Companions (Princess in the Tower #2)

It is very boring, living in a tower all by yourself, so I create Count Saber the very next day. My library says that dogs are a popular companion to humans because they’re aggressively social, descended as they are from the wild wolf. Wolves are cute, and I make sure Count Saber is not vicious when I think him into being. Of course, he also does not have wings. It’s obvious, the statement, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my world that I made up yesterday, and this only makes me curious.

If I lived in a world where I had wings, he would not be able to fly around with me. My flying people would not get the chance to have cute wolf puppies like Count Saber as their pets. What if they chose an air-oriented animal as a trainable companion?

I scoop up Count Saber in my arms, and he squawks a little at the unexpected shift of height. “You live in a tower,” I tell him as I thunder down the steps. “Better get used to it.”

Count Saber licks my face, and I nearly slip. I burst out laughing, running my fingers through his fur as we run past several doors to different levels of the library. Out of all the rooms in the tower, it is the largest. It spans over five levels, and is packed full of books. I believe the aviary section will be on the fourth floor down, so that’s exactly where I go.

Count Saber follows me with only two paws on the floor at any given moment, and after some searching, I find a whole five bookcases, side-by-side, all taller than me, devoted to the topic of birds. It’s astounding, that so many people might have so much to say on the topic of birds. Some are terribly broad, titled “All You Need to Know About Birds” or “A Birdwatcher’s Guide,” and since it’s not quite specificity that I’m looking for right now, broad is where I start.

An hour later, I’ve got the necessary gems for my wing people. It seems to me a brilliant stroke of genius on my part, because I haven’t picked just one species to be winged humanity’s Count Saber. I’ve got fierce killer birds like falcons and hawks ready to arm the wing people, and I’ve got the sociable geese for the more laid-back folk. My book says geese are very rude but I think, like Count Saber’s wild counterparts, the geese’s violent tendencies could easily be bred out of them.

It’s such an easy and fascinating solution that I scoop my little wolf pup back in my arms and we thunder down the many flights of stairs that separates the fourth floor of the library with the Blank Room. When I throw the door open to the tower’s deepest floor, the light from the torches don’t break the darkness of the room. Count Saber whimpers only a little as I step inside, utterly unafraid.

When the plains appears around me, he becomes as much a part of the scene as I do. I imagine him with wings, able to fly as easily as I can when I’m in here. Reality is so much easier to warp in the Blank Room than it is outside of it. He hops into the air before even I can, and he comes with me as the castle in the distance jumps right underneath me. Suddenly, I’m standing on the castle’s walls, surveying the flying people as they ignore me in their busy lives.

In the not-so-far distance, I see my blue circles around the clouds, where the winged people are tending to their cloud-gardens. I ignore them. One man on the wall stands like a king, and as I step towards him, he spins to face me. I’m used to the way he looks over my shoulder as if I’m not really there; none of my creations can ever see me, even though I command the field.

On his shoulders appears a fierce hawk with sleek brown wings and a buff white chest. Count Saber barks furiously at it, but the hawk’s piercing gaze sweeps around the castle, oblivious.

Looking city-ward, several of the people within have birds either at their heels or near their wings. Above, a small flock of flying chickens are terrorized by a small falcon, the bird of prey swooping in and corralling the wayward chickens to where their owner flies not far off.

I burst out laughing, diving off the side of the wall out of sheer joy. The companion animals had fit even better than I had thought they would. I snap my wings out at the last moment, and land feet-first. Count Saber vaults off the wall and joins me, and the moment his paws touch the ground, the Blank Room goes black again.

There are still questions that need answers — and a lot of them — but for today, I’m perfectly content with my companion birds.

“Come on, Count Saber,” I say down at him. “Race you to the top!”

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