The beast doesn't know how to fly. He twists and throws and bucks. I strain to hold on, tearing feathers from his neck. His violet eye glances angrily at me as he turns again, upside down.
My determination wins eventually, and he straightens out. Long, strong, wingstrokes beat the air, and the city is gone. My stomach clenches. Did I really just give up safety and shelter and food to ride on the back of a beast that could very well kill me?
His flight is gentler, and quieter, and Sparky's. He heads for the clouds, soaring right through them. His beak opens wide and he catches the mist with his tongue.
I pat his neck and relax. He's fast, everything disappears before I can tell what it is. I think we're going east. I let him fly to his heart's desire, go wherever he wants.
My legs begin to ache from holding on and I want to get off his back. I press my hands against the back of his neck, directly behind his spine pushing downward. He responds easily, swooping lightly toward the earth. The hills roll up towards us, covered in trees and foliage. He hovers above the branches, looking around for a place to land. With nothing to his taste, he swings his claws and a wing downward, leveling a place large enough for himself.
He doesn't touch down yet, but grabs the trees and branches with his beak and claws and throws them aside like stones. When the land is clear, he lays down and allows me to slide off his shoulders. Once my feet hit the ground, he raises himself back up, arching his neck. He gazes down at me in a royal manner.
I kind of smile, "No need to be formal. We can be friends, right?" His crest raises, and I don't know how to interpret it, "I don't want you to hate me like the other humans. I'll be nice to you. But please don't leave me here, or anywhere else. I wouldn't be able to survive without you. Those Jacks would tear me to shreds within seconds."
He lowers his head and nudges my shoulder gently. I pat his beak, then reach up and scratch his forehead.
"You're a handsome boy. Very princely. I won't treat you like a horse or a dog. You seem so much smarter than that."
He closes his eyes and a soft pur escapes, but as soon as he realizes what he's done, he snaps his head back up and acts like he's above act of passion.
I laugh softly, "It's okay, buddy. I won't tell anyone."