Lan and Zhao talk, Grounding Aftermath

“How could ya?” Ers’lan spat over his shoulder toward his lifemate as soon as they reached the beach where they had been informally exiled to. An inner rage was burning bright in the rider; his hands had curled into fists on the trek to the shoreline.

Zhaoth had been stalking behind Ers’lan for a time now as his rider seethed over the maddening escapade of what had ultimately grounded the pair. Zhaoth, while at fault for the incident, carried on as if he knew naught of what he had done. Each step of boney leg was taken with an extra agile lift, as if prancing on the sand. A surreal caress of silver cascaded against the raging storm of his rider’s mind, « Be at ease Lan. For what was done well once will be done well again. With the truth witnessed, they cannot take away my success. In the error of them withholding information, such as for us to wait until all dragons were inspected, the consequences of their lack of communication fell to us. It is poor leadership I hope one day to rectify. » His voice is serenity in a glass bottle, « My wings will carry us stronger and faster than any bronze and out last any other brown or blue. We are so much better than this, but grounding will show we are patient and give the other dragons a chance to work to the level we are already at. »

The young man stopped at the edge of the water, eyes flickering down to the touches of liquid reaching for the soles of his boots. Hands were drawn up to his hips, resting there with the vexation easing from the radiance of his lifemate’s mindvoice. The dragon was always capable of heightening his anger or reducing it. Zhaoth was the coal and Ers’lan was the furnace. Zhaoth could choose to stock the furnace full or hold back. In this case, Zhaoth was holding back, letting the flames die down on their own accord.

Ers’lan tilted his head to regard the brown, who had settled just beside the former-sailor, lifting claws each time the water had attempted to lick at them, as if playing a game in which the dragon was winning. “I wanted ta hit ya,” Lan admitted, “Ya humiliated me. Reckon they be thinking I be narh in control.”

« I know you did. You could have. Yet you were wise enough not to react physically to what had already occurred and could not be undone. It would have only ended up in more trouble for you. » The peaceful silken waves had warmth to it, a moment in time that the brown was going the extra mile to reduce the tension between them. « I did not humiliate you. I proved how worthy you were. I was not fearful of flight. I flew perfectly. It shows our training was of the best. As for control, they make it sound as if I should be wearing a leash. You know very well that we are partners. Maybe their dragons are less than that, but we are more. I am more. Together we will be more.» The dragon lowered his head and nudged Ers’lan in the shoulder. The rider turned to put his hand on the side of the dragon’s maw, absently scratching, « That is nice. I will not make you look bad again Ers’lan. We are better. We will prove it. I will not do anything unless you say it is ok. You will not do anything unless I say it is ok. We are one. »

Ers’lan sighed deeply, his hand eventually curling around the muzzle of the dragon, in a light embrace, causing the brown to rumble deeply with pleasure and love for his rider. “Fer the rest of our training, ya be waiting fer me ta say go, before ya go. Ya be right, yer my partner. Not a pet. We be equal. As equals we will dream big and go far.”

« As equals. » The dragon agreed, the warmth in his voice withdrawing as a quiet ping changes the subject matter, « Let us go back to deal with our punishment.» A sarcastic tilt in his voice, sturdy too, despite this, as if resolved to go meet their destiny, « Each one of us will face criticism on our journey to fulfil our dreams. It is those of us who are strong enough to not get disheartened by the criticism that will find them, be leaders and reach a level of greatness. Come Ers’lan, we must face our critics and prove them wrong. »

Ers’lan took a lingering look at the water. The frustration and anger abated. So with the encouragement of his lifemate, he found himself proudly walking back toward the barracks, head held hide for the chopping block.

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