Lesson Learned

“Mother?”

Safe could barely register Chemi’s voice. She was too busy staring at the scene before her.

A happy scene turned tragically wrong.

Thanks to the plague.

Her nest of three healthy-looking eggs had hatched just minutes ago. Three tiny forms spilled forth, complete with squirms and chirps. Safe had felt so happy when she nuzzled them each.

Then one went still. And another.

Only one remained squirming–a blood-colored male Guardian with gray wings.

His siblings–still, gone, DEAD. A crimson female Mirror with equally crimson wings. A female Guardian, identical to her brother except for her wings, the color of ice.

Zone rumbled forth with names for the deceased. The Mirror would be Cella. The Guardian, Rube.

Safe came up with the remaining name. The living hatchling would be Tussis.

Zone carried the limp bodies of Cella and Rube away, a swipe of his tail preventing Chemi and Tryp from following him. Safe curled around Tussis, fighting to keep him warm and feed him scraps of meat to nourish him.

Rabi had zipped away from the scene when he realized what had happened. He was privy to the details of the plague, which had stolen his siblings from him at birth. His father could not bear to keep it secret. It was necessary to tell, to properly explain his mother’s condition of shock.

Safe felt that again. Shock. She had not lost young in so long. It was horrifying to see it happen again.

“Mother! Mo~the~r!” Chemi whined, nudging her.

“Leave her alone, Chemi. Why don’t you go play outside?” Winse suggested.

“Come on,” Tryp muttered, shoving his sister away from the nest.

“But I don’t get it. Why did that happen?” Chemi asked.

A faint memory, deep inside, of two motionless forms struck her. She couldn’t recall who they were. Dragons she knew?

As Chemi and Tryp went outside with their older brother Losis, pulling a nervous Malar with them, the carmine dragon couldn’t help but glance back toward the nests.

He spotted the crimson form of his mother, hunched over her second nest, laid this morning. Three eggs, glistening green, floated in the hissing goo. Betes didn’t seem to register her mother’s plight. She just stared at her new nest with such burning determination. It made Malar shudder.

Then his view was lost in sunlight and sky.

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