Kingdom Rivalry


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4. IV

I flapped my wings, pulling myself upward to land on a cloud that had the view of the entire track. “Wow. I did wonder what your view was.” Gavin landed beside me but had to catch himself when my sister landed on his back. “Yes, it’s very fun to watch from here.” I looked around for Fiction, she said she’d take Aloe to the contest. My mother refused to let her come with us, just for the solemn fact that the kingdom would think there was another royal and wanted to avoid that. My mother landed on the other side of me, she glanced at us and smiled without saying a word. Soon I heard my father’s hard flaps. Soon he landed next to my mother nearly shaking the cloud. She didn’t even blink or flinch, she had to be used to him landing so close to her by now. “Should we start now?” My father looked at my mother, quickly glancing at Gavin then back to her. My mother turned and looked out at the still growing crowd. “Let’s give them a few more minutes.” I felt my little sister climb over my back and then my mothers to climb onto my father’s back to sit. My father chuckled “Alright.” He looked out, most likely looking for my father. “Phoebe?” I turned to look at Gavin who now sat. “I feel a little out of place.” He whispered. I moved closer to him until I was pressed against him. “It’s alright, sometimes I feel out of place as well. But now? Now I feel complete.” I nuzzled his cheek. I felt his smile. I heard my father clear his throat and we quickly looked over. “Uh Gavin, how’s your morning been?” He shifted slightly, “Um, it’s been lovely your highness.” He bowed his head. My father smiled “Gavin. After the competition, I wish to speak with you.” He held his smile. Gavin nodded “Yes, sir.” I felt him wrap his tail around me and I smiled. My father nodded then looked around at the growing crowd. “Well I better start this thing.” He flapped his wings. “Wait, dear I-.” He had already flown off. He hovered, now in the center, above everyone but ahead of us. “Citizens of Autopia.” My father called out, I noticed heads turned toward my father. I then noticed my sister hanging onto him. I chuckled to myself and nudged Gavin toward my father to point out my sister and he chuckled as well. “Should I go get her?” I shook my head watching her. “She can fly.” As I said so, she opened her wings and hovered next to our father. “I must say, the weather is looking up today. I must thank the weather wolves for that. Now, let this race begin!” My sister began to fly around our father like a fly would. I heard my mother chuckle trying to hide it behind her paw. My father chuckled as the crowd cheered. He flew back toward us to land next to my mother. “Phoebe.” My mother called me and I turned to her, her amber eyes shown. “Your father and I have been talking and we’d like for you to start off the race.” I stepped back, bumping into Gavin. I turned to him and he was smiling. “I-I don’t know how to start it off.” I glanced at my father for help. “Of course you do. You’ve come to these games since you were your sisters age.” My mother shook her head. “Gavin, would you be so kind and go with her?” I glanced at him and he was already nodding “Of course. If that would make her more comfortable.” He looked at me smiling and I felt my face heat up and I nodded. “You both better get going. The racers are already lining up.” I looked to the track and noticed some racers already taking their places. Along with the race conductors. “Remember Phoebe.” My mother was closer to my side but I didn’t look away from the track. “Three laps. Remember to signal the conductors as well.” I felt her nudge me and I quickly opened my wings before she could push me off the cloud we all stood on. I flapped them quickly gaining my balance. I landed at one end of the track and walked toward the center of it, keeping my wings open. My fur burned as they all stared at me, I fought my nerves to keep my neck fur flat. I heard one of the males’ whistle and stopped in my tracks to look at him. As I opened my mouth to say something, Gavin appeared in front of me, growling. The male stepped back quickly. “Show respect to your princess.” He growled and I nudged him. Gavin looked back at me and I continued to nudge him. “It’s fine Gavin. Don’t worry about it so much.” He grumbled as I continued to nudge him. “The males act that way toward me and my mother. The females act that way toward my father and Christian. It’s normal for us. It gets annoying sometimes but it’s nothing.” Gavin looked at me and blinked “Alright.” He smiled and I slipped under him, wiping my tail under his chin. He chuckled as I did. The conductors quickly turned around as Gavin and I approached them. They quickly bowed down and I chuckled nervously. “The princess will be starting the games this time.” Gavin stepped forward. “Of course.” One of the conductors nodded. I noticed they each had color to their wings. One had a valley green to their feathers, another had yellow and white to their feathers as a pattern. Then the last had black and white to their feathers as a pattern. “I look forward to working with all of you.” I bowed my head at each of them. “May I know your names?” They looked at each other confused. “I’m sorry for the reaction princess but we are surprised you would like to know.” I tilted my head slightly. “Why wouldn’t I? No one has asked you before?” They all shook their heads. I glanced back toward my parents and little sister. My mother waved her tail. I waved back with mine but turned back toward the conductors. “Well, I would like to know.” They smiled still looking at me. “My name is Eva, your highness.” The one with the green painted feathers spoke up. “I’m Poly. Princess.” The one with yellow and white feathers spoke up. “And I’m Amber. Princess.” I smiled looking at each of them. “It is nice to meet you all.” I stepped aside from Gavin “This is Gavin. He will be helping me with the race today.” They waved their tails to him. “I’m sorry for being blunt princess but may I ask you something?” Eva still looked at Gavin when I turned to her. I blinked. “Is Gavin, your boyfriend?” I blinked again this time surprised. Had word already gone out? It hadn’t been twenty-four hours yet. “Yes. He is.” I turned to look at Gavin who was already blushing, I smiled. “Shall we get started?” I looked back to the racers who looked restless. “Gavin could you give them the rules, please?” Gavin nodded, lingering his gaze on me. “Eva, you more or less let the racers know that the race has begun, yes?” She nodded. “I need you at the edge of the track, follow me once I go to the racers.” She nodded again and walked to the edge of the track. “Ok Poly. You show that the racers are on their last lap, yes?” She nodded “Stand next to Eva for now. You won’t follow me at first. But I will tell you when to go.” She nodded again and padded to stand next to Eva. “Amber. You-.” I looked back toward Gavin who paced the track back and forth still giving the rules. Perfect. “I go when the first wolf crosses the finish line. So, I also go stand next to Eva and Poly, right?” I turned back to look at her. “Yes and no.” She tilted her head to the side. “You do go when the first wolf crosses the finish line, also be sure to keep an eye on that wolf so we know who really won. But you will not be with Eva and Poly. You will be on the opposite side. Over there to be exact.” Amber looked confused. “So were extending the last lap?” I nodded “That exactly.” She smiled “Good idea.” Amber turned to walk to the other edge of the track. I turned to walk toward the track. “And lastly, there is no cheating. If you are caught cheating, you will immediately be disqualified.” His attention turned to me and I nodded. I looked to Eva who followed me out onto the track. “Okay, Are you ready?” I had to shout over the sound of the crowd. The racers quickly braced themselves to race. “You all know what to do?” They each nodded. I had hoped they did. They should have by the practice fly through they could do yesterday. They first had to run a single lap on the track then fly the obstacle course that was in the sky. Which consisted of quick turns, loops, and sharp drops. And the last lap, they would have to fly last the lap. “Good.” Gavin walked past me but not before wiping his paw under my chin making me chuckle. I turned to look after him walk to stand somewhat next to Poly. I glanced to Eva then back to the racers. “On your mark, get set.” I opened my wings and flapped pulling myself up into the air. “Go!” I shouted and Eva opened her wings quickly and flapped hard pulling herself into the air. Past me and higher into the air, spinning. She finally stopped spinning and hovered in her place flapping her wings. She didn’t stay there long before nose diving toward the track. I quickly turned my attention to the racers as they began to make their way around the second turn back toward me. I quickly pulled myself higher to be leveled with the obstacle course but made sure I was out of the way. “Phoebe. Come down.” Gavin called to me and I glanced down at him “You’ll be in the way.” I noticed the racers beginning to climb higher to get to the obstacle course. I quickly nosedived out of the way as one of the racers went past. I caught myself quickly. I watched as they quickly made their way around each obstacle. The crowd gasped as one of the racers went head first into one of the obstacles. I took notice that he didn’t end up inside of the obstacle but just bounced off it like it was made of something much harder. I realized the racer was unconscious when he hadn’t recovered. I quickly flew toward him. Once I caught the racer, his weight took me and I flapped my wings harder. As I began to land, the wolf stirred. “Princess?” I glanced at him but said nothing. Once I landed, the medic wolves took him off my back. Gavin was quickly beside me. “Thank the heavens you’re alright.” He pressed his cheek to mine. “But I wasn’t hurt, he was.” I pointed my paw at the wolf who now sat up. “Yes, but he is twice your size. I thought he was going to drag you down.” I chuckled. “Well, I have been training.” I outstretched my wings. Gavin smiled at me and then glanced around me. “Phoebe.” I turned to see the racers racing around the track. I noticed my brother was in third place and I smiled. The soon came around the turn, past us. I quickly flew to the other side of the track. I gently nudged Amber and she glanced at me and nodded. We both turned to look as the racers came around the final turn. Amber quickly opened her wings. Gavin appeared next to me as the first of the racers past us. I flicked Amber with my wing and she shook her head as if she was trying to clear her thoughts “Sorry!” She flapped her wings hard making her jet upward. The crowds cheered loudly, loud enough I bet Jacaranda could hear. I looked around for the racer who’d won and was surprised to see him already standing next to me. “You’re highness.” He bowed with his wings still extended. “Congratulations.” I bowed head to him. I tried to drown out the sound of the crowd. “Thank you princess.” He flapped his wings and began to fly around near the crowd. “Hey Phoebe.” I turned to see my brother now standing next to me. “Hey Chris. Sorry about the race.” He shrugged “It’s fine. It was all in good fun.” He looked up at the crowd. “Looks like they had more fun watching than I did racing.” He chuckled. “Yeah.” I looked around for the wolf who’d won the race and found him speaking with my mother, his face flushed red. Aloe lay on her back. “You still haven’t told me about the shadow on mom’s back. I glanced back at my brother who looked quizzically at me. “I’ll have to tell you later.” I tilted my head toward the racer and began to run across the track toward them both. Before I could reach them. My father landed in front of us causing me and my brother to leap over him and slide to a stop beside our mother. “You’re highnesses.” He bowed to my father and brother. “Congratulations.” My father voice rumbled. He began to open his wings to fly “Stay.” The racer quickly lowered his wings. “You must receive your prize.” My father looked to me and I looked to my mother who shrugged. Gavin soon appeared next to me and I smiled.

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