What thoughts went through Peril's mind during the Wings of Fire series?

Part One

In all of our lives, there are days that come by where nothing really bothers us. We aren't hungry or tired at the moment, and we want to just fly around at random, basking in the wonder and glory that is Pyrrhia. It was one of those days, when the beginning of the end of Peril's life as a euphoric killer came about. When she met Clay.

From the moment she had woken up that morning, she had felt jubilant, glad to be alive on such a fine spring morning. Early in the morning, Peril went out to enjoy herself. She watched the most gorgeous sunrise imaginable, as the great bright orb rose up in the Sky to light things up. It was a wonderfully clear morning, with not a cloud in sight.

Vermilion was the next one up, as usual, and he did not share in her opinion of the day's fineness. Peril suspected that he had a bit too much fine wine the Night before, the way he clutched his head, slurred his speech, and suggested bluntly that she go do something useful. Peril agreed happily, too cheerful that morning to mind.

The only "something useful" that Peril could think to do was check on the prisoners on the rock spires, so that is what she did. She flew low over them, laughing and swooping and probably providing some semi--welcome warmth after a long, cold night. Peril, a stranger to cold, felt a twinge of sympathy despite herself, figuring that they  hadn't been particularly comfortable. She continued flying around, trying and failing continuously in her efforts to start up a conversation, but until after lunch, everyone just ignored her.

In a sea of blues, greens, whites, reds, and pale golds, two specks caught her eye: one of black, and one of brown. Flying over to the black speck, she found it to be what looked like a very small NightWing dragonet. She tried to start up a conversation, but he simply shook his head and mumbled under his breath. Undeterred, Peril brought him some breakfast and went off to see the brown speck.

Peril was delightful surprised to find that the brown speck was a MudWing, which meant that she had two completely new types of opponents that she had never fought before. He must be that dragonet from the Talons of Peace that the queen had mentioned. She tried to wake the sleeping dragon up, but apparently he was a very heavy sleeper, as he was the only dragon on their rock spire not to wake up when Peril shouted. Peril then resorted to the tactic of fetching some meat and tossing it into his face, and that woke him up.

When the MudWing raised his head, Peril saw that he was very young, about six years old if she had to guess, a year younger than her. For his age, though, he was huge; easily the largest six year old that Peril had ever met. If he stood up, Peril thought that he would be nearly three meters tall and over ten meters long. He reminded Peril of the stereotypical MudWing hero; very large and strong and brave and good looking, if perhaps a bit simple minded. He was rather handsome, if you liked males with bulging muscles and heavy armor and naturally colored scales. Which Peril did.

He made an interesting first impression though. He glanced at the charred, bloody goat in front of him and barfed over the edge. In her euphoric state, Peril found this wildly funny and busted up laughing.

"Too bad the barracks aren't down there," she said. "The guards seriously deserve that."

After Vermilion had sobered up earlier, he had asked Peril to wake up the guards. Peril's method of doing this involved sneaking among them very silently and screaming, "WE'RE UNDER ATTAAAAAAAAACK!", at the top of her lungs, which the guards hadn't taken kindly to.

"Aren't you going to eat?" she asked the Mudwing, who didn't seem to be eating. She flapped around him.

"I'm not hungry", he replied, putting his head under his wing. This was odd. Queen Scarlet often had feasts with MudWing guests, although Peril had never been to one herself, and she always complained afterwards that they were never done eating.

"Is it the wrong thing?" Peril asked him. "I don't know what MudWings eat. We've never had one before. You know, because we're on the same side in the war. So that would be rude. Taking them prisoner, I mean. But you're in the Talons of Peace, so the MudWings won't care what we do to you. Come on, you have to eat something." She couldn't wait for the opportunity to fight a MudWing, something she'd never done before. Something about this dragon made her want to talk for hours.

The MudWing didn't raise his head up. "Why" he asked.

"Because I don't want you to die before I kill you", Peril stated bluntly. The Dragonet poked his snout out to stare at her.

Peril swooped around him some more, carefully avoiding the wires.

"I've never fought a MudWing. Since we're allies and all. I bet it's totally different from fighting SeaWings and IceWings. But Her Majesty will make you fight some of the regular prisoners first, and if you die, then I don't get to fight you."

"And that would be sad", he said.

"Right. Not blazing at all. The most blazing will be fighting the NightWing though. Nobody's ever seen anything like that. What if he can read my mind and knows what I'm going to do before I do it? At least he's eating.  Hey, I wonder if she'll make you fight each other. But then I'd only get to fight one of you. Do you think you could beat a NightWing? Probably not, huh?"

"Starflight?" The MudWing asked. "Is he alright? Where is he?" He stood up--sure enough, he was just over three meters tall--and looked around until he spotted the NightWing, at the opposite end of the arena.

"See him?" Peril asked. "He doesn't talk much."

The MudWing snorted.  Ask him to teach you something--like how the dragons took Pyrrhia from the scavengers during the Scorching. Then you won't be able to shut him up."

"I'll do that", said Peril. She loved hearing stories, and had already heard all of Osprey's several times.

The MudWing was squinting at her. "Who are you?" He asked. "Are you a guard?" 

Do I look like a guard?

"Ick, no. I'm Peril, the Queen 's Champion. What's your name?"

"Clay," said the Mudwing. "What did you mean about fighting me? Why do we have to fight?"

How clueless can someone get?!

"Wow," Peril said, "Are you serious? Have you been living under a rock or something?"

"Pretty much" said Clay, grimacing.

This surprised Peril. "Really?" She thought for a moment, and then said, "All right. That's the Queen's arena down there." She pointed with her tail. "There's a battle almost every day for Her Majesty's amusement. If you win enough battles, you go free."

"How many is that?" Clay asked.

"I don't know. Nobody's ever done it. Her Majesty always sends me in after any dragon has a few wins, and I always kill them." She shrugged. "I'm really dangerous."

Peril then noticed that Clay was scanning the spires with searching eyes. "Who are you looking for?" She asked.

"The other dragons who were brought in with you know where they are?"

Peril pointed out the SeaWing. "The SeaWing is over there"

Clay looked.

"Boring", she added. "I've fought plenty of SeaWings. Easy, once you know their tricks."

"What about the RainWing?", he asked.

Peril tilted her head. "There's a RainWing here?" She hadn't seen any color changing dragons on the rock spires. 

"You can't fight her", Clay said quickly. "They have no defenses--it wouldn't be fair."

"I do whatever Her Majesty tells me to," said Peril. "But I haven't seen a RainWing. They didn't bring her to the arena." 

"There's a SandWing too," said Clay, in a desperate sort of way. "She's really small and golden, and kind of odd-looking--"

Peril said, "Haven't seen any dragons like that. But I'll keep an eye out, if you want." 

She did a slow backward somersault on the air and tipped her wings at him.

"I'd better go warm up. Cheer for me!" Peril dove toward the arena.

She flew through some caves before arriving at her training cave, which Queen Scarlet had had her best architects design for her. It was a large room, almost a rectangular prism, and it had many stone pillars going from ceiling to floor, not to hold the ceiling up so much as to help Peril improve her agility. She twirled and dodged through the pillars missing some of them by inches, but never crashing, no matter how fast she went. And Peril knew that she could move pretty dang fast. There were also stones in the size and shape of dragons, which Peril practiced attacks on. 

She thought briefly of Clay as she exercised. There was something about him--something Peril liked, that drew her to him. 

She heard the arena start to fill up with dragons eager to watch her fight, and decided she'd think about it later. She walked to the end of the tunnel and stood there for a few minutes at the entrance to the arena, attacking the air with a few of her moves, untill she heard the Queen call, "Bring in the combatants!"

Peril swept out of the tunnel, squinting at the sudden light, and waving to the crowd. They applauded for Peril with their usual lack of enthusiasm, but she was used to that.  After all, who could blame them for being afraid of someone who could melt their scales off without even trying to?

Peril noticed that high up on Queen Scarlet's balcony, there was an object she had never seen before.  It looked like a tree, with 4 branches and no leaves. A long, slender dragon was curled around it, chained to it with a delicate silver chain. Peril watched in astonishment as, before her eyes, the dragon changed colors, from crimson to pistachio to song green. "It must be that RainWing that Clay mentioned," she thought. "Wow, that's really cool!" Peril had heard that RainWings changed colors, but she had never imagined it being this magnificent.

Then Peril realized that the guards were bringing down her opponent, an angry-looking SandWing she knew was called Horizon. He had shown considerable bravery in his previous fights, and Queen Scarlet expected this match to be thrilling.

Peril looked at Horizon as he was dropped in front of her. Vermillion, now almost 100% sober, landed between them in the center of the arena. He clapped his wings untill the audience quieted down, and then bowed to the Queen.

"After 4 wins," Vermilion announced dramatically, "Horizon the SandWing -- formerly, and unwisely, a soldier in Blaze's army -- has been challenged to a match with the Queen's Champion, Peril. Claws up, fire ready! Fight!"

He sprang out of the arena, leaving Horizon and Peril to each other.  Horizon shrank back, hissing at Peril. Peril started walking slowly towards him. She could hear him whispering to himself. 

"What did I do to deserve this? I was a good son, I gave to charity, I avoided conflict. All I wanted was a peaceful place where I could draw the sunsets. Is that too much to ask?"

Peril felt a twinge of sympathy for him. She had discovered long ago that most of the dragons that were captured from the other armies weren't really bad at all. They were just perfectly normal dragons who were just doing what they were told, a bit like her, except for the perfectly normal part. 

But Peril was put in to this world for one reason: to kill. She was the Queen's Champion, and she had no choice.

Horizon crouched, and then he leaped acrobatically over Peril's head and began running away from her. Peril smirked, impressed. She knew that few dragons could jump that far without using their wings. 

But she also knew that without using their wings, there was no escape from the arena. Scarlet was very, very smart about the way she set up her guards.

Peril turned around leisurely to smile politely at Horizon, who was whipping his head around this way and that to look all around him, in the vain hope that maybe there was something he could use to actually win, but the arena was bare. Horizon stood there for a couple of seconds before sprinting for the tunnel. 

He was fast, but not fast enough. Peril easily passed him, whirled around to face him, and slashed him before he had time to blink.

Horizon screamed in agony and fell back, scrabbling across the sand. Peril felt a little bit sorry for him, but she reminded herself that Queen Scarlet was probably bored out of her mind, so she needed to make this interesting. 

She scratched Horizon again, along his side, and again he screamed. He tried to fly away, but his wings would not allow it. 

Calmly, forcing all guilt and regret down, Peril reached out and touched one of his wings, pinning it to his side. Horizons screams intensified into one long ear-shattering wail. Peril forced herself not to wince at her ringing ears. This was one of Her Majesty's favorite moves. Peril stepped back to examine her work. 

Suddenly Horizon attacked Peril, catching her by surprise. He slashed at her eyes and jabbed his tail towards her heart.

But Peril didn't win the annual dodging competition four years in a row for nothing. She skillfully avoided his claws and knocked him to the sand. Horizon's tail barn bounced harmlessly off her scales before bursting into flames, and he howled in pain.

Horizon beat his tail against the sand, trying to put out the fire, while Peril fronted around him. She darted in to give him another scratch, but before she could dart away, Horizon turned and grabbed her forearms in his talons. He threw his wings around  her and buried his face in her shoulder with a high pitched keening sound.

Peril froze. No one had ever done this before, and she was too shocked to do anything as the SandWing shriveled right on her. Peril reflexively crouched with Horizon as he fell down, dead. Then she remembered herself and stood up, glancing anxiously up at Queen Scarlet. She wouldn't be happy about this.

She wasn't. The Queen stood up, sighing. "Well, that was boring." she said. Then she raised her voice to address the prisoners. "I hope some of you up there are braver than this pathetic creature."

"Don't worry," she continued to the crowd, shaking out her wings. "We have a special treat tomorrow. Something we've never seen before! Hopefully this time someone will at least try to amuse me." Peril bowed her head and stared at the sand, disappointed in herself. Why hadn't she pushed Horizon away, made him keep fighting?"

"Dismissed," said the Queen, and dragons began to trickle out of the arena. Peril turned and walked down the tunnel feeling very guilty. Usually at least some good came of her fights, but Horizon had died for nothing, and she would probably be reprimanded for boring the Queen. How easily wonderful days could turn sour!

That night, at dinner, Peril waited for Queen Scarlet to bring up the match.

Scarlet liked the idea of a family unit, so she channeled this into dinner. Every evening she, King Roc and their offspring, and Peril would all sit around a table in a private Dining Room and, while eating, each would tell the highlights of their day.

King Roc, an exceptionally large drake with a few missing scales, went first -- so as to get it out of the way of the business of eating.

Then Queen Scarlet, then Princess Ruby, and so on down the line. Peril was last of all.

"So, Peril," said Queen Scarlet, "How was your day?"

Peril thought about how best to reply. "Well," she began, "I saw the sun rise this morning, and that was pretty blazing."

(Note: "Blazing" is a generic adjectival slang word used primarily by teenaged SkyWings. It's numerous meanings include, but are not limited to, cool, awesome, thrilling, epic, amazing, fascinating, captivating, astounding, and attractive. And no, I didn't go anywhere near a thesaurus when writing that list.)

"Go on," Queen Scarlet urged.

"I also tried to talk to the prisoners," Peril added. "I saw that there were a NightWing and a MudWing up there."

"Yes, very thrilling," the Queen said. "I found them in the woods a couple of days ago. It turned out they were with the so-called Dragonets of Destiny."

"Woah, the Dragonets of Destiny?!" Peril exclaimed. "I thought they were gone for good."

"Well, they will be soon," Scarlet said, waving a claw. "Keep going."

"Oh, right." said Peril. "The NightWing wouldn't talk to me. But the MudWing did. He's nice. He said his name was Clay. I like him."

Her Majesty stiffened, mouth halfway to taking a bite. She quickly assumed a more dignified pose.

Ruby remarked teasingly, "Ooh, Peril's got a boyfriend!"

"I didn't mean like that," Peril protested, although she was somewhat unsure herself.

"I certainly hope not," said the Queen, suddenly much more serious. "What did he say?"

"Um, he seemed really worried about his friends -- more than he was even about himself," Peril remembered. "He didn't know anything about the Arena, so I explained a bit. He seemed not too keen on the idea of fighting."

"Weird," said Vermilion, who had never gone through with a fight in his life.

"Anything else?" Scarlet prompted.

"No," said Peril. "That's about it."

"Good," was the Queen's reply. "Peril, I don't want you to talk to that MudWing any more."

"What?! But-"

Scarlet interrupted. "Peril, you don't know what that MudWing is capable of. I want you to stay away from him and that''s final."

Peril hung her head. "Yes, your Majesty."

"Also," the Queen continued. "Your performance in the Arena today was pathetic -- not thrilling AT ALL. I'll let it slide for today, but next time, don't let that happen. Push him away. Understood?"

"Yes Your Majesty."

"Good. Then it's settled. Off to bed with you now! All of you! We've got another busy day tomorrow! Vermilion, that's quite enough wine for tonight."

Peril went to her room obediently, but she couldn't sleep. She couldn't stop thinking about Clay (perhaps Ruby was right and she did like him that way. What a cliche, love at first sight made no realistic sense whatsoever, and yet here she was, contemplating it as a legitimate possibility.).

She remembered Scarlet saying that she didn't know what the MudWing was capable of. What did she mean by that? Peril thought through the abilities MudWings had. They could out-eat and out-drink any of the SkyWings, they had powerful lungs, strong stomachs, and mighty limbs, and they had the thickest armor of any Dragon tribe. Nothing that made sense to the Queen's comment. Perhaps this MudWing had some special powers?

After a few hours of tossing and turning, Peril made up her mind. Hardly anyone was awake at this hour; outside of special circumstances, which these weren't, the Queen only kept a handfull of guards on Night Patrol.

Peril got up, nabbed a large duck from the nearest store, and flew out silently to the prisoner spire.

Unbeknownst to Queen Scarlet, the Night Guards had set up a system -- one of them stood guard at a time, while the others slept. They took turns.

The one who was awake was little older than Peril, a jittery young male who she recognized as Hummingbird (most dragons called him Hummer.)

Hummer saw her, but before he could do anything, Peril's claws were there, just barely not touching his throat.

"What do you want, Peril?" he whispered.

"Your silence," Peril replied cooly. "I want to go talk to one of the prisoners."

"Why should I let you?" he asked, trying to pretend he wasn't scared out of his scales.

"Because," said Peril. "One good turn deserves another. I think I could make this worth your while."

(Peril didn't use it much, but one doesn't grow up among the SkyWing Royal Family without learning a bit about Social Engineering.)

"Oh?" asked Hummer. He liked where this was going.

"Yes," was the response. "I know you've got a crush on that female in the kitchen -- Screech. I have it on good authority that she has a thing for you."

Hummer raised his browridges. "Really?"

"Yep," Peril said. "So here's the deal, Hummers. You and she are both signed up to patrol tomorrow night. You look the other way while I go have a chat with the prisoner, and I may be able to pull a few strings and get you and Screech on the same patrol -- maybe even alone. Or I could kill you now, I suppose. I'm flexible."

"You've got a deal," said Hummer. "No one will hear about this from me."

"Thanks," said Peril. "When your turn is almost up, drop your spear so I'll know, but don't actually wake the others up until I'm out of there, all right?"

"No prob."

Peril flew up to where Clay was asleep on the spire. She sat down as far from him as she could and tucked her wings and tail in, so as not to burn him, and dumped the now-unidentifiable duck in between them.

Clay was asleep, snoring heavily.

He seemed to be dreaming of food; his stomach was growling and he smacked his lips frequently.

He's so cute, Peril thought before she could stop herself. And then, wait, what?!

After about twenty or thirty minutes, Clay awoke. He stared into space for a moment before turning towards the smell of food, and only then did he notice Peril.

He was surprised, to say the least. But he didn't yell and he didn't fall of the spire, so Peril counted it as a win. There was about the length of a dragon length between them.

"Oh, good, finally," said Peril. She nodded at the meat. "I brought you something different. Well, I made the guard let me bring it. I hope you don't mind that it's a little crispy." She spread her front talons apologetically.

Clay looked as if he wanted the food, but didn't want to get any closer to Peril.

"I'll be careful," she said. "I'll stay really still, I promise." She looked around. "I just thought it might be less obvious if I sat here instead of flying around you."

Clay scraped the blackened fowl toward him, then devoured it in two bites, which was two fewer than Peril had ever seen.

He was hungry.

"Oh dear," Peril said. "That was fast. Do you want another one?"

"I'm all right," Clay said.

Aaaaand, here's the part where he rejects me because I'm a monster. He saw what I did earlier. He won't want anything to do with me anymore. And I really can't blame him.

She scraped one claw across the rocks. "Do you want me to go away?"

"No," Clay replied, and Peril looked up at him, surprised. "Stay  and talk with me," he offered.

"Aren't you afraid of me? Now that you've seen what I can do?"

"Of course I am," Clay said honestly. "But you're still better company than the pigeons. All they want to talk about is nest design and who to poop on."

Peril barked a laugh. SkyWings aren't generally known for their witty sense of humor, and this was one of the funniest jokes Peril had ever heard.

Clay seemed to be studying her. "Are -- are you all right?" he asked.

Peril blinked several times fast, suddenly feeling extremely self-conscious. She felt embarrassed and frightened and happy and sad all at once.

Talk about something else. Anything. Quick!

"That was weird today, wasn't it?"

"What was weird?" 

"The SandWing -- Horizon -- the way he just gave up."

She opened and closed her wings, and Clay flinched.

Oops. Don't scare him like that, Peril you idiot!

"Why would he do that?" Peril went on. "It's poor form. I guess I should have pushed him away to make him keep fighting. Her Majesty was pretty angry."

"At you?" Clay asked. "That doesn't seem fair."

Peril blinked again. "Really? It doesn't?" Then she shook her head. "No, the Queen is right. It's my responsibility to make the fight interesting if the other dragon won't do it."

"Why do you do what she says?" Clay asked. "Do you -- like fighting?"

"Of course," Peril said mechanically, without really thinking about it. "I'm good at fighting -- and not much else. And she's my Queen. I'm her Champion."

"Why you?"Clay asked.

"No one else wants me," said Peril matter-of-factly, pushing down a feeling of sadness. "No one can even touch me. You saw that. I was born with too much fire. Usually when dragons like me hatch, the SkyWings drop them off the highest mountain peak. That's what my mother was going to do, but Queen Scarlet saved me and killed her to punish her." Peril almost succeeded at keeping down the spurt of anger that rose at the words my mother.

"Wow," Clay said faintly.

"Yeah," said Peril. "If you want to know everything I burned up my twin in our egg. I sucked all the fire out of him and scorched him to a crisp." Peril shrugged, but she still felt a certain sadness for having done so.

"I attacked the other eggs in my nest when I hatched," Clay said. "At least, that's what the big dragons told me. They said I tried to kill my nestmates. I don't remember it."

Peril tilted her head. On top of everything else, he was born a killer, like me. "So maybe we were both born to kill other dragons," she said, with perhaps a bit more happiness that was required for this line of conversation.

"I don't really want to do that," Clay admitted. "I like fighting, but the only thing I've ever killed is prey."

"Her Majesty said I might as well follow my true nature," Peril said. "That's how she raised me -- letting me be myself, giving me dragons to kill. Maybe you'd feel better if you could be who you really are."

"I hope that's not who I am," Clay said.

Okay, ouch. He doesn't like me...

Clay must have seen her hurt expression, because he immediately tried to backtrack.

"Not -- not that --" he stammered. "I mean -- maybe I was born that way, but does that mean I'm like that forever? I guess I hope I have a choice, is all. I want to be who I want to be, not who I have to be. Right? Do you ever -- I mean, wouldn't you want to be different, if you could be anyone?"

Peril considered this. He was obviously trying to avoid hurting her feelings, which was sweet of him, but Clay also seemed to genuinely believe what he was saying. Peril had never thought about it. She did sometimes wish she could touch things without burning them, but Scarlet had taught her how there was nothing wrong with being a killer.

"No," Peril said, clawing at the rock under her talons. I've accepted myself, and I like myself this way. You should do the same thing."

Far below, Peril heard the sound of Hummer dropping his spear, and she jumped, knowing she only had a few minutes left.

"I'd better go," she said.

"Wait," Clay said. "Please. Who's supposed to fight tomorrow? Can you talk to the Queen? Tell her not to send in the NightWing. He's not ready for the arena."

"Are you serious?" Peril asked. "She'd be furious. She's so excited to see him fight."

"Tell her I volunteer instead," Clay blurted. "Tell her I'm ready, and I promise I'll make it exciting."

There he goes again, putting his friends before himself. What a strange dragon. Peril shook her head. "I can't. I'm forbidden to talk to you. She was really mad when she found out I visited you before. I guess you're not like the other prisoners."

Clay paused. "But you came to see me anyway?"

Peril shuffled her talons, embarrassed. "Yeah, I don't know why. I mean, it didn't seem fair. I like talking to you. Her Majesty never has time to talk to me, and my only other friend is old and tells the same stories over and over again. You're blazing."

She looked at Clay hopefully. Part of her was longing for him to return the compliment, while the other part was sneering at the first part. Of course he's not going to. Clay seemed to suddenly realize that Peril was looking at him. "Uh," he said, "You're...blazing,too?"

Peril grinned. He likes me, he likes me!  "That's what Her Majesty says. She likes me the way I am and no one else ever has. Until you."

There was a short pause. It occurred to Peril that a: she was in a hurry, and b: This was a rather awkward thing to say.

Clay broke the silence.

"Listen," said he, "could you talk to her about Starflight anyway? What if you acted like you came up with it yourself? A MudWing is still something new, right? So send me in first and save him for later. Besides, if he dies in his first fight, that would be a waste, wouldn't it?

Peril looked out across the arena to where she knew the NightWing sat, though she could not see him. "You think he would?" She asked. "Can't he use his powers? Reading minds and all that?"

"They're a little unpredictable," Clay hazarded. "He's not full grown, you know. He's still learning how to use them. Although, of course, they're very scary when they work."

The battle strategy scrolls Peril had had read to her contained almost no information on NightWings, so this was news to her.

"Oh," Peril said. "That makes sense." She thought for a moment about how she could go about this. She could say that the troops were all looking forward to seeing the MudWing fight...

"All right," She said finally. "I'll try."

"Thank you," Clay said.

He's thanking me for arranging his own death instead of his friend's. What is wrong with this dragon, and why is it so blazing?

Peril spread her wings to fly away and then hesitated. She had no clue WHY she was worried about this of all things, but she was.

She looked back at Clay and asked him, "You wouldn't do that, would you?" Then, realizing that he probably didn't know what she meant, Peril elaborated. "Kill yourself like that, the way Horizon did." 

She coughed. Stupid night air.

Clay met her gaze. "I don't think so," he said.

"Oh, good," Peril said, suddenly desperate to get out of there. "I'd much rather kill you fair and square. Well, good night." She leaped up into the air and spiralled down towards Hummer. 

"Thanks Hummer," she said to the waiting guard. "You did good. I'll make sure Screech sees you on patrol tomorrow night." 

"Pleasure doing business with you, Peril," Hummingbird replied.

Peril went silently back to bed, where she fell asleep thinking about her new crush.

"Peril, wake up."

Peril opened her eyes, instantly wide awake. She looked behind her and there was Phoenix, Queen Scarlet's third daughter. Phoenix was slight of frame, and, like Vermillion, not much of a fighter, but she was organized and very good at assigning the right dragons to the right jobs. She also got along better with Peril than any of Queen Scarlet's other offspring, which was probably why she was the one here to wake Peril up.

Peril yawned and stretched herself out, causing Phoenix to jump backwards to avoid getting scratched.

"What's happening, Phoenix?" Peril asked.

"Vermillion sent me to wake you up," Phoenix replied. "Usually you're the first one up in the mornings, is something wrong?" 

Peril shook her head. "I feel great." This was true; she was still happy about the previous night's conversation.

"What were you dreaming about?" Phoenix asked curiously. "You looked really happy."

Peril thought back. Her dream was getting fuzzier by the second, but she clearly remembered that Clay had been in it.

"I don't remember," she answered. Technically also true.

"What time is it?" Peril asked Phoenix.

"Mid-morning," said Phoenix. "Right now Vermillion is waking Mother." 

"Am I needed for anything?" Peril asked.

"Not at the moment," was her answer. "But we figured you shouldn't spend all day in bed. Oh, and you've got your story time with Osprey in about an hour." 

Peril perked up. Twice a week, she visited with Osprey, and he would tell her stories. This was one of Peril's favorite things.

Peril's thoughts were then interrupted by a growl from her gut.

"Ah, yes," said Phoenix. "That reminds me. I brought you breakfast." She slid a couple of dead marmots across the floor, and Peril dug in with gusto.

"Oh, and one more thing," said Phoenix. "I have to assign patrols for tonight. You spend more time with the troops than I do, so I thought you might know:  should I put Edge in the early patrol or the late patrol?"

"Who do you have assigned so far?" Peril asked.

"Markhor, Marahute, Cliff, and Hummingbird are in the early patrol. Screech, Frogmouth, Kiwi, and Crag are in the late patrol."

Peril thought for a second. "Switch Hummingbird with Kiwi and put Edge in the late patrol."

"I can't put Hummingbird and Screech in the same patrol, they won't be able to focus."

"I know, but I owe Hummers a favor, and Edge, Kiwi, and Crag are all super observant, so they'll make up for it."

"...Alright, I'll think about it." Phoenix left the room, leaving Peril to finish her breakfast in peace.

Part Two

Not done yet, so don't worry. Please tell me what you thought in the comments below -- I thirst for feedback.

Also, let it be known that as of right now, with the release of Escaping Peril, this story is now officially... Canon-incompatible. Sorry about that.