27th of Cylus, Arc 719
Praetorum grinned as Sivan glided through the air, reveling in the feeling of the wind on his face, the slight chill in the air, just cold enough to keep him sharp and awake. The ground flew past underneath him, while the moons hung over his head, bathing him in light. Leaning forwards in the saddle, Praetorum pressed his knees a little tighter around Sivan, one hand smoothing over the scales of her shoulder while the other grasped loosely at the reins.
As he did, she began to flap all four wings, angling them slightly upwards. Praetorum laughed, his fingers tightening on the reins as they began to pick up speed, gaining height as they went. He guided her to the side, keeping her a safe distance away from a fracture up ahead, but let her keep going upwards, some part of him curious to know how high they could get. They climbed and climbed, until the sight of the landscape disappearing under them made his heart flutter in worry, until he started to wonder if they could touch the clouds.
Nearly a hundred trials, and flying was still thrilling every single time. Would he ever tire of it, he wondered? Higher, and higher and higher they flew, until the ground was but a green and brown blur beneath him, until he was suspended in the infinite void between the earth and the clouds. Then, with a huff and a powerful flap of her wings, Sivan surged upwards, and they crashed through the clouds together.
Flying through the cloud was like flying through the tree canopy, white wisps of cloud snagging and tearing at his clothes and skin, and Praetorum was forced to close his eyes to protect them. And then even that fell away, and then Praetorum could feel nothing at all, save for the warmth and roughness of the animal under him.
Opening his eyes, Praetorum found Sivan had brought them above the clouds; powerful wings flapped in time with his heartbeat, bringing them higher, higher, higher. Beyond the clouds was not, as he would have expected, the moons or the sky beyond, but yet another land, another horizon, this one a vast ocean that spanned as far as the eye could see. And they were flying, flying upwards, but they were also falling, down, down, down towards this new ocean.
Leaning forwards, he wrapped his arms around Sivan's neck as she tucked her wings in, and dove, spiraling downwards faster than they'd ever gone before. But no matter how fast they went, they couldn't seem to get any closer to the glistening blue waters, the bright waves dancing and lapping as if crying out "Come play! Come play!"
He wanted to, oh how he wanted to. But he and Sivan fell and fell, and came no closer to the water than when they'd first burst through the cloud. "Come play! Come play!" The water crested in massive waves, reaching up for him even as he reached down, but to no avail.
Reaching for the straps that held him tight to Sivan, he sliced through them with sharp claws, and, pressing a soft kiss to Sivan's scales, pushed off and away from her.
Broad, leathery wings sprouted out from his back, catching a draft, and then the wind itself was helping him, propelling him downwards towards the water. A wave surged upwards to meet him, and he slipped into the ocean without a splash, sliding easily into the water like it was where he belonged. The liquid was perfect, crystalline blue, and just the perfect temperature as he sank into its depths. His wings flapped, once, twice, propelling him through the water, and he laughed, flipping and spinning like a fish at play.
Currents and eddies licked affectionately at his cheeks and throat, nudging at his side like an encouraging puppy, and his wings—webbed now, as his fingers were—fluttered in excitement, sending him spiraling upwards.
Breaching the surface of the water, his wings flapped again, and he flew upwards, droplets of water spraying from him as he moved. Flying just over the surface of the endless ocean, he laughed as a wave licked at him, and surged on ahead. Flapping his wings, he overtook the wave, only to find a tendril of water catching at his ankle and tugging him back as the wave raced past underneath him.
"That's cheating!" He complained, lightly splashing at the wave as he flew. The two raced, neck to neck, until a mischievous thought popped into Praetorum's head. Suddenly tucking his wings in, he dove through and into the wave, riding its momentum until his wings spread out and scattered it, and he flew on ahead, the victor.
The wave crashed over him in protest, wrestling him down into the ocean, and he laughed, trying to fend it off with wing and webbing. He wriggled his way out of its grasp, head breaching the surface, and the wind, whistling in laughter at their antics, picked him up from there, helping him out of the water's grasp.
Praetorum grinned as the water reached up to grab him again, flying just out of reach, teasing the wave for a few trills before diving down to skim over the oceans surface, his fingers dipping in and spraying a fine mist everywhere.
The water crept up his fingers, and snaked up his arm until it coiled around his neck loosely. It stayed there when he broke away from the ocean to fly upwards, a thin stream of crystal clear water clinging on to him as the wind caught his wings and lifted him higher.
Twisting in the air, he did a flip, beaming in pride as the wind whipped appreciatively around him. By his side, a breeze picked up the fine mist rising from the ocean, and began to show off, doing a tight corkscrew right before Praetorum's eyes before ghosting teasingly across his wings.
"Oh, is that how it is?" He challenged. With a few powerful wing beats, he was flying up into the sky, rising higher and higher until he stopped, twisting in midair so he was falling, head first, back towards the water. His wings twisted as well, tucking in and pulling him into a tight spiral descent, spinning so fast the air around him began to spiral as well, until he was the center of a miniature tornado, falling rapidly towards the ocean. Just before he hit the water, Praetorum's wings snapped out, and he did a roll, sending him careening out of the whirlwind he'd created.
Righting himself, he saw the tornado was now a water spout, sucking up water from the ocean and spraying it everywhere, before dissipating into nothing. Exhausted, he settled on the surface of the water, wings fluttering slightly in contentment. The breeze that had been showing off drifted around his head for a moment, then settled around his shoulders in defeat.
Smiling smugly at his success, Praetorum let himself fall back, floating contentedly on the surface of the ocean. A thoughtful wave pillowed his head, and a warm blanket of air settled comfortably over him. With the whistle of the wind in his ears and the scent of salt spray in his nose, it was only a matter of moments before Praetorum found himself lulled into a deep sleep.