Ten lives had been lost in the past week. Among them had been treasured family and friends. Dragons that Zone had known for most of his life. He had loved them all.
But where ten had been lost, four had been given.
Chizo, Lymph and Ande’s surviving newborn, was growing stronger by the day. The young Ridgeback chased after the newly-grown Mirrors, Tigo and Papillo, his muscles growing strong from their play-fighting. His newest playmates took the forms of Safe and Zone’s own surviving newborn sons–Guardian hatchlings Gerd and Keton and Mirror hatchling Leuk.
The six of them made quite a gaggle of youngsters, bringing life and laughter into a lair that had suffered much in the past week. It was very much needed and appreciated.
But it couldn’t completely wipe away the damage that had been done. The Fae kids were still orphaned, having lost both parents. Tryp was devastated at the loss of his only daughter. Winse was shaken by the loss of his mate and daughter, shakily trying to connect with his remaining two children, who had drifted away from him. Psitta and Shior would never get their mother back and clung to their father Malar in an almost vicious manner. Geri had withdrawn into himself, the Skydancer firmly ignoring attempts by his parents and brother to coax him out.
Safe tried to drown herself in her newborns, in the fresh lives she had brought into the world. But it could never wipe away the fact that her first two were now gone. Losis and Betes, who had survived the plague and had been with them almost since the beginning, were now gone, taken away at the same time.
Zone wouldn’t deny it. He was trying to drown himself too. He was out scavenging and gathering food in Fire territory.
This had always been his escape. He could gather resources without ever setting foot in the wilderness. He was safe.
Yet he was weak. Powerless. Unable to save anyone from their fate.
And unable to escape from the plague.
The tomato Guardian sighed. He had been gone long enough. It was time to head home. He couldn’t avoid returning to Plague territory forever.
The journey back home was long and slow. That was okay. He intended it that way. It meant less time having to spend near a graveyard housing dragons that he knew and loved.
Unfortunately, it meant more time could be spent thinking about said dragons and deaths.
Zone surged ahead with a frustrated snarl. The sooner he got home, the sooner he could sort through what he had found and organize things and make sure everyone was eating and–what was that?
The Guardian paused, head cocked. There was a strident chirping sound on the wind. It sounded scared.
Zone abandoned his trek, racing toward the sound. His heart soared. There was only one reason why he’d hear chirping–another hatchling had been abandoned here. A hatchling that he could bring home. A distraction. A new life.
Among the bones sat a little feathered hatchling, her tiny wings spread as she called to the sky. She was a vibrant ultramarine blue and covered in stripes. Her wings were a light purple. Her eyes were light green. Wind flight.
He shushed her lightly, gathering her up. “Shhh! Shhhhh! It’s okay. Don’t cry. I’ve got you. Don’t cry.”
It was a Coatl. He’d never seen one before but he’d heard of them. She was so tiny, this little hatchling. She looked so frightened, cowering against his tomato-red scales. He shushed her, soothing her with the deep rumble of his voice.
“Shhh… You’re okay. I’m here.”
Zone would find on the walk home that the hatchling was named Mafrea. She did not know where she was or why her parents had left her among the bones. She was three days old and very hungry.
Zone saw to it that she was hungry and scared no more.