Playing with the big boys

Jakob smiled at Lock, newly grown. Her black cherub-marked scales shone in the sun, black against white with its spirals and coils and feathered details. Lock was a lovely thing and she’d grown to be even lovelier.

No wonder his grand uncle Tryp was in love with her. No wonder he watched them so jealously when they were smaller. Love was a spooky thing.

So Jakob tried not to take it too seriously–love. He followed his sister’s example. Somia had yet to find a suitable male to fawn over her. So her sibling followed her, ice against obsidian, two siblings without such mind-altering feelings.

Until Ieremiya appeared. Her and her blotted wings of violet, long blobs of darker color marking her feathered wings and smooth charcoal body. She was small, as all hatchlings were. Her eyes, unlike the blood red that Jakob regularly saw, were a deep shade of purple, like Uncle Winse’s.

She had been found abandoned in the putrid wasteland surrounding their lair. Great grandpa Zone had found her during his daily forays into other territories. He’d found many orphaned dragons out there over the ninety-six days since the lair had begun. Jakob’s father, Legion, had been one of them.

Jakob had always paid attention to Lock. After all, she had lost all of her brothers when they hatched. Lock had been alone. Jakob had felt responsible for making sure she had a playmate, even when he grew up. Now that Lock was grown herself, Jakob no longer felt that same pull, that same feeling of dependence, upon her or himself.

Yet he felt it again with Ieremiya. Stronger than that, even. What he’d felt toward Lock couldn’t compare to what he felt toward Ieremiya.

“You’re in love!” Somia childishly accused, angry.

“It happens to us all one day,” Jakob replied nonchalantly.

He was unconcerned with his sister’s rage. It would pass. They’d stuck together like glue after hatching, after their brother Creutz had died and they became old enough to understand what happened to him.

The plague had affected everyone in their lair, in one form or another. Siblings. Parents. Children. Friends. Nobody was safe from it. And if the plague didn’t kill you, the wilderness inevitably would.

That’s why everyone fought so hard to have children. So they could pass along their doomed legacy, maybe have a chance at freedom from this cursed fate. He’d heard his great grandparents talking about a territory shift. Maybe one day, they would leave this rotting land in search of somewhere safer.

Somewhere safer sounded nice. Maybe hatchlings would stop dying then. Uncle Thrax and Aunt Remia were going to have children soon. So would his great grandparents. That was all tomorrow.

Jakob couldn’t stop daydreaming about his own future nest, sired by him and nurtured by Ieremiya. Yes, he admitted, he was in love. He’d only known her for two days but he was in love.

He hoped they would make it.

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