The priest was almost relieved when General appeared at the door, with orders to take the boy away.
The whole week, the imp had tortured him. He was so hyperactive all of the time, that the poor priest didn’t get any time to even sleep with him jumping around the church all the time! And such unrivaled cheek! He was so sharp, so observant…maybe a little TOO observant for his own good.
Their exchanges went something like this-
Priest: Son, monsters are evil. They kill and eat humans.
Boy: They do that to survive! How is that wrong? We eat chickens and pigs to live, don’t we? Does that make us evil? If so, then how are we different from monsters? If not, why does the logic not apply to innocent animals that we kidnap and grow in a restrained environment, only to torture, kill and eat later?
Priest:….Go to your room.
Nobody, absolutely NOBODY had ever shut down the priest before like that.
The boy resisted everything, from teachings (he found loopholes in everything said to him.), to spells (he learned to counter and use them instead!) to practical experience (he had pissed off a holstaur at the city outskirts, by wearing red, and claimed it was ‘an invigorating run’!)
He could still enter the church, proving that he was a virgin.
The priest was so tired of hurricane mazoku (the kid claimed to have forgotten his name!) that when,General showed up,he practically begged General to take him away.
Of course, the boy didn’t think so. The priest realized only after he had left that the mazoku, troublesome and hyper as he was, was the closest thing he ever had to a son. The poor boy,teary-eyed, had agreed to go only because the priest had told him to do so.
The mazoku looking at him, with large, teary, innocent eyes, and his choked out farewell ‘Goodbye father’ had awakened a thought in him-in spite of everything the boy had grown to love him as a father.The farewell would never let him sleep in peace again.
Lieutenant smiled at the kid. “Son, do you know why you are here?”
The answer was instantaneous.”No, and you’re gonna tell me because I don’t know.So start talking, because standing around in this room is very boring. Hey,is that a Dragoon? They are so cool! Please, can I get a joyride on a wyvern? Please? I’ll do anything!”
It took the lieutenant a moment to process everything the boy had just said,in under ten seconds.
“We-ell son, that is why you are here. You are going to become a Dragoon!”
The boy was very expressive indeed, with his joyful hooting and jumping.
“But first, we need to prepare your wyvern before you meet her, okay? So go wash up and get dressed,because you will start your training as soon as your wyvern is ready.”
“Got it!” was the only thing Lieutenant heard, before the boy scampered off to the showers.
How did the priest live with this boy for five days? Being with him for just five minutes was exhausting!
But Lieutenant had planned on training the boy. Perhaps making him a dragoon was the best option.He braked out his orders to the attendant.
“Get Maya . Have her geared up and ready in the proving grounds below.”
The attendant blanched.”B-but Maya,sir? The last boy who tried to ride her, broke his neck! She is way too fierce for a human with absolutely no training to ride!”
Lieutenant was not in the mood for this.”She is closest to the boy’s age, so go, do as you are told. I know what’s best, so don’t argue, unless you fancy a trip to the chopping block!”
That sure did the trick.The attendant was gone in a flash.
A couple of hours later, the kid was looking a wyvern straight in the eye.
Her yellow eyes expressed coldness,indifference and a great yearning to fight.She had powerful dragon legs, a huge scaly tail, horns on the back of her head, and her arms were uh….weird. Having changed to wings, huge,scaly green membrane starting from her armpits, stretched across the bony extensions from her wrist.Her fingers were wicked-sharp dragon claws.The boy had heard that normal dragons could breathe fire, an their claws could rend steel like it was wet tissue. He wondered if wyverns had that kind of power.
Getting on her bad side would not be a good start, so he blurted out what he thought was a nice compliment.
“You’re very pretty.”
Apparently, that was the worst thing to say.
The wyvern started kicking and screaming for who-knows-what reason, crying about how she had killed the last guy.The mazoku had heard of it.Apparently, an over-eager rider had jumped on to her back and surprised her. Being the first time that something like that had happened, she had violently bucked and thrown him off.
Into a giant rock.
The poor guy had died instantly, and the poor wyvern blamed herself for it. Perhaps that’s what made her so abrasive.
He approached her, with what he hoped was a soothing tone. “There, there now, I only wanna talk to you. After that,you decide whether you want me on your back. If you don’t want to,I’ll leave you alone for good. Okay?”
She calmed down. “Fine, but we talk alone.”
General was quick to voice out his protest, but Lieutenant ordered him back. All the soldiers left. It was just him and the wyvern now.
“Tell me your name.”
“You probably heard it from those soldiers when they said I killed a human.”
“I want you to say it.”
A tense moment later, “Layla.”
“I don’t know, I forgot it. Father never bothered to give me one after I woke up anyway.”
“Wait, you’re the star-kid?”
His blue body-markings glowed in response. “Yes. Now about my name….”
“So by what should I call you then?”
“You tell me.”
The wyvern went into deep thought. The boy had wanted a name anyway and allowing her to give him one was him showing a sign of trust in her.
“Would Raymond work?”
“Nah, too dorky. Come up with something better.”
The wyvern laughed. The boy edged closer to her.
“How about Charlie?”
“Please, too many humans have that name. Give me something original.”
The wyvern went into deep thought again. Either she didn’t notice the boy getting closer to her, or she had calmed down enough for him to approach her.
“I know! Maverick. That was my father’s name.”
“Perfect! So now, my name is Maverick. Feels good to finally have a name.”
The wyvern laughed again, before noticing his closeness to her. Her face darkened.
“Please, I’m a murderer. Find another wyvern, okay?I don’t want to hurt anybody else.”
“It wasn’t your fault. And I want to ride you and you only.So, if I die, it will be solely my fault, okay? Now calm down. I want to be your friend.”
The wyvern calmed down, her face turning a shade of soft pink. “You really want to do this? It is a contest of endurance. You have to stay on my back, until I stop thrashing about, if you want to become a dragoon. Can you do it?”
The answer was obvious. “Yes.”
“Why do you even want to be a dragoon?”
“I’ll tell you after I beat you.”
The wyvern smiled, a challenging gleam in her eye. “Alright then buddy, you made your choice. Are you ready?”
Maverick had given it some thought in the past, when he was in the shower. Obviously, simply sitting on her back wouldn’t work. He was not strong enough, and would be instantly thrown off. He remembered about the time he rode a cart downhill, back when he was in the city. When he pressed his legs in a certain way, the cart tilted. With enough practice, he had developed a steering method. He had wondered if the same would work on a wyvern.
“Only one way to find out!”
When he had jumped on her, with his feet on her spine, her first thought was He’s trying to kill himself.
When a firm leg lock didn’t hold the other guy, how would Maverick stay on board and not get killed, by not locking his legs around her waist?
Instinctively, she bucked. Maverick screamed and held on to her shoulders. His grip was weak. This wasn’t going to last too long.
Well,maybe you won’t die.Then I’ll ride you everyday!
Suddenly, one of his legs applied pressure to the small of her back, just above the point from where her tail grew. Instinctively,she spread her wings, and took off.
How did he do that? I never intended to fly!
A gentle pressure to her left and she tilted,flying counter-clockwise. This made no sense. She didn’t intend to turn-she had wanted to land!
Wait-is he steering my flight somehow?
Just then, another gentle pressure-this time to her right. She took a right turn and a another pressure to her tail base meant she climbed higher into the sky.
When she finally leveled out in the air, the kid did the most insane thing ever.
He stood on her back.
A gentle pressure to her neck sent her into a nosedive. Just as it seemed that they were going to plow into the ground, a pressure at her spine base made her alter her course back up into the air.
He shouted and screamed only now, out of pure joy.
“THIS IS EVEN BETTER THAN RIDING THAT CART! BEST JOYRIDE EVER!”
She didn’t have much time to think about it, as his feet sent her into a series of stunt tricks. He made her fly in loops,in zig-zag patterns, even upside-down! He nearly fell off, too.
But alas, every joyride must come to an end.
A powerful gust of wind knocked both of them off-balance. He couldn’t steer her flight properly. Her mind fell into blind panic.
We’re going to crash!
And crash they did.
Just before hitting the ground,he had righted himself, and a powerful pressure on her spine made her bank up so violently, she feared that her wings would tear. As their falling speed had been too high, she had plowed into the ground, but at an angle, making a deep trench in the proving ground’s earth floor. After they stopped, she realized how utterly terrified and elated she had been. She was completely spent. She had flown more than she had ever flown in one day and crashed into the floor, with a deep trench to prove it.
That’s when she realized that he wasn’t on her back.
Where is he? Did he fall off? Did he die?
A mad giggle to her left showed the guy in tattered clothes to her left. He had crashed along with her and the impact had thrown him off. He had made his own trench and had torn up his clothes in the process. His odd markings glowing blue under the holes in his shredded shirt were in full view, with scrapes and bruises that would hurt like hell in the morning.
Laughing, he walked up to her exhausted body and said said five words that immediately captured her heart and made him the target of her lust; that permanently marked him as a dragoon.
“Awesome!Let’s do it again!”