Fane led his Kihlari Flier, Amala, into a canter. They galloped into the Kihlari Barn and a burst of chatter erupted. The Kihlari nickered their greetings and bobbed their heads.
Amala beamed. “Lovely day, isn't it?” She high stepped over to her stall and flicked her braided tail. Even in the greyish light, Amala’s feathers still shone like diamonds.
Desi, Amala’s best friend, snorted. “We’ve all seen that ‘lovely day’ of yours already.” He arched his royal blue wings and smirked.
Amala whinnied, “Yeah whatever. It’s my birthday, okay? I deserve to be happy!” She grinned and glanced back at Fane, who patted her sweaty neck.
Not understanding what he was saying, Amala turned back to Desi, who was giving her his charming grin again. Amala rolled her eyes.
“Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me!” He snorted playfully.
Amala shook her head with a snicker and exhaled. Fane slid off her back and tugged on her reins.
“So, birthday girl, did ya see anything on patrol?” A mare nickered and flared her wings at Amala. One of the mare’s white feathers landed on Amala’s nose.
Amala froze. Her wings sagged and she stared at the feather, memories swarming before her eyes. Then, she shook her head and exhaled as the feather fluttered off her nose and next to her hooves.
“Oh, um, nothing much. Just a drooler and a baboon. And a young burner, who seemed to be lost, but it flew away.” Amala blinked and looked down at Fane, who tugged her reins again.
The Kihlari snorted.
Amala followed Fane, stomping on the feather in the process, and Fane put her in her stall.
“You did good today, girl. Gettin’ better. Soon you’ll be as fast as the older Fliers.”
Amala pricked his ears at her Rider, who was smiling at her. He kissed her nose before stalking off with a bucket, probably towards the river.
Amala watched, and let out a whinny. He had forgotten to take off her tack, like usual. But probably because they were going to go on a flight again soon. He usually did that when he was in his lazy mood.
“Ha! Lazy Fane!” The white-feathered mare snorted, whose name was Paloma.
“Hey, shut it!” Amala snapped. She turned her head to Paloma and pinned her ears. “I bet Casey’s worse,” she hissed.
Paloma raised an eyebrow an amusement. “What do you know about my Rider? Pft!” Paloma barred her teeth. She was good at creating arguments, and no one really liked her because of her bratty personality.
Desi held up his wings. “Hey, stop! Ugh, why are females like this?” He muttered.
Amala inhaled sharply. “Desi!”
“Sorry, sorry!” Desi glanced at Amala and tilted his head, before looking over at Paloma.
Amala exhaled. She knew Desi was just trying to help. But like usual, he didn’t do much.
Paloma flicked her silky tail. “Oh, wow.” She curled her lip and raised her head, arching her neck slightly.
“Oh, could you shut up for once?” Amala kicked her stall, just as Casey walked in.
“Ay, Amala! Shush! Stop!” He spat, as other Riders walked into the Kihlari Barn. They were getting ready for the next patrol.
“Ha, that mare. Phew, Amala. Fane shouldn’t have bought her. You know, there are rumors Amala’s dam escaped the 5th Clan Ruk. Some think Amala is like that, wicked and selfish. Oh, I bet pretty soon Amala will abandon the 4th,” a Rider laughed.
Casey nodded. “Yep. Well, we’ll see what happens at the Clan Gathering. Seeing the 5th again might stir up some memories,” Casey snorted and waved his finger at Amala, who was watching them with straining ears.
Desi’s ears drooped and he huffed. By the Sandwen’s smirks, he could tell they were saying something mean, probably about Amala.
Amala snorted. “Ah, Casey. Waving that strange finger of yours?” Amala snapped. Everyone knew Amala liked to snap at the Sandwen’s, even if they didn’t understand her nickers and whinnies.
Paloma clacked her teeth. “Amala, dear? You know that’s my Rider, right? I suggest you keep your mouth shut.” Paloma said this in her sweet voice, but everyone could hear that thick layer of mirth.
“I’m suggesting the same for you,” Amala shot back.
Willow- Ruk mare. Reverse dapple bay mare with rich yellow feathers, black and brown mane and tail, 4 white socks.
Fane Dragonfog- Rider in the Sky Guard. Dark auburn hair, hazel eyes, tan skin. Kihlari Flier: Amala.
Casey Moon- Rider in the Sky Guard, Headwind of Day Patrol. Black hair, brown eyes, fair skin. Flier: Paloma.
Amala- Flier in the Sky Guard. Light brown mare with light dusty blue feathers, chocolate brown mane and tail, 2 small socks and a white stripe down her face, midnight blue eyes.
Desi- Flier in the Sky Guard. Tall chestnut stallion with royal blue feathers, long black mane and tail, star on forehead.
Paloma- Flier in the Sky Guard. Light bay paint mare with white feathers and cream-colored specks on the tips, black and white mane and tail, piercing blue eyes.