Ryslen was experiencing a considerable amount of good weather for the season it was in. Clear skies and sunshine abounded, along with fair winds and a lingering greeness to the trees that was reminiscent of warmer days. Many of Ryslen's population took advantage of their good fortune, for they were sure it wasn't going to last. Not lacking in these numbers were those waiting for mating flights in which their bonds were either to fly or be flown. Ryslen had turned into a right hotspot for mating dragons after its departure into the Nexus itself.
Among those sunning themselves by the lake were two long-bodied, wing armed dragonesses whose proddiness had increased marginally each day since their arrival. On this fine day, lounging under a mid-day sun, the combined tempers of the two was enough to drive even the most pig-headed of males away... or it would be in a matter of minutes.
Oh, buzz OFF! Rotuk growled irritably as Porth attempted to sidle up to her for the millionth time.
Would it be beyond you to show a little respect? Cahnath, another of Rotuk's self-determined suitors sniffed pridefully from his beach-side perch only a small ways off. He lay across the grass, backlegs extended on the sun warmed grains of sand that lead down the lake and wings fanned wide open over the ground. An air of disdain coloured his rich, earth-toned voice as he looked upon the bulky brown from the Warren who flaunted himself before the green Hathian dragoness.
I believe it would. Garath muttered not altogether indiscreetly, and earned a few smug gwafs from his fellow males.
I find him to be very much like the other males going after my sister. Daminiss' willowy voice drifted towards a different crowd, far more reserved in their comments and mannerisms. The slender yellow shivered her neck in distaste and ducked her gaze away from the vulturish ring of males surrounding them.
We are not all so bad. Hobbinbolyblaziniyaghth insisted to the yellow gem whom had caught his eye. He was seconded quickly by Yarpath.
Some of us are actually quite bareable. Samtiaradanth rumbled from his seat beside his bond brother, Adrakeneth. Adrak' was too busy glaring silently at Porth to add his own commentary.
And not nearly as crude. Dvheyantriaenayotcheyvanyshlavarth growled, his fiery hide haloed by a colourless glimmer from the sun's rays. Copper, black and red wove together in illusionary fire that mimicked the flickering flames dancing down his skeletal wings.
Ah, stuff it. I'm just helping her make the right choice. Porth gave off a dignified huff and thrust his sharp muzzle high into the air as he stalked away to sit by his own bond brother. Yarpath wasn't the only one to roll his eyes skyward in silent pleading with the unseen entities that ruled over the various worlds of the Nexus.
I can make my own choices! Rotuk snapped furiously, rattling the scales that ran down her spine. Among the Hathians of Tris'Hath, it was well known that only one other colour of female could match the red for sheer irritability. Greens were haughty, self-assured and among the loudest of dragons ever to exist. Rotuk was, therefore, a nearly perfect foil for her shy, reclusive sister.
The green female gathered her feet beneath her with the suddenness of a striking snake. Her sharp tined wings stuck straight up in the air, impaling the shining, golden orb hung in the sky on their leafy green ends. Daminiss did likewise a second later, her low-built body winding across the grass to her sister's side, where she stood poised and impatient. This was not the first time in their lives that the green and yellow females acted as one entity, one thought in mind.
Rotuk drew in a long, gusty breath and released a bellow that dazed even the quickest of their suitors, who had caught on to what was happening the instant the females rose. They were the first to respond, leaping directly into the air after Daminiss and Rotuk without the nourishment of fresh blood to aid their stamina. It was Rotuk's searing words, cutting into the minds of all ten males, that woke the others and got them moving. And I choose to fly NOW!
* * *
Meanwhile, Ivit had been in her den high in the mountain wall surrounding Ryslen, accompanied by her husband alone. She heard the call, and was surprised at the vehemence wafting off her two bonds as they took to the air. Only when Veskr chuckled amusedly did she realize that she'd caught his arm in a death grip at the first ringing note of Rotuk's bellow.
Ivit blushed, turning her feline gaze upon her husband and smiling ever so faintly. The death grip loosened into a gentle hold, coupled by her other hand as it slipped through the crook of his arm. When she felt the burning colour fade from her face, she schooled her voice into a low purr meant only for his ears. "I think we should find somewhere to sit down for a while."
Sitting was not the action on their minds, but Veskr complied by leading her away to the private room accorded all riders.
The other humanoid participants in the flights were not in the least compromised by Ivit's pre-existing attachment to a mate. Vayelle and Hector had been together long before they bonded their large collection of dragons. This flight would be no different from the last one they had entered as husband and wife. Dvheyan' was in the same position as his bond; high in the sky on the tail of a female in heat. That left only A'leil, Achthia and Rugan.
Only once had A'leil of Moire attempted conversation with the foul-tempered black smith from Tris'Hath. He'd lasted all of three seconds in her presence before turning tail and running. Even then, he'd barely survived the encounter unscathed. And Rugan was known to hold grudges.
So while Rugan wiled away the hours with only her alcohol as company, A'leil and Achthia grew better acquainted in a private room. Their conversation was aided (or hindered depending on how one looks at the situation) by the heightened desires being projected to them by their multiple bonds. It didn't take long for them to be in the same position as Ivit and Veskr.
* * *
Up in the sky, Daminiss and Rotuk were finding their pursuers annoyingly persistent in the chase. The large grouping of double bonded males had yet to split up into the orderly groups by which they were supposed to be chasing the Hathian females, according to Hathian practice. Like one, dark clump in the sky, they followed on the tails of their lithe and quick-winged prizes, matching their moves only through the sheer bulk of their tightly-packed bodies.
Rotuk had had enough. She turned a narrow gaze on the band of hot-heated males behind her, picking out with her withering glare the ones that would fall. Already she knew which ones were chasing her by the split attentions of each male. Porth, Hobbin', Samtiaradanth, and Vriendinth were hers and hers alone, while Yarpath, Dvheyan', Cahnath and Adrak' had eyes only for Daminiss. The last two, Cioraniyeth and Garath, seemed yet undecided, swivelling their gazes this way and that like children in a candy store choosing what they wanted. Rotuk thought they'd had enough time to ponder, and said so to her sister.
Daminiss was of an equal opinion. There were few things that the two Hathians agreed on wholly, but sticking to ancestral mating rituals was one of them. Besides, Daminiss felt they'd spent enough time flying side by side. Now was the moment to shake things up.
And they did so quite effectively.
As the two females reached for the skyline, they chose a point and broke off in perfect unison. The change from assent to left or right veering was so abrupt, so swiftly done, that it took a minute for the males to even realize their targets had changed course. Rotuk and Daminiss sped off in opposite directions, serpentine bodies spiralling through the air. The males, however, swam together in a chaotic mass of labouring wings and growling maws as they tried to break off and follow the dragoness of their choosing.
Two things happened when the males finally untangled themselves and surged after their targets. The first was a confused choice made by Cioraniyeth and Garath, neither really sure if they were flying in the right direction. Cioraniyeth followed Rotuk, while Garath trailed the yellow tip of Daminiss' tail. They hovered in the back of the ragged packs, knowing only that if they were following a female, they must be doing something right.
The other thing was a collision between two of the harried chasers. Samtiaradanth had decided a split second too late that he wanted to stay with Daminiss instead of going after Rotuk, which would have been easier from his advantage point. He turned on a wingtip, and ran smack into Porth.
The furious brown let off a series of curses and bellows meant to drive his road block away. Unfortunately, Sam' didn't feel much like stopping what he was doing and hurtle towards the ground. The two males were stuck together for one second too long and in that second, the two females took their flights above the clouds. Porth screamed violently, finally scaring the Moriean blue into backing away.
It was too late by then though, and this fact was acknowledged by Samtiaradanth. As Porth arrowed straight for the clouds in a vain attempt to get back into the flights, Sam' exhaled a sad bugle and began his spiral to the ground.
I'm not licked yet! Porth roared to any open mind while taking his chase back into Rotuk's path. The Hathian green rolled her eyes in agitation. She thought she had lost that overgrown oaf. No matter, she was about to lose the rest of them in a second. Rotuk grinned ferally, feeling her sister's mind return with a sharp note of giddiness. Since this was the first flight of its kind at Ryslen, they'd planned on making it a memorable one.
Daminiss and Rotuk dove as one being, working on the thoughts of a unified mind. Wings like razor-blades cut back against their sides while their long bodies curled into the wind and let them spin downwards at an accelerated pace. Cioraniyeth lead the head of Rotuk's flight, and Garath of Daminiss'. Behind them the males lined up and vied for positions as they too fell into sharp dives. The lone, dark figure of Porth hovered on the edge of Rotuk's following like some stray string caught in the wind. The females evened out their flights, curving inwards towards each other with their wings only half-extended. They were headed on a collision course that would surely take out a few more males as they passed.
It was in that indeterminable second between their exact opposition to one another and when they passed that Cio' and Garath made their moves. Lunging away from the following of males, they threw themselves into the path of the oncoming female and braced for impact.
With a screech of surprise and one of indignance, the females were caught. Neither could pull up in time to avoid the twin brown males, and so were effectively thrown into the clutches of the Blackstone dragons. Their plan had worked and, as Cio' and Garath fell towards the ground with their prizes, they bellowed triumphantly.
The other males began their descending spirals, some muttering about the unfairness of a flight ending before all the losers had been weeded out. The flight had only lasted half an hour. Many of the chasers weren't even winded yet. The few that were found themselves torn between thankfulness at a quick end, and despair at having lost. Two voices rose in a sudden, defiant bellow that stunned the males a second time since the flight's beginning.
We're not done yet! Daminiss and Rotuk called as they struggled to escape the holds of their partners. Cioraniyeth and Garath had nearly reached the ground, and thusly the end of the flight, by the time the Hathian females grew bored with their company. They were fine mates, that was true enough, but these two wanted more. They had made this a doubled bonded flight, so each of them felt it was only right that they get two mates.
Cio' and Garath released their holds on Daminiss and Rotuk, spiralling downwards in lazy spirals as the females shot upwards. All the remaining males, including Samtiaradanth hovered mid-air while Rotuk and Daminiss regained altitude. As they waited, one egotistical brown spoke the thought on all of their minds.
Sweet! Porth exclaimed, veering off to follow Rotuk. We get a second chance!
The flight resumed with reinforced vigor. It was Vriendinth in the lead of Daminiss' flight this time, and Adrakenenth heading off Rotuk's. The other three males a piece fell into line behind them, Hobbin' and Dvheyan' with extra flying room lest their fiery wings score their competitors. Swooping and spinning, they followed the two females doggedly into the clouds and out of them again. Rotuk and Daminiss cris-crossed several times, but were wary of their passings this time 'round. They never got close enough for two more males to try the same trick as Cio' and Garath.
Vriendinth and Cahnath learned this the hard way on the first crossing of the two Hathians. Though they were already chasing their desired mates, they felt that any win was a good win. So when Rotuk came within touching distance of Daminiss, the bronze and brown brothers swerved into the opposing female's path and braced for impact.
Unfortunately, the two had seen this coming, and by the time that Vriend' and Cahnath were in place, Rotuk and Daminiss had darted off to the left and right of their would-be catchers. The Moire dragons were left alone to witness the passing of the females and their followers, too slow to fling themselves back into the mix. With disgruntled grumbles, the two males began to glide back to the ground.
That left three males each still in hot pursuit, Rotuk thought with a glance back at her suitors. Three was two too many. She turned on her wingtip sharply, diving back into the startled patch of males and cutting through their ranks as easily as a knife cuts butter. She had planned on ousting one male that didn't move fast enough, and was pleased when two started bickering as they went down.
When the green female turned, Dvheyan' had thrown himself to the left, and Porth and Adrakenenth to the right. While Dvheyan' was able to circle around and resume his chase, Porth and Adrak' had made the disastrous mistake of getting too close to one another. Once again, Porth found his wings tangling with another dragon's that wasn't the green female. He cursed and bellowed aloud, momentum already shattered.
Why don't you watch where you're going?! Adrak' snapped as he jerked aside to distance himself from the fuming brown. He cast Porth a scathing glare before starting his downward spiral.
Oh, shut up. The Tris'Hathian brown grumbled irritably. He spared one look for Rotuk's shimmering green hide as she lead Dvheyan' higher into the sky, and knew his chances were shot. With an audible growl, Porth followed Adrak' back to the ground.
Meanwhile, Daminiss noticed that the tangle in Rotuk's flight had caused a stir in her own. Samtiaradanth stayed with her a moment longer, but Yarpath willingly ended his attempt. He bugled once to let the sunny yellow female know that he was quitting, then let his speed slacken and turned his head towards Ryslen.
Samtiaradanth, while still hopeful, was getting winded after the hour long flight. He had been absent from most of the previous chase, but all the twist and turns had taken their toll on the young Raug dragon. He flew gamely onwards for a while, but when Daminiss took the chase back up into the clouds, he mimicked Yarpath's actions and threw in the towel.
That left only Hobbin' and Dvheyan' to tail the yellow and green Hathian pair. Rotuk cast her Danachian born undead chaser a cursory glance as she spun through misty layers of cloud cover. He was interesting, and had proven himself to be strong. Rotuk had to admit that she was more then a little curious about those flames of his. How did he fly with no wingsails? She flirted with the copper/black/red Danachian, her tail dangling inches away from his nose as she rolled through the air. Tendrils of fluffy white clouds followed her lean body, spearing into the borderless blue of the horizon as she dove beneath their cover. Dvheyan' followed, his great size making up for her speed.
They are interesting. Rotuk purred musingly to her sister when Daminiss mirrored her tactics. The smaller yellow was eyeing her own suitor, but seemed a bit more apprehensive then the daring green.
I'm not so sure about those flames. They might hurt us. Daminiss returned, swooping in uneven lines as she stayed well out of the way of Hobbin's claws.
Aw, come on. Rotuk chidded. If they could hurt us with those, then they wouldn't be in a flight.
Daminiss opened her mind to respond, but the words were cut short by a surprised squawk. While she had been keeping up the trail of lop-sided swerves, Hobbin' had worked out a way to intercept her. She swung left and he swung right. Without thinking, she began to turn into him, realizing at the last second that he was already where she wanted to be. Before she could stop, Hobbin' caught hold of her shoulders and wrapped his fiery wings around her. In the brief moment that Daminiss tried to struggle away, she noted that the flames covering his coal black body didn't burn her. Instead, they were pleasantly warm.
Rotuk watched this with a curious bit of amusement. She wasn't ready to be caught yet, but Daminiss did seem to be enjoying herself. Now alone in the sky with her single pursuer, the hot-headed green felt it was time to made Dvheyan' work for his prize. She was getting tired, berating herself for every faltered wing sweep, but she was far from done. Rotuk looked back to see how close Dvheyan' had gotten in the short time that she had been distracted, and was shocked when she saw nothing but thin air.
Rotuk pulled up short, wing-arms pumping furiously to keep her airborne and neck craned around to look behind her in bewilderment. Had the undead copper pulled out of her flight? She felt indignant rage bubbling up as the thought came to mind. While his bond had struggled until he'd won, Dvheyan' had just given up. The unfairness of it rankled in Rotuk's blood until she had worked herself into a righteous fury.
It wasn't until she turned, fully intending to streak through the sky until she collapsed out of sheer exhaustion that she realized what had happened. She couldn't have stopped it, even if she had seen him coming. She didn't want to stop it would have been a more accurate description of what happened.
Dvheyantriaenayotcheyvanyshlavarth dropped from the clouds, his fire-enshrouded body appearing as only a warm, red glow against the stark whiteness of the misting layers. Sail-less wings flared into the blue expanse of sky and black claws reached out for the unsuspecting female. His grasp was gentle as he caught hold of Rotuk's shoulders. She flipped over of her own accord, and he let gravity take him down close enough to wrap his wingtines around her like a second pair of hands.
Tricky. She accused as she submitted to him, a pleased purr rumbling in her throat.
Rotuk and Dvheyan' fell from the sky, emerald green shadowed by blazing copper. Their twined bodies stayed longest in the air out of the four pairings that had happened in the two hour span; an amazing spectacle that would certainly produce a sizable clutch. The flight was ended, the winners noted, and preparations were made as the people of Ryslen eagerly awaited the resulting clutch of this duo-bonded, duo-mated flight.