The land of Pyrrhia is at war. Dragons everywhere are dying. Blood and tears have soaked the land. The dragonets are coming. However, the prophecized dragonets are not the only ones coming. Enter Starbolt, a young dragonet whose duty is the lead all the SwiftWings from Rocky Island to Pyrrhia in a hurricane. Will she succeed? Or will the legacy of the SwiftWings be lost forever?
In this action-smashed novel, one shall learn about courage, sacrifice, and the true meaning of leadership.
When the war started, the peaceful SwiftWings left the land. Where did they go? How did they survive? All we know is they are ready to come back. That was the history of the SwiftWings in a nutshell. Well, I'm Starbolt, and I'm a SwiftWing. Guess what? The SwiftWing queen. "Wow, they sure are crazy! A dragonet for a queen?" yadda, yadda, I'm not crazy for the idea either, but now I'm #1 candidate for queen, which means I'll have to lead ALL the SwiftWings on this little island we've been living on.
"But Sunray, we need you! Imagine if the SandWings all died!" Blaze desperately wailed at a light gray SwiftWing.
"No, Blaze. The SwiftWings will not take sides in the war." Queen Sunray shook her head and turned around.
"STOP! Guards! Don't let her leave!" Blaze cried. SandWing guards raised their lethal tail barbs in warning.
Sunray rolled her eyes and walked the opposite direction. All the guards scrambled in front of her and flashed their tail spikes again.
"Strike two." Blaze narrowed her eyes.
The blue-maned SwiftWing met the SandWing queen's gaze calmly. "This is no game." She opened her wings, and with a whoosh, went into the air.
"STRIKE THREE! SHE STRUCK OUT! GET THE MANGY FOOL!" Blaze screamed unintelligbly as she took flight too. The guards flew up into the air and gave chase, poisonous tail tips ready. As Queen Sunray rose higher in the sky, she stole worried glances at the approaching SandWing guards. Finally, she was at the altitude maximum. The dragons flapped their wings at each other, trying to breathe at the height.
"You... come... with... US!" Blaze choked her sentence out between long breaths of air. "NOW!"
"No!" Sunray roared and focused on a tree beneath her. As the tree was uprooted, Blaze noticed the sudden concentration and gave the attack signal; SandWing guards charged at the SwiftWing queen.
"Back off!" The tree was now level with queen Sunray and the SandWings. She lashed out with the tree, knocking down two SandWing guards and getting one trapped in the tree branches.
"OH MY GOSH, GET HER!" Blaze screeched. The SandWing guards hesitantly came at the SwiftWing again. Once again, the SandWings fell.
Sunray smirked at the SandWing queen. "Hey queenie, no claws!" she taunted.
"Fine then!" Blaze glared at the hopeless guards. "Someday I will have you on my side!" the queen turned on a dime and flew away, her guards trailing behind her.
Sunray let out a sigh of relief and lowered herself to the ground. After placing the tree back in place, she flew off East, towards the SwiftWing kingdom, in the Diamond Spray area. The SwiftWings also had a piece of the mountains and all of the forest area.
"Queen Sunray! Sunny!" a voice came from behind Queen Sunray.
"Oh hello, Mercury." Sunray turned around. Mercury was a small gray SwiftWing, with a blue stripe and a dark blue mane. "Bring a message to all the citizens of our kingdom. SandWings, world war. Pass it on."
"Going, going, gone." Mercury turned his gray tail and flew off speedy fast. He was one of the fastest fliers, thus he was a messenger.
Queen Sunray continued flying toward her palace. After five minutes of flight, plus snatching an extra cow, she arrived. The grand palace was made of tall columns and telekinesised rock from the mountains, with ivy crawling up the stone walls. Sunray landed on a landing pad and walked through a tunnel of rock and colored glass. Inside the palace was decorated with many assorted plants, all collected from kingdoms everywhere.
"Hello Queen Sunray!"
"How ya' doing?"
The dragons inside the palace all greeted the SwiftWing monarch. Sunray waved to a few dragons, but then slunk into her room. It was quite roomy there, with magnieficent animal skins as a bed, a large bookshelf and a desk with scattered papers and scrolls piled up on it.
"Now where did I put that batch of blank scrolls?" Queen Sunray mumbled to herself as she fumbled with her desk. "Ah ha, there it is. I really should clean this up a bit." She levitated a scroll with her claw. The queen sat herself at the desk and dipped a quill into a jar of ink.
Monday, November 19, 2051. Sunray wrote in her elaborate, rounded handwriting. I'm afraid I bring bad news. The three SandWing princesses have started a world war in Pyrrhia. All SwiftWings are expected to leave. The Weather Patrol will be sent off to test weather conditions and find us a new home. May the odds be in our favor, Queen Sunray.
Sunray finished off the last sentence and rolled up the scroll. She put it into a shelf labeled "Documents" and slumped onto her bed. In minutes, she was well asleep.
PART ONE: Never the Same
Starbolt narrowed her eyes against the stinging wind and pressed on. Two dragons on her right and three on the left, they flew in a 'V' shape in the storm. Lightning flashed on the dark gray sky, silhouetting them.
"Bank North!" the lead SwiftWing, Turquoi, yelled over the roar of the rain. The SwiftWings all tilted our wings and turned towards the North. Rain and wind battered their scales, threatening to pull them off course. It's probably the best job an energetic and adventurous dragonet like Starbolt could get, a member of the SwiftWing Weather Patrol. It's their duty to test weather conditions and even stop bad weather. That's where telekinesis comes in.
Turquoi made the tail signal to start, then the dragons scattered and positioned themselves. Starbolt flew over to her spot and hovered there with everyone else, beating their wings against the wind and rain. Then they focused hard. Soon, the gray clouds surrounding the SwiftWings started to separate and scatter. They went in opposite directions, each moving towards a body of water. They plunged into the icy cold water and disappeared.
"Come on! Job finished. Good work team, we can eat a cow on the way back to the camp." Turquoi swooped down with the rest of us. You see, the SwiftWings don't have a palace, but rather a camp. I heard that we used to have a palace back in Pyhrria, but now that we moved we didn't build another. There's also a rumor that the reason we never built the palace was that Queen Sunray was planning on coming back to Pyhrria someday.
"Starbolt! Did you stop the storm? Didja? Didja??" Starbolt almost fell from the sky when she heard that voice.
"Hey, Nephele, what are you doing here? All the way out of camp?" Nephele was a light gray, orange striped, green maned SwiftWing hovering.
She shrugged. "Huntin'. Stuff. Just bored."
"Did you clear the storm?" Nephele piped up after a moment of silence.
"Yeah. It was totally awesome, we flew into the center and it was all rainy and windy and we dropped the clouds into other bodies of water."
"Good, we wouldn't want the SwiftWing festival to be rained out." Nephele nodded.
"Definitely not. It's the most important celebration of the SwiftWings!"
But little did we know we'd all be expecting something much worse.
The sound of the crystal horns blasted through the city. Excited SwiftWings flowed out of their houses, dressed in their best jewelry. The time for the SwiftWing Fair has begun.
"WEEEEEEE!!!!" a cheer erupted through the crowd gathering below the palace. Confetti flew from the sky, and then everyone went wild. Dragons swooped in the sky, doing aerobatics and all that jazz. I gazed up at the sky with my mouth wide open in a grin. The horns blasted eleven notes and our messenger, Mercury stepped out onto the balcony of the castle. Suddenly, all noise silenced.
One dragon sneezed.
"Where's the queen?"
"You mean Queen Sunray?"
The crowd started getting anxious. Starbolt bit her lip, staring at the balcony as if Queen Sunray would magically appear there.
"All citizens of the SwiftWing Kingdom, we have a problem." Mercury's voice echoed through the city. Worried murmurs spread through the crowd. "Our queen, Sunray, has fallen ill to a diease we know not of. The healers are doing their best with her, but today our queen cannot come out." An even more worried wave of whispering followed. "Thank you for your co-operation." Mercury stepped behind the curtain and left the auidience whispering and stuff about the queen.
Was she going to be okay?
The fair went on. However, it didn't have that exciteable air to it and the tingly giddy feeling you have whenever you look around it. This year, it felt cold and awkward. Starbolt had a feeling something was really wrong, other than the fact that Queen Sunray was sick. Something bigger.
Starbolt yawned. Boring, boring, boring. The fair was over. The day is done. Starbolt glanced at the painting of a stormy day painted by her mother. Her father always said that she was an amazing artist, and it showed, from the froth of the ocean to the glow of the lightning. She could almost hear the crack, crisp as a whip, and a roll of thunder that followed.
Starbolt instinctively stood up and strode out the door. Her mind was hardly in control now. The halls were empty and dark, not a guard in sight. Starbolt silently tiptoed to the balcony, poking her head through. Then she gasped.
"Starbolt, I've been expecting you."
"Sunray- I mean your Majesty!!" Starbolt stammered and dropped into a submissive posture.
"No need for that." Queen Sunray was standing by the railing, gazing out into the world.
I scrambled up, still confused. "Why are you up here?"
"Healer Ginger says I need fresh air to cure my illness."
I took a few steps backwards. Comepletely forgot about the sickness! Hope it's not contagious. I have a whole week of weather duty. "How come you knew I was coming?"
"The wind." She replied.
"What? The wind?"
"You never know what secrets nature has." Queen Sunray calmly watched the island.
Starbolt blinked. "Not really getting this."
"It takes a long time to."
"What can wind tell you?"
"Well, lately I have a feeling the SwiftWings must leave soon. Twenty years have passed since the time I left mainland Pyrrhia. The dragonets are stopping the war, and we can go back now. The drafts of air coming contain the news." Sunray looked out at coastline, a small breeze tugging her mane.
Starbolt shifted nervously. "Erm... should I go?"
"If you wish."
I turned and sighed. The curtain pulled back for me as I walked in.
I turned my head to look at her.
"Meet me five days later in my room. I have news for you."
"Uh... sure!" I flew off into my room. Then I let out the breath I was holding and slumped onto the bed.
ℱ◎łł☺ω т♄℮ Шḯᾔḓ╰✩╮Fоllош тнё Шїпd
Morning filtered through the single skylight in my room. I yawned and sat up. Geez, that was a strange dream. I can't believe I actually met Queen Sunray in the middle of the night. I stretched and walked out of the room. A small scroll was waiting for me in front of the doorway. "What's this?"
I hope you remember to meet me four days later. The news I have is very important and I need you to know. Please do not decline.
From Queen Sunray
The royal seal of SwiftWings was stamped next to Sunray's signature. It wasn't a dream.
Pardon me while I go freak out.
Starbolt flicked tree branches around while she lay on a hill, lazily shaping the clouds. Another SwiftWing was flying overhead. She noticed the particular monocle that no one would miss. The male SwiftWing landed on the hill. He flinched away from the dandelion fluff.
"This stuff will really ruin my amazing complexion." He lifted off of the ground. "Now what brings you here?"
Gyr shook his head disapprovingly. "Dragons should be doing things to help, not being lazy."
Starbolt frowned. "But I have the day off. It's Sunday."
"Doesn't mean you can't do something useful." Gym adjusted his monocle, "Dragons these days. Doing nothing at all. Unlike myself." He cleared his throat.
Starbolt sat upright and opened her wings. "You know what Gyr, I have stuff to do. Catch ya later." She zipped away. She went back to the Resting Caves, relaxing on the beach near it. She lay her head down and started to nap.
"Hey Turquoi, how does lightning happen?" Two year old Starbolt asked the older gray SwiftWing.
"Well, if you want the scientific reason, the clouds contain energy. The top is positive, the bottom is negative. Rising moisture thats negativly charged will be positive. When the top of the cloud freezes, it sends a lightning strike." The teenage dragon replied.
Starbolt cocked her head. "That's hard to get."
"There's another explanation." Turquoi smiled. "This one is a story."
"Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!!" Starbolt hopped gleefully.
"Alright. A long time ago, there was no lightning. Thunderstorms- didn't have thunder! Only rain poured down. But one day, a SwiftWing named Electra wanted to do something. But the other SwiftWings didn't like her, because she was an alchemist."
"That's not nice." Starbolt frowned.
"I know. Electra was making a potion, and out from the cauldron came a bright light. She called it lightning. When she showed everyone, they were afraid of it and chased her away, banishing her from ever returning. Depressed, Electra lived in the clouds. Whenever the storms came, she would sprinkle a drop of her potion on the cloud, sending lightning. One day, she accidentally dropped her bottle of lightning into the ocean from a cloud. The potion mixed with the water and forever remains there even today. And when it rains, it gives a beautiful display of lightning."
"Do they not fear Electra anymore?" Starbolt asked.
"Of course not. They got used to lightning and now, SwiftWings love the lightning."
"Can we control lightning?"
"Only a few SwiftWings have telekinesis good enough to manipulate electricity." Turquoi replied.
"I would like to do it someday." Starbolt said.
"You would be a great lightning-bender." Turquoi smiled.
The loud sound of the crystal horns woke Starbolt from her nap. A few SwiftWing officials stepped out. The one with a silver hoop earring spoke. "Her Majesty is in need of some help. May all the medicals report to the main tunnel." He ended and left. The other officials flew off to round up more medicals. Starbolt watched the dragons become dots on the sky.
A black SwiftWing walked over to Starbolt. "What's happening? I haven't seen Queen Sunray since the Winter Weekend Week."
Starbolt blinked. I probably shouldn't tell, or the whole tribe's gonna be in chaos. "I bet she's fine, just a fever or something. Let's just carry on and fly."
Regen glanced at the balcony and then at the sky. "Sure why not?" He hovered in air.
Starbolt joined him in the sky and flapped upwards. The gravity pulled her downwards, but her wings labored up. There was an ocean draft coming from the West, and a few clouds gathering up at a low pressure point. A patrol of Weather Dragons were heading over to track a hurricane. So far, hurricane Artemis has been far away from Rock Island. But according to the reports, it was moving closer. And according to Queen Sunray, we need to leave before Artemis strikes.
Starbolt quickly gained altitude because of her oversized wings. She glided almost effortlessly to the clouds.
"Race you down!" Regen braked his wings.
"You're on!" Starbolt tucked her wings to her body and fell feet first. Regen dropped beside her. Starbolt twisted around and dove nose-down. She was gaining speed. Starbolt pressed her wings tighter, tucked her claws in and flattened her ears.
As the ground neared, Starbolt spread out her wings, catching air immediately and sending a great burst of speed. She kicked off of a nearby rock, manuevering through the terrain. She ducked her head and swished through a tunnel. Flying upwards, she dropped down and landed with a thud on the cliff face. Regen finished a moment later.
"You're good." He smiled.
"Thanks." Starbolt smirked. "They don't call me Starbolt for nothing."
Regen's stomach made a quiet gurgle. "I think it's time for some chow."
"Yeah, that was a bit tiring." Starbolt looked around. "Hey I bet you can't catch a cow in midair."
"I bet I can!" Regen flew off. Starbolt followed. A pasture laid out before them, cows dotting the field.
"Here's the plan; I'll scare a cow and whip him off his feet. Then you swoop in and snatch it in midair." Starbolt whispered.
"Right." Regen whispered back.
Starbolt swooped out into the clearing, scattering the cows. Then she executed a flip and whisked her tail under a cow's hooves, knocking it upwards. Regen leaped in and grabbed the cow's neck, snapping it in a painless crack.
"Awesome!" Starbolt held out her wing. Regen slapped his wing on hers.
"Yeah, that was great!" Regen panted. "Want some cow?"
"Sure." Starbolt was ready to dig in. Suddenly a cold wind blew on her back. She turned around, seeing dark storm clouds approaching. "It's the prestorm." She said.
"Get back to the dens!" Regen lifted into the air.
"Hey I'm a weather patrol! I can handle it." Starbolt took a daring step forward.
"Hurricane Artemis has been the most powerful and the biggest storm in the time that SwiftWings lived on the island! You can't just take on a prestorm on your own."
"Who said I was doing it alone?" Starbolt smirked.
Regen groaned. "The last time you told me to do this thing I nearly passed out."
"Come on, friend? Why won't you help a buddy out?" Starbolt pushed him forward with her wing.
"Only for you." Regen sighed.
Starbolt grinned and flew towards the storm. Then she landed on a small hill. Her eyes glowed a sky blue color and some debris started to swirl. They started swirling faster, and faster yet. In a few moments, the storm hit. Starbolt concentrated hard, focusing on the little gusts of wind blowing around her, the raindrops splattering the ground. She concentrated hard enough to create a small "force field" around her. She glanced back, seeing Regen struggling with his own. She decided to help him out a bit.
Then with great force, Starbolt blasted a hole through the storm. She continued to do so, breaking up clouds and rebounding raindrops. She thought about everything she learned in her class...
"Starbolt!" Regen yelled. Starbolt whipped her head around.
"I can't hold it!" He dug his claws into the earth. Suddenly he was ripped right off the ground. Starbolt let her concentration waver for a split second and she was flying, and not in a good way. She felt herself being smashed into trees and rocks, trying her best to hold on before being snagged somewhere else.
"Gah!" A large object crashed into her back. Starbolt grabbed on, feeling the wind pushing her against the object. Then she opened her eyes. She was in the middle of the storm, being battered by the gusts, the raindrops on her back mocking her... No, I am the master of the storm!
With a sudden surge of energy, Starbolt leaped off the rock and flew. The work was painstaking, but she flew on. Starbolt dodged the winds, staying streamlined, bending her wing elbows, fighting against the winds. Then she fell back and flipped around, flying with the storm.
It was an amazing sensation, the tailwind behind her back and the wind blowing with her, like one big team. The Grand Waterfall was in sight now. She tipped her nose down and gently landed by the waterfall, entering. SwiftWings were snuggled in their dens, sleeping soundly. Starbolt walked in the hallways when she got to Regen's room. He had found his way back. Starbolt walked in to her room and closed her eyes...
Starbolt yawned. She stretched her limbs and walked outside the room. The hallways were bustling today, she hardly had the space to breathe.
"What's going on?" Starbolt asked.
"The queen is in worse condition than before." A black SwiftWing replied. "She's under quarantine now."
"Oh." Starbolt glanced at the dragon, who was hiding behind his mane. "Name's Starbolt."
"Satellite..." The SwiftWing mumbled.
"Okay..." Starbolt blinked. She walked up to the poster on the wall.
Dear loyal SwiftWings of Rocky Island,
Her Majesty Queen Sunray is currently under quarantine.
No SwiftWings young or old are allowed to see her with the exception of medicals.
Send her your best wishes and good day.
"She's gonna die!" A SwiftWing yelled.
"We'll be queenless!"
"What about Princess Floramundi?"
"Yes! Princess Floramundi will be queen!"
"Did someone say my name?" Starbolt knew that voice anywhere.
"Princess!" A hush went through the crowd and they immediately bowed down. Starbolt was the only one remaining upright. The princess shot a look of absolute poison and Starbolt dipped her head.
"You are right, I will be queen. And I expect you all to move out of the way and let me pass." Flora declared.
The SwiftWings in the tunnel all parted. The princess marched through, all regal-like.
Gosh, are you trying to torture us? Starbolt started fidgeting. It's going to take an hour for that snob to get through with her fancy slow motion...
The Princess finally finished walking and was now outside. All the SwiftWing breathed a sigh of relief and went on to their business.
"Who died and made her queen?" Starbolt scoffed.
"I know right?" Starbolt whipped her head around. It was the first time she heard Satellite speak up louder than a whisper. "I'm sure Queen Sunray is going to be alright. And if not, well the queen is not gonna let us be bossed around by that witch." He said.
"Well, if Flora does end up ruling, I'm throwing myself off the tallest cliff." Starbolt replied.
Satellite laughed. "Yeah... I have to go." He patted his leather bag. "I have work to do." Satellite walked away.
Starbolt glanced at the poster again and flew off.
"Starbolt! Report to meet area 3-Gamma. We have a code 5-H." A SwiftWing blurted the message as he glided past, taking a breath before yelling at the rest of the Weather Patrol. Starbolt blinked and then flew off towards the meeting area. 3-Gamma was a clearing tucked between twin waterfalls. A few SwiftWings were already there, laying around and mingling.
"Hey Starbolt!" Her friend Nephele flew over.
"Sup?" Starbolt said.
"Not much. You here for the meet?"
"Yep." Starbolt nodded. A dark gray dragon flew down from the clouds. He stood on the ledge next to one of the waterfalls.
"Weather Patrol of the SwiftWings!" Turquoi announced. "Hurricane Artemis is moving ever closer to our island. According to research from our interpretation guild," He glanced at a band of SwiftWings in the corner. "it will be headed our way." Hushed whispers rippled across the crowd. "As Weather Patrollers, it is our duty to lead the way for the civilians of the tribe. Is that clear?"
The crowd nodded.
"Alright then. We have a total of seventy-four dragons in the Weather Patrol... seventy-five including me, so we will be split into twenty-five groups. Each group includes one dragon from each of our guilds, the interpretation guild, the flying guild and the tracking guild. You will be sent a message tomorrow morning. For now, you are dismissed."
The SwiftWings hesitated before walking or flying out. Starbolt flicked her tail and joined Nephele in soaring over to the training area. The SwiftWings braked and landed on a tree, blinking at dragons below racing around and stretching their wings.
"Wow, there sure are a lot of dragons practicing for the big journey." Nephele mumbled.
Starbolt paused. "Yeah, wanna go stretch a bit? There's gonna be five hour flights, don't want to pass out in the middle."
"Five hours?" Nephele whimpered.
"Yep." Starbolt snickered. "You have to be a very strong flyer to survive the whirling storms and tsunamis!"
"Storms?" The light gray SwiftWing seemed to shrink. "Tsunamis?"
"Yeah, and killer sharks!" Starbolt snapped her jaws for the effect. "Most don't dare to go that far... And the ones who do, never. Come. Back!" She laughed maliciously.
Nephele screamed. "Stop it Starbolt! That's silly."
"Of course. I would fly through those storms without a moments hesitation, and punch every shark I see." Starbolt leaped into the air and flew all around, snapping at tree branches and showing off. "Nothing can faze me!" She leaped in front of the sun, dramatically spreading her wings. She could feel it already... the rain blowing into her eyes as she led the SwiftWings back home. She would be known forever, one of the brave patrolers who dared to go out to the unknown, to bring her fellow tribe to home. And she couldn't wait.
The light of the moon shone through the window and hit Starbolt's pure white scales. She rustled in her sleep, then settled in again. She squinted her eye and opened it, just a crack. Then she yawned and sat up, glancing around. Her eyes fell on a pile of scrolls. Some late night reading won't hurt. She levitated the scrolls, spilling them over the stone floor. Starbolt scanned through the titles, looking for something interesting. Then she settled on a scroll about SwiftWing legends.
"Legends of the Swift Tribe: Volume 3." Starbolt read out loud. Then she unfolded the thin paper. All tribes start somewhere. The very first SwiftWings were merely a band of animus dragons, hiding away from the rest of the world. From then to the Scorching is unknown history. But historians predict that the animus dragons bred with other dragons and ended up with half-animus dragonets, the first SwiftWings. Presently, there have been no sightings of a modern half-animus. In the Scorching, SwiftWings played a big part in destroying scavenger forces, bending material and their weapons as if it was putty in their claws. Later on though, the SwiftWings ultimately went endangered from mass pollution of the scavengers. After the Scorching was won, SwiftWings returned as a tribe. Starbolt paused. Hey, get to the legend part.
One popular myth of the SwiftWings was the legend of Elian, the most powerful SwiftWing of all time. He was a great SwiftWing general, with telekinetic powers like no one else. He could smash pieces of earth effortlessly, snap metal without even a twitch of his tail. Elian was told to be weakly and small, but his powers proved him a worthy dragon. There has been said that Elian had a lightning-bolt stripe instead of a normal one, and that he could bend electricity. The myth says he was a StormWing hybrid, with the ability to generate an electric spark with the atoms in the air.
Starbolt stopped there and glanced at her flank. Ever since she was hatched, she came with a jagged stripe. Sometimes she would accidentally shock someone, or mess up her telekinesis lessons. Most dragonets laughed at her. Wasn't my fault the desk got crushed; it was already two times as old as me back then! But Nephele stood up for her. And that's why she was her best friend. Starbolt also got over her insecurity, proving she was stunningly fast and had real sharp telekinesis skills, when she was not destroying desks. She continued to read on.
Elian had won many battles for the SwiftWing side, especially the Battle of the Lightning Claws. That day, SwiftWings and a troop of SkyWings laid siege on a scavenger village, attacking with the most fearsome element of all and the invisible yet astonishing skill of the mind. Elian led the siege, winning with an amazing electric show set over the scavengers fortresses...
Suddenly Starbolt had the urge to go outside. She scanned the room and tried to return to reading. She hardly got two sentences before she felt that this was an emergency. She tossed the scroll on the ground and leaped off into the tunnels. She quickly ran through the halls and found herself crashing into another dragon.
"Mercury?" Starbolt rubbed her head.
"Starbolt!" Mercury whispered. "Queen Sunray requested you to come."
"Why?" Starbolt asked.
"Be quiet, I'll take you there." The gray SwiftWing guided Starbolt to the door of the Queen's hollow. Then he let her in.
"Starbolt," Sunray croaked. She lay in her bed, a blanket of silk draped over her wings. A pack of ice was set on her forehead. Mercury waved his wing over the queen.
"Mother!" Princess Flora burst through the door and ran past Starbolt. "Are you alright? I was so worried! I heard you were in really bad shape and couldn't help but come here!"
Starbolt couldn't help but hear false concern in Flora's voice. It was quite unsettling, but she knew better than to doubt the relationship between mother and daughter.
"I'm fine, at least right now." Queen Sunray wheezed.
"Oh will she be okay?" Flora cried.
"Not for long." Mercury said.
Sunray coughed. "I just wanted to... say goodbye..."
Flora sobbed. Sunray reached out her talon and grasped Starbolt's arm. Her claws were so cold, and weak. Starbolt blinked. She noticed Flora stare at her in disbelief, with an expression that obviously said "What are you doing here?"
"Starbolt..." Sunray said with a barely audible voice. "I... I want you to become queen."
"What?" Both Starbolt and Flora said at the same time. Suddenly everything crashed down, all the realization and panic that the queen personally wanted her, Starbolt, a lowly peasant to take on the role of the grand ruler of everything about SwiftWings.
"Mother! Don't joke around, these are your last moments!" It seemed that Flora was struggling to keep her fretful tone.
"I'm... not joking..." Queen Sunray stared right into Starbolt's electric green eyes. "You have to lead the SwiftWings home. They must return to Pyrrhia, before the hurricane destroys the island."
"But I don't know how to be a queen! I'm just a five year old dragonet!" She stuttered.
"I know you'll be a great queen..." Sunray struggled to stay awake. "Flora... I'm sorry." And then, with her last breath, she went limp.
"NO!!!" Flora screeched.
"Shh." Mercury frowned.
"Mother no!" Princess Flora flung herself on her mother's dead body. Starbolt backed away, still in shock. Mercury tried to pry Floramundi off her mom, with little success.
"You can leave now." Mercury glanced at Starbolt. She hesitated, before turning around and leaving.
PART TWO: The Journey Begins
Starbolt could barely bring herself to write the flyer. Her telekinesis quavered, the feathered pen shivering in the air. She still hadn't gotten over the fact that Queen- or should she be a former queen? This was one of the reasons this was so tense... Sunray died in front of her, and passed along the royalty. TO STARBOLT. Princess- maybe not anymore- Flora seemed pretty upset about it...
The worst part was probably that she had to lead all the SwiftWings back to Pyrrhia. Just BEING queen was hard enough... and now she was supposed to be a queen who also conducted a major turning point in SwiftWing history. Everything would be written in the scrolls, if there were any more SwiftWings left to tell the tale. What if she failed? The SwiftWings would be lost to history forever...
It would probably be best if these thoughts were pushed away for now, as long as being optimistic was one of the top priorities. But Starbolt couldn't help but imagine the burden...
Suddenly the pen was lifted off. A light gray SwiftWing walked over.
"Normally you're not bummed out. What's up with you?"
"Well... it's kinda weird..." Starbolt sighed.
"You can tell me anything. I'm your best friend, right?" Nephele patted her bud on the shoulder. She glanced at the flyer she was writing on. "What is that for?"
Starbolt took a deep breath. "Well... I was chosen to be queen."
"Yeah... that was pretty much the same reaction I had..." Starbolt suddenly felt worried. What if Nephele thought differently about her now? Would she still be her friend?
"I'm happy for you." Nephele said.
"Whew!" Starbolt sighed in relief.
"I mean, my best friend is a ruler now! Now I can tell everyone I knew you before you were queen!" Nephele joked. Starbolt chuckled.
"Thanks for the support. Well, now I need to put out these flyers..."
"I'll do it for you." Nephele picked up a bundle.
Nephele nodded and flew off. Starbolt lay in the middle of her room, processing her thoughts. Get a grip, Bolt... she clenched the feather pen. When life gives you lemons, bet people you can squirt the juice in your eyes without crying.
Now it's just time to put it in your eye.
All the SwiftWings gathered together. The whole clearing was filled with black, gray, white, and splatters of rainbow everywhere. It was bustling with dragons, filled to the sides. Starbolt stood in front of them all. Mercury volunteered to do the speech for her, since she was only queen for a day. Anyways, she hadn't really gotten over last night yet.
"SwiftWings of Rocky Island, today we leave for the great journey. While many of us will take flight from this shore, not all of us will be landing on the other side. We take this risk, because Pyrrhia is our home. And that is where we belong."
The SwiftWings nodded and murmured in agreement.
"Tonight, we fly to our first checkpoint. There, we will be able to rest for a while. Gather as many supplies from there as possible, and then leave for the next island. These are the groups of dragons flying." Mercury stepped back so that Turquoi could talk. Turquoi listed off the names of the dragons, who slowly arranged into packs.
"...and finally Starbolt from the Flyers with Nephele of the Trackers and me." Turquoi finished. Starbolt made her way through the crowd to meet up with her team.
"Sup." Starbolt said. The SwiftWings didn't respond. She shrugged.
"Now it's time to go." Mercury said.
"Are you ready?" Turquoi asked Starbolt.
"I was always."
Turquoi nodded. Other SwiftWings packed stuff onto large vine braids. SwiftWings shuffled toward the shore, the wind picking up. Dark storm clouds were approaching. Hurricane Artemis was right around the island.