The brightest night, p.24
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       The Brightest Night, p.24

           Tui T. Sutherland
 
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  She realized that Clay was sitting up beside Starflight, rubbing his head, and she hurried over to him with Tsunami and Glory right behind her. His bewildered, worried, wonderful face — alive, alive and all right — made her whole body feel as though it was full of light.

  “Wow, everything hurts,” Clay said. He blinked at them and at the sky where the sun was rising and at the courtyard full of dragons. “Uh … did I miss anything?”

  It was a perfect day for flying.

  Trails of white clouds splashed across the bright blue sky as if they’d been painted on in long, thin brushstrokes. The wind whisked around them, fast and breathless and playful, and the mountains below looked like sharp green gemstones in the warm sunlight.

  “Can’t you imagine it?” Sunny said to her friends. “Wouldn’t it be perfect?”

  They stood on one of the peaks of Jade Mountain, with all of Pyrrhia spread out below them. From here, on a day like today, Sunny could see the white sands of the desert far off to the west and the dark green of the rainforest to the east. She could see the ocean glittering blue in the south and the jagged teeth of the mountains stretching in a long line north toward the Sky Kingdom.

  She opened her wings and felt the wind whoosh around her, nearly lifting her off her talons.

  “I can see it,” Tsunami said. “We could use the caves as classrooms but have everyone outside as much as possible.”

  “Lots of sunshine,” Glory agreed. “Mandatory sunshine.”

  “And field trips,” Clay suggested, limping over the rocks to them. “So every dragonet can feel mud and sand and the ocean and snow and also eat mangoes.” He grinned at Glory. “Mandatory mangoes.”

  “And scrolls, right?” Starflight said. “Lots and lots of scrolls. All the scrolls in Pyrrhia. We could have the biggest library in the world here.” He paused, and even with the bandage over his eyes, they could see his face fall. Sunny twined her tail around his, knowing he felt more comfortable when he was touching another dragon.

  “Don’t worry, Starflight,” Fatespeaker said from his other side, nudging him gently. “We’ll figure out a way to make scrolls that blind dragons can read, too. And until then, I’ll read you every single scroll we find, I promise. I’m not going anywhere.”

  He smiled shyly in her direction, and Sunny felt another stab of guilt.

  They’d talked about it, finally, once they were all safely back in the rainforest. Sunny had found him by himself for once, lying in the sun on one of the leaf platforms, and she’d curled up beside him until he woke up.

  “I’m sorry, Starflight,” she’d said, and he’d known right away what she was talking about.

  “I know,” he’d answered, turning his head away from her.

  “I just — I love you. But —”

  “Like a brother.”

  She’d hesitated, then said instead, “Not like Fatespeaker loves you.”

  He’d folded his wings over his face and coughed, embarrassed.

  “It’s all right if you love her, too,” Sunny said. “You should. She’s … she cares about you. And she’s hilarious.”

  He hadn’t said anything for a long time. Finally Sunny had said, “I brought you something.” His head lifted at the sound of the rustling scroll. “Remember Tales of the NightWings? Want me to read it to you?”

  “Ha,” he’d said, actually smiling. “It’ll sound a little different now that we know none of it is true. Sure, please do.”

  Here, now, on the mountaintop, Sunny thought … well, she hoped … that everything would be all right between them. He’d be a great teacher; he didn’t need his sight to do that. And his flying was getting more confident every day.

  If she ever found someone she cared about that way … well, then things might be awkward again for a while. But he had Fatespeaker. They’d all be all right.

  “Do you think anyone will actually come?” Tsunami asked, pacing back from the northern ridge. “I mean, a school for dragonets from all the tribes — no one’s ever done anything like that before. The queens might not want their subjects to ‘understand each other better.’ What if we build a school and no one comes?”

  “They’ll come,” Sunny said confidently. “We’re not the only dragons who want to avoid any more wars. This is the best way. Dragonets who grow up together will see how alike they really are, no matter what tribe they’re from. Then they won’t judge each other, and they’ll be much less likely to kill each other.”

  “Like us,” Clay said, grinning at her.

  “Unless they’re all like Tsunami,” Glory joked. “And then getting to know each other will make them more likely to want to kill each other.”

  Tsunami smacked her over the head with her tail.

  “Hey!” Deathbringer shouted from overhead, where he was swooping about surveying the mountains. “No hitting the queen!”

  “Yeah,” Glory said saucily to Tsunami. “No hitting the queen.”

  “You’re only a queen,” Tsunami said. “You might have the RainWings and NightWings wrapped around your tail, but you’re still not the boss of me. And neither are you, Mr. Moony-Eyes,” she said to Deathbringer as he landed beside Glory. “I bet I could knock you off this mountain if I wanted to.”

  “I think you’re proving my point,” Glory mused, and then ducked as Tsunami tried to swat her again.

  “My brothers and sisters will come,” Clay said. “I think. If they know I’m here. Umber was telling me he hardly knows any history, and his reading’s not so great. He’d love to learn more.”

  “We should ask Webs to be one of the teachers,” Sunny said. “Now that he’s all recovered — I mean, whatever else you guys think of him, you have to admit he was a good history teacher. And he can’t go home to the Kingdom of the Sea. Coral’s never going to forgive him, even if she lets all the other Talons come back one day.”

  “I vote yes. I’d be happy to finally get him out of my rainforest,” Glory said. “Much as he would clearly prefer to stay in bed eating fruit forever.” She flicked her tail, turning orange around her ears. “Kinkajou and Tamarin will want to come, for sure. They need real teachers, not the scraps of time I have for them. I’ll send some others, as long as you promise they’ll still get their afternoon sun time.”

  “Don’t forget Mightyclaws,” Deathbringer suggested. “And that little NightWing whose mother hid her egg in the rainforest.”

  “Moonwatcher,” Glory said, nodding. “Poor little nervous dragonet.”

  “And my sisters!” Tsunami said. “I bet I could get Mother to send Anemone and Auklet — although then we might have to let Queen Coral visit, like, pretty much every day.”

  “Wow,” Sunny said. “They all survived. All these dragons we care about. Isn’t that amazing? I mean, except Dune and Kestrel.” She looked down at her talons.

  “And Viper,” Fatespeaker added.

  “And my father,” Tsunami said quietly. Sunny reached over and twined her tail around Tsunami’s.

  “The other great thing about this school idea,” Sunny said after a moment, “is that this way we can all stay together. I mean … if you want to. If you want to go back to your families, you can, but we’ll always have a place where we can be together.”

  “I’d rather be with you all than in the Mud Kingdom,” Clay said readily, “especially if I can get Umber and the others here.”

  “Same,” Tsunami said. “I’m afraid if I go home, Mother will somehow get a harness on me, or at least want to watch me every moment of the day. And it’ll be easier to learn Aquatic here than in the Deep Palace, where there would be a million eyes on me all the time and hardly any chances to come up to the surface to talk.” She shuddered. “Worse, no one could understand me. How would I boss anyone around?”

  Sunny giggled and Tsunami shot her a grin.

  “I have to stay in the rainforest,” Glory said. “But it’s not far. I could visit all the time.”

  Starflight didn’t say anything, but they all
knew he had no attachment to the NightWing village that was being built in the rainforest. His father, Mastermind, was in prison — or the closest thing the RainWings could come up with anyway — until Glory could figure out how to try him for his crimes. And Fierceteeth was still in the Scorpion Den. Sunny reminded herself that she had to talk to Thorn about her and Strongwings … once they figured out what they wanted to do with them.

  “Oh, I know! Peril!” Clay said suddenly. “Peril could be one of the students. She’s got nowhere else to go, and we’d know how to take care of her.”

  Sunny caught the look that went between Glory and Tsunami. They all knew they owed Peril Clay’s life, but it was still hard to feel entirely safe around her.

  “She really doesn’t know where Scarlet is?” Tsunami asked. “Isn’t that a little weird, that she rescued Scarlet, and then Scarlet just vanished on her?”

  “Peril’s out looking for her now,” Clay said. “She said Scarlet was appearing in her dreams all the time before the rescue, but she hasn’t come back since.”

  “Maybe we could use our dreamvisitor to look for her?” Sunny suggested. “Except then she’ll see us, too, which makes me so nervous. I wish we’d found the Obsidian Mirror.” She’d gone back to the outskirts of the Scorpion Den to look for it, but as she’d feared, every sand dune looked the same, and a day of digging had turned up nothing. Either someone else had found it — which was also a worrying thought — or the desert had swallowed it up.

  “It is disturbing,” Deathbringer said, frowning up at the sky. “She’s going to come for you sometime, especially you,” he said to Glory.

  Glory shrugged. “I’ll let you worry about that,” she said.

  “Oh, thanks,” he said. “You know I will.”

  “Fine by me,” she said, and despite their sarcastic words, the look they gave each other made Tsunami roll her eyes at Sunny.

  I wonder if they’ll have dragonets together one day. Will anyone complain that the queen of the RainWings should be with another RainWing instead? A half-RainWing, half-NightWing dragonet — what would that look like? Everything in one dragon, or something different, like me? Then I wouldn’t be the only half-tribe dragon in the world.

  Below them, in the caves, Sunny knew her mother was having an awkward reunion with Stonemover. They’d both changed so much over the last seven years; there wasn’t much in common between the new queen of the SandWings and the partly stone enchanter hermit of Jade Mountain.

  Sunny had been with them for the first few moments, but it had been way too strange, so she’d fled out here to her friends instead.

  “Oh,” she said, remembering something. “One of the things we have to teach everyone is that the NightWings don’t have any of those powers that they’ve been claiming to have. We can’t let everyone still be afraid of them. Right?”

  “Except me,” Fatespeaker protested. “I totally so do have powers.”

  “Fatespeaker,” Glory said sternly. “We talked about this.”

  “All right, all right, Your Majesty,” Fatespeaker said, subsiding grumpily. “But I swear my visions really do feel real.”

  “But that comet went away again without falling on us,” Starflight pointed out. “Didn’t that convince you?”

  Fatespeaker had the grace to look a little embarrassed. “Well,” she said. “IT COULD STILL COME BACK.”

  Sunny started giggling, and after a moment Fatespeaker’s dramatic face cracked and she joined in.

  “What about our prophecy?” Clay said. “Won’t it confuse everyone if we tell them it wasn’t real after all?”

  Sunny thought about that for a moment. “Maybe we could say the NightWings lost their powers along with their home. So that was it — the last prophecy.”

  “The last prophecy,” Starflight echoed.

  “Three moons, yes,” Tsunami said. “That is what I vote for. No more prophecies, ever again.”

  “I guess we just make it up from here,” Sunny said, watching the wind tug at her wings and tail. Far below them, hawks soared over the ridges and valleys.

  “Bad news, Sunny. I’m pretty sure we’ve been making it up this whole time,” Glory said.

  Sunny laughed. “That’s true. And things turned out all right anyway.”

  “Well, I know what I want my destiny to be,” Clay said. “I want it to be sleeping and being friends with you guys forever. Oh, wait, also feasting! Lots of feasting.”

  “That sounds great,” Starflight said. “Best destiny ever.”

  “We can make that happen,” Sunny said, smiling, and all of them spread their wings and leaped into the wide open sky.

  The war is over. The false prophecy has been fulfilled.

  But the dragonets still have enemies.

  A dark evil, buried for centuries, is stirring.

  And a young NightWing may have had the first true prophecy in generations …

  Something is coming to shake the earth.

  Something is coming to scorch the ground.

  Jade Mountain will fall beneath thunder and ice, unless the lost city of night can be found.

  TUI T. SUTHERLAND is the author of several books for young readers, including the Menagerie trilogy, the Pet Trouble series, and three books in the bestselling Seekers series (as part of the Erin Hunter team). In 2009, she was a two-day champion on Jeopardy! She lives in Massachusetts with her wonderful husband, two adorable sons, and one very patient dog. To learn more about Tui’s books, visit her online at www.tuibooks.com.

  Text copyright © 2014 by Tui T. Sutherland

  Map and border design © 2014 by Mike Schley

  Dragon illustrations © 2014 by Joy Ang

  All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., Publishers since 1920. SCHOLASTIC, SCHOLASTIC PRESS, and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Sutherland, Tui, 1978– author.

  The brightest night / by Tui T. Sutherland.

  pages cm. — (Wings of fire ; book 5)

  Summary: Sunny has always taken the Dragonet Prophecy very seriously, so Morrowseer’s devastating news changes everything — now she must forge a new identity, and find a way to stop the futile and destructive war between the dragon clans.

  ISBN 978-0-545-34922-2 (alk. paper)

  1. Dragons — Juvenile fiction. 2. Prophecies — Juvenile fiction. 3. Identity (Psychology) — Juvenile fiction. [1. Dragons — Fiction. 2. Prophecies — Fiction. 3. Identity — Fiction. 4. Fantasy.] I. Title. II. Series; Sutherland, Tui, 1978– Wings of fire ; bk. 5.

  PZ7.S96694BR 2014

  [Fic] — dc23

  2013046283

  First printing, April 2014

  Cover art © 2014 by Joy Ang

  Cover design by Phil Falco

  e-ISBN 978-0-545-63403-8

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher. For information regarding permission, write to Scholastic Inc., Attention: Permissions Department, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.

 


 

  Tui T. Sutherland, The Brightest Night

 


 

 
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