On the Subject of Adulting.
Arten had slipped away from his foster mother and little sister as
they entered the dining cavern while they'd stopped to chat with a
friend, and hurried ahead to join the queue for food. Despite all his
troubles, he was feeling a little hopeful. True, it was the beginning
of another dull day of classes, chores and wishing he was back home
with his friends, without even the excitement of Threadfall. But it
wasn't all bad. There was always the chance of helping a dragonrider
bathe and scrub their dragon in his free time...and breakfast smelled
When it was his turn, he piled his plate with food and looked around
at the crowded tables. He could see a few other boys from his class
with family or friends, but was too proud to ask to sit with them.
More temptingly, there were a few people feeding hungry firelizards.
Maybe he could sit nearby and watch.
Firelloa entered the cavern and collected her food in a far more
subdued manner than usual. Instead of eating what she could while she
waited for her brother to join her, she just poked at her food and
took sips of her klah. She wasn’t even sure how long she was sitting
before she was surprised by the abrupt appearance of her pet. Tinate
nearly landed on her plate and had to be caught in both hands. He
chirped and fluttered and acted as if surely he had done nothing
wrong, and wasn’t his person so happy to see him?
“You little dimwit,” the apprentice scolded, but lovingly, and almost smiled.
Arten had been just heading to an empty space nearby when the
firelizard appeared, and he suddenly realised that he recognised the
owner. All at once, he felt shyness come over him as he remembered
that he'd been far from on his best behaviour the last time he'd
encountered Firelloa and her pet.
"Hi...do you mind if I sit there?" He tilted his head uncertainly
towards the empty space.
She hadn’t been expecting other company. Firelloa could only blink at
Arten for a moment before she came to her senses and searched for any
sign there was an adult looking for or after the boy. Finding none,
she figured she was close enough to an adult to count as adult
supervision, and shrugged. It wasn’t the only empty seat available, so
her brother wouldn’t be shut out. “As long as your food stays on your
plate,” she said, setting Tinate on her shoulders.
The boy put his tray down, a tentative smile coming to his face on
spite of his embarrassment. "Is it all right if I put it in my mouth
as well? I'm really hungry.”
The girl half smiled. That was actually clever for a kid his age. “Go for it."
"Great! Thank you." Arten sat down and tucked in to his breakfast. As
hungry as he was, though, he couldn't help gazing at the blue
firelizard on Firelloa's shoulder. She was only a few Turns older than
him. Maybe one day soon, he'd be old enough for a firelizard
companion. But how would he ever get the chance to Impress one, when
he couldn't go out with his friends to search for clutches on the
"If you don't mind me asking...." He gestured towards Tinate with his
spoon. "How did you get his egg? Did you find it?”
Firelloa shook her head. “No, my brother did,” she said, tickling
under her pet’s chin and making him croon happily. “He found a whole
nest by accident, and I was one of the people he chose to give a egg
to, so I could keep in touch with my mother more easily.” She half
smiled. “And boy, did he pay for it. Tinate’s mother wasn’t happy to
"Is that your brother who's a dragonrider?" Arten asked, remembering
their earlier meeting. His eyes went wide with awe as he imagined the
wrath of a gold firelizard mother. "What happened?”
“Aye, him. I only have the one, which is nice.” She’d wanted _a_
brother, not a passel of them. The girl motioned across her forehead
and on the outside of her right wrist. “He got clawed here and here.
But Zeiranth and Gwynnyth-“ She paused, throat working. “My brother’s
dragon and a friend’s dragon drove the gold off. It wasn’t hard; she
didn’t have a fair with her, for some reason. So my brother was able
to give away some eggs and sell the others."
The boy's eyes went wide. He'd never thought that finding firelizard
eggs could be dangerous. Maybe it was a good thing that in all his
Turns of searching the beaches back home, he'd never found any.
"I wish I had an older brother." Well, he assumed the brother was
older, if he was a dragonrider. Arten sighed, thinking of all the fun
he could have with a dragonrider brother. "I have a little sister, but
I don't think she's going to be bringing me a firelizard egg any time
soon. Maybe I'll bring her one, one day.”
“That would be an awfully nice gesture on your part,” Firelloa agreed.
“Little sisters are great to have in your life. But I’m biased, since
I am a little sister. Big brothers can be a lot of fun too. I’m sure
you’ll figure out how, since you are one."
Arten was not so sure he was such a good brother. Since he'd been so
wrapped up in his own dejected mood, he wasn't even sure how his
sister felt about the move to Dragonsfall. Eluri was quiet, but then
she always had been. Of course, if he was a dragonrider, he'd be able
to take her back home if she wanted, but that was a long way off. It
wouldn't be fair to make her wait that long.
"I'll try," he promised, and looked more closely at Firelloa. Now he
wasn't focused on filling his stomach or watching her firelizard, he
realised that there was something different about her compared to the
first time they'd met. Back then, even though he hadn't exactly warmed
to the idea of a babysitter, he thought there'd been a...spark about
her that wasn't there now.
He didn't know how to ask outright, though. Most likely it was none of
his business...but he couldn't just pretend he hadn't noticed. He was
a big brother, after all, even if he wasn't hers.
"Um...aren't you going to eat anything? My foster mother says it's
important to get a good breakfast." His eyes met hers, hinting at the
question he hadn't quite dared to ask.
“I’m waiting on my brother. He’s in the serving line now, looks like,”
Firelloa responded, slipping Tinate a bit of fried pork. “And I’m not
very hungry, anyway.” She shrugged. “Your foster mother is right,
though, and it’s good you’re listening to her. Maybe I should too.”
She cut up more of the pork and made herself have a forkful,
half-hoping the taste would help spark her appetite. “Have you been
keeping up with your studies?"
"Well...I haven't skipped any more classes." Arten sounded decidedly
unenthusiastic about his effort towards good behaviour. "I don't think
Journeyman Trevonen has forgiven me, though. It's not that he isn't
fair, or anything," he added hastily, not wanting to be unjust. "But
he just has this way of sighing whenever I don't know an answer.”
“Whenever he does that, remind yourself adults don’t know everything
either, no matter how much they might like to pretend they do,”
Firelloa said comfortingly, “and try to keep your temper. Being a good
big brother also means being a good role model. Which is hard, I know,
"I suppose." Arten was well aware of the imperfections of adults, so
that part oughtn't to be too hard. He'd never thought of himself as a
role model before, but if she was right, he didn't want his little
sister following his example and skipping lessons. "I just wish I was
old enough to make my own decisions, rather than getting pushed around
wherever grown-ups want me to go. I wouldn't mind how hard I had to
“Good things are worth waiting for,” Firelloa said. “I had to wait
thirteen Turns to get a big brother, but I’m glad I even had the
chance. Try not to worry too much. The time will pass sooner than you
"That's what everyone keeps saying." The young boy sighed, but there
was a smile behind it. He swallowed a last mouthful of toast. "I
should go. Don't want to be late for class. Well, I do, but it's
probably not a good idea.”
“No, it wouldn’t,” the apprentice agreed, giving Tinate another tickle
under his chin. Then, something made her offer, “And if gets rough
again.... well, I’m around."
Arten's eyes brightened, and suddenly he didn't look the least bit
sulky or downcast. "Thank you!" He got to his feet and picked up his
tray. "I'll see you around...and I won't feed any more firelizards
without asking. I promise.”
Well, it looked like she was upholding the tradition among those of
Eionen’s line of “adopting” people in need of sibling figures. That
felt.... nice. “I’ll hold you to that. Have a good one, Arten.”
“Croooo!” Tinate yodeled.
Last updated on the December 5th 2018