The Lone Dragon
Kodi could smell the tantalizing ether emanating from the chubby human toddler as it lay snoring in the dirt. The ether scent was strong, which meant this kid was probably a magi, and a powerful one at that.
Kodi licked his draconic lips.
He prowled closer through the bramblewilds, avoiding the sharp, dense spines growing up the crooked trunks of the cactus oaks. He paused to free himself when a stray bramblevine hanging between the cacti tangled around one of his wide antlers. As an evren, Kodi’s four wings made him a master of the skies, but much more awkward when crawling on the ground with nothing but his claws at the joints of his folded wings. At least his tan coloring and brown diamond markings along his back and sides would help him blend in with the dirt as he stalked his prey.
The human child’s tiny chest rose and fell as he slept, blissfully unaware of the approaching dragon. He couldn’t have been more than two or three, and Kodi wondered how such a small person could’ve wandered all the way into the bramblewilds on such squat legs. Then Kodi remembered the nomadic caravan of humans passing by just to the north a little over a day ago—this one had probably fallen behind.
Or, more likely, they’d left him behind.
Kodi breathed in the little magi’s mouthwatering scent as he peered through the cacti. He’d seen this before. Humans often abandoned their young after discovering they’d been cursed with etherarchy. Magi were outlawed and hunted across the realm. They found it better to avoid trouble with the Mage Hunters and leave their ethercursed children to die at the hands of the elements… or dragons.
Kodi’s stomach growled. The humans’ custom was barbaric, but Kodi sure wasn’t complaining. He crouched low, ready to pounce.
Then the toddler opened his eyes.
They were round as dragon eggs, the brown in them matching the dry, cracked earth. As Kodi locked eyes with the toddler, every muscle in his draconic body froze.
It was as if Kodi’s whole worldview was shifting, expanding. He became aware of everything about the child, down to the smallest detail. Kodi noticed, seemingly for the first time, the black fringe of the lashes around the little boy’s wide eyes, and the stark white of his messy hair. Kodi recalled that other humans called these white-haired northerners ‘snowheads.’ How had he known that? He shook his head as he took in the kid’s tan dust scarf, and the ragged state of his brown aldraka wool tunic. Kodi felt as if his soul and mind had suddenly grown into something far more refined than what they’d been only moments ago. Where thoughts of hunger had dominated Kodi’s mind before, now, much more complex ideas and emotions mingled there.
Kodi felt a warm feeling bloom in his chest. All at once, he had the overwhelming urge to scratch at the light tan scale in the center of his chest. His heartscale. Something inside of Kodi wanted to dislodge the heartscale so he could give it to the little boy.
Kodi realized what was happening. His soul was trying to forge a connection with that of the little human child. Trying to bond him.
Kodi shook his head, groaning under his breath. A bond was the last thing Kodi wanted.
Kodi loved his carefree life on the range, wandering the skies above the realm in search of ether. He’d traversed the redrock caverns of the canyonlands, woven between the geyser beds of the desert, and dipped the tips of his wings in the winding rivers of the Ridgeback Mountains.
That was the way Kodi liked it. There was no way he wanted the extra baggage of this random human toddler.
“Dragon,” a tiny, raspy voice croaked. The child was sitting now, reaching toward Kodi with ten fat fingers outstretched.
Kodi narrowed his eyes. Why wasn’t this little kid screaming and running for his life from the bloodthirsty evren crouched before him? What a stupid human.
Kodi growled, snapping his jaws toward the child in warning.
That should’ve gotten him to at least stumble backwards and whimper a little. But the child just kept staring up at Kodi with wide brown eyes.
“Hi,” the boy said with an uncoordinated wave. He coughed twice, and it was one of the cutest sounds Kodi had ever heard.
Kodi growled with annoyance, shutting his eyes tight. He needed to get out of here before his better judgment started malfunctioning.
Kodi turned around, leaning forward on his front wings as he prepared to take to the skies. This child wasn’t his problem. Maybe he didn’t want to eat the little magi for his ether anymore, but that sure as soot didn’t mean he wanted to make the boy his problem.
Kodi was about to take a step away when he opened his eyes again. He startled when he came nose to nose with the white-haired child.
“Whoop!” the little boy shouted, swinging his fist through the air in a circular motion. Kodi growled and looked up in frustration. His heart was dangerously close to melting.
Using his claw at the hinge of his forewing, Kodi scooted the little boy out of his way. Kodi was careful not to let any cactus oak spines poke the kid, but that was the last considerate thought he planned to give the boy.
Kodi crouched once more, ready to launch directly into the air. He was going to leave this time. Really.
Then a grumbling sound rose from the child’s stomach. Kodi’s foxlike ears twitched, and he turned to see the little boy frowning as he held his stomach. He must’ve been starving.
Kodi watched as the little boy’s eyes flashed gold. He pointed a chubby finger toward a scaly, black dragoncricket hopping along the desert ground.
A blast of pure white energy shot from the boy’s finger. Within a half-second, the dragoncricket fell, jagged white marks spiraling along its thorax.
Kodi watched in horror as the little boy seized the dead dragoncricket, bringing the crusty, dry bug to his mouth. With a crunch, the boy bit the insect in half. Immediately, the boy made a face and spat.
“Yucky,” he sputtered, shaking his head.
Kodi gave a little roar, then used his tail to flick the rest of the dragoncricket from the boy’s hands. Even Kodi knew that was no proper meal for a human. The boy looked up at Kodi with hungry eyes.
Kodi gave another low growl in the back of his throat. He had to get the little human some real food. He’d make sure the boy got one good meal, then move on.
Kodi crouched lower, nodding first to the small magi and then to his own scaly back. The boy broke into a grin as he got the message.
“Whoop!” he called out as his eyes flashed gold once more. The child leaped toward Kodi’s back, the air beneath his boots warping slightly with gold light. The little guy used a boost from his etherarchy to levitate up the steep curve of Kodi’s back, coming to rest at the base of Kodi’s neck.
“I’m Boone,” the little boy said as he wrapped his short arms around Kodi as far as he could reach. He barely spanned the distance between the two ridges of raised scales that ran down the sides of Kodi’s neck and back as he clung to them. Kodi’s eyes narrowed as warmth spread through his heart at the kid’s touch.
Boone had a tight grip, but still, Kodi was careful as he vaulted into the air. He flared his rear wings for stability to keep their flight extra smooth, and they soared out of the bramblewilds.
They reached the lake just south of the bramblewilds within the hour. Kodi manipulated his four wings so he could hover before landing so that Boone wouldn’t accidentally slip, but the little magi’s eyes were already flashing gold. He floated weightlessly to the ground with another one of his obnoxiously adorable ‘whoops.’
The water lapped at the stony shore, and Boone immediately waddled toward it. Kodi’s heart leaped as Boone’s stubby foot caught on a rock, sending the child falling toward the water’s edge.
Kodi roared, diving toward Boone. He caught the back of the boy’s ragged dust scarf just before he splashed face first into the waves.
Boone made a little choking sound as Kodi lifted him by the bandana and dropped him far away from the water. When he landed, Kodi glared as if to tell the boy not to scare him like that again.
Then Boone giggled and Kodi’s scowl evaporated. Once again, he felt a warm sensation bloom in his chest, right over his heartscale.
Kodi straightened up. He had a lonely life on the range to get back to. He couldn’t let the cuteness factor distract him.
With a growl and a tap of his wingclaw to tell Boone to stay put, Kodi launched off the stones to hover over the water. His four wings flapped rapidly, allowing Kodi to lower his scaly body close enough that he’d be able to see the drakefish swimming below.
When one came by, Kodi dove into the water, his jaws closing around a scaly drakefish. Water droplets flew off of Kodi’s wide antlers and spines as he proudly landed on the shore to show Boone his catch.
But Boone was gone. Panic coursed through Kodi’s veins like a shock of lightning when he realized the chubby, short toddler wasn’t standing where he’d left him. Kodi dropped the fish from his mouth, searching frantically.
Relief flooded through him when Kodi saw Boone at the water’s edge. He was leaning over the water, plump fingers outstretched as he tried to catch a fish of his own. His eyes flashed gold, and another blast of white ether shot from his finger.
Kodi bounded and spread his wings, coasting to land beside Boone. With a shake of his head and a low growl, Kodi tried to tell baby Boone not to sneak off like that again.
Boone jumped up and down as he pointed to the water. It was clear Kodi’s message hadn’t gotten through.
“Fish!” Boone cried. Sure enough, a grayish green drakefish with sharp ridges along its back floated in the water. A jagged, white spiral from where Boone had hit it bloomed along its scales.
Boone’s excitement was contagious. Kodi gave a draconic chortle before leaning over the water to snatch Boone’s fish up in his jaws and place it at the toddler’s feet.
Boone immediately reached for the fish, hugging it close. His mouth opened wide as he leaned toward the drakefish’s belly.
Kodi gave a sharp roar, carefully swiping the fish back from Boone before he could sink his teeth into it. Kodi remembered humans cooked their meat before eating it. Perhaps their stomachs were weak like their scaleless skin? Better not to risk it.
Kodi laid Boone’s fish on the stony ground far enough from where Boone now stood that the boy wouldn’t get singed. Then Kodi reared back, ethereal power coalescing through his chest and throat. When Kodi leaned forward, his ether formed into a jet of emerald green dragonfire and blasted the drakefish, lightly charring its skin.
Once the fish cooled, Kodi stepped aside to let the boy have at it. Boone dug in, ravenous. Kodi watched carefully to make sure Boone didn’t accidentally choke on any drakefish bones. Boone picked the drakefish clean, then immediately pointed to the other fish Kodi had caught earlier.
“More?” Boone asked. Kodi gave a draconic snort. For such a small human, Boone sure had an appetite.
As Kodi breathed more dragonfire onto the second fish, he mentally pictured the landscape. The nearest human outlander settlement was only about a three days’ journey from here. A town called Skyreach, Kodi remembered. He was surprised how much sharper his mind was after encountering Boone in the bramblewilds. Perhaps this was why dragons chose to bond humans.
Kodi remembered from his flights that Skyreach had a Sanctuary of Streya there, with black-robed women and men who wore crystals on their foreheads. They sometimes took in abandoned magi children. Maybe Kodi could spare that much time—just to make sure Boone got somewhere safe.
Then, he’d leave that adorable little nuisance behind for good and get back to his carefree life over the range.
They flew high, trading the scorched, tan earth and cactus forests of the bramblewilds for the blacks and greens of cindercone pines.
Boone clung to Kodi’s neck ridges, whooping as they soared low over the trees. He laughed as he pointed to the treetops where a trio of draccoons squabbled over a smoking pinecone. The dragon raccoons squealed as the cindercone slipped from their fingers, exploding against the tree trunk in a cloud of ashy smoke.
The sun sank behind the jagged peaks to the west, washing the land in orange light. Howling from polar wolves in the distance made little Boone squeeze more tightly to the ridges along Kodi’s neck.
Before long, darkness overtook the sky, sprinkling the black-blue backdrop with glittering stars. Boone watched in wonder as a shower of green-tailed comets fell up ahead. A skyfall. Normally, Kodi would’ve taken off at top speed toward the falling stars—skyfalls brought skystone, celestial rocks glowing with ether. A dragon’s favorite treat. But the skyfalls also brought feral dreklings, so Kodi always had to be careful to avoid a skirmish when he tracked down the delicious skystone. Kodi’s stomach growled at the thought.
Still, he kept his pace steady. Right now, Kodi had a mission. Maybe after the child was safely back with his own kind, Kodi could pursue the skyfall’s bounty. It had landed near Skyreach anyway.
Kodi could feel Boone’s grip loosening. A soft thud against his neck from Boone’s round, white-haired head let Kodi know the little human was getting sleepy. Kodi knew that unless he wanted to catch a falling child, he needed to find a place for them to stop for the night.
While the desert sun baked the land during the day, without the sun’s warmth, the air was chilly. The rushing wind against Boone’s skin certainly wasn’t helping. Kodi could hear the tiniest clicking noise from little Boone’s teeth chattering against each other.
Kodi grunted, scanning the trees. He quickly located an enormous pitch-black nest sitting low in the branches of a cindercone pine. Reddish-orange sparks blinked throughout the dark twigs every so often, the etherarchy in the woven sticks keeping the nest a perfectly warm temperature at all times.
The ashfalcon who’d made the nest was slumbering peacefully in the concave circle of sticks. Kodi’s face broke into a draconic grin. The ashfalcon was in for a surprise.
The ashfalcon’s eyes flew open, pupils shrinking as Kodi appeared before it. Kodi let out a massive roar and thrashed his menacing antlers.
In a flurry of orange-tipped black feathers, the ashfalcon abandoned the nest. Kodi held his head erect, pleased with his show of dominance.
Carefully, Kodi helped his tired little friend into the nest. Boone snuggled in right away, enjoying the warmth radiating from the blackened twigs. With a contented smile, Boone closed his large brown eyes.
Once he was sure Boone was snuggled in safely, Kodi found a strong branch just above where Boone slept. Using the claws at the hinges of his hind wings, Kodi grabbed onto the branch and swung upside down, wrapping himself up in his wings like a bat. From here, he was in the perfect position to watch over the child in case he woke up and started exploring dangerously close to the edge of the nest.
Kodi felt a soft purr mellow in the back of his throat as he watched his new friend fall asleep.
Wait—not friend. That was too strong a word. Kodi watched—indifferently—as his new little… task began softly snoring.
The next couple of days flew by for Kodi as he and Boone made their way toward the outlander town of Skyreach. He tried not to think about how they were also getting close to the site of that tantalizing skyfall.
Boone let Kodi know whenever he was hungry, and they’d stop to fish in a stream or lake. Once, for a treat, Kodi flew down to a patch of snowberries.
He shook the leafy bushes, making several of the pinkish-gold berries drop to the ground. He was just using his snout to gather them into a little pile to share with Boone when he felt a thud on the back of his scaly head.
Kodi’s neck straightened, and he looked from left to right with narrowed eyes, searching for a potential threat. He saw none, his gaze coming to rest on Boone staring up at him. The little magi had a wide grin on his face and a cluster of snowberries in his hand.
With something between a snort and a giggle, Boone chucked another berry at Kodi. The tiny sphere hit Kodi directly between the eyes.
Boone howled with laughter, already preparing his next attack. Kodi squinted at the toddler.
Then, all at once, Kodi bent down and sucked up the entire pile of snowberries he’d gathered, storing them in his cheeks. He turned back to Boone and rapidly shot each one from his mouth at the little boy’s round belly.
Boone shrieked with delight, running from the onslaught of Kodi’s berries. With one of his whoops, Boone fired back.
Once, as they flew above a dusty country road, Kodi spotted a pair of silver-clad soldiers wearing dusky blue cloaks. Kodi recognized them as Mage Hunters and quickly dove into a copse of trees below to keep Boone out of sight. Boone’s nomadic family may’ve abandoned him to the elements, but if Mage Hunters found the little magi, they’d do far worse than that.
Later, Kodi saw dark clouds gathering, so he hurried to land beside a grassy knoll. He let Boone off, then used a forewing to shield him from the rain. A clap of thunder sounded.
Boone whimpered, closing the gap between his small frame and Kodi’s large, scaly side. Kodi curled his tail around Boone and made a soft rumbling sound in his chest to try and comfort him.
That same warm feeling bloomed over Kodi’s heartscale, inviting him to scratch it off and offer it to Boone to forge a bond. Kodi frowned, once again fighting the wave of emotions. He couldn’t let go of his simple, lonely life because of a pair of big brown baby eyes.
As Kodi and Boone continued their journey, they found themselves flying low over rushing rapids. Boone laughed as they raced faster and faster along with the water.
Kodi flapped all four of his powerful wings, putting on an extra burst of speed. Boone held tighter, the wind sweeping away peals of raspy, high-pitched laughter.
Then suddenly, the river disappeared, giving way to a sheer cliff face and a roaring waterfall. Time seemed to slow as Kodi and Boone plunged downward in line with the water, droplets splashing all around them.
Boone let go with one hand, swirling his tiny fist in a circular motion as he cried out.
Kodi grinned, then opened his jaws wide to whoop back as well as a dragon could.
Boone’s knees started slipping as he lost his grip on Kodi’s neck ridges. For a brief moment, Kodi panicked.
But Boone’s eyes flashed gold, the air warping slightly around his legs as he pushed himself back toward Kodi, grabbing hold of one of his neck spines with all his might.
Relieved, Kodi sighed. Then he cupped his wide wings, catching air just in time to keep them from plunging into the rapids below. Together, Kodi and Boone soared upward, high above the river’s twists and turns.
Though Kodi couldn’t see little Boone’s face, he could feel he was smiling wide.
It wasn’t long before Kodi landed on a craggy mountainside. Boone immediately leaped from Kodi’s back to watch a baby geodillo waddling over a flat, reddish rock. When the crystal-backed armadillo saw the eager young human barrelling toward him, he curled up into a solid, crystalline ball to protect himself.
Kodi chuckled as Boone poked at the geodillo’s shell, then the evren turned to peer over the mountain ledge.
Nestled in the valley between jagged cliffs was the human outlander settlement of Skyreach. Adobe longhouses and corrals holding dragonhogs and aldrakas lined the winding river that cut through the town. Kodi could see the star-topped spire of the Sanctuary of Streya—that’s where he’d find the humans willing to take Boone in. They’d keep him safe and hide his etherarchy from the Mage Hunters.
Kodi looked westward toward the setting sun. If they left now, they’d make it to Skyreach before dark. Maybe, if he dropped off the kid fast, he could get a head start tracking down that skyfall. The meteor must’ve landed close by, and there was a chance other wild dragons hadn’t eaten the skystone from it yet.
A tiny whoop and a heavy thud pulled Kodi’s focus back toward Boone. He’d clearly just chucked the geodillo across the ground toward Kodi as if it were a ball.
Boone smiled up at Kodi with an irresistible, dirt-smudged face. “Play?”
Kodi rolled his dragonfire green eyes. Then he gave a roar as he dove for the unfortunate geodillo who’d inadvertently become their plaything. Skyreach could wait one more night.
Kodi curled his long, draconic body around Boone as they slept inside the mouth of a nearby cave. Was that the morning sun rising over the cliffside already? Kodi coiled around the child, using his wings like a blanket over him to make sure he was warm enough. Kodi closed his eyes, not quite ready to wake up yet.
But snarling from deeper within the cave sent Kodi’s eyes flying back open right away.
Kodi whipped his head around, staring into the shadowy darkness. Wind whistled through the cave. Kodi narrowed his eyes, still seeing nothing. His heart still beating fast, he tried to relax. He must’ve imagined the noise.
Then, all at once, four snarling monsters came racing from the back of the tunnel. Dreklings. The scaly, bipedal, beasts grunted with draconic snouts, swinging arms so long their clawed hands dragged along the ground. They had lashing tails, spines along their hunched backs, and two powerful, draconic legs.
Kodi was in a defensive stance in a flash, using his tail to shove Boone behind him. The young magi yelped as he woke to the sight of their attackers.
Kodi growled in warning. These dreklings must’ve come from the skyfall they’d seen that first night. Their eggs were embedded into the same meteors that brought the ether-filled skystone. Most likely, the dreklings had hatched when the skyfall landed, consumed the skystone, then moved to this cave on their hunt for more ether. The monsters spread out, licking their lips, eyeing little Boone with hunger. Kodi startled when he realized they were looking at the young magi the same way Kodi himself had when he first saw him back in the bramblewilds.
Kodi bared his teeth. No way these dreklings were getting a taste of his Boone.
Kodi made the first move, launching toward the nearest drekling with snapping jaws. He clamped down on the creature’s shoulder, and the beast wailed with a sound like grating metal.
Thrashing, Kodi flung the drekling into the cave wall. But he’d no sooner gotten that one out of the way than another had skirted around Kodi, lunging toward Boone.
Boone screamed and skittered out of the cave and into the low morning light, the drekling in hot pursuit. Kodi roared, diving after him.
Kodi locked his fangs into the drekling, yanking it backward right before its sharp claws could grab Boone. But that left Kodi open to an attack from behind. The other two dreklings raked their claws along Kodi’s left flank.
Kodi roared in pain. Four dreklings against one evren weren’t good odds. Normally, Kodi would cut his losses and retreat. But that was before he had a little human brother depending on him.
Coppery dragon’s blood dripping down his side, Kodi tossed the drekling still locked in his jaws. The beast slammed into the nearest juniper tree with a sickening crack, then fell to the ground in a lifeless heap.
Three more to go.
The first drekling had already recovered from Kodi’s initial attack. It snarled from the cave mouth while its companions closed in, searching for a way past Kodi to get to the helpless little magi.
Ignoring his pain, Kodi tucked his chin and charged the two dreklings. His wide antlers scooped the monsters off their feet, flinging them away from Boone.
As they scrambled to get to regain their footing, Kodi reared back, his chest charging with ether. Then he thrust his head forward, dousing the dreklings with a jet of bright green dragonfire. The flames scorched the two dreklings badly enough that they went down.
But while Kodi’s attention was focused, the final drekling bared his draconic teeth and pitched himself toward Kodi. The creature’s long, scaly arms wrapped around Kodi’s chest, squeezing tight.
Kodi thrashed, futilely trying to snap at the drekling with his jaws. He tried to scratch it with his wing claws, but the drekling held fast. Kodi could feel his ribcage straining against the drekling’s otherworldly strength.
Suddenly, little Boone was standing bravely before Kodi and the drekling, his eyes flashing gold. Both his hands were outstretched as twin blasts of white ether shot toward the enemy drekling. Jagged spirals erupted across the drekling’s face, and Kodi felt the pressure release from his chest as the beast slumped to the earth.
Tiny columns of ethersmoke rose from each of Boone’s hands. He blew at the wisps of smoke before rubbing his hands on the sides of his pants. His face was serious, like that of a warrior. A brave, adorable warrior.
“Whoop!” Boone cried out, his levitation powers propelling him slightly off the ground as he swung his fist in a circular motion. Relieved, Kodi gave a draconic ‘whoop’ back as he tackled little Boone—gently—to the ground. Boone laughed, wrapping his short arms around Kodi’s scaly snout.
Kodi felt a greater warmth than ever blooming in his chest. He told himself it was just the rising sun as light streamed over the cliff side and into the valley.
Skyreach was waiting.
Kodi was careful as he approached the settlement. Outlander towns like these didn’t have a dedicated guard like some of the larger keeps, but the humans out here were all armed and more than ready to fight off any wild dragon that dared come too close. That meant Kodi had to fly low.
Kodi landed near the town’s edge. He made sure the women and men of Skyreach could clearly see Boone on his back. They wouldn’t hurt a dragon with a rider. Still, Kodi and Boone got a good amount of surprised looks as they made their way toward the Sanctuary. It wasn’t every day someone as small as the little snowhead rode into town on the back of a mighty evren. Kodi glanced at him over his shoulder. Boone was clearly enjoying the attention, his face solemn as he nodded to each stunned passerby.
Kodi let Boone off in front of the steps of the Sanctuary, nudging the tiny guy toward the front door. Boone scuttled up the staircase, and it wasn’t long before a woman wearing the long, black robes of a Sister of Streya appeared.
She quickly understood the situation and even nodded to Kodi with appreciation. Kodi nodded back. They’d keep Boone safe here.
Kodi felt a sort of weight release off of his shoulders. He’d completed his mission. He was free now. He could return to the wilds, and once his wound healed, he could go back to soaring alone over the range in search of ether.
Boone turned back to look at Kodi with those enormous brown eyes. He reached toward Kodi with ten fat fingers outstretched. To Kodi, it seemed for a moment the world was standing still.
“We have a dragon stables out back,” the Sister called out to Kodi.
Kodi felt that same old warmth blossom from the heartscale in the center of his chest. Only this time, he didn’t fight the feeling. He embraced it, a draconic grin spreading across his face as he used his front wingclaw to scratch off the scale.
The shining, dusty tan scale fell to the ground with a soft thud. Boone squealed with joy as he scrambled back down the steps to retrieve it.
As Boone held Kodi’s heartscale in his hand, Kodi felt the bond solidify. He could feel his soul reaching out toward Boone’s and the little boy was reaching back. Their minds connected, and Kodi could suddenly sense Boone’s emotions.
One emotion projected through the bond as strong as the desert sun’s rays.
“Dragon,” Boone laughed, throwing his arms over Kodi’s snout.
Kodi sent love for Boone back through the bond along with one simple thought.
“Kodi,” Boone repeated Kodi’s name. The Sister in the doorway retreated into the Sanctuary, reappearing with a length of cord. She carefully took the heartscale from Boone’s hands, securely tying the cord around the scale to make a necklace that she hung around Boone’s neck.
Boone grinned, then his eyes flashed gold once more as he made a levitation-powered leap to take his place on Kodi’s back.
The Sister of Streya smiled. “Be back soon for breakfast,” she called.
Kodi roared and Boone gave one last whoop as they took off into the air. The morning sun backlit Kodi’s four wide wings as together, Kodi and Boone soared over the valley.