The gentle pattering of the rain grew into a powerful rainstorm, the hypnotic rhythm lulling most of the early wakers in Cathair Utopian back to sleep. It drizzled and dripped, coating everything on the western side of Danach with a glistening wetness. Great grey clouds rolled over the horizon, and thunder rumbled far away.
Ronia, tangled in her sleeping furs, struggled to dislodge her skinny legs. Succeeding, she fell out of her bed with a thump, the rest of the furs following and landing in a heap on top of her. Grumbling with irritation, Ronia pushed of the furs, and sat for a moment, glaring at them. A moment passed, and her irritation ceased. Ronia stood, and stared at the rain outside of her mini-keep that poured from the heavens. Hearing the gentle tick-tack of nails on the stone floor, she turned, greeting her canine, Kaen. Kaen, a dark grey in color, wagged his brushy tail, and
licked Ronia's open hands. She knelt, and hugged Kaen around the neck. The canine was well-built, not stocky, not skinny; a little bit in between. Ronia had found him wandering around outside of the mini-keep, and, since no one had claimed him, she made him her dog. A collar made of twisted strands of old leather laces from her boots wound 'round his neck, and a small piece of metal Ronia had bribed an apprentice at the forge to make hung upon it, inscribed with Kaen's name, and hers.
A small, agitated meow was heard, and Ronia knew that her little cat, Faun, had arrived, never wanting to be left out of anything. She embraced the white feline, and then, sneaking down to the kitchens, furred friends in tow, snatched bits of this and that, and two bowls, to make their breakfasts. She herself dined upon a large slab of cheese, some wine she found in the pantry, and half a loaf of bread. When her pets were done with their meals, she broke off bits of her breakfast to share with them.
After she had finished off the last pieces, she crept upstairs to her room, and changed into her daily wear of short leather tunic, and soft leather leggings. She donned no shoes, and no cloak to cover her bare arms. She counted on her speed to warm her up.
Stepping out of the mini-keep, she ran down the slope into the Central Plaza of Utopian. The only people that were awake were those with jobs to do, or those with dragons. It was, however, not during the time of the Pass of the Seventh Moon, and Ronia did not have to worry about Lizard attacks (Lizards became unusually vicious and brave around that time of year). Hearing the beat of powerful wings, Ronia looked upward, and Kaen and Faun followed her gaze, to see a tremendous dragon--right before it disappeared parallel.
"Wow.." breathed Ronia, in awe. Kaen bark-whimpered, and Faun mewed, both echoing her astonishment.
Ronia's awe of the dragon soon passed, and she jogged across the Plaza to the entrance-and exit to and from Cathair Utopian. Once out, she and her friends raced past the Keeps that lay outside of the Cathair, to Aviole Forest..Once there, while the rain still came down, Ronia, among the shadows, the well-worn paths she had made in her long runs, the trees that blocked most of the rain from her, she ran, warming herself up on the cold misty morning. When she was warm to the tips of her toes from a tiring run, she sat beneath a sheltering tree, leaning back against its trunk. Kaen and Faun nestled around her, and all three of them dozed off.
When they awoke, it was well past midday, and the sun had broken through the clouds, and was streaming downward into the forest, shedding its sweet golden light. Ronia jumped to her feet, and started running back toward the Cathair, whistling through her teeth until Kaen and Faun followed at her heels.
She crossed a field of waving golden grasses; she passed an orchard where the fruits were beginning to ripen. All landmarks she passed at a brisk run. But when she came to the beach, Kaen starting barking, and stopped, his tail waving to and fro gently. Faun hissed softly and then meowed. Kaen began to dig as fast as he could, and Faun aided him. Ronia halted and ran a hand through her tangly black hair; she had no idea what they were doing. She stepped toward them and got down on her knees where they were digging. They became more excited, and Ronia caught their emotions, and pawed through the wet sand as well. There, in a fairly deep hole, lay a dragonchen nest! Ronia caught her breath..she looked at the eggs, and picked up one. It looked like a sunrise. Bright colors of pink and orange caught her eye. She tucked the egg into the small bag at her side, and patted Kaen and Faun. "Thanks," she said, and grinned. They covered up the rest of the eggs with sand, and resumed their pace toward Utopian.
Only a few minutes away from Cathair Utopia, Ronia took the egg out of her pouch and studied it. The egg trembled gently, and Ronia's eyes widened as hairline cracks appeared across the brilliant shell. She dropped to her knees as the egg split, revealing a tiny dazed silver dragonchen! She fished inside her pouch for a bit of food, and came up with some dried meat, which she fed to the dragonchen. It soon fell asleep, and she cradled it against her, standing up and walking the few feet more into the CenterPlaza with her newfound friend, who she dubbed Woen.
Entering the Plaza, Ronia tried to stay out of sight. She knew that if the 'thairbrats found her, they would do as they usually did--throw stones at Kaen, Faun, and she. But this time, she knew they would also be jealous, because she had Imprinted a little dragonchen, and a silver at that. She knew they'd try to take Woen from her, simply to torment her. And the little flit was too small, too delicate for that. His wings had barely dried, and he still lay, trembling ever so gently, in Ronia's hand. Kaen nuzzled Woen gently, and Faun purred, a note of distress in her flutey voice.
"It's ok," murmured Ronia, "We'll never let them take Woen from us."
Eventually, though, one boy noticed her, and with a wild cry, he raced toward her, calling the others in his 'pack'. Ronia at first stood, defiant, fists raised, uttering wild cries of war, until she remembered the goal: keep Woen safe. So she turned, though it shamed her, and ran back toward her mini-keep, while sticks and stones and other manner of things came hurtling after her, as well as insults.
Back at her room, Ronia gently placed Woen in a small bed of torn cloth, and then sat back on her bed, her face blank of any expression. She lay back, and a few tears welled up in her eyes. She brushed them angrily away, and Kaen leapt up beside her, whimpering, while Faun curled up on her pillow, mewing.
Somehow, Ronia drifted off to sleep, and when she awoke again, someone was standing over her. Kaen was still lying on her bed, a growl rising in his throat, and Faun hissed from the high perch of Ronia's table. Ronia sat up stiffly, and stared at the stranger looming beside her bed.
"Who are you?" she stammered angrily. The stranger smiled pleasantly, and extended his hand. When it became apparent that she wasn't going to take it, he dropped the hand, still smiling.
"I'm a rider from White River. I hope it's alright that I entered uninvited, but you've been Found, you see."
"Me? Found?" Ronia thought of the dragon she had seen just yesterday, and grinned. "Really? No fooling?"
"Really. You'd better pack up and move to a cathair, now." came the reply.
"Shards!" yelled Ronia happily, and Kaen barked in agreement.
Ronia kneeled in front of the egg that shivered slightly, cracking in half. A feisty blue tumbled out and winked up at Ronia. She grinned and shouted, "Mieuceth, you've got a mind of your own!"
~Quite so, Ronia mine~
"Oh. My. Goodness.." Ronia breathed, and hugged her bonded to her.
Ronia hummed happily, and Faun and Kaen barked and mewed along. The now grown Mieuceth rumbled happily as Ronia rubbed oil into his itchy sapphire scales, and Ronia grinned at him.
"Mieuceth, it won't be long 'til you've grown all the way, and we can fly together!"
~I cannot wait!~
Ronia gently stroked Mieuceth, contemplating their fate at the X-gender Frenzy.
The crowd gathered (and able to watch without being distracted) began to ooh and ahh. There were three greens dancing around five males, using their confusing tactics to stall the males. One of the bolder dark blues, Mieuceth rose up and managed to get normally-agile pale yellow-green Marantanath to fly smack into his wide wings.
It was Ronia's unabashed stare at Szhraad that made the Zekiran aware that his dragon's mind really was stuck in his own. His oddly beaked face adopted a sort of questing smile, "I could change," he suggested. Then instead of being a four-footed sort-of-dragon-cat-centaur-thing with fragile insect wings, Szhraad's form wavered a little and became a vaguely feline looking man with a sharp nose and short horns on his head, framed by the same curly hair as before. Ronia nodded, thinking that the form was definitely to her liking. And besides, if he could do that, what else might the shapeshifter be able to do?
About the same time, V'naard's green Zadmith was caught for the second time. The big, healthy blue Mieuceth certainly got around in the air, for it was his second go-round as well! They seemed a good pair, both flying strongly over the hills nearby to be isolated. Of course, "isolation" and "V'naard" weren't often in the same paragraph together. When he sought out Ronia, she looked him over. His wild hair still had bits of grass in it from his prior hour.
"Isn't it usually the male's rider who finds the female's rider?" Ronia asked, but V'naard merely purred something in a distantly foreign language, which she interpreted correctly as 'who cares, let's play'.
Zadmith, Green and Mieuceth
-Green Lilliveith bonded Loenir
-Blue Miracalth bonded Grayio
Marantanth, Green and Mieuceth
-Blue Chwilioth bonded Caiseal
Ronia and Szhraad
Ronia and V'naard