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Pen Your Pride

Ryder was right, we reached his home before sundown. It is at the edge of the Mortem forest, a dark place to live in my opinion. There was a small log cabin at the tree line with a barn beside it. A beautiful home with a strange location.

"My great grandfather was obsessed with finding an Ultima. He felt that they would hide here at night. He didn't want his wife and kids getting hurt so he built this cabin. It has been passed down for years, my dad refuses to leave it." Ryder explained as we got closer.

"Did he ever find one?" I asked.

"He died trying. My grandmother, the oldest of six was 19 when he left and never came home. Her mother died of a broken heart and my grandmother got the house and the five kids. When they moved out she found my grandfather. They passed before I was born. Now I will get the cabin when my parents go."

"What about your sister?" I asked.

"She's younger than me, she said she's moving out on her 18th birthday. She met some no good loser at the market one day and 'fell in love'. Now she wants to move in with him."

"Will he be here?"

"I think so. He spends a lot of time here." Ryder said not sounding to happy.

We landed at the front of the house and in tacked. Ryder tossed our saddles over the railing of the deck. He took both our bags and knocked on the door. A young girl about my age opened the door.

"Maria!" He said hugging her. "Livia, this is my little sister Maria, Maria this is Livia." We both nodded and waved. "Ri. Would you mind helping Livia with the dragons?"

"Of course Ryder. Anything for you. Moms almost done cooking, it should be ready soon." She said before joining me on the ground and taking Jessamine.

"Are you for the village?" She asked.

"Yeah, my dad's a blacksmith." I answered.

"Cool. Let's put these two in the barn for the night. What's his name?" She asked motioning to Robur.

"This is Robur."

"Did you catch him yourself?" She asked, her voice growing more upbeat each question.

"No, he was a gift."

"Oh cool! That's how Ryder got Roman. He's so lucky to have that dragon. I wonder why he didn't bring him, they are a perfect match."

"Roman got hurt and can't fly. But I'll let Ryder explain." I said.

"Oh no! I hope he's okay. Ryder must be devastated." She exclaimed putting her free hand over her mouth.

"Ryder caught Jessamine a year ago in our goat pen. She nearly kill one. But that's what happens when you live so close to death." She spoke in a clam tone as if she's accustomed to living near a place with so much death and darkness.

We put the dragons in the barn and went back to the house. Maria chattered away the entire walk back. Ryder was at the door waiting for us and held it open for us as we entered.

"Mom, dad this is Livia. Livia these are my parents Shani and Isaac Malcolm. And that is my sister's boyfriend Jamie." Ryder said.

"It's so nice to meet you all." I said. Ryder's mom Shani pulled me into a hug.

"We never thought Ryder would bring a girl home, he spends too much time working." She said, releasing me. A pot over the fire started to overflow. "Oh! The soup!" She jumped and went to get it.

"It's nice to meet you Livia." Isaac said shaking my hand. "Come sit down." He said, leading me to a spot at the table. Ryder sat down beside me after hugging his father.

"Jamie! Stop carving the table!" Ryder ordered. Jamie looked up at him with an angry expression.

"What are you going to do about it pipsqueak." Ryder stood up and leaned over the table. Isaac was in the kitchen with Shani and Maria.

"This is a work of art! My grandfather made this with his own two hands. That's more than you've ever done in your life." Jamie stood up and faced Ryder. He's over a head taller than Ryder and twice as muscular.

"You want to say that again?" He threatened.

"You don't scare me Jamie and you know it. If my father say what you do to this house when he's not looking you'd be dead."

"Your old man doesn't scare me. And once Maria moves into my house I'll never have to put up with this family again."

"My sister isn't going anywhere with you! You are a no good loser and she deserves far better than you." The fighting went on back and forth until I finally stepped in.

"Ryder! You're acting like a five year old. Let it go, I'm sure he will stop carving the table." I said. "Now sit down, the food will be here shortly." Ryder sat down, glaring at Jamie.

"That's right listen to your girlfriend kiddo." Jamie said with a smug grin.

"You sit down too! Stop carving the table and keep you damn feet on the floor!" I yelled. Ryder looked up at me with a proud smile. Jamie sat down without a word.

Shani, Isaac and Maria came in shortly after with the food. Shani placed a bowl of soup in front of every one, Isaac placed a chicken in the centre of the table and Maria had a loaf of bread to pass around.

We all ate in silence, with Ryder's parents asking me the occasional question and Ryder clearing his throat to get Jamie to stop doing something he disliked.

After we all finished eating Ryder took all the dishes into the kitchen. Shani told us all to go to the den and wait.

Ryder entered and sat on the couch beside me, Maria was on the floor beside Jamie's chair and Isaac was on the other side of Ryder. Shani skipped in with a box in her hands.

"Remember this Ryder? It was his favourite game to play as a kid." She said sitting down on the chair next to me.

"I'm going to go to bed." Jamie said, getting up and leaving. Maria watched him.

"I'm going to bed as well. Good night everyone!" She said before following Jamie.

"No good lo-" Ryder muttered before I cut him off with a smack on the arm.

Shani explained the game. There's a map of the island and the first person to make it from the south to the north without dying wins. I of course died on my second turn and had to sit out and watch. I fell asleep after a few minutes.

I was woken up when my body dropped onto a bed. Quickly I sat up in fear.

"Oh good! You're awake." Ryder giggled as he crawled onto the bed with me.

"You suck! You know that." I said lying back down on the soft bed.

"It's fun. You're just so cute when you're mad." He mocked while climbing over top of me. "I've been wanting to get you alone again." He whispered as he pulled at my furs. I grinned realizing what he was thinking.

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