First Flight

August 16, 2010
Later that day, Anadelle found me at another, unpopular area of the cliff, sitting, staring at the sky. It was unpopular not for the lack of beauty; there was a stream that flowed over, into a wonderous waterfall, a copse of ancient, sweet smelling pines that overlooked this clearing. The ground was covered in cool, thick moss, and the breezes carried the most interesting scents. Instead, it was for the fact that the area is the only clearing within a mile, and it’s much too small an area to land from flight. Anadelle came up behind me, nuzzling my side with her muzzle.
“Why did you leave early? I had to escape from the crowds to find you!” she asked, offended.
“At least you had a crowd,” I mumbled, “Mine left an hour after the fires didn’t light.”
Realizing her mistake, her ego set aside, she sat next to me, offering her condolences. Thanking her, I went on staring. I asked her if anyone’s been told when my first would be, and she figured that, since this would be the last day before a great season of storms, I would have to wait a long time. I chuckled, saying how that doesn’t make me feel any better. She responded, referring to the dark clouds on the horizon. My spirits completely crushed, I would have to wait another year to use my wings.
I sank down onto the ground, holding the remorse. I would need to stay strong. Anadelle put her wing around me and lay down next to me, and the anguish unleashed itself, breaking free from my hold. The tears soaked the moss, as did the first tears of the clouds. The world wept for me, a wretched dragon.

A week later, the weather held up. The massive rains of the last six days still clung to the ground, but during the interim between the showers, I went to seek council with the Great-king.
“So, when am I going to have my First Flight?”
“Patience in the presence of the Great-king!” Simmen barked.
“Simmen, he’s had plenty of time to wait. Next clear sky, you will fly. This is my oath.” The Great-king said, impatient. His face was downcast, mimicking the weather. His great face looked tired. “Now leave, I must retire.”
The scout-dragons have told us the clouds would clear by the morrow. I stalked to Flight Rock, sitting on the edge overlooking the valley, and gazed upward at the clouds, demanding their fast passing. But the torrent kept flooding the valleys, darkening the skies. The noonday shine was concealed in this torrent of night. The sky split apart as a bolt of sun pierced the clouds and struck the cliff side, and I heard a screech. I bolted upright, then ran to the source. There, on the ground, still twitching from the shock of Light’s bolt, Anadelle. There was already a group around her. Her father arrived just as I did, and looked down at the prone figure.
Her body looked fine. As I looked, I could not see any imperfections—then I saw her right wing. The bolt blazed through her wing, burning all of it. The bone and frame were still there, but she was grounded. Her father clawed at the ground, churning the earth in despair and rage. He raged at the Lord of light, demanding a reason for this. I went to her side, nuzzling her, begging her to wake. The crowd moved back, sharing the despair of the father.
She opened her eyes. Those beautiful, blue eyes. They stared listless for a second, then sharpened on me. She tried to push off the ground, but she then felt the pain. She halted movement, then slowly looked behind her in increasing horror, until she had the face of terror affixed on her wing. She stuttered, unable to speak. Finally, she found her voice, and screamed. She screamed in pain and fear. She screamed in despair and loss.
A dragon had been torn from her Sky. The rain ceased.

She was still weeping as her father and I carried her on our backs to her home cave. I tried to calm her, but I could think of nothing to say. She’s been undoubtedly cursed by me. I begged my apologies, but her father would have none of it. “It’s not your fault. Every storm brings light-bolts. It’s sad, but my daughter learned a terrible truth about storms today. I don’t care if you’re ‘cursed’”.
She dissolved into the stage of depression where you no longer cry, when you’ve began to harden yourself to the fact. She demanded solitude, and we gave it. Suddenly, my first flight seemed planned too terribly. The storm decided my friend would be hurt if I wanted the skies cleared. I went back to the home cave to meditate on my error.
An hour or so later, a visitor came to my home cave. I was tucked away in one of the straw beds, and felt disinclined to answer. The visitor padded deeper into the cave, and I turned myself around to show my back to the entrance. The visitor hobbled closer, then threw itself on me. I started, recognizing by the touch the skin and the golden radiance of Anadelle. We both stayed still for a time, then I sighed and spoke.
“Why are you here? I cursed you.”
“Cursed? I was the one outside in a lightning storm. I’m lucky it’s just-just my wing.”
I rolled toward her, feet dangling in the air, to meet her face. “You can’t fly, the week after your First. I don’t know what to say. I wished for the rain to stop earlier, and the lord of the sky and light took your wings from you! I did this to you, don’t you get it? You should hate me!”I said, indignant.
“I’ve learned a lot about self-pity, Aerogos. I used to wallow in it. Being the youngest of the family by twenty years. I was always making myself to blame. Always deeming myself too short, too weak. You wallowed in self-pity, blaming the death of your parents and your stall for your First Flight on yourself, or the lords’ hatred of you. Aerogos, you’re an amazing dragon. Stop acting like a lesser. Even the lesser are happier,” she declared. I opened my mouth slowly to respond, then she quickly continued, “You will fly tomorrow, for me. For your father’s pride, for the Great-king’s honor. You will call yourself a dragon, and not a spineless drake. Now stop moping.”
My mouth remained open, stunned and unable to speak. She chuckled, and added, “guess how long that took me to think out.”
I love you, I said. The entire cavern echoed this statement, as if to capture the immensity behind the words and hold it. Her face changed instantly from a content, smug look to a peaceful countenance. She laid her head down on my chest, nuzzling against me. I love you too, she said. She shuffled up, and curled her neck around mine. We remained in this embrace for the night, sleeping a fitful sleep on the hay.

The next day, we both woke up early, emerging from the home cave. The sun was bright, and not a cloud could be seen. “Well, might as well go to the flight rock,” I said after each engulfing a lamb. The flesh felt good in my gut, and left me starved only for the sky. She and I walked evenly to the Rock, and Simmen was there, waiting. He turned, not expecting me to appear so early, but not showing it.
“Ah. Aerogos, the Great-king will show himself to the sky for the first time in your life. I am not sure why he favors you so highly, but please, don’t disgrace him. I will not say the benediction that the Great-king will give. Please, stay in the wallows for an hour, I can understand you haven’t had much time to be in them, but there’s always a dry one,” Simmen suggested. I bid him good days and farewell, then went to the wallows, basking in the heat whilst being rubbed clean.
Lessers swarmed about me, rubbing me furiously through the sand, for they now knew me as the Great-king’s champion. Any shirking of duty means the Great-king’s wrath. They finished in amazing time, just as the sun neared the zenith. I ran back to the Flight Rock, and my hearts beat like drums. My wide eyes too in the sky as Anadelle approached, reared up and hugged me, then wished me the good kind of luck. I unfurled and retracted my wings habitually, feeling the old excitement again.
The Great-king padded down the slope from the palace, and beamed at me as he extended his wide, long wings. There were holes in his wings, but the great cream-colored expanse was still intact. His wings were at least as long as his body, and his wing-muscles pulsed. You could almost hear his great heartbeat. his massive body was easily three times my size, and each of his scales glimmered white.
“Aerogos, you have come far to reach this point. You pass from Drake to Dragon, in my honor. You endured hardship, loss of loved ones, and pain of the heart and mind. There are many a dragon who’ve been down your terrible road. You’ve made the difference. You’ve stood up for yourself, asserted yourself to me, a feat of great courage. You’ve taken this pain, of your friend’s grounding. You stood resolute as your parents fell from the skies forever. Now, now is the time for you to show courage to the skies. Show the ones below your baptism of the sky will cleanse you of your curse. You fly now, to show us all your glory. For glory, honor, and pride, you will fly!”
He built up to his crescendo, his booming voice increasing its thunder until his voice engulfed the canyon. As soon as he finished, the servant came forth to the fire. The torch landed in the kindling, catching the pile fast. But I was not there to see the fire catch, as soon as the torch fell, I launched. My hind legs shoved me into the sky, my wings unfurled and beat the air. At the second wing beat, I was gaining speed, and the air felt great on my face. The third wing thrust took me even faster, higher. After ten thrusts, the air was already thinning. Fifteen beats of my wings took me to the cold sky. Thirty wing beats took me further, until the air was so thin I couldn’t stand it. I let my wings open up and slow my ascent, then fanned them out, gliding fast down ward.
I looked down, and was amazed by the vista before me. The north-south canyon looked like a scar on the earth, and a giant river flowed east of it. I saw a great many tiny fires flickering to the west, where the humans were entrenched against the dragons. To the Far East was the beginnings of the Eagle Rocks, where the Dwar lived, and killed. The horizons called to me, though I felt weary and tired. I have had my First Flight. I brought my wings close, and dropped like a stone. I felt the sky scream against me, the wind vainly trying to resist my speed. I ripped through the sky like a hawk, and when I could see the lessers on the ground, I stretched my wings and roared. A long, guttural, war cry.
I have become a Dragon.

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