Chapter 13: Journey to Redport

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Squall's End/Redport

Tamara stood alone, waiting anxiously in the corridor outside the chambers of Fort Squall's fort leaders. She shuffled her weight from one leg to the other. Today, for the first time, she would ride upon the back of a dragon. She was going to fly with Byron in exchange for visiting her family, an agreement she was still apprehensive about. She ought to have been rejoicing. Since childhood she had dreamt of becoming a Rider-dreamt of flying amongst the clouds-but she wasn't sure if the cost of today's flight was worth her dreaded visit to Redport.

The last time she had seen her parents and brothers was the night of the Search, the night before she had run away from Redport. That night also happened to be when she met Byron, though she did not know at the time that he would be her mate. When he found her sitting beneath a willow tree, she was already plotting her escape, and a successful escape it was. Now it was time to make peace with her family. As reluctant as she was to admit it, starting a new phase of her life with a clean slate would bode well for them both.

Much to her relief, the fort leader's door opened and people began filing out. She recognized most of them as wing-leaders and wing-seconds. The meeting had been an important one. Fort Squall was preparing for an important conclave. Representatives from each of the forts, as well as the capital, were journeying to Fort Squall to discuss the kingdom's options in the war to come. In the north specifically, they needed to develop a strategy to combat the wild dragons threatening their borders. These were worrisome times.

Tamara knew she ought to be afraid, everyone else was, but her life was too good to feel fearful. She had never been happier. That made it difficult to view the current situation as everyone else did.

"You look well today, Lady Tamara." Lord Davi stood before her, hand in hand with Lady Emmy. They had swept up to her without her noticing. She immediately composed her thoughts and greeted them, curtsying gracefully.

"Are you ready for your journey?" Lady Emmy asked. "It is a fine day for flying."

"I believe I am," she replied, determined to hide how she was truly feeling.

"If only we could join you." Lady Emmy looked longingly out towards the sky before turning away from Tamara to plant a swift kiss on Lord Davi's cheek. "I must be off, my love. Duties await..." Lady Emmy bid them goodbye and took her leave. With tender eyes, Lord Davi watched her depart.

At that moment Byron filed out into the corridor. Tamara heard his roaring voice before she saw him. He grasped arms with his wing-second to bid him goodbye and then turned to her, smiling. "There she is!"

Lord Davi turned to both of them. "I do hope the both of you have a safe and successful journey. You will be missed while you are away." He gave them a brief nod, then he departed. The corridor grew deserted.

Byron took her hand in his, lifting it to kiss her knuckles. His eyes were trained on hers, and the intensity of them stilled her breath. She did well to hide her giddiness. She doubted other women went to pieces when paid this kind of attention. She attributed it to her youth and hated her age more so for it.

"Still brooding about visiting your family?" Byron asked.

She adamantly shook her head. Somehow with his appearance, her fears had evaporated. No longer did she fret over her father, over what he might say, or how he might treat her, and the consequences she might pay for her stunt. With Byron, she always felt safe.

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