Soleil recalled her lessons in the voice of her dragon teacher, Arkuda:
There is a common trait in new dragons – they are curious. They grant more boons in order to learn about the world. As hungry for knowledge as they are for food, they effect their part in this natural exchange by enabling capabilities. It makes them vulnerable, but they must learn humility in order to gain their maturity. New dragons have to learn their reality and become known in it. This means meeting life forms halfway. Older dragons grant fewer boons than the newly hatched, because they understand the consequences. New dragons make more mistakes with greater extravagance, and they have to make up for it. They have the ignorance of those newly born into power, which they must endeavor to grow beyond. Granting a boon is like giving away a scale, leaving a vulnerable patch. One doesn’t see scales missing, but the vulnerabilities remain, and add up. Some humans say we have that in common with regards to getting older. If we appear to you somewhat like lizards, to lizards we appear somewhat like you. We are sufficiently alien, to everyone including ourselves. We are sovereign, and clearly so. Even to each other.
Soleil realizes this is only the second dragon she’s truly met. She’s not entirely believing what ‘e said about her mother. Is ‘e trying to twist her mind? She’s been out of touch with other humans. Just trying to get to her, maybe? There is something so familiar in er voice, but dragons are both strange and familiar.
The dragon asked:
What do you want to do?
We are inside one of your confusing doorways.
I won’t keep you here.
Is there something you’re going to teach me?
Looking into the dragon’s eyes was like looking into all the eyes that those had ever met. By choice or consequence, er gaze was thusly open to the Princess, completely surrounded by the movement of scales. With a wave of her hand, the fielded sled approached Acamar’s face.
The face grew defensively enormous as she appeared. The sled’s field flickered away, and Soleil, surprised, stood her ground for a full two breaths. Moving to perch on the edge of her platform, Soleil faced a black tooth her size. Forgiveness, she decided. Before you destroy any more of us, I want you to know we’re capable of forgiveness.
She leaned forward and kissed the tooth. It seared her lips like an acid caress, soaking through the heat of her skin. In the gigantic tooth’s black polish, she saw Acamar in a humanoid form, holding scale-clad hands to er face as though ‘e had lost a tooth. Stepping back, Soleil reached up to touch her lips. Under her fingers, they felt as smooth as the dragon’s tooth.
I’m giving you something that will protect you,
and you can fly free.
What you’re feeling, where you…
is a barrier of still nothingness.
It’s the kind of blank the mind reflexively fills
with something that makes sense,
to your degree of suggestion.
You can move among the planets as anything or anyone you’d rather,
Or you can show yourself.
See the barrier,
or not see it;
or not feel it.
You won’t ever need to be rid of it.
You can never use it,
and always have it.
Just as I now keep what you gave to me,
our gifts to each other now given.
I will put you back on your way.
Can you remember your stars?
Though tired, she replied that of course she could…
Like she knows her mother’s face.
Remember your stars then,
and hold onto that.
There are people there to meet you.
Don’t be afraid.
The scales parted, receding and shrinking, to reveal the most familiar of skies. Alisandre was before her, small enough yet near enough to cup inside her two hands. It was moonrise over the edge.