Wishing for Wings

Date: Many Passes Ago

It felt like he had sat there on the damp floor of the little cave. All day. With Zemi, talking about the same thing. All day. The same old things they talked about. All day. ZenToYa flicked his hand forward, a small bored orb of light rising up towards the ceiling of the cave. He watched with disinterest as it popped against the dripping upper ridge of stone.

“Aw, come on, Zemi!” Zento finally complained with a huffy face. “This is the third season that we’ve been going over the same old things! Can’t you show me something new?”

“I will show you something new when you can show me that you understand the current concepts,” the Dreigiau’s voice was patient and steadfast.

The shimmery image of the white Dragon loomed just overhead, a spectral illusion that marked Zemi’s presence within the cave. It was a vision that Zento was quite familiar with, especially over the long years he spent in apprenticeship to the Arweinydd.

It was hard to math-out just how long it was since he and his sister sought shelter under the protection of the Dreigiau. Over that time, the boy had grown into a youth, now just on the last edge of adolescence. But not quite a man.

Long white hair hung wildly past his shoulders, held out of his face by an aptly tied blue bandanna. His eyes were sharp green-of-blue and burned with emotion, intelligence and ambition. By the standards of others, he was a tall, well-built, and handsome youth. Though his spirit was open and eager, it was also restless with the desires of life and a longing for adventure.

Kudako served as his physical trainer over the years. His instruction contained a relentless daily regimen of strict self-control and selfless dedication to the art of personal battle. Despite the time Zento spent honing his skills, Kudako still didn’t acknowledge him as a full-fledged warrior. In fact, Zento wasn’t even allowed to craft his first real weapon yet — a sign that Kudako said marked a warrior’s coming-of-age.

In the realms of magic, Zemi was his teacher. The difference between the stoic, golden-eyed warrior and the casual, laid-back Dreigiau was like night and day, and then night and day again. There were no two creatures on the earth who had more opposite approaches to teaching.

But both of them are just as irritatingly SLOW!

“Man, Zemi,” Zento grumbled, head craning back to give the Dragon a better look at his disapproving frown. “You’re cramping my style!”

“And what style is that?” Zemi replied with an annoying calmness.

“You know, MY style!” the youth spread his hands as if the statement explained everything.

“Ah, that style. Of course.”

Zento released another little globe of floating light, this time up towards the Dreigiau’s nose. It rippled, then became absorbed into the luminous Dragon-image as the two energies met.

“I’m ready for this,” the boy continued to argue.

“I’ll be the judge of that, ZenToYa,” the Arweinydd replied.

The youth sighed, running his fingers through his hair with a sulky pout. Then he got to his feet, stretching both arms over his head.

“You’re just as bad as Kudako, you know. He won’t let me have my own weapon. You won’t teach me nothing new,” Zento grumbled. “All this time you keep telling me that you’re training me to go out and be some great leader of this place you want to create. How am I supposed to do that if you never even give me a chance to get out there?”

There was a moment of silence before the Dreigiau spoke again, more serious than usual, “It’s because you were chosen for leadership that you must learn to be patient. Everything has its own time to shine — even you. That time hasn’t come yet.”

“Why not?” Zento bickered, beginning to pace back and forth under the Dragon’s nose. “I’ve been training and training and training every day, Zemi! What do I have to do to prove to you that I’m ready to go out there and do this?”

A low chuckle filled the cave. “You’ll prove it to me the day that you stop arguing like this.”

Zento made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat.

“You’ll never understand his lesson if you can’t keep your mind on the present and leave the future to itself. Things take time to happen,” Zemi explained further.

“Yeah well, at this rate, I’ll be dead and gone before you teach me anything new!” the youth’s hands spread in a display of great, painful drama.

“Zento…” the Dreigiau murmured, good-naturedly.

“It’s true!” Zento lamented. “Unless you’re planning on making me one of your Dragons someday.”

Zemi rolled his eyes with a deep sigh, “We’ve been over this before. The answer is still no.”

“Why not?” his tone grew whiny. He stopped pacing to level his gaze directly at the Dreigiau. “If I’m supposed to be your great Champion, then why don’t I get a cool Dragon form?”


“You let Kudako have one!”

“Kudako is a different story,” Zemi informed him.

“Why not me, then? Man… it would be sooo awesome! I could fly around all day, and if anyone got in my way, I’d just step on them!” Zento crushed a tiny, invisible annoyance under the flat of his foot.

“Zento…” the Dreigiau groaned.

“I know.  I know… flaming them is far cooler,” the youth made claw motions with his hands.

“And you wonder why you aren’t on the list of possible Dragons-to-be?” Zemi lowered his nose to nudge Zento in the shoulder affectionately.

“Maaaan,” Zento grumbled again, this time, a little less genuine. It was never easy to stay mad at Zemi for very long.

Even if he is SLOW!

Zento lifted one hand, touching the curve of the Dreigiau’s slender nose in a friendly way. Zemi’s strange-yet-familiar energy met his touch, a warm-and-cool tingling filling his whole body with a sense of vitality and wonder.

Though  Zento complained about things, somewhere deep down, he knew that he was lucky. He lived a happy life there, with Kudako and SaRa and Zemi. Not many people could say they had an Arweinydd as a guardian and teacher.

But if I’m so happy here, why do I feel like I’m all cramped up?

“It’s natural for an Earthian your age,” Zemi replied. “Or so I’ve been told. I knew that you’d eventually grow to have a wandering heart.”

Zento peered up at the Dreigiau with a slightly regretful face, “That doesn’t mean I want to leave you… or that I don’t appreciate what you’ve given me, Zemi.”

“I know,” the answer was gentle. “And I know it’s hard to sit by when others seem to be making the rules for you. I promise there’s a reason for these things. One day, you’ll find yourself out there in the world. Perhaps then, you’ll look back on these times and miss them.”

“You’re starting to sound like an old fossil, Zemi,” Zento laughed chidingly, his eyes shimmering in good-humored mirth. He threw a few mock punches at the Dreigiau’s nose, a playful bantering that was met with a few snorts and the flip of the tail.

“Leave it to kids to never take good advice,” Zemi shook out his mane with a playful snap of his jaws.

“Alright, alright.  I get what you’re saying,” the youth sighed, resigned for now. “But I still think you should make me a Dragon.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because it would be sooo awesome to fly,” Zento replied with a big grin, rocking back and forth on his heels.

“You’re pretty good at flying Dragon-back now days. At least, that’s what Brunswik told me.”

“I’m not talking about flying on a Dragon,” he made a motion with his hand, like waves rolling up and down. “I’m talking about flying with my own wings. You know, like the birds do.”

“I see, so you want wings?” Zemi asked.

Zento glanced up with a sheepish look, “Sounds pretty stupid to you, I guess.”

The Dreigiau spread his own wings, displaying them with a slight flutter. “Oh? And why would that sound stupid? I have wings.”

“That’s true,” he nodded slowly. “It was just something silly, though. When I was little, I’d watch the birds flying, and I wanted to fly like that. Birds always seemed so free.”

“They do, don’t they?”

“Well, I suppose that riding Dragon-back is about as close to it as I’m ever going to come,” Zento shrugged.

“Don’t be so certain about that,” the Dreigiau replied in a mysterious tone.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Before the Arweinydd had the chance to answer, a call rang out across the cave. Zento turned his head and was greeted by the sight of his sister, SaRa.

She, too, had grown up over time, now maturing into a young woman. SaRa was refined in every way that Zento was wild. Though the two had very little in the way of material items of their own, she somehow always seemed to keep herself neat.

SaRa’s dress was simple, yet attractive with a pastoral sensibility. Her hair was tied back in a flowing set of beaded braids, tucked neatly up under a simple sun-hat. One hand clamped firmly upon Kudako’s forearm as she led the way into the cave. The Dragon followed silently, a downturn frown on his face. He had obviously been goaded into the carrying of food-stuffs for her on their weekly trip to the nearby village, for his other arm was wrapped firmly around a set of packages from the tiny corner market.

“Zento!” SaRa beamed him a warm smile. “It looks like the aeronen have come back into season again!”

The youth perked up, completely forgetting  his final. Pulling up the edge of his bandanna to clear the hair out of his eyes, Zento quickly went to meet the two of them, and pulled some of the packages out of Kudako’s hands.

“The only time you offer help is when there is food,” Kudako stated drolly.

Zento grinned brightly, fishing through the packages for the most prized cold-fruit. Discovering one, he pulled it out triumphantly and waved it in the Dragon’s face. “Come on, ‘Dako. Even you like the aeronen!”

“There is a pleasantness about them,” the Dragon admitted with the slightest hint of a nod.

“Why can’t you ever just say, ‘Yes, I like them’?” the youth huffed.

“Don’t pick at ‘Dako just because he has a more elegant way of speaking that you do,” SaRa chided her brother, waggling one finger good-naturedly.

“Elegant? Give me a break,” Zento grimaced.

“So what’s the news from the outside,” Zemi interjected, glancing over at Kudako.

“The normal fare, Lord Zemi,” the Dragon replied grimly. “Petty squabbling over watering holes. Gathering rights. Shortage of food in the northlands. There seems to be one particularly aggressive clan out there by the name of Kai that is pushing its weight around.”

“Is that so?” the Dreigiau murmured.

“Yes, My Lord.”

“Is it anything that might be serious?”

“Hard to say at this early on in the situation,” Kudako answered.

Zemi was quiet for a while before he spoke again. “Kudako, how about gathering what information you can on this Kai family.”

“As you wish, My Lord,” the Dragon nodded with a slight bow.

“And take Zento with you when you do,” the Dreigiau added.

Zento perked up, almost dropping the fruit. Excitement raced through his entire body, his face lighting up in surprise, “Seriously? I can go?”

Kudako, however, gave a dubious look over at the youth, “Do you think that it is a very good idea, Lord Zemi?”

“I think it’s a great idea,” the Arweinydd grinned, a Dragon’s grin, “Consider it a step up in Zento’s hands-on training. It’s about time we see what he can do out in the field.”

“Yes!” Zento pumped his fist, giving a wide, toothy grin.

“Mind you, however,” Zemi warned him with a fan of his wings, “You’re under Kudako’s orders. I better not hear about any horseplay out there.”

“Thank you, Zemi! I won’t let you down!” Zento bowed low before the Dreigiau before scuttling off to get his traveling gear together.

Watching the youth dash away, Zemi murmured in a low, amused tone, “I know you won’t, ZenToYa.”

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