Summer: 14 years at the Monastery, Summer, seven months after attempting to fly
Sunar shook his head at his best friend. “I am not ready for the chair test yet, that much I’m sure of.” Gorshun rolled his eyes, and Seben huffed.
Lenar took a deep breath, and caught Sunar’s gaze with his, “You know your limits, Sunar, which is a somewhat new thing for you.” The other boys chuckled slightly. Lenar ignored them: “but your newfound caution may be making up for lost time, don’t you think?”
Sunar crossed his arms and shook his head. “You have all been with me through every step of this, and know how much my wings can take.” He took a longing look at the two chairs they had set up, just far enough apart for him to lay between them. He wanted to try, wanted to push, but knew he could not -yet- suspend himself between those chairs using just his wings. “To try that test is to invite damage to my wings, that is what concerns me. I appreciate you all pushing me, and helping me, you know that, but it isn’t time for this yet.”
They all rolled their eyes this time, but relented.
Sunar got down on the floor and positioned himself as if here were going to do push-ups, then spread his wings. “Take it easy at first.” He fought the desire to grit his teeth as Lenar and Seben started to move into position.
Gorshan held up a hand, arresting their movement. “Why don’t we try something different, Sunar? Something that will let us gauge your progress better? I will lie on my back, and hold you up as you lie on your back with your wings stretched out. Then Lenar and Seben can add weights to your wings, a little bit at a time, until you can’t hold it up anymore. I figure we should start with a total of half your weight, divided between your wings.”
Sunar blinked, and raised his head to look at his friend. That challenging grin danced across Gorshan’s face. He grinned back and nodded, then got back to his feet. As they got into position, and thoughts of how much weight his wings were going to be called on to support, coldness twisted itself into a knot in his belly. He hesitated, then shoved ruthlessly at the ball of fear, and forced himself to smile up at his friends. “Ready.”
As the first weights settled down onto his wings, he tensed, then broke into a grin. The metal was cool against his skin, his back muscles tensed, but nothing was straining. Nothing hurt, or felt like it was about to tear.
“Easier than I thought it would be. Go ahead and add more.” More weights promptly settled onto his wings, but he managed to hold them rock-steady. “Ok, that is fine. What am I at now?”
Before Lenar or Seben could answer, Gorshun’s voice came from behind/below him, “No, just let them know when they can add more, or when to stop. We will count it when we are done.”
He started to argue, then decided that his friend’s approach had wisdom, and motioned for more weight.
After a few more his wings began to sag with each additional piece, but he steeled his will and forced them back up. Sweat was beading on his face, and running down his body to drip on the floor now. He had begun to pant heavily, and pain crept slowly into both his wings and his back.
He was on the verge of quitting when Gorshan’s labored breathing from below him reached his. No! I can’t stop. I know how much more than him I weigh, and how hard he is working to help me. How could I dishonor what he is doing by stopping too soon? He gestured, winced as more weight descended onto his wings. He gritted his teeth, forced his wings back up, and gestured for more.
His wings sagged under the metal and, as he strained to push them back up, pain shot down his back, then radiated out from his shoulders to his wingtips. He closed his eyes and pushed, but he could feel it; he had already pushed farther than he should. With a gasp he gave in and tilted his wings. The hard metal disks slid off, clattering on the floor.
He regained his feet with the help of his friends, and stood there panting, wings drooping, while Lenar and Seben clapped him on the back. It took him a few seconds to realize that Lenar was speaking. He blinked sweat from his eyes and turned to face him.
“…that’s two-thirds of your total weight Sunar! Two thirds! You are closer than you realize! You are closer than any of us realized!”
Gorshun’s eyes seemed to blaze, and he put a hand on Sunar’s shoulder before speaking, “Yes, Dark Titan, close. And soon, you will fly above the peaks of home, and your three fellow Titan’s hearts will fly with you!”
All fatigue seemed to wash away from Sunar as his friend’s words poured over him and he raised his voice with his friends in a wordless cry to the heavens.