When the world of Calithmer was created, there were many species of human. Of them, there were three of which were to receive the natural gift of flight: The grapiens, the harlarks and the yavarrah. These three were judged and given their resulted territories of the land. Each was given specific traits to be able to survive in their lands.

The yavarrah, the least worthy, were given bat-like traits with wings for arms and claws in the middle joint. :They were given reign over the caves of the earth.

The harlarks, the ones with fair results, were given wings on their backs and brawny builds and ruled the mountain tops.

The grapiens, the most worthy, rule the skies. They were given the ability to grow feathers from their arms, forming wings. The grapiens do not need to breathe due to high altitudes but have lungs for that option.

The grapiens live in a kingdom atop a cloud called Emorthae. The royals are able to navigate this cloud in its eternal movement. They have extremely long lives (the grapien year is equivalent to 10 human years) and a fantastic memory. The Celvor dynasty currently reigns over these people.

The yavarrah ruled the caves for centuries, but found that it wasn't enough to be confined. They became jealous of the grapiens high abilities and living conditions. They started to war with Emorthae. For years did they fight Emorthae with no success, for the yavarrah can go without breath and withhold under the sun for so long. They would cast sorcery upon themselves to stop the need for breath. The limit has expanded time after time, but they have never succeeded in overthrowing Emorthae.

Chapter One: Departure[]

Elina Celvor stepped out into the streets of Emorthae where an anxious and excited crowd bustled in the bright, fresh morning. She took a moment's pause to take everything in. The wind tugged at her red cloak as if urging her to move on. The sun cascaded down and embraced her in its smiling warmth. She returned the smile and continued her superior stride until she reached her two younger siblings. She bent over and looked at each of them with her soft gold eyes.

“Vandriel, don't let Mordrei destroy the kingdom while I'm gone.” she teased giving a taunting glance at her brother. Mordrei's face turned a bright pink and he gave her a surprisingly good annoyed look for a six-year-old. “I do not want to come back to visit a wasteland.” she continued. Elina hugged both of them.

“Goodbye.” she whispered, her smile turning gentle. She tousled Mordrei's thick, black-and-white hair and gave a crooked smile, resuming her gait until she reached her hippogriff. She gracefully climbed the saddle and turned smiling one more twisted smile at her siblings, her long chestnut hair flipped as she did. Elina lifted her arm in a lively wave and the children reflected the motion. “Off to Kethmere!” The grapien princess bellowed with excitement as she and her steed kicked off. Bright colors filled the air as the other grapiens took wing.

“Mordrei.” Sargon called. Both of the children turned to see their older, dark-haired brother. “Do not take Elina's comments to heart. You will be an agreeable ruler. I trust you to take my place in my absence.” the prince smiled gently. Mordrei's face once again changed into a bright red color. He wished they would stop reminding him of what lay ahead.

“Goodbye.” Sargon said, pulling a soft smile—a rare occasion. Vandriel watched his face in amazement, wondering if it would get stuck that way. He marched on to where another group of grapiens waited to be led to the future colony of Houtmor. The prince mounted his griffin and pulled a nod and a formal wave, taking flight. The children raised their arms high once again, watching the group fill the sky. A slender hand caught Vandriel's and swung her around into another embrace. Golden-red locks of hair surrounded her and she caught the beautiful aroma of her mother's honeysuckle perfume.

“Goodbye, Vandriel.” The Queen whispered and kissed Vandriel's gold head. Queen Morrigan did the same to Mordrei. “I hope you two will behave properly while I am away.” Their mother looked from one to the other, as if memorizing their faces again. Her face carried a faint smile and her eyes were filled with the deepest love. Vandriel had only just fallen into the precious moment before it vanished, like a shy rabbit dashing away from a child's hands. One more warm smile displayed on the queen's face before she took flight, followed by her group of people who would follow her to Fraithmer.

King Harovor now wrapped his arms around the children and they watched in silence as the distant grapiens faded in separate directions.

Vandriel sat on the flat east tower roof in deep thought, staring at the dark blue sky. She was there almost every morning, watching the sunrise and pondering the things that needed to be pondered. Her eyebrows were pointed down like they always were when she thought hard. But now, she was only doing it to note the feeling in case she did it out of habit again. She had been trying to break the habit for a few months ever since Mordrei told her that her face looked funny that way. The morning breeze whispered meaningless secrets in her ears as she let her face return to normal. The kingdom lay before her at rest. It hadn't changed since her mother left ten years ago. Vandriel smiled softly and rested her chin on her knees. She loved every detail of Emorthae and wouldn't leave it for the world. It was her home and the only thing she knew. She tucked a rogue strand of hair behind her ear.

A black flutter caught the corner of her eye, interrupting her pleasant thoughts. Despite her objections, she turned to look. A figure fluttered out of one of the minor towers. Vandriel recognized the dark head. The thin white streaks were too familiar to miss.

“Mordrei?” she whispered. The tall figure landed on the roof, his back still turned to his younger sister. She couldn't help but wonder why he was out so early. Her arms quickly grew gold feathers and she landed behind him on the tower.

“Where are you going?” She asked, eying his pack. Her voice seemed to shatter the morning silence. Mordrei jumped and turned to face her. Vandriel couldn't help but give away a suppressed laugh at his surprise.

“Away,” he answered after recovery, his eyes making a specific point not to meet hers.

Vandriel's smile faded quickly. She knew Mordrei enough to know he wasn't joking. “For how long are you leaving Emorthae?” She questioned, her tranquility shattered. When there was no answer she continued, “Mordrei, you cannot leave. You are the heir to the throne. You are the only one capable. Please, stay here with us.” Her voice grew frantic.

Mordrei eyed the blossoming sky behind her. “You can do it, Vandriel. You can rule the kingdom.”

“Mordrei, you must do it.” She weakened. “It is you who must take on the kingdom.”

His look snapped to her face. “Goodbye, Vandriel.” he spoke flatly.

“No, you cannot leave!” she broke in anger as Mordrei whistled a high note. She grabbed hold of his arm as a silvery dragon swiftly responded.

He sighed and looked her in the eyes.

“Is it me? Am I the reason you are leaving?” Vandriel sobbed.

“No, it would never be you, Vandriel.” he spoke gently. “This is something I have to deal with on my own.”

“But I want to help you. Whatever it is, I want to help you.” Vandriel sniffed.

“You can't.” he replied helplessly.

“What will I tell the others if you go?”

“Tell them what you will.”

“But Mordrei. . .” she whispered, looking deep into his eyes. He broke away from her and hastily hung his pack on the back of the dragon. If anything could make him stay, it was those piercing eyes.

“No! I won't forgive you.” she cried resentfully, knowing she would regret it later. Mordrei hesitated, his back toward her. “Not if you leave.” she went on.

His shoulders slumped and he spun around. “Vandriel. . .” he faltered. He stepped forward and gave her a hug. She welcomed it and cried.

The prince abruptly broke away and jumped on the dragon. With one rush of air, he was off, escaping toward the young sun.

“Mordrei, wait!” she called after him as his dragon swiftly flew away. “Mordrei!” she called again. He kept his eyes ahead, not turning back to look at his desperate sister. He wouldn't be able to bear seeing her again in that broken state. He closed his eyes and slid the striped feather that he had forgotten to give her out of his sleeve. He held it out, offering it to the wind and let it slip from his fingertips. "Goodbye, Vandriel." he whispered passionately.

Vandriel slumped and watched her closest sibling slip away. They were all gone now, living elsewhere. Only she and her father remained.

“Goodbye,” she whispered. The silver sliver faded away on the golden horizon. She didn't know what to do anymore. She stared after him, even when she could no longer see the far off glitter. A black and white striped feather danced through the air toward her. Her hand involuntarily reached for it and delicately plucked it away from the meloncholy dance of the wind.

"Oh, Mordrei, you send your feather on the wind for me, but I had no feather ready to offer to you." she sighed. Not knowing what to do, she glided down into the courtyard and rested on the smooth, silver branches of her brozila tree, where the soft blue blossoms gave a sweet, creamy aroma.

She curled up using her knees as a resting place for her head and thought about what had just happened. She had never really known her love for her brother until it tore her apart when he was gone. And what of the kingdom? She would be the next ruler? She had never dreamed of taking the throne. The notion frightened her. She shuddered at the idea of running the kingdom down. These anxious thoughts buzzed in her mind as she dozed into sleep.

Vandriel woke to the warm, early sunlight beating on her face. The spring breeze brought an involuntary smile to her face. The princess stretched as she watched the sky, trying to remember why this particular sunrise had been ruined. A few small black specks on the blue plain of the sky caught her eye. She gazed in wonder as they began to spread.

“Odd.” she whispered, as she watched them grow larger. Her expression suddenly turned into horror as the specks multiplied. Each one began to take a shape as they were headed toward the kingdom at full speed. She shot up into the air.

“We're under attack!” Vandriel shouted to the dozing guards. She frantically flapped around, repeating her cries. The sound of the war bells filled the entire kingdom, each one echoing off of the other. The grapien people poured out of their homes and the streets were soon filled with people of all ages. Vandriel flew higher over the grapiens watching as children were pulled out of their beds and dragged through the streets. She glanced to where the soldiers were gathering. They were assembling fast, readying themselves for the clash of races.

The yavarrah came upon Emorthae riding foreign creatures with long, scaly necks and heads of large snakes, a torso similar to a lion with scales under the fur, wings and a tail that are of a dragon, and black talons for feet. The saliva is acidic and can burn through nearly anything while the venom is lethal, killing slowly, beginning with paralysis. In the grapien tongue this creature is called the snolagul.

Vandriel flew up to the top of the nearest haven and planted herself there. She was sure that the battle would end soon; the yavarrah didn't usually last long.

The last snolagul shakily fell to the ground in defeat. The yavarrah had retreated beforehand due to a lack of breathing air. Vandriel lifted to her feet, a smile growing on her face. She started toward the battle site to meet her father, but the distant castle towers caught her eye like an unwanted foreign guest. Her smile faded as she suddenly remembered Mordrei's departure. People filed out of the fortress behind her. She was unaware of the cheerful bustle as joy left the world once again.

"Father," she called softly, catching his attention away from the site of the battle. As he faced her, his eyes softened from the weary expression they had previously held. She immediately clenched her teeth. Now was not the time to let him know about Mordrei. "is there anything I can do?" she sighed.

Vandriel stood outside the throne room door, mentally running through the words she would use to break the news. The stress of the burial after the battle should have cooled down by now. She straightened up and pushed the large door open. The bright, majestic air of the room surrounded her as she meekly stepped inside. It had a new light about it now--now that she knew she would be next to work in this room. Her stomach squirmed at the thought and she suddenly felt small compared to the tapestry-lined walls that rose to the far-reaching ceiling. She had never felt old or wise enough to climb the white marble steps before her. Dizziness swept through her. Vandriel shook her head to regain her composure and hesitantly moved toward the steps as boldly as she could.

"Yes?" her father voiced when she reached the halfway point of the stairs. He didn't look up at her until he was finished writing, by then, she was standing across from him, a large, dark desk between them. He smiled at her, his gold eyes shining in the bright light.

Vandriel smiled back weakly. Her mind went blank and she had forgotten everything she wanted to say to him.

"Did you come to tell me something, or did you just come to visit?" he asked heartily, lacing his fingers behind his head. At this, her eyes tore away from his and suddenly gained interest in the folds of her skirt. She wished he hadn't spoken; it would be harder to give the news to him now. Nevertheless, she had to tell him.

"Have you seen Mordrei lately?" Vandriel asked, her throat suddenly dry.

"Not since last night, why?" he wondered, growing more and more concerned. His hands now rested on his desk. "What has happened, Vandriel?"

A lump grew in her throat and her eyes stung. "He's--well, he's gone, Father." she said before she made a fool of herself by crying.

"Gone?" he echoed. "What do you mean?"

"He left this morning, at sunrise. I saw him go. Father, I apologize. I tried to convince him to stay, but--but--"

"No, Vandriel." the king said, his voice strangely stern and soft at once, as if he were contemplating something. His face remained expressionless, but his eyes revealed a sadness that can't be described. After a long, stale silence, he began to speak again, "The blame is not yours." He then paused, matching his fingertips together in thought. "Did he tell you why?"

"He refused to tell me." Vandriel said, shaking her head. "but I think it was something to do with pressure."

Her father shook his head in response. "It must have been." he agreed. The words caused him much pain.

"But if the blame is not mine, Father, it can never be yours." she said quickly. "Please, if anyone should feel responsible, let it be me. You have enough to worry about as things are."

A smile that didn't reach his eyes spread across his face. "Thank you, Vandriel." He stood up and cleared his throat. "It may be inappropriate to rush, but this gives us little time for much else; there is no heir other than you now."

Vandriel bowed her head, knowing what would come next.

"You will start your studies in two days. I hope you will be ready." he stated formally.

"Yes, Father," she replied, looking up at him again. Before she could stop herself, she was around the desk and moving into an embrace. His large arms welcomed her and held her close.

"I'm sorry." she whispered, then pulled away.

The laundry felt especially heavy today. Trashia set the basket on the stairs and flexed her fingers. It didn't help that she had to carry it all the way to Vandriel's floor. She stared down at the basket. Maybe it was only heavy because she hadn't taken care of the princess' laundry for a while; Vandriel usually did it herself. Trashia flipped her red hair over her shoulder and stooped over the laundry basket again. Trashia now realized how much work she actually skipped out on. She was Vandriel's handmaid after all. Her footsteps echoed around the stairwell as she began climbing again. Only a few hundred more steps to go.

The pink sun rested on th eedge of the kingdom, surrounded by deep biolet clouds. Vandriel leaned on the balcony banister, watching the hues grow stronger as the sunset drew on.

"Vandriel." Trashia called from the doorway. "You forgot about laundry today."

The princess turned around and smiled. "Sorry."

"What's going on?" Trashia wondered, arching an eyebrow.

"Huh?" Vandriel mumbled. "Oh, nothing." she sighed.

"Oh, I remember last time nothing was going on. Remember that?"

"Trashia, you always have a way of putting your nose where it doesn't belong."

"I can't help it." Trashia shrugged. "Now, about that nothing. . ."

Vandriel rolled her eyes and stepped inside, closing the glass doors behind her. "I guess you do have half a right to know. But don't tell anyone." she ordered sternly. "Do you remember what happened last time you told everyone? That took months to clear up."

"Hey," Trashia objected, raising her palms as a notion of innocence. "I didn't tell everyone; I told Florie."

"That is beyond the point. Do not tell anyone." Vandriel threatened.

"I promise you." Trashia said with shallow dignity.

Chapter 2: Unexpected arrival[]

"Well," Vandriel sighed as she and Trashia stepped down the spiral staircase side-by-side. "I think I am glad Father has asked you to study with me."

"Of course you're glad." Trashia replied. "Where would you be without me?"

Vandriel smiled. "Exactly where I am now."

"Whatever you say, Vandriel." Trashia sighed just as they rounded the last bend.

They must have both seen her at once, for they both stopped at once. A woman stood on the far side of the Entrance Hall, examining a tapestry. All that could be seen of her was her cascading brown hair and a deep red gown.

Vandriel was the first to dash toward her. Trashia soon followed.

"It's improper for a princess to be running through the castle." the woman scolded without turning to look at them.

Vandriel immediately slowed to a walk, but Trashia continued, nearly running into the wall.

"That never stopped you before, Elina." Vandriel grinned, stepping up next to her elder sister.

Elina turned around to face them, a smile across her face.

"What brings you here so early?" Vandriel wondered.

"Can I not come home to see my sister and her--her friend any time I please?"

"It's Trashia." Trashia smiled.

"I was only joking, but of course you know that." Elina replied. "I guess that means Mother isn't home yet?" she sighed dissapointedly.

"No, she doesn't usually come this early. She should be here by tomorrow, though." Vandriel informed.

"Tomorrow?" Elina repeated. "Well," she said, a smile returning to her face. "Time to get settled anyway."

"Left? When?" Elina questioned loudly.

"He left six months ago." Vandriel replied