Laria’s death had been just the beginning. Scorched Forest was thirsty for blood. It had only just begun its massive killing spree.
Two days later, two more dragons fell to the beasts that lurked within the ashen wastes that made up the forest. Ponti, Tryp’s only daughter, and Theria, Betes’ prized daughter, had both fallen. Winse was powerless to defend either one against their attackers. He returned home with the blood of a niece and his own child on his paws.
Betes had been horrified, falling into a stunned silence at the sight of her daughter’s body. Rosi wandered away, dumbstruck at the thought of her sister being dead. Malar carefully maneuvered Ponti’s children away before they could see her mangled body. Nobody could speak.
Funerals and burials were held. Pall watched over the children–Histo and Flin’s two rambunctious Mirror kids, Tigo and Papillo. They would not be told of the deaths until later.
Theria and Ponti were not the only deaths that day. Lymph and Ande had suffered losses in their nest. Two of the hatchlings failed to live, a pair of tiny Ridgebacks that were named Necro and Uma. Their brother, Chizo, clung to life persistently. The two hatchlings were buried close to Ponti and Theria’s graves.
But Scorched Forest was not done robbing their clan of valued members. Two days later, an immense disaster struck.
There were two forays into Scorched Forest that day. The remaining members were desperate to get stronger. Scorched Forest was their best bet to do so.
During the first trip, Pall met his end. Thrax and Lymph had been unable to help the blue Fae. Thrax even began to suspect that Pall purposely put himself in the line of fire, unable to continue forward without his mate. Whatever the reason, their three biological children and their adopted son Morquio were left orphaned.
During the second trip, nobody returned. For the first time in over one hundred and forty days, those that went into the wilderness did not return.
After several hours, Zone went in search of them. Hours later, the tomato Guardian staggered home with three bodies across his broad back. The whole clan was struck dumb and silent.
The meaning of these deaths, their significance, meant nothing to the rest. It meant everything to Safe, Zone, Winse, and Lymph. Such an event had occurred on their clan’s thirteenth day of existence.
When Pizzicato, Malihini, and Bola had all perished in Woodland Path…
This time, the fallen were two treasured children and one orphan–Losis, Betes, and Kemia.
Safe bawled, weeping over the corpses of her first surviving children. Geri screamed, draped over the still form of his Spiral mate while his two sons, Lio and Toma, stood back in mute shock. Malar and Rosi stared stupidly at the body of their mother, who had gone through so much in her life, only to die. Winse couldn’t speak.
Zone, heart heavy and numb from their losses, carefully peeled Safe and Geri from the bodies of their loved ones. Winse moved, lifting his cold mate atop his back. Thrax carried Losis, Zone’s largest child and among the largest dragons in the entire clan. Lymph carried Kemia, guiding his son and grandsons behind him.
The procession to the graveyard was a slow and miserable one. In less than one week, nine lives were lost. Scorched Forest had claimed the majority, breaking the spirits and hearts of the rest of the clan.
Sadly, that number would climb to ten as evening crept in. Embo, one of Safe’s newborn children, would lose his fight with the plague. The tiny vermilion Mirror would die before midnight. He too be buried with the rest in the graveyard.
Hope was beginning to lessen…