They were so tiny! Was he that small when he first hatched?
Malar nosed the two tiny bodies in the nest, their cute cries ringing in his ears. Father had already taken the third body, white with chocolate wings, away for burial. The plague had managed to kill poor Ella within minutes.
But bright red Theria and her maize-colored sister Rosi were still breathing, still wriggling, still living.
His baby sisters.
Malar smiled, reaching out to nuzzle the two tiny Guardians. His sisters. Matous’ sisters.
Oh, if only Matous were here! He’d love them too!
There had been so much death that week. Bruce and Chocomint. Tussis. Matous. Leth. Grandma and grandpa’s most recent nest.
And now Ella.
The carmine Guardian shook his head. Enough with the death! He was looking life in the face right now! And their names were Theria and Rosi!
A yank to his beard made him flinch. He glanced down as best he could around his snout and jaw. Dangling from his beard was Theria, who mustered enough strength in her tiny body to reach up and bite at the thick hair of her older brother’s magnificent beard. Her tiny red eyes sparkled with mischief.
Malar feared the worst when he lifted his head. Pain shot through his jaw. Theria wasn’t planning to let go anytime soon.
A low chuckle made him tilt his head slightly. His father stood there, low rumbling laughter coming from deep in his chest.
“Having fun with your sisters, Malar?”
Malar grimaced, sending a half-hearted glare at Theria. “Yeah, dad. Having lots of fun here.”
It took Malar, his father, his grandfather, his grandmother, and his uncle Losis to pry Theria off his beard. He lost several inches of it in the process, promptly swallowed by the devilish red Guardian. He swore that Theria was licking her lips, eyeing his beard as if it were candy.
Maybe it was good Matous wasn’t here. Malar wasn’t sure he wanted to be here anymore himself.