Tryp watched the weird mouse-bird scamper over his paws. It was tiny, all purple and sky blue with black accents. Two long black feathers extended like coiled whiskers from its short black beak. Its legs were tiny bird feet. Its eyes were a vibrant blue-green edged with emerald feathers.
Uncle Winse called it a Dark Sparrowmouse. The gray Guardian had seen lots of them in Training Field. Tryp recalled seeing some in his ventures into the wilderness but he hadn’t realized they had names.
“Why wouldn’t they? We do,” his sister Chemi had said when he asked her about it earlier in the day.
Tryp returned to watching the odd creature. It had been tucked away in the iron chest that mother’s familiar, a beautiful green and brown moth–an Amaranth Moth, Uncle Winse had said–had given her today. Mother said it was because their bond was growing stronger, so the familiars gave the dragons gifts of friendship.
So why had the mouse-bird–the Sparrowmouse–been inside the chest? How had it not suffocated? Where did it come from?
Uncle Winse had no answers for those questions. Nobody did. Uncle Lymph said that familiars were very strange. Perhaps the chest had been its home before mother opened it. Who knew.
Whatever the case, the Dark Sparrowmouse had become attached to Tryp almost instantly. Tryp felt he got the better end of the deal. The iron chest that his father’s familiar, a golden dragon-winged chicken–a Cockatrice–had dropped yielded a bunch of useless junk and a length of white fabric. Chemi chose to wind it around her forelegs in some kind of fashion statement.
Rabi certainly approved of it. He’d been stuck to Chemi like glue as of late.
Tryp focused on his new companion, distracting himself. He didn’t want to think about his sister hooking up with Rabi. He didn’t want to think about the conversation he heard last night from them.
“Tomorrow? We can do it tomorrow?”
“Yes. I think that would be best, Chemi. I asked father and he’ll be having a nest with mother at the same time. They’ll be able to help us if something goes wrong.”
“That’s great! Oh, Rabi! Our own nest of cute babies! Oh!”
Tryp shuddered in remembrance. His sister…was going to have kids…with Rabi…
The thought was weird. They had grown up with Rabi. Rabi was practically a sibling!
Yet Chemi was…going to have…kids…with him…
Sharp squeaking from the Sparrowmouse made Tryp look up. Uncle Winse’s newest child, Matous, raced by with the three orphans in pursuit. They wrestled across the floor of the den, expanded a few days ago by father.
Father had found the orphans out in the Wandering Contagion, two yesterday and one today. A tiny chocolate female Fae with weird patterns on her wings–Chocomint. An ice-colored male Mirror with red markings zigzagging across his skin in a crackling pattern–Bruce. A shimmering coal-gray female Wildclaw with equally shiny wings–Remia. All were just a bit younger than Matous but they all played together in a unit.
It made Tryp jealous.
He and his sister had been a unit, a duo, bound together by their survival of the plague at their hatching. And now they were broken up, all because Chemi wanted children with Rabi.
Where did that leave Tryp?
Alone with a Sparrowmouse, that’s where.
A soft giggle caught Tryp’s attention. Chemi was near the nests with Rabi, laughing. Uncle Lymph and Aunt Leth were with them. Probably discussing babies. Chemi looked so happy, sounded so happy.
And here Tryp was, being jealous of that. Disgusting. Tryp felt awful. Jealousy was a nasty thing, this he now knew.
He turned back to the squeaking Dark Sparrowmouse that was crawling along one of his wings. It was so tiny, so curious, so loud.
Tryp smiled. Maybe being alone with the Sparrowmouse was okay. At least until his sister came back.
Because she wouldn’t abandon him forever. That wasn’t how their bond worked. Rabi might be her soon-to-be mate but Tryp was her brother. She wouldn’t just ditch him forever to have kids. No way.
Nah, she’d be back when the kids were grown. Maybe she’d let him help raise them, teach them to be smart and clever and strategic, like he is. Like she is.
Until then, he’d wait around with his Sparrowmouse. He was patient. He’d be fine.
Really, he would be. Don’t sweat it.