Small black and white birds startled from their leisurely flight when Aurelia swept past them, squawking and just barely avoiding a collision with the dragoness. Phos had told Aurelia some time ago that these were called “snow shrikes”, a species native to Terra known for their beautiful songs— and far less beautiful habit of impaling their prey on thorny trees.
The little human on her head felt light and almost weightless, to the extent that if she wasn’t careful, she could forget he was there entirely. For this reason, Aurelia paced herself, coasting through the clouds with a concentrated elegance she didn’t know herself capable of.
They flew along for some time like this before speaking.
“Impressed, Phos?” she called out, grinning. Aurelia couldn’t see his face, but she feel that he had settled down and begun to relax. Instead of panicking and screeching, Phos was now silent, wedged between the smaller horns of her head, holding on to them for support.
“It’s... Wow. I’ve never felt anything like this!”
Brave human, huh? Impressive.
It wasn’t an attribute she associated with Grounded. But then again, Aurelia had never heard of any other dragons befriending humans, let alone allowing them to ride on themselves. Humans were either kept as familiars, or eaten as an exotic snack... Usually, it was the former.
The realization made her shudder. If she wasn’t careful, Phos could end up becoming someone’s dinner.
“Let’s go up here.” Aurelia huffed, slowly angling her wings to fly them higher. They were approaching one of the smaller islands of Aether, an outlier bordering the Frost Kingdom, Cirr. She doubt it had a name; it was too tiny to be used as anything but a resting spot for dragons.
The dragoness landed, cautiously sniffing the air for danger. She could smell other dragons, and even a griffin, but the trail was stale. Nobody had been here for at least a few days.
This should be safe. Unless someone flies here downwind of us, I’ll be able to spot them.
Aurelia settled down, pushing snow off the ground around her with her paws. The powder tickled her nostrils, and she sneezed... Sending Phos tumbling off her head.
He fell face first into the cold dirt and slush. Aurelia gasped, moving her head closer to inspect him, but he popped back up immediately.
“Ack! What was that for, Aurelia?!”
Phos’s thick eyebrows were scrunched. Snow covered his long hair, and the sight of him so angry and disheveled made Aurelia laugh.
“You really do...” she chuckled “Look just like... A baby griffin!”
“I don’t even know what a griffin looks like, you blasted oversized lizard! Gah!” Phos grumbled, brushing dirt off of his clothes and bag. He met her eyes, then sighed. “Be more careful, okay? That was dangerous. I could have gotten hurt, or even died...”
Aurelia sobered up, looking away from his gaze. “You’re right... I’m sorry, Phos. I’m glad you’re alright.”
His purple eyes softened.
Aurelia curled her tail around her paws, and Phos plopped down on it, munching on dried meat from his bag. The scent of food made Aurelia’s stomach gurgle in excitement. It had been a while since her last meal, but the portions her human friend had with him were far too small to whet her appetite. Phos tossed her a piece anyways, and it disappeared into the void of her maw as she chomped it down immediately.
After a few moments, he spoke.
“So, Aurelia, what are we doing up here? I don’t mind playing around, but I do have to return home before night falls. My little sister will worry if I’m late.”
Aurelia hummed in agreement. “I understand. I’ll have you home soon... I actually just wanted to talk to you about something. I’m not sure how to explain it to a human, though. It might be hard for you to understand— but it’s really important”
“Hmm...? Ah, it’s alright. Please just try your best. I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but I’ll also do my best to listen.”
She nodded, beginning her tale.
“Before Azmanthus fell, my Queen entrusted me with one of her eggs. I blessed it once before, so had a strong mental link to it... To put it in a way that’s easier to understand, blessing an egg is giving it memories. Happy memories, so it can dream while it grows.” Aurelia tapped her skull thrice with a claw. “A mental link is, well, a mental link. Or just a link, for short. Do you have any clue what that is? Ever heard about it before?”
Phos shook his head. “No, but I think I remember hearing you use the term before. It sounds pretty self explanatory — is it like telepathy or something?”
“Indeed, some may call it that. But it’s much more than simple telepathy. It’s the connection between two souls, a bridge of magic to share thoughts, ideas, emotions... Memories, too. Eggs can’t talk, of course. Nor can they communicate through a link. Not until they’re almost ready to hatch, at least.”
“I think I get it. So... What happened to your egg?” Phos slowly asked, but he surely already knew the answer. Aurelia did not have it with her. She hung her head low.
“I lost it. I don’t know where it is. I don’t know if it fell to Terra, or one of the lower islands of Aether. I don’t even know if it’s alive— or how I lost it, for that matter. It was in a pouch of mine that female dragons use to carry our eggs. There is no safer place for an egg. It should not have fallen out.”
Hissing now, Aurelia stood, digging her claws into the earth. Her red eyes were filled with swirling emotions: fear, guilt, anger... And livid determination. Phos kept quiet, letting her continue.
“I don’t know where the egg is. But I will find it, Phos. I will not rest until I do.”