I watched as three of those in the line in front of me exited the tiny canvas tent victorious, gleefully clutching eggs of shining indigo, shocking ruby and a glittering gold.
That left a mere four eggs to choose their rider for the next years. I had seen a few men and women, of different classes and backgrounds, leave empty-handed and downtrodden, but even so, I didn’t like my chances.
I would have to be a bit rougher to get a swipe at glory.
“Excuse me,” I whispered, finding that my voice would not come out as loud as I wanted it to. Some of the older men and women in the queue gave me glares of discontent, but a pretty girl with long night-coloured hair and deep blue eyes stepped graciously aside so that I could, albeit hesitantly, finally manoeuvre myself through to be in front of the table. Sometimes, a lack of height had its uses.
A single lamp displayed the wooden table in front of me, and lit up the face of a couple of Elders who were watching the eggs. Their eyes flicked up and down, quickly observing my odd attire, but I believed that they could see as little of me as I could of them, even with the external light that was peeking in through several cracks in the canvas. I guessed it was all in the manner of fairness…even if the fifty gold coins were not exactly poor-man’s change.
I gazed firmly at the table, as though I’d be able to pick an egg just from looking, and looked straight from left to right, ignoring the burning gaze of the Elders. The three eggs that had already been taken left gaps that seemed as big as a valley, especially when every egg counted for something. I let my hands hover over the second-from-left egg: a rich purple one, gleaming in the dim light. The colour amazed me, and I felt happiness, as though that egg was the one, but no stream of energy surfaced when I placed my palms onto it. Disappointing.
Next, moving quickly past the second and third gaps, I glimpsed the emerald egg.
It was the colour of grass that had just been kissed by morning dew, and it was daintily sparkling lightly. As I gazed down at the egg, light gleamed off every facet.
“If I may hurry you…” An Elder muttered in front of me. Behind, I could hear the grumbles of the others who were still waiting their turn.
“Sorry,” I gasped, transfixed.
Closing my eyes, I placed both hands onto the egg carefully. The eruption of sudden power that flowed from my fingertips and from the egg was unbelievable. I could see the radiant light, even through my eyelids. I could taste the electricity that was dancing on my tongue.
Yes! I screamed in my head.
“Welcome to the community, Dragon Rider,” said the middle Elder, sliding the dragon egg out from beneath my hands and formally giving it to me.
“Your name, madam?” The Elder asked me.
“M-Manona Whiterbey,” I stuttered, surprised at how much my voice was shaking with adrenaline.
Grinning, I gripped the egg tightly, never wanting to let it go, and pushed my way out of the tent. I watched the adviser, Razok stare at me and smile a little. I didn’t like his greedy smile, and I gathered that he was not a person that many people liked. The farm boy with the sky egg still glared at the adviser too.
And so, I walked over to the line of the ‘chosen few’. There I stood apprehensively, watching the other new riders watching me.