Finding Her Wings
The young Kougra gazed nervously into the tawny eyes before him, meeting them with his own dark green stare. The young one's light blue fur was covered by silver armour, navy blue stripes lining his body. Inhaling deeply as his sword was examined, he watched the old Eyrie in front of him fit it into his hand, then observe and inspect the adornments which covered its hilt; the sword had been decorated with the fangs and claws of the Kougra youth's ancestors, an ancestral and ancient weapon.
The Eyrie swung the sword around as if testing it, the silvery blade making whooshing sounds as it cut through the air. A pause, and the Eyrie was staring at the blade itself, using a finger to run over the sharpened sides. The elder winced, and a smile crossed his yellow beak. "'Tis a good sword, lad," he said regally, handing it by the hilt back to its owner. "You should be proud, being the child of a Hall."
"Oh yes, Sir," the Kougra answered enthusiastically. "Very. I mean, I have to have the best situation in all the kingdom..."
"Humility," the Eyrie scolded sharply, interrupting the Kougra, "is a virtue most esteemed. You know that, I believe."
The Kougra hung his head. "I apologize, Master Steelwing," he murmured, sheathing the sword and beginning to walk out of the recruitment centre.
"Halt, young Mark!" The Kougra stopped in his tracks as the authoritative tone of the man-at-arms called his name. He turned, though ears were drooping as he expected another chide from the seasoned knight.
Instead, he was met with an assuring grin. Master Steelwing bent down below the small table, then, reaching for a quill pen and dipping it in ink, wrote something on a small slip of paper. "Show this parchment to Sir Ivan. Tell him Master Steelwing says you are fit to be a squire."
Mark seemed stunned at first, before he gave the elder a toothy grin. "Oh, thank you, Master Steelwing! I... I cannot believe... I'm going to be..." Unable to find words, the Kougra took the parchment gratefully from the Eyrie, began a thirty-second-long speech on his gratitude, then was quickly shooed away. Steelwing laughed heartily as the young Kougra left, dusting off his small wooden chair with his tail and taking his seat.
Master Steelwing was a fairly old knight, relatively speaking. Maybe about forty-five or -six, the brown Eyrie was still capable of fighting off an invasion as well as any youth could. Although, that's one reason he was so glad another was on his way; he was desperately wishing to retire, but the kingdom's lack of knights and other Neopets of rank kept him there.
Leaning back in his chair, he closed his tawny eyes and inhaled, grateful for the rest as much as Mark was for the sponsoring. He rested his arms behind his head as he sunk down further into his seat, a pose not very normal for one of his rank in society. Sure, he was a stone-faced noble in public, but in private the old Eyrie was a very lax, very lenient person. Anyone who truly knew him would tell you that.
He was stirred from his repose by the sudden throwing open of the door, and he stood immediately as a royal Gelert stood against the sunlight of the outside, and, with a bow, greeted the king.
The Gelert nodded in reply and took a seat in front of the table, giving Steelwing the cue to do the same. Resting his hands on the table and staring intently into his man-at-arms' eyes, King Louis seemed to have something on his mind. The purple Gelert never could hide it when he had something troubling or exciting him.
"What is on your mind, my lord?" Steelwing asked anxiously, seeing the wry grin his king had on his face. "Something good, I hope."
"My friend," the king began happily, chuckling lightly under his breath, "I have received word of your daughter. She is on her way now."
Steelwing exhaled in relief. "Good. I trust her health is better, then?"
King Louis nodded. "Much better. I suppose you'd like to see your daughter? She is in the castle, awaiting your arrival."
With a simple nod, he and Master Steelwing were out of the Recruitment Centre and walking about the city of Gelvale, the grand castle in the centre of it their goal. With their passing, labourious men bowed reverently and respectful women curtsied cheerfully, and to each they responded with the customary nod. Although, Master Steelwing's thoughts were on another subject.
He was focused entirely on seeing his daughter.
The young lady waited as patiently as she could in the castle's throne room, the Gelert queen fanning herself in apprehension. "Oh, don't you worry, now," she said assuringly, leaning against her armrest as she sat on her throne, "Tavi will be here shortly."
The lady, a grey Eyrie dressed as if she had been of a vibrant colour such as pink or orange, sighed in impatience. Her black eyes were downcast as she waited her father's entrance. She so longed to see him again, after months of separation.
You see, Diana Steelwing (for her name was such) had always been a sickly child. It wasn't until King Altador visited the city for a business ordeal and he had suggested her come with him to the clean air of Altador before a cure was hoped for. Though reluctant to see her go, her father had sent her away, his only intention being that she would return in greater health.
And now she stood there, feeling as fine as she ever did, waiting for Master Tavi Steelwing to arrive. Just as the thought crossed her mind that he might have been too busy, the wooden doors flew open, and the regal brown Eyrie and his kingly friend stood in the doorway.
The family Steelwing shared stares a while before they finally ran to embrace each other, both weeping. A rare moment it was for Master Steelwing to cry any tear, and now he was sniffling like a baby. He didn't care. He didn't care, as long as he could hold his daughter in his arms again.
"Though only months, this time has been years!" he said shakily, as he held his daughter's head to look her over. A grey pet, he knew, always looked sad, but she always seemed especially so. He always blamed the sickness and cursed it for this reason. But now, though she still appeared rather sullen, she did seem happier than she used to.
"Daddy, may we speak in my own bedroom?" she asked, looking about at the royal couple in the room with them. "I have something important to tell you about." Though surprised by his daughter's words, he agreed, and they left the throne room.
The sunlight shone in on the two Eyries as father and daughter sat on her bed, unused for six months. Diana seemed to be nervous about something, and Tavi was persistent in finding out what it was. After enough questioning, the frail daughter finally spoke.
"Daddy," she began, inhaling deeply, "I do wish you had come to Altador to visit. There are so many things there you would enjoy. The Altador Cup, the battles waged in the Colosseum by the mighty Torakor, waking every morning to Siyana's sweet light..." Her voice trailed off.
"Do go on," he said softly, taking in his daughter's words.
She sighed again, and went on. "The air there is perfect for my condition, Daddy," she went on, "I have purchased a plot of land there to build a home and live there..."
"You purchased land?!" Master Steelwing shouted frantically, his voice soaked with concern. "My dear, you cannot possibly think you can live in another city about thirty miles south from me! You are not to leave this castle until you are sick again."
Her face showed obvious disappointment, then her black eyes showed real resentment. "Father," she growled, using the term she only used when angry or upset, "I cannot be restrained forever. If I go there, I never shall be sick again. Do see reason, Daddy!"
The words of friends he spoke to of her came ringing in his mind: "One day she'll find her own wings. She can't have yours flying for her for the rest of her life." He realized the truth in the statement, and how the day had come. Sighing, Steelwing glanced out the doorway to the balcony, the little Beekadoodles that lived in the Neogarden below the balcony resting on and flittering about the stone railing. A smile crossed his beak.
"I always knew you'd fly like the Beekadoodles," he commented absently, his mind wandering, "but I never figured you would soar like the wild Skree."
"But Daddy, surely I am not a Skree!" she giggled, amused with the comparison. "How could I be an unmanageable Skree if my father is a noble Vaeolus?"
Though confused by her reference to an Altadorian petpet he knew little of, he smiled. "You live on your land, my dear," he said gently, encircling his broad wings around them both to bring them closer together. "You may have found your wings, but mine shall always be here to guide you."