“Why does he look so funny, mama?” Shior asked, peering over her mother’s foot to look at the newborn.
Laria pulled her child back with a hiss. “Hush, Shior! That’s rude!”
“What happened to the others, mama?” Psitta questioned, pouncing on her sister.
“Hush!” Laria hissed again, eyes narrowed as she watched the baby Guardians fall into a wrestling match.
Her children now occupied, Laria discreetly glanced at the object of her daughters’ attentions. Betes dozed in the sun, curled protectively around a tiny pearl-colored Fae with electric blue eyes. The Fae, Crohn, had quite the tale attached to him, according to Zone.
“I was scavenging as I usually do, hunting for Charged Sprockets, when the sky grew dark. A bolt of lightning hit near me and there it was–an egg, glowing like no other. I almost didn’t want to touch it, it was so bright. Then I heard this rumble of a voice all around me, saying ‘Take this egg to the one who has lost her young.’ So I took that egg and came right home.”
And someone indeed lost their young. Laria thanked Plaguebringer for letting her and Malar’s two girls live.
Sadly, Betes’ newest nest of three suffered. No hatchlings lived, all dying within minutes of breaking out of their shells. Betes, who had bared her heart and was ready for true motherhood, was heartbroken at the sudden loss.
The voice–the Stormcatcher, that was the only one it could be–had spoken the truth and Zone obeyed. The glowing egg, crackling with blue lightning, was surrendered to Winse and Betes. Nobody argued.
The instant Betes touched it, the shell shattered and out toppled Crohn. He was hers. Blood made no difference to the blood-red Guardian. Crohn was her child.
Crohn was so tiny. Safe frequently checked on the newborn, recalling when Pall was that tiny. Pall even zipped by from his nest to see the newcomer, pleased to have another Fae in the clan. Betes and Winse were attentive and careful in the handling of their tiny child.
Theria and Rosi took turns babysitting while their mother dozed. Theria bristled, swiping at Psitta and Shior if they dared to get too close. Laria made certain to keep her children far from their aunts and grandmother, not wanting to cause any accidental harm to little Crohn.
The curiosity still had taken root. Shior and Psitta knew that Crohn did not look like his parents. Crohn was no Guardian. He was a tiny, fragile Fae.
Betes did not care. Crohn was her child now.
She loved him.