Preface: The writing prompt here was to write a fanfiction of another author’s work. The world belongs to Breanna Hill, but the characters are mine.
Corvin’s cold fingertips slipped, sending him several feet down, scraping along the coarse cliffside. Instinctively he pushed his weight against the unyielding stone, feeling everything as shards crumbled underfoot. He slid, stopping only when the soles of his bare feet met the tiny ledge he had leapt from. Painful as the moment was, he was relieved for the narrow slab of stone jutting out. Without it, he might have plummeted past the clouds below him, into a ground he hadn’t seen since yesterday. Why couldn’t his legs just finish growing already?
He had travelled for months – which was practically forever – from the northern reaches of the continent. Ever since the archaeologists suggested his best friend, Bird, might be a Drie, and Corvin its rider, he wanted to go, just to find out if he was that special. It was hard to imagine riding the small, silver-tipped crow-like bird, but they told him he should go, and who was he to argue with adults? He had heard of the Drie and their riders, of course, but they were magnificent warriors of legend, and as far as he was from such a title, the fanciful idea appealed to him. So, at their suggestion, he went south, only to find that the Silvern Gate had been shut to him. Corvin was pretty sure he was eleven years old now, so he could handle walking and climbing more than before. He wasn’t about to let the gate make him give up on the last two months, and up was easy. Mostly.
The shirt he had stolen was meant for a grown-up, but it served better to keep him warm than the cloak, which just whipped around in the wind without doing more than block his vision while climbing. He captured the frigid air in his lungs and pounced on the point where the gate and the cliffside meet, his left against the gate blocking his path, and his right against the wall of stone that helped him past it, using them both to continue upward.
Corvin liked the wind, though. Yes, it was cold, but it sang to him, keeping him company when Bird got bored and flew off. The cloak provided the rhythm as the cloth snapped in the updraft, and the howling all around him was kind of like how he imagined a lullaby to be. Having grown up alone among the ruins of the destroyed cities, he was raised mostly by archaeologists, which practically meant by himself. He was their parents, really, guiding those who wished to study history through the ruins. Home was as imaginary as a lullaby, but he liked to think on those things anyway. It wasn’t until one of the students suggested the journey into the cold. He also suggested Bird might need a better name, but Corvin wasn’t good at that kind of thing.
A caw sounded from somewhere behind Corvin as he climbed. Bird. He was mocking Corvin, making fun of him for having to climb at all. Well, Bird was just going to have to wait. If he really was a Drie, and Corvin destined to be his rider, then and only then would they be able to fly together. If Corvin ever got over this wall. The academy at the far city of Aullotto was waiting for them, if he could just get to it.
Bird landed on an outcropping over him, joining the lullaby with another caw of his own. “I’m getting there!” he told Bird through gritted teeth, pulling himself up and hoping his short legs would land where he could put his weight down again. Bird simply replied with another caw, flapping his wings in the updraft without taking off. Corvin tugged at the argumentative rock, finally managing to pull himself up onto the landing Bird had chosen. The moment he did, Bird – of course – flew off. Corvin scrambled to his feet to find where his only real friend had made off to this time.
It was breathtaking. Before Corvin really realized what he was doing, he stepped forward, as close as he could get to the edge. Clouds blanketed the ground, with dry sky above. Together they stretched out of sight. From here, Corvin could imagine it stretched all the way north, to the ruins.
Suddenly, an overwhelming urge compelled Corvin to jump. It wasn’t the ground that called to him – he didn’t want to kill himself – but the space in between. That void beckoned him to join it in an ultimate and unexplainable freedom. Not that he felt trapped now, but this summons convinced him that not even gravity would try to stop him. He could be free of the rocks he had spent two days clinging to for dear life. Corvin edged even closer, until only his heels held him back. He wanted to join the sky.
Bird swept into his line of sight then, surprisingly close, cawing once more as he swooped right past Corvin’s eyes. Shock and adrenaline kicked in simultaneously, and he stumbled back, to the safety of the cliffside once more. His friend was protecting him, he realized, forcing him back to where Bird knew would be safe for him. In that moment, he knew – he was destined to be a rider, and Bird his Drie. Nothing else was certain to him but that call. He would never forget that call. Someday, he would fly.