to scatter... I don’t think she’s going to want any of them around...
And sure enough on the ground, several of the experienced riders had already taken the moment to smack their greens, whites or golds on the rump and send them flying off to a safer distance.
The younger greens in the formation were confused, and the single gold roared her displeasure. I am the only queen here! You cannot tell me where to go, you little misfit green!
“Ohh, that’s done it...” Someone groaned.
You are not a queen until you breed, young golden-egg, Saktishanatath growled, and you are much younger than I. I may be small, but compared to you I—
SAKTISHANATATH! Stop it! Khal sent, and the remaining young weyrlings and fledge students scurried inside or to the edge of the lake, where they might be safe. Khal’s annoyed mental shout rang through the green’s mind, and she spun.
Don’t you start with me! You can’t possibly understand what it’s like being told by this young upstart-
She’s gone – her rider has enough sense to bring her in... Khal said, more softly. He’d been through mating rituals before, but ... none so valuable as this one might be. You should... perhaps, go look at the wherry or the herd beasts, there... Do they look tasty?
I’m not hungry – yes, I am – I’m going to eat hers, just so she can’t have it! That’s it! Sakti stomped off to the pens, as Khalbalahath announced to Ryslen’s general population that his bond was very likely going to be flying, was there something that could be done to help the riderless female?
Tiyanni came bolting out of the weyr’s observation ledge, and aimed a thought at her queen, who relayed something brief to Khal. But even in that moment, when the gold’s mind touched Khal’s, Saktishanatath went off like a siren.
You dare! You get away from my bond! He is mine! She shrieked, unaware that the dragoness in question was resting on one of the high, faroff ledges watching these proceedings. Sakti tore into a herdbeast, enjoying a little too much that it shrieked and kicked at her with its hooves before dying.
You must only drink its blood, my dear, if you want to fly well enough to breed. So do not insult the golden daughters until you yourself have proven your worth.
Sakti glared up with her muzzle shining with blood, screamed aloud, and then tore into another beast – burying her face into the carcass to get at the best blood from the heart. One more, and she seemed to burst with light from within.
Khalbalahath stood mutely, staring almost as dumbfounded as most riders looked about then. Here were dragons without riders, taking instruction from other dragons – but then, why not? Flitters had been doing this ritual for time immemorial, why not now with dragons? Khal replied to the queen, thank you, I do not know what we would have done without your words.
Saktishanatath glowered at the other animals, as they scattered bleating away from her. She noticed for the first time there was a row of blues watching her, along with a brown and her bond, all from different weyrs, perhaps all visiting Ryslen for one reason or another. Snarling and snapping, Sakti took to the air, and her sharp wings made hard noises as she climbed.
Straight up, and only moments later the group of blues followed. The flock of them weren’t quite sure what to make of the big half-brown half-pale dragon who still stood his ground, the other brown, an Alabaster dragon, rose up after the first big circling the troupe did over the lake. Khal watched carefully, as quite early on, blue Eirath from Navi dropped from the flight – his pride hurt, if not his wing, which Sakti bit.
Sakti flew in complex patterns, the parade flights fresh in her mind, but with tricks that she’d always wanted to throw in. However her estimation of how much room she had to move in was a bit off, and she led two blues, Ionalath and Orasteth, to crash into one another, just barely missing her!
At this point, finally, Khal decided it was time to show who was the right match for his bond. He could not bear the endless chiding if he didn’t win, of course, but more, he would never be able to live with another male in his bond’s mind. Just as she was enfuriated with the queen, touching his.
Eyes angry and red, shining dangerously like her brightly colored skin, Saktishanatath circled up into a sheer climb, then switched her position and fell, almost freefalling without moving her wings at all, until she was barely above the ground. At what looked like the last minute she switched her wings into a scoop shape, and almost gave a cruel laugh as the brown Cahnath took a tumble. He would be all right, fortunately he was quite durable, and had begun his backwinging much earlier than the female. But still, his rider Achthia was enfuriated.
Sadly, of course, there was no one to yell at but the dragons, and they were still in flight above. A large Cincanta blue, Lonaquith, Talor’s blue Bostonoth, and Khalbalahath still pursued the glimmering green. When S’tan learned that his blue was participating in a rather violent flight, he insisted that Lonaquith drop from the flight – protesting to his dragon that if he won that flight they’d never be able to get back to their own promised flight at Moon Shadow! Subdued, but sensible, the big blue turned left instead of right, and allowed the last two to vye for the female.
You are a worthy opponent, Khal bespoke to the blue, Talor dragons are good for everyone.
Khalbalahath sensed the hesitation in the blue, and it seemed like he too had another place to be, with perhaps another dragon to chase. But he didn’t want to let it go just yet, so Bostonoth applied even more force to his big curved wings, and pursued Saktishanatath into the sky once more.
She spun, whipping her tail around the blue’s face, and screamed a laugh. You are all so tired you fall from the sky! I will be the very first queen to outfly her suitors!
Not so fast, my beautiful queen, Khalbalahath announced, coming up from below and in front of the little queen, as she ranted and hissed behind her at the blue who even now faded to the ground. You are mine, whether you like it or not. And I suspect you shall...
Sakti butted her head hard onto Khal’s strong side, trying to dislodge his neck, but he wrapped it around hers, tail around tail, and his big wings carried them up into the sky once again.
You see, you would be dangerous if you had a Ryslen crest like mine, Khal smugly said, caressing his smooth-necked mate.
Are you telling me I am not dangerous!? Sakti demanded, but her demands were quite met, high in the air over Ryslen.