Chapter 5:

Storm Brewing (II)


Aurelia stood before three large eggs, freshly laid, their delicate shells still hardening. Each was nestled against each other, in the protective confines of their nest. The tail of the largest dragoness Aurelia had ever seen was twined around it; if Veskar was double Aurelia’s size, then she was quadruple. Her Majesty Viridan, green and dappled orange scales shining in all her glory. Various gemstones and fruits were piled around her resting place, and she idly fiddled with them using her paws, observing all the dragons who approached the nest and her new eggs. 

Veskar had already blessed them, touching his nose to each of them and closing his eyes. He had a warm smile all the while, until the moment he was finished. Aurelia wondered what he had gifted them with. 

The splendor of using storm magic, perhaps..? 

Aurelia bowed in respect, awaiting her permission to approach the nest. 

Queen Viridian tapped a claw against one of the jewels she had been toying with, producing a light chime.  

“Your name, little dragoness?”

“Aurelia, daughter of Veskar, my Queen.”

Her eyes widened ever so slightly in surprise at her father’s name. The tapping increased in speed.

“A daughter of Veskar, are you? Such bizarre scales that adorn you. And I can see you have not attuned to the element of storm, as well.”

Aurelia gulped. The dragons waiting around them all had their eyes on her, the cavern quieting. Veskar watched as well, his emotions indiscernible. 

Ahh... I hope they can’t smell my fear from here. 

“It is true, my Queen. The element of ice has chosen me; as for my scales, well... I take after my mother.”

“I see.” 

Queen Viridian nodded, and rolled a small white stone towards Aurelia, who clumsily caught it with her claws. 

“I do recall hearing of Veskar having a daughter. How time flies... You may take this; consider it a greeting, little dragoness. Proceed.”

She kept her words brief. No dragon needed a reminder to behave before her. She could have your insides turning into outsides before you could exhale a single spark of fire. The thoughts made Aurelia’s legs feel weak as she crept forwards, the Queen now resting her head on the floor. 

She must be tired after laying her eggs. I wonder if it hurts. Ack. But what should I gift to the eggs...?

Aurelia touched her pale nose to the first egg. It was dark green, and she marveled at how warm the smooth shell felt. She could sense a tiny life within, barely conscious.

She closed her eyes, and reached out to the egg. Her mind linked to it, and she felt the faintest connection responding. It tickled her, spiritual essence pure and bright, not given color by the elements yet. Strangely, Aurelia’s heart filled with love for this little life that she had never met. Her heartbeat slowed to a crawl. 

I don’t know what you would enjoy. 

I don’t know what I can give to you, that someone else hasn’t already given. 

 I’m so sorry... I don’t have much, but I hope this can help you dream of something beautiful. Or interesting, at the very least.

 It’s the feeling of warmth. The warmth I felt when I hatched, and saw my father and mother there, smiling at me. The feeling of being hugged close to their belly, wrapped with their wings as my blanket, falling asleep knowing I was an existence loved more than any other to them. This feeling, these memories, are precious to me. They make me happy, so... I hope they can make you feel the same.

Their mental link glowed brilliantly as she shared her memories. The egg, being an egg, gave no response to her— but she thought it looked more vibrant, when she opened her eyes. She exhaled, and the link faded into nothingness. Reality came back. 

Queen Viridian was still relaxing, now eating out of a golden bowl of fruits that sat beside her nest. She wasn’t looking at Aurelia, but her ears were up and listening closely to her surroundings. Suddenly, she heard something that alarmed her, and she snapped to full attention.  

Just as Aurelia moved to touch the remaining two eggs, the ground started shaking. 

“What in the—!!”

The entire world seemed to be collapsing under her, large fissures cracking the floor of the royal chamber, smooth white marble splitting and crumbling. Dragons screeched in alarm, scrambling off the floors and ledges, racing to the exit tunnels, a whirlwind of colors. 

Her Majesty roared in fury, spreading her enormous wings over her nest, shielding her eggs from the falling debris of the ceiling. At the same time, she summoned her life magic; large roots, each as thick as a tritan erupting from the ground and blocking the larger chunks of stone. She quickly lowered her head, gently gathering her clutch of eggs into her jaws.

Aurelia was frozen in horror. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t think. The whole world was a blur. What... in the Aether... is happening? Where.. is Father?

“Come, daughter of Veskar!” Queen Viridan bellowed, charging forwards and slamming into Aurelia, knocking her out of her fearful stupor.

“You need not think. Fly now, or die. Just follow me!”

Aurelia rapidly blinked at the command, then raced after her Queen, taking off into the air and flying as fast as she could through the exit tunnel. Her wings and face were pelted with small pebbles, and her scales ached at the onslaught. Some dragons lay motionless on the ground as she whizzed past, hit by chunks too heavy for even their plated scales to protect them from. 

Aurelia gasped for air. Her lungs burned. Her eyes watered. But she didn’t stop pumping her wings, following her Queen. She had no choice.