On the edge of the Crags of Tel'naeír stood two dragons, one a brilliant emerald, while the other, a luscious shade of violet. The violet stood, coiled up like a lion ready to spring, facing the emerald. As they sat they watched their Riders, one was a tall she-elf with black hair wearing a green tunic with a light brown girdle and trousers. This was Arya, Queen of the Elves and leader of the New Riders. Her blade Támerlein drawn and ready as she circled her opponent. This was a small girl of sixteen with wild auburn hair that was slick with sweat, her hazel eyes watched Arya scanning as she crouched into a battle stance, twin daggers in her hands. Her right curved to block her chest as the other in her left twisted her block any blows to her side or back. They stared at each other until the young girl rushed forward blades flashing only to stop dead in mid-step immobilized as a force invaded her mind. The girl grit her teeth as Arya walked up to her and tapped Támerlein on the back of her neck, a death blow. The force in the girls mind left and she fell to her knees rubbing her temples. she shot a look at Fírnen. "You didn't need to be so rough!" She growled.
Fírnen released a growl. An enemy would be rougher. And show more respect to your teachers Allona. Fírnen's voice was a deep rumble in Allona's mind.
Allona flinched chastised, "My apologies, Ebrithil..." She muttered not looking at the dragon.
Arya walked back to where she had been before the previous duel. "Again." She said.
Allona groaned, her temper flaring; a headache forming in the back of her head. "But we've done this a thousand times!" She snapped exasperated. "I'll never get it!"
Arya's face flashed with anger. "And we'll do it a thousand more until you do."
Allona ground her teeth, "And how do you expect me to fight you and hold off Fírnen with my mind at the same time?!" She wiped the sweat from her brow to stop it from obscuring her eyes. "It's too much for me to handle all at once!"
Fírnen craned his neck until his triangular head was in front of Allona causing her to flinch slightly. The violet dragon sprang to her feet looking at Fírnen with glaring eyes. You must strive to keep your mind calm and empty even while fighting more than one opponent. If you do not, you will find yourself at the mercy of an enemy spell-caster--
"And you'll end up dead or worse." Arya finished, giving a shiver that Allona almost missed.
Allona's temper was poor, however, and before she could stop herself, "And what's worse?" she demanded.
Arya rounded her face contorted in rage, Allona flinched in her sharp gaze. "You could be tortured," She then pointed to the violet dragon, "Or held hostage to force Zodara to fight against us, and even be forced to do the same against your will! For us Riders to stand again, we must be stronger than our enemies, and we won't always be there to protect or defend you."
Zodara sniffed and arched her long gleaming neck. I would never let anyone who meant to harm her near! She declared her talons clicking on the stone under them. I would rend them to pieces! She flared her wings as violet tinted flames sprouted from her nostrils.
In a flash Fírnen whipped around snapping his jaws which caused Zodara to back away slightly. Then your Rider's death is all but assured! He said smoke curling from his jaws. How many times must we tell you to never depend on brute strength alone?! He then turned his head to look at Allona once again the look in his eyes was so fierce that for a split second she felt Zodara try to pull Allona to her. Both of your minds must be as sharp as your daggers Allona. What if you have to fight multiple foes? There is a chance that you will face foes that are skilled in sword and magic. To prove his point he quickly invaded her mind forcing her to kneel as Arya once again tapped her neck, another death blow. You would be hard pressed to defend yourself and Zodara if the need ever arises.
Fírnen withdrew from Allona's mind causing her to stumble slightly. Arya walked back to her previous spot. "Now, come at me again."
Oh joy... Allona thought to herself as she stood Allona flicked her thoughts to Zodara her apprehension flickering through their link. Well, wish me luck...
Zodara huffed a flash of an idea came from her causing Allona to smile. Try to last longer than thirty seconds. She said crouching once again this time her eyes never moved from Fírnen.
Pouting Allona picked up her daggers from the ground and returned to her battle stance. Arya and Allona circled each other, each step they gauged each other looking for an opening. Arya twitched her hand and Allona darted forward blades crossed in front of her. Allona only made it five feet before Fírnen lashed out with his mind, she tried to fight back but the dragon was able to effortlessly break her down and freeze her in place again. "Zodara now!" She shouted.
With a roar Zodara leaped onto Fírnen's back biting and clawing. Allona felt Fírnen's influence leave her mind and was barely able to block a slash from Arya. Arya backed away for a moment before slashing horizontally, on instinct Allona ducked only for a bright light and a bursting pain hit her head. Dazed she fell to the ground looking at Arya, whose right knee was raised. Behind the elf; Zodara's head was pinned beneath Fírnen's right claw the great green dragon had his head bent to Zodara's growling dangerously, while the young dragon whimpered like a naughty child being caught while taking sweets.
Allona clutched her forehead hissing through her teeth, "That was a dirty trick!"
Arya lowered her leg, her face unreadable, though Allona could sense that she had angered Arya. "As was having Zodara attack Fírnen, but I am not the one who is whining about 'fair fighting'." She crossed her arms as Allona rose to her feet. "You take what advantages you can, at least in this, you're starting to learn."
Fírnen lifted his claws releasing Zodara who shook her head and went to Allona's side. A Rider and dragon are one and the same being. He then craned his head back to look at his back, It's about time you started fighting as such.
Allona sighed as she sat on the ground panting covered in sweat and bruises, Arya went to her haunches and looked at the young girl. "You are tired, so go, I want you to try meditating in the meadow for a while. You need to improve in that."
Allona huffed as she rose, "Yes Ebrithil." She said stiffly before stalking off to Zodara and climbing onto her back. Allona felt Zodara's hind legs bunch and her wings spread before she lurched forward and took off into the air. Once Allona was sure they were far enough away she crossed her arms and pouted. "I wasn't whining...I was complaining..."
Is there a difference? Zodara asked.
"Maybe..." Allona said, "Complaining is where you just...I don't know! But I know that whining is..." She then made her voice high pitched, extending the ends of the words, "Like this. Oh why can't I get a hit in edge wise, this saddle is to rough and scratchy, why can't the elves be a little less uptight..."
I get the point, stop! Your voice can break glass... Zodara snapped.
Allona laughed for a few moments before sighing. Her mood turning foul as she remembered her sparring, "It's not fair!" She cried flopping onto Zodara's neck, "They have so much more experience than us..."
Zodara puffed smoke, Hence why they are teaching us. She said flapping.
Blinking Allona raised her head from Zodara's neck, "Wait, how did Fírnen get you off him?" She moved in her saddle to get a better look at her partner who looked back quickly before looking back to her front. "Well..."
A feeling of embarrassment reverberated from Zodara before, I tripped...
Allona slapped her hand to her face groaning loudly as Zodara landed a league away from the cliffs where they had been. Dismounting she sat down hard in the soft grass looking at sharp looking green blades. "I'm going to try and meditate..." If there was one thing she struggled with it was clearing her mind long enough to feel the minds of the creatures. She could do it but it took so long she would soon grow bored and give up.
I will go hunt. When I've finished we can go home for the evening. Zodara said before walking a few paces away before taking off deeper into Du Wendelvarden.
Huffing Allona crossed her legs and closed her eyes. Trying to relax and open her mind Allona began focusing on her breathing which Arya had advised her to do. In through my nose...hold...out through my mouth...hold...repeat...
"Your mind must be as dull as an unpolished spoon if you've failed to notice me yet..." Screaming in surprise Allona's eyes flew open and out of instinct her fist hurled out in a left hook, slamming into the strangers chest. Pain exploded in her hand as she felt several bones in her hands bend and break. Howling in pain she fell back her hand curling to her chest, tears streaming from her eyes. The stranger gasped surprised, "Are you alright?" He asked his voice filled with concern.
Gritting her teeth she looked at the stranger. It was an elf who was looking at her as he squatted on his haunches appearing unhurt. He had shoulder length black hair and silver-blue eyes which while he sounded concerned for her well-being seemed to glow with wry amusement. He wore a bright green tunic and a pair or russet red leggings with a brown belt tied around the middle. Allona hissed through her teeth as she sat back up, her temper flaring at her own foolishness. "Do I bloody look alright?!" She snapped, just wanting him to go away and let her writhe in peace. She looked down and felt her stomach tighten, her hand was turning a bright blue and purple, her knuckles were at odd angles and at three points on the top of her hand the bones poked upward like the peaks of mountains, but mercifully she thought they didn't break the skin.
The ground shook as Zodara landed roughly fifty yards away favoring her left foreleg. Allona are you alright? Allona told her quickly through their link, a small rumble like that of a far off thunder storm came from Zodara as smoke curled from her nostrils. And, what have we learned? She asked trying to stop her laughter. Allona glowered at her and Zodara laughed all the more.
The stranger held out his hand. "Please allow me the heal that, Argetlam."
Temper darkening she held out her hand and silently raged as the elf healed her hand. There was a sharp spike in pain causing Allona to yelp, before she began to rub her hand to rid herself of the itch. She thanked the elf coolly before asking."Who are you and why are you here, this area is only for Riders and their teachers."
"Which is why I'm here." He said in a cheery tone. "My name is Saren and Arya-Drötting has told me to inform you that I will be your new teacher."
A wry smile appeared on Saren's face. "Are you deaf as well as oblivious? My poor young Padawan..." he asked, still using a friendly tone.
"What's a Padawan?" she asked annoyed at his comment. Saren ignored the question.
Peace Little One... Zodara cautioned as Allona curled her hands into fists.
Easy for you to say. You didn't just get insulted... Allona snapped as she glared at the elf. "Why didn't Arya tell me when I was training with her earlier? Or even introduce you to me there?" She asked Saren flatly.
Saren shrugged. "I got bored and went for a walk." He then switched to the Common Tongue and continued rather quickly. Allona balked and tried to remember all the words and sounds of what Arya had said was her native language. Half way through his speech which he had adopted a rather odd accent for he paused seeing Allona's confusion. "What is it?" He asked switching to the Ancient Language. Comprehension dawned on his face. "You don't know how to speak the Common Tongue?!" He demanded shock.
Allona swallowed. "I-I know some..." Saren's mouth dropped; forming a large O shape, and her temper flared again, "So what if I don't know the language?"
"But you're human surely you--"
Allona cut him off. The inability to dance around the truth in the Ancient Language escaping her. "Look I don't know the language because I forgot how to speak when I was a child okay?! Now that that's out of the way I'm leaving..." She rose sharply heading for Zodara wanting nothing more than to be left alone.
"So you're the Wild Rider my good for nothing older brother was talking about!" Saren exclaimed. "I didn't know you only knew this language--Whoop!" Saren yelped as a large rock barely missed his head. "What did I say?!" He demanded looking cross.
There was a resounding smack and a yelp of pain from Allona as Zodara slapped the back of Allona's head with the tip of her tail. Allona rubbed the back of her head glaring at Zodara who only curled her lip in response. Calm yourself Allona, or else.
Saren covered his mouth snickering. "Boom, head-shot." He chuckled
"Or else wha--oof!" With a flick of her nose she sent Allona to the ground before placing her head on Allona's torso to immobilize her.
Allona tried in vain for a few moments to free herself all the while Saren laughed, his laughter causing several birds in the near by tree to return his laughter with cries of their own. Giving up she lay underneath Zodara's snout looking at her a pout on her lips. "Will you get off me?!" she snapped.
No... Zodara said coolly.
Saren recovered after a few moments, wiping his eyes he walked up to Allona looking down calmly he said. "I'll be expecting you one hour after dawn Arya-Drötting will tell you where." With that he left walking away muttering under his breath. About what she couldn't truly say but she swore she heard something about carrot sticks and custard.
Allona blinked confusion bubbling up to the surface. This, Saren was insane! Once Saren had left Zodara lifted her head from Allona's torso. Feeling better? She asked winking her dark violet eye at Allona.
Allona huffed before sitting up. "No. Let's go home..." And with that she climbed onto the saddle strapped to Zodara's chest. Once she had strapped her legs in Zodara bounded a few paces until taking off into the air with two powerful flaps. She wanted to speak to Arya about this and why she hadn't felt the need to inform Allona on this turn of events. The more she thought about it the more she began to feel that in some way she had failed Arya.
Zodara felt her emotions turning dark and blowing smoke she said in a warning tone. Do not over think this Allona. Remember that Arya is not only the Queen of her people which has its own set of responsibilities but she also is co-leader of the New Riders. Her world does not and will not revolve around us, besides, Zodara added as they dipped towards Elesmera, I think he's funny.
Allona said nothing as she dismounted her mood poor and she wanted nothing to do but go to sleep.