87

Arkuda could see the moment reverberating, behaviors and sentences replaying themselves on a fast elliptical, like distance marks on a running track, or the position of a planet during its solar celebration.

Carlos squirmed, sniffling occasionally and rubbing his fists to his eyes. Mireille’s hand kept finding various places to rest on her face. Cristobal sat hands curled in his lap, feet even in front of him. Their grandmother’s face was a mask.

87

He didn’t like describing dragon birth to the royal family, Queen and three grandchildren. Reducing the arcane nature of it into a methodical explanation gave him the shivers, as though he would be giving the wrong information. This mystery had kept peaceful relations between their people for nearly the entirety of the Imperium’s existence. But it was his task to help them understand what had happened in the face of their mother’s loss, the woman who was to be the next Queen.

He addressed the children primarily, as the Queen had bid. “Your mother fell to misdirection, a mistake when confronted with an unknown. We are often born of unknowns, that we don’t understand when we find them. This one wished to consume on its opening. That it was what it was, I’m sorry I didn’t foresee. And now, this one is born, its root existence set. In this way, at this time. We don’t know its name yet, so it’s still difficult to describe. It has to tell someone what it is.”

“We’ve kept our births a mystery for good reason, because that’s what they are, still. Only the first eight of a dragon have some idea of what’s going to happen, when or where. They are the only ones who are fairly safe nearby. They have little idea how to control their spatial dimensions at first. It’s a unique occurrence every time, and the events are hardly recordable.

“While this one stormed in its birthplace, its first eight appeared around it, which can be typical; in this case it was a shock. I’m saddened by the loss of the entire two-Alpha fleet. Those ancients are dragons we banished in the War.”

Here, the Queen interrupted to explain. “When dragons refer to the War, they mean the one that erupted in the Imperium during the reign of Oisine, when we had only expanded into the Primatris Federet. It was waged on human planets and over the value of humans’ and dragons’ rights and lives. The only one since we’ve known them.

Those dragons who insisted on their entitlements against humans had the rest working against them, and in a singular work of binding became trapped on the other side of a wall.”

Arkuda bowed his head. “We missed our cousins. We felt that their existences were continued, in the persistence of balances. They’re not back on friendly terms, clearly. We’re going to have to react to defend ourselves. They’ve dispersed after destroying their vicinity. They are the same Red Nexus of old, minus some. Plus one.”

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