Maarke was built on the Morning Sea. Once, a long time ago, great volcanos grew up on these shores for hundreds of miles in either direction, spewing forth lava that created much of the Barony. It is a rocky Barony, interspersed with green that the forests and the humans have tried to reclaim. Rin stepped onto the outer deck that ringed the great aerodrome and could see the sea in all of its rage and beauty. It was breathtaking. Even though she was several hundred feet below them, Rin could feel the spray of the sea’s mighty waves.
She shivered in delight and looked up after she heard a shriek. She looked up and could see a great, gray tarn being ridden by a Maarke guardsman. Tarns, or dows as the eladrin called them, are named after a species of bird so great that they could be ridden, so written by an ancient Earth writer. She looked down and could see the great rookery and headed to the elevator down.
She stepped off the elevator to two guardsman snapping to attention. Rin wished that they wouldn’t do that, but had stopped a long time ago and just smiled at them. The rookery was a great cave carved into the side of the mountain. Nests where built on the outside, facing the sea, as the tarns were great sea birds that survived as they dived for the fishes that were quite abundant and quite large. Everything on Eave was quite large. Even the insects were at least twice as large as or larger than what was commonly on Earth. All of that was ancient history. Every human was an intruder here and even though Earth was taught in school, it was all history about where they came from, not where they were going.
“Rin!” she heard a familiar voice cry out. She looked over and saw Joshan in his full riding harness. It looked like a full-body climbing harness that a rider could wear on the four-winged tarns. Joshan was in his uniform, a simple sea-gray jumpsuit that had the four wings, two great and two lesser, emblazoned on the back. He bowed slightly, a hand over his heart, then straightened up to hug the young woman.
“Do not tell me it is a fortnight already?” he said as he led her down the passageway. “How goes the plans for the wedding?” Joshan was talking about her brother’s wedding. Aylen danTaven, the Baron Elham’s only child. He was some fourteen years older and he seemed to be too busy for her. He was eighteen after all and was busy learning the ways of an eladrin ranger. When he came home however, he always spent time with Rin, but his time was not his own and he was soon off again, training or fighting or learning. She always had a crush on Aylen, for he was tall, smart and brave. It must have paid off however, for he was engaged to an eladrin, much to Rin’s dismay. Beyissa Faleath, also known as Skysilver to the humans. It was the first time in the nine-hundred years since humans have crash landed on Eave that such a union was recognized and blessed. The Faleath family were cousins to the royal family of Hanali, an old and powerful family. Infact it was a Sorica Faleath who taught the second human magic. The danTaven family was the first in magic and was strong. Even though Rin was adopted to the family, she proved to have the magical talent and had knowledge of how to cast.
Rin smiled. “It goes well. My brother Aylen is trying to be calm, but I can tell he is nervous about it all. He is over thirty and is acting like it is his first date,” she laughed as Joshan opened a door that lead to the outside. The chill morning air was bracing and she felt the spray once more. “Do you mean yes?” she asked excitedly.
He smiled. “I think you are ready for your first solo flight. We will just have to fit you with a harness. I just thought you wanted to meet your tarn.” For the year that she was fostered here to learn at The Colleges of Danaan, she rode the great tarns in tandem with an experience rider like Joshan. He took Rin to the far nest where she was greeted by a dirty-white tarn that regarded her with a turn of its head. Tarns have a straight beak like an Earth kingfisher and a small gular, the throat sack common to Earth birds such as the pelican. Their feet had a unique adaptation. They had five talons, four that face forward with one pointed backwards. The four that pointed forward had the middle two open wide and was webbed for excellent maneuverability when swimming, as tarns were known to dive in the water for a dozen or more meters to go after the great fish that live off the coast. Closed it acted as the power claws for perching on the great spires and rocky crags that were common along the coast of Maarke.
Rin smiled. It was Smoke, the tarn on which she learned how to fly. “Hello, old bird,” she said as she nuzzled the neck.
“I will get her ready to fly. You go into the barracks and get into your harness.”
Rin eagerly did just that. She went into the barracks and took off her skirts and attached the harness around her body and legs. She then took a fleece lined aviator hat and goggles and tied a scarf around her neck. It got rather cold up to where the tarns flew. When she got out, Joshan was tightening the last of the buckles and straps. Rin gathered around the great tarn, checking the buckles and straps with great care. It is not that she did not trust Joshan, she was doing what he had taught her. She then went over to a large basket outside Smoke’s reach and heaved out a large fish that weighed some fifteen kilograms. It was common practice to feed your tarn before flying to keep them from diving in the water in search of food. Smoke gobbled the fish eagerly and Rin patted her hand along the sides of her neck.
“Ready?” Joshan asked as he went to the next cage over where his tarn was saddled. Rin said yes as she jumped into the saddle and buckled the two straps in. Smoke stretched her wings, two greater and two lesser and fell of the side of the cliff.