Rainbow of Ruin

Aevigshon of the Wind Clan wanted to see her!

Brimming with excitement and anticipation, Sierra could no longer contain herself. She spewed forth a plume of fire as she flew and watched the flames swirl through the air then wash around her before dissipating completely in her wake. The scent of brimstone vanished almost as quickly.

Powerful wingstrokes carried Sierra over the sprawling, towering mountain range until she spotted the greatest and most aged Elder of all the four clans. Swooping and banking, Sierra circled above the summits where Aevigshon waited, as white as the snowy peaks.

Sierra’s sapphire scales gleamed in the bright sun, standing out against the clear azure sky and pristine white snow. Aevigshon stretched a foot and tapped a nearby mountaintop with one talon. Sierra’s alighted on the adjacent peak as requested. Even so, she wondered that Aevigshon could see her.

The most powerful, most majestic, and most gigantic of them all, when their leader Aevigshon folded her wings, curled her tail against her long torso and tucked her four legs under her to recline, she filled an entire valley—or covered several mountaintops, like now.

Yes, Sierra automatically refocused her own silver eyes in order to see tiny objects clearly. Surely Aevigshon had the same ability and thus could see her so close, but it still amazed her. Sierra’s long neck and sinewy tail fully extended, from the tip of her elongated snout to the end of the spike on her tail, she barely covered even one of Aevigshon’s glistening white talons.

“Ah, Little One. You get faster and faster.”

When Aevigshon whispered, a light breeze blew and the earth trembled. When she roared, gales blasted past, and the ground quaked and heaved.

Now a stiff breeze brushed Sierra and the ground trembled slightly under her four feet. “They said you needed me?” She still could barely believe it.

“We’re in dire need of your speed, Sierra. Are you still as fierce a protector as when you saved the shtaernshen?”

Alarmed at the elder’s solemn tone, Sierra didn’t feel the rush of happy pride that usually accompanied mention of her deed. “Yes, what can I do?”

“A group of Bogen are rising in the south. The Air and Fire Clans are battling to keep them there, but some are slipping through.”

Sierra felt her blood boil and the fire raging in her. With a roar of fury, she reared back and directed the flames skyward. The Bogen sow nothing but destruction.

None with their rainbow coloring had been born into a clan in millions of years, so rare were they. Those born into a clan were accepted and loved as any other without regard to their variegated hues.

But somewhere in the deepest past before the memory of all except perhaps the most ancient Aevigshon, one or two had broken away: either rejecting the clans or because the clans had rejected them. No one knew how many now existed, perhaps two dozen, perhaps four or five dozen at most.

But the tiniest number could wreak havoc all out of proportion when they simply didn’t care, or cared only about causing as much devastation as possible. The clans worked vigilantly and diligently to keep them from doing harm, always inviting them back, but to no avail.

But—a group of them?

They never cooperated, never worked with, never even associated with, anyone else. That’s why they steadfastly rejected all the clans and made all offers of inclusion in vain.

“You need me to join the fight?” Sierra asked, puzzled but willing.

However tiny, she could battle as ferociously as any clansmember. Nevertheless, others fought far more skillfully than she and—with her not yet a fraction of the way to adulthood—greatly exceeded her size. The next most gigantic clans members behind Aevigshon, less than half as big as the elder, were still many, many times bigger than an average adult who, in turn, was still ten times larger than Sierra.

“No, Little One. I have no doubt you’d comport yourself with great valor, but we need you elsewhere. We’ve learned the Bogen are after the eggs. They have already destroyed nearly a dozen.” Rage and profound sorrow mingled in those horrific words, and Sierra felt as if the entire sky had crashed down and crushed her.

And as one of the Ocean Clan who regularly visited the deepest chasms in the sea, great pressure never bothered her. But in her entire lifetime, a clansmember laid only two eggs. Two eggs over hundreds of thousands of millennia, each beyond precious to her and her mate.

“We have sent warnings to all those we know of—those who’ve chosen just herself and her mate to watch over her egg, and to those who are using the shared nurseries. We were too late in one case, but managed to save two others’ eggs and drive off the Bogen for the time being. The eggs must be taken to safety, to the Ocean Clan’s nursery far to the north. The Bogen are about to launch another attack. We will stop them here,” Aevigshon’s voice seared with unquenchable flames of determination, “but the eggs must be clear of this area. We will take no risk that Bogen may get through our line.

“We are entrusting you with this priceless treasure, and with another task. On your way, you will pass one of the Earth Clan’s largest nurseries, with over a hundred eggs. Their current location is in the midst of nothing but forest and impossible to protect. You must take them with you as well; they are preparing them for you.” Aevigshon tilted her head and pointed with her snout. “On the ledge below you are the two eggs.”

Sierra stretched her neck and peered over the cliff. At first she mistook the sinewy green-brown pile for nothing more than a tangle of vines. Then she saw that the vines were actually woven into sack with two bulges and two long bands as thick as the pouch itself, their ends still frayed and not yet braided. His fur already as white as the snow for winter, the konge squatted next to what he’d woven.

Inhaling deeply, Sierra sniffed the air. The crisp scent of the snow and musky smell of the konge blended with another aroma—the woodsy fragrance of the vines. Sierra recognized it. They came from shaana trees, which made the vines particularly strong and resilient.

With simian grace, the konge picked up the eggs, letting the bands trail behind, and climbed up to where Sierra perched. She lowered her neck and head so he could scramble onto her shoulders. Chittering to himself as he did so, he climbed up and down until he’d wrapped the bands several times around her neck, then wove all the strands securely together into one unbroken band protecting the eggs firmly situated at the base of her throat.

“Thank you, my friend,” Sierra told him.

He chittered and waved in response as his ‘you’re welcome’ and departed back down the mountain.

As the konge descended, a winged figure roared and rose from behind the next peak. Shimmering like a fearsome, terrible rainbow, the Bogen catapulted into the sky. Before he could launch himself at Sierra and her precious burden, Aevigshon’s foot lashed out past Sierra, swatting the Bogen toward the horizon. He tumbled through the air. As he regained his equilibrium, two others emerged from concealment and soared into the air to join him.

Aevigshon’s foot came down cupped over Sierra to protect her.

Then Aevigshon roared.

Even sheltered, Sierra felt some vibration as a monstrous gale howled past. The noise almost deafened her. She peeked between Aevigshon’s toes and saw the three would-be attackers whirling snouts over tails and getting further and further away.

“Go, Little One.” Aevigshon lifted her foot. “I will sing so others meet you on the way. They will escort you for as long as they can keep up.” Their people’s song, unlike their speech, could permeate the entire world—or reach specific clansmembers even over vast distances.

Sierra leapt into the air, sparing the briefest glance over one shoulder as she flew to see Aevigshon also taking flight, not in immediate pursuit but first circling to ensure no others hid nearby. Sierra also glimpsed the konge continue on his way down the mountainside and vanish into the tree line.

As Sierra rode the currents of air, her ears still rang from the power of Aevigshon’s roar. A tailwind aided her efforts—thanks also to Aevigshon, Sierra assumed. As Sierra rode the currents of air, her ears still rang from the power of Aevigshon’s roar. A tailwind aided her efforts—thanks also to Aevigshon, Sierra assumed. She skimmed over the trees. She’d have less warning of anyone lying in wait on the ground to ambush her, but she’d also present a more hidden target herself than if she flew high overhead where anyone could see her from far away.

She knew the nursery they’d spoken of. The clans kept no such secrets from any among them.

On the horizon ahead, Sierra caught sight of a green cloud swirling in the air, with tiny flashes of blue, red, and white mixed in. As she grew closer, the cloud resolved itself into a swarm of dozens of dragons, mostly of the Earth Clan. The occasional other-colored sparkles were members of the other three Clans.

At least fifty Clansmembers guarded the precious nursery. Sadness tinged Sierra’s renewed rush of anger. Never before among all their foul deeds had the Bogen ever threatened the eggs. Would any of the Bogen survive? The Clans would protect their progeny with a ferocity beyond all bounds.

Sierra roared in greeting, alerting them to her presence.

A member of the Fire Clan, her scales a deep vibrant garnet color, broke away from the others and raced to meet her. Nixel! Sierra’s joy rose at recognizing her friend, another clansmember as young as herself.

“Sierra!” Nixel called out, happiness in her voice as they met in a brief aerobatic dance of swoops and dives. “We’re here to go with you,” she said as another sapphire Clansmember joined them.

Sierra tried to hide her surprise. She suspected she failed, just as Snitfen failed to mask the skepticism plain on her face. Although still a youngster, Snitfen was twice as old—and twice as big—as either Sierra or Nixel. Sierra considered her fellow Ocean Clansmate insufferably self-important. Snitfen didn’t like her—or almost anyone else—either, but Sierra didn’t care.

“Hurry and land,” Snitfen instructed.

No doubt she meant to sound imperious. Instead, the other youngster only sounded pompous. “They want you to rest so you can leave fresh in the morning. They’ll stay on guard overnight.”

That made sense. This far inland, it would take Sierra several days to reach the sea. Best to take the time to gather her strength while she could.

The nursery looked like a large meadow in the dense woodland, with a massive flat boulder weighing many tons in the center of the clearing. That huge rock concealed the most precious of any possible treasure. It covered the deep pit holding all the eggs.

“The spiders have woven the eggs into two sacks,” Snitfen informed her with great hauteur as if she’d accomplished the deed herself. “You can sling the harness across your shoulders and around your wings and secure the sacks against your chest.”

Dizarem an Elder of the Earth Clan lumbered over, his heavy footfalls sending a tremor through the ground. He pointedly cleared his throat, sending out a small shower of sparks. Snitfen backed away.

“Thank you, Sierra,” he said. “You are very brave to take on this task. Nixel, Snitfen, we thank you both as well.” He nodded to each in turn. Nixel gave a small bounce of excited delight; Snitfen puffed up with pride and importance.

Sierra glanced skyward at the clansmembers overhead. “You really don’t think the eggs are safe here?” she asked.

“Not if the Bogen are truly determined, as we have seen they are. This location is wholly exposed. If even a single Bogen breaks through, the whole nursery could be lost. But deep under the waves, your clan has its eggs in a cave with only one entrance, guarded by three elders. There, the Bogen shall not pass.”

Dizarem flexed his neck and leaned close to Sierra and Nixel. Snitfen moved in so she could hear as well. He lowered his voice. “The Fire Clan has already taken their eggs there. So have many clansmembers who’d kept their eggs off by themselves. Ours are the last. Once you’ve delivered them there, Aevigshon herself will help guard the nursery until the eggs hatch.

“She and several Elders are holding off most of the Bogen, but the elders can only cover so much territory. Some of the Bogen have gone around. Our best hope is that you, with your speed, can stay ahead of them. We can only hope there aren’t any, or many, we don’t know about. Go directly from here to the coast. Many members of all the Clans have positioned themselves along the route. They will do their best to keep the way clear for you.

“We have no way of knowing where all the Bogen are. We fear some may already have traveled far and are remaining stealthy. Ideally, you will reach your goal before any of them realize your destination and can catch up with you.”

“Should I leave right away,” Sierra asked, worried about any delay.

“No, you’ll tire more quickly and end up slowing your pace. Better to rest to be at your top speed. As it is, your friends will likely need to fall back after a day, maybe two. Other clansmembers will take their place until you’re at your destination.”

A look of affront crossed Snitfen’s face, but Nixel’s brow furrowed in concern. “We’ll do our best! Maybe even three days!”

At the first rays of dawn the next morning, two of the elders lifted the gargantuan stone to reveal the eggs hidden beneath, already encased in the gleaming spider silk. Dizarem extended his neck and gingerly used his teeth to remove the bundle. He took it delicately with his talons and helped Sienna secure it as she held out her tightly folded wings to slide them into the loops then unfurled them to slide the package against her underbelly. It fit snugly; no way would it fall off in flight. She could always wrap her forelegs around it for added protection.

For a fleeting instant, terror crashed down on her at the awesome responsibility. Again she felt the massive weight as she had when Aevigshon told her of her mission. A shudder ran through Sierra and she bellowed flame into the sky.

Dizarem appeared to understand. “You are not alone, Sierra. All the Clans are here to help you, just as you are helping us. You will succeed.”

The elder spoke with such calm certainty that Sierra felt the stirring of returning confidence.

She planted all four feet and held her head high, stretching out her winds. “I will,” she declared. “The Elders of the Ocean Clan will sing to you once the eggs are safe.” The large bundled pressed against her chest. The other two eggs hung tight against the base of her throat.

She would deliver each and every one safely.

“They will sing to you!” she repeated, leaping into the air. Power surged through her wings as she climbed high, Nixel and Snitfen on either side of her. Simultaneously, the whirling maelstrom of clansmembers overhead disbursed like a starburst as they flew off in all directions to divert, or at least divide, the attention from Sierra.

She dove as if landing, then resumed skimming above the woodlands as she had before.

The moon followed the sun as they flew. Sometimes Sierra saw the other clansmembers, not often at first then more and more frequently the closer they got to the ocean.

One of the Earth Clan sat sentinel like a jade statue atop a hill. One of the Fire Clan nestled among the trees with only his gracefully arched neck visible above the canopy as he kept watch.

The river cut a swatch through the forest and widened gradually as tributaries fed into it. The waters flowed toward the sea, the course a nearly-straight line. A gleaming turquoise-blue member of the Ocean Clan sat at the precipice of a waterfall, the current gushing around him before crashing down hundreds of feet into the river below.

He spread his wings in acknowledgment and Sierra dipped her head in response as she sped overhead. With the wind rushing by, she and her companions didn’t converse.

Regardless, Sierra took comfort in the company.

She barely caught the movement out of the corner of her eye in time.

The Bogen leapt onto a nearby hilltop from his concealment on the far side, then launched. Roaring and spewing flames, he streaked at Sierra and she barely managed to dodge out of the way. Even as her fury and fear spiked, Sierra marveled at his beauty with every color of the spectrum swirled together on his scales. If only his actions matched his appearance instead of his seeking only to destroy.

Then all random thoughts fled as she swooped and soared to evade his attack.

Nixel and Snitfen converged on him, with Snitfen bellowing, “Go!” to Sierra.

She hesitated even as her friends pummeled the Bogen with wings and talons. In the distance, the three clansmembers they passed raced toward the aerial battle. Still Sierra was torn, but the tightness around her torso reminded her. She needed to protect the eggs above all else.

Rage and frustration fueling her, Sierra mustered all the speed she could as she banked toward the coast.

Two more Bogen appeared from their hiding places among the rolling hills and closed in on her. Each was much bigger than the first, who matched Snitfen’s size.

One raked Sierra’s back with her talons, nearly succeeding in damaging the eggs but Sierra turned in the nick of time. The other spewed fire.

The flames wouldn’t hurt Sierra or the eggs themselves, but could burn the vines or webs holding her precious treasure. Sierra screamed in agony as a Bogen’s talons tore into her wings. She twisted around and sunk her teeth into the other’s neck.

The Bogen released her, but Sierra’s wing refused to cooperate and she plunged toward the ground. The two Bogen dove at her.

A fourth Bogen appeared and Sierra howled in fury and despair at failing. She’d fight till they killed her, but knew she couldn’t stave off three of them by herself, and assistance wouldn’t arrive in time.

The fourth Bogen hurled himself full force at the other two.

What?!

Sierra watched in astonishment and disbelief even as she twisted to land on her feet.

Had he misjudged?

Surely he’d meant to collide with her instead.

But no.

He roared and continued to attack the other two, preventing them from reaching her on the ground. Almost as small as Sierra, his burning ferocity made up for his lesser size. Her attention riveted on the fight, she flexed and stretched her wing. Pain lanced through her and she knew she couldn’t fly yet. The wing would never support her.

The three Bogen converged on her, with Snitfen, Nixel and the fourth Bogen continuing to stave them off. They must have observed what she had. To Sierra’s relief, none of them attacked the Bogen who’d saved her. Then three more of the Earth Clan, The Fire Clansmember, and the Ocean Clansmember reached them, and the three Bogen fled.

Exhausted, the fourth Bogen dropped to the ground near Sierra.

The rest of them surrounded her and eyed the stranger warily.

He regarded them with equal distrust.

“What kind of trick is this?” Snitfen demanded.

“No trick!” he shot back. “But better than you deserve. You should hurry before more get here.” He gathered himself, then jumped skyward and flew away.

The largest Earth Clansmember examined Sierra’s ripped wing and frowned at the injury. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply then made soft, low humming noises as he focused. Opening his eyes, reached out with one foot and held out Sierra’s wounded wing. Then he breathed on it, not a plume but a gently roiling cloud of fire he aimed so that it covered only the wound.

The heat infused her wing and the pain diminished then faded completely away with the flames. He’d healed the limb completely!

Now she could still reach the shore by the next day, and the nursery only a few hours out to sea.

“Thank you!” she told him, overwhelmed with gratitude and relief.

“Wait a few minutes. We will scout ahead and ensure no one else lies in wait.” He nodded at the ruby-scaled clansmember. “Stay with them, just to be safe.” He and the other three took flight.

Sierra heard his song as he departed, reporting of the attack and requesting all others in the vicinity to beware and remain extra vigilant. The song also gave notice to any other Bogen nearby: they had lost the advantage of surprise. Just maybe that knowledge would deter them from further attacks.

Would their unexpected ally return?

“But he was a Bogen!” Nixel voiced what they all were thinking. “Why did he help?”

“I still say it was a trick,” Snitfen sniffed. “He wants to get to the nursery and destroy even more eggs.”

The older Fire Clansmember raised a dubious brow but said nothing.

Nixel snorted. “I don’t think so. He could have been killed helping us, either by us or by the other Bogen.”

“If he hadn’t helped, they’d have killed me,” Sierra said, “and all the eggs would be gone. After they’re safe, I’m going to find him and ask him why he helped.”

Snitfen shot her a contemptuous look, but Nixel said, “Me too!” and gave a defiant look of her own.

“We should go now.”

Larger, the ruby Clansmember could outpace Sierra briefly so he took the lead, with Nixel and Snitfen flying slightly behind.

Far behind them, Sierra swore she saw an occasional flash of color high in the sky. Apparently their new ally was following as well. A few times she thought a dark shadow flew with him, but couldn’t be sure.

Finally she paused, pivoting in midair to take a closer look. Yes, the same Bogen. She recognized the pattern of his rainbow scales, with their distinctive whorls and faint stripes. Beside him, though…

Black! A breathtaking, shimmering obsidian, with blue eyes like the other Bogen, hers a bright azure.

Nixel and Snitfen bore down on Sierra, shaking her out of her reverie. She turned again and redoubled her speed but couldn’t stop thinking of the black Bogen.

Should she even call her a Bogen, since she lacked the glorious hues?

But by that criteria, she also didn’t belong to any of the four Clans, nor to those who were gold-, silver-, copper-, or iron-colored.

Sierra knew stories about one, perhaps even two or three in all the Clans’ history, of a Clansmember with scales black as night. Almost everyone considered them legend or lore, not true accounts. But now—? Sierra promised herself to solve that mystery as well, after ensuring the eggs’ safety. The pair appeared to be friends, or at least cooperating, so Sierra would find out who they were and what they wanted.

 The trees passed in a blur below her, the wind in her face. So close.

Her escort grew and fanned out behind and beside her as the clansmembers along the way took flight with her.

So close!

The land fell away and only open sea remained.

Ahead, five Bogen burst from the ocean, roaring and breathing flames. Nearly as big as the elders, wings pounding, they charged Sierra who twisted sharply and barely avoided them. Nixel and Snitfen pummeled the Bogen with teeth and talons to no avail; their tiny size had no effect.

Roars and flames from all parties filled the air.

Sierra’s speed and lack of size served her well as she weaved and darted. All she needed to do was shield the eggs from the flames and break through.

When the rest of the clansmembers overwhelmed the five Bogen, Sierra saw her chance. With more and more of the Ocean Clan joining the fray, she became harder to keep track of.

Accelerating, she dove deep beneath the waves.

No one followed her for long minutes. When the Bogen did pursue her beneath the surface, she had already gained an insurmountable lead. More of her clan rushed past in the opposite direction, slowing the Bogen even more.

Deeper and deeper she swam. Light faded to total darkness but her eyes adjusted. Two of the most gigantic elders remained at the cave entrance. Sierra streaked between them then—finally—slowed.

She’d done it!

She barely allowed herself the thought at first.

Then joy and satisfaction rose in her.

All the eggs were safe!

Two Ocean Clan youngsters, both twice her age, met her there, dancing with happiness.

“Quickly, take the eggs!” Sierra told them. The further from the entrance, the better.

The two emitted small puffs of flame, burning away the vines and spider silk, and took away the treasures.

Sierra felt strange without them, she’d been so aware of them pressed against her throat and underbelly.

The battle still raged in the sky above. Sierra surged from below to the open air, water streaming from her wings and scales.

A bellow on the horizon sent a gale blowing past, and mountainous waves cresting on the sea.

Aevigshon, flanked by several others, flew fast as lightning toward the melee!

The Bogen pulled back but held their ground, and the Clansmembers, no longer under attack, also all stood down without retreating.

“You killed our young! Destroyed all our eggs!” one of the Bogen shrieked, her rainbow colors patches rather than streaks or whorls. “Why?!”

Shocked, Sierra nearly forgot to move her wings. High above, she caught sight of the renegade Bogen who’d helped her, and his ebony companion. She soared high to join them even as she heard Aevigshon firmly deny the accusation.

No Clansmember would ever do such a horrible thing.

The two saw her approach and turned to go but Sierra called after them to wait.

“Do you know what she’s talking about?” Sierra asked them.

“The Bogen’s nursery was on a ledge in the mountains,” the black one replied. “A landslide hit at the only time no one was watching over the eggs. It happened in an instant. He heard it but got there late; they were all crushed.”

“But, we didn’t do that. We’d never do that!”

Neither replied, but it was plain from their scowls they didn’t believe her.

Aevigshon roared again, and everyone fell silent, hovering among the scattered clouds, the anger bristling between them all.

“We destroyed no eggs,” Aevigshon repeated in a more normal voice. She nodded to one of the Fire Clan.

“Where were the eggs?” the garnet-hued Clansmember asked. “In the hills? By the Trio of Volcanos?”

“You know they were! You crushed them all!” a Bogen yelled, whipping the sea and wind into a renewed frenzy.

“We did not. We saved them all.”

“Liar!”

“We saved them all but did not know they were yours. Until now.”

The Bogen roared and blew pillars of fire, their fury unabated and disbelief clear.

The tiniest of squeaks silenced them all.

A newly-hatched Bogen climbed atop the Fire Clansmember’s head from where he’d perched out of sight on his neck.

The hatchling fanned his rainbow wings and swished his tail, squeaking again. Only two feet long from snout to tail spike, perfectly formed nonetheless, he hopped into the air and flew toward Sierra and the pair with her—perhaps because he found their relative size far less intimidating.

Sierra and the Bogen flew down to meet the tiny one.

He landed on the colorful Bogen’s back, looked around with pride at his accomplishment, and settled in between the Bogen’s brightly-hued wings.

The rest of the Bogen gathered round, and the hatchling basked in the attention, squeaking happily.

One of the Bogen elders turned to address the Fire Clansmember. “You saved them all?” Her voice shook with emotion.  She sounded as if she barely dared to believe that such a thing was possible.

“They are safe in the nursery with all the rest of the eggs.” The Fire Clansmember nodded in the direction of the cave.

“Unlike our twelve eggs you took and destroyed.” The grief in the emerald Clansmember’s voice left no doubt that one of the eggs had been hers.

A voice interjected, “No, I just hid them.”

All attention turned to the ebony-scaled speaker hovering, previously unnoticed, high above all the happenings.  Now their eyes flared in shock as they saw her for the first time.  She flew to join Sierra and two Bogen, including the brand new hatchling.

Aevigshon regarded Sierra and the pair—and the hatchling, still nestled between the rainbow-colored wings—closely. “What are your names?”

“I’m Taygen,” the colorful Bogen youngster said.

“Etin,” the glistening obsidian one added.

“Very well done, Etin. That was very brave of you.  Now,” Aevigshon spoke sternly, “Please retrieve the eggs. I’m guessing this will take you a few days?”

“Maybe thirteen, there and back. They’re deep in the mountains.”

“Sierra, if you and Taygen would help her.”

“Me too!” Nixel chimed in. “I want to help!”

Aevigshon nodded her assent.

Encouraged by Sierra’s effortless brisk pace to make best speed, the foursome returned ten days later, their mission accomplished.

Sierra nearly fell from the sky in shock at the sight that greeting them. She’d only seen so many in one place once before in her short life. Centuries, even millennia, often passed between larger assemblies.

The last Gathering had taken place a few hundred years ago. All four Clans, plus the Gold, Silver, Copper, and Iron, had congregated in numbers rarely seen.

The presence of the Bogen increased the numbers of this assembly even more.

Some soared on the wind, others floated on the waves or perched on the rocky spires jutting up from the waters, nearly as impressive as those at the Sea of Great Waves. Many of the youngest perched on the gigantic eldest as they floated, or flew, or also perched. Sierra saw beneath the waves that more swam below.

Sierra and the other three presented the eggs they’d recovered. With no need to fear attack, they been able to grasp them in their talons as they flew.

“Well done, Little Ones,” Aevigshon said to the four. Then she added, “Especially you, Etin. Very well done.”

Several elders congregated around Aevigshon. They approvingly inspected the eggs, then instructed the four youngsters to deposit them in the nursery with all the other eggs in the undersea cave.

“We nearly suffered an irreplaceable loss, a tragedy that would have been all the greater for being preventable. There will be no more division,” Aevigshon sang, her message going out to any not in attendance. Everyone roared or yelled or nodded or danced in agreement as the news rang out and the quartet took the eggs to the nursery.

Aevigshon continued, “From now on we must all live together in peace and cooperation.”

As they swam beneath the waves, Sierra exchanged a look with Nixel, Taygen, and Etin. The four of them would definitely do their part.

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