I drop the rift-bitten feather.
I mean, to be completely honest it’s the wind’s fault. She seems to like teasing me. Getting me in trouble. Giving all the young ones something to laugh about. Like they don’t have enough of that as it was.
I twist into a dive and sweep between the feather and crashing waves below with a single strong beat of my wings. The wind catches the feather in an updraft, sending it spinning overhead.
“W-why you thavage mi-mistreth.”
The wind laughs at me.
My lip twitches, then I laugh with her, letting my head drop back and my eyes close. Warm drops of light spill over my face.
“Ithran!” The hoarse shout carries from the shore. “You idiot!”
Come on. I’d not even done anything—
I pull in my wings at the last moment and twist. Foam from a wave slaps the side of my face. I sputter, gasping for a breath. Another wave rushes up, catching at the tips of my wings as I flail.
My brother lurches into the air from the shore. The wind blocks his shouts, slipping a finger beneath me. I steady, rocking to the side as my other wing barely brushes the water before I flap upward.
“Thanketh.” I dash the water out of my hair.
The wind slaps me.
Otherlanders think the air and wind is some invisible substance, free of barriers or any sort of obstacle. They might as well think the same of the waves. The wind flicks a short, cold gust against my face with such force I stall, my head snapping to the side.
A hand grips my shoulder. My brother’s slanted eyes sweep over me as he hovers in place. A risky maneuver. He does it all the same. Does all kinds of things he won’t let me do, just because he’s older.
“Shore, now.” He jerks his head.
“I’m fine.” I protest. “I juth had a—”
“You almost let the waves get you. Again. Shore.”
I sigh and twist away, trying to accidentally slap him in the face with my wing. He avoids it with ease and lands lightly before me.
“Every time, Ithran.” He sweeps his frosted hair back as he spins on me. “You know we can’t swim. You know… rifts.” He shakes his head.
I blink. “But—”
“No buts.” He turns away. “If anything happens… you know what mother would do.”
I frown. “But if thee—”
He holds up a finger.
“Th-s-she,” I frame the word awkwardly. “She would be happy, right? That I can make it?”
“When you can make it.” My brother corrects. He slows his step to walk in pace with me. “When you can make the whole flight with the feather intact like they do in the trials. Then we’ll show her. Understand?”
I nod slowly. “We’ll be able to thow all of them. I’ve been doing poorly on purpoth, you know. To thurprise them.”
My brother’s lip twitches, then he shakes his head with a laugh. “Oh, you’ll surprise them all right.” His eyes twinkle. “So long as you don’t kill yourself first.”
“I won’t. I promith.”
He snorts. “I know. I’ll make sure of it.”
His stride quickens and I let him make his way ahead, bounding up a twisted path. Behind me, the wind whispers.
“Tomorrow,” I whisper back. A grin slips across my face. “I’ll be back. Don’t wait up with your tricks. Cauth next time I’m going to make it.”