I awoke with a start in the middle of the night. Something was wrong. “Lights!” I called, and the light came on overhead. I looked about, but it was only my room, sparse, spartan even, but sufficient.
Again the feeling came. Blithling! I had to get to Blithling!
I hastily pulled on my dragon-riding gear. Blithling was used to seeing me in it, he would panic in his current state if I looked unlike myself. The tight-fitting suit was fortunately easy to pull over my slender body, and it and my boots were the entirety of my garb.
The call came a third time, but this time, a lot of the urgency was gone. Whatever had disturbed Blithling was showing itself to be a lesser threat. He now felt capable of handling it, but I’d still better check on him. It was out of the ordinary...and Blithling and I had a race to run on the morrow.
I made my way to the dragon stables. Most people ride simacrlum dragons driven by computer graphics, but they don’t know the half of what it means to be a dragon racer.
There was the smell, for one thing. No simacrulum can give you the heavy, animal aroma of the dragon. A Bellerian dragon voids very little waste, and what there is of that is nearly odorless, but the skin itself exudes a bit of dragon pheremone into the air when you’re close to them, such as I was as I moved through the stable. All of the dragons were awake, and moving about, again, they were disturbed but not in danger. Whatever had awakened them had passed by them.
There was the sounds of dragon breaths. A dragon takes fewer breaths than even a human standing still (one reason they can race better than most animals; their lung capacity is amazing), so when they do exhale, a lot of air is being forced out the nostrils, and they make a loud “huff” sound that simucrula can imitate but never truly convey.
And finally, there was the dragons’ presence, the realization that another animal, one eight or nine times the volume of a human, standing and pawing at the clay floors with an intensity only matched by their eyes.
Another thing the simacrulum dragons couldn’t convey, the dragons were all peering at me so very carefully. Their eyes almost penetrated my very soul, and like behind those eyes lay a wisdom so deep that it would never be shared by any human being, any more than an earthworm could be told what a rainbow was.
I made it to Blithling’s stall, and he was not there! “Blithling!” I called out. He had been here, and he was close, very close; I should have felt it if he had not been.
Down in the mustering area, came his call back to me. Had a dragon been a horse, it would have been called the tack room. I went on down there. Whoever had taken Blithling from his stall had some explaining to do!
Blithling was there, along with a green dragon, more than three times Blithling’s age--it was Padimore, Cephelon’s riding dragon. Both Padimore’s and Blithling’s saddles had been put on them. Beyond the dragons, I saw the sudden burst of black-to-blue that was the rising of Bellaria’s white sun Withkin. Daylight, proper daylight, that is, had begun. The other two suns, yellow Querin and solemn red Maru, both were still below the horizon. They would be along in another half hour or so.
“Ah, Soriman, there you are!” came the voice, and I looked to see Cephelon coming around his green dragon Padimore. “Blithling said you’d be along shortly.” Cephelon was more than twice my age, but he wore it well, his head full-shaved (perhaps to hide a receding hairline), this combined with his dark brown Bellarian skin to give him a dusky appearance. Myself, I was a pale Tantilarian, blond hair and fair-skinned, as befit a world that knew more days of snow and ice than of green grass and warmth. Both of us were well-muscled, for handling dragons takes a great deal of raw physical power as well as finesse in handling; when you want to turn a dragon’s head, you must tug him hard, and to lift a dragon’s foot to see if it had been injured was to lift nearly two hundred pounds, and then to hold it as long as needed. No, dragon-racing was not for the weak, and neither of us were that. Blithling had tested my strength much in the first days, before he came to regard me as a friend and to speak to me as he now did. And now I was his human protector in all the ways of man, just as he would protect me should another dragon choose to attack me. So I went to his defense in righteous, full fury.
“Why have you taken my dragon out of his stall in the night?”
“It’s no longer night.” Cephelon pointed out.
“Yes, but I should be the one to saddle my own dragon!” I said sternly. “If he is to be ridden at all, that is!” Cephelon was my teacher, but a man's dragon was sacrosanct, not to be bothered by any other; I had the right to be angry even at him.
Cephelon smiled. “Then why did he let me put the saddle on him?”
I looked up at Blithling, asking my question by the mind-touch that is every true dragon-racer’s greatest gift. “Because he thought it would be a fine day for some exercise.” I admitted. “And because you told him you needed to do it.”
“Very true.” Cephelon said.
“So why did you need to put Blithling’s saddle on him?” I asked. “You could have called me and invited me to ride out with you.”
“This way was better.” Cephelon said. “You will understand upon the ride. Now racer, mount your dragon!”
Somewhat mollified, I turned to Blithling, he lowered himself to let me place one foot upon his bent foreleg, and from there I could vault up into the saddle.
“Soriman, do you wish to race in the Games’ trial race tomorrow?” Cephelon asked me. This trial race would determine if I could gain a slot in the Games and so represent Tantilaria.
“I would indeed.” I said as quietly as I could. I had trained intensely for over a year. But I was a native of Tantilaria, come to Bellaria to pursue my love of dragons and represent my home world in the Games. Bellarians always won such Games, but it was right that my own world make a showing, and I had secret hopes that one day, it might be more than a showing.
Cephelon opened the great door that led us outside into the Bellarian desert that surrounded this and every other town upon Bellaria. “Dragons, ride!” he called out and as I urged Blithling into a gallop, he said, “For you to be allowed at the trial race tomorrow, I must sponsor you. I say that unless you can beat me and Padimore at the race you and I are about to run, I shall not do so until next year's Games!”
Not sponsor me! But we had an agreement! No use arguing, he was already three dragon-lengths ahead of me and his green was swifter than my brown over this hard, flat land.
“Blithing, race!” I said to my dragon with my mind, and he went from a gallop into full racing mode.
Cephelon was taking us off the regular trail. We left the well-trammeled track and were in the sandy stretch before the low mountains some distance away, and I carefully watching the path ahead of Blithling’s stride, he could hit a soft patch of loosely-packed sand and throw me and possibly injure himself.
A patch of sand ahead had that look I knew from the simacrulums of my long-time gaming upon Tantilaria and my more recent real encounters. “Left, Blithling!” I said as Cephelon veered slightly right. A miscalculation on his part, I think, for the left path was better!
And it was, now Padimore and Blithling were neck and neck, and I was outraged that Padimore turned his head and snarled at Blithling. Blithling blanched at this (as well he should; Padimore was larger and stronger than he), and I lost a half-length. But that didn’t matter overmuch, for rocky terrain now lay ahead.
Another soft patch of sand nearly caught me, but I veered Blithling around it just in time and now was just behind Padimore as we went up the rocky hillside. Many years of day-heat and night-cold had fractured the bedrock to make this tumbled terrain of rocks from the size of your hand down to the size of pebbles, and I saw with glee that Padimore had trouble making it up the hill. Brown dragons lived in the hills, and Blithling climbed this ruined terrain with the ease of instinct. By the end of it, my steed was ahead of Padimore!
Near the top of the slope, we encountered a road that ran along the top of this hill and Cephelon called up to me. “We ride around the Column of Cophir and then back to the stable. From here on, you may take any path you choose, dragon-racer!”
And Cephelon steered Padimore onto the road, which would take him to the Column of Cophir.
But not directly. The hill curved away a bit before it swung back to near the Column. I judged the chance and decided to take it. “This way!” I swung Blithling’s head and we went down off the road and down the hillside, making a rougher but more direct path for the Column.
If I had misjudged either the terrain or my dragon, I would lose. But I felt sure Blithling was ready for the course I’d chosen.
We rode and I saw with dismay that a crevass was ahead, fully six feet across and extending for some distance in both directions! This was new! Earthquakes are common enough on Bellaria, but such a crevass would strain Blithling’s ability to jump.
“Can you jump it, Blithling?” I asked him. If he couldn’t, we would go around...and surely lose the race.
Blithling assured me that he could and I trusted him, gave him his head and we raced directly for the large opening in the ground.
As Blithling jumped, I remembered my training. Keep your center of gravity near the dragon as you can. Don’t let your legs touch when he first starts jumping, you can hinder his muscle movement at a critical time. When he springs, only then should you clench tight, for a dragon lands after a jump lands hard, a shock will race through your body and jar you nearly off the animal.
So that is what I did, released my leg-grip on Blithling just before the jump, felt the ponderous body leave the ground and I clenched again as his legs splayed out before him. As he landed the bones of his foreleg joints rammed my shins and I grunted, but I held on, and then the shock came, and my teeth clashed painfully and my body felt bruised all over at once, but then the rear legs came in and helped cushion the landing...and slipped upon the stones near the edge of the crevice! Blithling hadn’t quite jumped hard enough!
Forward Blithling, I urged him, throw your neck forward as hard as you can, get your weight back on your forelegs, fast!
If I’d had to speak it, I couldn’t have done it, but thought is near-instantaneous and Blithling heard, obeyed, his weight threw me forward and I felt my stomach ram the pommel on my saddle, then Blithling brought his rear legs forward and onto firmer ground, and with a spring that threw me backward just as hard, he was back in control and racing once again!
Good dragon, Blithling, good dragon! I told him with my mind. Let’s get to the Column of Cophir and around it quick as we can. Everything we’ve done this last year is riding on this!”
And Blithling was swift as the summer zephyrs of Tantilaria for which I had named him, and we made it to the Column and I saw the sands around the great column were untrammeled. “We are first!” I said to Blithling and he snuffled the air and agreed, no dragons had been here. We raced around the column and back for the stable, my heart beating with me. For student to beat the master is especially sweet!
So imagine my surprise when I made it back to the stables to find Cephelon already there. “There you are!” he said to me as I raced up, hauling at Blithling’s reins with dismay. “What took you so long?”
I looked at him, and at Padimore. He couldn’t have beaten me to the Column, the sands were untracked, he.... “You never went to the Column!” I said, scandalized. “You turned and came back here without going to the Column!”
“How do you know?” he asked me. “You weren’t along with me.”
“You...” I stuttered. “The sands of the Column were unmarked with any prints. I saw as we rounded it. I was first to the Column.”
“And who is going to believe you?” Cephelon said. “A Tantilarian beating a full Dragonmaster in a race?”
Who would believe me? “Blithling can tell you.” I said. “Ask my dragon. He didn’t smell Padimore’s scent anywhere around the Column.” Blithling silently concurred with me. “He didn’t even smell Padimore again until we got near the stables.”
“So how would a Tantilarian know how to talk to a dragon?” Cephelon sneered. “You have to be born with the dragons as I was to know their language! Are you telling me you have the gift of dragon-speak?”
Shivering in my anger, I nodded curtly.
“Then prove it.” he gestured to Padimore. “I have lived my entire life since birth with Padimore. Get him to tell you something about me that only he, my first dragon, would know?”
I looked at Padimore hopefully, but he was silent. A dragon only speaks with its thoughts to one it chooses. Please, Padimore, help me in this. Tell me something to tell your rider that will convince him that I can speak with you.
Silence. In despair, I turned my thoughts to Blithling. Blithling, can you get Padimore to tell you something to tell to me? I asked not very hopefully.
After a short pause, Blithling told me something and I smiled and said, “When Padimore bit at Blithling at the first of the race, he did so because you told him to.”
“What?” Cephelon said. “Would I tell my dragon to disobey the rules of a race?”
“Yes, you would.” I said as Blithling elaborated. “You said when Padimore pointed it out as illegal, that you had a good reason for wanting it. Is this what you wanted, for it to be something for Padimore to tell me?”
“Did he tell you?”
“No.” I admitted. “But he told Blithling, who told me.”
Cephelon’s response was a chuckle and he reached up to cup Padimore’s large jaw affectionately. “Padimore was always stubborn about such things.” He said. “Never mind, you are right. And it was important and you have just seen why it is.”
“Why?” I wanted to know.
“Because until you are one with your dragon, you can never be a true dragon-racer. Only when dragon and rider are of one mind and one heart, can you truly be worthy of the Games.”
“Then you will sponsor me tomorrow?”
“I most assuredly will.” Cephelon said. “For you bear the true dragon heart, and that is a gift that any teacher must respect.”
“Do you think I truly have a chance in the Games?” I asked. “Blithling is a wonderful steed, but he is a brown dragon, and the blues or the greens usually win in the races.” I loved Blithling but considered him the way a horse racer would regard his first horse, one chosen to be gentle and easy to handle, not the one you would race in a serious event. Until you ride a dragon often, racing him is not to be, I expected to make a showing well back in the ranks in my first race for this reason.
But that will not be true this year, for the race this year is laid out over many types of terrain.” Cephelon said. “Blues have more stamina, greens are better at running over even terrain, but when the terrain is varied, the brown is the best at handling them all. Don’t fret about losing some ground in the beginning, as you did with me, a clever hand at the reins and your dragon’s eye for the terrain will carry the day for you if anything can.”
“So I am a dragon racer?” I asked him, just to hear him say the words to me. I could ride in the Games not as an outsider/hopeful/wannabe but a true dragon-racer....
“Not quite.” Cephelon said. “There is one thing left. “Once this is done, then you will have the true heart of the dragon racer.”
“I am ready.” I said, thrusting out my chest and lifting my head proudly.
He knelt before me and I wondered as his hands reached up to release the front of my racing gear. If he’d taken my arm, I would have thought perhaps some sort of blood-letting, perhaps to let my dragon drink some of my blood or such....
Blithling rejected that thought of mine and projected ignorance of what Cephelon was doing. But he was a young dragon....
Cephelon had unzipped my racing gear’s lower half and I thought he might be going to remove it, but no, he only peeled it down to mid-thigh and my otherwise-unclothed body (normally, you wear an undergarment, but I had been in a hurry to answer Blithling’s call) was before him.
He grasped my manhood and he said, “Now, young dragon-racer, you shall join our company as a full member. For we are one spirit, one with our dragons and one with each other.”
“One with each other.” I said when I saw he expected something.
And Cephelon’s mouth reached forward and he caught my flaccid prick with his lips and he nursed it up to a swelling rigidity. He looked up into my startled eyes, and he smiled and let go. “Can you think of a better way for two men to share themselves?”
I had to shake my head at this, and he returned and I let myself enjoy it. Cephelon had been my trainer, my master, my mentor and my teacher. For him to take me now, like this, was something more than just a man taking me, it was...it was his acceptance of my new equality. The glory of that thought rose in me like passion’s surge and became the same, I moaned in my ecstasy of acceptance and approval.
Blithling put down his head against my shoulder, and I laid back enough to nuzzle him with my cheek against his scaly jowl. He said to me that he had never seen such a preposterous sight in his life, and was Cephelon trying to eat me? I assured him that this was giving me the greatest of pleasure, and he acquiesced, dubious but compliant.
I could have used Blithling’s body for support, for my body was raging inside at this act of completion, this form of graduation, this ritual of initiation, I could not imagine ever feeling with anyone else at this moment, my sexual desires translated into the particles of raw ecstasy, the translation of the spirit to a new level, the transformation of myself, the eager trainee, into the full membership of the dragon-racers!
It was like streamers of light were racing through me, translating all they touched into golden rapture, and I shuddered as my body clamored for release and worried that this was too rapid, too swift, and I let my moans betray an urgency, perhaps he would hear and ease off to permit me the dignity of endurance.
But Cephelon had none of that, my moans only drove him to move the more swiftly upon my prong, he was sliding up and down with a rhythm born of a lifetime in the dragon’s saddle, the ride that can never be one of casual relaxation, for the dragon’s muscles beats under you and every fiber of your being must comply and act with that movement, if not, you will soon fall aside, so you hold hard and tight, and your body become inured to the long periods of exertion, and this power was Cephelon’s now and he used it to drive my passion to its very peak, and I was the helpless passenger upon that drive, and could only let it raise me up to the stratosphere of delight and there to drop me like a stone into passion’s ocean!
The splash of my orgasm was as noisy and explosive as that of a Mitigorian near-whale that breached and rose high up out of the water in his joy at living, and then to burst down upon the water’s top and the spray that would envelope him in its diamond-like splendor. In that splendor that sparkled in my brain, I felt my soul rushing out of my cock into Cephelon, yes, this is what he wanted from me, to take my spirit and give his in return, I poured myself into him along with my jism, and felt the warm seepage of his own warm, brown, Bellarian soul into myself, bearing with it the taste of all the other dragon-racers that had joined with each other in this way, a community of spirits joining, mingling, becoming one. Into this sea of spirits I happily sank and vanished, sinking into its depths, there to be reborn again.
My climax over, my spirit transmogrified, I gasped at life with the urgent breaths of a newborn infant, and through eyes anew, I looked at Cephelon who had drunk my very life from me and returned it with his own.
“One with you, with all of you, forever.” I groaned, and he smiled.
“Yes, my beloved new dragon-racer, you are one with us. And now show me the promise of this new life.” And he made a move to unfasten the front of his own racing gear.
I fell to my knees eagerly, and his brown Bellarian dong shone with the sweat of the race and the heat of the new tri-sunned day (for now all three suns were up, the other racers would be having their breakfast, while Cephelon and I feasted upon each other), and the hot salty flavor of his maleness was ambrosial upon my tongue. I sucked the hot juices off of his prick and then I laid upon it the baste of my own slavering mouth, and when he was fully coated and ready, I thrust him into the bakery of my throat and rammed his dong in and out of my cooking-house mouth, and he felt the heat of my lovemaking and he sizzled in it!
I’m hungry, too, Blithling commented upon my little conceit, and I thought-smiled at him and promised him that I would tend to his feeding as soon as our ritual was done. Padimore grumbled near Cephelon, who was I presume dealing with his own hungry dragon-steed, and I plied my hungry lips upon the meat of Cephelon’s virility and wrung the sweet nectar of his incipient manhood’s release in the form of clear, warm precome that was a benediction to my tongue.
Cephelon let me work myself at first, but when I slowed down in my unfamiliarity with this, his hands came up and he took control of me, and I let him fuck at my mouth, holding my lips firmly in place just as I had my legs upon Blithling’s body at the jump, for this was not a place I wanted to fall off from either! And Cephelon moaned and thrust at me, and his cock heated up in my mouth and I looked up at him as well as I could, him lost in his rapture, and in his urgency, he failed to warn me by his voice of his climax until it burst out into me.
Suddenly I was drowning in hot salty spunk that jetted from Cephelon’s balls through the siphon of his love-tube into my mouth, and I nearly choked there was so much of it, and for me to strangle at this moment would have been unbearable, I fought myself back, I mastered my human fraility and I caught up with his passion and drank down the hot, virile seed that poured from him into my body, and it pooled in my stomach in a warm mass that glowed throughout my limbs, and I was all aglow as he finished and permitted me to suck out the last dregs of his love-wine from the vat of his testicles, and he let me finish as I would, and when I released him, he gently lifted me from the floor and gave me a kiss that held nothing in it of teacher-and-student, this was man-and-man, and if he took from me, he gave in kind and I took it for my own.
“Now you are a true dragon-racer.” he said to me. “And I shall proclaim you as such to the others. Let’s get to our breakfast before those bottomless caverns of men polish the cooking pots to the raw copper! There’s still a full day of dragon-racer training for you to get through, no reason to drop it now just before the trials.”
I agreed and we pulled up our clothing and as I fastened it, I said cheerfully to Blithling and Padimore. “Now I am a true dragon-racer.”
Dragons rarely communicate in actual words, preferring the purer communication of blocks of thought, but this time, it came to me in word form, like a line of inexorable logic and it was Padimore who said it to me, “There is no such ritual in becoming a dragon-racer, Soriman.” And the dragon thought behind it told me Cephelon had engaged in a little deception because of his desire for me.
So I gazed at the wise eyes and I smiled. “Thank you for telling me, Padimore.” I said to him in words as well as thought. “But let us keep that a secret, if we may, and see what else develops from it.” The two pair of dragon eyes of Padimore and Blithling beamed to me their agreement, and I went after Cephelon, the heart of a dragon-racer beating within my breast.
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