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Litany

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Altenna’s first memory is of dragon’s wings, the drum-like beat that sounds through the air. It is a sound dear to her heart, almost as thrilling as those first hard flaps to become skyborn and then the wind whistling past her ears. It is an excitement she’s held since childhood.

As a child, she’d often snuck out of her room after bedtime to visit the mews hoping to fulfill her fantasy of sleeping tucked warm beneath a dragon’s wing. Yet every time, her childish nighttime escapades were intercepted by her father. Always the King of Thracia had been awake seeing to one matter or another late into the night, yet he never begrudged tending to a wayward daughter.

“Little girls have no business sneaking off to be eaten up by dragons!” Travant would growl as he swooped her child-self up onto his broad shoulders and ‘flew’ her back to bed. He loved the freedom of the skies as she does now. And when she had grown out of childhood taught her how to soar with dragons.

Except now people tell Altenna her memories are wrong, that Travant is not truly her father – just a dragon knight that stole her from a dead mother’s arms. They tell her of Cuan, buried in shifting earth, and that her reoccurring nightmare of horses screaming is her true first memory. But the beating of hooves against hard ground does not lift her heart, only makes it sink.

“I can arrange a steed for you, sister. One as noble as mine,” offers her brother. Leif, not Arione. And perhaps there is some romance to a knight astride a horse, white as the clouds. Yet Altenna cannot accept the offer - to abandon her dragon, hers to feed by hand since a hatchling. To forget the sky that she loves for the earth that she doesn’t know.

Instead, Altenna will remain a knight who rides her dragon, and now there is no one to stop the princess of Thracia from sleeping under its wing at night.