(( Last week’s prompt was ‘write a story about three siblings’. I wrote it, but on paper. I finally got around to typing it up today. ))
“Yara, come see what Xyliah found!”
Yara Amberlight jumped up to follow her brother, Vessen. They were on vacation with their father on their grandparent’s land in Eversong Woods. It had become a yearly tradition since their mother had passed. Yara barely remembered her, but their mother had grown up in these woods. Ann’da said he felt closest to her here, and always said he wanted them to feel close to her too. Most of the year, they stayed in the city where their father made furniture to sell in his shop. The annual trip to the woods was something they all looked forward to.
“It’s nothing dangerous, is it?” Their father called after the two before they wandered too far.
“No, ‘Da. It’s not far either. We won’t be long.”
Their father gave a consenting nod, “Make sure Yara stays with you. She’s a little young to be on her own in the woods.”
Vessen nodded as he grabbed his sister’s hand. “Come on, Yara.”
She hated that everyone always said she was too young for everything. She was 12 now! Xyliah had just helped her get her first bra. Surely that meant she was old enough to explore on her own once in a while, or have a glass of wine with supper, or walk for treats from the shop on their street alone. She was sick of the answer always being ‘No, you’re too young.’ Still, she was eager to see what Xyliah had found so she let Vessen lead her without protesting.
Vessen wasn’t that much older than she was, but those four years made a big difference. Even she had to admit that. He had grown tall and strong, whereas she still looked like a scrawny little kid. Xyliah was almost 19 and definitely not a scrawny kid either.
Yara saw her in the clearing up ahead. She was peering at something in the tall grass near the stream. She looked up as Vessen and Yara approached, and put one finger up to her lips, urging them to be as silent as possible.
Yara crossed the clearing with Vessen, careful not to step on any twigs. “What is it?” she whispered upon getting close enough.
“Look.” Xyliah whispered back as she parted the tall grass with her hands.
There was a nest there, hidden behind all the grass. In the nest were three very small dragonhawks. Yara gasped in awe.
“They’re very young. I’d guess no more than two days old.” Xyliah whispered. “I have no doubt that the parents are nearby, so we shouldn’t linger. I know how much you love dragonhawks, so I wanted to show you.”
“They’re so cute!” Yara exclaimed, trying to keep her voice down. “I want one. Can I touch them?” She started to reach for one, only to be stopped when Xyliah grabbed her wrist.
“No, don’t touch them. We’re already close enough to see them. You can’t take these because they’re wild. Ann’da said he’d buy you one when you’re old enough.”
Yara frowned. She was never going to be old enough.
“Let’s go back to our camp. We can tell ‘Da about them, and remind him how much you want one.” Vessen smiled as he took her hand again.
Yara couldn’t sleep that night. It wasn’t that they were staying in a tent. She had already had a few days to get used to that. It was her thoughts keeping her awake. She wanted to see the baby dragonhawks again, but she doubted whether anyone would make time to take her there again, and she knew if she asked to go alone she would just be told she was too young.
“Xy?” she whispered, looking over at her older sister’s sleeping bag. Xyliah didn’t answer and appeared to be sleeping.
Yara crawled out of her sleeping bag and peeked outside of the tent. Her long ears strained to listen for any noise coming from the other tent where her brother and father were. She thought she heard her father snore. She undid the rest of the ties on the tent flap, stepped out and looked around. It was dark, but in the clearing where they were camping, there was enough moonlight to see. The paths leading off away from the clearing into the woods were dark. Yara hesitated as she looked towards the darkened path that went to the stream. “I’m old enough to do this on my own. I’m not afraid.” she said in a barely audible whisper, and stepped towards the path.
It was not an easy hike. She was barefoot for starters, having left her shoes back at the camp in her haste to leave before anyone woke. Strange noises stopped her more than once or twice. Each time she paused, trying to figure out what the noise was and if she was in danger. She decided it was fine. Her older brother and sister walked around in the woods by themselves all the time. Noise was normal, right?
She finally reached the clearing near the stream. Despite not being able to see as well, she was quieter than she had been during the daytime as she made her way closer to the water where the tall grass hid the nest. She was about halfway there when she heard another noise. She paused as a low rumbling growl came from her left. She froze, not daring to turn her head, but glancing over the area with her eyes. What was that noise? She waited, her heart racing, but she saw nothing.
After a couple of minutes, she managed to calm herself down. You’re not too young for this. You’re a big girl. You came to see the dragonhawk babies again, and that’s what you’re going to do. Night noises are nothing. She repeated the same thought over and over in her mind until she wasn’t even sure she had really heard a sound. It couldn’t have been anything dangerous after all, or it would have already shown itself. She slowly took another step, but still kept her eyes to the side where she thought she might have heard something, just in case.
A lynx jumped out of the tall grass at the same moment she started to take a second step. She screamed as it landed on her. It had been aiming to bite her neck, but Yara had thrown her arm up in the way. The large cat’s jaw came down on her upper arm. She screamed again, this time in pain. She used her free arm to hit the cat on the nose, which seemed to make it mad, but did nothing to make it loosen its grip.
“Help!” she cried out. Was she too far from the camp to be heard? She screamed again as the lynx tightened its jaws on her arm. She was sure she was going to die.
Then the lynx let go. Its body rolled backwards across the path to the stream, and Yara heard the flapping of large wings. The lynx growled and leapt towards Yara. She covered her head with her arms, bracing to be bit again, but it didn’t happen. Instead, a series of growls, hisses and odd chirps sounded. Yara opened her eyes just enough to see a large dragonhawk fighting off the lynx. She decided it was time to get out of there. She got up and started back towards the woods, trying to stay low as to not attract the attention of either animal. She glanced back to see them still fighting next to the stream.
“Yara! Come on!”
Vessen ran towards her and grabbed her hand. They ran along the path until they were almost back to the camp. “What were you doing out there? You could have gotten hurt!”
Yara looked at her arm. It didn’t hurt as much now, though it looked awful. “I did get hurt. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. I’m just glad I got to you in time. Ann’da and Xyliah are looking for you too.” he found a first aid kit in their supplies and started wrapping Yara’s arm. “I think you’re going to need to see a healer for this.”
Yara started crying.
Yara’s arm hurt more the next morning. She watched as the others packed up camp earlier than planned. She felt horrible about making the vacation end early. Though her injury wasn’t life-threatening, she still needed to see a healer for it, and their father didn’t want to delay, deciding that they would leave that morning.
Xyliah sat down next to her. “Yara, are you feeling okay?”
Yara nodded, “I’m just sad.”
“I know it’s hard being your age. You’re not a little kid anymore, but it’s a long time before you’re really considered an adult too. It’s not easy for me either. Imagine looking grown-up but having another 30 years before other elves even think about considering you as more than a child. You’re coming up on that soon yourself, I think. Still, it was a little reckless to wander off in the woods by yourself in the dark. There’s usually good reasons when older elves make rules. They have more experience than us, and Ann’da is no exception.”
“I know. I just wanted to see the baby dragonhawks again.”
Xyliah frowned and nodded, “Wait here.”
Yara wasn’t sure where else she was going to go with her arm all bandaged, so she watched as Xyliah ran over to their father. They were far enough away that she couldn’t hear what they said. He didn’t seem too happy about what she said at first, but then after Vessen also joined the conversation, he nodded. Xyliah jogged back over to Yara after he nodded again.
“Come on, Vessen and I can go with you to look at the babies once more before we go. Vessen’s going to bring his bow, just in case. Everything is almost packed so we have to hurry.” Xyliah grabbed Yara’s hand and led her through the woods. Vessen followed with his bow with an arrow nocked and ready in case any danger presented itself.
They reached the clearing near the stream, and Yara gasped at the sight. There in the trail lay the battered remains of a large dragonhawk.
“Oh no!” Yara cried and ran up to it. “No, it’s dead!”
Xyliah walked past her to the nest. Yara watched as she pulled aside the grass.
“Are they dead too?”
Xyliah shook her head. “They’re still here. Come see.”
Yara went to her sister and looked in to see the nest. All three baby dragonhawks were there. “Are they hungry? Who’s going to feed them with their mother dead?”
“Baby dragonhawks are always hungry. They still have a father to take care of them. They’ll be okay, Yara.” Xyliah said, “Let’s get back to Ann’da. I don’t want him to worry about us, and we still need to get you to a healer.”
As Yara followed her brother and sister back through the clearing, it occurred to her the dragonhawks were like them now, with only their father to take care of them. She looked back towards the stream one last time before following the trail into the woods. Xyliah’s words echoed in her mind. They still have a father to take care of them. They’ll be okay. She hoped Xyliah was right.