SS Cyro’s Middling Adventure: Ch 001 Happy Birthday Twins

Cyro’s Middling Adventure is a children’s story written for Cyro. 

The little white dragon Cyro has his goal of becoming a Middling dragon.  It’s a title dragons can earn between 100 and 500 years old.  He’s only 110, but when his little sister gets her Middling title on her birthday, he gained the fire necessary to earn for it.  You will meet several strange characters along the way and learn how even though he’s a dragon, he’s still a child who needs his parent’s help.
Fantasy; Adventure

[About Cat Hartliebe] [About Cyro Hartliebe] [WIP: Cyro’s Middling Adventure]

My name is Cyro Hartliebe.  But today is the day I’m not important.  That’s acceptable.  Ignore the scowl when they forgot to offer me breakfast.  Mom and Dad have more important things on their mind.  Plus, I normally make my own breakfast.  It’s just normally they aren’t serving elaborate meals for breakfast.

Why the big fuss?  Why am I accepting the fact I’m being ignored?  Well, it’s my little brother and sister’s birthday.  They turn 100 years old.  That’s huge for a dragon.  I’m older by ten whole years.  That really means nothing to the older dragons, but I try to lord it over my siblings.  I’m ten years older.  So I deserve the ignore this morning.

Let’s start with Alexander Hartliebe.  We all took Mom’s last name.  Her meaning of Tough Love really hits home too.  Being a dragon is tough love.  Alex is a silver dragon just like Mom, just like Grandma.  And like Mom, he has a purple streak under his left horn down his neck.  He’s very proud of the matching streak.  It’s because of her ancestry having reds and blues in it.  Our family tree is very mixed.  I’m a white like my father.  Dad isn’t my father.  Alex is cool overall, I guess.  We both like it cold.  Dad and Erin aren’t fond of the cold.  It has created a few problems.

Erin and Dad are both gold dragons.  Both live with us.  Although sometimes I think Dad will take Erin into Gold territory for “proper raising” as he calls it.  Not sure why he hasn’t.  It’s not like we wouldn’t visit often.  Erin has a silver streak under both of her wings.  She is nervous about it hopeful no one notices.  I don’t know why she’s against having Mom’s color while wanting Mom’s attention all the time.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget her whining, “Mom!”  She never likes my gifts.  It’s why she’s not getting a gift from me for her 100th birthday.  So there.

Alex isn’t getting a gift either.  I wanted to get him this really cool icicle I found the other day.  It melted.  I was stupid enough to keep it inside the cave.  The temperature inside is at least five degrees.  Icicles need to be below zero.  It’s never below zero.  That’s part of the compromise Mom and Dad have going.  I’d prefer a cave with temps below zero.  But I’m stuck at home until I succeed in my Middling test.

Now that my siblings are 100, they’ll start on their Middling test too.  It’s why it’s so important and they get this magnificent meal and I eat rocks for breakfast.  I like rocks.  Don’t get me wrong.  Delicious option.  But I want to eat the fancy homemade centaur burgers!  And the blood rare still screaming fairy soup.  I huff leaving the table.  They get their favorites.  I’m ignored.

If I moved into a cave, I would have to always feed myself.  Do I want that?  I have no idea how to make centaur burgers or fairy soup.  Maybe I could hook up with a green and get practice cooking.  I think Nadia Verde is open to children visiting for cooking lessons.  The return isn’t even a favor.  We have to collect the items she wants for the meal and then we’re allowed to join her cooking and eat some once done.  That sounds like a good idea.

“That was delicious.”  Alex plops into the chair next to me licking his jaw.  He curls into a ball and rests his head on my lap.  That’s what I get for sitting bipedally.  He likes my lap.  It’s always cold.  White dragons give off cold.  And he’s silver.  He would desire cold, but doesn’t give it off.  “Did you have a centaur burger?”

“No.  I ate rocks.”

“Typical breakfast then.”  Alex yawns clawing me in the process.  I never know if he’s doing it on purpose or accidentally.  “I like rocks for breakfast, but I won’t turn down centaur burgers.”

“It’s your birthday!”

“I know!  The big hundred.”  Alex stretches out stealing more of my body’s anti-heat.  “Erin is excited too!  She decided to spend her morning fixing her garden.  She wants it perfect for Mother.”

“No guarantee she’ll show.”  I close my eyes recalling Mother showing up at my hundredth.  My siblings were there.  They went all googly eyed at the Mother.  She keeps on top of all the children dragons.  She lives for the dragons.  Children are her top most priority.

“As if she’d ignore us.  She came for you.  If she didn’t ignore you, there’s no way she’ll ignore us.”  Alex insulted me!  I shove him off my lap.  He can suffer for the temperature inside the house.  “Hey!  That was my lap.”  The room is kept a balmy fifteen degrees.

“Go find another.  Or go outside.  I think Mom’s creating a blizzard as her gift to you.”

“On one side of the cave.  Dad has a tropical paradise on the other.  The blizzard gives the area enough chaos to let Dad get his tropics in for Erin.”  Alex curls up on the floor.  So lazy.

“Which side’s which?”  I look between the two separate doors.  Mom and Dad stay with us, but live on different ends of the house.  The fifteen degrees is in the center.  Dad’s side goes up to 30 degrees.  I rarely visit.  Mom keeps our side down at five.  I have my preference.

“Switch off of normal.”  Alex eyes me from his comfy spot on the floor.  “For various reasons.  Go out Dad’s door if you don’t want tropics.”

“Ugh.  I’ll just teleport.”  I grumble.  Or I can stay inside.  The party is inside.  I drop back on my chair.  And get my brother back on my lap.  “Are you just trying to upset me?”

“It’s my birthday.  I should get what I want.”  He snuggles against me.  “I want your cold.  It’s better than the room’s temp.”

“Then just go nap in Mom’s room.”

“Mom already told me no.”  He’s quick to respond.  “Can I steal your room?  Your room is kept colder too.”

“And why haven’t you figured your own room out?”  I shove him, but he digs his claws in keeping himself on my lap.  I glare at him.  “Cold comes easy.  Don’t act like it doesn’t.”

“But it doesn’t.  Erin hates when you get close to her garden since it surrounds you.  But that doesn’t happen for me.  I’m more likely to set something on fire than freeze it.  I think Mom’s worried.”

“You’re fine.”  I rub his head and see fear.  So he’s worried.  It’s not Mom.  “Wanna go practice then?”  I motion to Mom’s door.

Alex moves my hand to point out Dad’s.  “Dad has a tropics happening outside Mom’s door.”

I glower.  “Did you want to practice or not?”

He yips moving off my lap.  I calm down getting my emotions to relax.  I test the room and notice the degrees have dropped.  Erin and Dad would complain.

“Sorry.”  I get up rubbing my head.  Cold comes easy.  Too easy it seems.  “I’m going to check out Mom’s blizzard.”  The walk through the hot zone of the cave is horrible.  I hate Dad’s side of the cavern.  Alex follows me on four hands.

When we open the door, the blizzard drops the temperature in the hallway by ten degrees easily.  Alex and I step outside looking around.  Blizzards are not exactly easy to see through though.  “Is Mom outside?”  I try and cannot hear my own words.  Alex, is Mom outside?  Why not just reach for Mom?  Mom are you outside in the blizzard?

Alex answers first, Mom’s still cooking breakfast.

Are you hungry?  I’m cooking breakfast.  Now she asks about breakfast.  How annoying.  Did she not see me sitting in the kitchen eating?  Was the situation with the birthday so all encompassing that I was unseen?  Cyro?  Do you need assistance?

I’m making the blizzard worse.  It’s been an uneasy day.  I flex out my wings and get airborne.  Getting out of the blizzard helps.  I shake off the snow while dropping on to the tundra.  It’s a nice area to watch sunsets.  I’m commonly out here when the sun goes down.  Alex falls on to the ground next to me.  “Did you seriously struggle to fly?”

“I lost track of you.”  Alex huffs laying full out.  “You seem to act like a blizzard is nothing.  It still messes with the senses.”

I roll my eyes looking at the storms made by our parents.  We’re far enough away to not be impacted by it.  Still it looks rather weird.  The tropical one looks beyond strange.  Silver Tundra will not accept that for long.  It probably puts a big weight on Dad, too.  “I wonder what the Gold Meadows are like.”

“Meadows with random tropics.”  Alex says.  He sits up leaning his elbows on his knees to review the storms as well.  “Dad took Erin and me there not long ago.  He wanted us to meet his parents.  Or really his mother.  I don’t know what to think about her.”

“Who is she?”

“He called her Madre.  It could be her name.  I don’t think so.”  Alex shrugs getting up.  “If you don’t know a dragon’s name, you call them by their title.  She’s Elder.  She accepted Erin’s Grandmother.  I refused to name her.  I felt sick there.”

“That’s because you’re silver.  Gold is probably the worst place for you to go.”  I shake out my wings again.  “How about a trip to see Grandma?”

“She’s asleep.”  Alex looks off in Grandma’s direction.  “I asked her about coming to my birthday party.  She said she was too tired.”  Alex seems saddened over it.

Nodding, I get up in the air.  Hovering is a skill Alex hasn’t mastered.  I like hovering.  “Wanna fly a bit?”  Alex nods copying me.  He needs practice.  I need practice.  I’m not saying I can even compare to an elder dragon.  I’m good enough for a Centurion.

Middling seems far away though.  While we fly chatting is difficult.  Being able to speak mind to mind helps.  Alex.  Happy birthday.  I didn’t mention it.  One hundred is a huge number.

Thanks.  Alex moves in closer giving me a bump in the air.  Erin and I…  We’re aiming for Middling as soon as possible.  I don’t know how I’ll manage it.  Erin seems way too good at taking care of things.

I cringe.  Mother explained it easily to us during my birthday party.  Middling is proof of handling a horde.  We have to care for something to prove we can handle a horde.  Anything at all.  A coin, a clay pot, a flower, an elf.  Seriously anything can count.  She doesn’t expect us to manage a full horde.  She doesn’t even expect us to leave the cave with our new title.  We have time.  Plenty of time to manage living on our own and becoming real dragons.  I look forward to the elder title.  Proving I have mastered my strongest magic class.  I’m not sure what it is, but I’m excited to be called Elder.

That valley looks nice.  The snow there looks fresh.  Not from Mom’s blizzard.  Someone probably made it snow.  Alex lands rolling in the snow.  His silver scales blend right into the freshly fallen snow.  I match while just sitting on it.  Soon light snow falls.  I look up at it hoping Alex did it on purpose.  “I love snow.”

“After you came home from the Gold Meadows, you had it snowing for four days in your room.  We couldn’t seem to stop you.”

“I wish I knew how I did it. I wish I did it on purpose back in Gold.”  Alex catches a fresh flake on his tongue.  “Yummy.”

I look up at the sky scanning.  “We should get back.  There’s a party to be had.”  Alex nods shooting into the air.  When he wants to, he can out fly me.  I can out hover him, but in long distance, I’m behind.  Ten years doesn’t really matter that much.  We’re considered the same age to the dragons.

Many look poorly at Mom for having kids from separate dragons so close together.  But my real father did not want more and she did.  She wasn’t expecting a trio, though.  And having my twin siblings born twenty four hours exactly after they were laid was something else too.  I waited a good year and a half in my egg.  Erin and Alex, not so much.  Mom told me it’s because my life sounded like too much fun.  Erin and Alex are temporal and spatial twins, though.  It’s beyond crazy to have that happen. They were born from the same egg at the same time.

Do you think Middling will be hard to get?  Alex asks me as we fly back home.  I stop hovering just out of the stormy weather.  Should we power through the blizzard or the tropics?

Doubtful.  You heard Mother.  The titles are meant to be easy.  And we have four hundred years to manage.  Mother said it was easy, but I’m still here as a Centurion.  Ten years in and I haven’t managed.  Pushing through the blizzard we end up back in the main of the cave.  It’s comfortable here.  And a touch warm.  I scan for Dad or Erin.  One of them kicked up the temp again.  It’s a constant fight.

Erin walks out with a beautiful potted plant.  She gasps seeing us and hugs her pot closer.  “Stay away, Cyro.”  She glares at me.  Just being close to me has killed plants.  I give off too much cold.  Alex loves it.  Plants not so much.

I hold my hands up and sit down in the furthest chair from the center table.  She wants to decorate for her birthday.  “It’s a nice flower.”

“Defending it from you seems almost impossible.  Reign in your power.”  She glowers at me while petting the plant.  The bright red bloom responds well to her touch.  She has spent a lot of time working on her garden.  “Alex can visit my garden, but you can’t.”

“I’ll figure it out eventually.”  I turn away.  Holding in my cold seems impossible, though.  I would assume Elder is out of reach since I cannot handle holding in my cold.  Making friends with non white or silvers will be difficult.  And that green cooking lesson?  It’s impossible as long as I make everything cold just by being within a meter or two.

“The faster the better.”  Erin huffs looking at the flower and then at Alex.  “Would you like one?”  Alex’s eyes widen and he nods.  “Come on.  You can pick one.  I’ll pot it properly for you.  But it’s not for your room.  My plants cannot handle five degrees.”  She motions Alex after her.

I’m left in the living space alone.  The plant doesn’t really count in the normal sense.  “I’m getting better.”  I rub my face.  For the first few decades everything around me was frost covered.  Now it’s just living things.  And the distance is much closer.  Basically if it’s out of my normal reach, it’s safe from my cold aura.

“Alex?  Erin?”  Mom walks in looking human.  Why human?  Not that she can walk around in dragon form.  Even I drop my size inside the cave.  Although I keep to the dragon shape.  Alex and Erin copy me looking like their dragon although small enough to fit inside.  Mom and Dad pick different creatures to copy.  Still human seems weak.  Or is she purposely picking a weak creature to copy?  To make others see her as less.  It’s good for surprise attacks.  “Such a pretty flower.”  Mom moves over and sniffs it.  She has no trouble with the warmth the item needs.  I fidget in this warmth.  “I guess Erin made it.”

“She’s letting Alex pick a flower out for his birthday.”

Mom turns to me.  She’s so close to the flower.  I cannot get that close.  She can get angry and still do nothing to the flower.  If I became unstable the room would get a layer of frost.  “Did you get a gift for your brother and sister?”

“Alex’s gift melted.”  I frown looking away.  “And Erin hates my gifts.”

“She doesn’t want snow or frost or ice.  Think of items she would like that you can manage.”  Mom flips her hair.  She pulls it up into a knot on her head turning to the garden room.  She visits it.  She’ll even help Erin garden.  She’s a silver dragon, but still accepts playing with life.  I’m the only one who cannot visit.  Because I end up just killing everything.  It has me sigh.  “What’s wrong?”  Mom stares me down.  Her sparkling eyes making me feel even smaller.  “Are you still upset Icarus didn’t take you to the Gold Meadows?”

“I don’t mind.  Dad’s right.  I cannot go visit.  Not with my aura of ice.”  I grind my teeth thinking it over.  “I’m pathetic as a dragon.”

Mom moves to sit next to me.  She pats my knee and pulls me to her chest.  I’m still her child.  I may be the oldest, but sometimes I feel as if I’m the weakest.  I don’t fit in.  I’m not good enough.  “You just need to practice more.  Live more.  There is a reason the timeline exists for the titles.  We cannot expect you at a hundred ten to be everything we expect out of a fully grown dragon.”

“Alex and Erin… They…”

“Are different from you.  They have different abilities.  They have a different life.  Erin hated Gold Meadows.  It’s why Icarus isn’t bringing her back.  She always did.  She didn’t mind this last visit because Alex was there.  I don’t think you realize how much she trusts and considers the two of you.”  She bops my nose.  “Alex doesn’t lose control as much because he has always had Erin right there regulating him.  Her Gold powers and his Silver powers counter in many ways.  You didn’t have that.  Your white was given everything it needs to progress.  They were same egg, same time.  Many call it a weakness.  I see it as a strength.”

I look at the flower.  “I wish I could manage frost.  That’s helpful to plants.  Typically if I get close it freezes and shatters.”  I frown staring at the beautiful red flower.  “There is nothing I can offer Erin.  Even many rocks just freeze.”

“I thought you had non living blocked from your ice aura.”  Mom rubs my back looking at the flower.  “How about you consider the flower as non living?  Or as I suggested before, make it non threatening.  Is the flower threatening to you?”


“Is your ice aura useful to a non threat?”  She has such an ease teaching me.  She didn’t have the problem, but she knows others have.  This ice aura is a common concern for white dragons.

“I want full control.”

“Take steps backwards.  If you get it no longer injuring non threats, it’s only one more step to full control.”  Mom releases me and stands up.  “Perhaps we should take a short trip?”

I look up at her.  She goes back to sniff the flower.  “Where?”

Her eyes return to me.  “The White Plateau.  Your father’s cave.  He’ll probably see you.  And if not him, there is a white prince.  His house is normally open for visitors.”

“He’s never seen me.”  I turn aside.  We’ve made the trip before and were turned away.  “But the white prince may offer some help.  He is used to non whites too.  Maybe I can ask for a few lessons.”

“Bring something to trade.  Something you can offer.  Opening a favor with a dragon is dangerous.  Be specific and ask with a conclusion in mind.  And do not for even a second think you’ll get out of the return.  If you fail, either it turns to a favor of untold concerns or you go before Mother and Father.  They would not treat you kindly.  The white prince is the brother of Father.  Family matters.”  Mom pats the flower and turns to the chatter of my siblings.  “There you are.  We cannot start without you.”

“Look, Mom!”  Alex hugs the pot with many multi colored flowers.  It looks pretty.  “It’s called a pe…”  He pauses looking to Erin terrified.  He forgot the name.  It has me giggling.

“Petunia.”  Erin nods with a grin.  “It can handle the colder weather.  So if he loses control, it won’t outright die.”  She looks at me.  “Not that Cyro can even hold my holly bush without killing it.”

“Sorry.”  I’ve frozen her evergreens.  They still end up shattering with a slight nudge.  “I deep freeze things.”

“You’re doing well.”  Mom grins at me.  Then she moves in to see the petunia.  It’s pretty.  “You have succeeded in your garden.  Mother will be very proud of you.”  It has Erin preening.  “I think your father is done with the cake.  Shall we begin the party?”

“Is anyone coming?”  Erin asks picking up her flower to hold.  Probably to protect me from freezing it.  I cannot blame her.

“Mother should.  The rest have all said no.  I’m sorry the party ended up just being us.”  Mom hugs Erin then tugs Alex into the hug as well.

Few dragon children give us time of day.  And the elders normally turn their nose up at us. I’m here though.  “We can go torment Grandma later.”  I stand up and back off.  My siblings nod walking into the kitchen zone where breakfast was had not that long ago.  With them settled, I walk in last and take up space away from the flowers.

Dad covers the cake with icing.  I’d guess and say chocolate with raspberry filling. That’s what the plan was.  “Happy birthday.”  He grins at the two.  “All day will be a special day.  Name it and it will be yours.”

Erin places her pretty red flower on the counter beside the cake.  “Do I get to light it?  Or will Alex?”

Alex fidgets looking to his sister.  “Rock Paper Scissors?”  Erin nods.  The game is a quick one where Erin wins.  “So?”

“I’m lighting.”  She breathes lightly at the cake’s candles.  She takes the first few millimeters of candle off with the flame, but it’s lit.

Alex shivers looking at the cake.  “I can do this.”  He exhales blowing the candles out and leaving a layer of frost in his breath’s wake.  He sighs stepping back.  “Sorry.”

“Better than if Erin fails at her breathe.”  Dad starts cutting the cake.  “We’d have little plants sprouting on top of the cake.  Which then Cyro would deep freeze and I’d have to spend the next three hours baking again.”  He looks to his children with a sigh.  Erin doesn’t catch his eyes.  Alex only causes frost.  Frost will melt in the temperature of the house.  Or with Dad’s added bonus.

“I suggested to give them a fan to wave about instead of blowing.  You said they could blow the candles out.”  Mom shakes her head.  “Alex was likely to light the entire cake on fire or freeze it.  Erin was likely to make the entire cake into a little forest or set to burn the thing to dust.  I said we can light it twice and have them wave fans.”

“That’s no fun.”  Dad hands a slice to each of us.  “They just need more practice.”

“They have four hundred years before they can take the Elder test.”  Mom comments back.  “You act like they need to pass it tomorrow.”  Dad snarls.  Why are they fighting?  I eat my cake.  It’s delicious.  I may have missed out on breakfast, but at least there’s this.

“Thanks for the cake, Dad.  It’s delicious.”  Erin says breaking up the fight.

“Better than perfect.”  Alex adds.

The gust of wind blows in heat and humidity.  Soon a loud step comes from Mom’s side of the cave.  Mother’s arrived.  She walks in wearing common human attire.  Her common human looks are meant to show off nothing of her strength.  The only thing that gives it away is her bright green eyes.  Her smile is full of hope.  “I made it for the party, right?”

“It’s not a party until you arrive, Mother.”  Mom and Dad bow their heads.  Erin puts her cake down to offer Mother a hug.  Alex and I duplicate as Erin runs back to show off her flower.  I spot just as she runs into my zone of cold.  I try backing off but Mother has me too tight.  My eyes widen as the freeze starts grabbing hold of the big red flower.  No.  No.  I cannot destroy her flower.  Not on her birthday.  Tears run my cheeks as I can only watch.  Erin is too slow to get it out of my aura.

“I see that’s still a concern.”  Mother pats my head.  “Allow me.”  Mother steps over to Erin’s flower and blows life back into it.  “You’ll learn to counter his ice fully one day.  I suggest to only test it with things you do not care about.”  Erin nods eyes misty.  “Shall we see to your garden?”  Erin nods again hugging her flower while looking to me.  I cannot go.

“I’ll stay here too.”  Alex sits down watching Mother’s nod.  The four of them walk out ready to see Erin’s hard work.  “I wonder what’s been going on with Mom and Dad.”

“It’s been unsteady.”  I bite my lip thinking of the fighting.  It’s gotten worse.  “Do you think Mom wants more kids?”

“Mom always wants more kids.  Once the three of us are Elders, she’ll have another.  I know it.”  Alex seems certain.  I’d agree with him.

I stare at the door where they left.  “Will she wait that long?”

“She won’t take another dragon with Dad here.  Either he’ll accept or she’ll wait.”  Alex turns to me catching my eyes.  “Dad doesn’t want more.”  I nod.  That’s clear.  “I mean, technically once we reach Middling, we can leave.  Their contract ends.  The cave turns back to Mom’s completely.  She’ll decide on the next dragon to mate with.”

“I’d suggest a silver or white dragon.”

“Silver.”  Alex nods.  “I saw that one male wandering the area.  Mom’s met with him.”  That shocks me.  I had no idea Mom had a visitor.  “Perhaps Dad is fighting that.  They’re in a closed contract.  Mom isn’t supposed to be visiting others.”

“Wow.”  I’m missing out on everything.  “So when we get our new titles, Mom and Dad split up.”

Alex nods.  “Next time that silver visits the area, we can attack him.”  He grins at me excited at the idea.  “Mom has no idea I know.”

“Do you know his name?”

Alex shakes his head.

I frown.  I’m not capable of seeking him.  I should be able to.  I should pick out different snow trails.  But I’m bad at it.  Like most things.  “Do you think Mother is pushing us to title for Mom and Dad’s sake?”

Alex pauses thinking it over.  He makes funny faces when he’s thinking.  It’s hard not to laugh.  “Maybe.  She’s done that before.”

“If only this easy test was truly easy.”  I huff standing up.  “Let’s go into the living room.  We can wait there.”

“You go first.”  Alex picks up his flower pot.  I have to go first.  And stay far from the path he’ll take. I know the requirements.

After we settle in the living room, the other four walk out.  Mother waits for the rest of us to be seated about the room.  “I have reviewed things.”  She nods grinning at all of us.  “Erin Hartliebe has earned the rights of Middling.”

I stare at my sister.  She even seems surprised.

“You have cared for the garden properly for a long while now.  You proved you are capable of caring for a horde.  My suggestion is to make a nice nest in a warmer zone.  Perhaps not Gold.  Perhaps you’ll wish to settle in Green or Electrum.  The blue skies in Electrum make most dragons happy.”

“Congratulations, Erin.”  Mom has open arms.  After she hugs Erin, Erin gets a hug from Dad.  “You have made us very proud.”

“Wait a second.”  I stand up facing Mother.  “How…?  Erin isn’t…  I’m older.  I’m supposed to be titled ahead.  I made it to Centurion first.”  I huff.

Mother reviews me as if my comments may have some standing.  “I would have offered the title if you cared properly for your gift you wished to give your brother.  But you failed letting the icicle melt.”

I stiffen looking to Alex.  He seems surprised I had a gift I failed to give.  “I…”

Mother nods looking to the rest of my family.  “Erin has time before I expect her to have her own nest readied.  Now that the children are triple digits, I can accept them venturing out on their own.  They will still rely on you for certain things.  Shortly I expect all of them finding their own place in the world.  The more freedom they are given, the more likely they are to reach Middling and Elder.  They are no longer Babes. They are proud dragons.  Grant them the chance to spread their wings.”

Mom smiles reaching out to squeeze Alex’s hand.  He’s the closest to her.  “This cave will always be a home for them.”

“If you decide to leave, I will reopen my cave back in Gold.  I would not deny them entrance.”  Dad nods.  It’s happening.  I whimper.  The contract is ending.  It’s almost done.  All it takes is us finding a new place to settle.  “Soon.  No rush.  There is little difference between two days and four hundred years.”

“Thank you for weighing the options and holding out.”  Mother moves over to offer Dad a hug.  “Trust me when I say it will be worth it.”  Dad glowers at Mom.  “Moving on.  Erin has earned her Middling title because of her garden.  There will be no requirement for them to leave until they earn Elder status.  If Icarus Liber has decided freedom is more important than care for the youth, that is deemed acceptable.  But if he does leave, his home where ever it is must be open to the three youths in question.”

I blink.  “All three of us?”  I gulp looking to Dad.  He agreed to that.  His nod says a lot.  “Even me?  I…”  I shiver falling back into my seat.  Dad just nods offering me a light smile.  “Thank you.”

Mother pats my head before moving to the door.  “Happy birthday, children.  Congratulations.”  She’s gone in the whirlwind she came in.  I exhale feeling the weight of the words.  The family is breaking apart, but it’s still my family.

“I did it.”  Erin whispers.  Her excitement has Alex excited.  Me I’m more annoyed.  She has Middling title before me.  I’m older and further behind.  Not that most gain title first chance they can.  Ugh.  And to think if I succeeded in my gift for Alex I would have my title too.

Dad turns to her.  “Are you sure you don’t wish to nest in Gold?  I showed off my cave there.  And Teena’s tree house.  You could have a beautiful hovel under your garden.”

Erin shakes her head.  “I would like to have a trip around the different zones.  Find a place I can call my own.”

“Nesting outside your color is…”  Dad sighs.  “We’ll go on a trip shortly.  Will your brothers come with us?”  He turns to Alex and me.

I exhale.  “No.”  I turn aside.  “I’m going to figure out how to become a Middling.  I can’t make a garden and keep a garden.  I cannot even keep an icicle here.”

Mom seems surprised by my words.  “Are you leaving?  The test can be taken on a clay pot.  Do you wish to care for one of your sister’s empty clay pots while she’s gone?  You’ll succeed if it is safe when she returns.”

I hiss realizing I’ve shattered clay pots before.  Although it’s called non living, so at least I won’t deep freeze it.  I’ve knocked it off a table too.  It shattered from gravity.  “I’ll figure something else out.”  Mom frowns.

Alex thought adds, “I’ll go too.”  He amends, “With Cyro.  I’ll go with Cyro to figure out the title.  Grandma would be a good place to start.  She may have an idea what to do.”

“Your help hasn’t helped us.”  I feel calmer with the words now.  When the three of us leave, Mom and Dad break up.  The closed contract ends with this party.  “We’ll go find something to care for and keep.  We’ll succeed and come visit after.”

“We will look forward to your visit.”  Dad stands up.  “How about we plan the trips tonight?”

“Pack up.”  Alex nods to me.  Dad’s moving out.

I nod to Alex.  They’ll be happier apart.  I look to Dad.  My father never accepted me.  It’s nice to know I have someone I can lean on even if we aren’t biologically connected.  “Erin… Congratulations on your title.  You deserve it.”

“Thanks.”  Erin stands up twirling.  “This is amazing.  I had no idea Mother would offer me the title.”

“It’s an easy test.  Prove you can care for something.”  Mom says relaxed.  Things will get better.  Her cave will drop in temperature again.  “You took great care of your plants.  They shouldn’t live in this area, though.  Pick a nice zone where plants grow normally.  Then your garden can expand to the level you deserve.”

“Thanks Mom.”  Erin runs over hugging her.  “Once I have a place to call my own, I want you visiting me.”

“I would be happy to.”  Mom stands up.  “I’m going into my room for now.  If you need me…”  She leaves it open before escaping out of the room.

Dad seems amused by Erin’s dance about the room.  “For the last night together is there something you wish to do?”

“Charades!”  Erin jumps and claps.  “With bonus.”

“If you can use your spells to help your charades.”  Dad nods.  “Teams?”

“No.”  Erin moves to the shelf and pulls the jar down.  It’s filled with paper.  Each little piece has a noun or phrase on it.  Mom put a lot of effort into it.  We’ve played charades a lot over the years.  This may be the last time we play together.  It has us playing late into the night.  When I go to bed, I cannot stop myself from crying.  Seeing the small ice droplets on my pillow has me annoyed.  I need practice.  Practice I am not getting enough of living in this cave.  Grandma is first.  I hope she’s willing to wake up for us.

[About Cat Hartliebe] [About Cyro Hartliebe] [WIP: Cyro’s Middling Adventure]

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