Disclaimer: I do not own Fablehaven. It is the creation of Brandon Mull.
A/N: This story is the tenth entry in a ten-story series, and is a follow-up to "Utopia of the Usurper Unicorn". Please make sure to read the previous nine stories before starting this one! Thank you and enjoy!
Chapter 1: Bonds
As the exhilarating wind brushed against his face whilst flying against it at a high speed, Seth Sorenson tightened the already firm grip that he had upon Skyfrost's scaly shoulders.
The sky-blue wyvern was in the midst of flying among the rotund cumulonimbus clouds that were drifting across the sky, high above the acres upon acres of forest that made up the Fablehaven preserve. As though it had become some sort of mandatory ritual, Seth made sure that as long as he had enough time to spare, that he and Skyfrost would go out for a flight at least once a day.
On most other days, Seth would regularly have found himself accompanied by Kendra, Ingrid and Warren, who typically all rode upon Raxtus, Geminus and Firesquall respectively. However, today was different; Kendra and Warren were not with them. Kendra had declined the offer to join them, while Warren stated that he was too busy with other things he had to do.
As Skyfrost came barreling through and out of a cloud, Seth was able to see the vast sky that lay before him. However, what really caught his attention was Ingrid, who was riding atop Firesquall.
Although Ingrid normally rode upon Geminus, it was Firesquall himself who pleaded to come along. The green wyvern and his twin brother were, at times, nearly inseparable. Not wanting him to feel left out, Geminus suggested that Ingrid should ride upon Firesquall, so that she too could spend some time with Seth.
"This is awesome!" shouted Ingrid, immediately after Firesquall had finished performing a loop-de-loop.
Seth grinned at Ingrid and laughed. "The way you say it, you make it sound like Geminus is some sort of amateur! "
"No disrespect to her or anything," said Ingrid, as Firesquall flew up alongside Skyfrost, "but Firesquall here is a flying ace!"
"We're wyverns," said Firesquall. "We practically exist to fly!"
"You've flown on us the odd time before," said Skyfrost. "How come you're just realizing this now?"
"Yeah, but those times weren't for pleasure," said Ingrid. "But today... it was like a whole new experience!"
"You really like Firesquall, don't you?" asked Skyfrost.
Ingrid smiled, then patted Firesquall upon the back of his head, near the base of one of his horns. "He's certainly something else."
"Why don't you go talk to Warren?" asked Seth. "Maybe he and you can trade dragons."
"NO WAY!" blurted Firesquall, as smoke came fuming out of his nostrils. He turned his head towards Seth and glared at him.
"Take it easy, Firesquall," said Seth, holding up a hand.
"Sorry," said Firesquall, having lowered his voice. "But Warren and I... We're kinda close."
"I get you completely," said Ingrid. "I would never want to abandon Geminus. This whole proposition was Seth's idea anyway!"
"Well, I'm just having such a good time right now," said Seth. "Geminus can't quite keep up with the wyverns, and now that Ingrid is with us..."
Skyfrost and Firesquall both looked at each other, then turned their heads to look up at Seth and Ingrid. "What about Ingrid?" asked the wyverns, speaking in unison.
"I know what they're talking about," said Ingrid, smiling in Seth's direction.
"I... uh... wanted to show off something for Ingrid," uttered Seth, speaking in a way that he knew came off as trying to change the subject. "Come on, Skyfrost! Let's show her just how much faith I have in you! Remember what I told you earlier."
"I know," said Skyfrost. "Firesquall, stay where you are."
Firesquall allowed himself to stop flying alongside Skyfrost, instead opting to remain aloft in midair by slowly flapping his wings.
Skyfrost then proceeded to veer upwards, tilting his entire body until he was flying in a completely vertical formation. Seth was now gripping the handles on Skyfrost's saddle to keep from falling off, his shoes pressing against the stirrups to help maintain his balance.
Skyfrost then veered up onto his backside, so that he was now flying whilst upside-down. He wasn't very comfortable, but Seth's legs were now dangling from the stirrups that he had looped his ankles through, while still holding onto the saddle with his hands.
"Seth!" shrieked Ingrid. "What are you doing?"
"This isn't even the best part!" exclaimed Seth. "Just watch! Get ready, Skyfrost."
"Oh, I'm ready," replied the wyvern.
Seth proceeded to wriggle his feet back through the stirrups, so that they would no longer be supported by them. Just as he got both of his shoes out of the stirrups, Seth proceeded to let go of the saddle with his hands. His body no longer connected to Skyfrost's, Seth proceeded to plummet downwards.
"SETH!" shrieked Ingrid, as Seth maneuvered his airborne body back into an upright position.
"He'll be fine," said Firesquall, just as Skyfrost swooped in underneath Seth. Seth had fallen no more than ten feet as his bottom came down for a perfect landing upon Skyfrost's saddle.
"Seth!" gasped Ingrid. "Are you alright?"
"Am I alright?" asked Seth, as he took in a deep breath and stuck his shoes back into Skyfrost's stirrups. "Am I alright? Are you kidding me, Ingrid? That was awesome!"
"I get it. It's just... don't scare me like that."
"Ingrid, you know the dragons would never let us fall to our deaths like that."
"I know, I know. It's just... scary. Watching you fall like that. Even though I know you'd be okay. The principle of it is kinda frightening to watch."
"Ingrid, you make it sound like I could've forgotten all about Seth and just continued flying," said Skyfrost.
"I'm sorry," said Ingrid. "But the idea of a human potentially falling thousands of feet to their death doesn't exactly fill me with confidence."
"You worry too much, Ingrid!" said Seth. "Jeez, you're starting to sound almost like Kendra!"
"Why?" asked Ingrid. "Because I'm worried about my brother? Oh, I'm sorry, that's what Kendra would say, isn't it? Well, what if I told you that I'm worried about my boyfriend?"
Seth opened his mouth. He wanted to say something in response, but he couldn't. Ingrid's remark had left him speechless.
"Ya hear that?" asked Skyfrost.
Firesquall chuckled. "Yup. It's hardly news, though."
"Seth, don't be embarrassed. Lighten up!"
Seth still found himself unable to speak. But he wasn't embarrassed. Not by a long shot. Rather, Seth was feeling elated. Overjoyed. Given his current position, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that he was on cloud nine.
"Seth?" asked Skyfrost. "Seth, you okay?"
"Air control to Seth!" said Firesquall. "Come in, Seth!"
Suddenly, a pair of golden, angelic wings came bursting out through Seth's shoulder blades, tearing two holes through the back of his shirt.
"Seth!" cried Ingrid. "What's going on? Why are you becoming an angel now?"
Seth smiled. "Isn't it obvious? I just found myself suddenly overcome with joy, on top of being surrounded with such close friends and family, that it just... happened!"
"That's pretty cool, is what that is," said Skyfrost.
"I'm gonna try something," said Seth, as he pulled his shoes out from Skyfrost's stirrups again. "Watch this!"
Seth released the grasp that he had upon Skyfrost, then allowed himself to fall over off of one side of the wyvern. He immediately found himself smacking against Skyfrost's leathery right wing, only to ricochet off and into the open air.
"Seth, take it easy!" exclaimed Skyfrost, as he and Firesquall both performed u-turns in mid-flight, turning themselves around in order to fly back towards Seth, who had now spread out his angelic wings and was utilizing updrafts of air to keep his body aloft.
"Guys, I'm fine," said Seth, once the wyverns flew up to where Seth was flying.
"Seth, you fell onto my wing!" stated Skyfrost. "Angel or not, you could've hurt yourself!"
"No offense, but your wing barely hurt at all," said Seth.
"Word of advice, Seth," said Firesquall. "If you're gonna take off like that, at least give a heads up! Unless you wanted to get hit by my bro's wing."
"I get it, I get it. Sheesh. All I wanted to do was go flying with you guys. I mean, I've got these wings growing out of my back! I might as well put them to some use."
"You know," said Ingrid. "For someone who's an angel, you sure try to come off as a daredevil."
"Seth," said Skyfrost. "You want to try out some fancy flying all on your own?"
Seth rolled his eyes. "I... don't know. A lot of what you guys do looks pretty difficult. I don't think that my body is quite as aerodynamic as a wyvern's. If what Hope's told me is anything to go on."
"It's not a race, Seth," said Firesquall.
"Course, if it were, no one would bet on him," said Skyfrost.
"I didn't ask for this to turn into some kind of competition!" stated Seth. "I just wanted to fly around with you guys. Nothing crazy."
"Okay, okay," said Firesquall. "We get it. You don't like the high speeds."
"Are you kidding? I love zipping through the sky. When I'm riding on Skyfrost, that is. On my own, I'd rather just go at my own pace."
"Your pace, or a snail's?" asked Skyfrost. He and Firesquall both chuckled.
"Give him a rest, you guys," said Ingrid. "After all, he's only human."
"But he's an angel!" noted Firesquall. "Which is sort of like a human, right?"
"Whatever he is, he's our friend," said Skyfrost. "If we're too fast for him, that's fine. We'll just slow down so he can keep up with us."
"Seth, come here," said Ingrid, as Seth flew over by her side, his body turned towards hers.
"What is it?" asked Seth.
"Hold out your arms."
Seth held his arms forward. Without saying a word, Ingrid reached out and placed her arms around Seth's shoulders. As if it had been complete instinct, Seth interlocked his own arms with Ingrid's, then lifted her up off of Firesquall's saddle.
"What are you guys doing?" asked Firesquall, who was no doubt trying to figure out what had happened to his temporary passenger.
"What are we doing?" asked Ingrid, who was now embraced in a hug with Seth. "We're having the time of our lives! That's what we're doing!"
Seth held onto Ingrid as tightly as he could. Right now, his and her arms were the only thing that were keeping Ingrid herself from plunging downward.
Seth then veered himself and Ingrid into an upright position, slowly flapping his wings to bob himself up and down in midair.
"What do you think of the view?" asked Seth, gazing at the myriad of clouds that surrounded them in all directions.
"It's not the view that matters," said Ingrid. "It's the experience."
Ingrid then proceeded to kiss Seth. Had he not already sprouted his wings at this point, this kiss surely would've been the thing to have done it.
Although Ingrid claimed to be holding the view in complete disregard, Seth couldn't help but notice that the sun was beginning to set along the west end of the horizon.
"We'd better get back," said Seth, turning to look at Skyfrost and Firesquall.
"You're right," said Ingrid. "But we don't need to rush. You mind flying us down, Seth?"
"It'd be my pleasure," said Seth, nodding in response, as he titled his entire body forward so that he could look down at the massive forest that lay beneath him.
Kneeling in front of a flower garden that was bursting with vibrantly-colored tulips, Kendra Sorenson watched in awe at the dozens of fairies that were fluttering in the air around her. While some of the colorful fairies opted to frolic among the flowers, it seemed as though a greater number of them were fluttering around Kendra herself.
Suddenly, Kendra felt as something small gently bumped into her backside. Turning herself around, Kendra looked down and saw Vanessa. The infantile fairy dragon let out a giggle, then proceeded to wrap her arms around one of Kendra's legs, hugging it.
"Hey there," said Kendra, patting the baby dragon's purple head.
"You sure are popular today, aren't you, Kendra?" asked a familiar voice. Kendra looked up and saw both Raxtus and Geminus walking through the garden towards her.
"Well, there is something special about today," said Kendra.
In actuality, Kendra could suspect exactly what Raxtus was talking about. Today was Kendra's birthday. Her family and friends hadn't discussed it around her all that much, especially once October had finally rolled around. This morning, the adults had all admitted that they were busy with "other things", leaving the kids on their own.
Earlier in the day, Seth and Ingrid had invited Kendra to go flying with them. However, Kendra chose to decline their offer. When she had initially gone outside after a rather simple breakfast consisting of nothing but toast and strawberry preserves, she noticed that the fairies were giving her a lot more attention than they usually did. Sure, it was her birthday. And perhaps Bracken even told them to behave this way. But something about it seemed odd. Kendra couldn't decide whether their behavior had been natural or unusual.
"Someone sure seems happy," said Geminus, nodding at Raxtus.
"Happy about a birthday, huh?" asked Raxtus, nodding in agreement.
Kendra grinned, but was unable to think of anything to say as a reply.
"That's right," said Geminus, as she scooped up Vanessa. "You've got a birthday coming up, don't you?"
"Real soon, too," said Raxtus. "But let's get her back to the lair. The wyverns should be back soon, and they'll want to have dinner. Besides, we've been with you all day, Kendra. We need to rest."
"See you, Kendra," said Geminus, as she and Raxtus walked away through the garden, making their way around towards the back of the house.
Not long after the fairy dragons had left, Kendra could hear something approaching the ground from up high. Intrigued, Kendra gazed up towards the sky, where she could see Skyfrost and Firesquall swooping down in her general direction. However, what really intrigued Kendra was the fact that Seth, in his angel form, appeared to be flying alongside them. Once they neared in, Kendra could see that Ingrid was being carried within Seth's arms.
Within moments, Skyfrost and Firesquall both slowed down and lowered their talons as they came in for a landing only a few yards away from where Kendra was kneeling. Shortly after they folded their wings in, Seth reached the ground, releasing Ingrid from his hold.
"Seth, that was unbelievable!" exclaimed Ingrid.
"Yeah!" blurted Seth, raising his arms in approval. Now that he was on ground, he could really feel his heart racing in excitement. "I felt like a superhero!"
"Seth!" gasped Skyfrost. "Your wings!"
Everyone, including Seth himself, watch as the wings on Seth's back suddenly receded back into his body.
"Yikes," said Firesquall. "You picked a pretty intense time to stop flying."
Seth laughed. "I kinda expected that to happen. You see, now that I'm back on the ground, and there's no crisis or anything going on, I don't need to be an angel."
"Hey, Kendra," said Ingrid, as she and the others all approached her.
"Seth, what happened up there?" asked Kendra, trying to figure out in her mind as to why Seth had even become an angel while they'd been up in the sky.
"You missed it!" said Seth. "Kendra, we asked you what... fifty times to come flying with us today? And did you comply? No! You decided to sit around in this boring old garden all afternoon so that you could smell the roses!"
"There's more too it than that, Seth! And boring is hardly the term I'd use to describe this garden."
"Kendra, we know it's gorgeous," said Ingrid. "But you've got to admit that it isn't all that exciting. No offense to any of you fairies."
The fairies that had been fluttering around Kendra all stopped and looked at Ingrid for a moment, then went back about their business. The fact that Ingrid spoke the word "fairy" was probably what got their attention, albeit only momentarily.
"Look, I've been flying with you plenty of times," said Kendra. "Maybe I just wanted some alone time. Ever thought of that?"
"I guess we are pretty wild fliers," said Skyfrost. "Kendra probably just wasn't in the mood to go off with us."
"No, that's not it," said Kendra. "You see, lately, the fairies have shown a real attraction to me. More so than usual. Now that I've had some time to myself, I've really gotten the chance to bond with the fairies. They've always been drawn to me in the past. But this time, I feel really connected to them. It's as though I belong with them. At least, that's what they've been telling me."
"It's true!" cried a tiny voice. Everyone looked to the side and saw Passion, Larissa, Goldenrod and Melody fly up towards Kendra.
"Kendra really has changed over the past few months," said Passion. "Ever since we first came to Fablehaven."
"I haven't been here long," sang Melody. "So I cannot make a comparison. But the draw is there."
"Well, what's it like?" asked Ingrid. "The draw you're feeling from Kendra, that is."
"It's strange," replied Goldenrod. "We've always felt an attraction to Kendra. But, over the course of our stay, the draw has gotten stronger. I can't explain it."
"Fairies that have been around here since Bahamut was freed, including those who contributed to making Kendra fairykind in the first place, can vouch for us," said Larissa.
"Kendra's strength seems to keep increasing," hummed Melody. "Perhaps she is maturing."
"I am growing up," said Kendra. "After all, today I..."
"Today what?" asked Goldenrod.
Kendra sighed. "Never mind. It's nothing."
However, it wasn't nothing. Even with the attention the fairies had been giving her. Kendra was feeling neglected by her own family. On her birthday. Surely they were planning something. No way they would forget. But whatever it was, Kendra felt that due to a lack of commotion, they were probably planning to keep it very low key, if they were doing anything at all. If they were going out, they'd have at least asked Kendra to dress up or something. But alas, Kendra hadn't heard anything.