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Shadow's Rising {Wing 1} Chapter 12

by dragonight9


Chapter 12

It was getting late when Black Squad returned to their dorm that evening. Gunther was waiting for them with a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other. He had everyone line up and called Jarid forward.

“As flight leader it is one of your duties to assign chores to everyone. On this clip board is a list of everything that needs to be done and how often to do it.”

He handed the clipboard to Jarid.

“If you have any problems let me know. Doing chores starts tomorrow. As for cleaning saddles, the on-duty riders will show you how it’s done on the first day of classes. In case you didn’t know, this academy also serves as the headquarters of the dragon riders so there are lots of on duty riders coming and going.

“You are to stay out of their way and treat them with respect. We were chosen to clean saddles first next week so make sure you pay attention to their instructions. I expect those saddles to be cleaned. Properly.” He added with meaningful glance at each of them.

Then he stood up strait. “You are dismissed.” Gunther saluted and went back to his office.

Jarid looked down at the list of chores.

Chores

  • Clean dorm floors: every second day
  • Laundry: at the end of each week or as needed
  • Tidy training grounds: once per day for each flight
  • Clean toilets: every second day
  • Clean showers: twice per week
  • Tidy training hall: once per day
  • Cleaning the saddles of on-duty riders: Once per week per squad
  • Cleaning the kitchen and cooking prep: once per month for each flight
  • Cleaning the dragon dome: once per week
  • Refreshing the dragon stalls: once per day for each flight

It looked like cleaning saddles would be shared between the squads, but most of them he would have to assign to the different members each day. He turned to everyone.

“First of all, are there any chores you would prefer?”

Ethen raised his hand. “I wouldn’t mind doing the laundry.”

“Could you please give me cleaning the dorm floors and training hall.” Felicia called.

“I would like to tidy the training hall and training grounds.” Airel requested.

“Could I do the chores in the kitchen?” Ben asked.

“I call cleaning the dragon dome!” Steven chimed in.

Jarid nodded. He had guessed that the dirty jobs would be left for last but refreshing the dragon stalls seemed great to him. He could talk to the dragons without anyone noticing, and if someone heard him, they would probably think he was just growling back at them.

“Alright, it looks like you each get the chore you want since the distribution seems fair. If you want to switch at any time just let me know. We’ll rotate the cleaning in the washroom and shower chores but remember I can always give you double duty if you need a little extra practice or encouragement. I’ll refresh the dragon stalls myself.”

Felica frowned. “Wait a moment. Refreshing the dragon stalls is the worst chore. Didn’t you know that?”

Jarid shrugged. “No, but that doesn’t change my decision. I’ll see what it’s like and if I can’t handle it, I am sure Steven would love to fulfill his promise to cover for me.”

Everyone laughed as Steven threw his hands up in mock horror.

“I’ll show you how to do it tomorrow,” Ben offered.

“Thanks. I really appreciate it,” Jarid replied gratefully.

Ethen walked over and opened the door to the training hall.

“If that’s all for the chores, I think we should memorize a bit of the map before it gets too late.”

Airel raised an eyebrow. “Easy for you to say. You’ve probably got the whole thing memorized already.”

Everyone laughed as they walked to the map room and settled down in the warm light of the lamps to study maps.

Ben patted Jarid on the shoulder and leaned close to whisper in his ear.

“Not bad flight leader. Nice job with the chores. Keep it up.”

Jarid felt all warm inside, and proud too. He was still nervous about being flight leader but as long as he just kept doing his best there was no doubt he would make it through. He hadn’t even realised how easily the other squad members had accepted his role and decisions.

They were unlike any nobles he had ever met before, and he was increasingly grateful for it. They didn’t look down on him because he was a commoner. He was just another student to them, and maybe even…

A friend.

Black Squad stood outside the dragon dome a little under an hour after breakfast. Jarid knew it was wise to be a little early. Especially when someone was doing you a favor. He began looking around for Rilliam, or more accurately, Windshear. Then suddenly dragon and rider landed right beside them, seemingly appearing out of thin air.

“Woah! Where did he come from?” Steven cried. Rilliam hopped down.

“We practice gliding silently for many reasons. One of which is the element of surprise,” He commented with a greeting smile through the visor of his helmet. “Now who wants to go first?”

As everyone’s hand shot in the air, Jarid hesitated. I’d better go last and act like everyone else or they might wonder why I’m so good at riding.

Rilliam rubbed his chin for a moment. “You.” He decided, pointing at Airel.

She smiled confidently and walked forward. Rilliam swung up into the saddle and reached down to help Airel up. The saddle was long and fit around the wings so that the rider’s legs hooked under the wings.

Straps under the dragon’s body and neck held it in place. There were two handles near the top of the saddle for the rider to grip, but no reigns. Windshear wore no armor save for a face plate with a strange green gem set into the forehead.

Rilliam placed Airel in front of him and leaned over her with his arms underneath hers to grip the handles. Keeping her safely trapped between himself and the dragon. Then, without any visible signal, they shot into the sky. They flew gently around behind the mountain and disappeared from view.

After what seemed like forever, they returned. Windshear landed and Airel’s legs seemed shaky as she dismounted. She barely made it a few steps before collapsing to the ground looking as pale as a ghost.

“What’s wrong? Can’t handle a leisurely flight?” Steven joked.

“Well look who just volunteered. Let’s see how you do if you’re so confident.”

Rilliam smiled as he offered Steven a hand up. Steven looked a lot less courageous as he climbed into the saddle. Then they were off. As soon as they were out of sight Airel stood shakily to her feet.

“Are you ok?” Felicia asked gently. Airel nodded.

“It looked so easy.” Ethen remarked.

Airel smiled to herself. “It’s a little harder than it looks.”

As Windshear landed the second time Steven practically threw himself out of the saddle and began violently puking his guts out on the ground.

“Who’s next?” Rilliam asked with the same smug smile.

As the rest of the squad each took their turns, they all had similar results ranging from pale faces to throwing up. Then it was Jarid’s turn.

As he climbed into the saddle, he stroked Windshear’s smooth scales and wrapped his arms as far as they would go around the dragon’s neck. The leather saddle was much better than cold hard scales and he felt a lot more secure having Rilliam holding him in the saddle. Then, suddenly, they launched into the air. The ground falling away beneath them.

They leveled out and began to glide around the mountain. Soon they were out of sight from the rest of the academy.

Suddenly Windshear pulled her wings in, and they dropped like a stone. Jarid’s stomach did a few flip flops, but they weren’t done yet. Windshear thrust out her wings and the wind filled them with a whoomph as they began a series of back flips and aerial rolls.

If I hadn’t done this kind of stuff before I would totally be sick right now. Jarid thought, but the rush and speed soon blew all those thoughts out of his mind.

He whooped with delight and leaned in as Windshear increased her speed. Indeed, it seemed like the wind itself was pushing her faster. He had never gone this fast before. Not even with Shadow.

Suddenly they did a one eighty turn so fast even he felt the blood drain from his face. Then they slowed down into a gentle flight back to the academy.

“You did well!” Rilliam shouted in his ear above the noise of the wind. “You’ll be a fine dragon-rider someday.”

All Jarid could do was smile weakly back at him. They landed and Jarid slid off Windshear’s back. His legs were a little shaky, but he was able to stay on his feet. After taking a moment to recover he turned and saluted Rilliam who sat astride his dragon.

“Thank you, sir. We are very grateful for this experience.”

Rilliam nodded, and as Windshear leapt into the sky once more, he called over his shoulder.

“If you ever have some free time and want to go up again, let me know.”

Just before supper Ben took Jarid into the tunnels reserved for untrained or riderless dragons. As the came to the entrance Jarid winced at the foul smell coming from the tunnel. Ben smiled.

“Don’t worry it only gets worse the farther in you go.” He chuckled as he made his way farther inside.

Even with this many dragons cooped up in here I didn’t think it would be this bad. Jarid thought.

They passed stall after stall; each had a dragon in it with mounds of dragon poop sitting in a corner of the stall.

“How long has it been since these were last cleaned?” Jarid asked.

“Don’t know. But most students and other cleaners don’t do a full job or skip it altogether since the job is so dirty.

“Besides, once a dragon is chosen by a rider, they are moved to the dragon’s den where they are personally cared for by their new rider.”

At the end of the tunnel was a cave. Along the sides of the cave were bigger and sturdier cages, and at the far end was a set of doors like the ones into the dragon dome. But covered in some kind of fire-resistant fabric.

Ben moved to a small shed in one corner of the room. He opened it and entered. A few moments later he returned pushing a wheelbarrow with a bunch of tools inside.

“These are all the tools you’ll need to ‘refresh’ the dragon stalls. Meaning you’ll scoop all their waste and the old hay into the wheelbarrow and dump it into the waste bin at the entrance of the cave. The farmers in the area use it as fertiliser.

Then you get fresh hay from the storage tunnel and spread it out on the ground. Finally, you refill their water and food troughs. I’ll show you how to do it so that the dragons can’t get at you while you’re cleaning.”

The dragons had a chain attached to the wall that could be used to hold them there while the cleaners did their work. Once Ben had shown him what to do, he turned to leave but remembered at the last minute.

“You don’t have to refresh the stalls of the dragons in the cave at the end of the tunnel. They’re the new or wild ones, and the dragon tamers don’t like students going near them since they have a higher chance of attacking you.”

Jarid nodded.

“Thanks, I’ll remember that.” And completely ignore it. They’re going to be the most interesting to talk to after all.

Most of the dragons had ignored them when they entered but when Jarid walked by with the cleaning supplies, all of them walked over and slumped against the wall their chain was attached to.

I guess they’re used to how this works. Sadly, I don’t have time to do a thorough cleaning before supper, but I’ll be back tomorrow. For now, I’ll make sure you’re all fed.

Then he loaded some fresh food into the wheelbarrow and began filling the feeding troughs.

The dragons looked so hopeless and full of despair it took all his willpower not to rush in and comfort them. After he had given all the dragons in the tunnel their food and water, he began filling the food troughs of the dragons in the cave in a circle.

He recognised the blue dragon he saw being carted in the previous days as he filled her trough, but she was sleeping so he let her be. As he neared the end of the circle the sudden roar of a dragon made him jump. The sound echoed around the cavern and made his hair stand on end.

The dragon in the next cell, a young Flame Wing, was staring at him menacingly and growling deep in his throat. He was the color of red-hot coal and looked like he had taken quite a beating. He probably hated all humans after what they did to him.

Most people would have been scared or retaliated against the dragon for trying to intimidate them, but all Jarid felt for him was pity and sympathy. Unfortunately, he doubted the dragon would listen to him and would likely attack him if given the chance.

Jarid quickly glanced to make sure the dragon had enough water and food to make it to the next day. Reassured, he gave the cell a wide birth and finished making sure all the dragon’s food troughs were full. Then he put away the tools and went to join the rest of Black Squad at supper.

As he left the young Flame Wing roared after him in dragon.

“Yeah! Run like the weakling you are, and don’t ever come back!”

But Jarid would come back. It was obvious who the most unruly dragon at the academy was. Nobody would want him. It was almost perfect.

Jarid had always felt despised by most people and the idea of being a friend to someone who was also cast aside filled him with joy and determination. He walked out of the tunnel with a wide grin.

Congratulations, fiery dragon. I have chosen you as my partner and that means I’m gonna be your friend no matter how much you hate me. I’m going to help you when no one else will. Then, eventually, you’ll trust me enough for both of us to get what we want.

It was obvious that he would want to escape, and if a temporary partnership allowed him to do so, he would probably accept any deal Jarid made with him. But more than that, Jarid knew he was deeply hurt inside. He also knew from his own experience, that having a friend he could trust would help a lot. So, he’d befriend this dragon, no matter what it took.

First of all, he couldn’t just call him fire dragon. That was just dumb. So, until he found out his real name, he’d call the dragon Firebrand after his temper.

The rest of Black Squad paused to greet Jarid as he sat down at the table before resuming their conversation. Jarid was content to eat in peace as the rest talked.

Steven was complaining to nobody in particular about having to do chores while Ethen and Ben were talking about some math problem they were solving.

Airel was grumbling about cloths to Felicia.

“I mean come on. Why must I wear a gown to the ball when everyone else gets to wear their formal uniforms? Gowns are so hard to move in and I feel like I can hardly breathe. I don’t know how other women stand it.” Airel complained.

“Well, I think you would look beautiful in a dress and besides, haven’t you always worn a gown to formal parties? How is this any different?”

“I did my best to avoid formal parties whenever possible at home, and I’d usually leave early if I could. But I actually want to go to this one for once. It’s a celebration for completing a year at the academy and for second years it’s our graduation ceremony. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

Then suddenly one of the boys at the next table laughed.

“Watch out for this lady at the ball boys. Try to sneak her a kiss and it won’t be the drink that knocks you out.”

Airel’s face turned red with rage and embarrassment. The boy and his friends laughed as they finished their meal and left the dining hall.

Ben put a hand on Airel’s shoulder. “Are you ok?”

She nodded.

Jarid glared at the boys, anger smoldering deep within him. Then he looked around to find everyone else, even Felicia, watching the boys leave with scowls. Steven turned to Airel.

“They had no right to bring that up. You were right to do what you did.”

Ethen saw Jarid’s look of confusion and explained.

“Oh, right. I suppose you wouldn’t know. During the end of year ball last year, the son of a highly respected and influential noble got drunk and decided to make a move on her. She flat out rejected him so her tried to force himself on her.” Ethan sighed and shook his head. “He was out cold before he hit the ground.”

Steven and Ben chuckled at this.

“But since he was from such a prestigious family, Airel was blamed for the incident. Her family lost respect and I’m sure she was punished for it.”

At that Airel laughed. “Actually, my parents were outraged when they heard what happened and my father was quite proud that I knocked him out with a single blow. Of course, they couldn’t let it show and I was warned about using my fists to solve my problems in the future. If someone tries again, I’ll have to find some other way out of it.”

“Don’t worry, if someone goes after anyone from this squad, we’ll make sure they regret it,” Ben declared, and the others nodded in agreement. Airel smiled at them before throwing her arms around all of them in a group hug.

“Thanks guys, I’m so glad to be in this squad. You’re the best.”

Jarid’s smile matched those of the other squad members as they all laughed together. Now he could truthfully say he felt the same way without reservation.

Black Squad was the best.

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Wed Mar 27, 2024 4:29 pm
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RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello Again, My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

I was actually a bit sad when this chapter ended! It was exciting, but also bittersweet to see the dragons in this chapter, and Jarid's sympathy for them came across very well. So did his growing bond with the members of Black Squad. Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

No complaints about content at all, this chapter was great! The experiences you were describing all came out great, with the ride on Windshear, Jarid stepping up as the group leader, and how the dragons are living in stark contrast to these noble students. I do have two little recommendations, free to take or leave:

“Could you please give me cleaning the dorm floors and training hall.” Felicia called.


I think you're just missing a question mark here. The second is very nitpicky and can be skipped:

Then you get fresh hay from the storage tunnel and spread it out on the ground.


Maybe instead of hay, you would want straw here. It's what's more commonly used for animal bedding, since it's grain husk so it lasts longer and animals are less likely to eat it. That said, these are dragons so I also doubt they're going to try eating hay lol. In my head this point makes me sound like a know-it-all, sorry if so, I only know this because of chickens and a pig XD

And of course, I am not a professional, so please always take my advice with a grain of salt. I mean nothing negative, and the chapter is great as it is ~

Why The Grin Widened...

Oh man, for highlights and favorite moments, I would probably post the whole chapter here. Especially the dragon parts, haha.

I enjoyed seeing the cooperation between Black Squad over the chores list, how everyone volunteered and there was no quarreling between them. It may sound minor, but I felt like it was a good way of showing that they'll be able to get along well, and overall make a good team. Because I mean, who hasn't argued over chores and cleaning duties, right? lol

The arrival of Windshear was fun, though right away, I noticed something suspicious and it immediately drew my interest:

Windshear wore no armor save for a face plate with a strange green gem set into the forehead.


Wing 2 spoiler warning

Spoiler! :
GREEN GEM, you say?! Why does this sound familiar...Maybe not the same as the one I'm thinking, but still, suspicious...


Anyway, moving on to the riderless dragon area, it was immediately easy to empathize and feel bad about the conditions the dragons are living in. With chains and cages, moving so lifelessly and without talking, and even this just to pile on:

But most students and other cleaners don’t do a full job or skip it altogether since the job is so dirty.


These people are so callous toward the dragons that they can't even bother giving them a clean environment? That's just brutal. Intentionally or not, Ben also proves this by keeping such a flat and casual tone, like this doesn't bother him in the same way it does Jarid. Very telling. So again, that whole moment was a great way of showing how life is for a dragon at the academy -and how they're viewed- in contrast to the humans. Again, it makes me hope that Jarid can change some minds and make even a little bit of difference for these poor guys.

The fact that Jarid already has his eyes set on one of these dragons is an exciting prospect:

Congratulations, fiery dragon. I have chosen you as my partner and that means I’m gonna be your friend no matter how much you hate me. I’m going to help you when no one else will. Then, eventually, you’ll trust me enough for both of us to get what we want.


The fact that he chose the "least desirable" dragon, and wants to help this hurting creature, is so sweet. Although at the same time, the fact that he chose the most angry dragon makes me think there'll be some conflict and
growing to do. Since the only human-dragon interaction we've seen in-depth so far is Jarid and Shadow, who already have a close bond, I think it's so exciting and interesting to imagine what a human and wild dragon interaction will be like.

The final thing I enjoyed was that revelation about Airel's past year, and how it affected her and her family's reputation. It was really shocking to read, but seeing her squad support her was awesome:

“Don’t worry, if someone goes after anyone from this squad, we’ll make sure they regret it,” Ben declared


Yes! Black Squad is awesome!

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, great chapter -so much great content that further sets the stage for some big moments in Jarid's school year. Nicely done! :)

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dragonight9 says...


I am so excited to share more. The comment about straw was great! I learned something new today which will only make my story more authentic.

Also, I won't speak on the green gem too much but I'm glad you noticed.
Have a great day/night and thanks for reviewing! :)




Perfect kindness acts without thinking of kindness.
— Lao Tse