by Amanda Cast
Pandora managed to fish out three more. One of them looked like a ruby that had been smoothed out rather than faceted. There were imperfections though. She could see orange and yellow swirls and it was very warm to the touch. The third she pulled out was a perfect emerald. She could almost see through it into the center. She imagined a perfect little dragon growing inside and hugged it to her chest after she pulled it out. Her heart was bursting with love as it never had before. She loved these little dragons even before they were hatched.
The last was the most peculiar. It was milky where the other ones seemed like clear gems. It was a blue-green with brown swirls lined with yellow. She stroked it and could almost feel the smooth topaz stone under her hands. She named them there. “Sapphire Star, Ruby, Emerald, and Topaz.” They were unimaginative names, but children rarely were imaginative.
“We should get them into some coals,” her uncle said picking up one of the eggs and cradled it gently. “This is unexpected.”
“Perhaps it is a secret the dragons kept and we stumbled onto it.”
“Perhaps,” he said staring into the emerald surface of the egg. “I wonder what kind of dragons they are.”
“I think the red one is a fire dragon,” Pandora said, vaguely remembering the description of the dragons.
“They say that dragons can pick their own gender,” Lindal said softly. “What will you be little dragon?” he asked.
“Should we tell Serene just yet?” Pandora asked as she hefted up the blue egg.
“No, we’ll tell her in the morning. Maybe you shouldn’t get too attached to their names until she sees them. You know how incessant she can be.”
Pandora shrugged. “I don’t know, Uncle Lindal. I think she’ll approve of the names. They’re appeal to her… feminine side.”
“Quite a vocabulary you have there,” he said eyeing her.
“Mother thought I was stupid, but I was never to sound stupid. Sometimes it just takes me a while to figure out what I’m going to say.” She looked down at the egg sadly for a moment. “But usually conversations pass me by before I think of something to say.”
“Ah,” he sounded. “Well, don’t worry about it, Pandora. One day Serene will learn to listen instead of speak so quickly.”
“Everyone speaks quickly compared to me.” Pandora blushed and shifted. “Let’s get these eggs taken care of.”
Lindal nodded and they moved to the heating room under the house. It was where they warmed the water for the baths. He sent the servants away and moved to the fireplace that the servants usually left unlit since it was already hot enough in the room to begin with. He laid the egg down next to it and then went to get some embers from the furnace and put them into the fire place.
“We’ll have to get some spells to take care of this. The furnace is enchanted to keep hot on very little, but the fire place isn’t.” He glanced at Pandora as she bravely situated the eggs into the embers. “We have to think of a way to explain their presence here. We can’t very well say that we stole Septum scales and these were the results.”
“No, I suppose not,” Pandora said.
“You and my daughter… you’re special, aren’t you?”
Pandora watched his face for a long moment. His voice sounded uncertain and his eyes were haunted with fear. “Yes, Uncle Lindal, we’re special.”
“What are you going to say.”
Pandora pondered. “I think we’ll say that there are some problems in the Dragon Kingdoms. They would not tell us what when they left us the eggs, but they want us to watch over them and keep them safe. It is a task brought to bear on those that speak Draconic as a songbird sings and as naturally as wind blows and water flows. We are the Speakers for however long we live, and are set to task.”
“You really can be elegant,” Lindal said fondly and ruffled her hair. “We’d better go get the other two.”
Pandora nodded. She was tired, but she didn’t want to cause a scene like Serene did. Pandora didn’t like to embarrass herself on purpose. “Perhaps you meant eloquent?”
“Oh yes, that’s the word.” He patted her on the head as he often did with Serene. The action was beginning to grow on Pandora who was used to having very little contact with anyone other than her father.
“Do you think we’ll make good parents to them, Uncle Lindal? I hope that we do.” Pandora sighed wistfully.
Serene agreed to the names without any complaint or argument. She was awed and overjoyed that instead of dragon scales she had actual dragons. Not soon after she was done hovering over them she escaped into the three level library for research on how to take care of dragon hatchlings. She came out only to sleep. She wouldn’t go to school.
Pandora withdrew from her classes at Ysfal so that she could better tend to the eggs. She continued her combat training with Lindal and when he felt he could no longer teach her anything he paid for people to tutor her. She would practice in the heat of the boiler room and sometimes read cute little stories out loud to the eggs.
More than once Lindal caught her crooning to them in a lyrical song without words. He didn’t doubt that it was Draconic she was speaking to them in such a loving manner. He wondered if they could even understand her in their current state.
It seemed that they could because after several weeks of reading herself into exhaustion Serene came out more hungry that usual and ready to talk to the eggs. She inhaled more food than her father could remember her ever eating and then she sat by the eggs and babbled away at them the differences between boys and girls and what the benefits were. Of course, she didn’t get through any of it without some barbs about how freakish her cousin was for a girl.
Pandora took everything in stride and would give Serene a stern look if she felt the excitable half-elf was getting too detailed. They were babies and didn’t need to hear about sex in such detail even if it was clinical. Pandora decided that Serene read too much, and wondered how on earth such a rambunctious girl could sit still for so long.
There were so many mysteries in the world.
“They say that eggs can take years to hatch. Do you think it’ll take years, Pandora?”
“I don’t know. These aren’t normal dragon eggs. If they take years we’ll be much older by the time they arrive, and maybe more prepared for them.”
“Well, the books say that dragon eggs start off very soft. These seemed very hard, but I don’t think they’re brittle enough yet. When they’re brittle we’ll know.”
“I don’t know about you, Serene, but I haven’t gone and touched them. It’ll burn us if we do.”
“Oh, you’re right,” Serene said. “The parents have to keep them very warm. I hope they’re not too cold. I’d be very sad if they were harmed because we didn’t tend to them right.”
“I’m sure it will be fine. They’re dragons and tough—much tougher than our lot.”
“Oh, I hope you’re right. I wonder what they’re going to choose to look like. Dragons always have eyes the color of their hides when they shift into humanoid form, but after that they get to choose what they look like. Isn’t that amazing? I wonder who they’ll want to mimic.”
“Maybe they’ll want to be unique,” Pandora said.
“Maybe, but I bet they’ll want to look like me. I’m pretty, after all.”
Pandora frowned at her cousin. “You’re pretty to humans and elves, maybe, but you might not be pretty to dragons. You never know. We’ve never knowingly seen a dragon in humanoid form. Who knows anyway? They may want to take the form of animals.”
“Oh, they can do that too! The more powerful they are the more forms they can choose. Isn’t that fascinating?”
“Oh, yes, I’m sure. I can just see all of the trouble they’re going to get into now.”