May 28, 2020 9:47 PM
I want to thread a Jess finally damnit
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"Well... yes, fine."

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Alianne stared at them in disbelief. "Shhhhh," she whispered. And then, in case they'd forgotten: "Eggs!"

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Thus reminded, the four children carefully tucked their glowbaskets into the edge of the hall, then one by one, they slipped through the gap in the wall through to the sands.

The Hatching Grounds were large. Jessa had forgotten just how large they were; she'd expected them to feel smaller, somehow, now that she was older, the way the entrance had. The cavern had to be large enough for the queen, and her eggs, and all the Candidates and spectators and other dragons that came to the Hatchings. Seeing the Grounds empty of all the usual spectators of a Hatching just made it feel like it went on forever. Jessa would have shivered it wasn't so hot; the sand was heated with eggs in mind, not 'brats.

Jessa let Mirnel and Jokanon drift away in search of eggs, but grabbed hold of her little sister. She didn't trust Ali not to try to touch an egg, and she wasn't twelve yet, it wasn't her turn yet. Or her Turn, Jessa giggled to herself.

There was an egg not too far from them on their right, and Jessa made a beeline for it. Tentatively she reached out with both hands. It's soft! She managed not to say out loud, but it was close. Soft wasn't really the right word, but the shell gave a little when she touched it, and she'd been expecting... well, something more like egg shells, really. The egg was warm, too, but she couldn't tell if that was the sands or the egg itself. Fascinated, she stood, hands on the egg, drinking in the feeling of its uneven surface under her fingers. She, Jessa, was getting to touch a real actual dragon egg! Best day ever.

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Seeing her sister distracted, Ali snuck backwards, towards another egg near the wall. Jessa or no Jessa, Ali wanted to touch an egg too.

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Jessa, distracted by the egg, didn't notice. It took Jokanon's frantic waving to pull her attention away from the egg, and look where he was pointing. She almost, almost shouted at her sister before remembering that they need to be quiet. An angry mama dragon was not something Jessa was prepared to deal with right now. Rather than shout, she took off after her sister, trying not to lose her balance in the loose sand under her feet.

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Undeterred, Ali scrambled faster along the edge of the cavern towards her chosen egg. But, focused on her sister instead of her footing, she caught her foot in the sand and tripped and slammed her head and arm into the stone wall behind her. Her shriek of pain cut off quickly, but it was loud enough.

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Mirnel cringed as they heard the unmistakable rustle of a waking dragon. "Oh shard it- run," he hissed, and darted for the hole they'd come from.

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Jessa growled but went for Ali instead. Her sister didn't look too badly injured- 'brats were tough, and Ali more than most- but she was cradling her arm and looking dazed, and Jessa could tell that despite her best efforts, she wasn't going to get herself righted quickly on the sand. Shells, shells, shells, why this why now, Jessa thought grimly, but she leaned down to help. Her first try to pull her upright failed when Ali bit back a yelp of pain and pulled her bad arm back, and Jessa wanted to scream with frustration.

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Jokanon followed Mirnel's lead, but slower, and when he reached the exit he shot Jessa a worried look and made a pointed gesture.

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Jessa just made a shooing motion at him. She attempted to mouth I've got her, which she supposed must have been intelligible enough since he grimaced at her but ducked through. That settled, Jessa braced herself against the wall with the edge of one foot, took a grip (a little more carefully) on her sister, and hauled again. This time, thank Faranth, it worked, and Alianne managed to keep her feet. Jessa grabbed her sister's good wrist and turned to drag her towards the exit.

Behind them were a pair of enormous, swirling, bright red eyes.

Jessa nudged herself forward until she was firmly between her sister and the gold dragon glaring at them. "Ali, run," she said, sounding far calmer than she felt.

She could hear a scramble behind her that told her that, at least this time, her sister was doing what she'd been told. Jessa didn't move. Alianne was still behind her and she wasn't letting an angry dragon past her. Not even the queen.

The queen shifted left. Jessa shifted with her. "My sister," she said. Her voice had gotten squeaky with fear, but there was nothing she could do about it. Belatedly she realized- should she have said that, she only had the one sister, if the dragon hadn't gotten a good look at Alianne now she'd be sure- but too late to take it back. So glaring it was. While slowing inching backwards, anyway. She could be between Alianne and the angry dragon without being quite this close.

After what felt like forever, the queen lowered her head, facets of her eye glinting as they lost their red tinge. Protective little thing, whispered through her mind. But so am I. Get away from my eggs, hatchling, and let me sleep.

"Yes ma'am," Jessa stammered, too stunned to come up with anything useful to say, and sprinted back the way she'd arrived. Stupidly, she found herself worrying that the riders would find out about the back entrance now, but she shoved it aside. Now it was the time to go away.

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