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Hatching - Midnight Hunger #HatchingForeth2020


sailyn2
 

In the dark shadows of the dimly lit Hatching Cavern, the shapes of Talith and Truenoth cast ominous shadows across the walls as they hunkered over the eggs that they had laid claim to. The oppressive heat of the day had done little to subside in the darkness of night and clung to the walls like a thick blanket. Even in the light of the glows it was possible to see the scorch marks still on the walls and the fallen rocks did little to soothe the mind that there weren’t things lurking out there that might not be altogether friendly. 


Tucked to one side amidst the rest of its clutching siblings nestled beside Talith, the Sheen of Blood Egg seemed so dark it was almost black in the dim light, it’s red sheen seeming to reflect and bounce light ominously. Perhaps it was just  because people were half-asleep but there seemed to be less noise than usual. And everyone knew just how good the acoustics were in the Caverns, they were practically the stuff of legend. As the Candidates and spectators watched with bated breath to see who would hatch next, a voice as soft and whispery as the wind seemed to resonate around the stone walls.


(( Ssssooooo…. huuuuungrrrrrrryyyyyy…))


It was definitely female, of that there was no doubt and all of a sudden, the Sheen of Blood Egg seemed to twitch a little, giving the entire impression that it was bristling with sudden anticipation.


Standing blearily in the group of robe-clad Candidates, Ysolde tried to drag her thoughts to the forefront and pay attention to what she was doing. She wasn’t sitting dozily in a hot classroom, she was on the Sands! And eggs were hatching! Eggs, she hadn’t been allowed to see at all let alone go anywhere near them. Already the heat of the sand was prickling through the thin soles of her sandals and she shifted from foot to foot, grumbling in tired annoyance. She felt as though every sense was on high alert and her stomach had already flip-flopped in nauseating terror as a couple of Hatchlings wandered towards the Candidates, only to heave in sudden relief as they bypassed her and went elsewhere. The brown hadn’t remotely been a threat because, well, brown. She had even made sure not to pay them too much attention, not wanting to give the Hatchlings any idea that she was there for them. Ysolde had no idea how any of this was going to work. What if her gold was up in the Upper Caverns with Foreth? Would it be a case of waiting to see who was the last standing? Would she Impress at all? The uncertainty bristled her and she jostled impatiently, nudging someone at her side. 


“Be careful, will you!” she hissed, even as part of her brain knew it was entirely her own fault for fidgeting.


Sorho had been watching the hatching intently. He’d been at enough of these that the allure wasn’t as great any more, and other than impressing the bronze he knew he was destined for, the majority of dragonets that hatched and impressed held no interest in him, except maybe that brown… which hadn’t even looked this way.  His eyes were focused on the dragons--whether they interested him or not, they were always baby dragons at the end of the day!  That was probably why he hadn’t been paying attention to who he was standing next to until he heard her voice.


He turned at her horrified, “Ugh, what are you doing here?  I thought you were banned!”


Sorho was about to add more when a noise from the crowd drew his attention--excitement, which was common, but this was LOUD excitement.  Turning his head, he took advantage of his height to look over the candidate's heads just in time to see the first cracks begin to appear on the Bronze Eye Egg.


Most were sure this egg wouldn’t hatch, as a long stone had pierced the shell, like a stubby dart.  For fears of causing further damage removing it, the Dragonhealers had packed it with soft clay, and placed their bets.  The odds were completely against the egg, which now shook with life, eliciting the attention of the onlookers.  What would come from the damaged egg?  It would soon be revealed.


It shook aggressively twice and suddenly the stone fell into the egg.


{{ What’s this?  Who dares trespass in my abode?! }} a deep, masculine voice would be heard throughout the sands.  The egg shook again, and the stone rolled within.  {{ Speak!  What is your name?  I am Cycleth!  And you are?.... I see, you must be Nobody! }}


Turning in annoyance, Ysolde’s disgruntled countenance took on another degree of exasperation at the sight of Sorho. Sorho, the Candidate who still seemed to strike a nerve just by being in her vicinity. 


“I wasn’t banned!” she hissed angrily. “I just wasn’t allowed to see the eggs!” Stepping to the side a little, Ysolde resisted the urge to jab an elbow spitefully into the boy’s ribs. Shells, was it just her or was it unbearably hot in here? She could already feel the perspiration sliding down her back and her hair clung heavily to the back of her neck. Barely awake, hot and next to this… this…insufferable boy! Fidgeting from foot to foot, she turned her temper onto her thumb, chewing it nervously. She shouldn’t be down here, she should be… wherever Foreth had secreted the gold eggs to! She knew that the gold had taken them into the upper cavern but the waiting was killing her. Every second was another second where it was too much chance that she would be claimed by another dragon instead.


As the Candidates jostled, the Sheen of Blood egg continued to tremble and shake. Thin cracks began to appear on the surface, spiraling over the shell. From within, a soft and whimpering cry began to be heard, sounding ominously like a woman weeping. In the dark shadows, it did little to put anyone at ease. (( I’m ssooooo huuuungryyy… I need to be freeee… Free to… to hunt! ))


The voice wasn’t the only one that was hungry.  In his broken egg, the Hatchling within soon realized that he was famished.  Whomever this invader was… it didn’t matter!  What mattered was filling his belly!  The Bronze Eye Egg shook violently again, this time falling over onto its side and rolling just a bit until it was stopped by the unhatched egg next to it.


From the hole a snout appeared and huffed, annoyed that he didn't fit completely through… and what was this stuff plastered around the outside of the hole.  Pushing into it, he sniffed at it, but this part of the shell was particularly brittle and began to crack and crumble away.  Inside the egg the Dragonet repositioned himself and pushed his hole head against the cracks until one end of the egg nearly exploded, revealing the creature within.


He stood proudly on all fours, pleased at his escape.  He was a striking Hatchling, for sure, his bronze hide easily visible.  He immediately opened his wings stretching them out, striking a pose, even though he was so young.  Darker streaks zig-zag across his hide like lightning bolts in a storm--there was no denying that he was utterly beautiful to behold.  He could be perfect, even if not for one detail… his right eye was completely white.  The stone had pierced the shell of the developing dragonet and the damage had caused the bronze’s right eye to go blind.  As a result, he twisted his neck a little, turning his head so he would be able to see from his one good eye.


“Right,” Sorho said to Ysolde with a snort.  “And who’s fault was that?”  Any other comments--or even answers on her part--were lost to Sorho who’s eyes befell the bronze.  He didn’t care if the dragonet only had one eye!  He was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.


Pieces of shell had begun to fall in tiny shards like the most detailed of jigsaw pieces. The pieces gathered around the bottom as more and more holes began to appear, looking like bloody droplets staining the Sands. (( Freedom! )) Came the voice from within, soft and female, but as breathy as an intimate whisper as a whirling eye peered through the gap and the glimpse of an emerald green muzzle came into view. (( You there, handsome one, you will come help me won’t you? Help free me from this prison that we might feast together? )) 


The green’s voice, for it was most certainly a green, was beguiling and the whirling eye was fixed firmly on her bronze brother. A whuffling, hissing noise came from the slowly disintegrating shell, as though she were twisting and turning about inside it, trying to escape its confines.


“Oh, he’s stunning!” The praise escaped Ysolde without meaning, her eyes wide at the bronze. The intention had been to deliver a scathing retort but it had faltered in her throat at the sight of the Hatchling. Even in the dim glows that had been hastily scattered about the front of the Caverns, his hide seemed to glimmer and shine. Unconsciously, she stepped forward a little, as though to get a better look at him.   


The bronze dragonet craned his head until his one good eye was able to focus on the disintegrating egg in question.  He could see his green sister being born, but her proposal didn’t interest him in the slightest--why should he have to help her?  He’d managed just fine on his own.  He was about to respond when he detected movement out of the corner of his eye.  Reacting instinctually, he turned his head and snapped, catching a flit that had flown in without Foreth to eat and too close the bronze.  He immediately bit down, snapping the creature's neck.  Green ichor oozed down the bronze’s muzzle. But… ew.  The flavor!  It was terrible.  That being said, he decided to save it for later, in case he didn’t find something better.  He looked around for a place to keep his prize but was rather disappointed with the lack of proper defenses.  With annoyed snort the Hatchling returned to his egg, which was mostly intact except for the part he’d burst out of.  He entered the shell and deposited the dead flit and reemerged.  No, this wasn’t enough.  He needed something to block the entrance. 


Not too far away the bronze spied a pile of large rock… those would be perfect!  He pranced over, sniffing at them, trying to decide which was the best one, momentarily becoming distracted and leaving his “home” unguarded.


Despite her attempts and the seductively sweet tone her voice had taken, it didn’t seem to have the effect that the green desired. A huffing snort of annoyance was heard about the egg as the shell fell away, the large hole exposing a small, delicately formed dragonet in a striking shade of emerald green. As languidly as a feline, Dardueth slid from the shattered shell, stretching lazily as she shook the globs of egg slime that clung to her. Everything about her screamed femininity as she looked about her, her finely pointed head streaked with dark stripes that accentuated the curve of her skull. 


The sight of another green was enough to make Ysolde freeze, hastily backing up against Sorho and leaping away as though scalded. Focus! So what if she wanted to watch the bronze, if she let her guard down, she was walking into a trap. She knew it. And that was how she ended up walking away with a green and not a gold. That wasn’t the plan. Not no way, not no how. Shaking her head furiously as though trying to shake sense back into herself, the Candidate edged away slightly, her eyes now fixed on the green as the ball of nerves in her belly renewed its frantic thrashing.


Dardueth had no interest in the peculiar cluster of white things. Her eyes had been captured by the firelizard, a small blue thing that swooped in and had reared back on her haunches just as her brother snatched it out of the air. Her shriek was furious. (( Give it to me! I shall feast on its bones! )) Slipping on the broken pieces of shell, she lunged forward, as sinuously as a tunnelsnake, slinking after her brother as she undulated from side to side. In the shadowy caverns, she could see that he was doing something near what was left of his shell but couldn’t quite determine it. All she knew was the scent of… whatever it was, that filled the air. And it was delicious.


“Oh look, that one is perfect for you,” Sorho said, lightly putting his hands on her shoulders, leaving it easy for her to escape but definitely pushing her a tad bit forward, in a playful way more than actively malicious.  “And I’ll impress the bronze--who knows, I may just catch you some day.”


The bronze found a stone he liked and was in the process of trying to push it over.  He applied pressure with his head, but when it didn’t budge he tried pulling it with his claws.  He dislodged it enough to make it roll--towards him!  Opening his wings again, he leapt back in surprise and let out an audible hiss. 


{{ Don’t fight back!  I’m using you, }} he informed the large rock, unaware of how dangerously close his sister was to stealing his food.


At Sorho’s touch, Ysolde had squeaked in surprise. “Don’t say that!” she hissed, but the anxious anger was replaced with hot embarrassment as colour surged up her cheeks. Her eyes were jumping from the green to Sorho. Shells, that thought hadn’t even touched her mind until he mentioned it. And they all knew what greens were like! A twinge of terror, like an icy finger coiled around her. She didn’t want to end up in bed with Sorho! Most of the time she just… wanted to give him a good slap!


With the scent of ichor hot in her nostrils, they flared as Dardueth sucked the scent in, inhaling deeply. It smelled so good! As she sidled closer, she realised that her brother was trying to hide it from her! Keep it all to himself! And that was no good at all. But for all he was only a hatchling, he was still bigger than she by a considerable measure. The green hopped nimbly to one side as the rock rolled noisily forward and she seemed to consider the situation. She wanted what he had. And he wasn’t going to hand it over willingly. Hmm. The wily green maneuvered behind the bronze, approaching a dark puddle that was still sinking into the sand. A clumsy staffer had inadvertently spilled a large pitcher of wine in the candlemarks before as they cleared the rubble from the Sands. The alcohol had mostly evaporated by now in the heat of the cavern, but the scent was still sickly and rich, more pungent as Dardueth approached it.


(( Oh, what IS that intoxicating aroma? Why… it smells positively delightful! )) Her mind-voice took on a decidedly theatrical note as she slithered towards the dark puddle, glancing over her shoulders back at her brother. (( I was so VERY hungry… but this WONDERFUL smelling thing… I shall feast until I feel hunger no more! )) Dipping her head to the puddle, the green made a show of inhaling deeply, looking for all the world that she was deeply invested in investigating the wonderful thing she had found.


He stopped what he was doing, his sisters beguiling words seducing the young bronze away from his single minded attempt at construction.  Letting go of his large rock, the bronze made his way over to the green and sniffed at whatever it was that she was smelling.  He couldn’t identify it, like so many other things in the world, but it sure did smell… strange.  Interesting even.  Tentatively he opened his mouth and lapped some up.  It wasn’t bad!  And he was starving!  He lapped up a little more, then a little more… completely distracted.


{{ Oh!  This isn’t bad at all!  It’s actually really good!  What is this!?  }}


(( I believe it is clearly some sort of… of… )) The green fumbled for a word in her limited vocabulary, (( It is… nectar! Yes! And it shall sate your.. I mean OUR hunger. You should drink deeply of its sustenance, brother! )) Even as she spoke, she sidled to one side, smacking her lips noisily as though she too had sampled the dark liquid. Of course, she had done nothing of the sort and her beady eyes were already glancing towards the remnants of the bronze’s shell. Cautiously she sniffed the air as though trying to get a new scent of the now very dead firelizard. Whatever had leaked from it had smelled... wonderful! 


The bronze was more than distracted by this newfound… what had she called it?  Nectar?  He didn’t know what that was but it sounded just right.  He lapped more of it up, completely oblivious to his sister’s actions for the moment.


Dardueth was positively delighted! Her scheme was most certainly working and the crafty little green continued to sidle towards the now abandoned remnants of her brother’s shell. Her delicate head twisted this way and that as she tried to recapture the delectable scent she had found on the air and her stomach rumbled with anticipatory hunger. Victory would be hers! Keeping half an eye on her brother, she carefully moved towards the broken shell. Sure enough, the scent was stronger here and on instinct alone, she smacked her lips, revelling in the thought of what she would find.


Hunger got the better of her careful plan, overtaking her need to be stealthy and causing her rush the last few steps, thrusting her nose into the shell pieces with a snorted rumble of glee. She would have it! She would claim her prize! Thoughts of care and delicacy were forgotten about as pieces of shell were noisily cast about and Dardueth scrabbled in the midst, determined to law her paws on the hidden treasure. 


“Hey, watch out!  She’s going to steal it!” Sorho called out to the bronze, eager to make a good impression on the bronze.  The dragonet snapped his head up from the wine and twisted his head, looking around him with his one good eye, pausing a moment at the boy before turning his attention fully to his sister.


{{ Dardueth!  What are you doing?  How DARE you!? }} he charged back to his shell, completely intent on stopping her from completing her mischief.


With the scent of ichor, though rapidly growing cold, filling her nostrils, Dardueth’s plan had now become one of complete and utter intent. The hunger gnawed in her belly and the desire to crunch bones and rend flesh became irresistible. With a crowing bugle of triumph, the green wrapped her jaws around the firelizard’s soft body, intent on pulling it from its hiding place. (( It shall be MINE! )) 


Without thought, Ysolde clutched Sorho’s arm, her eyes riveted on the dispute between the two hatchlings. Would they fight over the food? Hurt each other? The glowing red of their eyes was eerie in the dim light and all she could do was watch. Surely one of the sires would intervene. Something.


{{ No! It’s mine, thief! Nobody steals from me!  }}  the bronze charged right at the remains of the egg, trying to shoulder his way past her.  The egg was never meant for two and soon enough the struggle between the bronze and green was enough to shatter what remained of it.  {{ Look at what you did!  Now it’s buried! }}


The shriek of fury from the green was earsplitting in the acoustics of the Caverns. How dare this pompous brute try to steal her prize. Crashing through the remnants of the shell, crushing pieces underfoot as she went. (( Worry about your shell all you like, foolish brother! I have the REAL prize and you shan’t have it! )) The firelizard corpse in her mouth flopped in a macabre fashion as she danced away, her smaller body more agile than his own and ducked to one side of the bronze. She knew he had a weakness. That blind eye. If she was clever, maybe she could stay in his blind spot…


{{  GIVE it BACK!  }} he demanded, loudly.  He opened his wings, taking an aggressive stance towards her, instincts kicking in.   Lowering his body, as if ready to pounce, the bronze took a step towards her, turning his head so as to be able to look at her with his good eye.  {{ Give it back now or I’ll take it from you!  It’s mine!  }}


Dark and wicked amusement seemed to roll from the green in waves as she lithely danced about her bronze brother. (( Should have been paying more attention then! Finders keepers, losers weepers! And you’ll never be quick enough to catch me! )) Her hissing rumble seemed triumphant and she noisily gnashed her teeth about the firelizard, the crunching of bones uncomfortably audible. 


He tried to follow her with his one good eye, turning his body in a circle but failing to keep up with her speed.  He kept trying, demonstrating his endurance, though his patience soon proved to be lacking.  With a growl, he lunged at her, trying to tackle the green.


“He’s going to get her,” Sorho said, only just noticing Ysolde’s closeness.  He jerked away instinctively.  “You--I--Whatever--whatareyoudoing?  Get off.”


Ysolde ignored Sorho’s grumbling, she was much too distracted by what was happening in front of her. Just because she didn’t want the green, didn’t mean that she wanted to see the hatchlings rip each other to shreds right in front of her. Even as the bronze lunged, a gasped squeal of surprise escaped her, her hand flying to her mouth. “No!” she gasped, her stomach lurching with a ball of panic.


(( Keep away! )) Dardueth shrieked at her brother, throwing herself down to the sand even as he lunged towards her. (( The creature is mine! )) With a guttural hiss of noise, the green flailed and as she did, scooped up a pawful of the hot sand. Instinctively and without thinking she flung it at her brother, or more specifically, right towards his one good eye.


Sand impacted the bronze’s wide open eye and immediately he hissed, temporarily completely blind.  He started to shake his head wildly from side to side, panic starting to set in, {{ What did you do?  I can’t see!  I’m blind! }}


Wailing, he dashed off towards the candidates, running towards the only thing he could, that pull, that mind… he tripped over shells and stones and completely  knocked over one of the candidates, all in order to reach the only one that could help him.  {{ Please!  I’m blind!  I can’t see at all!  And I’m so hungry!  Lerian, save me! Save your Cycleth! }}


As her bronze brother scampered away, Dardueth’s attention was caught by the direction that he moved towards. Why, she had hardly noticed those peculiar things before now. Or rather, she had pointedly ignored them. The broken body of the firelizard was all but forgotten about, discarded in the sand like so much rubbish. With smug satisfaction, she watched her wailing brother run away and… and… what happened then? She wasn’t sure. Clearly something did or why else would he have run to… someone in particular? One of those peculiar white shapes?


Stepping forward, the bright, emerald coloured green flared her wings in sudden apprehension, snorting and chuffing at the group as she inspected them. But she was still so very, very hungry. However, she had a fancy that she had a taste for something particular. Something exquisite. Her shape moved across the sands, gliding forward so effortlessly that she might have been floating. Her head flicked from side to side as she let the hot scents fill her nostrils. She could smell… fear. How delightful! Her eyes whirled faster and faster as she approached the group but at the last second, deviated to one side. Hunkered low, it was a stark reminder that dragons were a predatory animal as she slithered to stop in front of Sorho and Ysolde.


(( You smell… Diviiiiine… )) She hissed, but with her mind-voice projecting to all and sundry, it wasn’t clear to whom exactly she was directing her remark. (( Such a wonderful looking treasure… oh yes… yes… I shall have you for myself! )) Her mind-voice thrummed with intimacy, as though perhaps speaking to a lover. But the edge of hunger ran through it as she stared, her head weaving from side to side.


Sorho felt a shudder go up his spine when he heard the green’s voice in his head.  No, oh, no.  No, no, no, no.  He was supposed to impress bronze, even a half blind one would’ve been better than a green, he’d even take a blue!  He turned towards Ysolde and a rage rose within him.  “You,” he said.  “This is your fault.  She’s yours, not mine.”


Before he knew it his hands were on the girl’s shoulders and he was shoving her towards the green Hatchling.  “Get it the feck away,” Sorho told her. “It’s you she wants!”


Keep moving. That’s it, keep heading towards the… oh no… no, why was she coming this way? Why was she stopping HERE?! As the soft voice filtered into her thoughts, Ysolde felt her limbs turn to ice. No. Surely not. Not her. Not this. Her breathing sharpened through her nose as she willed herself to stay calm. At Sorho’s angry words, her head snapped towards him, her mouth open to issue a scathing remark. But instead she was stumbling forward, arms flailing out just as Dardueth’s muscles tightened to launch her into a pounce.


Time seemed to both slow to a standstill and speed up to a blur. As Dardueth sprang forward, Ysolde got in the way. Or most accurately, her arms did. Flailing arms were suddenly wrapped about by razor-sharp dragonet claws that sliced through flesh as easily as a hot knife through butter. Her brain hadn’t caught up with the white hot pain that rippled over her arms as Ysolde crashed into the sand with a moan, the blood already spilling onto the ground. Dazed, she tried to scramble back to her feet just as Dardueth thrust past her with a snap of angry jaws.


Blood, she could smell… blood. It was hot on the air and enticing. But it wasn’t the blood she wanted. Even as she pushed past Ysolde her gaze fixated on Sorho. He was… exquisite. Handsome. So very handsome. She liked that. Even if she wasn’t sure why. Oh yes, he was marvellous. Her lips curled back into a growl as the hunger wrapped itself around her and Dardueth launched herself at him with a furious, hungry bellow. Claws and snapping teeth were extended, reaching out for soft and pliable flesh. 


Sorho had no time to react.  He could only stare, wide-eyed as the green dragonet landed upon him.  She was heavier than he’d expected her to be and he went down with her on top of him.  Her jaws shut around his left arm as it rose attempting to protect his head but her needle sharp teeth tore into the skin and muscle, the force of her bite easily breaking the bone.  He couldn’t even scream in agony because when they landed her weight completely knocked the wind out of him.  Due to the very nature of the impact the green attempted to stabilize herself on top of Sorho, and unconsciously buried her claws into him--her rear claws in particular caused significant damage to the boy, as they dug deeply into his lower abdomen and ripping through his stomach and intestines. 


Immediately the candidate coughed up blood but he wasn’t dead yet… and he had one free arm, which he swung decidedly at the dragonet’s head.  


Clinging all the tighter as they fell, Dardueth’s claws ripped through Sorho, slicing deeply into his gut. With feverish glee, she hissed in delight as the deluge of blood began to pour and as she released his arm, her jaws bit down again on the upper groove of his neck and collar bone. In full bloodthirsty frenzy her hind legs kicked and scrabbled, ripping new holes in the boy.


(( Yesss! )) she hissed, her whirling eyes half lidded in gory pleasure as she bit down harder. (( The blood… the blood is the life… the most handsome blood… ))


Somehow, Ysolde stumbled to her feet again. Her brain hadn’t connected to the blood pouring down her arms, to the white hot pain that ran up her flesh. It could only process the sight of the candidate being disemboweled in front of her as the arterial spray soared across the air, hitting her robes which were no longer a ceremonial white. It was a macabre fountain of which she was in  a direct path, mingling with the blood on her arms. And all she could do was stare, stare in frozen and mortified horror as she watched Sorho’s gut open up in front of her eyes.


The more she dug in, the worse the tear was; soon enough the tear was large enough and intestines exploded outwards alongside blood which began to stain the hatching sands.  Again Sorho tried to scream but she was stepping on his chest as well.  Sorho struggled through the pain, trying to yank away the arm she held away from her while his right arm continued to attack, aiming his fist at her mouth in an attempt to get her to let go--he hadn’t even had time to realize that he was dying.  Adrenaline was rushing through his body still.  He wanted to curse her, and curse Ysolde and the whole fecking world but in the end he was the only one to blame.  Still he attempted to fight, though each attempt was noticeably weaker than the last as the lack of blood and oxygen started to take their effect.


Ysolde couldn’t move. Some part of her noticed that. Noticed that she couldn’t move even though part of her mind was screaming to do… something. Somewhere she noticed that the blood that covered her was a mixture of Sorho’s and her own. But she couldn’t do anything about it. All she could do was watch in slack-jawed horror.


From the side of the Stands, on hand “just in case”, the Healers watched. Already bags were in hand, a stretcher, anything they could grab. But not one of them could move until the green had released her victim. Not a single one of them would risk startling the green into Between by disturbing her before she had found her Rider. It was sad, but one human life wasn’t necessarily as important as the life of a dragon who would help save thousands from Thread over and over again. All around them, the tension notched up as they prickled with the anticipation of being ready to run, run like the ground beneath them was on fire.


Sorho’s attempts to release himself were futile, Dardueth using her wings to bat the weakening blows away. What seemed like an age seemed to pass until the blows lessened… and lessened… and finally, they stopped. Throwing her head back, the blood soaked green crowed in triumph at her kill. Her roar, though tiny, was still furious until it cut off abruptly as though all of a sudden, something had snapped its fingers and caught her attention. With all the disdain of having trodden in something unpleasant, the green pulled herself free of Sorho’s maimed corpse, heedless and uncaring of the new rips her claws left in their wake. Something, something was… waiting. For her. Yes, she could feel it. It was right here. 


(( There! There you are! My Trifali, you shall share this with me! Share the delight of what I have done, feel the energy that surges within me! Yes, we shall hunt together and it will be WONDROUS! ))


As the green left the bloodied mess behind her, the Healers surged onto the Sands. All the Healing in the world would do nothing for the boy as Sorho was carefully lifted onto the waiting stretcher, his body quickly covered with sheets as they rushed the stretcher away from eyes that had already seen far too much. As for Ysolde, it was immediately apparent that the girl’s mind had frozen in place, her eyes staring at the bloody sands even after Sorho was removed and there was nothing left of him but the bloody reminder of himself. And those wounds to her arms… lacerations down the length of her forearms, some deep enough to almost see the white of bone beneath the coursing blood. A unanimous decision was made. They couldn’t save one, but there was one for whom they could do something. And by shells, it was better than nothing at all.


For two Candidates, the Hatching had already ended. Sorho had stood his last Hatching only he hadn’t walked away with a dragon at his side. And Ysolde, escorted carefully from the Sands by the Healers, she at least, would walk away today. Although it would be without the coveted gold dragon at her side, at least there had been only one sheet covered body carefully taken away.



 

Cycleth : Cycleth was hatched a big, powerful bronze and would have been the asset to any major wing if only the accident hadn't happened before the Hatching that left him with only one working eye. He's striking, both because of the dark bronze body with the zigzag patterns on his body that look like thunder bolts and because of his opaque right eye.

 

The loss of his eye doesn't keep him down. He's strong willed and determined to show his best abilities that he can. Despite his eye, he can manage to fly in the Queen's wing and has a knack for avoiding danger that is full of luck. More than once he'll make a save that could only be described as miraculous and he'll earn a great reputation for it.

 

When hunting, he has a knack for herding the herdbeasts up before striking, which can be annoying to his rider when they're in a hurry but can be very helpful to other dragons also wanting to eat. Less helpful is when he does it just to have fun and gets his rider in trouble for running the herds ragged.

 

Cycleth also has a fascination for building. He never knows exactly what he's building, or how to build it well, but he's sure going to try. Given a chance, he'll spend hours trying to create elaborate little creations with rocks. and his rider will often find him piling up rocks and trying to build random objects that will have to be quickly dismantled before they accidentally fall on someone.

  


Dardueth: From the moment she falls free from her shell, there is something decidedly hypnotic about the way Dardueth moves. Even as a hatchling there will be a sinuous, elegant liquidity in her movements that will be impossible to keep from staring at and a well balanced shape that makes Dardueth a stunningly beautiful green to observe.

 

Even her mind-voice has a sultry and sensual timbre to it and it rolls smoothly into thoughts, compelling the listener to stop and pay attention to her, no matter how important the task they were doing first may be. A bright, emerald shade of green with sweeping dark shadows that seem to accentuate her all the more.

 

Hungry is a word to describe Dardueth. Hungry, hungry and hungry some more. Especially if you're male. More so if you're handsome. Dardueth's Rider will have to work hard to keep her in check and to stop her roving eye and make her pay attention to the things she's meant to be doing. When she puts her mind to it, she's surprisingly cunning for a green, but incredibly easily distracted.

 

A particularly unusual characteristic will be Dardueth's tendency to blood her kills, seeming to prefer sucking them dry and pouncing on the next poor animal before reluctantly, she'll take the meat she needs. Unfortunately, it means she has an exceptionally high prey drive for smaller creatures to exact the same fate upon them and her Rider will be likely on the receiving end of Dardueth having caused the untimely demise of more than one beloved pet.







Laura Walker
 

((You're not looking right!)) So far, sharing a pair of eyes was not going terrifically well.

"Wait, love." R'tal's attention had been caught by a pair of Candidates squabbling at the edge of the Sands. He frowned over towards them in the dark. If they didn't Impress this time around the ACMs needed to speak with those two.

((I can't wait!)) Talith's will pushed against his in a way it hadn't since they were Weyrlings still battling for control. ((That's my egg Hatching!)) His egg that they hadn't even been sure would hatch. His most loved and protected baby, because he'd been so scared that it wouldn't hatch at all.

Obediently R'tal turned his head. "See? No harm done. A handsome bronze. He's fi--oh." The bronze turned his head as he spoke, revealing that one, blinded, white eye. "...he'll be fine," R'tal amended, wincing.

((Who is he going to? 'tal!)) For R'tal had turned his head again and was on his feet, worried.

"Shards!"

(('tal, you need to look!))

"There's a Candidate injur-- feck, two Candidates!!

((You said you would look!)) And Talith dipped his head to where he guessed the little bronze was (though that itself was difficult to determine from what he could only gather through peripheral vision), caring little what the audience thought at that point, wanting to smell what he could not see.

On Sat, Sep 5, 2020 at 9:00 PM sailyn2 <empressoftheworld@...> wrote:

In the dark shadows of the dimly lit Hatching Cavern, the shapes of Talith and Truenoth cast ominous shadows across the walls as they hunkered over the eggs that they had laid claim to. The oppressive heat of the day had done little to subside in the darkness of night and clung to the walls like a thick blanket. Even in the light of the glows it was possible to see the scorch marks still on the walls and the fallen rocks did little to soothe the mind that there weren’t things lurking out there that might not be altogether friendly. 


Tucked to one side amidst the rest of its clutching siblings nestled beside Talith, the Sheen of Blood Egg seemed so dark it was almost black in the dim light, it’s red sheen seeming to reflect and bounce light ominously. Perhaps it was just  because people were half-asleep but there seemed to be less noise than usual. And everyone knew just how good the acoustics were in the Caverns, they were practically the stuff of legend. As the Candidates and spectators watched with bated breath to see who would hatch next, a voice as soft and whispery as the wind seemed to resonate around the stone walls.


(( Ssssooooo…. huuuuungrrrrrrryyyyyy…))


It was definitely female, of that there was no doubt and all of a sudden, the Sheen of Blood Egg seemed to twitch a little, giving the entire impression that it was bristling with sudden anticipation.


Standing blearily in the group of robe-clad Candidates, Ysolde tried to drag her thoughts to the forefront and pay attention to what she was doing. She wasn’t sitting dozily in a hot classroom, she was on the Sands! And eggs were hatching! Eggs, she hadn’t been allowed to see at all let alone go anywhere near them. Already the heat of the sand was prickling through the thin soles of her sandals and she shifted from foot to foot, grumbling in tired annoyance. She felt as though every sense was on high alert and her stomach had already flip-flopped in nauseating terror as a couple of Hatchlings wandered towards the Candidates, only to heave in sudden relief as they bypassed her and went elsewhere. The brown hadn’t remotely been a threat because, well, brown. She had even made sure not to pay them too much attention, not wanting to give the Hatchlings any idea that she was there for them. Ysolde had no idea how any of this was going to work. What if her gold was up in the Upper Caverns with Foreth? Would it be a case of waiting to see who was the last standing? Would she Impress at all? The uncertainty bristled her and she jostled impatiently, nudging someone at her side. 


“Be careful, will you!” she hissed, even as part of her brain knew it was entirely her own fault for fidgeting.


Sorho had been watching the hatching intently. He’d been at enough of these that the allure wasn’t as great any more, and other than impressing the bronze he knew he was destined for, the majority of dragonets that hatched and impressed held no interest in him, except maybe that brown… which hadn’t even looked this way.  His eyes were focused on the dragons--whether they interested him or not, they were always baby dragons at the end of the day!  That was probably why he hadn’t been paying attention to who he was standing next to until he heard her voice.


He turned at her horrified, “Ugh, what are you doing here?  I thought you were banned!”


Sorho was about to add more when a noise from the crowd drew his attention--excitement, which was common, but this was LOUD excitement.  Turning his head, he took advantage of his height to look over the candidate's heads just in time to see the first cracks begin to appear on the Bronze Eye Egg.


Most were sure this egg wouldn’t hatch, as a long stone had pierced the shell, like a stubby dart.  For fears of causing further damage removing it, the Dragonhealers had packed it with soft clay, and placed their bets.  The odds were completely against the egg, which now shook with life, eliciting the attention of the onlookers.  What would come from the damaged egg?  It would soon be revealed.


It shook aggressively twice and suddenly the stone fell into the egg.


{{ What’s this?  Who dares trespass in my abode?! }} a deep, masculine voice would be heard throughout the sands.  The egg shook again, and the stone rolled within.  {{ Speak!  What is your name?  I am Cycleth!  And you are?.... I see, you must be Nobody! }}


Turning in annoyance, Ysolde’s disgruntled countenance took on another degree of exasperation at the sight of Sorho. Sorho, the Candidate who still seemed to strike a nerve just by being in her vicinity. 


“I wasn’t banned!” she hissed angrily. “I just wasn’t allowed to see the eggs!” Stepping to the side a little, Ysolde resisted the urge to jab an elbow spitefully into the boy’s ribs. Shells, was it just her or was it unbearably hot in here? She could already feel the perspiration sliding down her back and her hair clung heavily to the back of her neck. Barely awake, hot and next to this… this…insufferable boy! Fidgeting from foot to foot, she turned her temper onto her thumb, chewing it nervously. She shouldn’t be down here, she should be… wherever Foreth had secreted the gold eggs to! She knew that the gold had taken them into the upper cavern but the waiting was killing her. Every second was another second where it was too much chance that she would be claimed by another dragon instead.


As the Candidates jostled, the Sheen of Blood egg continued to tremble and shake. Thin cracks began to appear on the surface, spiraling over the shell. From within, a soft and whimpering cry began to be heard, sounding ominously like a woman weeping. In the dark shadows, it did little to put anyone at ease. (( I’m ssooooo huuuungryyy… I need to be freeee… Free to… to hunt! ))


The voice wasn’t the only one that was hungry.  In his broken egg, the Hatchling within soon realized that he was famished.  Whomever this invader was… it didn’t matter!  What mattered was filling his belly!  The Bronze Eye Egg shook violently again, this time falling over onto its side and rolling just a bit until it was stopped by the unhatched egg next to it.


From the hole a snout appeared and huffed, annoyed that he didn't fit completely through… and what was this stuff plastered around the outside of the hole.  Pushing into it, he sniffed at it, but this part of the shell was particularly brittle and began to crack and crumble away.  Inside the egg the Dragonet repositioned himself and pushed his hole head against the cracks until one end of the egg nearly exploded, revealing the creature within.


He stood proudly on all fours, pleased at his escape.  He was a striking Hatchling, for sure, his bronze hide easily visible.  He immediately opened his wings stretching them out, striking a pose, even though he was so young.  Darker streaks zig-zag across his hide like lightning bolts in a storm--there was no denying that he was utterly beautiful to behold.  He could be perfect, even if not for one detail… his right eye was completely white.  The stone had pierced the shell of the developing dragonet and the damage had caused the bronze’s right eye to go blind.  As a result, he twisted his neck a little, turning his head so he would be able to see from his one good eye.


“Right,” Sorho said to Ysolde with a snort.  “And who’s fault was that?”  Any other comments--or even answers on her part--were lost to Sorho who’s eyes befell the bronze.  He didn’t care if the dragonet only had one eye!  He was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.


Pieces of shell had begun to fall in tiny shards like the most detailed of jigsaw pieces. The pieces gathered around the bottom as more and more holes began to appear, looking like bloody droplets staining the Sands. (( Freedom! )) Came the voice from within, soft and female, but as breathy as an intimate whisper as a whirling eye peered through the gap and the glimpse of an emerald green muzzle came into view. (( You there, handsome one, you will come help me won’t you? Help free me from this prison that we might feast together? )) 


The green’s voice, for it was most certainly a green, was beguiling and the whirling eye was fixed firmly on her bronze brother. A whuffling, hissing noise came from the slowly disintegrating shell, as though she were twisting and turning about inside it, trying to escape its confines.


“Oh, he’s stunning!” The praise escaped Ysolde without meaning, her eyes wide at the bronze. The intention had been to deliver a scathing retort but it had faltered in her throat at the sight of the Hatchling. Even in the dim glows that had been hastily scattered about the front of the Caverns, his hide seemed to glimmer and shine. Unconsciously, she stepped forward a little, as though to get a better look at him.   


The bronze dragonet craned his head until his one good eye was able to focus on the disintegrating egg in question.  He could see his green sister being born, but her proposal didn’t interest him in the slightest--why should he have to help her?  He’d managed just fine on his own.  He was about to respond when he detected movement out of the corner of his eye.  Reacting instinctually, he turned his head and snapped, catching a flit that had flown in without Foreth to eat and too close the bronze.  He immediately bit down, snapping the creature's neck.  Green ichor oozed down the bronze’s muzzle. But… ew.  The flavor!  It was terrible.  That being said, he decided to save it for later, in case he didn’t find something better.  He looked around for a place to keep his prize but was rather disappointed with the lack of proper defenses.  With annoyed snort the Hatchling returned to his egg, which was mostly intact except for the part he’d burst out of.  He entered the shell and deposited the dead flit and reemerged.  No, this wasn’t enough.  He needed something to block the entrance. 


Not too far away the bronze spied a pile of large rock… those would be perfect!  He pranced over, sniffing at them, trying to decide which was the best one, momentarily becoming distracted and leaving his “home” unguarded.


Despite her attempts and the seductively sweet tone her voice had taken, it didn’t seem to have the effect that the green desired. A huffing snort of annoyance was heard about the egg as the shell fell away, the large hole exposing a small, delicately formed dragonet in a striking shade of emerald green. As languidly as a feline, Dardueth slid from the shattered shell, stretching lazily as she shook the globs of egg slime that clung to her. Everything about her screamed femininity as she looked about her, her finely pointed head streaked with dark stripes that accentuated the curve of her skull. 


The sight of another green was enough to make Ysolde freeze, hastily backing up against Sorho and leaping away as though scalded. Focus! So what if she wanted to watch the bronze, if she let her guard down, she was walking into a trap. She knew it. And that was how she ended up walking away with a green and not a gold. That wasn’t the plan. Not no way, not no how. Shaking her head furiously as though trying to shake sense back into herself, the Candidate edged away slightly, her eyes now fixed on the green as the ball of nerves in her belly renewed its frantic thrashing.


Dardueth had no interest in the peculiar cluster of white things. Her eyes had been captured by the firelizard, a small blue thing that swooped in and had reared back on her haunches just as her brother snatched it out of the air. Her shriek was furious. (( Give it to me! I shall feast on its bones! )) Slipping on the broken pieces of shell, she lunged forward, as sinuously as a tunnelsnake, slinking after her brother as she undulated from side to side. In the shadowy caverns, she could see that he was doing something near what was left of his shell but couldn’t quite determine it. All she knew was the scent of… whatever it was, that filled the air. And it was delicious.


“Oh look, that one is perfect for you,” Sorho said, lightly putting his hands on her shoulders, leaving it easy for her to escape but definitely pushing her a tad bit forward, in a playful way more than actively malicious.  “And I’ll impress the bronze--who knows, I may just catch you some day.”


The bronze found a stone he liked and was in the process of trying to push it over.  He applied pressure with his head, but when it didn’t budge he tried pulling it with his claws.  He dislodged it enough to make it roll--towards him!  Opening his wings again, he leapt back in surprise and let out an audible hiss. 


{{ Don’t fight back!  I’m using you, }} he informed the large rock, unaware of how dangerously close his sister was to stealing his food.


At Sorho’s touch, Ysolde had squeaked in surprise. “Don’t say that!” she hissed, but the anxious anger was replaced with hot embarrassment as colour surged up her cheeks. Her eyes were jumping from the green to Sorho. Shells, that thought hadn’t even touched her mind until he mentioned it. And they all knew what greens were like! A twinge of terror, like an icy finger coiled around her. She didn’t want to end up in bed with Sorho! Most of the time she just… wanted to give him a good slap!


With the scent of ichor hot in her nostrils, they flared as Dardueth sucked the scent in, inhaling deeply. It smelled so good! As she sidled closer, she realised that her brother was trying to hide it from her! Keep it all to himself! And that was no good at all. But for all he was only a hatchling, he was still bigger than she by a considerable measure. The green hopped nimbly to one side as the rock rolled noisily forward and she seemed to consider the situation. She wanted what he had. And he wasn’t going to hand it over willingly. Hmm. The wily green maneuvered behind the bronze, approaching a dark puddle that was still sinking into the sand. A clumsy staffer had inadvertently spilled a large pitcher of wine in the candlemarks before as they cleared the rubble from the Sands. The alcohol had mostly evaporated by now in the heat of the cavern, but the scent was still sickly and rich, more pungent as Dardueth approached it.


(( Oh, what IS that intoxicating aroma? Why… it smells positively delightful! )) Her mind-voice took on a decidedly theatrical note as she slithered towards the dark puddle, glancing over her shoulders back at her brother. (( I was so VERY hungry… but this WONDERFUL smelling thing… I shall feast until I feel hunger no more! )) Dipping her head to the puddle, the green made a show of inhaling deeply, looking for all the world that she was deeply invested in investigating the wonderful thing she had found.


He stopped what he was doing, his sisters beguiling words seducing the young bronze away from his single minded attempt at construction.  Letting go of his large rock, the bronze made his way over to the green and sniffed at whatever it was that she was smelling.  He couldn’t identify it, like so many other things in the world, but it sure did smell… strange.  Interesting even.  Tentatively he opened his mouth and lapped some up.  It wasn’t bad!  And he was starving!  He lapped up a little more, then a little more… completely distracted.


{{ Oh!  This isn’t bad at all!  It’s actually really good!  What is this!?  }}


(( I believe it is clearly some sort of… of… )) The green fumbled for a word in her limited vocabulary, (( It is… nectar! Yes! And it shall sate your.. I mean OUR hunger. You should drink deeply of its sustenance, brother! )) Even as she spoke, she sidled to one side, smacking her lips noisily as though she too had sampled the dark liquid. Of course, she had done nothing of the sort and her beady eyes were already glancing towards the remnants of the bronze’s shell. Cautiously she sniffed the air as though trying to get a new scent of the now very dead firelizard. Whatever had leaked from it had smelled... wonderful! 


The bronze was more than distracted by this newfound… what had she called it?  Nectar?  He didn’t know what that was but it sounded just right.  He lapped more of it up, completely oblivious to his sister’s actions for the moment.


Dardueth was positively delighted! Her scheme was most certainly working and the crafty little green continued to sidle towards the now abandoned remnants of her brother’s shell. Her delicate head twisted this way and that as she tried to recapture the delectable scent she had found on the air and her stomach rumbled with anticipatory hunger. Victory would be hers! Keeping half an eye on her brother, she carefully moved towards the broken shell. Sure enough, the scent was stronger here and on instinct alone, she smacked her lips, revelling in the thought of what she would find.


Hunger got the better of her careful plan, overtaking her need to be stealthy and causing her rush the last few steps, thrusting her nose into the shell pieces with a snorted rumble of glee. She would have it! She would claim her prize! Thoughts of care and delicacy were forgotten about as pieces of shell were noisily cast about and Dardueth scrabbled in the midst, determined to law her paws on the hidden treasure. 


“Hey, watch out!  She’s going to steal it!” Sorho called out to the bronze, eager to make a good impression on the bronze.  The dragonet snapped his head up from the wine and twisted his head, looking around him with his one good eye, pausing a moment at the boy before turning his attention fully to his sister.


{{ Dardueth!  What are you doing?  How DARE you!? }} he charged back to his shell, completely intent on stopping her from completing her mischief.


With the scent of ichor, though rapidly growing cold, filling her nostrils, Dardueth’s plan had now become one of complete and utter intent. The hunger gnawed in her belly and the desire to crunch bones and rend flesh became irresistible. With a crowing bugle of triumph, the green wrapped her jaws around the firelizard’s soft body, intent on pulling it from its hiding place. (( It shall be MINE! )) 


Without thought, Ysolde clutched Sorho’s arm, her eyes riveted on the dispute between the two hatchlings. Would they fight over the food? Hurt each other? The glowing red of their eyes was eerie in the dim light and all she could do was watch. Surely one of the sires would intervene. Something.


{{ No! It’s mine, thief! Nobody steals from me!  }}  the bronze charged right at the remains of the egg, trying to shoulder his way past her.  The egg was never meant for two and soon enough the struggle between the bronze and green was enough to shatter what remained of it.  {{ Look at what you did!  Now it’s buried! }}


The shriek of fury from the green was earsplitting in the acoustics of the Caverns. How dare this pompous brute try to steal her prize. Crashing through the remnants of the shell, crushing pieces underfoot as she went. (( Worry about your shell all you like, foolish brother! I have the REAL prize and you shan’t have it! )) The firelizard corpse in her mouth flopped in a macabre fashion as she danced away, her smaller body more agile than his own and ducked to one side of the bronze. She knew he had a weakness. That blind eye. If she was clever, maybe she could stay in his blind spot…


{{  GIVE it BACK!  }} he demanded, loudly.  He opened his wings, taking an aggressive stance towards her, instincts kicking in.   Lowering his body, as if ready to pounce, the bronze took a step towards her, turning his head so as to be able to look at her with his good eye.  {{ Give it back now or I’ll take it from you!  It’s mine!  }}


Dark and wicked amusement seemed to roll from the green in waves as she lithely danced about her bronze brother. (( Should have been paying more attention then! Finders keepers, losers weepers! And you’ll never be quick enough to catch me! )) Her hissing rumble seemed triumphant and she noisily gnashed her teeth about the firelizard, the crunching of bones uncomfortably audible. 


He tried to follow her with his one good eye, turning his body in a circle but failing to keep up with her speed.  He kept trying, demonstrating his endurance, though his patience soon proved to be lacking.  With a growl, he lunged at her, trying to tackle the green.


“He’s going to get her,” Sorho said, only just noticing Ysolde’s closeness.  He jerked away instinctively.  “You--I--Whatever--whatareyoudoing?  Get off.”


Ysolde ignored Sorho’s grumbling, she was much too distracted by what was happening in front of her. Just because she didn’t want the green, didn’t mean that she wanted to see the hatchlings rip each other to shreds right in front of her. Even as the bronze lunged, a gasped squeal of surprise escaped her, her hand flying to her mouth. “No!” she gasped, her stomach lurching with a ball of panic.


(( Keep away! )) Dardueth shrieked at her brother, throwing herself down to the sand even as he lunged towards her. (( The creature is mine! )) With a guttural hiss of noise, the green flailed and as she did, scooped up a pawful of the hot sand. Instinctively and without thinking she flung it at her brother, or more specifically, right towards his one good eye.


Sand impacted the bronze’s wide open eye and immediately he hissed, temporarily completely blind.  He started to shake his head wildly from side to side, panic starting to set in, {{ What did you do?  I can’t see!  I’m blind! }}


Wailing, he dashed off towards the candidates, running towards the only thing he could, that pull, that mind… he tripped over shells and stones and completely  knocked over one of the candidates, all in order to reach the only one that could help him.  {{ Please!  I’m blind!  I can’t see at all!  And I’m so hungry!  Lerian, save me! Save your Cycleth! }}


As her bronze brother scampered away, Dardueth’s attention was caught by the direction that he moved towards. Why, she had hardly noticed those peculiar things before now. Or rather, she had pointedly ignored them. The broken body of the firelizard was all but forgotten about, discarded in the sand like so much rubbish. With smug satisfaction, she watched her wailing brother run away and… and… what happened then? She wasn’t sure. Clearly something did or why else would he have run to… someone in particular? One of those peculiar white shapes?


Stepping forward, the bright, emerald coloured green flared her wings in sudden apprehension, snorting and chuffing at the group as she inspected them. But she was still so very, very hungry. However, she had a fancy that she had a taste for something particular. Something exquisite. Her shape moved across the sands, gliding forward so effortlessly that she might have been floating. Her head flicked from side to side as she let the hot scents fill her nostrils. She could smell… fear. How delightful! Her eyes whirled faster and faster as she approached the group but at the last second, deviated to one side. Hunkered low, it was a stark reminder that dragons were a predatory animal as she slithered to stop in front of Sorho and Ysolde.


(( You smell… Diviiiiine… )) She hissed, but with her mind-voice projecting to all and sundry, it wasn’t clear to whom exactly she was directing her remark. (( Such a wonderful looking treasure… oh yes… yes… I shall have you for myself! )) Her mind-voice thrummed with intimacy, as though perhaps speaking to a lover. But the edge of hunger ran through it as she stared, her head weaving from side to side.


Sorho felt a shudder go up his spine when he heard the green’s voice in his head.  No, oh, no.  No, no, no, no.  He was supposed to impress bronze, even a half blind one would’ve been better than a green, he’d even take a blue!  He turned towards Ysolde and a rage rose within him.  “You,” he said.  “This is your fault.  She’s yours, not mine.”


Before he knew it his hands were on the girl’s shoulders and he was shoving her towards the green Hatchling.  “Get it the feck away,” Sorho told her. “It’s you she wants!”


Keep moving. That’s it, keep heading towards the… oh no… no, why was she coming this way? Why was she stopping HERE?! As the soft voice filtered into her thoughts, Ysolde felt her limbs turn to ice. No. Surely not. Not her. Not this. Her breathing sharpened through her nose as she willed herself to stay calm. At Sorho’s angry words, her head snapped towards him, her mouth open to issue a scathing remark. But instead she was stumbling forward, arms flailing out just as Dardueth’s muscles tightened to launch her into a pounce.


Time seemed to both slow to a standstill and speed up to a blur. As Dardueth sprang forward, Ysolde got in the way. Or most accurately, her arms did. Flailing arms were suddenly wrapped about by razor-sharp dragonet claws that sliced through flesh as easily as a hot knife through butter. Her brain hadn’t caught up with the white hot pain that rippled over her arms as Ysolde crashed into the sand with a moan, the blood already spilling onto the ground. Dazed, she tried to scramble back to her feet just as Dardueth thrust past her with a snap of angry jaws.


Blood, she could smell… blood. It was hot on the air and enticing. But it wasn’t the blood she wanted. Even as she pushed past Ysolde her gaze fixated on Sorho. He was… exquisite. Handsome. So very handsome. She liked that. Even if she wasn’t sure why. Oh yes, he was marvellous. Her lips curled back into a growl as the hunger wrapped itself around her and Dardueth launched herself at him with a furious, hungry bellow. Claws and snapping teeth were extended, reaching out for soft and pliable flesh. 


Sorho had no time to react.  He could only stare, wide-eyed as the green dragonet landed upon him.  She was heavier than he’d expected her to be and he went down with her on top of him.  Her jaws shut around his left arm as it rose attempting to protect his head but her needle sharp teeth tore into the skin and muscle, the force of her bite easily breaking the bone.  He couldn’t even scream in agony because when they landed her weight completely knocked the wind out of him.  Due to the very nature of the impact the green attempted to stabilize herself on top of Sorho, and unconsciously buried her claws into him--her rear claws in particular caused significant damage to the boy, as they dug deeply into his lower abdomen and ripping through his stomach and intestines. 


Immediately the candidate coughed up blood but he wasn’t dead yet… and he had one free arm, which he swung decidedly at the dragonet’s head.  


Clinging all the tighter as they fell, Dardueth’s claws ripped through Sorho, slicing deeply into his gut. With feverish glee, she hissed in delight as the deluge of blood began to pour and as she released his arm, her jaws bit down again on the upper groove of his neck and collar bone. In full bloodthirsty frenzy her hind legs kicked and scrabbled, ripping new holes in the boy.


(( Yesss! )) she hissed, her whirling eyes half lidded in gory pleasure as she bit down harder. (( The blood… the blood is the life… the most handsome blood… ))


Somehow, Ysolde stumbled to her feet again. Her brain hadn’t connected to the blood pouring down her arms, to the white hot pain that ran up her flesh. It could only process the sight of the candidate being disemboweled in front of her as the arterial spray soared across the air, hitting her robes which were no longer a ceremonial white. It was a macabre fountain of which she was in  a direct path, mingling with the blood on her arms. And all she could do was stare, stare in frozen and mortified horror as she watched Sorho’s gut open up in front of her eyes.


The more she dug in, the worse the tear was; soon enough the tear was large enough and intestines exploded outwards alongside blood which began to stain the hatching sands.  Again Sorho tried to scream but she was stepping on his chest as well.  Sorho struggled through the pain, trying to yank away the arm she held away from her while his right arm continued to attack, aiming his fist at her mouth in an attempt to get her to let go--he hadn’t even had time to realize that he was dying.  Adrenaline was rushing through his body still.  He wanted to curse her, and curse Ysolde and the whole fecking world but in the end he was the only one to blame.  Still he attempted to fight, though each attempt was noticeably weaker than the last as the lack of blood and oxygen started to take their effect.


Ysolde couldn’t move. Some part of her noticed that. Noticed that she couldn’t move even though part of her mind was screaming to do… something. Somewhere she noticed that the blood that covered her was a mixture of Sorho’s and her own. But she couldn’t do anything about it. All she could do was watch in slack-jawed horror.


From the side of the Stands, on hand “just in case”, the Healers watched. Already bags were in hand, a stretcher, anything they could grab. But not one of them could move until the green had released her victim. Not a single one of them would risk startling the green into Between by disturbing her before she had found her Rider. It was sad, but one human life wasn’t necessarily as important as the life of a dragon who would help save thousands from Thread over and over again. All around them, the tension notched up as they prickled with the anticipation of being ready to run, run like the ground beneath them was on fire.


Sorho’s attempts to release himself were futile, Dardueth using her wings to bat the weakening blows away. What seemed like an age seemed to pass until the blows lessened… and lessened… and finally, they stopped. Throwing her head back, the blood soaked green crowed in triumph at her kill. Her roar, though tiny, was still furious until it cut off abruptly as though all of a sudden, something had snapped its fingers and caught her attention. With all the disdain of having trodden in something unpleasant, the green pulled herself free of Sorho’s maimed corpse, heedless and uncaring of the new rips her claws left in their wake. Something, something was… waiting. For her. Yes, she could feel it. It was right here. 


(( There! There you are! My Trifali, you shall share this with me! Share the delight of what I have done, feel the energy that surges within me! Yes, we shall hunt together and it will be WONDROUS! ))


As the green left the bloodied mess behind her, the Healers surged onto the Sands. All the Healing in the world would do nothing for the boy as Sorho was carefully lifted onto the waiting stretcher, his body quickly covered with sheets as they rushed the stretcher away from eyes that had already seen far too much. As for Ysolde, it was immediately apparent that the girl’s mind had frozen in place, her eyes staring at the bloody sands even after Sorho was removed and there was nothing left of him but the bloody reminder of himself. And those wounds to her arms… lacerations down the length of her forearms, some deep enough to almost see the white of bone beneath the coursing blood. A unanimous decision was made. They couldn’t save one, but there was one for whom they could do something. And by shells, it was better than nothing at all.


For two Candidates, the Hatching had already ended. Sorho had stood his last Hatching only he hadn’t walked away with a dragon at his side. And Ysolde, escorted carefully from the Sands by the Healers, she at least, would walk away today. Although it would be without the coveted gold dragon at her side, at least there had been only one sheet covered body carefully taken away.



 

Cycleth : Cycleth was hatched a big, powerful bronze and would have been the asset to any major wing if only the accident hadn't happened before the Hatching that left him with only one working eye. He's striking, both because of the dark bronze body with the zigzag patterns on his body that look like thunder bolts and because of his opaque right eye.

 

The loss of his eye doesn't keep him down. He's strong willed and determined to show his best abilities that he can. Despite his eye, he can manage to fly in the Queen's wing and has a knack for avoiding danger that is full of luck. More than once he'll make a save that could only be described as miraculous and he'll earn a great reputation for it.

 

When hunting, he has a knack for herding the herdbeasts up before striking, which can be annoying to his rider when they're in a hurry but can be very helpful to other dragons also wanting to eat. Less helpful is when he does it just to have fun and gets his rider in trouble for running the herds ragged.

 

Cycleth also has a fascination for building. He never knows exactly what he's building, or how to build it well, but he's sure going to try. Given a chance, he'll spend hours trying to create elaborate little creations with rocks. and his rider will often find him piling up rocks and trying to build random objects that will have to be quickly dismantled before they accidentally fall on someone.

  


Dardueth: From the moment she falls free from her shell, there is something decidedly hypnotic about the way Dardueth moves. Even as a hatchling there will be a sinuous, elegant liquidity in her movements that will be impossible to keep from staring at and a well balanced shape that makes Dardueth a stunningly beautiful green to observe.

 

Even her mind-voice has a sultry and sensual timbre to it and it rolls smoothly into thoughts, compelling the listener to stop and pay attention to her, no matter how important the task they were doing first may be. A bright, emerald shade of green with sweeping dark shadows that seem to accentuate her all the more.

 

Hungry is a word to describe Dardueth. Hungry, hungry and hungry some more. Especially if you're male. More so if you're handsome. Dardueth's Rider will have to work hard to keep her in check and to stop her roving eye and make her pay attention to the things she's meant to be doing. When she puts her mind to it, she's surprisingly cunning for a green, but incredibly easily distracted.

 

A particularly unusual characteristic will be Dardueth's tendency to blood her kills, seeming to prefer sucking them dry and pouncing on the next poor animal before reluctantly, she'll take the meat she needs. Unfortunately, it means she has an exceptionally high prey drive for smaller creatures to exact the same fate upon them and her Rider will be likely on the receiving end of Dardueth having caused the untimely demise of more than one beloved pet.








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Blackadder: I mean, what about the people that do all the work?
Baldrick: The servants.
Blackadder: No, me; *I'm* the people who do all the work.