On Love’s Wings…

Sorry about not posting anything the first three days of this week. But hey…I actually managed to get an installment done. 🙂 Enjoy!

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Miataga sucked on it then shivered as Ari slid his hands around to hold Miataga’s head still while the kiss went deeper.

When it was time to breath again, Miataga came up for air to discover he was straddling Ari’s lap, rocking against him. Ari pressed Miataga’s head to his shoulder while they calmed their racing hearts.

“I don’t want to come back here again,” Ari muttered, tightening his grip on Miataga’s ass. “Then don’t, or only come once every couple of years to see your siblings. Hell, you could ask Jemsel and Rayme to meet you at a village halfway between the two places. That way you don’t need to see your parents, but you can catch up with events while seeing the people you want to see,” Miataga suggested.

It didn’t matter whether he stayed with Ari or not. All he was concerned about was Ari being happy. Traveling as they were, without too many trappings of civilization, he’d come to discover Ari didn’t seem to think of himself very often. Each minute they were together, Ari had been focused on Miataga’s comfort, doing everything he could to make sure Miataga was happy.

Miataga didn’t think he would ever enjoy traveling often the way Ari and Vikex did. He was too much of a child of the city for that, but he’d go wherever Ari lead. After having dealt with a lot of assholes at the Loving House, spending time with Ari was a breath of fresh air. He trailed his hands over Ari’s shoulders down his back.

Ari grunted. “You’re right. We’ll figure something out, but I’ll admit I’m happy to be leaving tomorrow. We’ll drop Barke off at the base in Sendler then continue onto the Easterly Mountains and Vikex’s flock.”

“You won’t need to stay to help Barke get settled?” Miataga didn’t want to spend any more time than necessary in the capitol. He was afraid someone would force him back to the Loving House and he couldn’t go anywhere else with Ari.

“No. I’ll have to fill out a couple of forms then we can go. You won’t even need to leave the base. I promise,” Ari vowed. “When I get back from my leave, Barke will be ready for training and maybe he’ll have bonded with one of the birds by then. He didn’t say what kind of bird he’d been seeing in his dreams.”

Miataga hummed and relaxed even more, trusting Ari to hold him. “I’m glad I don’t have to leave the base. I’m worried that if we go back to Sendler, someone will make me return to the Lower City. I don’t miss my room in the Loving House, even if I’m not entirely sold on sleeping outdoors.”

Ari chuckled. “I’m impressed with how well you’ve taken to our rough traveling. Maybe if we were going to another part of the country, not the mountains, things would be easier.”

“I don’t mind. It’s different from what I’m used to and that’s fine.” He snuggled closer. “We should probably eat something.”

Ari’s lips moved against Miataga’s skin, but he didn’t hear what the man said. He wasn’t going to push the issue since he liked being in Ari’s embrace. He wiggled and shifted until he lay across Ari’s lap, so they could stare at the fire together.

Ari shrugged, lifting Miataga’s head whit his shoulder. “It depends. Some bonds are easier than others. I know some soldiers who had a great deal of trouble at first because their bonds with the birds were weak. As the years go by, the link between a man and his bird can grow stronger. For Vikex and me, our bond was natural as though we’d been born with our minds linked and it just took a while for us to find each other.”

Miataga smiled. “Born on opposite sides of the country does make it difficult to find each other quickly. How did you get out of the village? Seems like your parents weren’t happy about you leaving.”

“I ran away,” Ari confessed. “It was the only way I could find Vikex and not go crazy. It was hard since I’d never been away from the village in all of my sixteen years. I was lucky no one tried to rob me. By the time I got to Sendler, I’d run out of food and hadn’t eaten in days. I explained to the gate guards why I was there. Thank the gods, they sent me to the base and I’ve been there ever since. Vikex flew in the next morning.” Ari pressed a kiss to Miataga’s temple. “I woke up at first light that day and wandered out to the landing fields. I stood there for two hours then a bright golden bird dropped from the sky.”

“It must have been a sight,” Miataga murmured.

“Yes. It was like the sun had left the sky and joined us mortals on the ground. He looked into my eyes and I knew he was the one I was meant to meet. I will admit the officers weren’t happy about it. In fact, the Supreme Commander came down from his palace. He tried to bond with Vikex, but the phoenix wouldn’t give him a second of his time. Vikex focused on me and would only listen to me.” Ari tensed slightly. “The Supreme Commander wasn’t happy. He felt insulted, which is why he hates me and I have no respect for him.”

Miataga squeezed him. “I don’t blame you. I’ve met him and found him to be rather arrogant.” And violent, but he wasn’t going to tell Ari that. “I never had him as a client, but some of the other whores at my House have. They don’t have anything nice to say about him.”

There had been times where Miataga had doctored his fellow whores after sessions with the Commander. Quite a few of them had broken bones and serious injuries. Miataga had considered himself extremely lucky that the Supreme Commander had never bought him.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Seven-

“I’ll tell Barke and he’ll meet you in the morning. I know he’s ready to leave this place, even if he hadn’t been having visions. Some of our younger members aren’t meant to work the land or cut the trees.” Rayme began to walk away. “I’ll bring you the blankets and pillows after that.”

Jemles motioned for Ari and Miataga to follow him. Miataga looked around as they made their way through the village toward the forest. The other villagers watched them, but didn’t approach and Miataga wondered if they were just staying out of the fight between Ari and his father or if they sided with Mr. Dosterta. He gave a mental shrug. It didn’t matter. They were leaving the village as soon as they could and he doubted Ari would ever come back.

“Here we go.” Jemles waved his hand in the direction of a small cabin.

Miataga studied the building and was surprised. The cabin looked as though it was well made and cared for. There were even flowers planted along the front porch. He smiled at Ari.

“I like it,” he said.

“Well, let’s go inside and air it out a little,” Ari suggested before pushing open the door.

They stepped inside and Miataga gasped. For as plain as the outside was, the inside was gorgeous. The walls were covered in carvings of trees and animals. There wasn’t a surface untouched. It was a one-room cabin with a bed on one wall and the fireplace was opposite it. There was two wooden chairs placed in front of the fireplace and table set to the side.

He reached out to run his fingers over the relief of a young rabbit. “This is amazing. Who carved them?”

Jemles shrugged. “I don’t know. The cabin’s been here forever as far as I’m concerned. Rayme and I discovered it about seven years ago and we’ve been keeping it clean since then. It’s a great place to come when Father and Mother get on their high horses.”

“It’s beautiful,” Miataga murmured as he wandered around the room.

“Here you go.”

He turned to see Rayme stroll into the cabin, a basket over her arm. Barke came in behind her, carrying blankets and pillows. He set them on the bed while Rayme placed the basket on the table.

“I brought you some food for tonight. Stop by the house in the morning and I’ll have some supplies ready for you. No point in you going hungry while heading back to Sendler.”

“Thank you.” Ari kissed her cheek. “I do appreciate all you and Jemles are doing for us.”

She dismissed his words with a wave of her hand. “Your father is an blowhard, Ariste. I’m happy to help you and Miataga. Please, I hope you will come back and visit soon. You don’t have to stay at the house. This cabin is available whenever you want.”

“I’ll have to think about it and calm down a little more before I talk to him again.” Ari shook his head. “I can’t believe he did all those things without telling any of you. Especially not allowing the young people who are having visions to go find their destinies. They’re playing with fire by doing that.”

“Speaking of fire, your phoenix is in the clearing,” Jemles said from where he stood in the doorway.

“His name is Vikex,” Ari informed his brother then disappeared from the cabin.

Rayme and Jemles looked at Miataga. He went over to the basket and opened it, checking at the contents.

“You’ll need to remember that Vikex is more than a bird to Ari. In many ways, he is Ari’s soul mate.” He shot a glance at Barke. “That’s something you get to look forward to, though I do think Ari and Vikex’ bond is far stronger than the normal bonds.”

Barke frowned. “I’ll have a bond bird?”

Miataga crouched in front of the fireplace. He tossed a couple of logs on the ashes then worked on getting a fire started. “I do believe you will since you’ve been having dreams about such things. Ari will tell you more about it while we head back to Sendler.”

He yawned and Rayme smiled.

“We’ll leave you alone. Remember to stop by in the morning. I’d like to say good-bye.” She patted his shoulder then gathered the other two to go.

Miataga heard them talking with Ari outside. Once the fire burned, he went and got the bed ready. It wasn’t long before Ari entered. He dropped into one of the chairs then sighed.

Joining him, Miataga sat on the floor and leaned his head against Ari’s knee. Ari ran his fingers through Miataga’s hair as they both stared at the flames for a few minutes in silence.

“Is Vikex all right?” Miataga asked, breaking the quiet.

“Yes. He’s happy to know we’re leaving tomorrow.” Ari put his finger under Miataga’s chin and lifted it so their gazes met. “Thank you for stopping me from doing something I’d regret earlier.”

Miataga nodded slightly. “It might sound strange, but I feel like we’re friends and I had the feeling you’d feel guilty after the anger left you. I didn’t want you to feel that. Besides, he might be a bastard, but he is your father. There are some ties left there.”

Smiling, Ari leaned down to brush a kiss over Miataga’s lips. Miataga pushed up onto his knees to deepen the kiss. He moaned and Ari took advantage of his open mouth to sweep his tongue in.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Six-

They shared amused glances then Ari’s voice drifted on the breeze over to them and Miataga stiffened.

“No, Father. I’m not going to be dealing with you any more. I’ll be informing the officials in Sendler that they will be talking to Caritsal and Samles. All money the families get will go to them and they will be handing it out. Even the stipend you receive.” Ari glared at his father. “My money will go to Jemsel. He’ll ensure the entire family benefits from it instead of just you and Mother.”

“I’ve always shared our fortune,” Mr. Dosterta protested.

Jemsel snorted. “Ariste knows the truth, Father.” He looked at his brother. “Hell, Rayme has been doing the books for a year or so. It won’t be hard to take over the rest of it.”

“You can’t do that.” Ari’s father shoved Ari in the chest. “This is my village. I’m the elder here. You listen to me.”

Miataga rushed forward to grab Ari’s arm before he did something. He could tell Ari had reached the limit of his tolerance for his father. “Don’t do anything you’ll regret. He is your father, Ari. You have every right to hate him right now, but trust me, you’ll hate yourself if you hit him.”

Ari met his gaze and he gasped. There were flickers of orange and red in Ari’s golden eyes, showing how truly mad he was. It was probably the first time someone had raised their hands to him since he’d entered the military. The enemy soldiers didn’t count. This was his father who threatened to hurt him and there was no way Ari would allow that. But Miataga knew once Ari cooled down, he’d be upset if he did something to his father in his anger.

“You can find somewhere else to stay, Ariste. You’re no longer welcomed in my home,” Ari’s father shouted.

“That’s fine. We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning. I have to stop in Sendler before we continue on to Vikex’s flock.” Ari tuned to face his brother, dismissing his father.

“Ariste, you and your friend can stay with us tonight,” Caristal offered. “Our daughters can share a bed, and you can take our oldest’s.”

Miataga was surprised by the offer, though he was happy. Ari shook his head.

“Thank you, Caristal, but we’ll sleep outside tonight. Vikex will come back and keep us warm. When you and your daughter are ready for her to come to the capitol, please contact me. I’ll be willing to sponsor her.”

Caristal nodded. “Thank you, Ariste. Will we see you before you leave?”

Ari shrugged. “If I can get Barke to meet us early, we’ll leave at sunrise. There’s no point in us staying here any longer.”

Miataga allowed Ari to take his hand and drag him from the hall. Rayme and Jemles followed them. Miataga didn’t try to convince Ari to take Caristal up on her offer. As much as he didn’t want to sleep outside, he understood why Ari had said no. It wasn’t like any of the villagers had been particularly friendly since Air left for the capitol. Now that they realized there was monetary gain involved with their children serving the government, they were being nice.

“Ariste, you don’t have to sleep outside to prove a point,” Rayme said. “There’s a perfectly good cabin a little ways down the trail from your parents’ house. You can stay there tonight. No need for Vikex to come in until the morning. I know he doesn’t like hanging around the village.”

“While you and Miataga gather your bags, Rayme and I will get pillows, blankets and sheets for you. The cabin is clean, but will need a little airing out. We’ll also pack some food for you.” Jemles held up his hand when Ari started to say something. “No. I’m not worried about what Father will say. He’s been ruling this family and village with an iron hand. It’s time someone else took over and we’ll do it my way. It is his home.”

Ari grasped his brother’s shoulder. “Thank you, Jemles. I wouldn’t ask you to go against him about our sleeping arrangements. You’re right. It is his house still and he has the right not to want me there. I’m happy to hear about the cabin though, since I know Miataga wouldn’t have been thrilled to sleep outside.”

“Hey now, I would’ve done it,” Miataga protested.

Leaning over, Ari brushed a kiss over Miataga’s cheek. “I know you would’ve done it for me. Now there’s no reason to be uncomfortable. Show us to the cabin then I need to find Barke and have him start packing.”

Happy Tuesday

First off…yes, the title on the cover I posted yesterday is spelled wrong…lol. Don’t worry. It’s fixed now. Thanks to my web mistress and others who noticed it because for some reason, I missed it. 😉 But no worries. It was a quick fix.

There isn’t an installment today because last night, I went to a screening of “The Champions”. It’s a documentary made about the dogs seized in the Michael Vick dog fighting case. it was an amazing movie and I highly recommend it. I cried, but mostly they were happy tears. The dogs are thriving in their various homes. I’m so thrilled to see them doing so well. I’ve never been able to even think about the dogs without getting tears in my eyes. Yet they show the remarkable ability to bounce back from their terrible beginnings. Please if you get a chance, go see it or you can download from their site. Click here.

Hope you have a great Tuesday and stop back tomorrow for the next installment. 🙂

New Cover…

MLR Press is re-releasing Bastet on May 17th. There’s a new cover, but the content is the same. They will be releasing Anubis as well, which as you all know was a blog story, but never got released at Amber Allure. I’m happy they took this series.I thought I’d share the cover. I hope you like it.

Bastet_EW1_Chase_KJacen

Also, Pride Publishing is re-releasing Hearts on the Line. There isn’t any new content with this one either, but a yummy new cover. 🙂 This one will be available in June. I’ll give you the exact dates soon.

heartsontheline_800

Hope you all have a great day.

On Love’s Wings

Sorry this one is a little short. 🙂

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Five-

Miataga watched while Ari interacted with the elders. It was obvious that Ari’s parents hadn’t told them anything, using their inside information to take advantage of the others. The hostility toward them was building and Miataga hoped it didn’t explode until after he and Ari had left.

He didn’t want either one of them involved in the shit that was about to happen. It wasn’t Ari’s fault his parents lied. He’d trusted them to explain everything to the villagers and they didn’t. Miataga would keep an eye on the situation and if it seemed like things were going to get worse, he’d talk to Ari about leaving.

“Have you really been friends for a long time?”

Turning, he smiled at Rayme. “Do you want the truth? If you don’t think you can deal with it, we’ll just keep the story I’ve told.”

She laughed. “Don’t worry about my sensibilities, Miataga. I know you’re his lover. They all know it, though they won’t acknowledge it. I don’t care.”

“All right then. He hired me to come on this trip with him. I met him the night we left Sendler.” Miataga leaned closer to her. “I work in one of the Loving Houses in the lower city.”

Rayme’s eyes widened, but she didn’t move away. “I’ve wondered who would work there. Yet to be honest, even though I knew you had probably just met, he trusts you in a way I’ve never seen him with anyone else.”

Miataga shrugged. “Maybe it’s because I don’t want anything from him. You would think that being a whore, I’d be interested in getting every thing I could get.” He shook his head. “There’s nothing I need, except a friend.”

“You’re friends as well as lovers?” She seemed surprised.

“Certainly. I’ll admit it’s not something I usually am with my clients. But this trip is more than him just having someone around to have sex with. At least that’s what I’m thinking. You’d have to ask him about why he chose me. He is an amazing man. Trust me, I have a lot of experience with them.”

Both he and Rayme laughed when she nodded.

“I know what you mean. Ariste has always been my favorite of Jemsel’s siblings. I wish we could spend more time together, but I understand that the military calls him away.” She rolled her eyes. “And he can’t stand his parents all that much any more.”

Pursing his lips, Miataga glanced over at Mr. Dosterta then back at Rayme. “I can’t blame him all that much,” he whispered. “I hope you don’t hate me for saying that.”

Rayme edged closer and murmured, “I agree. My mother-in-law drives me crazy.”

Yikes!

So I was good on getting you a post yesterday. And fell down on the job today. Sorry. There should be one on Wednesday and Thursday. Three in one week? The world might come to end…lol.

I hope you have a great day.

On Love’s Wings

(I did it…lol)

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Four-

“And you are?” Samles inquired, his tone suspicious.

Ari bristled and he wanted to say something about it not being the man’s business who Miataga was. But Miataga touched his back again and Ari took a deep breath.

“I’m Miataga. Ari and I are friends. We met in Sendler.” Miataga smiled at the elder. “It’s nice to meet Ari’s family and see the village he grew up in. He’s told me a lot about all the fun he used to have when he was younger.”

Ari coughed to cover up his chuckle. Miataga was good at lying, that was sure. There hadn’t been any stories about games he’d played with his siblings or friends. Not that Ari didn’t have fond memories of growing up. He’d enjoyed living in the village and playing amongst the trees in the forest. He’d had friends, though they’d grown apart since he left for the capitol.

Unfortunately, any good will he might have felt towards his parents had been eroded over the years. Ari cared about them still. He didn’t want to see them dead or ill. He simply didn’t want to spend any time with them.

Samles relaxed as though he believed Miataga and the tension in Ari’s shoulders eased. He wasn’t interested in arguing about why he didn’t come home more often. It wasn’t any of their business.

“What are the laws and how do we ensure we don’t get in trouble with the government because we haven’t been following them?” Caristal asked. “My daughter has mentioned having vivid dreams. They only started a few days ago.”

Ari motioned for them to sit. “Please, all of you find a place to sit and I’ll explain.”

His father huffed in annoyance, but took a chair close to the entrance. Ari wondered if it was so he could leave quickly in case someone got angry with him. Once they were all settled, Ari glanced over at Miataga. His lover smiled as he took a seat close to where Ari stood.

“All right.” Ari rubbed his hand over his head while he organized his thoughts. “When I first started having visions, I didn’t know what they were. I was frightened and worried. My parents told me to ignore them. That they would go away soon enough. I believed them, but the visions didn’t go away. They got stronger and it felt as though I was going to go crazy.”

He remembered those days when he was trying to figure out what the hell was going on with his brain. The visions of a giant bird wreathed in fire scared him. Then he kept getting scenes of a large city, which drove him to believe he needed to go to the capitol.

“I kept being drawn to Sendler and the bond birds I knew were kept there. Finally, I didn’t give them a choice. I told my parents I was going to the city to seek my destiny. Little did I know what was waiting for me there.” He smiled as he thought back on the first time he laid eyes on Vikex. “A flame colored bird with fire in his feathers. Our connection was so strong, it brought me from one side of the country and Vikex from the other.”

The elders nodded and he continued.

“If any of your children come and tell you that they have been having visions like mine, don’t ignore them. There are reasons why the dreams are plaguing them. Also, if they aren’t allowed to follow them, they could go insane. I’ve seen the results of such folly and it isn’t pretty.” He gestured to where Barke stood, plastered against the back wall as though he hoped no one would notice him and send him away.

“Barke has informed me he has had such visions and he’ll be returning to Sendler with me.” Ari met Caristal’s gaze. “If your daughter is experiencing the same thing, you’ll need to make sure she reaches the capitol. Or when I return, I can tell one of the officials in charge of gathering the new recruits about her and someone will come to retrieve her.”

Caristal didn’t look happy, but she nodded. “I’ll discuss it with my husband and my daughter. We’ll see what we can do to help her get there.”

Ari was pleased by her acceptance, even if it was reluctant.

“I’m glad you’re going to do that because it’s law that you have to send the people who have the dreams to the government. If not, you’ll be fined. The officials might decide to punish you further, considering you already had one child leave the village to bond with one of the birds. They could assume you should know better than to keep them hidden away.”

“But,” Samles started to protest.

Ari held up his hand to stop any more words. “I know now that you didn’t have any idea about this. My parents are to blame about keeping all the information away from you. How you deal with them is up to you. I want you to know though, if you send your children, you will be compensated. You’ll get money to cover whatever expense you have to pay out. If you have to hire farm hands to help plant—or harvest—the crops.”

The elders turned to eye his father who squirmed on his chair. Ari couldn’t help feeling a little happy at the thought his parents might get their comeuppance. They deserved it after treating their former friends and their own children as they had.

“Your children will be able to return for visits as soon as their training is over and they are granted leave. You aren’t going to lose them. Hell, by giving them their wings, you might discover how important you are to your children.” He paused then went on. “Just don’t treat their birds like you treat mine. Those birds will be bonded to them and it’s vital that they are together at all times.”

“What about you? Whenever you come, your bird goes off into the forest. Isn’t it bad for you to be apart?” One of the other elders spoke up.

Ari shook his head. “No. Our bond is strong enough, we don’t have to be close to communicate. Besides, unlike the regular bond birds, Vikex prefers solitude to being around a lot of people.”

Just like me.

Death or Life available…

I know I said there would be another blog story post today, but the day sped by and I didn’t get it done. Sorry. 🙁 I’ve been terrible at this lately. I’ll post one on Monday for you all. 🙂

Also just a reminder, Death or Life is available at MLR Press if you don’t already have it. Click here to check it out. If you haven’t read it already, I hope you consider picking it up. I love the new cover. 😀

Have a great weekend and there will be three story posts next week. Along with some news..hopefully.

On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Three-

Ari nodded. “I spent most of my time annoyed with them, but they’ve broken the laws to make their lives easier. Even more than that, they’ve chosen to ignore the needs of their own children.”

Miataga studied Air for a moment. “Is it really that important for the people who have these visions to follow them?”

“Yes. If they don’t, they could go insane.”

The soft snort Miataga gave told Ari his lover was a bit skeptical about his statement. He drew him to a halt then lifted Miataga’s chin so their gazes could meet.

“I know it doesn’t sound likely, but I’ve seen it happen. We’ve gotten to the human bond mates too late and they’ve gone over the edge. There’s no way to bring them back, not even if there is a bird to bond with. And the birds might die as well.” Ari rubbed his thumb along Miataga’s jaw. “It’s a hard thing to witness. I refuse to let it happen to anyone I might have a chance to save. Barke should have been sent to the main base in Sendler the moment he informed them about his visions.”

Miataga wrapped his lips around Ari’s thumb and bit. Breathing deeply, Ari tried to push down his desire. He had to keep his mind on the business at hand. After which, he could have his way with Miataga. Maybe it would help calm him down before he had to spend more time with his family.

He tugged his digit out of Miataga’s mouth then tapped him on the nose. “Behave.”

Miataga smirked, but didn’t say anything. Ari motioned toward the door.

“Let’s get this over with.” Nodding, Miataga lead the way into the hall. Ari wound his way through the crowd of people and tables to the small dais at the front of the building. Once there, he helped Miataga up on it then stepped up as well. He turned to see everyone staring at him.

The weight of Miataga’s hand resting at the small of his back helped Ari straighten his shoulders and gather his thoughts. As angry as he was with all of the elders, he couldn’t allow that rage to take over. He needed to make sure they understood how badly they had screwed up. He really didn’t want to bring the government officials down on the entire village.

“Why did you gather us here, Ariste?” One of them spoke up.

He faced the man and tried to remember his name. “Elder Samles, it’s been brought to my attention that you haven’t been fulfilling your obligations to the government.”

Samles frowned. “What obligations?”

“My cousin, Barke, tells me he has been having visions. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other young people in the village who have been experiencing them as well. Yet not one of them has been sent to Sendler and no one has contacted me either.” Ari propped his fists on his hips.

“Why would we do that? These visions are just dreams. They don’t mean anything. Just wishful thinking of the young,” Samles said, clearly puzzled by Ari’s anger.

Ari swung around to look at his father. “You never told them about the law? Not even after I explained what the consequences would be if you broke them?”

Father shrugged. “It didn’t seem important. No one in Sendler cares about villagers in these mountains. They only want our taxes, which they can have, even if it leaves us without in other ways. Why should we give them our children as well? Some only have one child. Who would help them with their crops if that child were to run away to the city?”

Samles took a hold of Ari’s father’s arm and shook him. “Have you been lying to us, Dosterta? Are you going to get us in trouble with the military? We have no way of defending ourselves from them.”

Father jerked his arm away then crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m sure we have nothing to worry about. Ariste won’t tell on us and we can just forget about those foolish visions.”

Ari gestured for his father to shut up. “Stop talking. Elder Samles and the rest of you, listen to me. Those visions your children have been having are signs of their destinies. You must allow them to follow them. Hell, it’s the law that you cannot keep the children from going to the city. If you do, they will go insane. I’ve seen the damage done to a person with an unfulfilled bond.”

“Bond?” Caristal, another Elder, asked. “What kind of bond?”

“Barke has told me about his visions. I’m sure the others’ dreams are the same. They dream of riding birds, of flying through the air. Their visions are much like I had when I was young. I left the village because of them and went to Sendler where I met Vikex. I bonded with the phoenix as my dreams told me I would.” Ari scrubbed his hands over his face.

“Is that true?” Caristal looked shocked.

“Yes. My parents knew it because I sat them down and explained everything the first time I returned. I let them know they would be receiving a stipend from the government to cover the loss of my work. I also warned them about the penalties of not allowing others to journey to Sendler if they were called.” Ari shook his head, disappointment and anger welling up in him again. “I should’ve known they weren’t going to be honest with the rest of you.”

Caristal and Samles, along with the other Elders, glared at Ari’s father.

Samles spoke, “You’re right. They didn’t let us know we must comply with the law and send our children away. As much as we would hate to lose them, it isn’t worth losing our livelihoods or our land to keep them.”

“You wouldn’t lose them. They will always return when they have leave. You just need to learn how to deal with their bond birds when they come home,” Ari informed them.

“But you hardly ever come back, Ariste,” Caristal pointed out.

He grimaced, wishing he could say something about being busy that would sound convincing.

“Unfortunately Ari and Vikex have been very busy along the southern border. The military finally allowed them a chance to come for a visit,” Miataga interjected smoothly taking the pressure off Ari.