The sun was already set high on the cloudless sky, casting shadows away. I look around the place, many wealthy families are assembled, ready for their turn in the trials. I also noticed an uncommonly great amount of women waiting to meet their fate.
“You think girls can’t be dragon riders?”I heard Lylith growled beside me.
I turn to look at her angered expression. Apparently I had voiced my thoughts. “Of course they can! All I’m saying is that I consider it uncommon.”
Lylith was not satisfied with my answer, she turned her back to me and was absorbed in conversation with Corrina. I sighed and rolled my eyes, murmurs erupted around me as heads turn toward their left. Another person had just entered the trial chambers; the young lady was atop a mare. Yet another girl.
The Council was settled inside a tent, guarded by two burly Royal officers. The Kingdom’s adviser, Razok, was overseeing the “Rider’s ritual” and insuring that the fees were met according to the law he imposed. Razok was dressed in long dark tunic, his dark hair was slicked back from his face, his impassive ore-black eyes were continually scanning the crowd of potential dragon riders. He had an amused expression in his face and whispered to his pitch black dragon beside him. Runa, his dragon, was a massive creature. Pitch black in color with fangs that were visible, she had long bone-white horns on her head, her claws were sharp and red, her eyes were growing embers. Her tail was curled close to her body and the black wings lined with red vessels were folded to her sides. It was the picture of a merciless rider beside his fearsome dragon.
Some people emerged from the tent with a disconsolate expression on their faces, from the many that had entered only one had turned out victorious. A blond man had emerged from the tent, holding in his hands a yellow dragon egg. Some people cheered and clapped nonchalantly, whilst some approach and congratulate him. If the rider nurtured the egg with proper care, it will hatch in no time, usually in a span of three days.
“The Council will now accept ten others,” an elder from the Council emerged from the tent.
Corrina made a move toward the tent, followed by Lylith and myself. I saw the girl follow us after tying her mare to a nearby tree and paying a little boy, who had come to witness the trials, to take care of her horse.
We went to the table set up for the recollection of the fee. When we arrived, a set of serious and stealthy eyes met us.
“Look at that Runa, don’t you think it’s amusing? Hopeless farmers trying their luck to be dragon riders,” he sneered, just audibly enough for us to hear him.
Runa laughed silently beside him, displaying her rows of sharp teeth. “Their hands are not made to handle dragons; they should go back to their fields.”
I glared at him as I was paying my fee, handing over the 50 gold coins I had earned with much hard work. Corrina’s cold gaze was scrutinizing him and Runa, Lylith tried to ignore his depreciatory comments, and the new girl stood quietly beside us.
“Don’t look at me like that; you should respect an authoritative figure.” Razok advised me, lifting his eyebrows. “Take your coins and go back home, you have nothing to do here boy.”
“You don’t know it; because of you the fees were imposed. You shattered many dreams from the people and destroyed the honourable “riders mark” ritual,” I seethed, my hand closing in on the hilt of my sword.
“Lyred, control your temper.” Corrina warned. “Let’s go inside.”
“Good luck,” Razok said artlessly, drawing a spiteful smirk in his face.
We were ushered inside the tent to be met by a long table with three elders behind it. There were a couple of dragon eggs sitting on the table, waiting for their riders.
“Welcome,” the elder sitting in the middle rose to his feet and spread his arms. “We are honoured to have you here, please proceed to place a hand on each egg and if it glows with your touch then you have been chosen by the dragon and destiny.”
I took a step forward, nervously walking to the table to place a hand on an egg, praying one belongs to me. The Council started with seven eggs, but now there were only six left and about twenty or so more people outside.
“Good luck,” Lylith whispered as I left their side and approached the table. My first stop was the red egg, fancying a blue dragon. Unsteadily, I placed a hand on the rough shell, after several seconds nothing happened. The elder who was standing shook his head and beckoned me to continue with the other eggs. I would not lose hope, I had five more opportunities.
I closed my eyes and decided to go for the colour I wanted instead of following the queue. I walked straight to the dark red egg, a mixture between fire and sun. I place a hand on the rough shell, feeling in my hand the creases and markings.
A pain shot through my veins, traveling my body. Flows of energy were pumped into my heart and my flesh was stinging with pain. I stood, rooted on my spot, unable to utter a word, my eyes were wide opened. I closed them in fear that my eyeballs would pop out of my socket. My flesh was burning in pain, I gritted my teeth to prevent me from shouting. As quickly as it had started, it ended.
The pain was gone, a lightweight sensation in my head. I opened my eyes and saw the Elder smiling at me, with some sort of pride in his eyes.
“Welcome to the community, Dragon Rider,” he said, placing a hand on my shoulder. The other Elders stood up and clasped their hands together in a sign of pleasure.
I look down, the egg was glowing faintly. I was speechless, reaching for the egg and holding it with both my hands. My heart was over brimming with happiness.
“Your name, son,” the Elder inquired.
“Lyred Drillast,” I said.
The Elder bows his head, “take care of your dragon. Your noble heart has been chosen among many to be bonded to a dragon.”
“Thank you,” I bow low as a sign of respect and gratitude. I turn on my heels to face Lylith, Corina, and the new girl whose name I heard to be Manona, their faces were radiant at my success. I mouthed a good luck at them and pulled the curtain covering the tent aside and emerged as the triumphant man I felt.
The same reaction was received by the audience and above all I noticed Razok’s acid glare on me.
“Who would have imagined, a poor farmer boy...” he taunted, “a Dragon rider!”
“Adviser Razok,” I turn to face him. “With all due respect sir, Dragon Riders started off being common farmers and villagers like me and they turned into great warriors.”
Razok glared at me with insolence, Runa snarled beside him. “I will judge that.”
I returned him a challenging look before turning on my heels and stride away toward the boy and the mare, thinking it is the best place to wait for the rest. The boy eyes grow wide when he sees me carrying a dragon egg, his name is Telvan. I narrate him the feeling of being marked and showed him the mark, which look like three healed scratches as if made by the claws of a dragon.