Edward lay still as a newborn fawn behind the granite rock where Mary had shoved him, until long after the only sounds to be heard were the leaves of grass stirring in the evening breeze. His stout little heart had shored up all it could manage and at last he gave way, crying out with whooping sobs through the sleeves of his sweater into roots of the grass in the pungent sod where he lay. After a time, with the last his tears drying on his face, something gently tugged at his collar and he looked up at the giant bird who had been standing vigil over him.
"Ceidwad! You stayed!"
"I expect your heart still wants to break," said Ceidwad with a deep reedy rasp, as she delicately rattled her enormous beak along the length of a lock of his hair.
"Only when we must. Edward, your mother needs your help. She needs you to be brave. Climb onto Lladdwr this minute. We must be off to the dragons."
Lladdwr studied him with one eye for just a moment, then quickly stepped forth and settled onto his breastbone. Edward hurriedly clambered onto his saddle as best he could with legs too short for the stirrups.
"Let's go," said Edward as he looked back to see Ceidwad ready to follow. "I sure hope this takes me to the dragons."
"We're quite aware of the way," said Lladdwr resonating in a voice like Ceidwad's only much deeper.
"Let's go fast!" cried Edward with startling exuberance, as he grabbed the cantle of his saddle and shook it back and forth.
"Say something if I frighten you."
Edward hugged Lladdwr's thick, fluffy neck for his kindly tone, and at once the gigantic bird surged forward and kept gathering speed until Edward checked the ground to see if they had not actually taken to the air. He clung to the saddle for dear life but refused to let on. He'd never hurt his wonderful big bird's feelings.
Ch. 8, Stone Heart
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps