This was a bad idea…a very bad idea. Why did he let them talk him into it? It was suicide.
Cold coils of winter chill ran down Richard’s back spines as he remained in place. His talons in a tight vice-like grip on the rocks below him as he gazed down. A single stone lost its grip on the rock-face tumbling down towards the ground below, chipping away at other rocks as it fell. As the stone broke through the orange foliage a few shapes burst through the leaves, their wings spread as they took to the sky.
Watching the dark silhouettes fly off into the distance Richard heaved a long sigh. His wings shook when he peered down again. From where he stood it was a good few feet from the ground. The fall would either be lethal or break a good few bones. Neither of those sounded good.
He had no idea why he was going to put himself through this. ‘Why do I get myself into these kinds of situations?’ Richard thought to himself, turning his head to peer over his shoulder at the two people who stood behind him.
Mikel gave him a thumbs-up as he grinned from ear to ear, his gaze hopeful.
Standing next to Mikel was Vanessa. She gave Richard a small grin with the faint nod of her head as she waited for him to take the leap of faith.
Looking away, Richard grimaced as he stared out over the kingdom. The glassy reflection of the ocean in the distance a calm still slate of color, like the sky above.
Vigorously shaking his head Richard backed away from the edge. “Ah, maybe we can do a few practice rounds? You know a small bolder or something for me to get the hang of well my two extra limps.” Richard glanced over his shoulder a sheepish grin coming onto his face as he ruffled his wings.
“Why?” Mikel asked walking up to him. He peered over the edge then back to Richard. “It’s not that high. You’ll be fine.”
Snorting, Richard growled, “Speak for yourself, you're not the one having to jump off the edge and just hope you can fly. It doesn’t work that way you know.”
“Pfft, sure it does, how do you think birds learn to fly once jumping out the nest?” Mikel argued, leaning against Richard’s back leg his arms crossed.
Glaring down at Mikel Richard moved away from the boy. Off-balance Mikel fell to the ground now his support had been removed from behind him. Bending his neck down Richard looked him in the eye. “Birds at least know how to use their wings before they leave the nest, all they have to do once they jump is remain airborne.”
Picking himself up from the ground Mikel scowled back at Richard. “Oh, for King Author's sake just jump!” Mikel put his entire body's weight into Richard’s back leg as he tried to push him towards the edge.
Lifting his leg Richard watched Mikel topple over into the dirt for the second time that day. “Forget it. I’m not doing anything of the sort.”
Walking over to Mikel Vanessa offered her hand to help him up. Gladding excepting her hand Mikel dusted himself off once back onto his feet. Sighing Vanessa crossed her arms. “I guess you could have a few test runs.” She faced Richard with an arched eyebrow. “But it’s not going to get you very far. You will at some point have to jump and learn the hard way, jumping from a small ledge or bolder isn’t going to do the trick.”
“That’s what I was trying to say!” Mikel jumped in, a scowl plastered onto his face.
Slowly turning her head in her brother’s direction Vanessa frowned at him. “Sure you were.” She drawled rolling her eyes. Turning back to Richard Vanessa pulled her coat's black hood over her head, her black curls trapped within its cloth. Circling her arms around her small frame Vanessa shivered as she rubbed her hands up and down her arms.
“I don’t see why you don’t have a few flaps here?” Mikel suggested his teeth chattering. “I mean it won’t make a difference if you find a small ledge or not.”
“Try lifting yourself into the air without a jumping start; it should help you get used to your wings faster,” Vanessa suggested pulling Mikle back by the arm to give Richard a little room.
Hesitant, Richard moved away from the ledge not wanting to fall to his death just yet. Having to focus his thoughts on the two extra limps attached to his back Richard extended them as far as they could go. His face screwed up in concentration Richard tried his best to beat them up and down in sync, he didn’t expect it to be so hard, it wasn’t anything like walking. If he lost focus the one wing would lose its rhythm with the other almost sending him spinning in a circle.
After a few attempts, Richard could feel it become a little easier to use his wings, but he still had trouble beating them at the same time. They were a lot larger than he would have expected, and it was hard to beat them, his webbing doing well to drag the air along with them. Stopping his rhythm he allowed the heavy extra appendages sink to his sides, just brushing the sand.
“That was a lot harder than I expected,” Richard growled, curling his tail around his talons as he sat down. Turning his head to look behind him he sighed as his eyes landed on the trees dotting the land. “I guess now there is only one other way to do it.”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine, we aren’t that high up.” Vanessa patted his shoulder gently.
Rubbing his hands together Mikel grinned, “Imagine all the cool things you will be able to do once you get the hang of it?” As he said that Mikel looked in the direction of the palace.
After sending Mikel a disapproving glare Vanessa turned her attention back to Richard who was now in position, his head dipped down to look at the steep slope down. “Try to clear your mind,” Vanessa advised. “Try and connect with your wings, and don’t overthink it.” She swatted his wing lightly.
A deep chuckle rolled out of Richard’s mouth as he turned his head to look back at her. “Easier said than done.” Grinning at her amused look Richard turned his attention back to the landscape below.
‘I can do this, there’s nothing much to it.’ Richard thought to himself digging his talons deeper into the ground. ‘All I have to do is jump off the edge…aaannnddd…fall to my death. Yup easy, nothing to worry about.’
Spreading his wings out to their full-length Richard heaved a long sigh; he couldn’t believe he was doing this. Sucking in a deep breath he allowed himself to feel the world around him, his wing webbings slight flutter to the wind's soft and enchanting dance. The smell of flowers closing for the night rushing through his senses.
Loosening his grip on the rocks below Richard looked down one last time before flapping his wings hoisting himself into the air. He winced when he felt the tip on his tail thwack against the rocks as he dove downward.
Free-falling through the air Richard enjoyed the new sensation, the cold rush of winter air flowing over his body as he allowed himself to gain speed. With his wings tucked in at his sides and tail behind him. Richard felt like an arrow that had just been released from the bowstring, it really was something else.
As the ground rushed up to meet him Richard’s eyes widened as he hurriedly flailed his wings around him trying to slow down the fall. Not able to sink his wing beats up with one another fast enough to stop the fall, Richard extended his talons plunging them into the rock's hard exteriors without a second thought. Gritting his teeth Richard dug his claws into the stone further as his speed began to slow.
Finally coming to a complete stop his talons still embedded in the stones Richard heaved out long deep breaths. “This was not a good idea.” He growled to himself as he removed one of his front talons pulling out clumps of gravel with them.
“Richard are you okay?” Came Vanessa’s worried voice from above.
Heaving one last sigh Richard began to climb up the cliff face towards the others his talons digging deep into the stones. Once he reached the top he flopped to the ground smoke coiling from his nostrils. “Don’t even ask.” He hissed when his eyes landed on Mikel who had a confused expression plastered on his face.
“You going to try again?” Vanessa asked wiping some dust off of his horns.
Jerking his head upwards to look at her, Richard glared. “No, I don’t think so. It’s a bad idea, I can’t do it.” He grumbled folding his tail around his back talons as he inverted his gaze. “What’s the point?”
“Richard Ashbrook, you are not giving up, there is a reason you are connected to that Gem and if you stop trying now…how are you going to avenge your parent’s deaths and save the Kingdom?” Vanessa scolded crossing her arms. “That has been your goal from the beginning, there are no shortcuts to gaining power, this included.” She pointed towards him then to the cliff. “That’s the point.”
Mumbling under his breath Richard got to his feet. “Fine, your right.” Frustrated he allowed a small flicker of flames to leave his mouth, but it was quickly put out by the cold.
Placing her hands on her hips Vanessa gave Richard a pleased look. “Good, now try again.” She ordered.
Shaking his head to remove the dizzy spell that came over him Richard swept his tail against the ground sweeping up clouds of dust. Heart beating against his ribs Richard ran for the end of the ledge, once his front talons met with the very edge he leaped into the air his wings fanning out around him.