The moon Enryth hung in the sky like some overripe fruit, one that had taken far too much time in its falling. Ahana gazed at its reflection in the pool, as bright and close as if she could simply scoop it up into her claws, and take a nice round bite of its firm yellow flesh. Enryth knew that it was time to move on, and its light beckoned Ahana into the heavens, into leaving her lifetime home behind for an uncertain future…
And she still didn’t know into whose territory she would be flying, she knew the partitions of each, but neither the names, genders, or ages of those who dwelt within. The black casts truly were a mystery, and wholly a law unto themselves, as her mother had stated. She did not believe she would find her mate within the first cavern she looked, but was still certain that she would find him, if she had to search a dozen years.
She could mostly fly safely, being of the purple, but that only promised safety from the black dragons themselves, it said nothing of the monsters that shared their territories. It was a dangerous quest, that was certain... And one she would not trade for any prize in the kingdom.
She lifted her wings and closed her eyes, feeling the cool caress of the evening breeze, up the thick membrane that stretched wing tip to wing tip. She breathed in deeply of the scent of the garden, a scent that had filled her nights for the better part of a lifetime, and then opened her eyes again, and looked upon Enryth gazing down at her. She felt as if the great moon had somehow given her his blessing in the task ahead... Now if only he would tell her which path to take. She was headed to the most dangerous part of the kingdom, for now she’d narrowed it down to roughly fifty territories, but had no idea where to go from there.
‘Well, one way’s as good as the next.’ She thought with a content smile, beating her wings once, twice, then calling on their full power to lift her beautifully into the air. She moved over the thermals by the mountainside, letting them carry her higher and higher, higher than she’d ever dared to go. She tipped a wing at the sentries, who nodded grimly in reply, then released her hold on gravity, and let herself be rushed up far past the top of the mountain, just below the very clouds themselves.
She took control of her own wings at this point, and beat them rhythmically and hard, until they carried her above the sparse cloud-cover itself. She wanted to laugh and sing with joy at the touch of the clouds against her skin, a luxury she’d been denied all her life, as ‘too-young.’ Now though, she was ‘old-enough,’ and no one, even her mother, could contend this. She turned in a lazy swoop around the mountain, looking down at it from the heights. Even from this high, it was nothing less than enormous. But she could travel even higher...
The words became a claxon in her head as her wings pumped powerfully. Higher, higher... She continued to circle the mountain, using every updraft to her advantage, until the air grew thin and cold. Now she did laugh, looking down at her mighty home, no more than an anthill from these heights. Now she was ready to leave.
She set a course to the southeast, and leveled out, seeing no reason for any greater altitudes than she’d gained here this night. She made careful certain not to look behind her as she flew, she wanted no sorrow of leaving her home behind to taint this wonderful moment.
Out before her stretched the landscape for maybe three hundred miles in every direction, like the maps she’d used to study in her father’s library, waiting for this night with baited breath, and hopeful dreams.
She knew suddenly which way she would travel by as she looked out over the kingdom at sleep, she would go by the way of the Red Order that lay in this direction, and see if her friend had made it there. It was the one she’d spoken of with the most longing... Wouldn’t it be wonderful if both their dreams got to come true ? She fixed her eyes on the horizon, at the distant point where she might be able to meet with her long-distanced friend again.
The Iron-Red Order...