Safe nuzzled her two great grandchildren lovingly, one eye on the two rambunctious youngsters while the other watched their parents. Legion lay twined around Pati, the two laying in the dying sunlight as the day came to a slow end.
The Mirror’s gaze drifted toward the Nesting Grounds, where Lymph sat with his new beloved by their nest. Ande, a Ridgeback, was a sweet darling despite her intimidating appearance. She genuinely seemed to love Lymph, though Safe worried for her adopted son. The Skydancer had been acting strange since Leth died. Detached, almost. She prayed he hadn’t simply taken to Ande just to replace Leth’s missing affection.
She was distracted from the pair by Somia, who reached up to paw at her great grandmother’s jaw. “GG, GG!” the obsidian hatchling squeaked. “I’m hungry!”
“Me too, GG!” Jakob agreed, joining his sister in pawing at the elder.
Elder… 89 days old and she was already calling herself old. Plaguebringer above…
“Kids, leave her alone. I got your food, so come eat and let your GG rest,” Zone rumbled, dropping meat and seafood and insects into the food pile.
Somia and Jakob quickly abandoned Safe and dove to the pile, fishing out the tastiest morsels before they were chased away by Lujo, newly grown. The Guardian eyed her tiny relatives with annoyance before dragging out a juicy carcass and carrying it away. Dreamer, a handsome white Skydancer orphan from Shadow flight with sparkling ivory wings and a gold underbelly, went to join her.
Safe looked around at her clanmates–her family. They had grown much since the week of slaughter that stole so many from them. They were twenty-three strong now and with the upcoming nests, there would be more to come in the near future.
Lymph and Ande had one day left on their nest. Thrax and Remia would be on the nest within days. Lassa was eyeing Dreamer with affection and recently, the Skydancer had been returning those looks with his own flirtatious ones. Chemi and Rabi had grown all the closer since their hatchlings, Pati and Lassa, had grown. Winse no doubt wanted more children with Betes, despite her determined distance from her offspring.
Safe wouldn’t deny it. She wanted more children too. Lujo was her latest child, losing her dear sibling Seve to the plague.
The graveyard had grown much since those first few deaths. Where only a few rib bone markers had been were now nearly thirty. It pained Safe to look at them. Thirty dragons that they had loved. Thirty who had lost their lives to the plague or the beasts that lurked the wilderness.
She sometimes wondered why she didn’t build up the nerve to do it. Get up and go out with her children, blood and adopted, and help bolster the clan by fighting. Zone was big and no doubt strong. They could do more than gather food and treasures to sell in order to keep the clan afloat.
But there was deep fear that dug its claws into her soul when she tried to move, to get up and join her clanmates when they left for the wilderness. Zone knew the feeling. He too had attempted to join, only to shy away before leaving their territory.
They couldn’t do it. The fear was too strong.
It made her sick. She couldn’t even gather the nerve to join her clan in its struggles with the wild. All she could do was stay here and bring more children into the world, children that could and would die eventually.
Yet she couldn’t just not have children. The clan would die out. She had to do her part, as the founder of the clan. Even if it was as minor as having more children to keep their population up.
It was all she could do to help.
And she would help.