It's funny. You can sleep for hours or even half a day and it seems as it's never enough. I yawned as I was woken up by a strange noise, which had accompanied me through my sleep and dream. I noticed that said noise came from Stefan, while stretching my neck, shoulder and wings. He had fallen over while he slept and laid on his side now. He chirped every third or fourth breath, which was kind of funny to hear. My next interest belonged to our clock and the time it showed at the moment. My stomach growled a bit, but the clock showed that the breakfast still was over an hour away from now. It may be the wrong time for breakfast, but surely the one to catch the first light of the day.
The sun only had begun to cross the horizon by now and the view was still as impressive as in the days before. The sea laid dormant beneath the tower, while the northern light was a bit stronger in appearance and shining in all possible colors. A lot of things had changed in the past days, but I still felt privileged to watch something like that. The dot I noticed at the day we arrived was once again visible and it was much closer to the ocean as it was back then, but I still couldn't make out what it was.
I yawned once more and trotted towards the bathroom, using the time to try to bath in the pool. Entering the bathroom I again tested that the water indeed did no harm to me and stepped into it afterwards. My guess about it's depth was right and I could easily lay in it, while resting my head on the floor. The water itself seemed to do it's job, cleaning me from various dirt. I did dunk my head underwater a few times so it would be clean too and decided after a while to get out, not knowing how to get dry before breakfast.
Shaking the water of mostly did the job, but left several puddles of water over the whole bathroom. I sighed as I saw this and searched for something to clean this mess. A few towels in the small separate section of the bathroom seemed to be ideal for that, but were out of my reach. Though I now knew how to get them without breaking the walls down or getting stuck with my horns in the door frame.
Thanks to Markos advice I managed to let three towels hover over to me and then started to clean the room as good as I could. I snicked to myself and imagined how that must look, a dragon cleaning a bathroom with towels. Though I had to admit that my scales looked a whole lot better then before taking a bath. I decided to lay them down next to the pool, as no place was clearly marked for it. I headed back into the main room in which Stefan still was asleep and chirping. That changed as I accidentally closed the door a bit louder than I had planned.
He was on his legs in seconds and eyed the environment carefully before he suddenly stopped. It seemed this surprised him, that's how it looked like at least. Stefan nodded as he saw me and began to stretch himself a bit. He wandered around a bit and stopped in front of me, while nodding towards the bathroom. I stepped to the side and watched him as he tried to open the doors, first with his talons and after that with his beak.
"I could help you, you know?" I asked amused, to which he only shock his head vigorously.
He managed it to open the door after a while and went in while I returned to the window to watch the remaining sunrise. This was interrupted by two green half dragons and a large golden dragon, who flew past the window. It took a while until I realized that the large dragon must be Jason, because of the missing left front leg. He was easily three times as large as I was, if not four times. He flew to fast for me to see any other features though. But the size reminded me of what Marko had said about us dragons and the growth that would start after three years.
I shook my head to get the thoughts out of it and took a quick look on the clock. The clock showed me that breakfast was still over half an hour away, causing me to sign. Scratching at the bathroom door pulled my attention towards it afterwards and Stefan stepped out several minutes later. Though he had problems closing it, which he announced with a frustrated screech after a while. I had to suppress an smile as I walked towards him and closed the door for him.
"Feeling better now?" I asked laughing, to which he only huffed while rolling his eyes.
"Hm, we woke up a bit earlier today. Should we go to Tanja and Nick this time?" I asked to which Stefan nodded after a short moment.
We went out of the room and headed to Nick and Tanja's room, but were stopped by a call that came from behind. It was Stefans teacher Simon, who was coming towards us in a fastened pace. He had a thick jacket with him and was overall wearing clothes that would be better suited for a deep winter than the temperatures we had in this tower.
"Good at least one who is awake by now. You wouldn't believe how long new Hippogryphs sleep." He started, while the sweat was flowing down his face.
"Could you tell the others that we'll meet at the most upper floor of the tower this time? We have a few things to do before we leave." He said, to which Stefan nodded.
"Ah and for you Rob. Marko told me that, if I see you or one of the half dragons, you should wait in the room he told you about the flight safety." He added afterwards.
"I will, thanks." I replied, while Simon was continuing his way.
"Isn't that a bit warm for in here?" I asked.
"It is. Though I was to lazy to change clothes a second time when I'm there and now it bites me." Simon laughed and disappeared behind the corner moments later.
"Your teacher is strange sometimes." I said to Stefan confused, who just nodded.
The rest of the way went by without any other distractions and the first other students were leaving their rooms while chatting with each other. Nick and Tanja had just left their room as we arrived and Tanja greeted us happily, as Nick was yawning at the moment.
"Hey you two. Good morning." She said, as we came closer.
"Good morning you two." I answered, while Stefan once again nodded.
"And? How was your first night as hippogryph Stefan?" Tanja asked curiously, to which Stefan rolled his eyes and I laughed.
"He chirped like a little bird." I chuckled, which earned me an evil look from Stefan as reward.
"That's mean Rob, you know that he can't answer for himself." Tanja said, trying to keep an serious face, which looked funny on a werewolf and laid an arm around Stefans neck.
"Then why do you ask such questions Tanja?" Nick yawned, to which Stefan nodded.
"Lets go, the canteen should open in the next time and I want my meal as fast as possible." He added.
We went towards the canteen, returning towards the direction we came from. Several griffins and werewolves joined us on the way there and then split again as we arrived on the floor, going to the places we normally sat. We still were a bit early for the regular opening, but a few meals were already brought to their designated targets. Which luckily included the four of us. The size of the meal was the same as yesterday, a cow for me, a big stack of chicken for Nick and Tanja and a large bowl of grain and meat for Stefan, who eagerly began to eat it.
We were halfway through our meals as the canteen was almost full of myths and a group of teachers in human form. The griffins had their wings hung down a bit, but seemed fine any other way. Their first flight surely had taken its toll from them. The half dragons on the other hand were eagerly chatting with each other, though Frank did look a bit annoyed. The werewolves were mostly eating their meals, with a few laughs in between. The hippogryphs slowly arrived one after another and everyone of them made a very tired impression.
The breakfast went on until a loud shout emerged from the other canteen, followed by a few werewolves who stood up. They didn't waited to clear it in words, as the first hit another one and after that everyone was brawling with each other. The half dragons jumped away, though Frank somehow managed it to get his meal with him. The teachers themselves watched the brawl with growing interest, but didn't intervene until the first combatants were fleeing. It went relatively fast after that as the group of teachers switched to their true forms, mostly werewolves themselves and ended the fight.
They pulled out a few who probably started it and the ones that took the biggest beating and left the canteen with them. The furniture was surprisingly intact, only a few chairs and one table was broken, while the rest survived somehow. Even the personal of the kitchen wasn't worried that much, as if it would be a normal thing for them. We discussed it a bit, but eventually got back to the topic we were on before the brawl.
"I still wonder why we get that much to eat today." Continued Nick, while gnawing on a chicken wing.
"Who knows? I bet the day gets exhausting again." I replied in thoughts, to which Stefan nodded.
"We'll know later." Tanja said bored.
"No interest at all?" I asked curious.
"Oh I'm curious about it. But guessing doesn't really help." She replied.
"True. Still hate it to be surprised by exhausting exercise." Nick answered sighing.
"Ask me. Yesterday I had a very long fight with Marko and other exhausting training. At least I know what we do in the morning, but I'm a bit afraid what follows after that." I said, shuddering theatricality.
"I get your point." Nick laughed, to which even Stefan chirped.
"But see the good side. It surely won't kill you." He joked.
"Ha ha. Very funny." I laughed myself.
We chatted for a while until all of us were finished with their meals This time though with an odd satisfaction, I didn't had the days before. Nick and Tanja left us shortly after and Stefan and I waited for the half dragons to finish theirs. Stefan looked a bit distracted the whole time, while he was watching the other hippogryphs. They were gathering at a bunch of saddlebags and their teachers had begun to put them on the first few hippogryphs.
The half dragons finally got up and were about to make their way to our floor as I intercepted them. Stefan stayed back and joined the other hippogryphs, but he nodded to me as he went away. I translated it to that I could go on with my own things. The mood of my semi classmates was as good as always. Happy and not to break with the exception of Frank, who was glad that I joined their group again.
"Hello. How was your night?" I asked.
"Good, thank you." They answered.
We chatted about various points on for the remaining way to the most upper floor of the tower and were followed by a small group of hippogryphs, who all had the saddlebags on their back. Frank got more nervous with every floor and began to rub his hands from time to time, until Jessica asked him why he did that. She spend the rest of the way to calm him down, while Linh and Monica tried to cheer him up. We were two floor under the top one as we began to hear what could be described as repeatedly throwing heavy objects on the ground and loud rustling.
Upon arrival we headed into the room Simon mentioned and were surprised that Rachel and Samuel were in it. Both were sitting together in a corner of the room and asleep at it seems. Neither the loud bang of the door, nor the other noises woke them up. It only made their tails twitch a bit. We kept our distance to them and made our self comfortable on the other side of the room. I myself laid down and continued to chat with the others, who themselves sat down in a semicircle in front of me.
Twenty minutes went past as the door finally opened and Marko entered. His look too told that he was puzzled that Rachel and Samuel were sleeping in the corner, but it quickly changed to a slim grin. He then guided us out of the room and to the next one in which we found the harnesses we wore two days ago, well at least the ones the half dragons had worn. Mine was in the chest next to theirs. This time though the half dragons had to put mine on me, while Marko instructed them how to do it. We went on the top of the tower, as they finished it and were once again greeted by a rough wind.
"So lets see how much you remembered from the last time." Marko started, while pointing towards the ropes.
"Linh and Monica you two will train on one rope, while Jessica and Rob go to another one. As for you Frank, follow me and I'll tell you all you need." He instructed.
"Why not one rope for everyone?" Monica asked.
"Someone has to operate the barrel and it's easier for me to catch two dragons then four." Marko replied, guiding Frank to one.
"Well then we have to switch it seems." Jessica stated with an odd grin in her face.
"Who should start Rob." She asked.
"Ladies first." I replied, knowing which argument would probably follow.
"How gentle." She said as we reached one of the barrels.
Jessica hooked herself up, which I confirmed by pulling a few times. She opened her wings as I stepped back and shot right up in the air were she hung for a second. Followed by a graceful dive into the water of the pool. She huffed as she pulled herself out of it and I had a hard time to suppress the laughter, which Monica didn't try to hide at all. Linh was gliding in the meantime and didn't care what was happening on the roof.
We were joined by the hippogryphs a while later, who were guided towards other barrels by their teachers. They too had similar harnesses on as I had, only in a smaller scale. Most of them watched Linh and Jessica with open beaks and immediately closed them as they noticed Frank, who had the same problems we had on our first tries. They teachers hooked the first group up and pointed towards Frank then Linh and Jessica.
The outcome too was very similar to Frank, as the first hippogryph dived into the water and was followed by all others who tried to glide. They too had difficulties to swim at first, but didn't seem to have my problem of being to heavy for it. This went on for half an hour until Marko told us to switch, so we were ready until Jim would arrive. I pulled Jessica down who flapped her wings against the pull of the rope, extending the time she was up as long as she could. It didn't help much as the barrel didn't give any rope back and forced her to land rather quickly.
She unhooked herself and connected me to the barrel, which got the interest of most hippogryphs. I too had to walk on four legs and was therefore easier to copy than the half dragons. Though it didn't help them as I was up and flying on the first try. I dropped to the sides a few times, but regained balance relatively quickly after which I only enjoyed the moment of being in the air once again. The wind that rushed past my body and the sun that warmed my back were great to feel and I knew that I would do this as often as possible when I return.
I began to watch the progress of the hippogryphs after a while and followed one I thought was Stefan. I still had big problems to distinguish between them, as some looked almost identically from the distance. In the time I was watching, he managed it to glide for a few seconds until he tried to move his wings which did sent him into a dive towards the water. The other fare similar, only a few managed it to remain up for more than a few seconds. But they were improving, far faster than we had before. This continued until the door opened and Jim stepped out. He joined Marko who then walked towards Jessica and me.
"Ok you two, that should be enough for now. Would you please pull down Rob, Jessica?" He said, to which Jessica began to use the barrel, while I too tried to gain as much of the remaining time as she did before.
"Cut it Rob, you'll be flying again in only a moment." Marko added.
"Same right for everyone." I replied laughing, to which Jessica rolled her eyes.
"Anyway, what's the plan for today?" I asked, as I touched the ground.
"First we'll fly a few rounds and practice landing and starting. Then you'll get a bit free time until we return. The rest is a surprise." Marko replied and laughed at the last part.
"And that would be?" Jessica asked curiously.
"A surprise." Marko answered smiling.
"Before we go. I would have a short question." I said.
"And that would be?" Marko asked curiously.
"It's probably nothing, but the feeling of satisfaction I had today after eating my meal was different to the ones I had before. Should I worry?" I asked.
"Not really, no. This is a good sign though. You are close to finish the dept you have. One or two more meals and you should be done with it." Marko answered, while stepping to the edge of the building.
"Now lets go." He said and jumped from the edge.
We followed him quickly and joined him shortly after, circling around the tower a few times. Marko guided us around the others as well and we hovered above on of the connections of the atrium, which had its roof opened and doors closed. We spotted Jason and two others in it, who were standing in a triangle with some small sphere in between them. We began to circle around it as we saw something happening. The sphere began to flash and was bathed in a blinding light, similar to the one that engulfed us as we arrived. It retracted a bit and then expanded in an explosive motion, sending shock waves in every direction which threw us back several meters as we were hit by it.
The sphere was gone and replaced by a golden cloud, which hung between the three. One of the three, an older man with a backpack, stepped into the cloud and vanished from view as the cloud once again pulsed. He appeared several seconds later and nodded to the other two. They repeated this a few times until they let the cloud dissolve. Jason then noticed us, nodded towards Marko and walked back into the direction of our tower.
Marko replied that with an nod of himself and then guided us further down towards the basis of the tower, were we practiced to land and to start until Jim and the other three arrived an hour later. Linh and Monica landed relatively safe but still a bit hard, while Frank lost his balance and fell down.
"Ah you made it." Marko said and nodded towards Frank.
"Congratulation on your first flight Frank!" Jessica and I cheered.
"Thanks. This will save a lot of fuel in the future." He laughed, as he got up.
"Landing could use a bit of training though." He added, while stretching his legs.
"Well at least you didn't break your leg as I did." Jessica replied smiling.
"Ok people, listen. We wont be out here for long because of the meeting that takes place in about an hour. Frank you'll fly with Rob, Jessica joins Monica and Linh. Your task will be to fly three rounds around the tower and return afterwards. Jim and I will monitor the whole flight from the edges." Marko explained.
"And don't do unnecessary stunts. We have time for that over the next few days." Jim added.
"Only three rounds?" I complained, still full of excitement.
"That's enough for now, trust me." Marko replied.
"Now off you go. We'll return when you arrive." Jim said.
With that said we started and flew around the basis clockwise, while the girls flew counter-clockwise. It was still astonishing to examine the basis, while flying around it. Something of the size to hold a small city, which reached from the bottom of the sea and ended forty or fifty meters above the sea level. The people who thought of that were geniuses, even if their original idea of its use didn't work.
The view took me in and I was near the sea as I noticed movement beneath me, which wasn't from the waves. I saw the shade to late and it laid itself around me before I could react. It pulled me down before I had made a second breath and I found myself surrounded by water afterwards. Only to be returned at the surface moments later and released from the grip of my attacker. I flapped my wings as fast as I could and lifted of, putting a good distance between me and the sea.
My attacker showed himself and turned out to have a similar head as a dragon had. Though it was more streamlined and had fins on his sides. The skin was slick and had a dark blue color. The body itself continued behind the head and kind of resembled a snake, which had more fins in regular intervals over the whole side of its body. And this one wasn't alone. Several others appeared on the surface, but were much smaller in size.
"A little advice young dragon." Said the larger snake to my surprise.
"Don't fly that close to the water. We leviathans see it as challenge to pull you down, if you give us the chance." He laughed, which caused the others to laugh too.
"Thanks I guess." I replied, unsure what to say.
"Come on people, lets continue the lesson." The leviathan said and submerged again, followed by the others.
"That was fast." I heard Frank say.
"Are you ok?" He asked further.
"Yeah, but a bit shocked. That was really fast." I replied as I returned to Franks flight level.
"Lets stay up here." I suggested.
"You tell me." Frank replied, while the dragonesses made their first appearance since we started.
We flew past them as I tried to get the water off, which made them laugh. Probably thinking that I crashed into the sea accidentally. I signed as I thought about the chatter they would release onto me after we would return.
The remaining three rounds were flown fast and the dragonesses were already there as we arrived, all with a big grin on their faces. Jim and Marko both started to laugh as I landed, seeing that I still had a good amount of water on me, which I finally shook off as I stood there.
"Made new friends?" Marko asked, which caused the dragonesses to look confused.
"Yeah, was a quite entangling greeting." I replied, continuing the joke.
"Sorry you lost me there." Linh said.
"Our Rob met the leviathans. On school at least. Was a great thing to watch." Marko laughed.
"What did you think happened that he got the water on himself?" He asked them.
"We thought he had fallen into it." Monica replied.
"Ha. He was pulled into it by their teachers." Jim said, still grinning.
"Out of the air?" Linh asked surprised.
"They are quite large and Rob was close to the surface. That's something they don't let escape." Marko explained.
"Something I'll remember for the future." I said, remembering the surprise.
"Good. You should. Nothing is deadlier then being attacked without expecting it." Marko said and pointed upwards.
"Now come. The meeting is soon and I don't want to arrive late. We'll take a shortcut through the hospital and then part ways after the canteen. I want you to stay in the proximity of our floor as we will continue the moment we return."
We all nodded and flew towards the small pad that stuck out of the tower in the lower part. The plan was good but was interrupted as a flock of hippogryphs raced around the corner and almost rammed into us, which we evaded by letting us drop several meters. Marko and Jim roared after them, until we finally arrived at the pad. Linh and Frank were the first there, while Jessica and I were the last.
The medical staff was a bit furious that we used the emergency ramp as shortcut, but Marko and Jim somewhat ignored them as we walked through the hospital. Our way led us past the floors of the griffins, hippogryphs and werewolves, which were all in the classrooms or in case of the hippogryphs, outside and flying. Marko and Jim were discussing if they should bring the topic of flight path as topic of the meeting and ranted a bit over the teacher of the hippogryphs, but eventually dropped the topic.
They went towards the atrium as we arrived at the canteen, while we continued to walk to our floor. On which we arrived shortly after and entered the lobby. Frank went for the next couch and dropped into it, while the dragonesses went on a bit slower and I simply laid down next to the fountain.
"That flight was much to short." Monica huffed as she sat down.
"Yeah. A bit longer would have been much better." Jessica agreed.
"All because of this meeting they have. That surprise better be good." She added.
"What surprise?" Linh and Frank asked curiously.
"Don't know. Marko mentioned one, but did say anything specific." Jessica replied.
"We'll see eventually. No point in guessing in that case. Let it come." I said, after taking a sip out of the fountain.
"But I hate waiting on surprises. Especially if I know when one comes." Jessica said, annoyed.
"Then distract yourself until Marko comes back." I suggested, thinking about something to do for myself.
"And that would be?" Jessica asked.
"Don't know...read a book, run a few rounds in the trainings room or sleep a bit." I replied and stood up again, knowing what I wanted to do.
"The Library is there for a reason and you know what? I'll go there for now. There are a few things I want to know." I said and headed towards to door that led out of the lobby.
"Mind if I join you Rob?" Linh asked, as Jessica laid down on a coach near Monica.
"Be my guest. Would be a bit boring to there alone anyways:" I replied with a smile.
We both left the lobby and headed towards the big library. It seemed as if it was the first time Linh stepped into it, which she confirmed as she explained that they hadn't the time until now. I explained her how the books were sorted and we both searched for the ones we were interested in. Which in my case was at first the index about magic and secondly one that could describe what Jason and the other two persons had done this morning. The nearest one to the topic I found was written in a tome which contained several topics about dimension travel.
"That must work."
I said to myself aloud as I hovered in front of the bookcase which contained the tome. The tome was thinner as I had thought, returned the index back into his slot and landed near Linh, who herself found something to read. Her eyes went wide as she saw that the tome I had picked was hovering in front of me.
"Surprised?" I chuckled, after noticing the expression on her face.
"How do you do that?" She asked, still a bit shocked.
"I imagine that it hovers and that does the trick." I replied, while laying down.
"Well actually it's the easiest explanation I could give to you. Don't know how it works exactly." I said further.
"Only imagine it and it works?" She asked skeptically.
"In my case. Yes." I replied, already flipping the sides of my tome, searching for the topic I wanted to read.
"We lost our stance and hands to gain the access to it. Maybe you can do it too, but you should ask Jim about it first." I said.
"I'll. It looks very useful." Linh replied, standing next to me with her book as she searched the room for something to sit on.
"Do you have no chairs here?"She asked.
"Not that I'm aware off. Sitting in one of those would be difficult for us anyway." I replied, watching her go around.
"Well, then I have to get one of our classroom." She said and left the room, returning minutes later with said chair.
We began to read from then on and I found what I was looking for. Not in the volume I wished, but in a short explanation. The ball of light we had seen was some sort of crystal that was able to break the barriers of the dimensions and could create connections between two points in the same one. How it worked was not included, only that it required several persons to start and that the crystal created a shock wave which was as strong as the portal was large. I read through a few other topics, including the sickness as the door of the Library opened and Marko stepped in.
"Ah the lost sheep, eh dragons. Frank said you would be here." He snickered, while the floor was filled with several noises from different myths, including a few werewolves which surprised me.
"Would you please return the books and follow me. We have a long way before us." He added.
"The surprise I presume?" I asked as I brought the book back and returned to Marko.
"The start of it. Yes. Jason and the other rectors decided to try something new this circle." Marko explained as we left the library and joined the others on our way up.
"It's the reason why flight training was so short today. You'll need your strength for the next flight." He said.
"But what are the werewolves doing here? They can't fly as far as I know."Monica asked curiously.
"I'll explain it when we arrive." Marko said, while we were following a group of griffins upwards.
The topmost floor was pretty crowded by now and we had a hard time to get to our room. Jason and Jim were already waiting and so did Rachel and Samuel, who were standing in a distance to Jason. Next to them were several backpacks with markings of different color. Four in blue, two in red and one without one. What pulled my interest were the saddles and the saddlebags with green color next to them.
"Everyone here?" Jason asked to which Marko nodded.
"Ok then. You'll probably ask yourselves for what the bags are here, do you? We decided to continue your training on the mainland this circle and you'll be on your own to top that,. We picked groups which will stay together, while we are out there and every group will have a task."
"And that task would be?" Frank asked.
"Finding an object we hid somewhere in travel distance. Naturally farther away for you than for the myths that travel on the earth." Jason explained as he grasped for the unmarked backpack and pulled a small necklace out of it.
"This is your way of finding it. Every backpack has one and it basically works like a navigation system. It's focused on the object that you have to search for. After you find the object, the necklace will guide you back to the camp." He explained further.
"And non of you will be with us?" Jessica asked, a bit frightened.
"Non of us will when we return to our dimension. At least not in close proximity. But don't worry we have our ways to get to you quickly." Jason answered and handed the backpack to Jim.
"Now for the groups. Rachel and Samuel." Jim said, to which the two twitched.
"Take the backpacks with the red coloration. Jessica, Linh, Monica and Frank you get the blue ones."
"Rob you get the saddle and the saddlebags." Marko said, while the six took their bags.
"Why the saddle? Aw don't tell me.." I replied, which made him laugh.
"Two of your group members can't fly. Wanna guess how they come around?" Marko chuckled, as the door once again opened and two werewolves stepped in, one with the typical scarf of a teacher. The other one was Nick.
"Hello Rob." Nick said.
"Hi Nick." I replied, while Marko was talking to the other teacher.
"Ok you two, would you step over here for a moment, so we can show you how to saddle Rob?" Marko said, which caused me to twitch as I heard the word.
Everyone was more or less grinning by now, especially Rachel and Samuel. And the grin became bigger as Nicks teacher showed him how the saddle was put onto Marko and then switched to me with mine. In short form. It was fixed almost the same way the harness was, only that this time no ring was on my belly but a saddle on my back. Said saddle looked almost identically to those you would expect from a horse, but had a broader downside which was flexible and some kind of grip in the front. As both Marko and the teacher were satisfied they ordered Nick to put the saddlebags on and made sure that both were fixed. Then both were left to get their equipment, leaving me there with a saddle and saddlebags on my back.
"That's just great." I said aloud, causing several chuckles around the room.
"Your not alone with that. But see the good side. You can still speak, the only thing the hippogryphs can do is to look annoyed." Marko laughed, again causing us all to laugh a bit.
"Marko, Jim you both know the way?" Jason asked, to which both nodded.
"Excellent. I'll wait for you at the camp you then. Good luck and have a nice flight."
"Wanna go first Jim?" Marko asked as Jason left the room.
"Sure. Lets see how far we get on the first stage. People. Lets go." Jim answered and left the room with all the half dragons
"As for us. Lets see that we find the remaining three members of you team Rob." Marko said.
Which wasn't really difficult as we almost ran into them as we stepped out of the room. Nick, Tanja, a hippogryph, who I guessed was Stefan and the teacher of Nick and Tanja were waiting in front of it and greeted us. All three werewolves had backpacks on and a harness with several straps and hooks on them, while Stefan had a similar saddle on his back as I did but no saddlebags. Marko nodded to them and we made our way onto the top of the tower, were we witnessed the half dragons to jump down and reappear moments later. We went near the edge ourselves as the werewolf teacher jumped onto Markos back, hooking himself up.
"Who do you want to ride Tanja?" Nick grinned, to which Stefan and I rolled our eyes.
"Hm. I think I'll take Stefan." She replied and stepped near him, while Nick approached me.
Both of them climbed onto our backs and hooked themselves up as their teacher had before. They pulled the straps a few times and nodded to signal Marko that they were ready.
"Ok, seems that everyone is ready." He nodded.
"But first. I forgot to tell you one thing. In case we get separated. Everyone of you, except Stefan, should have a compass in his bags. Head eastwards until you find land and then search for a large bay with a rock in its entrance." Marko explained
"Fly eastwards, Large bay with rock. Ok got it." Nick repeated, while checking his backpack then my saddlebags. Tanja was searching hers too, while Stefan and I waited for them to finish their search.
Marko stepped to the edge as they had closed and secured their backpacks. Tanja looked nervous by now as Stefan head looked over it, while Nick tried to stay calm. The building pressure of his legs on my side told otherwise and I snickered as I too stepped to the edge.
"Then lets go! Next stop Mainland." Marko yelled and jumped from the edge.
"Ready?" I asked and too jumped from it before Nick had any chance to reply.
Both were screaming by now, which lasted until we rejoined Marko and then switched to more of a cheer of joy. Marko, Stefan and I in the meantime swung in the direction, where the half dragons were flying to and began to follow them. They had chosen a good moment for the flight as the wind was in our back and did a good amount of work for us. It carried us away from the tower in a good speed and we were already closing onto the dot I had seen several times from our room.
The dot was steadily growing by now and revealed itself several minutes later. The dot was in fact the very airplane which had brought us here, though it had sunken from its original attitude to one which was twice as high as the tower. It hung there in the air, while its turbines were still moving a bit. Probably through the wind I guessed. But no lights were to be seen. We past close enough to took a glimpse into the windows, which naturally showed row after row of empty seats.
What got my interest after the windows was the tail. Where the white color had changed into a more rust like one, while the fin looked like it could fall off any minute. Nick seemed to had seen it to because he began to poke my side, trying to gain my attention. I looked to him, which in retrospective wasn't the best idea, cutting the airstream in front of me and letting me drop a few meters, but I followed his finger and then nodded to him.
After climbing back to Marko and Stefans height, we continued our way over the open sea. The half dragons still were in front of us, but on a much lower altitude while maintaining the speed we had.
The sea itself wasn't calm either. Several Leviathans made their way in the same direction we did and several of them jumped out of the water from time to time.
They disappeared behind us after a while, though they seemed to be fast swimmers, not being able to keep the pace with us. That left the half dragons below us and our small group, as we made our way over the sea.
I lost time halfway through but guessed that we must flying for around two hours, as Marko suddenly began to descend. He and Jim were targeting a smaller island in front of us, which was one of many. The half dragons arrived first, while we landed only minutes later. The island indeed was small, only about a kilometer in diameter with a small hill in the middle. It was empty of trees, only a bit of grass was sitting on top of the hill. The rest of the island contained of sand, which was blown up as Marko and I were slowly descending. It lead to a minor unease of the half dragons who stood near us and had to cover their eyes.
"Watch it." Several voices said, while we landed.
"Keep your distance then." Marko roared back and touched the ground with his hind legs, closely followed by me.
"You couldn't find a smaller island, could you?" Tanja complained from the back, as she started to unhook herself from Stefan.
"It's the easiest one to land on. So it's the obvious choice." Marko replied as the werewolf on his back jumped down.
"Use the time and stretch yourselves a bit. We have the same way in front of us, as we just flew."
"Great." Rachel said and rolled her eyes, before she and Samuel walked away from us.
The other half dragons too searched for a place to sit down, which they did after they put their backpacks down. The teachers were speaking to each other, Tanja and Nick were walking around the island, while Stefan walked towards the hill. I myself joined the half dragon group and laid down in the warm sand in front of them, which felt rather good and relaxing.
"I must say. Flying itself is great. But it's rather dump to fly in one direction without change." Jessica said, watching the sky, while using her backpack as pillow.
"Yeah it's boring. On land we could watch the surroundings, on sea it's only water." Linh agreed who herself was stretching her wings and limps.
"You don't drive that often over long distances, do you?" I asked curiously.
"Not really. Everything I need is in near by and should it be a longer travel I can go by train or plane." Jessica answered, switching from watching the sky to me.
"No driver license. But it's boring enough to sit in the back row the whole time." Monica added.
"Would be interesting to know how far we flew." She asked to nobody in particular.
"Half as long as we need to for the whole way." Frank laughed, earning him a glare from Monica.
The two started to argue a bit, but eventually stopped and began to relax as the rest of us did. We were alone of that island for a short time until the first group of griffins arrived, followed by a group of hippogryphs and werewolves shortly after. The growing number of myths on the island and the shrinking space eventually forced us to leave after a while, but relaxed enough to continue.
Nick and Tanja switched this time with Nick riding Stefan, while Tanja sat on my back. We continued eastwards back in the altitude we had previously with the half dragons once again flew on theirs below us. The wind unfortunately changed after a while and blew sidewards, which sent us a bit of course as the mainland came in sight. Though it still took us a long time to actually reach it.
It almost looked like the land I had seen before we flew into the cloud, but there were differences.
The coastline was more or less flat as we flew over it with our plane, while this one was more cliff like. The other thing I was the dense forest that grew behind the cliffs, which wasn't there before. I could see a flock of horses in a glade near the bay ,which was running around. The cliffs made it pretty easy to find a bay, because you could make out breaks in them. The first bay we found was actually the one Marko had described earlier.
The bay was smaller than I had imagined but the description of the rock in the entrance was accurate. The large rock with several others that only peaked above the water made it to a natural harbor. So it was not a bad idea to camp here, where the leviathans could speak to us without problems.
Several tents were built up above the beach and a few werewolves either were sitting together or swimming in the water. But the most kept their distance as we landed and actually blew a tent away.
"And there we are. It's no four star hotel but it should do the job." Marko joked, as we made place for the half dragons and were waiting that our passengers were unhooked and down.
"How did the werewolves come here without flying?" I heard Monica ask.
"We opened a portal to send them here. Along with the unicorns and the manticors. Though I'm not entirely sure where they are at the moment." Jim answered as he put his backpack down.
"And we had to fly the whole way?" She asked with a little upset voice.
"Exercise my dear. Why cheat if you can do it yourself." Jim replied smiling.
'Were the horses...' I imagined, remembering them in the glade.
"Nick you're larger than me, could you please help me with Robs saddle?" Tanja asked Nick, which pulled me out of my thoughts
I haven't even thought about the saddle since we started. Now I was glad to get it off which took a while, but was eventually done. Stefan looked as glad as I did and afterwards we tried to help Tanja and Nick to put up the tent. Which they politically declined after a while, we did block them more as we were helpful.
The first groups of griffin and hippogryphs had arrived by now and unloaded their passengers and freight, as both were finished with the tent. Which was big enough for two people, but way to small for a hippogryph or a dragon and I mentally began to ready myself for a night beneath the stars. Marko himself was lazily laying around and watched the ongoing work of the others. That changed when Jason and two others arrived out of thin air, who then began to talk to the teachers outside of the camp.
Both new ones, a woman and a man, were in a similar age as Jason was perhaps a bit younger, featuring white straws in their hairs, and wore clothes as Jason did. Though they had other emblems on their shoulders, which I couldn't make out from this distance. But the fact that all there wore different clothes than the teachers or we before we changed, somewhat told that they too were teachers. And I was proven right as they started to talk to the teachers.
The discussion began peacefully and slow, but heated up after a while and went haywire at the end. Several words were hearable, even over the distance and the noise of other conversations, which included hunting and kill. This sent the camp dead silent after a few moments and everyone was trying to follow their discussion as good as possible.
"I said you teach them how they do it! They'll be on their own out there and they must learn how to hunt!" Jason yelled and glanced at several teachers, including Marko.
"I don't care how you do it, but you'll do it!" He said angrily.
"But.." A teacher tried to reply.
"Now!" Jason commanded with a voice that allowed no response.
With that the group split and went in several directions, with Marko heading towards me. He was angered by what I could see and the last words told me that the next thing to come wasn't very pleasant. We all tried not to look in the direction, but it was quite obvious that we heard all of it.
"Drop the act Rob, I know you and everyone else was listening." Marko growled, seemingly frustrated.
"Come with me, the next lesson awaits." He ordered.
"Ok...." I replied cautious and followed him just to the borders of the camp, where we took of and headed further into the land
We didn't say a word for a while. I because I didn't want to upset him more and he out of anger, as we left the forest behind us an began to fly over the open field behind it. That went on until the late afternoon and the sun was about to set, leaving long shadows of trees here and there as our target came into sight. It was what I had suspected, a large herd of what appeared to be cattle. They were a bit larger than the ones in our dimension and some had really nasty looking horns on their heads.
We landed a bit away from them and kept our distance, while they didn't really mind that we were there.
"You know what Jason ordered us?" Marko growled, a bit softer than he had back in camp but still angry.
"That we need to know how to hunt and kill I guess." I replied after a second, imagining the scenario and shivered.
"So short after the change." Marko huffed and flung a stone away which laid in front of him.
"Did you hunt before?" He asked.
"No. Never." I answered.
"Great. Me neither." He said after a while and chuckled afterwards.
"Pardon me." I asked surprised.
"I too didn't hunt and kill before." He replied and added as he saw my face.
"What? I never had the problem to get meat when I needed it. So I never had to hunt. But Jason doesn't know, well didn't know."
"And now he knows?" I asked curious.
"A slip of tongue. I accidentally said that I didn't needed it until now and didn't do it before out of that reason. Which naturally sent him into overdrive." Marko explained.
"Now he and the other elder set the rules for the hunt. Every student or teacher that doesn't return with blood on his face, is in for a second round with the rector of his tower." He said further.
"A bit strict isn't it? And what would you have done if I failed my test." I replied.
"They want to be sure. And boy do I hate it. As for your test. Probably the same way as here. Or he could have done it himself" Marko said.
"Well no way around it then. How do we start?" I asked with a gulp.
"Don't know. Fly over them and try to snatch two cows out of their flock?" Marko suggested, with an unsure face of his own.
We decided that the plan was as good as the other and tried to do it. What we didn't thought of was, that it is pretty difficult to fly over something and 'snatch' it. The first pass was a miss for both of us and the second startled the flock enough to make a run for it, increasing the difficulty even further. We tried it several times, until we got some results. Marko was able to get a hold on one, but it slipped away from him as he tried to heave it. My try went a bit better. I sank my back claws as deep as I could and was able to lift it several meters, where the cow too slipped away from me and hit the ground pretty hard. It tried to stand up but two of its legs seemed to be broken from the fall.
Marko choose another approach and simply tackled one of them, pinning it under him. He then looked at he cow for several seconds, closed his eyes and bit it several times until it stopped moving. I know what he felt as I did the same thing seconds later, as the blood of my prey flew through my teeth and over my scales, down on the ground. My feelings startled me, as part of my mind was eager to continue, while the other was sick of guilt over ending another beings life.
It took me and Marko almost half an hour to return to the corpses and me another five to finally start eating it. The first few bites were difficult, but it went smother after a while and I could finish it mostly with a satisfied stomach in the end. But the guilt stayed, lesser as it was after the kill but still there. Marko was a bit behind me, but finished his 'meal' shortly after. The expression on his face was again similar to mine as he came towards me. Both of us our head and front paws were covered in blood by now, achieving what Jason had ordered.
"Lets head back." Marko said while looking back to the bones of his prey.
"Hope that's enough blood for Jason." He mumbled.
"You tell me." I replied as we started and headed back towards the camp.
The flight went by without words and we arrived at the proximity of the camp as the sun had set. The dawn left enough light to land safe and the group of rector were heading towards us.
"Here goes nothing." Marko whispered to which I nodded.
"I'm glad you two followed our order." Jason began after he quickly examined both of us.
"I hope the others will do it too. It's a hard lesson to learn, but all of you need it."
"Especially if the rumors are true." The woman mumbled, silent but still hearable.
"We talked about that, they would be pretty stupid if they did it. It doesn't matter anyway until we return" The man replied, stopping the topic immediately.
"As for you two. You are free to do what you want for now." Jason added, signing about the said.
"Lets wash the blood of." Marko said to me and headed towards the sea, with me following.
The blood was relatively fast gone, but the memory stayed. At least we were of the hook, past the danger of being forced to hunt with myths who would keep you up until you would do so. A fate that should strike many that night. Including Tanja, Frank, Monica and Samuel. Those who stayed were mostly silent that evening and not many were talking, mostly people who probably had hunted before.
Few of them made it back after two hours and we waited until the moon was on its highest point as Tanja returned, obviously shaken. Both went into their tent after Nick had calmed her down enough and had washed the blood out of her fur, while Stefan and I remained outside. We traded silent looks, after which I curled myself up next to the tent and tried to get some sleep myself. It didn't take long to get caught in the sweet embrace of sleep, cutting down every thought about the hunt.