A gong sounded in the house somewhere and jolted Jona a`wake. Sam made a squealing noise in his room and staggered out in the hallway to the study room. “Ugh, I hate that! I had forgotten how loud that wake up alarm is. “
“Does that happen all the time?” Jona yawned as he noticed sweet breads, grains and a serving dish of scrambled eggs was sitting at the table in the study room.
“Only during the class days.’ Sam laughed “Nearly made me jump out of my skin all last year. My species only molts once a year on average. I think I nearly shed five times.”
Jona cackled in good early morning humor.
As he walked up the stairs, Jona saw that Professor Vale was there, supervising book bags being handed out.
“Keep these and do not throw them away. They’ll be checked back in at the end of the year.”
Jona hurried out of the Garnet house and headed to where his schedule indicated his class. Dragon lore and law.
Finding the right place after several stops to ask older students where the classroom was. Each one having the look of fear on their faces.
“You have Professor Koos. Good luck.” several of them said.
Walking into the class, just on time for class to start. A short human with a long mustache, pulled back just so, merging into his gray hair, looked up and then down at the seating. Jona was obviously the last to arrive.
“Mr.” Professor Koos paused, puzzling over the name. “Sam- hain? Please take seat twelve-dee”
“It is pronounced Sah-wain in my country, Professor.” Jona corrected the old human.
“Indeed? I shall endeavor to correct my pronunciation in the future.” Professor Vale said quietly.
Professor Vale began to hand out papers, “This will be a timed quiz, you have fifteen minutes to the end of the test.”
“Sir? Professor? I was unaware of a test today? This is the first day of school- what could be the subject?” Jona asked.
“You picked up the schedule before today— otherwise you would not know where the classroom is. By extension you then know where my office is, the lessons for study I posted two weeks ago on my office door, failure to study or to look for the lesson plan is no excuse. Please do your best on the test. Good luck.” And Professor Koos turned and walked away back to his desk.
Turning at his desk, he leaned against it and crossed his arms, for a teacher, Jona noticed for the first time, he had huge arms.
Professor Koos Spoke. “You come to me with heads full of sawdust and mush, in my class— if you survive— you will leave with minds of Masters. Masters of your Destiny and the earth’s.”
Thus the test began, Jona was already lost, thinking that the only thing he had gotten right was his name. Some of the questions he knew from his parents talking with him. Some questions he knew from his recent contacts with the school.
“Define a Dragon Hunter.” he read and wrote his answer with a quill.
Fifteen minutes later, Professor Koos collected the papers and began to lecture on the lore of the relationship of dragons and men.
Jona’s second class, fundamentals of flying was no less difficult. The instructor, Professor Vale, stood in the middle of the meadow outside of the volcano core. It was cool, even at the late morning, the red dragon shape of the professor paced back and forth in front of the class.
“Riding, not like a horse. The relationship between flying dragon and rider.” Vale said in a gentle voice unlike his voice at bed time the night before, “You will know, feel and see what it is like as a rider. No matter of your race. Whether you be Elf, Human or Dragon of your own that can ride another. The relationship is all important, there are those, humans mostly, that will hunt your ride. As a rider, you must know where to go. And there are things even in the air that will hunt a dragon.”
Several smaller dragon students nodded. Even the biggest of Dragons, it was known, the unspeakable terror that can come from below or above. Men with weapons that can reach out, wizards with magic and chains. A Dragon’s freedom was always under assault.
“First, you must know the speed at which a dragon can fly.” The armored head of the red-dragon nodded. ‟I can fly faster than an arrow can fly, and I can fly at that speed for all day. This is a typical speed, my friend here,” A huge gust of wind as a large gleaming purple dragon landed as light as a feather, “Has been known to create thunder during a dive. This makes it all but impossible to ride, unless you are hiding behind his horns out of the wind he produces.”
A rough voice, as if burned by fire, “I fly faster than sound when in a dive, I can fly past an observer before the sound of my passing reaches them.”
The class murmured in disbelief. One boy, a new student by the lack of rosettes on his leather armor, spoke. “My father says there is nothing that a dragon can do that a man can’t. Flying faster than sound is impossible.”
“Why are you here, if you have such a feeling?” Professor Vale asked. “Surely you have no wish to lean more, because you know all you need to know from your father?”
“I thought that this was a place of learning facts, not of stories. The earth is eternal, we will need to control and dominate it if we are to control the destiny of the earth.” the Brown haired boy said.
“Mister Gallo, please see me after class? You may attend the rest of the class as it goes on today.” Vale said.
Gallo crossed his arms,
“My parents give more money to this school than any other.” Gallow said as he stood with his arms crossed. He had muttured, but still just loud enough for Jona to hear him.
Sprite landed on Jona’s shoulder and clicked happily.
“Mister Samhain, you seem to have a connection to dragons, if I remember you have two parents that are masters themselves?” Vale asked.
“Yes, Professor. I found out just this summer that they are far more than they seem.”
“You might wish to tell me how to ride a dragon?” Vale asked, “What would keep you from falling off?”
“Um… Hang on?” Jona was not able to think of anything else.
The class laughed as if on cue.
“Knew I was going to like you as a roommate.” An unfamiliar dragon slapped him the shoulder as the purple dragon snorted in laughter and nodded.
“Vale, the boy is right, as much as it’s a melding of minds, to hold on is important.” The flying dragon nodded.
“Jona, would you come and sit on Wivern, show how you would hold on?”
Jona walked up to Wivern and crawled up on his back, finding a spot that he fit in perfectly and settled into what seemed like a saddle.
Wivern settled forward and flapped his wings, not taking off.
“He has a natural feel on the saddle.” Wivern spoke in his gravelly voice.
Wivern walked around in the meadow, Jona held on at first, as Vale was explaining the theory of how to sit with balance and keeping an eye out on for location. Communication between rider and ridden, explained by Wivern, performed by body language as often a dragon at speed may not hear the words of the rider.
“Some of us can hear through our scales, simply by speaking while we fly, we can understood without great difficulty.” Wivern advised.
Class continued, questions and answers, how to fly. Dragons were not steeds but simply friends that would allow riders. Jona learned that dragons came in more sizes and shapes than he had so far discovered.
Then the professor mention of the other, more frightening things that hunted dragons.
“Read up on dragon flight, the Gorgon is the subject of the written test two weeks from today. Flight styles and escapes in the past, I want a paper written due on the first day of next week, class dismissed.” Vale smiled as he watched the students leave.
“Gorgon, what is that?” Walking up the path back to the volcano, Jona asked Sam.
Sam shuddered. “I always thought it was a kids story to keep us home at night. The Gorgon is an ancient threat, there are more of them than one.”
“Hi!” Said another young man, “I am your roommate, came in at the beginning of classes this morning with Spirat, I saw you on the dragon at class. That was good! Wasn’t it? It was awesome to see!”
“Kola? Shut up.” Said a second boy. “He can never say just hello, he has to make a story out of it. I am Spirat, We will be staying in the room with you at Garnet house.”
“Say, you have a dragon on your shoulder!” Kola said “He looks like..”
“Kola, shut up.” Sam said and Kola became quiet.
“Kola comes from a Yak family, all they do is talk. Make good politicians, but seem to always take up all the air.”
Walking as they spoke, Spirat and Kola continued to introduce themselves. Kola was the younger brother of Kolo who Jona had already met. Kola explained for the thousandth time that the females of his family were very attracted to humans and were known to attract the best of the Dragon Masters.
“Half dragons are more common these days. Starting with a Professor here at the school.” Kola said as they walked to the next classes.
“Math!” Jona moaned. “I hate math.” It was always his worst subject. “I can never get it, my dad had to save my grades more than one time. Showing me how to do it, but still after all that time I was so happy to get away from the class and the instructor.”
“I like math” Kola interrupted, “The dragon math is different from what you know! It’s all about flight, angles and landings. Very involved, dragons don’t know it right off, many have been hurt with wrong landings. I’m not even allowed to fly.” Kola blushed blue.
Spirat laughed “He told me the problem, he keeps hurting himself, so they don’t allow him to try to fly, he does look a bit like a wounded bird in flight.”
Jona and Sam looked at Spirat, “You known him long?” Jona asked.
“We grew up together, we are second cousins on my father’s side and we grew up together.” Spirat grinned, “I take care of him, he takes care of me. Our family way.” Then he whispered, “He is the only biped fire-puffing dragon I know of.” Spirat laughed.
“Fire puffing?” Sam asked, “Not fire-breathing?”
“No, I don’t just breath fire, I have to focus a bit and then try, but I do okay at it.” Kola grinned.
The students walked back to their room and sat down to study during the night when the bell sounded in the house.
Dinner was served.