Skade was in a very bad mood. She couldn't remember the last time she hadn't been at least vaguely grumpy, but this mood was the worst yet. Skade knew she technically had no right to be this angry, but she didn't care. She just wanted to hit something.
People scuttled out of her way as she stormed through the castle corridors. Skade ignored them, keeping her eyes fixed resolutely ahead of her as she stormed out of the doors and out across the training grounds. Everything seemed to be coming down around her ears at the moment; the king's advisors were constantly railing at her for not attending meetings, she seemed to spend every minute of the day chasing after misplaced writs and reports from border patrol, and now she had yet another disaster to cope with. And what was worse, this time it was a problem from within her own organization. She had only been told that morning, but it seemed that the news had spread fast. Rhagtan Chanu Gwynt had lost yet another rider.
"Nanye!" Skade called as she neared the dragons' caves. "Nanye!"
A startled snort came from inside one of the caves, and a brindled head peeked out, looking around blearily. Nanye's nostrils dilated as he snuffed the air, and upon catching his rider's scent, he trotted out to join her.
"Yes?" The dragon asked, lowering his ash-grey head to look her in the eye. "Have you come to see the youngling?"
"Unfortunately so," said Skade defeatedly. "I hear it was another accidental death?"
Nanye nodded sadly. "She was most upset. I think she will appreciate it if you talk to her."
Skade nodded and scratched the black end of Nanye's nose before brushing past him into the cave. The young dragon was curled up at the back of the cave, wings drooping dejectedly and making a miserable whimpering noise. Skade's gaze softened as she saw the look of grief in her eyes.
"Hello Ragta," she said, squatting down beside the dragon.
Ragta huffed at her, and Skade rolled her eyes. "Don't give me that. Look, I understand you're upset, but what you've got to realise is that this is easily preventable. If you'd be willing to take more care, accidents like this wouldn't happen."
Ragta whined and put her ears back. Skade bit her lip and took a deep breath, "Come on Ragta, don't be difficult. I'm going to give you one more chance, alright? I'll have someone find you another rider, and I'm going to trust you to sort yourself out. If this goes wrong again ..." Skade sighed, "One last chance, Ragta. That's it."
Ragta gave no sign that she had heard, but Skade could see that the young dragon's ears were pricked with interest. She turned and left the cave. Nanye had settled down in the grass and raised his head when she passed. He got up and followed her as she walked past, and together the two of them went to gather the rest of their companions. They had a rider to find.