The Story Is Not Always Glamourous

Nearly all of the eggs were rocking now, most of them quite frantically as their occupants felt the irresistible pull of the outside world. Some spun around a little, some rolled, some rocked rhythmically back and forth as the three greens played happily amongst them…

One, however, had stopped moving.

If anyone had been paying attention to the Something Rotten This Way Comes egg, they may have noticed that it had been rocking the entire time — occasionally almost frantically — but now it sat still and silent, slightly apart from its siblings.

Quinharth was the first to notice.

((Hey!)) she called to her sisters, bounding over to the small egg. ((I think this one’s broken!))

The other greens came over, surrounding the egg and looking it over curiously.

((I do like the green on the shell,)) Ivaripeth noted. ((It adds some beauty to an otherwise awfully dreary shell, don’t you think?))

((I think it’s gross,)) said Quinharth, but the giggle tacked onto the end of the phrase made it sound as if she didn’t really *mind* “gross” all that much. ((Do you think the dragon inside is… dead?))

Nimitith drew back, horrified. ((Oh, don’t say that! Just because it’s ugly and still doesn’t mean it’s broken… I mean, it probably isn’t! Nothing is so broken that it can’t be fixed! Maybe the dragon is just taking a rest.))

((I think it’s dead,)) giggled Quinharth, as if she had no real concept of what “dead” actually was (or, more frighteningly, just didn’t care). ((Let’s roll it around!))

Ivaripeth took a step back, green face paling slightly. ((If it *is* dead, that’s all the more reason to just leave it alone.))

Ignoring her sisters, Quinharth pushed at the egg. She wasn’t really strong enough to actually make it roll, but it tilted one way and then fell back into its comfortable little indentation in the sand, jostling.

((Please don’t hurt it, Quinharth,)) Nimitith pleaded. ((I’m sure the dragon will come out when its good and ready. Though… dragon inside, if you can hear me, now would probably be a good time!))

Quinharth pushed at the egg again gleefully, and this time it rocked even more as its momentum made it tilt back in the opposite direction again before settling roughly back into the Sand. She didn’t actually realize that this was almost exactly how Fancharth had hatched Vondruth; this was just something fun to do in the moment. ((Whee!))

Ivaripeth took another step back. ((This is disgusting, Quinharth. Please, have a bit of decorum!))

((And respect for the…)) Nimitith set her jaw obstinately, refusing to say the word. ((…sleeping,)) she said instead.

((Aw, come on girls! What’s it hurting?)) Quinharth pushed both front feet up against the egg, shaking it as best as her tiny little green legs could. ((If it’s dead, then it won’t care anymore — and if it’s sleeping, well, this’ll wake it up!))

((Leave it alone!)) Ivaripeth snapped with uncharacteristic ferocity and, rather shocked and chastised by her sister’s outburst, Quinharth froze, staring at her.

((Aw, Ivaripeth, don’t be mad! We’re friends, aren’t we? I’m just havin’ a little fun!))

Ivaripeth sighed. ((Yes, we’re friends, of course we are. But since we’re friends… please stop that?))

((Aww. Not even a little shake?)) To demonstrate, Quinharth gave the egg another rattle. Before Ivaripeth could snap back again, though, the egg itself protested.

((Please!)) cried a voice from inside. ((Please just leave me alone!))

All three greens stared.

And then, all at once, all three greens started talking.

((See? I told you it was just sleeping!)) Nimitith exclaimed excitedly.

((Ha, whaddya know? I did good!)) Quinharth stuck her tongue out at her sisters.

Ivaripeth tilted her head, a bit more graceful than the others. ((Well. Color me surprised.))

((And please stop all the squealing,)) said the voice in the Something Rotten egg. ((Please, please just go away. I’m asking nicely, aren’t I?))

Nimitith gave the egg a little nudge. ((Pardon, friend — I’m not trying to bother you — but really, it’s time to come out! Everyone else is… and if you stay in there much longer, I think you might get sick or something.))

((I’m already sick from being rattled around,)) it replied bitterly. ((And now my head is hurting, too. Your voices are like little talons shredding my brain…))

((I’m sorry,)) Ivaripeth and Nimitith replied simultaneously. ((Really, we thought you were dead,)) Ivaripeth continued.

((Maybe I’d be better off if I was,)) said the voice in the egg miserably.

Quinharth shoved at the egg hard, rocking it again. ((Don’t talk like that! That’s CRAZY talk! Get out here right this instant, Mister — or Ma’am! — and play with us!))

((Now girls,)) chastised a soothing male voice from behind them, and all three turned to look. ((Your intentions are good, but I think you’re hurting the poor thing. Step back, please.))

Unnoticed in all this by the other dragons (but almost certainly noticed by the candidates), the Imperfection is the New Perfection egg had finally cracked into a dozen large pieces, and a brown dragon, with a deep reddish-brown hide brindled all over with darker coloring, had emerged into the world with less fuss than most of his siblings. He made his way over to the source of the commotion, and Ivaripeth and Nimitith instinctively moved aside to give him room.

((It won’t come out!)) Quinharth whined, pushing the egg. ((It wants to die!))

The brown looked at the egg, considering. ((You in there… friend,)) he spoke gently. ((My name is Domandrath. Will you tell me your name?))

There was a long pause before the dragon inside spoke again. ((…Arlith.))

((Hello, Arlith.)) His voice was laced with genuine warmth. ((Our sister here tells me that you want to die. Is that true?))

((…No,)) Arlith replied after a beat or two, his mindvoice betraying his discomfort. ((Not really. I just want to be left alone.))

Quinharth nudged Domandrath. ((Ask it why!)) she whispered — but the “whisper” was so loud and obvious that every dragon heard it clearly.

((I’m not an ‘it’!)) Arlith replied hotly. ((I’m a ‘he’!))

((Well how was I supposed to know?)) Quinharth pouted. ((I can’t see you, and you sound kinda like a girl too!))

Nimitith put her head against the egg, aiming a glare at her tactless sister. ((Don’t listen to her, Arlith,)) she soothed. ((You sound perfectly masculine to me.))

((Masculine. Ha,)) Arlith sighed. ((I can’t even break my own egg. I’m pathetic. Just leave me alone.))

((You *are* starting to sound awfully pathetic,)) Ivaripeth observed, sounding a bit disappointed by the fact. ((Not like our Domandrath here. Mrrow.)) She rubbed up against the brown’s shoulder.

((The shell is probably just really thick!)) Nimitith proposed helpfully, determined not to give up on her brother. ((I’m sure it’s not your fault!))

((We can help you,)) Domandrath added, choosing to ignore Ivaripeth. ((Not every dragon here hatched without help, you know. I’m sure, given enough time, that you could… but you shouldn’t feel like you have to! That’s what friends, and siblings, are for.))

((YEAH!)) Quinharth enthused, throwing herself against the egg. ((SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE!))

A strangled cry erupted from inside. ((Gah! Stop it! I’m going to be sick!))

((Quinharth!)) Domandrath barked sharply.

Instantly Quinharth stopped, hunching her shoulders and glancing up at her brown brother sheepishly. ((…yeaaaah?))

((I think it’s time you left.)) He glanced towards the candidates. ((Isn’t there someone over there waiting for you, anyway?))

Quinharth followed his gaze. ((No, why would there… oh hey!)) She brightened immediately. ((There is! Heeeey!)) she called, running across the Sands towards the candidates — towards her chosen. ((If you wanted to play, why didn’t you just call me! You never call!))

Ivaripeth watched her go, nursing a faint twinge of jealousy and ignoring the obvious sound of dry heaves coming from within the Something Rotten egg. ((Hmph. I didn’t expect her to be so… easy.))

Domandrath gave her a gentle nudge. ((Don’t worry, you’ll see your friend again soon enough. And there’s someone waiting there for you, too, you know.))

((Is there?)) She considered the crowd critically. ((Hmm, I don’t know…))

Before Domandrath could say anything else, the Fragments of a Bigger Picture egg, which had been rolling around the Sands madly ever since Kabridith had upset it initially, came barreling across the Sands again, headed straight for the small crowd of dragons.

((Everyone!)) Domandrath barked, throwing his wings over the two greens, ((Get down!))

((Wait!)) cried Arlith, breathless and panicked, ((What’s happening? Get down? I can’t see!))

Fragments of a Bigger Picture collided with Something Rotten This Way Comes, knocking it out of its hole in the sand, sending shattered fragments of two eggs everywhere and spilling out two shell-shocked dragons: one enormous muscular dark fir-tree green, and a tiny, woefully thin midnight blue that screamed as his wing got caught beneath his sister’s bulk.

((I think now would be a good time to leave, after all,)) Ivaripeth observed quickly, dragging herself up off the Sands out from under Domandrath’s wing (a pity, that — she’d have to find a way to get back beneath it later) and rushing off towards the candidates. Halfway there, she managed to compose herself and slowed down into a more characteristic saunter.

Nimitith looked back and forth between the candidates and her new siblings, torn. ((I should help! Oh, he’s screaming!))

Domandrath gave her a nudge towards the candidates. ((Go, sister. I have it under control.))

Nimitith wasn’t entirely sure, and it felt wrong to abandon someone in need… but Domandrath’s voice sounded so confident and soothing that she gave in to the deep need to believe in it, and hurried off after her sister.

Ivaripeth, meanwhile, made her way into the crowd of candidates. With each step it felt as if she was getting closer to the face the wanted. Females were nice and all — some of her best friends — but no, she felt the need for someone masculine. Yum. And attractive, yes… (in her own possibly-biased estimation).

If anyone else could hear her thoughts, they might have been surprised, then, when she stopped in front of Zetair.

((Well hello, handsome,)) she purred. ((Just the strong, fine gentleman I was looking for. Do you know where a lady can get some dinner and a bit of pampering?))

Nimitith didn’t feel like she could take her time the way Ivaripeth had. Her need was growing, and she was hungry, and Arlith’s cries of pain were still weighing heavily upon her mind. Maybe if she found what she was looking for, they could save her brother together?

And then there was the perfect partner.

((Help me!)) she informed her new rider, practically running them over. ((Someone’s in danger and you and I have to help!))

In the moment of Impression, though, suddenly everything else felt a little less urgent.

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