Skies over Meridell
Shawna and Tav stood in their humble home in Meridell. The
lamp was on, shedding light over the large pieces of paper that were spread across
the table in the middle of the room. The papers were covered with strange diagrams
that probably would have made no sense to anyone but the two Kyrii siblings.
"Hmm," Shawna said, tapping her chin with a
pencil. "Tav, what if we added extra wing support?"
Her brother glanced at the paper Shawna stood
in front of, and turned it so he could examine what was written on that particular
sheet. "We might need it," he said grimly, sliding it around back to face Shawna.
"We have to do everything we can to make sure it'll work."
Shawna, the younger of the two, nodded. She
scribbled a few lines onto the paper and stood back again, frowning. "We'll
need to test the steering system again tomorrow, make sure it works. If it fails--"
She brought one paw across her throat in an unmistakable gesture.
Tav was staring down at another paper and hadn't
seen his sister's motion, but he still got the meaning of her words. "Propeller,
wings, support--what're we missing?"
"Everything between your ears," Shawna said,
Her brother glared at her. "Sure. Seriously,
The Kyrii stifled her laughter and trotted around
the table to peer over Tav's shoulder. "Will the wings be strong enough?" she
asked. "That's why I was saying wing support--what if we had sort of, well,
a double-wing system?"
Tav shook his head. "We don't have nearly enough
to buy that much more wood," he said, and Shawna knew he was right. The pile
of wood in the workshop behind the house was small even for their current plan.
"Still--if it doesn't fly, we'll have to start
all over," Shawna said. She shrugged as Tav turned to look at her.
"If it doesn't fly--" The Kyrii stopped and
sighed. "If it doesn't fly, I'm--well, I'm not going to try any more." Tav bowed
his head, staring down at the table. "I know how much this means to you, but
I just can't. I can't try any more, Shawna." Silence descended; the only noise
was Shawna trying not to cry. After a few moments Tav, with smooth, quiet pawsteps,
left the room.
As soon as the door shut behind him, Shawna
threw herself upon the couch, tears spilling out of her eyes. Tav--Tav, her
brother, the strong one, the one who was always there for her. Tav. And now,
if this failed, he was abandoning their plans. Their life's work.
Their parents had always wanted to fly, but
Kyrii--especially peasant Kyrii from Meridell--weren't likely to be painted
faerie. When their father had joined Skarl's army for the first Meridell war,
Tav and Shawna had known, for the first time, fear. Fear was common enough in
their lives, but they had never had any like the kind that descended when they'd
seen the back of their father, walking away from them to a war he might never
He never came back. No letters were sent, but
for years, Tav and Shawna had held on to hope. Their mother had gone to look
for him; shortly afterward, the second Battle began, and she did not return
Shawna was the one to come up with the plan
to build a glider. A plane, she called it, and at first Tav laughed. He scoffed
at her plans, just as did the others from their village when she tried to show
them. Slowly, though, he'd come around to the idea. That had been three years
ago, now; they sold the farm they'd always lived on to buy wood, had planned
and built it.
Winds blew around the construction, nearly blowing away the pilot's goggles
of the Kyrii who sat inside the 'plane'. She gave a double thumbs-up to Tav, who
nodded back and began to push the glider. For the moment, it sat atop a large
hill; the south face was steep, good for sledding in winter--and gliding in summer,
or so they hoped.
Tav's efforts paid off. The glider slid forward,
across the grass; Shawna pulled her pilot's goggles over her eyes and placed
her hands on the steering system. It would work--hopefully.
The glider slid, slowly, slowly, over the crest
of the hill. Tav gave it one last push to take it over. The plane wobbled on
Shawna winced even in memory of that day. She'd
sustained a number of bruises after that one; the crack of wood had sounded
loud enough to carry clear to Meridell Castle.
Their first attempt had taken half a year to
plan and another half to build; the second took half again that long. That,
too, belly-flopped like a Peophin child just learning to dive. They'd managed
to retrieve some wood from the crashes, but their further attempts seemed to
require even more wood than their previous ones had.
They were taking their time with this third
try; Shawna had thought they were doing fairly well. Until Tav's sudden pronouncement,
she added mentally, wiping a paw across her eyes.
The door opened quietly and Tav came in. "I--I'm
sorry," he said quietly, settling himself on the couch. He pulled her into an
embrace. "You're the most awesome sister anyone could ever ask for."
"But it's true," Shawna said, pulling away.
"You're giving up."
"No--" He stopped and, slowly, nodded. "If this
"Then it'll have to work," the Kyrii said fiercely,
wiping her eyes. "We can't give up now, Tav."
Tav hesitated. He was on the brink of denying
this, on the brink of leaving his sister to her plans and fruitless hopes. Then--"Yes,"
he said. "It will."
"Ready?" Tav asked two years later.
Shawna nodded, pulling pilot's goggles sharply
down over her eyes.
Tav grinned. "Go!" he yelled, spinning the propeller
that was their newest idea. He gave it a push to get it over the top of the
hill. It was the same one they'd done previous trials on, the same one that
had had two crashes at the bottom.
For a moment, the glider seemed to drop. Shawna
held her breath, and back on the hill, Tav did too.
"Dad," Tav whispered. "Mom."
Then it stopped. It hung in midair for a moment,
and Shawna's stomach lurched; then the drop flattened out, and the plane was
moving. The wind created by the passing rippled the Kyrii's mane, and Shawna
let her breath out in a whoosh of air.
The glider soared down the hill; Tav counted
the seconds, crossing his paws for good luck. The landing was a hard one for
Shawna; the wheels on the bottom crumpled, but it still moved a few more feet
across the grass before coming to a complete stop.
Shawna sighed and pushed her pilot's goggles
up. She took them off and hung them over the now-still propeller; then she climbed
out, grinning at Tav as he ran up. He caught her up in an embrace, and Shawna
hugged back. And the older Kyrii thought he saw, for just a moment over his
sister's shoulder, their parents reflected in Shawna's goggles.