They stretched their wings and soared together into the sky, laughing silently as they watched the tiny humans beetle about and tend to all the little business they believed might matter. To the west, they built their homes from wood and plaster. And they dragged stone for miles, from the steep mountains that ran from the northwestern coast down into the center of the continent, to the bay they'd chosen as their primary port. The wealthy hired wizards and Gifted masons to spin that stone into crude approximations of the grand palaces of the dragons. To the east, sheltered by those same, hollowed-out mountains from the rains that followed the current to the western coast, they relied on baked bricks of sand.

In their youth, they'd seen a dozen civilizations do the same only to crumble under the weight of time. Humans did not live long enough to create anything lasting. Still, they entertained.

Zorion landed briefly in the middle of a herd of oxen, devouring two before tossing one up to her and grabbing a fourth in his jaws to carry away for later. They ignored the men in their hard suits, throwing miniscule sticks their way, until one clattered against Amets's throat, choking her.

The two wheeled around each other and swooped back toward the ranch, fanning flames across the fools. They thumped down and swallowed the crisped soldiers despite the suits that irritated their throats and stomachs. A small price to keep them in line.

The egg wobbled again, rocking against the warmth of Amets's belly. Soon, that egg would hatch. She glanced longingly out the window, wondering what had kept Zorion so long. Hunger twisted her stomach. After ten years of sitting with the egg almost constantly – after a century of carrying it while it grew within her – Amets would rejoice at her relative freedom.

In the far distance, she heard Zorion's cry. Like boulders grinding against each other, the sound echoed through the mountains. Pain filled that sound and battered against her heart. She leaped to her feet, wings outstretched, only to be stopped by a sharp crack.

Her egg.

Her child.

The agony of the choice tore at her, but she knew what Zorion would want her to choose, and so she stayed. She stayed and watched the black beak push out of the shell. She watched the glittering black eyes follow, and the wet, velvety, semi-transparent wings. She breathed a cool fire on him, to dry his scales and harden them, and waited for hours to be sure that he would not catch chill.

Hours passed, and still Zorion remained away. Amets lit the pile of wood he had gathered for her against any situation that might require them both to be away from the egg. She ran her snout down the length of her child and sent him a message, told him to stay put, that she would return.

She rose into the night, and flew away in the direction of Zorion's last scream. His body lay in a clearing, miles beyond the northern lake, in a clearing near a pass the humans frequently used to cross from one country to the other. Flayed, wings shredded beyond hope of repair, still he breathed. She landed beside him, careful not to touch the exposed muscle.

The wizards have learned how to kill us.

The thought whispered in her mind, laced with fatigue and pain. She squatted nearby, and sent her love and her thanks. She sent a picture of their son, and saw Zorion's beautiful, terrible smile, one last time before his breath stopped.

Lifting herself into the air once more, she set an enchantment around the clearing to contain the conflagration required to return a dragon's bones to ash and release his spirit back to Universal spirit of Olitzansu that he might know peace and maybe, someday, be reborn.

Returning to her son brought her no peace, and no pleasure. She loved him, to be sure, and already she could see Zorion's strength in him. The duty of raising this child would be light. But though she would let him go, she would not forget. She looked at her son.

Oroitz will be your name, she told him. You will be my memory, and you will not forget. And someday... She looked out the window toward the fire that still burned over her mate's body. Someday, you will have vengeance on these tiny people who have taken your father from us before his time.