Vaughny had been surprised that their parents had allowed the band of Icelandic Kids to go camping on the mainland. She half expected a couple of them to pop up 'coincidentally' in the course of the three days they would be gone. 
"They were placated by the fact that me, Yzel and Dreaem are here." her dragon Tessoro said pointedly. 
"Don't forget the pack of winged wolves and the small army of pets." Vaughny continued. Hinting at the five full-grown wolves that would guard their camp at night. 
"I think Yzel was probably the deciding factor. He's so big now not many would be able to best him. Regular Lantessaman dragons are dwarfed by him."
"I've noticed." Vaughny said, "But he seems a bit sensitive about that."
"He doesn't like to stand out."
"I'm worried I might not fit here someday." Yzel interrupted their conversation.
The large Glenn dragon was quiet by nature but he did have worries and that singular thought was probably the biggest of them. He knew his bond would never leave him, but that would mean he might be the reason Koy would have to leave his home and family behind.
"The Laedrysses will find a way." Dreaem butted in, "They always do."
The silver Rys-Hathian flurry had been a bit on edge lately. It was early autumn but the snowy dragon could feel winter pulling at his soul. He hadn't intended it but Yishia, the optimistic half-sibling to Koy and Vaughny had picked up on his thoughts and said:
"Winter pulls at us all" and she looked longingly to the north.
Though she didn't think she'd ever be able to live in the coldest places of the planet as she liked to garden, she did feel her ties to IceLand. Here on the main continent Meritan the pull was stronger. 
Yishia shook her head to dislodge that thought and returned to her usual bubbly personality. This trip was an adventure even if it was far from dangerous. She wanted to have fun with her friends, stay up late and tell stories around the campfire. And she wouldn't let even her own thoughts spoil the fun.
"Can I do anything else?" she asked Vaughny.
"No thank you." her older sister replied and then went about preparing diner.
Yishia returned to the excitement of the others. Renylde had been asking Giye to teach her how to play chess and the slightly older boy had finally given in. He was probably hoping someone else would be able to switch with him when Renylde's infamous tendency to live only for what was currently interesting to her kicked in. Yavis, Renylde's older brother was keeping well away from the danger zone. He'd taken the younger boys Havoy and Keryk with him to go forage for food and set some traps though it was doubtful any animals would get close enough. Humans hardly ever came to the continent after all. But maybe Yavis' winged wolf would be able to hunt down some unsuspecting rabbit. 
That meant Yishia could either go play with Xandrya who was surrounded by the pets, or she could go help Koy who was setting up camp with Rakyu who was studying the manual, Theyan who was looking longingly at Xandrya and Durya and Guryn who though they were younger than her seemed to be actually helping. 
"I can help." Yishia added.
Theyan promptly dropped the tent she was holding into her hands and left to play with Xandrya. Yishia wondered if she should say something but decided against it. After all things would go smoother without Theyan trying to put ribbons on everything or who would demand they'd colour-coordinate the sets. 

Rakyu looked up to find Yishia staring down at his manual, her long hair swaying gently in the wind. His breath hitched for a while but she thought he'd been startled.
"I thought I'd help." she said.
"Thank you." he managed to answer and then immediately looked back down. 
He was a quiet person by nature so nobody actually expected him to say much. Lately Yishia had started to appear in his dreams and that had him up late, watching the stars to calm down. Normally that helped ease worries and confusion but it hadn't been working. So he was very tired and he wasn't expecting to sleep much on this trip. But not going had not been an option. 
Together they set up a tent and went on to the next one. Durya and Guryn had managed to set up theirs as well and Koy was well on his way with his. Rakyu enjoyed the quiet time they worked together and hoped their ultimate goal would be realised. Like the others, Rakyu had grown up hearing stories of IceLand, told by his parents. The picture they'd painted with their words was bleak. Living in IceLand wasn't fun or relaxing like living on lantessama was. But there had been parties. The villagers had all known each other and had helped each other out. Living together in the communal oval centers seemed both a blessing and a curse, especially growing up. 
But just thinking of nights spent on guard duty, the vast starry sky above him and the snow all around. A solitude that was both deep and profound. Rakyu could envision himself being there and living his life. 
"Would you want to live in IceLand?" he asked, not really realising he'd been thinking out loud.
"No." Yishia's reply came, destroying his fantasy.
"I'd miss gardening too much." she added, 'Now living here on Southern Meritan could work for me."
"Really?" Rakyu said, sounding more eager than he'd wanted to sound.
"My other plan is to impress a dragon and stay at Lantessama." Yishia answered truthfully. The plan had played in her head now that both her older brother and sister had impressed.
Rakyu considered. Both his parents were also dragonriders so that was a definite possibility for him too. One way or another he'd never considered it before though. Something clicked now and he thought he might ask his dad when they returned. 

Theyan left Xandrya and went to look for Vaughny. She'd promised earlier to help the slightly older girl cook. Theyan liked all things girly. She couldn't help it. Using force just wasn't something she'd be happy to do. So building tents? A total drag. She'd been happy when Yishia came to help and vowed to give Vaughny's younger sister some extra savoury pieces in her stew as thanks. 
"Are you holding up?" Vaughny asked her.
"Of course I am." Theyan said bravely but her voice wavered slightly.
"I know a camping trip wouldn't be your idea of fun." Vaughny said, "But I'm happy you decided to come along."
"As long as you make sure next time we plan an outing to make sure it's somewhere with heating and plumbing... and void of bugs." Theyan said.
"I promise I will." Vaughny said. 
Theyan focused on cooking and tried not to think about the little critters in the grass at her feet. She also tried not to think of tonight when she would have to sleep on the ground - never mind she'd be separated from the ground by a tarp and a matras, it was still sleeping on the ground! -
A chocolate brown firelizard, detached itself from the group of animals that was circling around Xandrya. He'd felt his bond's stress and came to help. And his idea of help was to get rid of all the bugs around her. Sweet though his intention was, he went to show his bond each time he caught something so she'd know it was now gone.
Vaughny couldn't help a smile when the girl shrieked time and time again. She'd really owe the girl big after this. Not too mention she was already planning more expeditions in the New Year. 

Renylde looked at the fire. She'd listened to Giye and had quietly done as she'd been told. Renylde understood that fire in a forest had to be carefully maintained or it would spell trouble. Her parents had been hunters and she'd been taught exactly the same lessons as her brother. She doubted Giye would have preached as much if Yavis had been the one with him. 
The two young men had gotten closer after they'd both impressed a winged wolf. They'd gone out hunting often and probably knew more about Meritan than they'd let on. But she couldn't antagonise Giye since she really wanted to learn to play chess. She'd heard of the game from one of the finders and she taken an instant like to the strategic board game. And now she just had to learn to play it. 
"I think the fire is blazing safely." she urged lightly.
Giye looked at the fire and sighed. Renylde was right. he'd dragged this out as long as he could. So he set up the table and started to teach her the basics of the game. Luckily Renylde was a quick study and like a sponge she soaked up the knowledge.
"We're back!" Yavis called.
He and the two younger boys Havoy and Keryk appeared on the clearing. They carried a rabbit and two birds they'd been able to catch with the help of Urhmyn, the golden winged wolf. 
Renylde looked up and was too late to stop Giye from getting up and offering his help to clean the carcasses. Her dark look must have registered as Keryk, who was the same age as Renylde sat down opposite her and asked:
"Do you want me to play instead of Giye?"
"You can play?" Renylde asked stupefied.
Keryk didn't look like the type to play boardgames. He was always at the front of the group. Whether it was for work, fun or trouble, Keryk knew about it and was there to do what needed doing. Somehow him sitting down and thinking wasn't something she'd ever pictured him doing.  
"Of course I can." 
Keryk was close friends with Havoy who was Giye's younger brother. Keryk had learned from Havoy's father Biroy when he'd taught his own sons. Keryk liked to be able to do a lot of things. So though he liked to be outside, to hunt and trap, he also wanted to be able to think logically so he wouldn't make mistakes. Chess had been a fun way to learn to plan.
Renylde set up the board and gave him the white side. She would regret giving him an advantage. It stung a bit that she thought so little of him. But she wouldn't underestimate him for long.
"I'll show you how it's done." he said and started the game.

Night had fallen and the Icelanders were sitting around the fire, lazy from overeating and being outdoors. Dragons lay around the camp, a living wall of hide or scales and around them the pack of winged wolves patrolled, occasionally howling to announce their presence to nearby predators. 
The teenagers felt completely safe and didn't even notice that Sveryk, the father of Keryk had indeed snuck by to see if there were any problems. Koy and Vaughny might pick the knowledge from their draconic bonds later but for now they were too busy telling stories and making sure everything went smoothly. 
The stories stayed tame until the youngest children went to bed. Xandrya, Durya and Renylde taking a tent while Guryn, Keryk and Havoy took another. They would be joined by Koy later who'd figured these two might be the ones he had to worry about most. Vaughny would take a tent with Yishia and Theyan. The last tent would be occupied by Yavis, Giye and Rakyu who'd probably stay up late anyway. The dragons would keep an eye on them. Dreaem had promised he'd go after them if one -or all- of them snuck away. 
But Koy shouldn't have worried because the three older boys were on their best behaviour and spent their time telling ghost stories that managed to frighten them into staying awake. 
So it wasn't strange that the morning after those three were still conked out in their tents while the others prepared breakfast and went to haul water from a nearby stream. 
Vaughny was on cooking duty again and she honestly enjoyed scrambling eggs and frying bacon. The smells were wonderful and the gentle breeze wasn't strong enough to chill yet though that wouldn't take much longer. 
Dreaem popped into her mind and told her: "I'm thinking of returning to Ryslen for the winter. There is talk of a flurry being flown."
"Good for you." Vaughny said, genuinely glad for their draconic friend to have found a purpose.
"I was wondering though..." the dragon trailed.
"Would you and Tessoro come with me?" 
"I would very much like to experience the flurry." Tessoro added her opinion.
"It's more than a flight." Vaughny said, "It's a frenzy. Wouldn't that be a bit intense for our first experience?" 
"Most flurry participants stick to one conquest." Dreaem assured her, "Just think of it as having plenty of suitors to choose from."
"I wouldn't be against it." Vaughny said, in fact she'd always been curious about dragon flights. She'd heard stories but from being around Lantessama she'd learned that there really was no pressure. She could spend the time of the flight in her room though to be honest, she wasn't intending to. The prospect was a thrilling one.
"You could maybe take a couple of the others with you for company." Tessoro added, "I bet some of the older ones would appreciate the chance to bond."
"Koy can follow up on matters here." Dreaem added.
"Are we really doing this?" Vaughny asked.
"I want to come!" Yishia screamed. 
Vaughny's little sister had always been quite sensitive to the voices of dragons though Vaughny had never realised just how much she caught. 
"Go where?" Theyan asked.
"The flurry." Yishia nearly screamed, "To bond!"
Instantly Theyan forgot about being outside and hardly having slept a wink the night before: "You have to take me too! You promised you'd take me somewhere fun!" Theyan insisted.
At which time the others got closer and got a quick introduction. After some bickering Rakyu and Renylde were the other two who pulled rank, age and bondless status to get invited. 
"I guess we have to ask your parents first." Koy said.
"They won't object." Renylde promised and was proven right.

Read about the Flurry hatching at their respective pages
Rakyu - Theyan - Yishia - Renylde

Continue to Part 3: Exploring

STATS: [Koy] [Vaughny] [Yavis] [Theyan] [Giye] [Rakyu
[Yishia] [Renylde] [Keryk] [Havoy] [Durya] [Guryn] [Xandrya]

Lantessama Isle.