Chapter 22. Morning Time
Jona walked between classes as he was in deep thought, Eva landed next to him in the courtyard.
“We did very well,” She said softly while folding her wings tightly against her body and walking upright. ‟We bumped two trees and you held on. I have a small bruise where I knocked off four of my scales, but they will grow back soon enough.”
Walking upright, she was beautiful even outside of Dragon standards. Eva would have made a graceful, beautiful human woman.
Who just happened to tower over most other humans.
Jona chuckled, his own joints hurt, the inverted banking as they did a hairpin turn around a mountain to catch up with Qo’noS had nearly dumped him off the back of Eva, it was a turn they were going to have to practice, he only was able to hang on by luck as much as strength or skill. Even his fingernails ached.
“Jona, I have talked with others about the future races,” Eva said conversationally as they walked along. ‟I have someone I am seeing. He is a dragon at Drakensberg University.”
Eva smiled, touching her lips as if a memory of a kiss. Dragon kisses, it is rumored, to leave a soul burning for more.
‟I know that there is some cheating planned. There have been observers on the race course, we may have to train in other areas of the mountains. Where is Teva? We need to talk to him.”
Sol landed nearby and walked up to them, looking happier without reins on his shoulders, rubbing up against Eva with a wink.
“Flirt.” Eva laughed softly.
“Drakenberg racers are notorious for cheating but there is something more. Jona, your safety is in danger.” Sol said.
‟My rider seeks to have you removed one way or another, she is not above cheating. So long as she rides me, we will never win, I will never cross the finish line first.” Sol said grimly, “Even if I have to crash at the last stretch. She will never stand in the winners circle.”
“I hate that we keep trying to knock you out of the race, Eva,” Sol nodded slowly, guiltily looking down. “You too, Jona, my most sincere of apologies. But it is late in the season, I cannot train with a rider and I cannot win with her riding. She has no winning heart.”
“Thanks,” Jona smiled and put his hand on the golden dragons shoulder. ‟And we will avoid you, you are a great flier, you have done fantastic corners.”
“Drakes’ will have faster rides,” Eva continued. ‟They are larger than we are as a group. Most are Kanus’ size, a few are bigger.”
Sol and Jona nodded.
Jona pointed out that they had the advantage then of the corners in the valleys, then paused.
“Could they go high and go over a corner? Avoid banking?”
Sol shook his head while Eva answered.
“They would be penalized with time added on. So even if they crossed the line first, they may actually lose the race if they skipped too many corners.”
“Even if they flew faster than anyone at the beginning,”Sol added. ‟If they didn’t get down into the canyons, a record pace would be for naught.”
Eva nodded as Jona pulled at his chin and took this in.
“There has been something else, a smell, I have picked it up, you have been busy racing and I have been sight-seeing.” Sol added, “Something smells, I don’t know.” He paused “The smell on the most strong in the northern canyon, where we go lowest and the turns are sharpest and we fly slowest, the smell makes my scales tingle.”
Eva paused, pulling at her ear.
“I thought that was just the group of us racing, the challenge of the corners and how close we were getting to each other.” She said thoughtfully.
“You have been racing, I have not.” Sol nodded.
“Spies?” Jona asked.
“Maybe.” Sol said.
“Spies would be undetectable.” Eva shook her head. ”Volcanic action, Sol? Can you smell volcano’s?”
Sol gave a nearly imperceptible shrug.
“There are those in my family who can, I have not smelled them before. Could be that this time I am smelling the start of a volcano’s eruption. This would affect the race, if we had to fly through a cloud.”
“If the race is going to go through an ash cloud, we would have to avoid it.” Eva nodded.
“Not so much for you,” Jona shook his head. ‟But for the humans and others that don’t have the kind of lungs that a dragon possesses.”
Both dragons looked at Jona and nodded.
“Not counting the lightning that happens, that is also kind of hard on the teams, as well.” Eva added.
“Lightning? As in thunder and lightning?” Jona was afraid of thunderstorms since he was a child.
“I will tell Professor Ghoti, she is in charge of the racer’s safety, it is important that she and the other judges and professors look in the area.” Sol said mildly. “I’m the one that smelled it, I’ll be the one to show her where it is.”
Eva nodded as Sol set off for Professor Ghoti at her office in the Obsidian Spire.
“I knew that Sol was a good wyvern,” Jona noted. “Those reins on him are the only ones in the entire group of racers.”
“And a total insult. They won’t race together after this season, he will reject his rider and any other dragons will follow suit if she re-applies next year. The only way she would fly is if she grew wings and rode herself.” Eva growled irritably. “She has some dragon in her, you can see it in her eyes, but it is all the worst part of dragons.”
Eva and Jona took off and few northwards out over the sapphire blue lake, it was so large, the water was so pure as Jona could see the bottom of the shallows down to two or three dragon lengths deep. It was like looking through crystal.
Eva looked back as they soared and enjoyed the cool mountain air.
“The water tastes as good as it looks, but it is so cold as to give me a headache. There is a bay that is nearly emerald-green, lately we have called it emerald bay. I kind of hope the name sticks.”
‟That is an awesome lake, so high in the mountains, what feeds it?” Jona asked.
‟Snow. If you ever go swimming in it? You will know that right away.” Eva laughed. ‟There is a story of, years ago, a swimmer dragon jumped in after a long, hard winter with an exceptional snowfall. The snow was at the peak of melting and the swimmer jumped in with ruby-red scales and came out with sapphire-blue coloring. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I can believe it.”
Laughing, the rider and ride sailed along the crest of the mountain range until they banked and headed out to the sea, spending time soaring over the rugged coastline. Eva told him of dragon homes and lore.
‟You have dragon-lore this year. I would suggest coming here and do independent studies. I am also a tutor, and I wish help teach you and keep you on the race team.”
‟Thank you. There is so much going on.” Jona said softly.
‟This is just warming up for the year. You have passion to learn, from what I have heard. Four-years of basic schooling then another four years of advanced school. Your scholarship’s earned by your father and mother with the teaching of dragons over the years.”
‟How long has my father been teaching?”
‟Don’t you know?” Eva said. ‟I always knew when my parents were teaching.”
She pondered a moment.
‟But then, the two societies are different with intolerance of a few creating grief for all. Humans tend to less tolerance than Drakes. If any of your kind thinks or looks different, the first thing the others want to do is declare a war on it.” Eva’s body trembled in revulsion. ‟Humans have more followers of death than they do of life.”
Jona sighed and looked down. Thinking of the times that he and his friends would throw rocks at statues or works of art depicting kindly acts just on the word of someone who said it was wrong.
‟Worry not, Jona. Those things that make you feel guilty are those actions of someone who does not know better. You will learn here.” Eva gave him a friendly bump. ‟You will learn that all things exist and create beauty. Even dragons.”
‟It’s your first year.” She glided over the waters of the big lake again, slowly. Jona could see the fish that swam under the surface, glistening like jewels. ‟You will find beauty in the most unexpected of places.”
Jona held on tight as Eva stroked hard into the air and gained altitude.
Beauty in the most unexpected of places. Jona found beauty in the wisdom.