XVI. Captain of the Race
Jona lay in bed, the weeks had been getting darker earlier, the nights much colder. His practices with Eva had been getting harder, she kept in the valleys and canyons of the mountains. recently another dragon that Eva knew joined the team. Kolo rode with great skill, they would get so close as they turned and ducked one another.
Jona never laughed so hard as when he yelled “Pull up!” and their wake sucked up a small column of water that the following racer flew through and lost his bearings.
Eva laughed loudly and nearly lost her focus and slowed down some, then stroked with powerful flaps of her wings, they left Kolo and Sekheim behind.
They were coming around the back side of a mountain when Kolo and her ride surprised them by flying up and out of the clouds of the valley before Eva or Jona had known they had even caught up.
Out over the desert they flew, following the route from the year before, Eva was taking great flaps of her wings as her lithe form stretched out and Sekheim struggled to keep up. He was smaller, but very good in corners. They were a team to beat. Soon, Jona was going to meet the captain of the dragon race. Riders and Rides had to learn the skills to fly together, teams would knock each other out of the sky in corners, as Eva explained, and gain an advantage.
“That was why I was off last year, we got bumped in while going into a corner and ended up in a pile with broken trees and mud.”
“What happened to your rider?” Jona asked.
Jona paused for a moment and could not find any words.
“Kidding, she ended up in a mud puddle but never has ridden again. Her family forbids it. She was quite timid in the air, even though on the ground she is bold and brash.” Eva laughed.
Jona relaxed, pleased to be off the hook for the awkward moment.
“Not funny. ” he chuckled. Dragons had a killer sense of humor.
On they flew as they streaked around the mountains back to the volcano and back to the University. Jona nudged Eva on to come in fast and low, flying under Kolo and Sekheim, sliding to a stop on the frosty ground, Eva laughed.
“Good practice as Sekheim landed and with a gentle voice for a male dragon “What kind of landing was that? That was great!”
“A dangerous one!” A dark-skinned young man with black eyes who with a build like a boulder. A tattoo on his face covered his left temple. “You are the one that Kolo has talked to me about? Let me introduce myself, My name is Teva, I am IRa’iarii, prince of the skies.” He tried not to smile, “but I see that you are learning now how to race with dragons, before you even have enough time to even be recognized as a student here.”
Jona looked at him, his legs still vibrating with the power of Eva’s flight. “Yes, my first day at class, the dragon named Wivern said I had a natural touch.”
“A healer’s touch, if I recall what he said.” Teva nodded, “Yes, I have checked in on you, you have performed at your last school acceptably, but barely so.”
Eva and Kolo looked at Jona, Kolo punched him in the shoulder.
“No more playing, tonight we start studying hard, every day.”
Teva shook his head, “No matter, if we keep his grades up, he can race, I was watching from Wivern above your practice, that was a very nice stop, but dangerous to try for an inexperienced rider— and Eva, you know better than to try that with your bad leg.”
“I know my body and he helped guide us in with skills that might challenge yours, Teva.” Eva snorted, “He has more than just a healer’s touch, he has the deep knowledge of a rider.”
“Does he?” Teva looked down at Jona, the arms of the Captain were like Jona’s legs.
*But his arms are bigger.* Thought the worried Jona. Teva physically capable of teaching Jona the laws of physics. Painfully.
“Tonight, we meet as a team, all of us.” Teva smiled softly. “See you there.”
A promise that frightened the newest recruit.