The Topaz Chronicles---Fanfiction Commission for Starke Raving Madmen

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IrishMexicanViking's picture
IrishMexicanViking
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Well, after a long period of absence I prefusely apologize for, I give thee...

 

Rave's fanfiction commission!

 

I have three of these stories left to post, so hang tight, everyone else who I did an exchange with. Thank you for your patience.

 

Hope you like your story, Rave, I ended up using all your story plots and kinda putting them together. Hope it's what you were looking for!

 

 

__________________

 *Whispers*

Меня зовут стойкий жук!

*cough cough*

Or not.

 

Here is a Russian doing the Cossack dance for you to enjoy.

Пожалуйста.

To see my characters and dragons, drawn by the amazing artists on this forum, check out my Imgur:

IrishMexicanViking's OCs

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IrishMexicanViking
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Chapter One

It should have been one of those obvious things from the beginning. After all, with a name like she had, little alarm bells were bound to go off in the hearer's head. But no, everyone took one look at the tiny little nine-year-old with the dark hair, hazel eyes and freckled cheeks and always talked about how cute she was.

Not that she didn't mind being called cute, but, come on, that was going a little too far. Especially when they discovered she was, in fact, a prankster.

And a darn good one too, she might add, but according to everyone else her pranks were miniscule. Or annoying. Or whatever they happened to call them at the time. In short, no one appreciated her pranks or her personality or any of the things she did, and it seemed over time it just got worse. Except the cute part. Everyone thought she was cute, even if she was all of the aforementioned things as well.

So she liked to cause a little ruckus here and there. Yes, she happened to be quite curious as well. But did that really make her unlikeable? Other children did the same things growing up and she never noticed them getting put through the ringer like she did. Perhaps it was because she didn't have parents or a tribe or she wasn't a real Berkian, she didn't know. Ever since she’d washed ashore the banks of the island of Berk, she’d always considered this her home, but perhaps not everyone else thought that. She didn’t know, she didn’t know anything, it seemed. All she knew was Topaz Gypsy was the strangest little viking on Berk and the one who seemed to get in the most trouble.

That was, until Hiccup Haddock Horrendous the Third managed to get himself into the dragon killing academy.

Suddenly anything Paz did seemed to be slight compared to the huge blunders the chief's son got himself into. For once in her life she was left alone and let be, her antics getting her no more than the occasional glare or whack from Gothi. But even Gothi was distracted by the strange happenings at the dragon killing arena, where Hiccup went from being the laughingstock of the village to being one of the best dragon fighters they'd ever seen.

That was, until this morning.

Nine-year-old Topaz Gypsy stood next to Gothi, the short woman stirring her mixture with as much frenzy as she could muster up. Which wasn't much, considering Gothi never did anything fast.

"Paz", as she preferred to be called, let her eyes wander to the sea where the ships had disappeared hours before, headed off to battle with the dragons on the island Hiccup had discovered as the dragon's nest. Stupid Hiccup, she thought glumly.

On the one hand, she kinda felt bad for him. Apparently all of this time where he was supposedly becoming a great dragon killer, he'd secretly been playing with a Nightfury and learning the dragon way. And when he was required to kill a Monstrous Nightmare, he tried to train it in front of everyone.

His father, Stoick, was not amused.

Now the Nightfury was in Stoick's possession and he was gonna be hogtied if he didn't try to use the dragon to find his way to the dragon island where all the dragons resided after they raided the village. Hiccup had been left behind. Cast away. Forgotten.

Hated.

On the other hand, Paz felt no sympathy for the boy at all. How dare he betray the ancient old traditions of the vikings, and think that because he could befriend a dragon all dragons were tameable. Years and years of dragons killing off their people should have been at least a clue it was a bad idea. Vikings were vikings and they ruled the seas. Dragons were dragons and they ruled the skies. They didn't mix. They would never mix. And they would never, ever get along.

They should have let me in the academy.

Ah yes, her other reason for being so annoyed at Hiccup. Had he not taken the last available spot on the training team, there was a good chance Gobber would have let her begin dragon killing training early. Yes she was slight for a nine-year-old, yes she was a little wild and crazy, but Gobber saw greatness in her. He even told her that one day, his words sounding something like an insult, but she knew them to be a compliment.

"If I let you in that arena with the dragons, they'd all cower in their cages in terror," he'd grunted one day after she'd managed to put twenty pigs on the roof of his house. "Paz, you do beat all."

Of course Paz knew that to mean he secretly admired her gumption, and she pestered and pestered him to let her train. She wanted nothing more than to defend the village with everyone else, to fight back the dragons and save the only home she'd ever known. Perhaps then she'd be accepted as a true viking and member of the Berkians!

But no, the little wimp Hiccup managed to weasel his way into the training program, and Gobber told her she'd have to wait another year or two. "It would probably be for the best," the large blonde explained. "Besides, I can't watch two lunatics at one time. Hiccup is enough for me."

And now here she was, helping Gothi prepare for the wounded vikings that were bound to come back, while Hiccup had been cast aside by his own father for betraying Berk.

She would have made a much better dragon killer than Hiccup.

"Ships, ships!" a little boy known as Gustav called from below. "The ships are returning!"

Paz jerked her head up and caught sight of the sails, her heart soaring. That was quick, they're already on their way back!

Except, there were quite a few less ships.

As in, only two of the many they'd sent.

Gothi too, gazed at the horizon, looking to see if anymore masts would appear out of the fog. After a good five minutes and with neither Paz or Gothi seeing anything of the sort, Gothi turned back to her mixture and began to add more healing balm to it.

Paz swallowed down her fear. Only two of...ten?

No, that was a bad, bad sign. There should be more ships. There should be far more ships. As it was, when the ships drew nearer she could tell there were far too many vikings for each vessel than there should be. Men were shouting, waving at them from the waters.

Also dragons were flying toward them, but no one bothered to shoot them? And it appeared Astrid, Snotlout, the twins and Fishlegs were on them...

Paz shook her head in disbelief, trying to understand what on earth was happening. She found Gothi's stick making contact with her head, and she yelped. Gothi gave her a sharp look and pointed to her little hut, with the signal that Paz was to retrieve more of the blue flowers. Paz ran to obey the order with haste.

Within the hour the ships had docked and the dragons she recognized as the ones the students had trained to learn to kill were preening themselves in Berk, little care in the world they were surrounded by vikings. From high above Berk next to Gothi's hut and out of hearing range, Paz was beside herself wanting to know what was going on down there!

It wasn't long before she found out, as Stoick the Vast himself came barging through Gothi's hut with Hiccup in his arms, Gobber on his heels. The boy was unconscious...

And from his ankle on down was missing.

"Gothi, we need your help now!" Stoick cried, shoving what pots Gothi had left on her outdoor deck off the table and setting his boy there. "He's injured badly."

The old woman turned to Hiccup, shot a meaningful glare at Stoick that said she didn't appreciate his throwing her medicine pots around, then examined the boy's leg.

Paz's breath slowed, her eyes bugged out as she beheld the son of the chief. He was so still, so quiet, and he looked deathly pale. And his foot! Where was his foot? All that was left was a hideous charred stump, mixed with red.

She felt like she was going to be sick, but that wouldn't do much good. Gothi sent her to retrieve a paste the old woman had set aside in her hut, so the young girl hastily obeyed. Her mind spun as she listened to the tale Gobber began to give Gothi, little words here and there piercing through the numbness of her mind.

"Fought...enormous dragon...Hiccup and the Nightfury saved us...the Nightfury is a hero..."

An enormous dragon? The Nightfury was a hero?

Paz returned with the balm and handed it off to Gothi, who then sent her to get some water and rags. Upon returning with that, she was able to quietly slide far enough out of Gothi's sight that the woman didn't notice her as she went to work on the unconscious, scrawny boy. By this time, Astrid had also made it up to Gothi's hut, and was standing around in silent fear. Paz wasn't quite sure why she was there.

"The boy's dragon saved us," Gobber said again, with a smile that shook at the very foundations of Paz's dreams. He looked far too cheerful about this. "The Nightfury and the other dragons. They came ridin' in there like the Valkyrie themselves. If it hadn't been for them, we would have all been killed! They are certainly heroes, the whole lot of 'em."

"What will become of the dragons?" Paz whispered, barely able to make herself heard.

For the first time, Stoick seemed to shake himself out of the silence he'd been in since his first outburst, and noticed her presence. He ran his fingers through his big red beard in thought, then shook his head. "The dragons will no longer be hunted or killed on my island," he said quietly. "Not after what they did for my people, my son, today."

And Paz realized with dismay that every dream she had of being a grand dragon killer was smashed within that moment.

All thanks to the hiccup of a son of the chief.

There went her dreams of ever getting out of the medicine field, of being Gothi's assistant.

Topaz Gypsy was stuck forever, all because some stupid boy had decided to befriend dragons instead of kill them.

She could have killed that boy right then and there.

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Chapter Two

Four years later found Paz standing over Gothi once more, except this time she was looking down at Gothi instead of up at her. Age does wonders to height.

Holding the basket out for the old woman, Paz did her best to concentrate at the task at hand, instead of the dragons and riders above her as they practiced a maneuver in the skies.

She wondered what it was like to fly up in the skies like that.

Gothi set another worm in Paz's basket, and the thirteen-year-old grimaced. Worms were such slimy little creatures, yet Gothi swore by her writings they were some of the best medicine a viking could have. Something about something they ate or possessed on the inside of them or whatnot that worked wonders for fever.

Paz guessed that was because people would rather come out of their fever than eat a worm, and so the wonder was nothing more than the will to get over being sick.

Out of habit she ducked as Gothi's stick nearly made contact with her head, a sly grin crossing her face. "I've been around you enough Gothi, to know when that stick is comin' out," she told her mentor.

Gothi rolled her eyes, but a smile of her own played at the corners of her mouth. She pointed at the basket and nodded toward Berk, gesturing with a hand for Paz to go.

"Mind if I stop by Gobber's smithy after I take these back to the hut?" Paz asked, her heart picking up speed at the thought of what awaited her at Gobber's. "My axe should be ready by now."

Gothi shrugged and nodded, waddling off without even so much as a good bye.

It was all the permission Paz needed.

Off like a shot and before Gothi could add anything else to Paz's already full afternoon, the young girl made her way through the woods and back toward Berk, her heart soaring at the thought of her new battle axe. She'd put forth a lot of money for that axe, and she couldn't wait to get it.

Above her she heard the calls of wild dragons, so she looked up to find that the Dragon Riders were herding a group of Nadders from the fishing area. No surprise there, Nadders were selfish little creatures. They must have been bothering Bucket and Mulch.

It was hard to believe that just four years ago, Hiccup had lost his foot and changed Paz's life forever. Because of the boy's tenacity and introducing dragons to the vikings of Berk, Paz had come to accept her dream of becoming a famous dragon killer had, well, died. Died with the last of the dragon killers, who were now all dragon riders.

She had resolved to accept her fate then as a healer like Gothi, training under her teacher vigorously and without relenting. Since she'd come to accept this would be the way it was from now on, things had gotten easier, especially since she was often too busy to get into trouble these days.

It was a big blessing...

And a rather empty life.

Oh well, she thought, pushing the last part out of her mind, I get my axe today!

Yes, but when was she ever going to get to use it? Certainly not against dragons. Maybe she'd get lucky and be present for an attack from some foreign viking tribe. That would be nice.

It took her less than half an hour to scale up to Gothi's home and store the flowers, then about twenty seconds to come down from the hut on the hill. She'd installed the rope for that very purpose.

Within a few minutes she was gasping for air in front of Gobber's smithy, trying to contain her excitement as Gobber laughed and went to retrieve the axe.

"Topaz?"

Paz jumped, whirling to face the speaker, only to find Rifka the Wild standing behind her, grinning up a storm.

"Paz! I haven't seen you around in ages!" Rifka exclaimed, flinging herself forward and hugging the girl. "How have you been? Gothi keeps you busy, I bet. Well of course she does, that's why I never see you!"

Paz collected herself enough to form a response, a shy smile crossing her face. "Rifka! Good to see you. What brings you here?"

In response, the redheaded girl pulled a saddle from the ground behind her and held it up proudly.

"Came to get this repaired, Manage to snap the cinch today during practice with Tully," she announced, her green eyes gleaming. "It was pretty epic."

"Another cinch, Rifka?" Gobber groaned, coming back with the beautiful, hand-crafted axe. "Here you go, Paz, exactly like you wanted it. At least, I hope so. Give it a twirl, see if you like it."

Paz took the weapon from Gobber in awe, the weight of the weapon bringing a smile from ear to ear. Now this was a weapon! Both ends held jagged blades, so that no matter what way she swung she would end up making contact with someone. The center of the axe had rubber rings for grip, a personal touch Gobber had added.

Paz stepped away from Rifka and swung the weapon around, the weight just right in her hands and the glide of the blades perfected. "This is beautiful," she breathed.

Gobber smiled, pleased with his craftsmanship. "Glad ya like it! Was hopin' it would suite you, lass."

The blonde viking turned to Rifka, his gaze falling on the saddle with a frown. He scratched his chin with his hook and sighed, glaring at the girl. "Again?"

"It was a tough day," she explained. "Tully has a bit of an issue doing barrel roles under trees. We snagged a branch."

"Which is why you shouldn't be trying that with a Monstrous Nightmare in the first place," Gobber grumbled, but he took the saddle from the girl anyway. "I'll see what I can do."

"Monstrous Nightmare, eh?" Paz commented, still too enamored with her axe to make much conversation. "When did you get one?"

"Couple months ago," Rifka told her. "Oh, Paz, you have no idea what you're missing, riding in the skies with us! It's so much fun! Tully is the best, too. You should come and meet him sometime."

She considered this tentatively, then shrugged with no conviction either way. "Sure," Paz said, unable to form a better answer. "Sometime."

"Squeeze some more time for yourself one of these days, we should hang out." Rifka gave her a slight punch on the shoulder, grinning like a cat. "See you around, Paz! Hope we can get together!"

"Uhuh," Paz said, and that was that.

She didn't see herself getting any time off soon, anyway, but there was no use explaining that to Rifka. She didn’t know the girl very well, and besides, she’d be plenty busy and forget Paz just like everyone else. Since she was now a dragon rider.

Should have known. It seems the dragon craze had spread to everyone on the island.
"Gobber," she called, turning to see if the blacksmith was still there. "Thank you sooo much for all the work you did on this. I love it."

"Sure thing, Paz," Gobber returned, coming around the corner while he wiped his hands on his apron. "More than happy to help you out."

He frowned, looked her up and down, then opened his mouth. And then shut it.

Paz waited, well aware that if Gobber was having trouble saying something, he'd been thinking for a while.
"Listen, lass," he began, leaning on the counter of the smithy window. His eyes met hers and he appeared soft, almost solemn. "Why don't you have a dragon?"

Paz blinked. "What?"

"I know you're a busy lass and whatnot, but Paz, you should think of getting yourself a dragon. Especially with all those errands you run for Gothi."

A dragon? For her? Paz was confused. Why on earth would she need a dragon, anyway? She got along fine on her own two feet.

"Another mouth to feed," she responded at last, slightly flabbergasted. "The cost, the care, I'm far too busy for something like that. Besides, where to begin? I have no interest."

"Do you?" he asked.

She didn't respond, unsure what to say.

Gobber sighed and shrugged, using his hook to scratch the back of his head. "Well, nothin' I can say there, than!" he announced with a jolly smile.

"Hmm." Paz also shrugged, completely at a loss for words and a good response.

The awkwardness was getting to both of them, so Gobber smiled and gestured up the hill where Gothi's hut was situated. "You'd best be gettin' along, lass, I'm sure the old goat up there is waiting for you."

That she could readily agree to. With a smirk at the fact Gobber had called Gothi an old goat, and with the knowledge no doubt Gothi would somehow find that out and give Gobber a good smack with that staff of hers, Paz gave her thanks and bid her farewell. All the way back to the hut, though, her mind swirled with the words that Gobber had said. Do you want a dragon?

Did she want a dragon? She hadn't considered it before. She was a lowly medicine apprentice, a student, not a dragon rider. When would she ever have the time for a dragon?

But the more she thought of herself soaring on the back of a magnificent reptile, going to her appointments in record speed, being able to gather more supplies than ever before, having a friend always at her side...

That last one struck a strange cord in her. Paz wasn't one that she needed a lot of friends. Sure, she liked people, but people were also hard to trust. A dragon would be her companion, her friend, and she wouldn't have to worry about it gossiping about her or backbiting.

Did she want a dragon?

Upon her return to Gothi's hut and for most of the evening, Paz went over these ideas in her head over and over again. In some ways, they excited her. In others, she felt a tinge of guilt and fear. What was she thinking? Gothi would never allow her to have a dragon, far too distracting.

Or would she?

By the time dusk had fallen and Gothi had set Paz down for a meal, the unthinkable happened. Paz dropped her bowl on the floor, and at the same time, burst out, "Gothi, could I get a dragon?"

Gothi looked at the floor with distaste, her fine yak stew well wasted. She looked up at Paz, and her gaze softened. Standing, she walked over to where the stew had splattered everywhere, and used her staff to arrange the carrots in writing.

I don't see why not. You need to be trained, though.

Paz's mouth dropped to the floor. Gothi had a slight twinkle in her eyes.

"Trained?" Paz whispered. "As in, the academy? The Dragon Academy?"

Gothi nodded.

"I can join?" Paz squeaked, her big, hazel eyes almost bulging out of her head.

Next school year, Gothi promised in writing. When they start up again, after the harvests.

And in that instant, her slight grudge against Hiccup for taming dragons melted away at the possibility of joining him in his trade.

Who knew what the next school year would bring? A new adventure, a new trade, and perhaps, a new friend.

Though she dare not hope for what had not yet come to pass, she felt a small flame light in her heart, and the idea she might not be stuck in the medicine trade forever crossed her mind.

Perhaps she would become a Dragon Rider.

 
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Chapter Three

Whizz! Clip!

Too close, Paz thought between gritted teeth, her fingers clutching the saddle as Minty barreled around the corner, her wing clipping the side.

That would cost them some speed. Already she could see Rifka and her Monstrous Nightmare gaining on them, impressive to say the least. Though huge, the dragon was fast, and nimble.

Minty was tiring quickly, and getting more agitated by the large beast on her tail. She wanted nothing more than to win.

Another turn in the sea stacks, a dive under an arch-looking rock, and they ascended into the clouds, where their small size would give them the edge they needed to dive faster than Tully, Rifka's Monstrous Nightmare.

They had to win this thing!

Fifteen-year-old Paz squinted in the cold wind, her cheeks burning from the sensation as they flew into the clouds and sped ahead. Her mint-green Nadder, hence the name, Mintchip, screech her approval at the lost sight of Tully.

Maybe they would win this thing, after all.

She had thought that too soon. Minty jerked her head around and tried to dive early, so Paz had to pull her up short and keep her flying high. "Not yet!" she said firmly, glaring down at the reptile. "Tully hasn't gotten up here, he can beat us at our own game down below!"

But Minty had settled things in her own mind, and she wasn't about to listen to her owner.

Before Paz had a chance to jerk back once more on the saddle and cue the Nadder to keep her altitude, Minty dove for the waters below, far too soon for Paz's liking. She tried to fight the dragon but she wouldn't have it, she'd made her mind up.

Unfortunately, Tully and Rifka were still flying a low altitude, and at the sight of Paz and Minty, they quit their ascent and raced after them, gaining speed far too quickly.

In one last desperate attempt to win the race, Minty whizzed between two sea stacks that were far too close together—

And scraped Paz right off, sending her falling to the water.

"Minty!" she screeched, flailing her arms as the sea came dangerously close.

Thank goodness that Minty could register distress despite her competitive attitude. Right before Paz hit the waters, a clawed foot caught her around the leg and jerked her up, sending a sharp pain through Paz's leg.

She might have pulled a muscle with that jerk.

Slowly, her breath returned, her heart sinking as she watched Tully and Rifka make the final stretch back to Berk. Minty screeched her indignant feelings that Paz would fall off when they were so close to winning. She flew to the top of a sea stack and set Paz down, folding her green and beige imprinted wings with another squawk.

"Minty..." Paz groaned, rubbing her sore leg.

The green reptile snapped her jaws shut, annoyed. Ruffling her wings up, Minty began to preen herself, ignoring Paz's glares.

This was one time too many times this week. The young girl felt something inside of her ignite, and her fists clenched.

No. Minty was in the wrong, here. Paz had been patient, kind, worked through it, tried to keep the dragon happy. But this was too far, she had done nothing wrong to deserve this.

"We're going to the wilderness for some training," she said between gritted teeth.

And somehow Minty knew from one look at her owner that this was not going to be fun. She bent down and cocked her head to the side, narrowing her eyes at Paz.

 

~oOo~

 

Minty had been in Paz's possession for a little over a year. After Gothi's permission she could join the Dragon Academy, Topaz had been introduced to Minty by Astrid, who thought the two would get along good. At the time Minty was one of those wild Nadders no one dared come near, but Astrid had thought otherwise.

"I think you two would get along swell," she'd told Paz. "It just seems your personalities would mesh well."

And they did. Not only had Paz found the naughty, personable and stubborn Deadly Nadder attractive, it seemed Minty liked Paz fairly well, too.

Except in moments like this, where Minty's strong will had crossed Paz one too many times.

Minty was a good racer. Paz adored that about her, but the dragon was far too competitive. Far more competitive than Paz herself, and she wouldn't stop for anyone. Including when Paz cued her to slow or turn on command, Minty got it into her head that she knew better, she knew all, and she was far better than Paz at all of this flying stuff.

That wasn't what teamwork was meant to be! They were supposed to work together, fly together, sync together.

It was time for some correctional training.

Minty was not in the least bit happy that Paz would drag her all the way out into the wilderness, make her land in the clearing and then stay in one place for five minutes without moving. It wasn't her style, and she certainly didn't have enough patience for it. This of course only escalated Paz, who didn't have much patience for Minty right now, either.

"No, stay," she said for the billionth time when Minty began to stomp her feet. "Stay, Minty."

Honestly, that dragon listened to no one.

It shouldn't bother me so much that I lost the race, her thoughts tried to console her.

But deep down she felt determined to right this wrong. That race was theirs to win, if Minty had just cooperated. They had to work through this, they had to right their training and get back on track.

It wasn't making her feel any better.

At long last Minty stayed still long enough for Paz's taste, and she signaled the dragon over. "Come on, we're going to try that ascent and dive again," she muttered, hopping onto Minty's back.

Minty growled at her.

This was too much for Paz. The frustration from the day came crashing in on her, and she snapped, "Mintchip you obey me this instant or we're going to spend the rest of the day out here!"

Her tone didn't appease Minty much, nor curb her streak of rebellion.

Minty promptly threw Paz off and flitted away, landing in a tree with a screech.

Why. Won't. She. Listen. To. Me?

It hurt. It hurt more than she wanted to admit, but more importantly, it burned a little hole in the back of her brain that nagged her day in and day out.

Maybe she wasn't cut out for this.

No! She would make Minty obey her! She would get that dragon out of the tree, they would make progress, they would have a successful lesson!

Paz wasn't thinking clearly, let alone in an emotionally balanced state. Running toward where Minty was perched in the low Ponderosa tree, Paz leapt onto the branch just beneath Minty and jerked down on the end of her tail.

Minty jerked her tail up, Paz clinging with all her might to the stubborn dragon's scales. Automatically Minty's spikes brandished...

And a flick of her tail sent one scraping across Paz's eye, the girl letting go of the dragon's tail with a cry of pain. She fell to the ground, heart pounding and the gash dripping blood onto her clothes, the dirt. She clutched her eye with a grimace, trying to comprehend what had just happened...

And she began to cry.

It was soft at first, but gradually it became louder and louder. She clutched her eye and held her knee with her other arm and kept both eyes closed and cried and cried.

There was going to be a scar from this wound, she knew it. Her medical training had taught her well, though the cut bled profusely she knew it only to be the signs of a head wound. Her eye, on the other hand, might be a different story. She didn’t know.

She only knew one thing.

This wasn't how it was supposed to be.

This wasn't how she'd imagined dragon riding would be like. It was supposed to be freeing, fun, adventurous, an upgrade from the life she'd used to live.

Not this. Certainly, not this pain and hardship she was experiencing.

What had she done wrong?

It was with surprise she felt a nudge against her shoulder. Still clutching her right eye, Paz opened the other and looked up to find Minty at her shoulder, nuzzling her head quietly against Topaz with a silent, apologetic gesture.

And it was enough for Paz. She grabbed her dragon by the head and hugged her tightly, sobbing her heart out and her own apologies.

It was hard, yes. It was so very hard and full of hardships and she and Minty didn't always get along, and Minty had hurt her, but she had hurt Minty, too, trying to push Minty far too much in one day. She should have let it go and dealt with their issues later, but it would be okay.

They were here, right here, right now, and they were dragon and rider. Owner and pet.

Friends.

And they could get through this together.

That's what it was all about. Living the dream was filled with hardships and trials, and mistakes, but they could learn. They would learn.

And Topaz wouldn't trade her new life and her friend for anything.