A Heart That Loves Is Always Young

Kajurath, at least, was glad for the distraction provided by the new blue dragon, even if he /was/ busy shaking each limb one at a time, going on and on about being bathed, and why was no one answering his cries yet? At least it was something amusing — not like that way-too-heavy bronze and brown.

((A little grime never hurt anyone,)) the brown said, settling down on the Sands again after the brief surprise that the blue’s hatching had provided. ((Stop your caterwauling.))

And indeed, some of the left-over egg goo from the brown’s hatching had dried on his hide, leaving behind flaky patches that the blue now eyed in disbelief.

((Disgusting,)) said the blue, taking a step back as if revolted. ((How can you stand that? Though I guess you don’t really have as much to lose as I do… you look like you were practically /made/ to wear sludge.)) He eyed the brown’s dark hide with obvious distaste, then glanced up at Gavilth. ((Though yours isn’t half-bad — shiny as it is — so I don’t know what your excuse for staying so unkempt is. Ugh. You have a… a /thing/ there.))

With one pristine blue wingtip (still shiny and wet from hatching, but no longer dripping goo) he indicated a spot on Gavilth’s flank, where a piece of his eggshell still clung to him, stuck there with dried goo.

The bronze glanced back at himself, surprised, then craned his neck around to pluck the offending piece of shell off with his teeth, tossing it aside. ((Thank you,)) he replied evenly, though his appearance had been the last thing on his mind. ((Now we can all move past this and get something done.))

It wasn’t a question.

((Like what?)) Kajurath responded dryly, rolling her eyes as she huffed at the bronze, ((Seriously the only suggestion I’ve heard you put forth, fussy-britches, is pushing eggs over to hatch more dragons. Clearly a superfluous task if you ask me.)) she nodded at Pheradith, ((Since Blue Charming here hatched all on his ownsome.))

The blue preened, but shook his head. Nice as the nickname was (because let’s face it he was totally charming right?), he did have a name and he wanted people to remember it.

((I am Pheradith.)) he informed the place at large, before turning to Kajurath and arching an eyebrow at her, ((Hellooooo there….lovely lady.))

Hasheth meanwhile, hidden and entirely forgotten in the darker recesses of the Hatching Caverns, was gazing, fascinated at the blue. He was so very handsome, more handsome even than the shiny, supposedly better bronze, more handsome than the haughty Ceretith, or attention seeking Zalqueth. And if there was one thing Hasheth loved…it was beauty and beautiful things.

Slowly she inched closer, so absorbed in her curiousity and her study of the blue, bronze, brown and green, that she didn’t notice her graceful tail lightly knock on an egg behind her.

One sway, then another, and then the Less Than Precious egg slowly rolled off its mound, picking up speed until it thudded into the thick sand at the bottom of another small hill, sending grit flying all around the surprised little green, who yelped just as a blue head shoved out of a newly made hole in the shell.

((I say,)) the new blue huffed, eyeing Hasheth, who was frozen in place, ((I do apologise dear lady. That was not nearly the way I had expected to emerge.))

((I never said they /couldn’t/ hatch on their own,)) Gavilth pointed out. ((Only that they were taking entirely too long about it. If you don’t plan on pushing the lazy out of their eggs, then you could at least find /something/ productive to do. You don’t have any reason to just be sitting here. Go find a rider. I’d see you all safely paired before I go, but you’re making it increasingly difficult for me to do so.))

The brown merely grunted and gave a sideways nod towards the candidates. ((Go. They’ll find their way in their own time.))

((And if they don’t…?)) the bronze asked, with a pointed glance at Kajurath.

The brown gave a bit of a shrug. ((Then they were too stupid or weak to be of use, anyway. We’ll do without them.))

Kajurath however was not paying attention to the brown or the bronze, or indeed even the blue before her. Instead her attention had been drawn to the blue head sticking out of the Less than precious egg, and the strange new green standing frozen beside it, ((Hey Gavilth, looks like two more of them have come to join the party.)) she got to her feet and wandered over to Hasheth and the Less Than Precious egg, giving the little blue in it a draconic grin, ((How’s it hanging mate, need a hand?))

((You can see me?)) Hasheth asked the new blue, shocked, and then looked at Kajurath too, ((You too?))

((Sure I can see you.)) Kajurath gave her sister a bemused look, ((Why the hell wouldn’t I see you?))

((Because I’m invisible?)) Hasheth said uncertainly, ((Or at least…I think I was.))

((How could someone as /lovely/ as you be invisible?)) Annoyed at being left and largely ignored Pheradith had made his way over to the party and slid up beside Hasheth, standing in between her and Kajurath, ((Hey there. I’m Pheradith…how you doin’?))

Kajurath rolled her eyes as did the new blue, ((I would indeed appreciate your assistance kind sister.)) he wiggled a little in his egg, ((I have postulated that my egg might be a little thicker than others. If not for that small rock I rolled over getting out at all might have been a truly serious problem.))

((Here…)) Hasheth darted over to the other side of the egg as Kajurath started peeling shell away, assisting from the other angle, ((I can help too.))

((Why bother?)) Pheradith sulked, huffing, ((I’m just as good as him. No, in fact I am better. Much better than….whatever his name is.))

((Oh forgive me, I have been unforgivably rude haven’t I? I am Mavenath, pleasure to make your acquaintance.))

The bronze and brown exchanged a glance. Gavilth glanced back at the candidates, clearly feeling the need to go, but unwilling to leave a task unfinished.

((They’ll make it… or they won’t,)) the brown reminded him, apparently intending the sentiment to be helpful. ((For now they are fine.))

Gavilth paused, looking at the group helping the new blue hatch (minus Pheradith, but then, Gavilth was almost ready to give up on blues entirely by this point), and he felt his resolve strengthen again. Yes. They would make it on their own, or they wouldn’t make it at all. His Wing had no room for the weak or foolish, even if it meant flying short.

Or flying alone.

But then, he had no need to be alone, did he? Making his decision, he turned and strode purposefully towards the candidates. Strength, he needed strength, and there was a lot of it here — it heartened him, but it did not complete him. With intense singularity of purpose, he pushed aside a boy who was too slow to move and almost walked right over another, homing in on someone else with that same singularity of purpose to match his own.

((Rathriel,)) he declared, shoving his head firmly into the boy’s abdomen in order to punctuate his claim. ((Leave these lazy, weak-willed fools behind. We’ve both suffered enough of them — now is our time to show them the error of their ways!))

The brown watched Gavilth Impress, giving a satisfied grunt, and finally got up and moved to join the rest of the group. ((Just break it apart,)) he advised.

((Thank you captain obvious.)) Kajurath muttered, breaking off another chunk and freeing Mavenath’s arm, so the blue could be of more assistance to the group, ((Steady on there mate…)) she tore off another chunk as Hasheth chipped away at the other side until finally Mavenath was freed, ((See. Right as rain.))

((My thanks to you ladies, and your input sir.)) the little blue said, stepping gingerly out of his shell, little blue tail hooked over one of his arms like a cane, ((I do so appreciate the aid. Being trapped is most unpleasant. I shall endeavour to avoid such a fate in future. As should you.))

Hasheth nodded, thinking the words very wise.

Pheradith however just scoffed, preening himself once again, ((This really is intolerable.)) he muttered, ((How am I supposed to impress ANYone if I don’t look my best. These conditions are appalling.)) he huffed, ((I demand that someone brush the sand off my back. Now!))

((Oh I…)) Hasheth hesitated before moving forward only to be stopped by Kajurath’s tail.

((Don’t. He can manage, vain little pipsqueak.))

Pheradith drew himself up, ((How dare you. You…great….lump.)) he flicked his tail restlessly, ((You’ll see…when you can’t get someone to want you because your skin is all dry and cracked and you look more like a sandy sand beast than a dragon. You’ll see then that Pheradith is right.))

((Oh please.)) Kajurath strolled off towards the Candidates, ((See? I’ll find someone bloody perfect.))

((Let’s see…)) Pheradith mocked back, ((I think you won’t.))

((I will.)) Kajurath stopped in front of the candidates ((Coooooeeeeee!)) she called, before walking through the crowd out to the back, finding the perfect one.

Hasheth, Pheradith and Mavenath all jumped as suddenly Kajurath’s voice boomed through the air, ((YOU BEAAAUUUUTY!)) She hollered, ((You little ripper! Come on mate…we’ve got work to do yeah?))

((Well…)) Pheradith blustered, ((Clearly that person was just faulty. Beauty is everything.))

((Everything,)) the brown repeated with an amused grunt, unbothered by Kajurath’s back-talk or Pheradith’s posturing. ((She has something now that you don’t have. Are you going to pick the prettiest one?))

((I’m going to pick the perfect one.)) Pheradith snarked back, ((And you have to admit. Appearances are a huge part of that.))

((On the contrary.)) Mavenath disagreed, ((I believe a sound mind, of intelligence, of wit, of wisdom is the most important trait one must possess. For without the mind to fathom the world, what use is being vacuously beautiful?))

((Did you just call me…vacuous?)) Pheradith gasped, glaring at his fellow blue and ignoring the still unnamed brown, and Hasheth, whose attention was captured by an egg off to the side, the egg protectively watched over by their mother. She moved off, curious, as she saw gold flicker across the sands, the reflection of glow light on moving, slowly swaying gold.

((Oh my…)) Hasheth breathed as she came to a stop before the huge golden egg, ((Now you are beautiful.))

((Call it like it is, I say,)) the brown huffed. ((He’s not wrong. And pick however you want to pick. It’s you who’ll suffer for it later. Whatever you end up with, shape it up before you’re old enough to make the rest of us suffer too.))

Hasheth’s movement caught his attention, though, and he followed her movement with his eyes until he saw the subject of her interest.

He grunted. ((About time.))

The Golden Apple egg was, indeed, moving. It rocked back and forth, not a hurried pace but not exactly leisurely either, until it fell over onto its side, cracking all the way up and around. ((Nng,)) said the dragon inside as she pushed outward, shoving the broken halves of the egg apart, cracking the small remaining connected spots to stand revealed in the broken halves: a lean young gold dragon, long wings spread and stance still slightly splayed from the final push she had just made, glows of the cavern glistening on her bright yellow-golden hide. It made it hard to discern the paler coloring of her face and shoulders and front of her legs and wing-arms at first, because the glow-light shimmering on her wet hide was so similar.

She looked around the Sands, taking stock of the young green beside her now, the brown watching her, and the two blues debating the merits of candidate selection.

((Hello,)) she offered, almost questioningly but not exactly hesitant.

((Hello.)) Hasheth responded back, almost shyly as she looked up at the beautiful dragon before her, ((Wow….you…))

Whatever she might have said however was lost as she was veritably bowled over by the handsome Pheradith, who planted himself in front of the golden lady, taking one of her front legs in his and giving it a small lick, like a kiss.

((Hello fine lady.)) Pheradith crooned, ((Look at that brown and back to me, and look at that brown and back to me…sadly he isn’t me. I’m the dragon your dragon should look like…pretty lady.))

((He isn’t me,)) the brown affirmed, lips twitching slightly. Apparently he didn’t think he needed to add anything else to make his complete acceptance — grateful acceptance, even — of this fact clear.

The gold pulled her leg back — pulled her entire body back just a bit, in fact, neck curving as she drew back and regarded the blue. ((A bit forward, aren’t you?))

((Your beauty makes me so.)) Pheradith charmed back, ((How could I stay silent when such loveliness is before me.))

Hasheth had had a quiet laugh at the brown’s retort, and now at the golds obvious surprise at the amorous blue’s attentions. Now however she waved a little leg shyly, ((I’m Hasheth,)) She greeted the gold, still rather enchanted.

((The blue who is slavering over your hand like a rabid beast is Pheradith madam.)) Mavenath introduced wryly, ((He’s…an interesting character. I am Mavenath, also recently Hatched and this…is a fine brown fellow who hasn’t yet introduced himself to us. Sadly. Might we have the honour of knowing your name?))

((Miaranth,)) she replied, inclining her head to each of them in turn, though she lingered on Pheradith, holding his gaze. ((And you… I would appreciate it if you didn’t touch me without asking, please. It’s rude, for one. And I would hate to have to kick you, for two.))

The brown made a sound almost like a bark of laughter. ((Hate, she says.))

((And is there something I can call you, other than “the brown”? I can’t imagine you are the only one, even if you’re the only one here now,)) she pointed out.

((Call me what you will,)) the brown replied. ((Does it matter?))

((Not to you, I suppose. But maybe it matters to me.)) If Miaranth could have raised her brows expectantly, she would have. ((For simplicity’s sake, if nothing else.))

The brown’s lips twitched again briefly as he considered. ((…Fair. Call me Vildhunth.))

((I would risk much to gain your favour, fairest Miaranth.)) Pheradith attempted, ((Even such bruises as you would lovingly deal out to one who only desires to be near your sweet self.))

Mavenath shook his head at the blue, ((You are a foolish little thing.)) he informed him, ((Was your head overcooked in the egg. Hmm perhaps your sand was hotter under your egg. Anyway, it is unwise to persist. Can you not see she has no interest in your flowery protestations of attention?))

((You are making a bit of a fool of yourself Pheradith.)) Hasheth agreed quietly, giving him a small smile to take the sting out of her words, ((She is a Queen. I’m sure if Gavilth were here he would be most disappointed in you.))

((Bully that.)) Pheradith retorted, ((And Gavilth is not here.)) He stepped away from the gold though and looked around, as though anxious that the serious Gavilth might come lunging out of nowhere and scold him, ((He’s not here right?))

((I don’t see anyone but us,)) Miaranth said. She didn’t exactly have any memories of Gavilth yet to know what to look for, but it seemed logical enough that there were only the five of them that she knew — only those five close by, anyway. ((And how do you know I’m sweet? I could be awful. I could be worse than this “Gavilth”.))

Vildhunth huffed. ((Beauty equals merit, says Pheradith.))

Pheradith shot a glare at his brown brother, ((Stop being such a…cockblock Vildhunth,)) he hissed, ((I’ll so get you back for this.))

((You did say brother, that beauty was the most important attribute.)) Mavenath pointed out smugly, ((I said intelligence and wisdom but you insisted that physical appeal makes appealing persons.))

((OH!)) Pheradith hissed, ((Shut up! Shut up I say now! You’re ruining everything. I wish Kajurath and this…)) he looked at Hasheth, completely unable to remember her name, ((lovely green here, had left you to rot in your thick headed egg. It’s as stupid as you are.))

Hasheth looked a bit downcast at being forgotten so easily, especially by Pheradith who she had thought was so pretty…

((Huuuuuuuuuuuu…)) she said quietly.

((Go ahead,)) Miaranth invited, nodding to Pheradith. ((I won’t take their word for it. What would you have said, if you’d answered my question yourself?))

Vildhunth, meanwhile, didn’t announce his intentions to anyone. This whole thing was no longer amusing (if it had ever been in the first place), and while he didn’t exactly trust the gold to keep things in hand, he no longer felt there was anything to gain by hanging around here as opposed to getting his rider and leaving. Just as he had told Gavilth: they’ll find their way eventually. Or not. And hopefully they’d be less useless when they were complete.

He simply got up and walked away towards the candidates.

It was Hasheth who saw him go, her keen gaze watching him go, before sending a quiet, ((Good luck Vildhunth.)) before turning back to the problem at hand, the blustering Pheradith and smirking Mavenath and Miaranth watching them both.

Pheradith was stumped. Before Vildhunth’s and Mavenath’s petty intervention he would have indeed make comment on her beauty, on her pretty hide, and loveliness. But now…now he couldn’t use those. He opened his mouth and made a faint wheezing sound.

((He’s got nothing.)) Mavenath mocked smugly.

Pheradith shot him a look that promised retribution, and then turned back to Miaranth, ((You’ve not shown me any reason to doubt your loveliness….)) he said…uncharacteristically uncertain in the face of her scrutiny.

((Well, I did threaten to kick you,)) she reminded him, flexing a leg as if still considering it, ((but you’ve got a pretty good point there, too. I’m… flattered that you think I’m beautiful, but I’m just saying. You don’t even know me. I might be a dragon who kicks /everyone/. Or bites, or just… says rude, awful things. I don’t know. I /could/ use a work-out, honestly. I don’t know if sitting around here just talking really suits me.))

She flexed her wings, too, testing them, and stretched each of her legs in turn.

Vildhunth, meanwhile, stalked down to the candidates, heading straight for the one he wanted. It wouldn’t precisely have been right to say that he never had any trouble deciding which one he wanted even though it looked as if he didn’t even glance at a single other boy — he had, in fact, spent part of his largely silent time on the Sands thus far considering his options, and had found the right one for him before he ever even started off towards the candidates.

((Naivalu,)) he said stopping directly in front of the young man. He could have given a speech, he even considered it briefly, but then decided against it, trusting his new rider to feel and understand him as their eyes met (expecting it, in fact — he would accept no less than for his rider to live up to his expectation whether he liked it or not). ((You are mine. Come, I’m hungry.))

Hasheth glanced over again and gave a happy little warble that Vildhunth had found one of the funny white dressed people like all the others she’d seen go to them before him. For a moment she felt a little sad, wistful as she looked over at them, wondering if, if she took the plunge….would there be someone for her?

((I like to assume the best my beautiful lady gold.)) Pheradith was beginning to get a bit of his swagger back, ((Perhaps we could take a little turn together amongst the eggs? Admire the sights? Stretch our legs?))

((That sounds like fun.)) Hasheth agreed and then quailed back when Pheradith glared at her.

((Not you.))

((I have a name,)) Miaranth pointed out sharply, ((and it’s not “beautiful” or “lady” or “gold”.)) She rolled her shoulders a bit. Vain or not, the blue had a good suggestion. It would be good to move around a little after being so cramped in the egg. ((And I don’t see why Hasheth can’t come too if she wants to. And you, Smuggy McGentlemanface?)) she added, nodding to Mavenath. ((You’re welcome too.))

((Thank you!)) Hasheth beamed, eagerly moving forward to walk at the larger dragon’s side, ((She remembered my name…)) she said to herself quietly, ((Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…))

((Thank you Miaranth. I believe I shall. A mind is useless if it cannot move to seek out more knowledge yes?)) Mavenath sauntered past Pheradith, giving the sulking blue a smug look.

Pheradith waited for a moment, displeased that the other two tag-a-longs were….well….tagging along. And then he hurried off after them. ((This sucks.))

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