He watched over his shoulder as Accark stepped forward several times before turning and walking back as far as the river allowed. Then he’d take up a run, go few hundred feet before freezing, shaking his head and stopping. Then relaxing his neck, his shoulders and returning to his starting point to do it again.
“If he doesn’t get up soon, I have to come back here!” Gale grumbled, hoping dearly it wouldn’t come to that. He checked his watch, counting seconds before glancing back once more to see another failed attempt.
The wind was perfect and he couldn’t understand what kept him just taking the leap and trusting his big wings? They would carry him perfectly.
Sixth attempt was failure as well and Gale frowned, worried. The low cry hitting his ears was clear sign of desperation. They had to get away from the city and he had no place for flightless dragon, no matter how much he promised to pay for his services or how much he wanted to come along. Accark let out another feral whimper full of despair as he watched everything he held dear fly away from his grasp.
“Damn puppy!” he hissed and used the next strong breeze to turn himself around and slide lower. He couldn’t believe the dragon was older than he was. He turned his eyes on his next attempt. Trust yourself, come on, he coached. He didn’t know he was holding his breath as he watched him braise himself for another try.
“Come on!” He whispered. “Do it!”
Accark pushed his wings open, his teeth clenched so hard Gale feared he’d break one of them. His eyes closed as he began to run. He lifted them, letting the wind take hold of him before pressing on the breeze. He pressed his fingers into hard fists and held them on the line with his wings, visibly uncomfortable doing this by instinct. But still he did it, he still tried and moments later he saw the dragon flap his wings few times and he was in the air. His eyes flew open and he let out a shout of joy as his voice hitched before he rumbled into a loud laughter.
“Don’t forget to flap!” Gale shouted and drag in a deep breath, sending several thankful prayers towards the sky. Accark’s eyes locked on him and he didn’t know he was smiling at his effort before he saw the worry lines flatten and the dragon smiled back at him, sincerely happy.
He hid his smile and did a small round before taking the lead towards west and the valleys outside the city. Azmar was in north, but the endless forests that laid behind the city walls allowed no resting place for flying creatures nor offered good areas to take off from the ground. Besides, they were filled with creatures outside the law, who cared not who you were aside how big wallet you carried. It was the last place to end up with his egg and a peach colored dragon, who seemed to have little understanding of keeping his mouth shut.
The valley line was the safer bet, despite the dozens of villages scattered around and less hiding places if you didn’t want to stay there. It also provided a known root to north, although it made a circle around the forests. Gale had little knowledge about the northern regions, with his own family being from one of the twin cities from south. He had traveled towards north over the years, but not knowingly explored the areas. Although Accark offered him the warm place at his hearth, he somehow doubted that the dragon was much smarter on traveling. With his clear lack of experience in flying, he most likely took the land transport and thus would take him through the most pointless and most obvious ways which would be easy to track to anyone with money and resources. Tribble had both and they had none. Unless Accark had anything in banks. Just thinking about being dependent on Accark was enough to make his skin crawl.
He shook the thoughts away from his mind and concentrated on the present instead of future or the past. He kept an eye out on the landmarks.
Quick glance behind him said Accark wasn’t couping with new found freedom. His face was determined to follow this through, but Gale knew this would pay them dear later. Instead of landing, he took higher, beckoning Accark to follow suit. The dragon frowned, pushing upwards while his eyes sought possible placed on land for rest. He knew he wanted to rest, but they had to keep flying or they would get nowhere with that tempo.
Few minutes later Gale found the hight he was looking for and seconds later he felt the strong wind glide under his wings. He waited until Accark came up to his hight and fell back, next to him.
“Lock your shoulders and relax!” He instructed. “Use only your primaries to smooth your balance!”
Accark nodded and did it.
“Relax!” He reminded the dragon and immediately saw the frown ease away and the exhaustion leave his stiff body as wind took over carrying their weights. His eyes slid closed as he tested the airflow with his palm and Gale watched his fingers close around nothing.
He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the bright color shining on Accark’s scales as the sunlight brought out the beauty of dragon’s scales. The way he relaxed, trusting his words and the instincts to carry him made Gale’s chest tighten with pride. He kept staring at the feathers gently touching the ends of his leathery wings.
There was nothing wrong with his wings, nothing whatsoever. In contrary, his wings were made to be shown for the glorious site they were. He wanted to ask Accark, who had been the idiot to put such insecurities in him to fear flying and then go and take them out one by one. And then he’d made sure he’d take to the air as much as he possibly could, that he trained his wings and enjoy the wind. Just as he was doing now, smiling and hiding his eyes from the burning sunlight.
He turned away, realizing he was again making plans as if Accark was part of his future.
He sharpened the angle of his primaries and the wind took him ahead. He avoided looking back, but the warmth of being part of his first time in air over what seemed like a very long time wouldn’t leave him.
They’d flown about four hours straight, when he finally saw a larger town come up on their way and decided they needed to eat and gather some energies. The sun was already setting and although he knew dragons could see easily in dark as well as the gargoyles could, he didn’t want to overexert Accark. He had been keeping up to his tempo, but he was showing clear signs of sleepiness. Gargoyles could fly through the night while half of them were asleep, locked to each other with ropes, but he didn’t want to test this with first time flier.
He jested Accark they were landing outside the town square, which seemed emptier than usual. He would have landed outside the premise, but he doubted the peach fluff was ready to do any extra movements to get to wherever they would spend the night.
He’d let Accark land first, pulling back enough to give him space and do another round over the square.
His heart stopped. He recognized the scream before a loud thud hitting the city street made him look back and realize his companion was gone. Accark was gone!
He looked down and sure there he lay with a huge thick net closing around him in quick speed as five spirits were making their way towards their newest catch.