Legend of the OmeletWings

Legend of the OmeletWings

A Story by R-Gii
"

A tribe of Dragons, obsessed with eating their own eggs, lies hidden away in the Claw of the Clouds Mountains faces conflict with faced with knowledge of the other tribes.

"

Set loosely in the world of Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland. Heavy knowledge of the series not required.


INTRO

It is a long known fact that dragons lay eggs. With or without a partner, a dragon will lay an egg anyway. From this truth, many great events were born. In ancient times, there was even an event called the Egglympics where all the tribes would gather together and perform all sorts of Egg Related Sports.

But a particular group of dragons became extremely obsessed with eggs. Following the lead of the scavengers who often slipped into their caves to steal their eggs for food, the fanatics began to eat their own eggs as well.

To many dragons, this was seen as unnatural, so the group of dragons left the other dragons to form their own tribe, the OmeletWings in a hidden valley in the Claw of the Cloud mountains. There, they let their obsession with eggs overtake them, shaping their whole society, until they forgot even the difference between which eggs to eat and which eggs to not, they only cared for omelets and omelets alone.

The OmeletWings had no need for alarms, because they had their own signal for waking up in the morning: The screams of a dragon; the promise of another breakfast served.

On a table in the center of the village, they would lay out plates and platters of all sorts of egg dishes galore, some of the citizens would lay so many eggs, there was always enough for everyone.

But out of all the dragons in the valley, there was no stronger supporter of this feast than Queen Omelet of the OmeletWings herself (This was a name which was received by all potential Queens in order to keep up with the branding, the egg in it's finest form).

Unfortunately, not even she was above fault though. Everytime she laid an egg, she would forget her purpose in life and succumb to the pain of screaming and writhing. As much as she latter regretted her reaction, every time she laid the next egg, she would do it all again.

Once, she even cursed the art of Egg Laying altogether!

After that, the Queen vowed she would never again make such a blasphemous remark against her beautiful craft. She had a muzzle fashioned for herself, and every day she laid an egg, she would strap it on, so no screams and horrible statements could arise. She hired an impersonate who sounded just like her to cheer every time she had a contraction, to represent her overwhelming joy at begifting the world to something as beautiful as dragon eggs.

But even through the muzzle, she couldn't suppress her blasphemous thoughts about egg laying every time she laid, her continually tendency to forget her wonderful purpose in life when gripped in the clutches of pain, the urge to throw her impersonator out the window every time she shouted for joy (she built special chains to prevent any further incidents), but at the very least, nobody could hear it but her, and by the time she tasted her delicious daily omelet, all those unholy thoughts were long forgotten.

Now, it could be assumed that if the dragons ate all their eggs, there would be no descendants to carry on to the next generation, but every once in awhile, the storeroom became so full of eggs, that one would be left unattended long enough for it to hatch. This was often considered a dysfunctional egg, which was then returned to the couple who provided it to care for it until it became capable of joining the great Circle of Breakfast as well.

And it was from one of these dysfunctional eggs that the daughter Embryo was born. The dragonet who would grow up to change the OmeletWings forever.

 

EMBRYO

Embryo ran her talons through the grass, feeling the individual blades bending underneath her weight as her talons gently flowed through them. Oops, she accidently knocked am ant off a blade and felt it rebound from the loss of its weight.

Embryo closed her eyes and breathed in the morning air, the grass and the flowers all creating the distinct smell that was her home in the valley.

As Embryo made her way to the breakfast pavilion, she continued to run her talons through the grass and the leaves on the trees along her path.

As she passed through the down she stopped upon hearing the screams of pure agony from inside one of the houses. Apparently one of the dragons was still laying and wouldn't be able to make breakfast. It would be alright though as she was sure to get special attention for her contribution tomorrow.

The thought of laying an egg filled Embryo with terror. She was hypersensitive and highly attuned to all her senses, and sometimes even a small touch from another could send her body reeling in on itself with uncomfortable tingling (She supposed she must be highly ticklish, but she tried not to tell anyone. She hated being tickled). Given that laying an egg was the most pain a dragon could feel (all for a noble cause, they'd all say, unless they were actually doing it themselves, then they were cursing their very existence), the thought of doing it herself sent shivers of terror down her spine.

But she was of the Egg Laying half of the population, which her mom had told her was a special privilege. Though proud of them, she could tell her father was slightly jealous, but by judging how dragons screamed when laying their eggs, she always thought he should consider himself the lucky one.

Unlike her. She couldn't even stand stubbing her talons, how could she stand laying an egg. She couldn't even fathom what it must be like to be her future self when she first laid her egg. In some ways there was almost some excitement, like stepping into the unknown mysteries which only she could know. But given that they were unknown mysteries of pain, she figured she would rather pass.

Don't get her wrong, she enjoyed the food, she really did, but was it really worth the pain that went into it just to lay the egg?

The idea that you could find pride in knowing that you stand for a noble cause, yet every time you do it, you scream and wish your life away, knowing that she herself was destined to do the same someday, just made her feel very vulnerable.

Embryo shook the thoughts from her head. At least she didn't have to worry about it yet.

Embryo reached the pavilion where the table was already set with all the eggy goodness, the Queen sitting at the head full of pride at the beauty of the kingdom she ran.

Embryo, or Em as she was sometimes called, joined her parents at the table.

"What took you so long?" Asked her mother Albumen. "We were afraid you got lost."

"She probably just stopped to smell the flowers," her father Yoke stated.

"Yeah," admitted Embryo, "It's kind of hard to smell it over breakfast, no offense. It's nice to take in the morning air before I get here."

"Is this the daughter?" Said another OmeletWing, getting close. Embryo watched her with a puzzled expression. Did her parents know this OmeletWing.

"Oh," said Albumen, noticing her daughter's expression, "allow my to introduce you to introduce you to Chorion. She's the mother of Vitellus. We've been talking, and we think he would be a perfect match for you two to be married."

Embryo noticed the male dragon standing a Chorion's side. He looked friendly enough, but Embryo didn't feel that instant connection she had hoped to feel when she discovered the one she was meant to be with.

"We looked into it," Yoke explained, "and we think that a partnership between you and him will create eggs of maximum flavor potential."

Though it was true that a dragon could lay eggs by herself, it was well accepted that a partnership could increase production speed significantly. And choose the right partner it may even have a positive impact on the flavor.

Embryo didn't know what to feel. She always knew this day would come, but so soon? Was she really ready?

Maybe it'll always be too soon for you, she thought to herself, we always think we'll be ready later, but it will always be now, later never truly comes.

Before she could do anything though, the Queen spoke up.

"Hello everyone, I'd like to thank you all for coming. I am proud to say I had an extra large clutch of eggs last night and am proud to share it with you all today. I would also like to congratulate young Caviar who also laid her first egg this morning and is also proud to share it with us today."

There was a loud round of applause as all eyes turned to Caviar, who smiled shyly at the crowd. Though she was clearly pleased with herself, her head was covered in sweat, and she was obviously exhausted from her ordeal.

"Now, without further ado," said the Queen, "Let's sing our National Anthem."

And so, the crowd turned to their flag, hanging from a nearby tower, and began to sing:

From inside us, our very Soul,

You are formed, for us all,

The food of life for which we find our lives,

From our stomachs, to our stomachs you return.

Our purpose, our meaning, is found in you,

The Eggs of the OmeletWings.

A tear rolled down the Queen's face at the beauty of it all.

As everybody began to eat, Embryo turned her attention back to Caviar. She had known Caviar growing up. It felt strange to know that she had now endured the experience of Egg Laying that Embryo could only imagine.

Embryo turned to look at Vitellus, looking with pride at his flag as he ate.

Well, Embryo thought to herself, it looks like you'll be joining her pretty soon yourself if things continue as planned. You'll be fulfilling your purpose.

Embryo stared at her plate in silence. Why did that thought not make her feel better?

 

LEAVING

As Embryo and her parents entered their home after their lovely breakfast, Albumen turned to look at her.

"So," she inquired, "What did you think?"

"Well," Embryo began, "I quite liked the egg salad Caviar brought. I think she has some potential when it comes to... you know."

"No, not about breakfast," Albumen said.

"What did you think about Vitellus?" Yoke finished.

Embryo looked away. "He's fine. I guess." She hesitated, not sure how to continue. Her reserves to Egg Laying still swirling so clearly in her head, but so hard to actually speak (not to mention the undignified process in which eggs are actually laid) "It's just... I don't know if I'm ready..."

Albumen looked at Yoke, then back at Embryo. Slowly, she stepped up to her, and gently rested her talons on her face.

"Listen," Albumen said, "I felt the same way when I was your age. But then it happened, and it was so perfect..."

"We knew this was our purpose together," Yoke finished again.

"That's just it," said Embryo stepping away, "What if this is not my purpose?"

Albumen and Yoke looked shocked, as if such an idea had never occurred to them.

"Not your purpose?" Albumen gaped.

"It's just..." Embryo hesitated, trying to find the words, "Laying Eggs, Eating Eggs... There got to be more to life than that. I feel the air blowing across my scales, hear the river rushing down the stream. There is so much more to the world than just Breakfast, and what is my place in all of it?

Albumen and Yoke looked at each other. "You know where you come from, right?" Albumen said.

"It's said," Yoke picked up, "if you let food rot long enough, it will mutate into something alive. Your egg was left abandoned and uneaten for so long, that it mutated into you."

"From the egg you came, so for the egg you provide," Albumen continued, "What could be a greater purpose than that?"

"Maybe you're right, maybe I'm wrong," Embryo said, "But I have to find out for myself." Embryo turned to look out the door at the mountains in the distance, the breeze blowing down from them seeming to call her.

Albumen's eyes widened. "Wh-what do you mean?"

A rush of certainty passed through Embryo, opening a door within her Soul that she never had known was there all along.

"I'm going to see the world." She stated.

Now Albumen and Yoke were full attention.

"What," Albumen said, "But you don't know what's out there, you don't know..."

"Don't worry Mom, I'll be fine. You too Dad." She looked her parents over. "Maybe you're right, maybe my purpose is to lay eggs, but I need to see what's out there first."

"So much potential..." Albumen sighed.

Embryo looked her parents long in the eyes, their gazes softened.

"Oh Em..." Albumen began.

"We'll miss you," Yoke finished.

They all pressed their heads together for a long moment.

"We know you'll find your purpose," Albumen continued.

"And we know you'll make us proud."

Yoke pulled his head away, and Embryo looked at him, then at Albumen.

"I'll see you again later."

With that, Embryo turned and headed out the door. The morning light glittered off her light yellow scales, it's heat warming her up, filling her Soul with energy. She spread her wings, feeling the air currents rushing around her...

And with that, she blasted off, above the OmeletWing village. She looked back down to see her parents standing in the doorway watching her, loving expressions on their faces.

I'll see you again, see again promised herself, and I will make you proud.

And with that, she turned herself toward the mountains, and let the wind and her Soul carry her off into the unknown.

 

VILLAGE

Embryo had never felt so free as she swooped over the mountains, the feel of the air under her wing beats, how it flowed across her scales, the smell of pines and fresh snow on the jagged mountain peaks, for the first time, she actually felt like she was fully herself.

But after awhile, her wings began to grow tired. She had never flown this far before; she had never figured the Claw of the Cloud Mountains to be this big.

Finally, she noticed what looked like a small village bellow, tucked away nicely in a narrow, wooded area between the mountains. She noticed other dragons pacing along the streets and was somewhat surprised to notice their scales were shades of red and orange, unlike the whites and yellows and other eggy colors from her village.

Still, her wings were getting sore from all the flying, and she wasn't rather fond of the uncomfortable feeling they were giving her (If this is bothering you, imagine how you'll feel when you finally lay your first egg). Perhaps she could find out more info about the world outside at large, there wasn't much of it in the library in her own village, as they mostly focused on the feats of Egg Laying over the centuries. Did dragons here care as much about eggs as her village did? She would have to make herself inconspicuous until she figured out more about these strange dragons.

So with these thoughts, she banked in for a landing.

She landed on the cobblestone streets and looked around. A few of the dragons briefly looked at her curiously, but then went back to their own business.

As she walked down the street, she felt the cobblestones under her talons. It was interesting how smooth and freshly polished they were. Her own village wasn't bad, but it was clear this one went to the extra effort to remain neat for its residents and visitors.

Embryo found a tavern at the end of a street. She felt her tummy rumbling. Maybe it was time to get some food.

She had already had eggs for breakfast, and she knew that even OmeletWings needed other foods to survive (Eggs could only be produced by the protein that was already in the body, which meant the other protein had to come from somewhere), but she figured this tavern would already have a surplus of her favorite, so it couldn't hurt.

She entered the tavern to find a brightly lit place. A delicious whiff of food hit her nose, and tables were lined up where dragons were eating and discussing things with each other. A band was playing a jolly tune in a corner, and a couple of dragons were even dancing to it, and the beat made Embryo's heart want to soar. This place was clearly designed to positively overwhelm all of your senses, and Embryo loved it.

Embryo stepped up the counter where a female dragon was watching her curiously.

"Can I help you?" The Dragon asked her politely.

"Yes," replied Embryo, "I was wondering, do you have any eggs?"

"Eggs," pondered the dragon, "you mean like chicken eggs, or falcon eggs. Summit even brought in a batch of eagle eggs the other day, we still have a few of those left I believe."

Embryo hesitated for a moment, she was confused on how this dragon could misunderstand. Sure she knew chickens, falcons, and eagles all laid eggs, but...

Okay she'd let this dragon off, perhaps they tried those eggs around here too.

"No," replied Embryo, "I mean, do you have dragon eggs?"

The dragon just stared at her blankly. "Dragon eggs..."

Embryo was now even more confused, "Yeah. Dragon Eggs? Don't you have them?"

The dragon continued staring blankly, "No... I'm afraid not..."

Embryo sighed. Oh well, she could find something else to eat.

The dragon at the counter looked at her again, her gaze softening. "Here, why don't you find a table and I'll bring you a menu."

Embryo nodded gratefully, and found a nice table to sit at. The dragon came back a few moments later with the menu, and poured her a glass of water.

Embryo sat there, reading the menu. It was really strange. Along with a large variety of foods she never heard of before, there was no mention of dragon eggs. Perhaps it was a result of culture, maybe they ate differently from the way she ate at home. Which was weird. She knew she had flown all morning, but she didn't figure she'd flown far enough to enter an entirely different civilization entirely.

Well, there still were some things she was familiar with on the menu, even if the eggs weren't from her preferred species (hmm, did eggs from these different looking dragons taste any different than the eggs that the dragons in her village laid?). In the end, she settled on some partridge eggs and sausage.

As she was ordering, she didn't notice the new dragon coming in. He was bright red, a face full of life, about the same age as Embryo. He was carrying a few birds he had hunted down, and brought them up to the dragon at the counter.

"Summit," said the dragon, "I see you brought in another catch."

"Absolutely," Summit replied, "That's four birds, so that'll be..."

"Here you go," said the dragon handing over some coins. Summit counted them and smiled back. Good pay for a job well done.

"Would you like anything to eat while you're here?" asked the dragon.

"Hmm," thought Summit, "Yeah, I think I'll have something."

"Okay, take a seat, and I'll be with you shortly."

Summit nodded, and looked around the tavern.

Then his eyes stopped. Around him was a large assembly of the typical SkyWing that he was so used to seeing, maybe the occasional MudWing and SandWing here and there...

But then, at one table, all by herself, was the most interesting dragon he'd ever seen. She was not like the average SkyWing. Her scales were a pale yellow, her body slightly rounder than a regular SkyWing. But there was something else about her, something he couldn't place...

Summit had always something snapping into place when he met his Soul Mate, like a broken link finally clicking together, but at this point, it felt like something different entirely, like a link had always been there, inside of him, but now he was seeing who it was connected to. He could imagine himself growing old with her, the happiness they'd share as they raised dragonets together, all of it.

Slow down! He told himself, you don't even know her. You're just jumping to conclusions.

Still, it wouldn't hurt to get to know her a little. Besides, how do relationships start but with two dragons introducing themselves to eachother?

"Hello," he said, approaching her table, "I'm Summit, mind if I join you?"

Startled, Embryo looked up. "Oh no, I don't mind."

Summit took the seat opposite her and gave her a friendly smile.

"So, you from around here?" He asked.

"Um, no," Embryo replied, "I flew in from a village a few hours from here actually."

"Could I have your name if you don't mind?" The SkyWings asked.

"Uh, Em... My friends call me Em." Embryo wasn't used to having conversations with strangers, so she wasn't sure if she was coming off properly.

"Cool." Summit eyes lit up. "You don't mind if we got to know eachother do you?"

Embryo looked the newcomer up and down. He didn't seem a threat at all to her. Being out in the world alone for the first time, she knew she was prone to naivety, but examining him with all her attuned senses, he seemed sincere. Obviously, he had a crush on her or something, but he seemed genuinely interested in getting to know her.

Still, she didn't know how she felt about how she, just by the act of existing in another's presence, could somehow become some sort of attraction, just because she was a somewhat cute girl.

She shook her head. It was completely normal to have a crush on someone, she might have a crush on him as well. But was he having thoughts about their potential future together? About her laying eggs... She shuddered. Why did it always come back to that? Those thoughts of her writhing and screaming in agony as she'd heard other dragons do, were those inevitable?

But still, there was this comfortable feeling she had being around him, like there was an instant connection. Was this how she'd expected to feel when she met the one she was meant to be with. She wasn't sure, but at the very least, she thought it would be helpful to ask him for information.

"So this village," Embryo began, "Where exactly are we?"

"This village?" Summit answered, "This here is Valley, in the Claw of the Cloud Mountains, in SkyWing territory."

"SkyWings?" Embryo asked, "Are those a type of dragon."

Summit looked at her quizzically. Embryo realized she might sound ridiculous, but she had to find out some way or another, right.

"Yes..." Summit replied. He noticed her expression, "Don't worry, I'm about to come off as just as ridiculous, because... I'm not sure I know what type of dragon you are either."

Embryo looked at him, "Me? Well, I'm from a tribe that calls ourselves OmeletWings."

Summit gagged.

"What?" Summit tried to keep a straight face, but it was hard. He really liked this girl, but there was just something about the term OmeletWings that got to him. "I'm sorry, please forgive me."

Embryo looked away, "It's okay. I have a feeling things are quite different here than they are at home anyway."

They were both silent for a minute, neither knowing what to say. It wasn't exactly uncomfortable like they would have expected though, it felt like just two dragons, sitting at a table, taking in the atmosphere of the tavern.

Finally, the waitress dragon came out with Embryo's order. The dragon glanced at Summit, and Summit shrugged.

"Know what you want?" She asked him.

Summit took one last glance at Embryo, then placed his order. Fired Mountain Goat Steak and Gravy.

As the waitress left, Summit took out the coins he'd received earlier and fiddled with them. Embryo, curious about the clanking sound they made that rang through the air, looked at him.

"What are those?"

Summit looked at her, "Just coins. We use them to trade for things, houses, scrolls, food-"

Summit stopped what he was saying, realization rising on both of their faces.

"You have to trade for food!" Embryo exclaimed.

"You don't know what money is!" Summit exclaimed at the same time.

Embryo looked down at her plate.

"How do you not know you have to pay for food?" Summit asked shocked.

"I don't know," Embryo cried out, "In our village, we do trading, but we all help with the food, and we all share the food. I didn't realize it was different here!"

Embryo looked at her plate, guilt filling her up. "What do I do, what do I do?"

Summit looked at the food, then back at Embryo. "Don't worry, I'll take care of it."

When the waitress came back a few minutes later with Summit's dish, he paid for both of their meals. Embryo looked at Summit gratefully.

"Thank you," Embryo replied.

"No problem," Summit answered back.

Embryo, her concerns settled, finally sat back to eat. She took a bite of her food. Hmm? The flavor wasn't quite the same as the eggs back home, not bad, just different. She figured she could enjoy a meal or two like this, even if it wasn't the same.

 

Tavern

Embryo spent the next few hours just talking to Summit, finding out everything she could about Pyrrhia, all the Kingdoms, all the different tribes, history, wars...

"Wow," sighed Embryo, "You have so much more to your world than just Egg Laying out here. I never would imagine."

"Yes..." Summit replied, "Egg Laying is important, I suppose, but it's not everything."

"Oh," replied Embryo, "then you wouldn't know. We've built our entire society around Egg Laying."

Summit was fascinated, he was about to ask for more detail, but then there was a clanking of dishes, and Summit looked up. He'd been so busy talking, he'd lost track of time. The tavern had begun to empty, and it seemed the host was getting ready to close up for the night.

"Hey, I'd love to hear it," Summit said, "But it's getting late. I should probably get going now."

Embryo felt the disappointment that their chat was over so soon, and she could see the regret in his eyes as well.

"Hey," said Embryo, "Maybe we can meet up again tomorrow and I can tell you about it then."

Summit brightened up. "Yes, of course! Let's do that"

Embryo followed Summit to the door. As he stepped outside, Embryo looked out into the night. The Sun had fallen into darkness, and the moons shined brightly in the sky. The evening air which had felt welcoming during the day, now felt empty, like the loneliness of the sleepy night yet to come.

Embryo stood in the doorway, suddenly not sure any longer where to go. Summit turned to look back at her and saw her hesitating.

"Do you have anywhere to go?" He asked.

Embryo didn't know what to say, she just shook her head.

What are you doing? Summit asked himself. But he couldn't just leave her here with nowhere to go.

"Okay, I'll get you a room for tonight, okay?"

Embryo really didn't know how to respond. "Uh, well... Thank you."

Summit began to blush so hard. Why was it so embarrassing to pay for a girl he had a crush on to stay somewhere for the night? It was a common courtesy. How could he do any different.

He led the way back into the tavern and approached the hostess.

"Hey, uh, madam, could I uh, get Embryo here a night in one of your rooms."

The hostess glanced at Summit and Embryo, a look of amusement lighting her eyes. "Sure."

Summit paid for the room, then looked at Embryo. "I'll see you again tomorrow."

As the hostess led Embryo to her room, Summit turned around and went back outside.

Out on the streets, Embryo couldn't help but feel self-conscious for what he did. What are you doing? He asked himself, find a cute girl and suddenly you're paying for her food and a place to stay?

Well, somebody had to help her, his other voice said, why couldn't that be me, so what if I have a crush on her. Summit paused, the real question is, did I help her and have a crush on her, or did I help her because I have a crush on her.

Summit knew he'd done the right thing, but had her done it for the wrong reason. But if you do do it for the wrong reason, does that make it wrong to do the right thing? Summit shook his head. It didn't matter the reasoning, it had to be done, even if that meant he got faulted for it.

Back inside the tavern, the hostess led Embryo up a set of stairs and to a room midway down a hallway. As she unlocked it and held it open for her, she turned to Embryo.

"Is there anything else I can do for you."

"No, I'm fine," said Embryo, stepping into the room, looking around at the layout, a soft looking bed in one corner, a heated washbin in the other, and nicely lit fireplace against one wall, complements off the SkyWings.

"Listen," said the hostess, "I know Summit. He's a respectful young dragon. I know he's coming in a little fast, to be honest, I've never seen him drawn to another dragon like he was today, but I wouldn't worry."

Embryo turned to thank her. "I've already sensed as much, but this is my first time away from home. Thanks for letting me know."

And with a nod, the hostess turned to leave, closing the door behind her.

Embryo once again looked around at the room. As she climbed over to the wash bin to clean herself up, her wings suddenly began to feel extremely tired from her day's flight. She had never flown so far in all her life, and her hypersensitivity was really making the aches stand out.

She splashed her face, and let herself take in the feeling of the warm water drizzle down her body. It felt so good on her aching limbs. She sighed.

Finishing cleaning up, she stepped up to the fireplace and let its warmth dry her off, the waves of heat rushing through her body. She wasn't sure she's ever felt this relaxed in all her life.

Now dry, Embryo stepped up to the mirror and took a long look at herself. She thought of Summit's obvious crush on her, and couldn't help but blush.

She never wanted to admit it, as it was embarrassing, but she kind of did have a crush on herself too. She wasn't the typical standard of beauty, being a little plump and everything, but to her, she felt that just made her more interesting. It wasn't so much that she was drawn to others who looked like herself, but when she couldn't help but admire her own presence, and for some reason, the thought of sharing it with someone always made her blush. She thought that maybe she was always being too full of herself, but to find someone today who actually saw her as she saw herself, maybe a little bit awkward, but at the same time, it was sort of a relief.

Stop thinking like this, Embryo cut herself off, you're being embarrassing. Sure enough, she could see a bit of red filling her face in the mirror.

Suddenly, a wave of tiredness rushed through her. She began to yawn, stretching out her wings. She winced. Yep, they were definitely sore. Too sore for comfort. If she couldn't stand a little soreness from a day's flight, how was she going to take laying an egg?

Embryo looked down. She tried to imagine getting an egg out of herself. How was it even possible? She'd seen the size of some of those eggs at the village. Just the thought of it made her want to squirm. She couldn't imagine doing that in real life.

Maybe she wouldn't have to...

But then a voice inside her whispered, how can you claim love eggs if you avoid what it takes to create them yourself?

Embryo sighed. She was getting tired, she'd figure out her thoughts latter.

Embryo made her way to the bed and laid down, throwing the covers over herself, letting her aching limbs stretch out. She felt the tension leaving her joints as she just laid there on the soft mattress.

This is nice, she thought. And with that, she dozed off into absolute peaceful nothingness.

 

MEANWHILE

Commotion had risen in the OmeletWing village as news spread of Embryo's leaving.

It began when Vitellus came to visit his betrothed. That's when Yoke and Albumen had to deliver the news.

"Three Egg Yokes! WHAT?" Vitellus cried, "That doesn't make sense. But he were supposed to have eggs together, make Omelets together, create new recipes. We were going to be happy together."

Pretty soon, Vitellus' mom was in on the news. "That doesn't make any sense." Chorion fumed, "Nobody just up and leaves when they could have the honor of Laying Eggs."

And from there, there was no stopping the news as Chorion went on and on ranting to everybody about the lack of vision of the younger generation.

By late afternoon, Albumen and Yoke were called before the Queen.

As they stepped before the throne, Queen Omelet looked at them with anxiety in her eyes. She was eating from a platter a leftover Omelet from breakfast.

"I couldn't help but hear the news," Queen Omelet said, "Has your daughter really left us? Why?"

Albumen looked uncomfortable, so Yoke spoke up. "She wanted to discover if there was more to life than just Laying Eggs."

Queen Omelet spat out the contents of her mouth, pieces of Omelet shooting all across the room. "THREE EGG YOKES!"

Queen Omelet's guards immediately went around retrieving the pieces of egg scattered across the room, and put it back on her plate. Though she had significant Omelet left, they knew she wouldn't want to waste a single bite.

But right now, Queen Omelet was distracted, sitting on her throne anxious and confused. This young Embryo didn't like Eggs? It didn't make sense to her. Finally, her mind began to clear, and she began to make sense of the situation. She turned to Albumen and Yoke.

"No reason to be worried," she assured them, "Embryo is just young and confused. She doesn't understand the beauties of Egg Laying yet. But eventually, she will, she'll see the wonder that is the Egg. Whether here or elsewhere, she will come to see the obvious, and then she'll return to us, and we'll all be reunited under one majestic love for the Egg."

Her wings spread wide into the air, tears rolled down her face at the beauty of her own speech. She looked at Embryo's parents. "You are dismissed."

But as they left, Queen Omelet couldn't help but feel the anxiety creeping back up in her. She tried to shove it down.

Don't worry. We don't need to do anything. She'll see for herself. She will see for herself. Nobody can forget the beauty of the Egg for long.

And with that, Queen Omelet began to relax.

Everyone will know the beauty of the Egg eventually.

 

MEADOW

When Embryo awoke the next morning, she climbed out of bed and stretched her wings. They were feeling much better after a relaxing night's sleep.

She rushed downstairs and found Summit already there waiting for her. The moment he saw her, a huge grin lit his face. He rushed up to her.

"Listen," he said, "I've been thinking. You said you want to see the world, right? So I was thinking maybe you could join me on a flight, and I could show you around some amazing places I know."

Embryo looked into his eyes, and amusement sparked in her. "You've got a big crush on me, don't you?"

Summit blushed, shifting his talons, and looking away. "I know. Love at first sight. It's ridiculous."

"No," replied Embryo gently, "I just think we should get to know each other better before we decide on this 'love' business."

"And do you?" Summit asked, looking up at her.

"Do I what?" Embryo asked.

"Want to get to know each other better?"

Embryo looked at him. "I'd love to."

"So every morning, we fill our table with the most spectacular egg dishes we can prepare, and all share in a grand community breakfast."

Summit tried to suppress a gasp of horror as he almost plummeted out of the sky, and down to the cliffs bellow.

"You mean to tell me, you ACTUALLY EAT YOUR OWN EGGS!"

Summit tried to stop himself from loosing his breakfast, trying not to imagine the partridge eggs he'd eaten were not dragon eggs.

"You mean to tell me you don't eat dragon eggs?" Embryo cried in shock, her entire world being turned inside out.

"No!" Cried Summit, "That's disgusting! You mean to tell me you don't have any problem eating another dragon's..." Summit saw Embryo's face fall, confusion giving way to discouragement. "I mean, for us other tribes, we just don't do that. It just doesn't seem natural to us. Perhaps we're the ones who are doing things abnormally."

There was a long pause of silence, each in their own thoughts. Summit hesitated, but finally his curiosity got the better of him.

"So let me get this straight, does your entire diet consists entirely of your own eggs." Summit tried to process this.

"Oh no, ff course not," Embryo replied, "We can only produce as much protein as what's already within us, and because the males weren't blessed with the gift of egg laying (poor things), we have to balance it out." Embryo paused, "But yes, eggs are our primary focus."

They once again returned to silence, neither of them said anything, but the tension was for the most part gone.

Finally, they emerged from the mountainline, and Embryo gasped. Stretched before them was a meadow, reaching many miles in every direction, covered in flowers of all types and colors, as far as eye could see.

"Here we are," Summit announced, grinning at her expression.

Summit led them in, and they landed within a patch of flowers, bending gently under their weight.

The pollen drifted in the air, and Embryo took in a deep breath.

"It's beautiful," she breathed.

"I know," Summit sighed, "The moment I first met you, I thought of this place."

Embryo looked at him. "You really do have a crush on me."

Summit turned red, if that was even possible with his SkyWing scales.

Embryo looked back up to take in the meadow stretching before her. A strong gust of wind was headed in their direction, pushing through the flowers, rolling over them with great force.

And then it hit, billions of air particles pushing past them, fresh air and pollen being thrown at her in the breeze. Embryo closed her eyes and spread her wings, and took it all in, the air, the flowers, the warmth of the Sun, all existing around her, filling her with life. The wonder of it all was so overwhelming, she began to laugh with joy.

As Summit watched her in awe, that smile on her face, the way she loved to just feel the world around her, his heart began to fill up. It didn't matter that she came from a tribe that ate their own eggs, this was the most beautiful dragon he'd ever met, and more than anything, he wanted to make her happy.

 

RAIN

As they were flying back through the mountains, it started to rain. At first it was just a little bit of sprinkling here and there, and Embryo enjoyed the feeling of the water droplets hitting her scales.

But then it began to pour. Heavy rain falling out of the sky, and thunder crackled through the air.

"We need to get out of this!" Summit cried over the howling of the storm.

Embryo looked around desperately, wind throwing rain in her eyes so she could hardly see where she was going. But finally, she noticed a cutaway in the side of a cliff. A cave. "Over here!" she cried.

Landing inside, Embryo and Summit shook their wings and scales dry and looked around. The cave was small but not too small, and Embryo turned around to watch the storm from the opening, rain falling upon the mountains across from them, small streaks of lightning flashing through the air over them. A breeze blew into the cave, carrying with it the scent of fresh mountain air.

As Summit sat beside Embryo, watching the storm, he couldn't help but look over at her. He blushed. He needed to tell her.

"Em," he began, feeling the awkwardness washing over him. "I got a confession to make."

Embryo looked at him, taken off guard. "Yes?"

"You know you as a girl?" He started, not really sure where to go with it, "Well, I can't help it, but it makes me have a crush on you."

Embryo looked at him confused. "Uh, okay. I already knew you had a rush on me."

Summit hesitated. "No, I mean... The truth is, even the word 'girl' makes me blush. I know being female is normal - I mean, that's like an entire half of the population - but when I think about it, I can't help but think that 'girl' just seems so different, so unlike myself, and I just start to feel all crushy inside." Summit was glad his scales were already bright red, because the level of blushing he must surely be giving off must be off the charts. "And then you come along, and you are more beautiful than any other dragon I've ever seen, and... I want to spend time with you and look at you like I would anybody else, but I can't help but worry I'm doing it for the wrong reasons."

Embryo stared at Summit, trying to process this. What did it feel like to her to know that just by being part of the opposite half of the population to Summit, she was automatically subject to his crush? She would need time to sort out her feelings. But there was one thing she knew...

"I know you have a crush on me," Embryo said, "but I also know you like me for much more than that, you enjoy my company, and I enjoy yours." Embryo hesitated. "I'd prefer you over Vitellus."

As Embryo looked away, Summit couldn't help but overhear the meaning in her words.

"Embryo? Are you betrothed?"

Embryo looked up at him momentarily before looking back away.

"N-not exactly," she said, "it's not exactly official, but my parents were trying to arrange for me to marry him before I left."

Summit looked at Embryo, trying to find words of comfort, but almost realizing that if he said the wrong thing, this conversation could become very awkward very quick. "Well, you're out here. To see the world. Perhaps you'll meet a nice..." Summit hesitated, "uh, dragon well you're out, and you won't have to worry about it." Summit was not going to name any examples of nice dragons Embryo might meet. He was not going to give any names...

Although there was this one dragon who came to mind-

Nope. He was not going to go there. Let Embryo make up her own mind. Summit was not going to say anything.

"I mean..." Embryo thought, "Vitellus isn't bad. He's just... not my type. Our parents think though, if we get together... Our genetic combination will result in some pretty tasty eggs."

Summit's world went still, a dark sickness began to rise in Summit's stomach as the realization of what Embryo was saying hit him.

"Wait... The eggs you eat... Those are the result of being with a partner?"

Embryo looked at Summit, confusion on her face, not able to process the reason for the sudden increase of apprehension in his tone. "Of course. How else would we be able to produce enough eggs to sustain our society?"

"B-but..." Summit stammered, "Those eggs... Those eggs are your own dragonets. You're eating your own dragonets."

Embryo gasped, the idea so sickening, she could feel her stomach turning, something rising in her throat. "Of course we don't," she gasped, Summit must be mistaken, "They're eggs. No different than any other eggs."

This conversation had turned awkward all right. Just this was not the direction of awkwardness Summit had ever dreamed of this conversation going in. "They're eggs..." Summit scrambled for the words, "There are dragonets forming inside those eggs. Where else do your dragonets come from?"

"No," Embryo said, trying to regain her sense of the reality, "Dragonets are only formed in the egg if the egg has rotted long enough. Dragonets are mutations. Mutations of rotted food."

Embryo went silent, firm in her convictions. Right?

Embryo looked down at her talons, trying to think. Summit watched her. As much as this revelation about his new crush brought illness into his very Soul, he knew Embryo was sincere.

"I know that's what you've been told, but it's not true. There are dragonets forming in the eggs. That's the whole reason eggs exist in the first place."

Embryo was silent for a moment, still watching her talons. "No," she said finally, "I don't know what to think, but I know my village. They are not cruel or malicious like that. They would never intentionally hurt another Soul."

Summit watched Embryo a moment longer. He still wanted to throw up. But as he continued to watch her, the look in her eyes, the way her body moved as she breathed, he knew one thing was certain, she was a good Soul. He didn't want to antagonize her like this.

As the rain began to clear outside the cave, the drops pitter-pattering onto the hard stone at the entrance to the cave, he turned to her.

"Hey," he said gently, "you said you wanted to see the world. There are some places I wanted to see too. Why don't we forget about eggs entirely for now, and we can go, see the world together? You and me?"

Embryo looked up from her talons at Summit, taking a calming breath of the rain-freshening mountain air. "Thank you. I'd love to go with you very much."

Summit hesitated. As much as he was disturbed by his newfound knowledge of the OmeletWings, he knew he had his own issues to address. "Even after knowing how I feel about you?"

Embryo looked at him. "I know you're alright. I trust you."

Summit couldn't help but feel relieved. It was good to know she wasn't too weirded out by his awkward crushes. "Thank you."

They watched the weakening storm together a few moments longer, and finally, sure that it had cleared enough, they set back out, flying through the air over the Claw of the Cloud Mountains.

 

TRAVELING

As they set back out through the mountains, the air was fresh, the wind blew gently in their faces, there was still a sprinkle of rain here and there, but nothing more than the occasional drop.

It wasn't long after they left the cave though that Embryo noticed the first problem. She almost didn't mind, but she knew how Summit would react, and it'd just create a lot of embarrassment between them.

But if they were going to be traveling together, it'd need to be addressed sooner or later.

"Uh Summit," Embryo began, "I need to pee..."

Summit breath caught. "Y-you need to what?" He was trying really hard not to have a crush on her right now.

Embryo looked at Summit with a blush. He was cute when he was trying not to think of her like that, and she kind of liked it when him feeling like this around her, but she didn't want to add any undue embarrassment to the situation, so she decided just to make it quick.

"We could stop in that clearing over there and go," she suggested.

They came in for a landing in a small wooded clearing surrounded by two peaks.

As Embryo went into the trees, Summit made sure to keep his back turned, but he couldn't help but blush at every sound. "I'm sorry," he said, knowing that back turned or not, he could still imagine what was happening.

"It's okay," Embryo said, finishing up, "You need to go?"

Summit hesitated, "Uh... yeah." And then he stumbled into the trees.

And then it was Embryo's turn to overhear. Her face went red.

"You're right," she admitted, trying to suppress a giggle, "This is embarrassing."


They were back in the air a few moments later, flying South along the Claw of the Cloud Mountains.

"And what about your family," Embryo asked, "what'd they think to find out that you ran off to see the world with some cute girl you'd just met?"

Summit shrugged, "They said I needed to start making decisions of my own. Besides, my mother is away serving for the Queen, and my father is on a trip selling his traps across the distant Kingdoms. It's just me right now. The Tavern Keeper can tell them where I am if they come looking for me."

"You never told the Tavern Keeper where you were going," Embryo reminded him.

Summit dropped a beat. "You know, you're right." He hesitated, "Though I'm pretty sure she'll be able to figure it out." He blushed.

Embryo smiled warmly. At least Summit was aware at how completely obvious his crush on her was.

"Is this what your parents meant when they said they wanted you to start making decisions of your own?" Embryo furrowed her brows.

"Hey, I'm seeing the world," Summit replied, "I just have a... cute girl at my side. What about your parents, how would they feel to know I'm at your side?"

"Oh um, well..." Embryo hesitated, "They'd probably want us to be married by now."

Summit jolted back a wingbeat. "Married!? No no no no no no, we are so not ready for that. I mean someday, but... I mean do you like someday? Maybe never, it's up to you- I mean, yeah I like you, but we just met. I can't marry the prettiest girl on the planet the day after we've just met-!"

Embryo laid a wing on his shoulder as they glided through the air.

"It's alright," she said, "I can wait."

Summit relaxed a little and looked into Embryo's friendly eyes. Yeah, they didn't have to worry about all that yet.


So they continued flying, curving along the spines of the Claw of the Clouds Mountains as they made their way South. At night, they would find nice caves to stay in, and Summit would use his firebreath to start a fire. They would sit around it and tell stories as Embryo enjoyed taking in the warmth of every flame as it cracked and shifted, throwing a comforting heat against her body. She would tell Summit stories about great Egg Layers of the past, which Summit would politely listen to (although he clearly felt awkward by it, and wondered why Em didn't have any other types of stories to tell), and then he would tell her a story about the wide reaching history of Pyrrhia, Queens and wars of the past that shaped the face of history. Embryo was awed by how much there was to learn, the world was so much wider out here, so much scope beyond the realm of Egg Laying and Omelets in which she grew up.

After stories, they would curl up on opposite sides of the cave as seemed proper for two recently met friends. But although they were separate in body, they were close in heart.

And by day, they would fly again, taking in all the wonderful views and sights along the way, hunting and fishing together, and drinking from fresh cool mountain streams, just enjoying the feel of the cool water running down her face. After a few days, flying didn't make Embryo's wings ache as much as they did at the start as she began to adjust. Rather than pushing herself, she embraced the feeling of allowing her wings fold and unfold against the ever-shifting weight of the wind, letting it carry her on.

These days were the happiest day Embryo had ever lived.

But even the closest of friends can have the most annoying of quarks at times, Embryo began to notice.


As Embryo grew used to flying alongside Summit, she began to notice something weird about his flight habits. This was confirmed when they approached a narrow pass.

"It doesn't look wide enough for both of us," Embryo told Summit, "We'll have to go through single file."

Embryo had the slight edge, so she'd thought it'd be logical if she'd take it first, but then she noticed Summit trying to pass her.

"Hey, I can take this!" Embryo informed him, "let me go first."

"No, you're good," Summit said awkwardly, "I got this."

As Summit pulled ahead, Embryo couldn't help but pull back in confusion. Was that embarrassment in his face?

They navigated the pass safely, but as they settled down for the night in Embryo couldn't help but feel a little exasperated by Summit, there was something he wasn't telling her. He didn't seem to have a superiority complex, so why did he never let her take the lead.

Finally, she knew she just had to ask.

"Why won't you ever fly behind me?" Embryo demanded.

Summit went still. "Well, uh, you see, I, uh..." Summit swallowed, he knew he had to tell the truth. "Well, you're pretty, and I, uh... But you're too pretty- I mean, all of you is pretty, but..." Summit struggled, trying to sustain the heat of embarrassment running through his body, "You're all pretty, but I want to keep my vision of your prettiness" he gestured to the front part of her body "on this half. Because you're pretty and it doesn't seem right if I..." He couldn't go on, his face was feeling too red, even his scales couldn't hide it. He had to stop.

"So what you're saying," Embryo began hesitantly, "Is that you think all of me is pretty, but certain aspects of that... embarrass you?"

Summit nodded. Embryo couldn't help herself from blushing as well.

Embryo hesitated. "Well... I've flown behind you before."

Summit looked at her. "You mean..."

Now Embryo was the one who felt herself filling with heat, "I mean, I didn't... I thought it was natural to fly in that formation. I never thought anything of it. Or at least I didn't try to. I mean, you were right in front of me, and I had to keep an eye on my flight path, and then there was your tail... Mostly..."

Summit began to moan, trying to suppress the embarrassed tittering in his voice. A second latter Embryo joined him. They both fell into eachother, leaning into one another's weight as they wailed through their humiliated amusement together.

 

BIRDS

Embryo awoke the next morning to find Summit sitting in the mouth of the cave, silent, just watching the birds flittering through the trees, chirping all the while.

"Hello..." Embryo said, coming up next to him, "Doing anything important?"

Summit glanced at her, then went back to watching the birds. "No, not really. I was just thinking about the way you'll often just stand there and take in the environment, and I decided to try it myself. I've always been fascinated with birds, so when I heard them singing this morning, I decided to come out here."

"Really?" Asked Embryo, "I never knew myself to be that inspirational."

Summit just looked at her again, then back away. "You know," he continued, "birds aren't that different than us. I mean our wings are different and they have features and we have wings, but we are also similar. We both fly over the mountains and hunt for pray, swooping down and capturing it and feed it to our young, and stuff..."

"And stuff." Embryo echoed.

"And we... and we... I can't think of it right now, but I'm sure there's much more to it than that." Summit paused, "I just look at the birds, and I don't know, sometimes I feel I can relate, you know. We both fly, we both find freedom in it..."

"We both lay eggs." Embryo murmured, looking at her talons.

Summit looked at her. "I guess. If that's what you want to focus on."

Embryo looked back up at Summit. "I never knew you liked birds so much," she replied, "I mean I knew you hunted them, but birdwatching?"

Summit shrugged, "Faded hobby I guess, sometimes you get distracted by life and forget how much you like something. But I'd know the names of every type of bird in the mountains around our village. I think I can recognize some of the birds down here as well. I used to watch them purely for their beauty, but when my father taught me how to start hunting them, I sort of forgot how much I'd enjoyed it."

"Okay," Embryo replied, "tell me what type of birds these are."

Summit inspected the birds for a moment, considering, then he started pointing them out. "That one is a robin, that one feeding her young over there, I think, is a goldfinch... and I'm pretty sure that one is a... a kinglet?"

"And that one?" Embryo asked, pointing with her talons.

Summit squinted, "I've never seen that one before in my life."

The bird let out an annoying two-note call.

"It's kind of obnoxious," Embryo observed.

"Yeah, that's the one that woke me up." Summit admitted. "I think we are going to start seeing less of the large birds of prey as we begin getting out of the mountains, and more of these small birds as we begin to get out of the mountains."

"We're leaving the mountains?" Embryo asked. She didn't know how to feel. On the one part, she felt excited about the chance to see new types of scenery, but she'd lived in the mountains her whole life, would she feel comfortable being out in the open and not having their comforting cliffs surrounding her?

"I mean, we could go down further South toward Jade Mountain, but sadly, there's not much south of that, and the nearby Rainforest is difficult to navigate without a guide. I was thinking of traveling through the Mud Kingdom, and perhaps eventually reaching the coast. I hear the SeaWing Kingdom can be paradise." Summit paused, "Going West, there's nothing but desert, horrid, sticky desert. Only thing north of that is a freezing tundra which we have no resources to survive."

Embryo thought about it for a moment. "The MudWings don't seem too bad. We should check them out."

Summit nodded.

They sat there and watched the birds a moment longer, listing to the sounds their wing beats as they fluttered from branch to branch, listened to their joyous songs, like all was perfect with the world. Did they never have anxiety about egg laying?

Finally, Summit got to his talons, "We should get going." He said, "Thank you for teaching me how to do that."

"You're welcome. I guess," Embryo answered.

Summit started beating his wings for takeoff. Embryo quickly followed suit.

"Just... don't insist on taking the lead this time," Embryo said, suppressing a snicker.

 

MARKET

As they continued further south, they began to leave the mountains behind them as the landscape began to open up into the gently tree-spotted bluffs and planes bordering onto the swamps and marshes of the MudWing Kingdom.

Embryo took in the air and couldn't believe how different it felt from that in the mountains. While the mountain air was more thin and crisp, the air down here felt closer, and slightly warmer, like its very presence was wrapped around you like a blanket. It didn't feel like home, but it did feel welcoming.

As they flew over some farmland situated between the bluffs, Embryo noticed a patch of land spotted with clusters of tents and bustling with MudWing activity.

"What's that?" Embryo asked pointing.

"Oh, I think that's one of those MudWing markets," Summit answered, getting excited, "I've always wanted to go to one. We should try this one out."

So Embryo and Summit glided their way to where the tents were gathered and came in for a landing.

As they made there way between the tents, bumping through crowded MudWings, Embryo couldn't help but be overcome by all the many new smells the market had to offer. Of course she knew eggs, and those were delicious (of course), but when it came to other stuff, cakes and pies and bakes, Embryo had never known there could be such variety.

As they looked at the many things the MudWings had to sell, from food, to woodwork, to pottery, Summit turned to Embryo. "Now that we're out of the mountains, I suspect it's going to be harder to find caves to rest in at night. I think we may be able to find MudWings willing to take us in if we could trade them something for it. MudWings are the kindest of dragons, so I don't think we'd have to worry to much about anything."

Embryo looked around at the MudWings and could tell Summit was right, they all looked so kind and friendly without the barest hint of malice.

"I think," Summit continued, "If I could bring back a nice catch, I could trade it off, and we should have enough left over for anything we may need."

Embryo looked around. "Anything I could do."

Summit examined the vendors. "You might be able to find someone who needs help with some farm work or something. Why don't you look around while I go hunting?"

With that Summit took off, the idea of being able to trade at a market like this filling him with enthusiasm.

Once he was out of sight, Embryo looked over and noticed a tent set up next to her that was decorated with all assortments of woodcarvings. Embryo stepped up to check it out.

Whoever had made most these things was obviously an expert at their craft, from practical stuff, to animals, to abstract art, they had everything one could think of.

But out of everything there, there was one thing that caught Embryo's eye, a carving of a bird.

Embryo picked it up to examine it, it was so smooth in her talons, any loose slivers shaved away with perfection. The bird was carved so perfectly around the natural coloring of the wood as to match the color shifts in the feathers, it was almost as if this specific piece of wood was meant for this. The craftsdragon had obviously pour a lot of heart into making it. Embryo didn't know what type of bird this was, but she guessed Summit would, and she knew he'd love it. She had to get it for him.

"Excuse me," she asked one of the MudWings tending the tent. "How much would this cost?"

The MudWing looked at the carving and smiled, probably remembering her time crafting it. She named her price, and Embryo told her she'd be back later for it.

Embryo went from tent to tent seeing if anybody needed any work done and would be willing to take them in. Finally, at a tent near the edge of the gathering, she found a MudWing selling some produce.

"Yeah," he said, "Me and my sibs would be willing to have you. Just you and your brother you say?"

"No," Embryo replied, "He's more of a friend."

The MudWing furrowed his brow, "Friend as in boyfriend?"

Embryo blushed, "Well, I'm not sure about that yet, but he is my friend. And he's kind of cute... Anyway, yeah, he's just a friend." Maybe she was going to far.

Embryo knew MudWings weren't really into romantic stuff, so he was obviously having a hard time understanding, but finally he nodded. "Me and my sibs have some land on the other side of the market. You look small enough still, talons not to big. Think you can milk our cows without scaring them?"

Embryo hesitated, even in her village there was cow milking, but she'd never done it herself. "I'll try."

"Good," the MudWing answered, taking out a bucket, "Bring me back a few buckets of this, and retrieve the eggs from the chickens, and bring it here, and we can let you stay in our hut for the night, and I'll throw in a little something extra."

So Embryo made her way back through the market to the MudWing's land on the other side. There, she met one of his sisters, who showed her the way to the cows. Cows were always small compared to dragons, and given that they were always the natural predators, they always ran the risk of startling them. But while Embryo was just beyond of the age of being a dragonet, she was still small, and if she did it right, may be able to avoid scaring it.

"Hello," she said gently, approaching the first one, "It's alright uh..." She checked, "girl, I'm not going to hurt you." Embryo felt a little awkward that she knew how to tell the difference, but then she realized, "But of course you're a girl, I wouldn't be able to milk you if you weren'..." Embryo trailed off, suddenly realizing how self-conscious that fact made her feel.

Fortunately, the cow stayed still and allowed Em to milk her. She wasn't sure if her talons were meant for this kind of work, but they were small, and she was able to make do. Still, she couldn't get rid of that awkward sensation she felt, knowing what she was doing really meant.

After she was done with the cows, and the buckets were full, she brought them back to the MudWing at the tent, and went back to retrieve the eggs from chickens as well, who were also all girls; they wouldn't be able to lay eggs if they weren't...

Embryo paused, furrowing her brows. How was she suddenly just realizing how awkward this all was, how awkward it made her feel?

Embryo felt her face going red. She glanced around at the other MudWings at the market, hoping none of them saw her and wondered why she was acting so embarrassed for no apparent reason.

She ducked behind a tent, her face getting redder and redder. In her village, Egg Laying had been such a part of their lifestyle, she had never truly processed how awkward it was until now. And now it was all coming to her at once. She suppressed a whimper as she shifted her legs self-consciously. She tried to wait it out and let the feelings go away, but they just rushed at her all the faster. She couldn't tell if these feelings made here want to burst out laughing or crawl in a hole and never show her face to the world again, but there were MudWings all around, and she didn't need them asking her what in the three egg yolks (or three moons as dragons around here said for some reason) was going on with her. She just had to get to the farmer and deliver these eggs-

Deliver these eggs? Embryo squealed with self-consciousness inside, throwing her talons over her mouth so no one would hear.

When she finally made it back to the farmer, she was still red in the face. She handed him the eggs, and he handed her the money, then she rushed off to duck behind a rock beyond the edge of the market that must have fallen from a nearby bluff years ago, hiding until it all went away. The farmer didn't say anything, but as he watched her go, he couldn't help but wonder what in the three moons had gotten into her.


Embryo stayed behind the rock until the embarrassment faded. It was all normal, she tried to tell herself it was all normal, that egg laying was something to be proud of, but by now, there was no going back. However heroic and amazing Egg Laying was, Embryo knew there was something embarrassing about it as well. Eggs may provide delicious Omelets and even dragonets, but the whole fact of how it was done was completely and undeniably awkward, and Embryo was part of that group involved.

Finally, she decided it was time to come out. It was starting to get late in the day and she needed to find Summit and tell her she'd found a place. She was still feeling awkward, but it had went down enough (hopefully) for her to function.

As she made her way back into the market, she looked at the payment the MudWing had given her, this should be enough for that bird for Summit.

But when she finally reached the tent, and started looking around, it was nowhere to be found.

"Hey," she asked the craftsdragon, "That bird? Do you still have it?"

"Oh, I'm sorry," the dragon said, looking guilty, "I just sold it." She paused. "We get so many customers coming through here, we sometimes forget who was looking at what. I would have held it for you if I'd remembered. I'm sorry."

The dragon looked so deflated that Embryo couldn't help but feel sorry for her. She put so much heart into all her work that she must be overjoyed when somebody came along and loved it as much as she did, and it must be heartbreaking to realize that there wasn't always enough to go around. She'd seen the same kind of dedication and passion from many of the dragons in her village, so proud with every egg they could provide, so sad when they ran out without everyone trying...

But the thoughts of eggs was making Embryo feel self-conscious again, the same kind of self-consciousness that left her hiding behind the rock rather than getting Summit the special gift she'd wanted to give him. These were the things that OmeletWings valued, so shouldn't these be the things she value as well?

Finally, Embryo sighed. "It's alright, thank you anyway."

And with that, Embryo left the shop to go find Summit.

When she found him, Summit had set up shop in his own spot. He didn't have a tent or a stand or anything, but he'd caught a good catch, and the MudWings gathered were more than willing to buy.

"Summit," Embryo said, unable to hide the sadness from her voice, "I found us a place, and I managed to get a little extra money as well."

Summit looked at her, "Em, are you okay?"

She shrugged, "Yeah, just tired."

She told him the way to the MudWing hut, and he gathered up the remained of his catch to follow her.


As the Sun set in the horizon, Embryo and Summit sat in the doorway of the MudWing hut looking over the fields and bluffs in the distance. Embryo took in the air, it really was so different than the mountains, but at the same time so welcoming. While the MudWing sibs gathered together at the back of the hut, Embryo knew it was going to be awkward, humiliating even, but she figured now was the best time to tell Summit what was on her mind.

"Have you realized that non-meat food products always seem to come from females." Embryo asked, "Eggs, milk, I heard somewhere that even fruit is derived from the female equivalent of a plant."

Summit pondered this. "No, to be honest, it's never occurred to me like that." Summit braced himself, feeling this was going to be another of those really awkward conversations.

"It's just, I don't know how to feel about that. It's like we're some sort of food processors. Does it mark me as special, or does it mean my body just doesn't know what to do with itself, it can't help but give off girl stuff for others to consume?" Embryo was really red now. Why was she sharing this with him? She trusted all right, but these were girl questions, and he was a guy, a very cute guy, and she was- Oh, how she so wanted to bury herself in that hole about now. She didn't even want to know how awkward this was making him feel.

Summit was still trying to process her words. "Wow, that's..." Summit didn't know how to respond, "That's kind of a sad view to have of yourself." Of course, he'd never thought of this before, but now that he was, it was taking his crush for Embryo to a whole nother level. That was not something he needed right now.

"Well, it is the truth, isn't it?" She knew the answer, she just needed to know what Summit thought.

Summit was at a loss for words.

Embryo sighed, as awkward as this was to talk about, she was glad it was with Summit. That made her blush again. "Why are girls so weird?"

Summit hesitated. He'd need to let Embryo know how he felt without making this any more awkward than it already was. "I'm not sure how to answer that." He replied carefully. Pause. "But I do know I like you..." His red face was going red again, he needed to get back on track. "And for more than just that. You're my friend." He shifted uncomfortably, hopefully this would take both their minds off the subject. "At the market today, I saw something, so I decided to get it for you." He took out a small bundle of something, wrapped in cloth and handed it to her. Embryo, surprised, and grateful for the change in conversation, took it, letting the distraction wash her embarrassment away.

In her talons, she carefully unwrapped it, and underneath the cloth was the very same bird carving she had been wanting to get for him.

"She's a peregrine," Summit said, "she reminded me of you, you know. She's beautiful, she's determined... well actually, I don't really know if peregrines are determined, but..." Summit no longer knew where he was going with this. "Point is, she made me think of you, so I decided to get her for you."

Embryo started to tear up, "Oh Summit, I was going to get this for you."

Summit paused. "You... were?"

Embryo nodded, "Now what am I going to get you?"

Summit shrugged, "Don't worry about it, I don't need anything."

"But I want to get you something though," Embryo replied. "I don't know what it is yet, but I'm going to get you something nice."

The awkward moment was now fully in the past. Now as Embryo imagined making Summit happy when she finally found him that special something, a smile came to her face.

 

GROWING

"Summit?" Embryo said the next morning after they had given the MudWings their thanks, before setting out again. She expected to feel herself blushing again, thinking about it, how her feminine Egg Laying self was so out of place in the contrast of Summit's male non-Egg Laying self, but strangely she didn't. Maybe she was starting to get used to sharing these kinds of things with Summit, that they were starting to feel less embarrassing than they used to. "About our conversation last night..." she said, turning her mind back to the subject she wanted to speak about, "Thanks for understanding."

"Well, I, uh, try." Summit was honored that she felt he could trust him with these awkward conversations, he just hoped with his overwhelming crush and everything, he was handling it all respectfully. "You deserve to be looked at as more than just someone whose very presence rises up this kind of crush in me. I know I can't control how I feel, but I worry it's not fair of me to see you that way."

Embryo gave him a light side bump. "I think it's cute that you have a crush on me, though still a little awkward at times. Like you said, you try, and at least if you do have feelings about me that are kind of awkward," she blushed, "at least you're polite about it."

Embryo was glad that her and Summit could now trust eachother with these conversations, but somewhere inside, she felt a sort of sad emptiness where her embarrassment had once been. It'd actually been kind of funny her and Summit's awkwardness around eachother, she just now realized.

She shook her head. Surely trust was better than awkward amusement any day.


As they took off again, things started out pretty normally. But as they flew East over the MudWing Kingdom, bluffs and farmland turning into marshland and swamps, Embryo started to feel the emptiness inside from earlier being replaced by a new sensation.

Embryo found herself filling with some sort of amusement, and from time to time, found herself laughing to herself.

"What's so funny," Summit asked eventually, confused.

"Nothing," Embryo replied. And thinking about it to herself, she couldn't quite place what had amused her either.

As they landed in the swamp for lunch, Embryo could feel that "something" increasing. She knew somewhere in the back of her mind she was taking in all the atmospheric qualities of this new place, how the sticky humid air closed in around them, the annoying mosquitos swarming around them, trying to eat through their scales but failing miserably, and all the new swamp smells and such, but she couldn't help but be distracted by all the new feelings swirling inside her, by Summit, how handsome he was, how good he looked with every step he took.

"You're hot," she told him, "And not just because it's humid. Must be because you're a SkyWing. You know, because SkyWings breath fire." She giggled to herself at her joke.

"Okay..." Summit replied, not sure how to respond. Him and Embryo may have been beginning to adjust to their awkward feelings around eachother, but this... was a little awkward.

After a lunch of crocodile, they took back off again, but now, the whole flight, Summit kept hearing Embryo giggling to herself as she flew along beside him.

"Are you okay?" Summit finally asked.

"Of course, why wouldn't I be?" Embryo replied, before giving off another giggle.

That Evening, they found another MudWing group of sibs that was willing to take them in. As they made themselves comfortable in the hut, they noticed the MudWings were moving about, like they were getting ready to head out.

"We're going to the monthly MudWing gathering," the bigwings informed them, "You're welcome to come with us if you want to."

"No, uh, I think we're good," Summit replied awkwardly.

"Why don't we," Embryo said, stepping up to him flirtatiously, so her snout was close to his, "we might like it."

"Seriously Em," Summit answered, gently nudging her away with his talons. As strong as his crush on her was, this was getting to be too much, "Are you okay? You're not acting like yourself."

Suddenly, Embryo snapped, "What makes you think I'm not okay?! Of course I'm okay! Just because I suggest trying new things doesn't mean I'm not okay!"

Summit stood staring at her in shock. The MudWing sibs exchanged awkward glances knowingly. Suddenly, Embryo shrunk back inside herself, realizing how "off" she sounded, her old self once again returning.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I don't know what's come over me, of course we shouldn't go. I'm sorry Summit."

With that, she retreated to her place to rest.


Embryo's emotions only got more unstable over the period of the next few days as they made their way toward the East Coast of Pyrrhia. There'd be wild giggling one moment, followed by angry outbursts the next. Summit tried not to imagine what thoughts Embryo must be thinking about him to make her giggle like that. With how Embryo was acting lately, he guessed his embarrassment levels probably wouldn't be able to take it. He was going to have to be careful not to take the lead anytime soon.

Now aware of her mood swings, Embryo would keep apologizing for them, sometimes in fits of tears and humiliation, which kind of was a mood swing in and of itself, which only made Embryo feel more guilty.

"I'm sorry!" She'd wail, "I don't want to be this way, but I am! You don't deserve me as a traveling companion." And Summit could only try to sooth her, and tell her it was all okay.

Another time as they were flying, "Imagine how terrifying it must be to wait upon an egg," she giggled, "knowing you're about to go through the most excruciating pain imaginable, and have to go through it anyway, only to instantly forget about it later when you've made it into a delicious Omelet." Suddenly, her eyes filled with anxiety, "that's not going to happen to me soon, right? I can't imagine the stress of knowing that was about to happen to me. I don't think I'm ready for that kind of stress."

Then later that night, "I can't believe I laughed at the pain other Egg Layers face earlier today," Embryo cried, "how insensitive of me. Is that what I'm really like?"

Only to burst out giggling the next day, "Egg Layers," anyway. "How embarrassing."

Summit tried not to get too annoyed, and instead felt a little bad for her. It must be hard having all these extreme feelings inside and not knowing what to do with them. Summit tried to think of a time when he might have been in a similar situation, but he couldn't recall any.

"It's because I'm a girl, isn't it," Embryo finally said one night, remembering how dragons in her village would sometimes act, "I'm a girl, so now I'm doomed to be a moody and emotionally unstable mess." It didn't matter how she felt anymore sharing these kinds of conversations with Summit, she didn't even know how she felt anymore. Probably everything.

Summit thought about it. He had heard rumors of instances where girls would sometimes have periods of extreme emotional mood swings for a certain length of time or something, but he'd never actually paid attention, his natural tendency to blush just at hearing anything female related didn't need that kind of encouraging. But now with what was happening with Em, perhaps this knowledge could be useful. "You know, I think this might be normal."

"Of course it is," Embryo pouted, "Girls get all the weird stuff. First we lay eggs, then we make milk and fruit, and now this."

How did the world function if girls did this all the time? Maybe they learned to suppress themselves. Summit actually felt bad, nobody should have to bottle such emotion all the time, how could one handle it. Maybe Embryo was just experiencing it harder than most being her first time and all. Or maybe dragons just didn't go through this that often. Summit looked for something encouraging to say. "Being a girl can't be all that bad can it? I mean, look at all the places you've been. You flew over towering mountains, visited swamps, ate crocodile, befriended lots of interesting dragons... You've done lots of cool stuff."

"Yeah, well, you don't need to be a girl to do that stuff. You're proof of that."

"But being a girl didn't stop you did it?"

Embryo stopped, turning to look at Summit's sincere expression.

"Yeah, well guys can do all that stuff, and they don't have to deal with these problems like me."

Summit sighed. He really didn't want to go here, but he figured he had no better option. "Guys don't have it all perfect either," he started, he could feel himself going red just knowing what he was going to say, "Accidentally hit me in the wrong spot, and I go down in an instant. You don't have to worry about that."

Suddenly Embryo's eyes lit up. Great, he'd just triggered her giggly side, not the side of her he was intending to encourage. "Ooh, can we try it?"

Summit shifted his talons, "Uh, let's not."

Embryo tried to suppress the emotions once again, "Yeah, I know, sorry."

But it was too late. He'd just put the most embarrassing thought one could think about himself into both of their heads. But as much as that made him want to hide his face for the rest of eternity, Embryo finding that funny somehow made her seem all the more cute to him. Oh, why were crush emotions so complicated?

And as much as Embryo tried to bury the thought, she couldn't get the humor of the idea out of her head. The thought would probably run through her head again and again for the rest of the night. And into tomorrow. Eggs, she'd probably remember it for the rest of her life.

And she wasn't the only one, Summit probably would too. And what was worse, he almost found that image of him being dropped by something so embarrassing kind of funny too.

Wow! Thought their hosts, who couldn't help eavesdropping. It was a good thing MudWings never had to deal with romantic problems.

Embryo watched Summit sitting there uncomfortably. Maybe there were some benefits to being a girl.

Still...

"At least you don't have to lay eggs."

Summit sighed. He guessed there wasn't much more encouragement he could give. "Maybe some rest will help."

Feeling tired, Embryo rubbed her talons along her head hard. She was really out of whack right now.


The next morning, all Embryo's excess emotions were mysteriously gone, with the wind, like they'd never been there at all.

But with their absence, a whole new feeling had come over Embryo. Exhaustion.

As Embryo tried to pull herself out of her bed, she felt all her muscles within her feeling droopy. Her eyelids felt heavy, like they kept wanting to slide back down, her talons felt like they had weights attached to the bottom of them with chains. She tried to pull herself up to join Summit at the doorway of the MudWing hut where he was waiting for her as usual, watching birds, but she couldn't.

"Summit," she called groggily, "I can't get up."

Summit looked back, startled by her voice.

"Em, are you okay?" There it was again, but this time, Embryo felt no irritation, she was just drained.

"Just help me get up."

Summit came up by her side, and let her lean on him as she got to her talons. She yawned. "Why am I so sleepy?" She drawled.

Summit felt a little concerned, but she didn't seem sick, just tired. "Let's just get moving, you'll wake up as we go," Summit assured her.

But as they took off through the air, with every wingbeat she felt as if she was being weighed down. She flew the whole morning just like in a daze, just one beat after another, so tiring.

They didn't make it that far that day. Summit decided to call it a day before Embryo fell out of the sky.

As Embryo laid down in their guest MudWing's hut, she rolled onto her side yawning, "What is wrong with me?"

Summit had no answers. Maybe she just needed rest.

They didn't make it that far the next day, or the day after that. Even though Embryo was able to get a good night's rest, and ease her fatigue a little bit, there still felt like there was a constant weight inside her, growing each day.

"I'm sorry," Embryo apologized to Summit again one evening, "I'm slowing you down, you wanted to be at the coast by now and I'm holding you back."

"Take it easy," Summit said, "We can reach the coast when we get there."

"It's because I'm a girl, isn't it," Embryo said, "Girls aren't cut out for heavy long distance flying like guys. I'm lazy and weak because I'm a girl. We're supposed to be good for Omelets and stuff."

Summit looked at her, baffled. "You flew here all the way from the Claw of the Cloud Mountains. That's not lazy and weak."

"Well I did," Embryo replied, "And then my girliness caught up with me and made me weak."

Summit sighed, "Just rest, we're not far from the coast now anyway, I don't mind taking a few more days."

The next day, Summit suggested they rest, their MudWing hosts didn't seem to mind if they stayed another night, but Embryo insisted on flying. She didn't want to be any more of a burden to Summit, but she couldn't make it that far that day either.

But finally, though taking more stops than planned, they finally made it to the coast.

Embryo, still in her exhausted daze, landed on the beach the sand suddenly shifting as her weight slid onto it, her wings furling onto her back. She kneaded at the sand gently, letting the feeling of it passing through her talons sooth her. She took in the ocean air, breathing deep, long breaths, letting it rejuvenate her, salty but open, like it went on forever. Embryo sighed, opening her eyes, feeling a bit refreshed.

"Look over there" said Summit, pointing with his talons, "The Bay of a Thousand Scales, see those islands over there? I hear they're covered with lots of beautiful plants and birds and stuff."

Embryo followed the direction of his talon with her gaze, trying to focus on what he was pointing at. She could just begin to make out the islands he was referring to, spotted in the endless ocean. But focusing was such hard work. She tried harder, narrowing her gaze. Yeah, she could sort of see-

And then she fainted.


She came to a few hours later in a cave Summit had found along the coast. It was dry and not damp as one would expect coastal caves to be. Summit must have chosen one high enough to avoid high tide, which considering they had three moons could be interesting. Summit was standing by her, tending a fire, watching her with concern.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Summit asked yet again.

Embryo rested her head back down. "I don't know what's wrong with me," Embryo said, her eyes beginning to tear up, "first I act all crazy, and now I can't even keep my eyes open anymore to do anything. It really is because I'm a girl, isn't it?"

Summit didn't know how to comfort her any more than he already had. "I don't know. I just... don't know," he answered, bowing his head.

"It's just, there's just so much going on in me. I feel so much anxiety and so much discomfort in the pit of my stomach, and I can't help but think it's because I'm a girl, a weak Omelet producing girl."

At her words, Summit suddenly went still. "Pit of your stomach?" he asked. He didn't know a whole lot about girls before Embryo, but he began to think that maybe he knew what might be going on. "Em, do you mind if I look at you?"

Embryo looked at him, "Aren't you already looking at me?"

Summit blushed, "I mean feel around. Uh, your stomach and stuf- I mean, not "and stuff", just your stomach. Like a doctor. Not because I know anything about doctors or anything - which I guess would be pretty bad if I was operating or someth- but I'm not operating, I'm just feeling around. Because... I have a thought. And stuff."

Embryo sighed with resignation. She almost wished she could feel amusement by Summit's antics right now, but she just didn't have the energy. "I don't see why not."

Summit stepped up to Embryo and gently placed his talons on her belly. Embryo flinched at the feel of their touch, why do I feel so sore? And they were also unexpectedly cold. But as Summit began moving his talons calmly along her stomach, she began to ease into it. It was a little awkward of course, but what else was new?

As Summit felt around Embryo's belly, Embryo took out the carved Peregrine Summit had gotten her earlier. She stroked its smooth edges, feeling the beauty of the work that was put into it.

"It's just... I came out here into the world hoping I could be something more, hoping to discover that I could be more than my village expected a girl like me to be. And I did. I flew halfway across the continent, and saw wonderful things. But now..." Embryo sighed, "here I am, just so tired and useless, no more than I started, and... Have I really become more than just an OmeletWing?"

As she talked, Summit continued to feel around, being as gentle as possible. At first, he wasn't sure what he was looking for...

And then he felt it.

Summit's head went up and he looked into Embryo's eyes gravely.

And then he delivered those words that made her heart catch in her throat.

"Em, I think you're with egg."

 

WAITING

Screaming rang through Embryo's ears, the screams of everyone in her village who had ever laid an egg echoing into the present. Screams of pure torture and angst, screams of dragons who could not bear another moment of their own existence. No matter how proud they had been when it was over, no matter how many they laid, not one had ever managed to keep it together while it was happening. When faced with Egg Laying, even the strongest of dragons were unable to avoid succumbing to fits of horrific screaming. And Embryo was next, not only far from the strongest, but also the most sensitive of her kind.

"Em? Embryo, are you okay?" Summit was calling to her. After Summit had broke the news, Embryo appeared to have dropped off into a fog of horrific memories, and Summit couldn't help but feel worried. He had known Embryo had had some reserves to egg laying, but faced with it now, he saw that those reserves went much deeper than he'd originally suspected.

Embryo tried to turn her attention to Summit, but she was still wrapped up in her memories. Her eyes still staring blankly, her chest began to heave with heavy breaths. After the initial shock, panic was beginning to set in.

"How can this be happening?" she gasped, "I didn't do anything to have an egg, did I?" She looked at Summit. "This isn't your egg, isn't it?"

Summit took a step back, "Of course not. You know we've only been..."

"I know," Embryo panted, "Just how then...?"

Embryo kept panting.

"Okay, calm down," Summit soothed, "It's going to be okay. You're not the first dragon to ever bear an egg without a father. It's completely normal."

"Okay!?" Embryo burst, "Have you ever heard a dragon laying an egg before? The way she screams? The way she basically begs for mercy rather than just being able to see it through?"

Summit stopped. Was it really that bad? He knew it wasn't the easiest task, but... Was it really that bad? "No," he admitted, "I haven't." He looked away, feeling a deep shame opening up in him. He'd always thought of egg laying as normal. As a male, he'd never considered it anything he needed to concern himself with but he'd always just figured, it just happened. Had he really just been unwittingly closing himself off from a secret world of suffering that half of all dragons inevitably faced, and just passed it off as normal?

Embryo closed her eyes, trying to make herself calm down. Finally, she opened them and looked at Summit. "Sorry, I just wasn't ready for this. I just wanted to leave my village and see if there was more to life than just Egg Laying, and now..." Her voice cracked. "I'm sorry, I'm not even having mood swings right now and I'm still acting like this."

Embryo paused. It now made sense now, why Embryo had been acting funny these past few days. Her natural instincts had been trying to get her partnered up in preparation for the coming egg so it wouldn't be left infertile. Summit had been there all along to father the egg, but their relationship wasn't yet to the point where they were ready to partner for life. And now it was too late, the egg was already beginning to take shape. The only purpose it'd be good for? A simple Omelet, highlight of a true OmeletWing.

She looked at Summit, suddenly realizing how awkward this once again was. She'd been pretty open with him at how awkward it was that girl bodies just so happened to be such great natural food producers, but it was quite different acknowledging such an embarrassing fact about one's own gender as opposed to the fact that she, sitting here with egg right now, was now specifically one of those food producing bodies herself. She crossed her legs, trying to avoid imagine how the egg would come into the world. Her face went red. Surely Summit must have some idea about that aspect as well. How could this be her body? The only body she had, now set for unimaginable pain, already set for humiliation.

Embryo thought back to the other dragons of her village and started calculating on her talons. "It takes about one week for the egg to form," Embryo said to herself, "I've been tired for about five days. That means..." Embryo's breath caught in her throat, "I have till the day after tomorrow."

The day after tomorrow until she was no more, until she was ruthlessly murdered by the agony that was egg laying, the Embryo who came out of it being a completely new dragon, one who'd actually know what it was to bear such pain, the old Embryo, the one she was now, gone forever.

Summit looked at her pale face, she wasn't taking this well, "Em, are you okay?"

Embryo shook her head again. "Of course I am," she tried to convince herself, "This is normal stuff for a girl. It's the way girls are, right? To lay eggs whether they want to or not, to suffer all that pain, and be glad over the Omelet left behind. And here I thought I could get away from all that. Of course I couldn't because that's the way girls are, right? Just egg loving Egg Layers. Girl. Imagine being one. What a joke, right?" Embryo wiped a talon across her head, feeling herself getting worked up.

The thought suddenly came to Summit, he'd always just taken things as they were, he'd never thought of wondering if they could be different. "Do you not want to be a girl." He asked.

Embryo sighed, letting her emotions calm. "I don't mind being a girl, I just don't know if I want to be an Egg Layer." She turned back toward her resting spot. "But it appears the two are inseparable."

Summit looked at her. "I don't know. You said you had two days right. Maybe you should just rest right now and we'll figure this out tomorrow." Summit shifted his talons. He was helping her right, right? He'd never dealt with girls dealing with these things. Oh, he was blushing now. What if he did something wrong? Why did girls do weird things like lay eggs? Not like there was anything wrong with that, just why did reality have to be so weird? Why did everything weird about girls have to amplify his crush by a million? Why did girls have to be so cute and weird at the same time? Especially Embryo. (It'd probably be nice for her to be able to take a breath for once without the risk of sending his crush levels through the roof. In other words, guys and girls really needed to stop having differences that made the other blush.)

Embryo sighed, trying not to think what inner monologue Summit must be having right now to be blushing like that. Of course, rest, that's what she needed. It was all she was good for anyway right now. Embryo's heart dropped. She'd quite enjoyed seeing the world with Summit, Summit had been so looking forward to visiting the Bay of a Thousand Scales. Now, by the next time she'd be able to travel as she'd once had, she'd first have to endure unspeakable agony for with she couldn't even imagine.

She shook her head, moving back over to her spot to lay down, trying to take deep calming breaths, just focusing on the rhythm of her chest, the air coming in and out of her lungs, tinged with the scent of sea salt and stale sand carried from the Ocean, finding its way slowly into the cave. That was soothing. Summit was right, no use worrying over something that was going to happen anyway. This happened all the time, it was natural, right? None of the other OmeletWings ever had this much anxiety over it, surely she was overreacting. But even still, as she drifted off to sleep, the anxiety inside her continued to gnaw at the pit of her stomach.


Embryo awoke with a gasp to a deep pang inside her. Her talons went to her stomach to feel around and see what the problem was, but it was gone now, only a distant memory, faded like the dreams it had ended.

Embryo looked around the dark cave trying to remember where she was. And then it came back to her. She was with egg. She was with egg... because she was a girl. Embryo's head spun. She was a girl. She was a girl and all her girliness was about to be put on display because she was an Egg Layer.

She looked over to where Summit was sleeping peacefully, his stomach rising and falling in the gentle rhythm of sleep. She blushed as she realized how much of her girliness Summit already knew about her, how much he would know by the time this was over, things he'd never go through himself, but would still see her go through. It felt weird knowing that their differences made her vulnerable in way that he wasn't and still she was essentially sharing those vulnerabilities with him. It felt awkward to see herself that way, but at this point, it didn't matter, she just needed to get through it and be done.

She stood up and walked to the cave entrance. Sitting down, she just stayed there awhile, breathing in the Ocean air, listening to the sound of the waves washing upon the starlit beach, just being. This was the Universe, just things happening. Things shift and move all the time, it was natural, she just wondered what that shifting and moving must feel like when happening to an experiencing being like herself. Like the water separating as it hit the beach, so her body would do whatever was natural when it came time to lay the egg. The only difference was that while the ocean just happened as it happened, her body would actually feel those changes within her, and she feared it would not be as calming of an experience as waves hitting the beach. An avalanche wouldn't stop to ask what it was impacting as it ripped and tore through everything in its path. It couldn't, it was gravity, the laws of nature, why should her egg be any different when it happened to her.

It was weird to think about. Egg Laying to her was always an unfathomable third-person experience. As much as her life had tried to tell her this was inevitable, she just could never comprehend that she could actually face this unfathomable experience first hand as everyone else in her village was convinced she would. Right now she felt akin to Summit who would never face such things. But soon it would no longer be like that, as Embryo would have experienced the unfathomable, and Summit would remain at the place Embryo was now, never able to comprehend the unfathomable as reality.

She took a deep breath. It was a nice night. Too bad she couldn't leave her story here. But she knew that right now, all this niceness was just a pause, a break in her journey leading up to that which was unbearable. Right now she was feeling okay, she could tolerate her own existence, later when the laying was done, she would once again be okay with herself as all the pain faded into the past, only a distant memory. But between these two points, there would be a time of certain excruciating agony for which she knew she wouldn't be able to bear. If only she could skip beyond that time to the point where it was over, then she knew she'd be okay. But looking down at her talons, she could do nothing but accept that her existence was firmly rooted in the present, that though there would be a time when the egg laying incident was no more, she would actually have to go through it first before that could be the case.

Suddenly, a yawn rose within her. She realized it was probably getting time for her to get back to sleep. Turning to go back into the cave, she took one last look back at the ocean knowing that she didn't have many more times to enjoy it as herself before she was changed by the unspeakable pain of Egg Laying.


The next day, Embryo's anxiety only got worse, she knew she was going to lay this egg now, there was no way out of it, but she could only imagine what it'd actually be like. She had some idea what her reaction would be considering that of all those in her village, which wasn't too pretty, but she could only imagine what the pain must feel like to raise that same kind of reaction in her, to know that it was normal, to know that it'd all be alright in the end, yet still succumb to that same kind of screaming in the end anyway.

She tried to calm herself by telling herself it was alright, that it's all be over eventually, that other dragons had experienced the same and still made it out fine, maybe even other dragons just as sensitive as her. But she couldn't help but realize that no matter how fine they were in the end, how excited they were to create their own Omelets, there was always a lot of screaming between Point A and Point B.

Embryo once again found herself wishing she could just skip to the end of this whole thing.

As Summit was out catching fish for them to share, Embryo sat down and started feeling along her stomach. She began moving her talons down, trying to imagine the path the egg would take through her. Would there be enough room? Embryo flinched at her own touch, her body felt so sore, there was just too much muscle and body mass already there, how would there be enough room for the egg to pass through her without bursting and tearing through all that. Embryo winced. And if this felt so sore her just feeling from the outside, she couldn't imagine how it'd feel when it all happened on the inside.

Summit entered the cave bringing with him a decent load of fish. He saw Embryo feeling herself, and stepped back awkwardly. Embryo realized how embarrassing this may have looked, but considering that she had essentially become afflicted with this condition on no other account than by her simply being a girl, she didn't know if there was much more that could make her any more self-conscious in her own body than she already was.

"Sorry," she apologized to Summit, knowing he probably hadn't reached the same point as she had of already-too-embarrassed-with-myself-to-care-about-the-small-details-anymore, "I.. just don't know if the egg can fit through me. I'm trying to imagine it..." Embryo cringed, "but I just don't feel there is enough space in my body for it to fit through."

Summit sat next to her not sure what to say. "It's been done by many dragons before. I don't think it matters if it seems possible, it will find a way to work out either way."

"That's what worries me," Embryo said, looking at him, eyes large with worry, "If it doesn't fit naturally, then think of all the muscles and everything it'll have to reshape and tear through in order to force itself out of me. All that stuff I have to actually feel!" Embryo was beginning to panic. "The egg can mutilate my insides however it needs to to get out, and all I can do is feel it's impact!"

Summit was speechless, gaping at the horrific thought. Embryo was panting, trying to catch her breath. Slowly it evened, beginning to calm down. She looked at Summit. "Sorry, I just sort of panicked there for a moment."

Summit looked at Embryo, "Are you sure you're ready for this?"

"Well, it's not like I exactly have a choice," Embryo sighed, "Besides, it's just pain. What more is pain than not being able to stand existing in your own body, but existing in it anyway?"

Summit hesitated. "Em, I'm not sure I like this," he told her.

"Well you're lucky that you're not sure. I am sure I don't like this and I have to go through it anyway."

They fell into silence.

As they sat down to eat, Embryo continued to think about the whole situation, the egg, how small her whole body felt compared to it. There was no way it was going to fit through her easily.

And then she felt herself cracking up. Summit looked at her surprised.

"Em? What's so funny" Summit asked.

"It's just... Just, imagine... being a girl," she started, amused, "and knowing that you're about to endure a pain beyond the limits of what any dragon can take, and you're extremely hypersensitive and you know every ounce of pain you feel will be realized to its fullest extent. And... and every part of you wants to do whatever it can to avoid it, but the next day, there you are writhing and screaming in pain and humiliation in that same sort of pain that no dragon should have to take anyway. And it's all because you're a girl, a weird girl, because that's just how your weird body functions!"

Embryo was bursting out laughing hysterically by this point.

But then that the laughing began to turn into tears. Embryo breaths started coming in heavy gasps, as she began to cry, all sense of humor fading from her being. "I don't want to be in a pain that no dragon can be able to bear," she cried.

Summit's heart broke for her. Moving next to her, he let her lean into him and cry. He patted her back with his talons. "It's okay Embryo, calm down, it's all going to be okay," he soothed.

In an instant, she pulled out of his grasp, her eyes flaring. "Okay?" Embryo burst out suddenly "Of course it's okay! Do you know what it's like to wake up every morning to the screams of another dragon in unimaginable agony, and knowing that your only purpose in life is to eventually suffer the same, just so everybody around you can enjoy Breakfast? Of course you wouldn't! Because you're not a girl, your life is easy. Here I am to take on something no one should have to face, and I'm expected to just deal with it because I'm a girl! Well I won't, I won't be calm, I won't just take it and pretend everything's alright! Why don't you carry an egg you never asked for, have to sit here waiting to suffer beyond all imagining, and then you tell me it's all okay! But of course you won't, because you're a boy, you get to live comfortably in your non-Egg Laying body." Embryo began to break down, "You will never have to lay eggs! That is my suffering and my suffering alone! So don't you think you could ever understand me."

Summit bowed his head, shocked by the outburst, regret filling him. "You're right, I don't understand, I'll never understand. But I want to. I want to be here for you."

"You want to understand, but you'd never want to actually experience it."

At these words, Summit knew there was nothing more to say. He just bowed his head. "I'm sorry."

Embryo looked at him, her emotions calming. "You're right, I can't blame you for not understanding, it's not your fault you'll never have to go through something like this. It's just, I didn't want to go through it either, I left my village to see if I could be more, and here I am again, right back to what I was trying to avoid. All because I'm just a stupid Egg Laying girl." Tears began to fill her eyes.

Summit cautiously moved back to sit down at her side again. "Em. Being a girl doesn't make you 'just a stupid Egg Layer'. You are so much more than that."

Embryo took a deep breath to calm herself, tears rolling freely from her eyes, her voice cracking. "I know. I just wish I could be a girl without having to be embarrassed or afraid of what it means to be me."

Summit looked at her. Gently, he leaned his head over into her, twining his tail with hers. She leaned into him as well, trembling with emotion, letting the tears flow.


The rest of the day, Embryo had very little left to say, just anxiety and regret over her predicament.

As they were getting ready to go to sleep for the night, Embryo looked at her stomach, then at Summit. "At least I'm sort of attractive with egg and all, right? What do you think? How do you feel seeing me with egg?"

Summit looked away. "I don't know Em. I mean, you're pretty Em, I'll always think you're pretty, and I do like slightly plump," he winced at his words, blushing. Okay, time to move on, "but mostly, I just want you to be okay. And by the sound of how you're handling this, I don't know if you are."

"But at least I'm pretty, right?"

"I guess."

Embryo sighed. "Well, at least I still got something going for me."

Embryo didn't really know if that made her feel any better, but maybe she should just accept it, that maybe her sole purpose in life was just to lay eggs and be pretty. And since she knew that she wasn't thrilled about laying eggs, perhaps she should just focus on her beauty. It felt kind of awkward that her main purpose in life was to have her presence give guys a mega crush on her, but at least it was better than nothing, right? At least Summit had tried to be modest and respectful with her when it came to his crush. Besides, she kind of had a crush on herself, so it was alright, right? Somehow, none of that satisfied her, but she tried to put the thoughts out of her head.

As she curled up to go to sleep, Summit looked over at her, concerned for her emotional wellbeing.


Embryo awoke in a panic, gasping for breath, scrambling to find her surroundings. It was the middle of the night and all was calm. Embryo reached to feel her stomach. Nothing. The egg still wasn't ready to come.

Embryo began pacing the cave, trying to catch her breath. Stopping, she seethed her claws through the cave floor trying to get her head in the right place, feeling the dust and sand shifting in her talons. "I'm a girl, I'm an OmeletWing, I love Egg Laying, I love eggs." She paused, realizing, "I do like eggs." Pause. "See, this is for something good, something you love. You just need to make a small sacrifice, all Egg Layers make this sacrifice, it's normal, you're normal..." She felt her stomach, it was starting to feel overly bloated. "So why am I so anxious about it?"

Summit awoke to the sound of her franticing. He watched her as she exited the cave.

Slowly, he got up and followed her. Finding her sitting out on the edge of the beach, he sat down to join her.

"Having a hard time sleeping, huh?" He asked.

Embryo sighed. "Yes. I don't want to go through this, but I know I have to." She breathed in a deep, shuttering breath, "But I have to," she said again.

There was silence for a moment. Summit didn't really want to go into the subject, but he knew he had to address it.

"Em, when this all starts..." Summit hesitated, "I could stay with you... Or I... maybe I should go?"

Embryo looked off into space, as if in a daze, "You could go. Come back when it's all over. All the pain and suffering I go through, for you it'll be like it never happened. That'd be nice."

"That's not what I meant," Summit rushed to get back to the point, "I meant, you know, I'm a guy, and this is..." he hesitated, going red, "very, uh, not guy-ey stuff right now. And you're a girl, and you might not feel comfortable... being made so vulnerable in front of... and it's just very... personal and not... I'm just not sure if it's proper for me to, uh, see you like that, with uh, how it's all done and all." Summit flinched at the implications of his words.

Embryo looked at him. "At this point, I don't really think there is much more discomfort with my own existence I can have than I already feel now. You can go if you don't feel comfortable seeing me... doing what Egg Layers do... But if you could..." her voice cracked, "I don't want to be alone. I want to be with you."

Summit looked at her and nodded, fighting back the embarrassment of the implications of he had just agreed to, trying to focus only on the necessity of the situation. "I'll be here for you."

Summit let her lean against him, twining his tail once again with hers. In such a short time, he had grown much closer to her than he had ever dared to hope. Now he was about to be brought closer still, to stand at her side as she experienced something more personal than he even felt ready for, closer to a girl than he imagined himself being, dealing with scenarios only a girl could deal with. It was awkward, almost unnatural. But at this point, he knew wasn't doing this for himself. Embryo needed him, and he'd be there for her, even if all his instincts were telling him their relationship wasn't far enough along for this. He'd do it because Embryo needed him.


Sunlight was shining into the cave, Summit was standing next to her, gently nudging her. "Em, it's morning."

Em stirred, moaning slightly as she opened her eyes. Her talons slowly went over her stomach, and then the realization hit her.

Today was the day. She knew that the two days was just an estimation on her part, but somehow she just knew, she could feel it, somewhere deep inside her. The next time they went to bed, Embryo of the OmeletWings would have laid an egg.

 

LAYING

After her and Summit had breakfast, Embryo figured there was not much to be done for the rest of the day but just wait. She didn't know what time her egg would come, but until then, what else could she do?

She wasn't sure that waiting around doing nothing was how she wanted to spend her last few hours as herself not yet disillusioned to the reality of what a dragon could experience, but she was still in her state of fatigue, and she couldn't find it in her to do much. They always said not to swim on a full stomach, and her stomach was very, very full. The thought didn't help, if she couldn't even find the energy to walk down the beach, how was she going to be able to have enough to lay the egg?

She didn't even feel much anxiety anymore, just a deep dark sadness setting in at the bottom of her stomach, a sadness that this was who she was, that she would face this, that this couldn't be any other way. Perhaps it was a mercy that her anxiety was gone, to fear what you're about to face, yet facing it anyway was a horrible fate. At this point, at least she could face it without having to get worked up over what she was in for.

But as the day wore on and the Sun made its way across the sky, first rising up to its peak, then beginning to sink low into the sky on the far horizon, distributing it's warmth evenly across the sand, some of Embryo's anxiety returned. Was the egg coming today? What was taking it so long? Why can't it come already? Just let it come be over with. She shook with emotion. Just do it. Make me scream and suffer like a girl, like the weak victim of a girl I am. Because that's all I am, an Egg Laying girl. Just let it be done.

Embryo rubbed her face with her talons. Her stomach was feeling stretched, she couldn't take any more of this. She needed to lay down and curl up and relieve the tension. She could almost imagine her stomach rupturing from the tension, and she could not handle that thought at the moment.

Wait, so much tension... Embryo looked around desperately, suddenly aware of what was about to happen. She could feel it coming on and she began to panic, her body was not ready to brace itself for what was about to happen. No, please don't, please.

And then the contractions hit her, the tension she felt inside her exploded as if her insides had ripped into a million shreds.

She had wondered what type of pain could completely level a dragon, make them scream as if they couldn't tolerate another second of their existence, no matter how great they believed the cause, no matter how many times they had experienced it before and knew what to expect. Embryo had imagined as much pain as she could imagine, and even tried to picture worse than that, but it was nothing compared to this. She had always imagined a pain measured on a scale, now she realized, if pain could be infinite, this was not far off. While not quite there, it was just as unquantifiable, as infinity is such an abstract concept, so too is the infinite pocket of numbers that are only a portion of infinity, that dividing it up into a half, a quarter, an eighth, even a millionth will leave you with an amount significantly less than infinity, but just as unquantifiable. This was pain that could not be calculated into solid measurements, the most the most unfathomable, unbearable agony the Universe could muster upon her, each contraction so sharp it penetrated through her very being straight into her Soul. And even these words alone were not enough to even come close to comprehending what she was going through.

She couldn't do it, she couldn't help it, screams of pure agony erupted from her throat. She couldn't stop it, even if she tried. She threw herself onto her back twisting from side to side with great ferocity, her wings twisting underneath her weight. When one is faced with something of extreme pain such as a knife or flame or something, their first instinct is to pull themselves away to prevent the pain from penetrating further into their body. But Embryo couldn't escape this pain, because the pain was already in her body, penetrating as deep as it could go. Embryo jerked her head back and screamed with everything she had in her.

When Summit heard the screaming, his heart stopped. Embryo had made it clear how horrible this experience would probably be, and he had tried to brace himself for the worst, but nothing could prepare him for the shrieking cries Embryo was giving now. It was as if she was being tortured in the most horrible way imaginable. He rushed to her side, "Em, Embryo, are you okay?" But she just kept screaming, it was like she wasn't even aware he was there. Summit had always felt sick whenever he realized torture still existed in the modern world and could be happening to any dragon even as he thought it, but never had he expected that such raw torture could exist as part of the natural world, as part of the fate for all girls destined to lay eggs. And by Embryo's reaction... Did the Universe really hate girl dragons this much?

And to Embryo, it was torture, there was no way to describe it otherwise. But even more horrifying was how distinctly this pain was her. This wasn't some observational event happening to some other dragon, this wasn't some absent process where she was aware of the agony, but could tone it out as background as she got lost in her own mind. No, she was distinctly aware of the unbearable sharpness of each and every contraction, the surmounting dread before each one from the knowledge that her body could not take it, only to be grasped into its clutches of agony anyway and know how right she was. Unbearable, unfathomable, but fully conscious of every second, every ounce of pain she endured.

"PLEASE!" She screamed, "MAKE IT STOP! LET ME GO! PLEASE!"

But no matter how much she screamed, no matter how much she begged, the contractions kept coming, one after another, each one in and of itself enough to make her wish she was dead, endless waves of pure agony which couldn't be quenched.

"PLEEEEASE!" She screamed again, but the contractions still continued. Every single scale, every single claw and nerve, there was just not enough room in her body to contain the pain she was feeling, her insides in such pain she could hardly comprehend her own existence.

This is what her whole life story had been leading toward, wasn't it? Her torture, her suffering. Everything that had ever happened to her, anything good, anything bad, all her beautiful travels with Summit, they had all just been stepping stones on her inevitable path toward this unspeakable agony of Egg Laying. Toward her writhing and screaming like there was nothing left.

Summit watched helplessly. She looked so fragile, like a vase that should have shattered long ago under the pressure, but was somehow unable to break. Summit wanted to wrap his wings around her and tell her she was okay, but he knew he couldn't, she was not okay, and there was nothing he could do about it. To hear her precious voice scream like that, to see her gentle body writhe like that, it just opened up so many emotions within himself that he had no idea how to express.

Summit's heart twisted inside him. This was true pain, wasn't it? He wasn't experiencing it himself, but it was happening right in front of him, and to Embryo at that, the one who he just now realized he cared about more than anybody else in the world.

Summit didn't want to watch, didn't want to see Embryo suffer as she was struck by wave after wave of pain. He also didn't know how he felt standing over her as she writhed in pain at his talons. Maybe it wasn't even right that he be here, he thought again. He'd tried to keep his eyes focused on her upper body til this point, but he knew that wasn't where the real suffering was happening, and he couldn't help but feel awkward at his whole position in this. He honestly wasn't sure what to do, he'd never really helped anybody before with this kind of girl stuff. He'd never been this close to any girl before in fact, and he still didn't know if his relationship with Embryo was far enough along to see her like this, but if he wasn't here for her, who else would be?

Summit looked down and noticed Embryo had calmed slightly, she was still in obvious great pain, her face still strained, but her screaming had stopped, and her eyes were no longer glazed over, and she was able to focus up on Summit. Her contractions must have slowed for the time being.

"Are you sure you want me to stay here?" Summit asked, "I can go if you feel this is too personal." He paused, not wanting to seem like he just wanted to get out of there, he didn't, he didn't want to see Embryo like this, but he wasn't about to leave her in her time of need unless she didn't want him here. "But I'll stay here if you need me."

Embryo struggled to raise her head enough for a slight nod, she didn't care any longer how awkward this scenario was, there was just her and pain and Summit, Summit the only comfort to that pain. "Stay." She rasped, "Tell me when it's almost done." Her voice was so strained, she must be in so much pain. It was as if she was still facing much more than she'd ever thought she could go through, but she now knew this was the most relief she was going to have until it was over, they closest she'd come to being able to tolerate her own body, and she had to take it as it was. Tears rolled down her face as she tried to fight off the nausea of knowing she was going to go back under again anytime soon, of knowing what she'd already been through, and would go through again.

Summit knew he couldn't say no any longer, he had to do this. He moved around to stand by Embryo's tail. He hesitated. He felt awkward putting himself on that side of Embryo, he'd wanted to avoid seeing her like this (or any girl for that matter), but he knew she needed him, and he'd be of no help if he turned away.

There was her stomach... Summit took a deep breath, he'd tried to respectfully keep his perception of Embryo to her upper half, but now in her aid, he let it go. Slowly, he let his gaze lower, to see if the egg was yet visible. He couldn't help but feel relieved by his reaction. At first he'd feared this part would make his entire being fill with too much crushiness to be much help to Embryo beyond this point. He knew she was attractive of course, and in a less urgent situation, he knew he probably wouldn't have handled it well, but now he was here solely for what Embryo needed, all other feelings were automatically pressed aside. They would surely resurface later once this was over and Summit would never be able to see Embryo the same way he once had (the way he'd tried to maintain by never having her fly in the lead, which was apparently all out the door now), but right now, he was merely here to see Embryo's progress with the egg, nothing more, nothing less.

But unfortunately, the egg was not yet visible. Embryo still had a ways to go. Summit's heart sank, Embryo's screeching cries had started back up again, and by how painful they sounded, he knew that "no egg yet" was the worst news she needed to hear right now.

"I'm sorry Em, no egg..."

But she no longer seemed conscious of his words.

Nothing more to do there, Summit repositioned himself up near her head figuring that be the best place to be there for her if she needed him, but facing down where he could still see what was going on with the egg.

"I'm sorry Embryo," he said, "You don't deserve to go through this, but you are."

He looked at her. She was in so much pain. He didn't think he could have taken it if he was her. He watched her writhe from side to side, folding in and out of herself, his heart clenched with pity. It didn't look like she could take it, and she was her.

Poor Em. She was too pretty to be in such pain.

Summit stopped himself. Was that even a proper thing to think? He sighed. What did it matter anymore? She was too pretty, too sensitive, too special to be experiencing what she was going through. But through nobody's choice, not even her own, she was going through it anyway, and there was nothing he could do to make it better, he could only watch as she screamed and writhed, unable to bare her own being.

Then suddenly, the pain stalled. Embryo let out a gasp, her writhing coming to a still, breathing in deep gasps of air, regaining her own presence in reality. She shook knowing what she'd just come out of, but she knew it wasn't over yet. Every part of her wanted to break down and cry at her own demise, but she needed to focus on what was next.

"Em? What happened?" Summit asked hurriedly, noticing the change.

Embryo reached for her lower abdomen, feeling it, talons trembling with each movement. Sweating, she tried to hold back her tears as she inspected her situation. "The egg... I think it's there."

"There?" Summit asked confused, "What do you-"

Embryo started shaking, she could feel it start straining, it didn't hurt yet, but she could feel the pain preparing to mount, threatening to be worse than ever before, just beyond the horizon of her senses. Embryo felt her breath quivering, how could this be her life?

"The egg, it's right here," she said, knowing she had to alert Summit while she still could, "It's about to be out."

Then Embryo felt it coming, the pain beginning to rise again. She began to tremble.

"The pain, it's coming again," Embryo knew she only had seconds before she was gone again, tearfully, she tried to make herself accept it.

Then, something weird. She gasped. The pain, it was... "Is the egg..." Embryo held her breath in her throat, trying to keep it steady.

Summit checked, and winced. It was too painful to even bear to see. He couldn't even imagine what Embryo was going though, and this wasn't even her at her worst. At least there was good news.

"I see it Em. The egg is on its way. You're almost done."

Embryo squirmed, shaking uncontrollably, her breathing picking up pace again. "I can tell! It hurts!" She suddenly jerked outward, "IT HURTS! IT BURNS LIKE FIRE! MY-OWWWW!"

And then it hit, worse than ever before. Non-stop, pure torture. Embryo screamed in blind pain, couldn't stop. In an instant, the Embryo who Summit had come to know and love was gone, completely consumed and delirious with pain. He knew Em was there experiencing it all, every single moment, but everything that made her unique, an individual like no other, was drowned out completely with pain, nothing existed inside her anymore but the desperation to make it stop, the need to exist within a body with which her Soul could even begin to tolerate. A need which would not be fulfilled until this was over.

Summit could no longer watch, it was just too painful. He knew that whatever he couldn't watch Embryo had to feel, but he just couldn't do it any longer. Besides, the egg was going to be done when it was done, he didn't think Embryo would even be able to comprehend any more of his reports now anyway, she was too far gone.

So Summit just listened to her screams as long as they lasted, her pain radiating into his Soul.

And suddenly it was done. Embryo let out a gasp as all came to a stop, breathing hard. She looked back at her Egg, lying on the cave floor by her back legs. Done. It was done.

Embryo was spent, utterly spent. Nothing more, with only one small whimper, she slumped onto the floor, back toward Summit, the tears that fell freely down her face accompanied by not a single cry.

Embryo just lay there curled up in her fetal position, silent, completely silent. Even long after the pain faded, and became no more than a memory, still she lay there, unmoving, just the rise and the fall of her chest as the air entered and exited slowly from her body.

And eventually, even the memory began to fade into nothing more than a numb echo in the back of her mind, but still, she did not move.

Finally, Summit came up to her, full of concern. "Em?"

Back still toward him, she finally spoke, "Is this my purpose? Is this all I'm meant for?"

And as if getting these words out had a calming effect on her, she let out a deep breath. And with that, let herself slip into a deep doze.

Summit looked at her with sympathy, and gently bent over to give her a nuzzle. It was over, her suffering was over.

"Sleep well, Em."

And she did. A deep, dark, dreamless sleep. Her old self had passed away, slipped away into the darkness of the distant past. The Embryo who awoke tomorrow would be a different Embryo, an Embryo who knew what it was like to lay an egg, who knew the pain she was capable of suffering. Who would this new Embryo be? Right now it didn't matter, right now it was time to let her rest.

Watching Embryo lay there for a moment, here chest rising and falling gently with her breath, Summit felt there was one more thing to be said, even though he knew she wasn't listening. Maybe it was still too early, but now he knew it to be true, not just romantically, but with every part of who he was. With one more gentle nuzzle, "I love you Embryo."

Then, deciding it was time for him to rest as well, he went to his own corner, laid down, and drifted off to sleep. As he faded, the words still echoed in his mind. I love you Em.

 

ABANDON

Embryo sat there at the entrance to the cave watching the Sun rise over the island dotted Ocean, listening to the sounds of the waves lapping upon the beach. Memories of her old life passed by her, memories of who she was before yesterday, now drowned out by the echoes of her screams, of her helpless cries for mercy as she bore the pain of laying an egg, overtaking these old memories as they sunk deep within the Ocean of her mind. Who she was before was gone. This, the memories of her pain, that's who she was now. Those were her screams she remembered, that had been her.

Embryo looked at the egg resting at her talons, rolling it gently back and forth across the ground. Maybe she should she make it. Or should she save it? If what Summit believed about dragonets were true, there was no risk of there being any in this one. Might as well prep it eventually.

Embryo's stomach turned sour at the thought of it. All that for this? Is this really what her village was willing to go through just for an Omelet. She'd always loved Omelets herself, and she figured deep down inside that she still did, but looking at the egg... this was her consolation for such suffering? And she was certain this wasn't the last one. It was just the girl dragon way.

Embryo had known it would happen this way, that it would be bad, but somehow she'd thought that once it was all over she would move on, forget about it, never again act like it'd happened. But that was not so. The pain was all gone, nothing but a fading memory to remember it by, but she still knew she'd been through something way beyond what she could stand, and even though it was no longer the present, she now knew it could happen to her. No matter how much she couldn't take it, no matter how much her very being was averted to the pain, it could take her all the same, overcome her without a bit of mercy no matter how much she needed it to stop, to just let up a little. It could happen to her, and it had, and that knowledge just dug deep within her core, to know that everything she was, everything she could stand, was hardly an obstacle, capable of being torn through with no regard for her personal being, all for a fate much stronger than herself. She now knew there was no relation between the threshold of what she could withstand and the threshold of what she could actually experience. Even though she'd already speculated similar concepts before talon, it was one thing to be aware of something in theory, and another entirely to have that something actually part of your own life experiences.

Her own... herself.

Summit found her there sitting, lonely, cold from the morning chill. As he approached her, his heart felt for her.

"Em? How are you doing today?"

She was silent as he came to sit down beside her. It felt weird to see her now, knowing of the certain aspects of her that he'd tried to reserve himself from until yesterday, but now knew was part of who she was, but he tried not to focus on that. She was here now as she was, and although he had now seen her differently, he was going to treat her with the same level of focusing-on-the-important-aspects-of-her as he always had.

After a moment's silence, Embryo finally spoke up, "Do you wonder what it's like to be me, as I am now?" Embryo asked. Without waiting for an answer, she continued, "A few days ago, I did. I couldn't fathom what it must be like to actually face what I've only ever heard other dragons scream through, I couldn't imagine how it could actually be me there, facing that experience instead. But now I do. For a while, I thought that maybe I could be an exception to the rule, that maybe I was never to know what that experience felt like... but that wasn't the case. Now I know that it doesn't matter who I am, the unfathomable can still happen to me, I am not an exception." Embryo looked at Summit. "But you are. You will never have to worry about Egg Laying and what it's like. You never will have to know what it's like to be me."

Summit looked at her, a deep sadness filling him. "Oh Em, I don't want this to come between us, I want to be close to you," Summit replied, "I want to share everything with you."

Embryo sighed, "There are some things we can never share, no matter how badly we want to." She looked down at her talons and they both went silent.

Finally, Summit spoke up, "Em, about our journey, if you're not up for it right now, we can rest here a few more days if you want. I don't want to rush you."

Embryo looked up at him, "That's just it. About there being things we could never share, perhaps this is one of them. Look Summit, I'm a girl, maybe my female body is just not cut out for long journeys like this."

Summit looked at her, "You can't be serious, we've already went over this. It was just your egg holding you back. Now that that's gone... Em, look at what you've done, look at all those places you've been. I've seen you, how you'll just stand there, feeling the air with each new place. Em, you love that. I know you do."

Embryo nodded slightly, "Yes." Her eyes glazed over with memory. "I used to rely on my senses, feel everything, take in the world, the sights, the sounds, just the feeling of being there, being alive... And it was beautiful." Embryo paused, coming back to the present, "But now, I think my senses have betrayed me."

"Em, don't say that. I know what you went through was hard, but it wasn't the end. You have more story to tell."

Embryo looked at him, begging him to understand. "Summit, don't you see? I didn't want to go through it but I did. And eventually I'll go through it again. This is who I am, I can't change it. I can never be anything but Egg Laying Embryo."

Summit could feel himself getting emotional. "I know, I know you didn't want it, but I just don't want it to be this way. I want you to be content and happy. I don't want it to be that the girl that I love more than anything has suffered so much more than I could bear to imagine."

Embryo went still. She looked at Summit in surprise, "You love me?"

Summit dipped his head, it was time to open up. "Yes. If I could be with any dragon on the planet for the rest of my life, I would choose you. I know we haven't known eachother for long, but there's just something that draws me toward you. I want to be with you, I'm certain of it. We could grow old together, start a family..."

Embryo gaze dropped, "Start a family..."

Instantly, Summit realized his mistake, "Em, I'm sorry..." Summit had always thought it would be cool to become a father, but he had never really before considered the physical strain he would be expecting on his partner in order for that to happen. Sure, he had heard that it was supposed to hurt to lay eggs, but it had always just been a tidbit to him, he'd never considered it to mean anything before. It was not until he heard the screams of agony and unceasing begging for mercy - screams that she herself had once been so concerned about giving out first hand - from the dragon he was becoming more and more sure was his one true love did he actually realize what it must mean to the individual to actually go through such a process. How'd he been so oblivious? And even then, the idea of starting a family with the one you loved was such a common concept that it wasn't until just now that he put two and two together that by wanting a family together, that suffering was essentially what he was asking of her.

Embryo looked at him, her heart resigned. "No, it's okay." Embryo bowed her head, "It's only natural that when a male wants an egg, he'll feel drawn towards a female to make it for him."

"Em, that's not the only reason for guys and girls to like eachother."

Em swallowed hard and looked at him, "Says the guy who fell in love with me just because I'm pretty."

Summit caught his breath, "No. I love you more than just because you're pretty," He stammered. "You're pretty, and you're..." Summit suddenly found himself at a loss for words. He searched desperately for something, anything to say. "And you, uh... you... experience things?"

"I experience things?" Embryo flustered, "Summit, listen to yourself. That means nothing."

"There's more to you than that, I know there is," Summit could feel desperate tears filling his eyes, "I'm just not good at expressing stuff."

"Summit, give it up," Embryo cried, "You thought I was pretty, and that drew you to me. These 'other things', you only saw them because your mind needed a way to justify your crush on me."

Summit was shaking his head. "No, that's not..."

Embryo knew Summit didn't want to hear this; she didn't want to do this to him. "It's not your fault, it's just instinct, you couldn't have seen me differently if you tried."

"Em, no..."

"But it's over Summit. I know you tried to see me for more than I am, I know you really tried, but... you can't."

"No Em, I won't-"

Embryo looked at him, cutting him off, fighting back the emotion welling in her. "No more, please." Embryo paused, holding back from her next words. "I think it's time that I return to the place where dragons accept themselves for what they really are."

Summit went still, the seriousness of the implication coming to him, "What do you mean?"

"Who was I kidding," Embryo said, "I am an OmeletWing through and through. I'll never be a SkyWing or... or anything else. I came to see the world to find out who I am, and now I know. It's time I be getting back. I'm sorry Summit, but this is goodbye."

Summit stared at her blankly. Embryo felt herself shaking with sadness. She looked down at her egg.

"Here," said Embryo, rolling the egg toward him, "I said I wanted to give you something nice. It's the best an OmeletWing can offer." She managed a weak smile, before breaking up again as she turned to leave, "My purpose."

And with that, she was out the cave entrance, flapping her wings in ascent. Summit chased after her. "No Embryo, please..."

But she was already off, the wind carrying her away into the distant sky.

"Em..."

 

RETURNING

The beat of Embryo's wings as they carried her on mile after mile back over the MudWing Kingdom and toward the mountains of the Claw of the Clouds repeated their steady rhythm one after another, up down, up down, up down, one beat at a time. Her wings were sore, aching through every part of her, but she just kept going, going and going. What was this ache in her muscles compared to the pain she had endured with her egg?

Embryo was glad for the rain that had started falling shortly after she left, it helped cover up the tears she could feel beginning to well in her eyes. She tried not thinking about Summit, the look on his face when she left him, how he wanted to love her so much. But he couldn't. How could he? What was there inside her to offer that he could truly love? She was just an Egg Layer, a simple OmeletWing Egg Layer.

As time drew on and she began passing into the Claw of the Cloud Mountains, Embryo's fatigue grew more intense. Many times Embryo's wings felt so tired, her eyes so heavy, she wanted to drop out of a sky in a doze. But shaking her head, she stopped herself. If she could go through all the effort of Laying an Egg, she should be able to keep doing this, this was nothing in comparison.

But no matter how hard she tried to convince herself to keep going, no matter how much worse she knew Egg Laying was, she just had to stop, she did not have it in her to fly anymore.

Yeah, if I was Laying I wouldn't have the option to rest if I was this tired, which I would be after like... 5 split seconds, I'd just keep going anyway. What a girly wimp.

Embryo finally came in for a landing in a cave in one of the cliffs. Looking around, she realized that her and Summit had once spent the night in this one. She felt her eyes filling with tears. She remembered the jokes they had shared together here, what not. The sound of the pattering rain continued behind her; though it was raining outside, it was all dry in here, and there was nothing here to cover up her tears. So, as she curled up on the cave floor in her lonely ball, she decided to just let them flow.


Embryo woke up after only about four hours of rest, it was still very dark out. She knew that eventually Summit would come after her, he'd want to help her, that's just how he was. But she just didn't want to face him again, she couldn't. So, though she wasn't really ready to wake up, she knew she had to get a move on.

She was still exhausted from yesterday's flight, but the sleep had taken the edge off. Her wings were still sore with each beat as they carried her through the starlit sky, but she'd been through worse, right?

As she flew, Embryo's mind went back to her Laying, all the pain, the writhing, the screaming. Had that really been her? Embryo winced just thinking about it. How could the gentle, hypersensitive Embryo she knew herself to be have actually gone through all that and actually be here to reflect on it now. She could hardly think back on it without it making her want to cry out with how horrible it had been. She couldn't fathom going through it again, she could hardly fathom anymore that there was a time when she actually had to experience it the first time to get to being who she was now. But no matter how much she still couldn't imagine herself taking it, there was no denying that she already had. That she could know so well that it was something she couldn't bear, know that she had still had to experienced every single awful moment of it anyway, and to realize that she was still here after to remember, she just couldn't process.

The Sun rose high in the sky, and then continued on its downward arc. It was setting in the horizon by the time she spotted her village, the Moons becoming visible in the sky. Her village sat isolated in the empty valley, and Embryo couldn't figure out if it felt like the welcoming presence of home, or just a lonely speck in all the world she had left behind.

She landed on the streets of town feeling the familiar stones under her talons, and began to make her way home.

As she made her way through the streets, all was mostly quiet, it seemed the majority of the dragons had gone home for the night and the bustling for the day was over, though here and there she'd hear the occasional screams erupting from one of the houses of a dragon in the process of Laying an Egg. Embryo flinched.

Before, these screams had always disturbed her, but now that she knew what it was like to actually go through it herself, she couldn't help but wince, her heart twisting up inside her knowing that even while she was still recovering from her own, another dragon was going through that same pain and agony right now, the experience firmly rooted fresh and raw in their present.

She shook her head. She just needed to get home and put this whole thing behind her.

Finally, she was there. Standing at the doorstep of her house. Looking at the door, she raised her talons to knock.

There was a rustling inside, and a moment later, the door opened. Albumen and Yoke stood there, looking at her, their eyes filled with light.

Without saying a word, they threw themselves around her in a hug. Embryo just stood there, taking in the warmth of their embrace, and let the tears slide gently from her eyes.


Leading her inside Albumen took in her body, "You look exhausted my little Embryo, you must be starving." She led her to the table and gestured for her to sit down. "Sit down, I'll get you some food."

Embryo did as her mom asked, and Albumen hurried to the kitchen. As the sound of dishes clattering started inside, Yoke looked at her.

"So," Yoke said, "you were gone a few weeks. How did your travels go? How was the world?"

Embryo looked away, she could feel her eyes filling with tears again.

"Not to good I see," Yoke replied, "Embryo, I'm sorry."

They sat in silence while the sounds of Albumen cooking in the kitchen continued.

Finally, Albumen came back in, carrying a giant plate loaded with food. She laid it down before Embryo, and Embryo saw what it was.

"Creamed Omelet," Albumen announced proudly, "One of my own. I saved it specially for you."

Embryo felt herself growing cold. She remembered all the things Summit had said about eggs, about how they had dragonets growing inside. She looked at the fork in her talons, then down at the fluffy yellow Omelet on her plate. Albumen and Yoke were watching her with expectation, eyes filled with love. They didn't- The Egg- This was her mother's own... This could be Embryo's brother, her sister.

The egg sat on the plate in front of her, its aroma beckoning her.

Embryo felt herself growing sick. Very, very sick.

Unable to bear it anymore, Embryo shot up. "I'm sorry, I just can't do it."

With that, she dashed to her room, letting the door slam shut behind her.


Why, Embryo, why? Summit thought with every beat of his wings.

After Embryo had left, Summit had spent the next few hours debating what he should do. Should he follow her, or should he just let her go? At first Summit hesitated at the idea of following her. Didn't only weird guys follow the girls they had a crush on halfway across the continent after they had pretty much ended their relationship? But then, what about Embryo, who would be there for her?

Finally, Summit made up his mind, he would return back the way he came, which coincidentally was also the way Embryo had come. He wouldn't be following her, he'd just be going the same way. What a coincidence. And if he ran into her, well then...

But as he flew along, Em's egg was packed with care, he realized, who was he kidding? Of course he wanted to find Embryo again. He wanted to find her and make everything better. That's why he was going this way, to find Embryo, to try to be there with her.

But Embryo was too far ahead, and wherever she was, he didn't seem to be gaining any ground.

Ironic. Once he'd refused to fly behind her, now he was flying so far behind her that he didn't even know if he was on the right track.

Summit blushed, remembering the reason why he'd tried not to fly behind her. So much for that. He shook his head. As much as he tried, he couldn't help but remember how attractive he thought Embryo was. His face was burning with redness. Why did he have to find Embryo's differences from him so... crushible?

Before her suffering, he'd tried to keep himself from certain aspects of Embryo. And even though he knew his reason for allowing himself on that side of her during her laying was sincere, he couldn't deny now what he knew and how that made him feel. Though he'd suspected it before, after allowing himself to see Embryo that way while she was laying her Egg, Summit now knew he thought all of Embryo was pretty. Of course he couldn't think about Embryo without knowing how pretty she was, it was just natural, even as he had spoken to her just after she'd laid, he knew he'd never see her the same, that whenever he saw her, he would remember that aspect of her. He knew that him and Embryo were different, and he knew that made him find her attractive, but that wasn't really the only reason he liked her was it? That they couldn't connect on a deeper level because of it, right? He knew it wasn't, he just knew. But whatever it was he saw in her, he just didn't know how to find the words.

But just because he couldn't find the words didn't mean that it wasn't real did it?

As Summit flew on, he saw no sight of Embryo. Into the night he flew. Hadn't she stopped to rest at all? He knew he would have to stop soon; he just couldn't go much longer. He couldn't help but feel the rising annoyance within him. Maybe my female body is just not cut out for long journeys, Embryo says, my girly body is too weak to explore the Bay of a Thousand Scales - Well of course you can't - Just watch me fly all the way back to my village in one shot because I'm too weak and girly to do anything else- Three Moons you can't.

But as frustrating as it all was, Summit couldn't stay upset at her for long. Embryo was hurting, she didn't see how valuable she really was; She needed a friend. And he wasn't it. He was just that weird guy with a crush on her.

For the first time, Summit really began to regret his crush on Embryo. If only he'd just been her friend... If only he hadn't had a crush on her he'd have been able to tell her how valuable she really was. He'd be able to show her that he valued her not because she was pretty, but because who she was. But because he did have a crush on her, that's all he was to her, that weird guy chasing his ex-girlfriend halfway across the continent because he just couldn't let her go.

Oh Em, I'm sorry, he thought, I'm sorry I could never have been more. If only...

If only he had never found girls so pretty.


Embryo sat on the edge of her bed looking at the Peregrine carving Summit had given her, her hammering heart calming little by little, the memory of Summit relaxing her. The memories of a time long gone, or at least it felt like.

She felt the tears building once again in her eyes. She had returned home thinking this was where she belonged, but now everything felt more wrong than it had before. Everyone still expected her to marry Vitellus, and yes, she had expected to lay eggs for the rest of her life, that was her purpose, but how was she expected to tell everyone that the eggs created with the help of a partner, those were alive? How could she lay those for everyone, allow them to have them for Breakfast? Maybe Summit was wrong, maybe he was poorly informed... But was she really willing to sacrifice the life of her helpless dragonets on the chance that Summit was wrong?

Her mind was so messed up. Maybe it wouldn't have been this way if she'd never left in the first place.

Her stomach twisted again as she thought of the egg. Her own sibling, served to her on a platter. She thought of the MudWings her and Summit had spent so much time with, how close they were to their sibs. How would they feel know that her sib... Embryo choked up. True or not, how could she ever look at an egg again the same way, knowing that she could potentially be eating her baby brother or baby sister? She just couldn't.

There was a knock at the door. Embryo really didn't want to talk at the moment, but she figured her parents must be worried - what must they think happened to her out there? She couldn't avoid them forever. Taking a deep breath, Embryo placed the Peregrine carving on the desk by her bed and turned to respond.

"Come in," she answered heavily.

The door opened and Albumen stepped in. Carrying the plate of Omelet.

"Hey sweety, I noticed you didn't finish your supper."

Embryo swallowed, not knowing what to say. "I... wasn't... hungry."

Albumen gave a weak smile, "I understand, I'll just place it here for when you are." She laid the plate on Embryo's desk, carefully scooting aside the Peregrine carving with it. Letting the plate rest, Albumen took in the carving. "Nice carving. You know, peregrines lay pretty tasty eggs too. Not as good as dragons, but good."

Embryo just sat there silently.

Albumen lowered herself on the side of Embryo's bed to sit down beside her, the way most natural for dragons. "You know, if you have anything on your mind, you can talk to me."

Embryo looked down, "I know, I just don't..." She went silent.

Albumen nodded. "You know, me and your father, we've been so worried about you... I mean, we've kept on our daily life, but... we haven't really contributed any eggs together since you've left."

Embryo looked up in surprise, "But that egg, from tonight...?" She looked over at it on her desk. Was it possible...

Albumen shrugged, "I made that Egg all on my own. Your father and I have been so stressed, but you know, nature calls as nature calls. I decided to save it specially for you when you returned - the village has enough other dragons contributing to our Great Breakfast - I figured I could save just this one for you."

Embryo went silent. "So this egg," she began again, "there's no dragonet in it?"

Albumen looked caught off guard, "No, of course not, I don't know what you're talking about."

"And dad, you're sure he wasn't involved in this egg?"

Albumen waved her talons dismissively, "I think I'd know of the time me and your father spent together. No, this egg was all mine, and I wanted you to have it. A special gift from me to you. To celebrate your return."

Embryo looked at the egg, her stomach settling, relief washing over her. So if what Summit said was true, this really wasn't one of her siblings. It was just an egg, like the one she'd given to Summit, empty of any life. Useless of any purpose except to become an Omelet.

Embryo looked at her mother, "Thank you."

Albumen nodded, "Anything I can do to help. I just want you to know, I love you." And with that, Albumen nuzzled Embryo's head, got up, and left the room.

Embryo looked back at the Omelet her mother had left her. She sighed at the relief that filled her. It was just an egg, nothing more.

Carefully picking up the fork, she portioned herself out a bite, picked it up, and put it in her mouth. Chewing, she let herself absorb the fluffy taste. With everything she'd been through, Egg was still delicious - maybe a weird result of girly weirdness, but still - very delicious.

As she ate, Embryo looked at the Peregrine carving on her desk. Her heart started to tremble as she remembered all the time she had spent with Summit. Embryo had shared all her girly weirdness with him, and she couldn't imagine what weird thoughts that had made him feel about her, and it was embarrassing... But despite all the weird aspects of herself, he had never let that make him see her as lesser than him. He had seen her in all her awkward weaknesses and vulnerabilities that he'd never know for himself - he was a boy, of course he'd never have to deal with those problems - and yet he had never looked down on her because of it. Instead, he had tried to stand by her as a friend and an equal. He had respected her because, despite the root of his feelings, he had loved her. He'd always tried so hard to be kind to her, and she'd just left him like she did.

Tears started to fill her eyes and silent sobs started to escape her. She'd left Summit... How could she just... she didn't want...

But it was over. She was back in her old life, her old purpose, it was time to accept that this was her future. Her time with Summit a thing of the past.

"Oh Summit..."


Summit arrived back at his home village late in the afternoon. Landing on a cliff overlooking it, he suddenly realized a problem. He had followed Embryo's route all the way back to where he had first met her, but this wasn't where she had started. A pit opened up in his stomach as he realized, he had no idea as to the way to the OmeletWing Village.

He looked around frantically. Maybe she was here, maybe she had stopped here briefly before returning home.

But deep down inside he knew that hadn't happened. Embryo was long gone, and Summit had no idea as to where to.

Summit swallowed hard as the truth hit him. Was it possible that Embryo of the OmeletWings was out of his life forever?

 

BREAKFAST

It was a memory, barely a passing moment faded in time, but something had reawaken in her, something bringing it back full force.

Embryo had awoken one morning on her journey, her stomach rumbling in anticipation for Breakfast. She smelled it on the wind and her memories of Breakfast in the OmeletWing village, tables loaded with Eggs and all kinds of Egg-inclusive plates had flooded over her.

She'd stepped over to the entrance of the cave, and sure enough, there it was, in a nest just in a cave across from them rested a SkyWing, curled around her Egg.

Embryo took a step forward, wondering if maybe the SkyWing would be friendly enough to share some of the egg with them - it couldn't hurt to ask - when a talon appeared before her, stopping her in her path.

Summit was there, gently blocking her way. Motioning her to be quiet, he gestured to the SkyWing, prompting her to watch.

The SkyWing stirred. Opening her eyes, she looked up at the sky, before turning her attention to the egg, a loving expression lighting her face. Nuzzling her egg, she started to hum gently to it, a soft, calm song, not a song of feasting, but a lullaby, a song of love, straight from her heart. This was not her breakfast, it was her baby.

Even though Embryo hadn't yet known personally the pain it took to lay an egg, she couldn't help but feel moved by the love the mother dragon felt for her egg. What love it must be that it was so strong it was worth the sacrifice of bringing it into the world? Maybe no price would be enough to justify the pain, but so maybe no price was enough to replace the love.

Regardless of what Embryo believed growing up in her village, the SkyWing truly did believe there was life growing inside her egg. And if that was true, her love was way sweeter than the taste any Omelet could provide.


Embryo opened her eyes finding herself in her own room back in the OmeletWing Village. The morning light shined in through the windows indicating it was almost time to head out to the Square for Breakfast. Everything that had happened the night before came rushing back to her. The emotions she had felt at returning to her village were less fresh than the night before, but she still felt a numbness of emptiness where all that she had left behind her still left a gaping hole in her Soul.

She looked at the peregrine carving.

Summit.

Grabbing it off her desk, she held it tight. Maybe it didn't matter now, but she decided she would keep it close to her for the day's proceedings.

Looking at the empty plate that had held her mother's now eaten Omelet, Embryo remembered her confrontation with her mother the previous night. The memory from her dream came back to mind. She didn't quite know what she believed about dragon eggs and whether they contained growing dragonets, but she had a feeling that whether she believed it or not, she was never going to be able to eat eggs the same way again. The thought of the Breakfast she was about to attend caused her to feel anxiety. What would she tell them if they noticed her hesitation to eat their eggs?

Embryo shook her head, she'd just have to be discreet, she could do that, right?

As Embryo passed by her mirror on her way to the door, she looked at her reflection and a heavy sadness came over her. She was so small and fragile looking. How had the egg managed to pass through her? Embryo felt her heart quake inside her. That must have hurt. Poor Embryo, poor her past self.

She heard her parents calling. It was time to go.

She took one last look in the mirror. That Embryo who had laid the egg, she was in the past, she could hardly remember it now anyway. Maybe it was time to let that Embryo go.

Wiping a tear from her eye, she turned away from the mirror. Goodbye Em.

And with that, Peregrine carving in talon, she headed out the door, letting it swing shut behind her.


Summit arrived at the Tavern the morning after his arrival home, carrying a fresh catch.

Summit looked around the tavern, his mind going back to the night he met Embryo, his heart aching.

The Tavern Keeper, Ravine, stepped out of the kitchen, and noticing him there, was delighted to see him.

"Summit! It's been a few weeks. How have you been? Have you been well?"

Summit nodded. "I've just been... traveling." He didn't want to mention Embryo, as he knew how Ravine had watched them as they'd talked that first night, and he didn't want to break the news of how it ended. He held out his catch instead, "I brought you some fresh meat."

Hunting birds had reminded him of his birdwatching with Embryo, but at least it had also been a kind of return to normal, which he figured he needed right now.

Ravine looked at the birds hanging from his talons gratefully. "Come back to the kitchen, and I can show you where to put them."

She led the way into the kitchen and showed Summit a counter to lay the birds down on. As he passed through, he noticed a large egg sitting in a corner, wrapped softly in some blankets. Not a bird egg, but a dragon egg.

Ravine caught his gaze and looked at him, "Oh, that's just mine and my husband's egg. I laid it a few days ago. I've been keeping it in here to keep it warm, where I can keep an eye on it while I work." She went up to it and nuzzled it, "Haven't I baby?"

Summit remembered Embryo's laying, and imagined the same thing happening to Ravine. How awful an image. Not as awful as when it actually happened to Embryo, but it still didn't feel great imagine the Ravine he'd known much of his life in the same.

But Ravine didn't seem to mind though, like nothing was out of the normal, she just looked at the egg sweetly, and turned to lead Summit out of the kitchen. Why wasn't she bothered by what must have surely happened. Remembering how Embryo had reacted when she'd had her egg, he refused to believe Embryo had just been too sensitive, it had been true pain he'd seen her in, and he refused to demean her experience as no more than an overreaction. The pain had overtaken everything she was (poor Embryo), It hurt to just think about, and Summit couldn't see why it'd be different for any other dragon. So it must have been something else. Why was Ravine so passive about her experiences, when Embryo had been bothered by them so deeply?

As they entered the dining room, Ravine turned to look at Summit suddenly. "That cute girl you had with you, where did she go? You two looked so cute together."

Summit felt his gaze drop at the question. "It didn't work out," he answered finally after a moment's silence.

"Oh, but you seemed you had the biggest crush on her," Ravine replied with disappointment.

"Of course I had a crush on her," Summit grumbled, "If only I hadn't had a crush on her I could have been her friend!"

Ravine looked at Summit gently. "Who says having a crush on someone means you can't be their friend? Who told you that?"

Summit went silent, not answering. Ravine looked at him harder.

"She told you that?" Ravine looked hurt, "I'm sorry, she seemed so gentle mannered."

"It's not like that," Summit informed, "She was hurting, and she needed a friend, and because I had a crush on her... I couldn't show her what she was worth."

Ravine looked at Summit sympathetically. "Here, allow me to make you something to eat," she said.

Summit nodded. He found the table him and Em had sat at their first night, and sat down.

"What would you like?" Ravine asked.

Summit hesitated, glancing at the spot Embryo had once sat. Finally, looking at Ravine, he replied "Eggs, I'll have some Eggs."

"Right, everything else is out, but we have some peregrine eggs left in stock. So peregrine eggs coming right up."

And with that, she headed back into the kitchen.

Peregrine eggs. A double sting. Summit thought back to the Peregrine carving he'd given Embryo.

As Ravine made his meal, Summit just sat there. His memories filled with the conversations the shared, the excitement he felt getting to know her for the first time as she had sat in the now empty place across from him.

He missed Em so much.

When Ravine came back with his meal, she placed it in front of him, and took the spot across from him.

"Traveling you said you were? Where to?"

Summit shrugged, "Just through the MudWing Kingdom, toward the Bay of a Thousand Scales."

Summit went silent, and they both sat there, not sure of what to say.

Finally, Summit opened up. "She was so convinced that being a girl made her weird and unnatural or something," he felt his blush rising, feeling guilty that he still found all that girly weirdness stuff kind of cute. "She felt embarrassed by her body because only girls can lay eggs, produce milk and make fruit and stuff like that - girly weirdness as she called it - and I was just the guy standing there to show how much less awkward my boyey body was." Summit looked at Ravine, "Sorry. I know you're also..." his face was going red again, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to point out how you're also..." So weird to think of Ravine subject to girly weirdness. Even with his perpetual crush on girls in general, he'd never really sought to think of Ravine in that sort of way. And it was like this with every girl? Great. Apparently Summit wasn't meant to have any level of normalcy when in conversation with any girl ever again.

Ravine shrugged. "Oh I know there are awkward things about being a girl, I bet you have your own share of 'boyey' weirdness to feel awkward about too."

Yep, Summit was definitely feeling awkward, "Yeah, well at least my awkwardness isn't put on display on my breakfast table every morning." He stabbed his fork into his egg suddenly wondering what in the Three Moons he was thinking when he'd decided to order this.

Ravine shrugged, "I've decided not to let myself be bothered by it much. For me, it just is what it is." She looked at Summit slyly and lowered her voice knowingly, "In fact, it can be sort of amusing at times." She paused. "But can I see your friend is struggling with it more than I ever personally thought to. I can't say what she must be feeling, but I think she needs somebody who cares for her both for and without the things she feels self-conscious about, and whatever you may think, I think you truly are that for her."

Summit felt a little better, confirmation that even despite his feeling, maybe he really did care for Embryo.

Summit sighed. "It doesn't matter, I've lost her. I don't know where she is, and I might never see her again. Even if I am the one she needs to help her through this, I can't be. I love her, and I failed her."

Ravine looked at him calmly, "You didn't fail her, there's only so much you can do. As much as you may want to, you can't figure her life out for her."

"Maybe not," Summit said, "But I should at least be there for her as she figures it out. And I can't."

Not knowing what else to say, the two fell into silence. Summit just looked at the plate, at the egg. Such a normal thing, but the cause of so much pain and sadness.


"You know," said Albumen as they headed out down the streets, "the village will be very excited to hear about your return. They've missed you since you've left."

"Yeah," Embryo answered half-heartedly, going silent again.

As they walked to the square in silence, one talon in front of the other, the smells that used to catch her attention she barely paused to notice, she tried to ignore the occasional scream of a dragon still at home laying, but it was almost too much.

In the silence, Albumen and Yoke looked at Embryo, obviously something really wrong had happened on her journey, but as to what, they didn't know. But neither one of them wanted to press her, so they just continued walking in their silence.

No sooner had Embryo arrived at the square than Vitellus had rushed up to meet her. "Embryo, you're back! Oh I've waited so long for your return, it seems like forever, will you marry me and we can have delicious eggs together for all eternity?"

Embryo turned her gaze to him, only half taking him in. That was right, she was expected to marry him, wasn't she? Though there were no official rules, everybody would be looking to her now to fulfill her duties as an OmeletWing, and they all saw Vitellus as the match for her.

She thought of Summit, how he cared for her, how she could share anything with him, and her heart twisted inside her. Vitellus wasn't a bad guy, she thought, but was this what she'd given up on Summit for? She felt tears welling in her eyes, and she struggled to hold them back.

"I'm sorry Vitellus, please, not right now."

She turned away to go inspect the table, she had to get her mind off things.

"Okay sweetyoke," Vitellus called after her, "We'll talk about it later."

Embryo walked along the tables, trying to ignore the greetings of dragons congratulating her on her return, looking at all the eggs filling their surfaces, each one a result of so much pain and suffering. Were dragons really willing to go through that much just for this?

Her heart twisted. Were these really dragonets whose lives were ended prematurely just so the OmeletWings could have Breakfast. She didn't know, but she couldn't eat thinking that. As awful as it was to think of the pain that went into laying these eggs, nothing stopped her appetite in its tracks like the idea of having unborn dragonets served to her on a platter.

"Welcome all!" Shouted Queen Omelet suddenly, opening up the ceremony, "I'd like to welcome you all to another perfect Breakfast. I see we've had the return of our very own Embryo. Let's all give her a great big round of applause to congratulate her on her journey."

Embryo tried to avoid eye contact as she heard the sound of talons clapping on her behalf. Was she really that important to all these dragons?

"Now with our anthem," Queen Omelet announced.

From inside us, our very Soul,

You are formed, for us all,

The food of life for which we find our lives,

From our stomachs, to our stomachs you return.

Our purpose, our meaning, is found in you,

The Eggs of the OmeletWings.

As everyone sang, Embryo just looked up at the flag silently, not sure how to sing anymore. She just didn't feel it anymore.

After the anthem, everyone returned to their rustling and bustling, thankfully too overcome with eggs to pay her much mind. Embryo spotted Caviar standing nearby.

"Hey, Embryo," Caviar said, catching sight of her, "I heard you were away. Glad to have you back. You know, last night, I just had another Egg, why don't you try some?"

Embryo looked at the egg in the serving dish next to Caviar. Embryo remembered how she'd once felt when she had discovered Caviar had laid her first egg, how weird it felt to realize somebody she'd known had experienced something so different and beyond what she could possibly imagine. But Embryo had laid her own egg now, she knew what it was like, her and Caviar were now in the same "club". Somehow, Embryo didn't feel that special to be part of that "club".

As far as she knew, Caviar did not yet have a partner, so Embryo figured at least this way she could eat without having to worry about eating any dragonets. Embryo considered filling her plate.

"Two eggs already and you haven't even paired up with a partner yet?" Embryo asked, "Doesn't it hurt?"

Caviar just smiled, "That's the beauty of it, nobody thinks of how painful it is until it actually happens, and by then it's too late. Might as well make the most of your Omelet and forget it ever happened so you'll be just as ready for the next."

Or just as oblivious...

Embryo looked at the plate, imagining Caviar's screams as she laid the egg, as Embryo remembered she had once screamed herself. Embryo could feel her appetite decrease inside her, the eggs around her just didn't hold any appeal, dragonets or not, not right now.

"Sorry, I'm not that hungry," she said, turning to walk away.

Queen Omelet, who had been standing nearby, glanced up at her as she passed.

Embryo joined her father at his seat where he was already digging in. He looked up as she sat down, frowning at her empty plate, but he said nothing. Embryo looked around for her mother, noticing her in conversation with the Queen. They both looked over at Embryo and the Queen gave her a cheery wave. A moment later, the conversation ended, and Albumen brought her loaded plate up with her as she came to join her family. She also glanced at Embryo's empty plate.

"Done already? That was fast."

Embryo didn't answer, didn't know what to say.

Yoke replied for her. "Perhaps she's still full on your egg from last night. You do make the most satisfying eggs you know."

Albumen seemed encouraged by that. "I know, don't I?"

Finally, Embryo spoke. "The Queen, what did she want?"

Albumen looked at her daughter, her eyes lighting up. "She said she was impressed by your journey, she wants to hear all about it. So after Breakfast, she wants us all to go over to her castle for a debriefing."

Embryo frowned. A debriefing? She didn't know what to make of that. She supposed it couldn't hurt to tell them about the outside world, but Embryo still didn't feel like talking about her time with Summit and all that, it still hurt too much. But the Queen would want to know, if not about Summit, about the journey in general.

Embryo sighed. Just get this over and be done with it. Then she could return home and cry.

 

DEBRIEFING

Embryo followed the guards as they led her and her parents into the OmeletWing Castle's Throne Room, passing through the pale yellow pillars as they neared the throne. The sounds of their talons echoed in the wide space as they hit the cold tiled floor with each step. The white walls were decorated with portraits of the greatest Egg Laying feats in OmeletWing history. And over the throne, the first Queen herself, she who had laid the Sun, which was prophesied to - in their time of greatest need - someday hatch, and - cooking in its own heat - would rain down Omelets upon the hungry world.

And sitting on the throne was Queen Omelet of the OmeletWings herself, looking down on Embryo with great interest. Queen Omelet's husband, the King Chef Shell - who had previously turned down the title of King in order to maintain the more honorable title of Lead Chef, before eventually deciding it made more sense to combine the two titles - stood beside her throne, waiting loyally but impatiently for his next excuse to return to the kitchens and continue his life passion of cooking. While Queen Omelet made the Eggs, King Chef Shell made the Omelets, and that was the next greatest thing.

"Embryo!" Shouted Queen Omelet delightedly when they got near, "When I first heard you'd left, I was a little worried, but then I realized there was no need to worry, I knew you'd eventually come to realize your place with us."

Embryo looked down. There was no point in denying it now. "I've come to see that my whole purpose in life is to lay eggs."

Queen Omelet smiled gently, nodding in understanding. "It's always nice to find purpose and meaning in life." Then Queen Omelet's eyes lit as she decided it was time to turn to the topic of their meeting. "Now tell me, what was it like in the outside world, I want to hear everything."

"Well, uh, I..." Embryo wasn't sure where to start at first, so she just started talking, small stuff here and there, gradually getting more detailed as she went along, until she was eventually pouring out nearly everything she had seen, felt, and heard while in the outside world, about the Kingdoms and their histories, the MudWings and their way of life, the Claw of the Cloud Mountains - all the beautiful cliffs and valleys - birds, all the wonders of the outside world for which she had come to love.

As she talked, her eyes lit up as she remembered all the places she'd been and seen and experienced, what it had been like to actually be there with Summit. Queen Omelet tried to suppress a yawn, this was all fascinating and all, but not really. She hoped Embryo would get to the more intriguing stuff soon, this girl seemed to have confused some of her priorities at some point. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to suggest her mother give her The Talk later, perhaps that would get her mind back onto what was important.

"...and then there was Summit, always at my side, so kind and caring. And he was there for me when I had my egg, but it had hurt too much, and he wanted me to be more, but I wasn't, I was just an Egg Layer, and I rejected him and left him, and I... And he deserved so much more..."

Embryo trailed off, not knowing what more to say. Slowly as she returned to the present, it came back to her where she was, and suddenly she was feeling self-conscious at how much she'd just opened up. Albumen looked at her, surprised to hear that her daughter had had her first egg while she was gone, and that she hadn't heard about it until now. Embryo had done such a great thing, so why did she look so sad?

"Yes, yes," replied Queen Omelet. Who was this Summit? Didn't Embryo have a crush on Vitellus or something. Well, never mind that, here was a chance to leeway the conversation in the direction Queen Omelet was waiting to hear about, "About the Eggs, let's go from there. Tell me what they were like. What were the Eggs like in different tribes? Did they have different flavors depending on the type of dragon laying them? Tell me, I want to know everything." Queen Omelet sat on the edge of her throne in anticipation.

Embryo didn't know how to reply. The Queen was obviously looking for answers Embryo couldn't give.

"Well..." Embryo began, "the other tribes... don't exactly eat their eggs..."

The room went silent, Queen Omelet went very, very still. "They don't... eat..." Queen Omelet was at a loss for words.

"Well, you see," Embryo continued, trying to salvage the conversation, "They believe that their eggs... The other tribes believe their eggs are alive, containing growing dragonets inside..."

But Queen Omelet was no longer listening, a deeply troubled look had come across her face. "They don't eat their eggs?" She breathed to herself.

Looking around her throne room, at the portraits lining the walls, she could feel the panic setting in. Out there was some horrible Omeletless Post-Apocalyptic world, and she'd been too busy living in her beautiful castle in her beautiful village, while the outside world remained lost in their ignorance.

"They don't understand the beauty of the Omelet!" She cried, throwing out her wings in horror.

Beside her, the King Chef looked equally as horrified. Albumen and Yoke seemed a little uncomfortable by the news as well. Embryo looked at them with the dreadful feeling she'd just said something wrong.

"What to do? What to do?" Queen Omelet was mumbling to herself, "Maybe if I... no, that won't work. I could... no..."

Queen Omelet sat on her throne deep in thought, trying to regain control of her heavy breathing.

And then it hit her, the perfect solution to all the world's problems.

"I got it!" She cried, "In three days' time, we'll invite all the dragons of the continent here for a Grand Royal Feast. We will present them with the finest of Omelets and we will show the world the beauty of the Egg. We've been forgotten by the world for too long, but not anymore. Soon everyone will know the beauty of the Omelet!"

Embryo was starting to feel very uncomfortable; she didn't really think the other tribes would be as enthusiastic about this "Royal Feast" as the Queen hoped they would be.

The King Chef's eyes meanwhile, had widened at the Queen's suggestion, "But sweetyoke, we don't have nearly enough Eggs in our Eggstore to feed all the tribes on the continent."

Queen Omelet put her head on her talons thinking, the ideas were coming too fast to even process. Finally, sorting them out, she spoke, and Embryo felt herself growing very, very cold, "Maybe not... But if the other Tribes contribute..."

Embryo gasped, the walls seemed to be closing in as the implications of what the Queen was saying began to make sense.

Queen Omelet looked up, addressing her guards. "Send out a party, I want you to go to all the Tribes and bring back every Egg you can find."

The guards saluted and began heading for the door.

"No wait," Embryo cried, stepping in the way. The image of the SkyWing from the mountains and her egg flashed through her mind, "The other tribes won't let you have their Eggs."

But it was too late, Queen Omelet could no longer be reasoned with. "That's okay. Once they've tasted what their contribution has made, they'll understand. They will all, every single one of them, understand the beauty of the Omelet. Guards, go."

"No, wait," Embryo cried, throwing herself at the guards as they took off, flying over her. Embryo didn't know what she believed, but she'd seen what the other tribes believed, and she knew this couldn't be right. She couldn't let this happen!

But before she could reach the guards, the King Chef grabbed her tail, pulling her back down to the floor. Embryo struggled to escape, but another guard came up to pin her down.

"No! You can't do this!" Embryo cried, trying to escape, "They're babies! You can't eat their babies!" All that pure love... they were going to extinguish it.

Embryo tried to use a writhe that she'd learned during her Laying to slip out of the guard's grasp, but just as it hadn't helped her escape the pain then, neither did it help her escape the guard now. Once again, she was too weak and girly to have any control of what happened to her embarrassingly shameful body. It was too late anyway, the other guards were already out of the Throne Room, heading through the castle to ready the search party.

Queen Omelet had stepped down from the throne and approached Albumen and Yoke who were watching the whole thing in shock, not knowing what to think. Queen Omelet looked at them, "Watch over your daughter please, she's a little confused right now, I don't think she's been getting her Breakfast properly. I recommend giving her three square meals of Eggs a day, that should set anyone's mind right. We'll keep her here for now, and I'll make sure my aids give her proper treatment."

Albumen and Yoke looked at eachother, then at their daughter, she looked at them with desperate eyes.

"We're staying with her," Albumen replied. Yoke, standing beside her nodded.

Queen Omelet looked at the two of them and dipped her head in acknowledgement. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have some eggs I'll be ready to lay in about an hour, can never have too many for our Feast. I'll send a maid to take you to a couple of our guest rooms shortly. Enjoy your stay."

And with that, Queen Omelet and the others left the room, closing the heavy door behind them. Embryo heard a lock click. Embryo was now locked firmly in the room with just her parents and the one guard holding her. The guard released her, and Embryo stood up, looking at the door, knowing that there was no way out.

Her heart went numb. She did this. She'd sentenced all the eggs in Pyrrhia to a Royal Breakfast. Millions of possible dragonets would die, and it was all because of Embryo. Who was she?

Out in the hallway, Embryo heard the sound of the search party gathering, the King Chef readying the kitchen for the feast. Eventually, these sounds were joined by Queen Omelet's muffled screaming as she laid her next clutch of eggs, and her Impersonator cheering on to drown out her muzzle-restrained voice.

This was the future Embryo chose, this was what it meant to be an OmeletWing.

This is what it meant to be Embryo?

 

GATHERING

OmeletWings lined the battlements of the castle looking out at the distant mountains, the Sun beginning to set, the lights of the Three Moons in their various stages of their cycles rising into the sky. The King Chef landed at the front of the group and turned to face the waiting dragons.

"Tonight is the night the world has been waiting for, tonight we step out of the shadows and show Pyrrhia the beauty of the Omelet. Gather up every egg you find, travel to tribes far and wide, leave no egg unflipped. As the Great Egg-Sun rises over the land tomorrow morning, it will be the Dawn of the Age of the Omelet. Now fly! For the Omelet!"

"FOR THE OMELET!" Cried the proud dragons.

And with that, the OmeletWings alighted from the Castle's battlements into the night air, taking off for the mountains that surrounded their valley in every direction.


Embryo sat listening to the sounds of many wings overhead as the OmeletWing search party departed. A guard had escorted her to a quiet room a few minutes ago and locked the door behind her.

Though she was obviously being held captive, the accommodations weren't bad, the room was cozy with soft curtains and bedding, and all the comforts you could expect out of a royal guest room. A tray of food had even been laid out for her loaded with - guess what - Omelets.

Embryo checked the windows looking for an escape, but they weren't the kind made to be opened. Embryo wasn't in the mood for breaking them, but it wouldn't have helped anyway, even though they were surely big enough to let in enough natural light during the day, they were too narrow for a dragon to have any hope of fitting through. Wincing, Embryo realized it would be no tighter a fit than an egg being laid by a dragon, the only difference was, her body was made to lay eggs, no matter how impossible it may have seemed. She knew there was no way she could have done it if her bodily instincts hadn't naturally taken over to get the impossible done for her, and with this window, she knew there was no such natural method to make the impossible possible. She'd need to reshape her entire body, and the only time a dragon could do such a thing without permanently damaging themselves is while laying an egg, and even then, no matter how natural, having one's body forcefully reshaped to make room for an egg hurts just as much.

Embryo didn't want to think about it anymore, just the thought made her nauseous. She couldn't believe she'd actually done something so painful before.

Knowing there was not much to do, she moved to the bed and curled up. The bed was soft, the sheets made of the finest material with not a hint of roughness to them. Her bed at home was fairly comfortable, but this was a bed made for royalty. As much as Queen Omelet loved her Omelets, she obviously still had some appreciation for the finer things.

But though Embryo tried to rest, she couldn't. So she just lay their silently, her mind wandering to all the things that had happened, all the things she'd caused. She lay there, just breathing, letting the air and the feeling of the blankets calm her mind.

You experience things. Summit's words came back to her. To her, those words had meant nothing, but as she lay there, she realized that maybe they were true in some way, right now it was just her, breathing in and out, feeling the blankets, acknowledging her existence. Even if it wasn't much, it was still her, something only she could have, and no one else would truly know.

Finally, she got back up, and began wandering the room, the Omelets still laid on the table uneaten. Embryo found herself looking in a mirror at herself. She truly was a girl, wasn't she? Admittedly a pretty one at that if you liked slightly plump and all. She could see why Summit had liked her.

Embryo's heart deflated. If only that wasn't the only thing there was to like about her.

If only it wasn't because her sole purpose was to Lay Eggs.

Embryo was suddenly starting to feel self-conscious thinking about her crush upon herself when she heard the knock on her door.

Embryo was silent, not feeling the heart to reply. A moment later, the door cautiously opened, and Embryo's parents stepped in. Then they saw her, looking at them with those sad eyes.

Instantly they rushed to her, wrapping her in their talons in a hug. Embryo just stood there, taking it in. They just stayed there a moment saying nothing.

Finally, her parents pulled out of the hug and looked at her.

"Embryo, are you okay?"

Embryo just stood there speechless; she didn't know if she had it in her to say anything anymore.

"Embryo, we know everything's hard and you're confused, but we've been given a room right next to you, and we'll be here for you when you need us," Albumen said.

Finally, Embryo found her voice. "The eggs, the Queen... She sent them to eat the eggs... You can't let..." She looked at her parents, searching their eyes. "You don't believe me, do you?" Her voice cracked.

"Embryo," Yoke said, him and Albumen exchanged glances...

"We don't know what to think about this egg business of yours," Albumen continued, "We know you mean well, but all this? We just don't..."

"We just want the best for you," Yoke finished.

"We want you to have a future, we want you to be happy, we want you to find love..."

Albumen stopped as she saw the look clouding Embryo's eyes.

"To find love." Embryo repeated. She hesitated a second. "About... about that... about Vitellus... I don't think I can..."

As she trailed off Albumen looked at her, understanding lighting her eyes. "You've met someone else, haven't you?"

Embryo started. "I mean, about the eggs and all... for the cause... laying to eat... I can't-" but then she started to break down, "But then there was Summit, and he was there for me, and I said he didn't love me, and I left him, like I... like he didn't... that I didn't-" Embryo didn't know what she was saying anymore, she was just stumbling over herself. She just felt herself overflowing with such emotion, such regret, that she burst out crying.

There was so much heartbreak written on Embryo's face, Albumen let her fall into her embrace once more, holding her tight.

"I laid an egg, and I was so weak," Embryo stuttered, "and I screamed, and I wish I was never born, because I'm just a stupid girl. Summit doesn't need me, a stupid weak Egg Layer, that's all I am."

Albumen recalled how Embryo had mentioned having an Egg while she was out in her debriefing with the Queen, but this was the first time she was bringing it up directly to her mother. She'd kept it all bottled inside, and Albumen had never known of that proud moment when her daughter had laid her first Egg, and Albumen didn't know how to feel about that. But feeling Embryo in her embrace, she didn't sense the same level of enthusiasm that she'd come to expect from a first time Egg Layer, only a strange sense of grief.

She'd known Egg Laying could be rough, but she'd always figured that once it was done, it was done, it had never occurred to her that once it was over her daughter would have held onto the experience and let absorb into how she saw her life. But why wouldn't she have, it was such an important part of their lives as OmeletWings, why should they always conveniently just forget their struggles to bring such a treat into the world just because the result was so delicious? It didn't erase the fact that there was very real pain leading up to it, even if the good outweighed the bad. Was it possible that Embryo didn't see it the good the same way the other OmeletWings had?

Finally, Albumen spoke, "Being an Egg Layer is nothing to be ashamed of," she said, "It's something to be proud of."

Embryo buried her face into her mother, the tears rolling from her face. "I know that's how I'm supposed to feel, but I don't."

Albumen wrapped a wing around her daughter. "I know. You don't see it now, but someday you might." Albumen hesitated, preparing for what she had to say next. "We don't know how to feel about your claim of the Eggs being alive or whatever," she continued, "But we do know, as much as we've loved our Omelets, the best Egg we ever had was you."

Embryo just remained in the hug, accepting its warmth. Her heart was still heavy, still ached when she thought of Summit, and nothing still made sense, but her parents' love at least allowed her to feel there was some comfort in the world. It solved nothing, and maybe they didn't even believe what she'd come to believe about eggs, but they accepted her anyway, and that at least made every breath just a little easier to breathe.

Finally, Embryo gently pulled out of the hug and wiped her eyes, feeling a little better.

Before they left, her parents gave her one last hug, "Let us know if you need anything." And turned to leave the room to herself.

Once they were gone, Embryo shifted her legs, suddenly feeling the self-consciousness of the weirdness of her own existence coming back to her as she reflected on what she'd just revealed out loud to her parents. She was an Egg Layer, and she'd laid an egg, because she was a girl, and despite what her mother just said, it wasn't just painful it was weird, something only weird girly bodies did. And she'd had Summit there with her, and with Summit, a boy, she'd shared everything weird about herself. A boy who now knew all there was to know about girly weirdness because he'd simply been friends with her during that moment in her life.

But as awkward as that made Embryo feel, she didn't regret a single moment of it, she only regretted how it could never have worked.

Embryo sat on her bed and took out the Peregrine carving she had carried with her from her place. She felt the soft edges, once again appreciating the work that went into it.

Em thought once again back to her time with Summit. Her mind drifted to all the times her and Summit had been awkward around eachother, how ironically amusing it had been to be embarrassed by themselves around the other. She realized that maybe she did like being a girl, not just despite the awkwardness of it, but also partially because of it. She liked feeling like she was pretty, and that Summit had a crush on her. But she didn't want that to be all that defined her. She remembered the pain she'd felt while laying her egg, the uncontrollable mood swings she had while her body was preparing, she didn't want these to be a part of her, she wanted to be the one who saw the world, breathed in different atmospheres, just enjoyed her presence in life, things she could do whether she was a girl or not. Being a girl was only a part of who she was, and she wished there was a way to pick and choose the aspects that she wanted to live with and those that she didn't, but she didn't see how that could ever be possible.

Maybe she'd even appreciate Egg Laying if it didn't hurt so much. But Egg Laying had hurt, it had hurt her to her very Soul. She was scarred, and she'd dug the scars deeper by rejecting Summit. Maybe Summit had loved her, at the very least, he'd tried his best, but now it was too late, she'd turned him away, Summit was gone, and she doubted she'd ever see him again.

The pain, the heartbreak of it all, that was her experiencing things.


The OmeletWing's hunt for eggs stretched far and wide, reaching to every corner of the continent. The OmeletWings' noses, highly fine-tuned to the smell of Eggs, discovered plunder in even the most discreet of nests. The strongest and fastest fliers were selected for the further reaches of the continent, being able to reach it in less than half the time as an average dragon by eating one of the rare animus eggs and consuming its power, while the more average of fliers would gather their eggs from the nearer areas. Of course, it would've been nearly impossible to find and carry every single Egg in Pyrrhia, but by the time they had gathered all the Eggs they could, and carried them away in large sacks in their talons, there'd be no shortage of Omelets for the royal feast to share with the world, and not one corner of Pyrrhia would be left unawares to this Grand Historic Event.

In the darkness of the night, while most the dragons were asleep, the OmeletWings managed to swipe many of their eggs without confrontation. When a mother or father did happen to wake up and start to defend their eggs, the OmeletWings, many of them, so used by the constant pain of Egg Laying so common in their weekly routine (at least the females), were barely bothered by the attacks in comparison, and though leaving beaten and bruised, most of them managed to get away with their fair share of eggs. The few who were lost would always be remembered for their sacrifice for the Omelet.

And at each and every place they visited, they left a note.

Dear Hungry Dragons of the World,

It has come to my attention, and the attention of all OmeletWings in general that you have not been getting your daily dose of Omelet every morning (or any morning at all for that matter), and because of this unfortunate state of circumstances, we have with heavy hearts decided it is our duty to step out of hiding, and make things right. You have received this invitation in response to your gracious contribution to rightening this great wrong with your donation of your eggs, which you may have noticed have been retrieved from you while you slept last night. Many of you may be worried about what we may do with your Eggs, but rest assured, this is for a greater cause. Come join us in 3 days' time in the OmeletWing village for a Royal Feast of Omelets and other delectable Egg Dishes to discover the true beauty your eggs were always meant to be for. Bring with you your friends and family and anyone else who may be interested. All of Pyrrhia is invited to this Wonderous Historic Event!

Sincerely,

Queen Omelet of the OmeletWings.

And enclosed were the instructions on how to reach the OmeletWing Valley.

The Great Gathering of the Eggs spread further and further across Pyrrhia, never before had so many dragons lost so many eggs overnight. When the Sun rose in the sky and dragons began to wake the next morning, a great cry rang throughout the continent. The name of the OmeletWings, previously unheard of to most as anything more than an age old joke, was now known all across Pyrrhia, every dragon from east to west, north to south, who had anything to do with other dragons, knew the name of the OmeletWings. The OmeletWings who had stolen their unhatched, the OmeletWings, the Egg Snatchers who came in the night to eat their young...

The OmeletWings who now must pay!


Earlier into the night, as the OmeletWings had just begun their great gathering, a small party stopped at a village within the Claw of the Clouds Mountains, only a few hours flight from the OmeletWings' Village.

Entering a tavern that was now closed for the night, a single OmeletWing slipped into the kitchen and looked around.

And then he saw it, an Egg wrapped up in a blanket, glinting in the light of a nearby oven, just laying around waiting to be cooked like it was destined to be. Of course, these SkyWings lacked the vision to see the potential in such an Egg, and certainly it lying here in the kitchen was just a coincidence. What a waste. It was time for the OmeletWings to fix that.

So he approached the egg and prepared to grab it.

Earlier that night, Summit had offered to help Ravine in the kitchen, hoping to take his mind off of things, off Embryo, off everything. It didn't help, it just made him feel worse. As he worked, thoughts of Embryo kept coming to his mind, making him want to curl up and crack inside (maybe he already had). But because he was working, he had to keep it together.

But as the night wore on, as the other dragons began to leave, the silence of the kitchen just made him feel heavier. Ravine headed upstairs to clean up the rooms of the day's departed guests, promising to come back for her egg later when she was done, and with nothing but silence, eventually, Summit had dozed off in the kitchen, leaving his work forgotten.

Hearing the talons hitting the floor now, scraping the floor then lifting back up again, he regained awareness. What was happening? The lamps had burned themselves out for the night, but Ravine hadn't come back yet, or else she would have woken him up or something, so she must still be upstairs taking care of the keep of her tavern. And the talons didn't sound like hers anyway for some reason. They must be somebody else's.

Ducking behind a counter, he looked around it in the direction of Ravine's egg. As suspected, it was still there. And out of the shadows he saw them, talons reaching for the egg, ready to snatch it away.

Summit leaped, throwing himself at the dragon.

Summit and the OmeletWing tumbled across the floor, wrestling eachother for the egg, each struggling to pry it from the other's talons. The OmeletWing had not expected this sudden attack, but quickly regained his composure in sight of his mission.

"Let go of my Egg!" The OmeletWing cried.

"How's this your egg?" Summit sputtered, "You're a guy. And you don't seem Ravine's type!"

"It's for the greater good!" The OmeletWing declared, "You'll understand when you taste the wonder of the Omelet!"

In an instant, Summit realized who he was fighting. An OmeletWing! Three Moons, were these the dragons Embryo had to live with? What were they doing here?

Finally, the OmeletWing gained the upper talon, having more strength to him than Summit (Hey, he always made sure to eat a nutritious Breakfast every morning), and yanked the Egg free.

The OmeletWing ran for the door, Summit stumbling after him. Ravine, startled by from upstairs by the noise, quickly rushed down to join him.

"What happened!?" She cried.

"The dragon!" Summit cried, "He got your egg."

They both rushed after him, but they were too late.

As the OmeletWing flapped desperately out the door to the tavern and into the sky, Ravine's Egg in talon, he dropped something behind him, "Here, take this, you're invited, thank you for your contribution."

And Vitellus got the yoke out of there as fast as he could. He couldn't help but wonder what that guy's deal was. Who flipped his egg wrong?

Summit stepped over to what the OmeletWing had dropped, it was a small invite scroll. Summit read it, his suspicions confirmed. The thief was an OmeletWing.

But why were they doing this? Why make a sudden appearance after so long unknown? And so soon after Embryo had...

Summit swallowed. Did Em have something to do with this? Not willingly, surely, but...

Em, what have you gotten yourself into?

Summit looked after the OmeletWing, his moonlit silhouette beginning to disappear into the night.

Well, I guess I'm about to find out.

"I'm going to follow him," Summit told Ravine.

Ravine nodded. "Let's go," she said.

So, without hesitation, they took off after the OmeletWing, quickly before he disappeared from sight for good, following him as he flew into the distance with Ravine's egg, over the mountains, and in the direction of the hidden OmeletWing Village.

As he flew, Summit felt his heart growing inside him, he was going to save Ravine's Egg. But deep down inside, he knew there was another, more personal reason he was doing this, a hope sparking inside him that just earlier that night he'd feared had been lost...

He was going to find Embryo.

 

ENTERING

The Sun was beginning to rise over the mountains. The OmeletWing was still fairly far ahead, but Summit and Ravine had managed to keep him in sight for the duration of the night. Summit was starting to feel tired from the weight of his game bag, but fortunately, nothing had been ruined in his struggle with the OmeletWing the night before, thanks to its basic padding. He still wasn't sure he knew how to handle what he was carrying with him, and he could help but feel a twinge in his stomach at the thought of it.

Finally, they broke out of the mountains into a wide valley, and for the first time Summit got to take in the world Em had grown up in. It looked like a fairly normal quiet village apart from the castle that stood at the edge of it, marking it as the capital, but most the buildings were painted in yellows and whites, and other eggy colors of the sorts, and even from this distance, Summit thought he could make out a few monuments dotting the village here and there, mostly just giant carvings of eggs, and of dragons sitting beside eggs that in proportion, were probably too big for any sane dragon to ever imagine another dragon laying. He figured it was simply just embellishment. Or at least he hoped it was, he didn't even want to imagine the screams of the dragons laying those if his own experiences (he winced thinking of Embryo) had anything to say about it. That could not feel good in any stretch of the mind. Or stretch of the... Summit cringed, he didn't want to dare think of going there.

...

The problem was, ever since witnessing Em laying her egg, he couldn't help himself from thinking of how it was done, all that had to... Well the mind as the least of one's worries when one had to think of how... flexible one had to be to lay an egg. He could feel his face going red. Why did this make him feel like this? So... awkward?

Crushy, he admitted to himself with shame. She had suffered so much, so painfully, and here he was blushing at how attractive she was. Em was right, he did just have a crush on her. How could he be the friend she needed when he only saw her for how pretty she was. He was so unworthy of her. Why did he have to feel about her this way?

Shaking his head, Summit could also see the very prominent table in the central square, he remembered all Embryo's stories of the breakfasts they ate there. It was all really here, just like Em said. Summit had always trusted her and her mentions of the village, but somehow this just made it all seem validated, that Em truly wasn't crazy (of course, she wasn't but that didn't mean her stories hadn't sounded crazy), that she had actually lived the life she'd claimed, that now it wasn't just a story from some far away past, but it was becoming a part of the world he now knew too.

Ravine's presence, who he knew all his life, was also comforting, it made him feel like he himself wasn't just going crazy, because it all certainly felt crazy.

As they neared the foot of the mountain, Summit realized it was awfully quiet for a morning after a successful cross-continental raid. Perhaps they were early? Summit looked back at the mountaintops, and sure enough he could see another dragon coming in, and another off to the right. He looked at Ravine, his and her scales were sharp red, highly contrasting the eggy colors of the environment and dragons around them.

"We should get out of the open," Ravine said, obviously feeling the same concerns he did, "We can better eye of what's going on, and figure the best approach to getting where we need to go."

So they came in for a landing on a ledge near the foot of the mountain, pausing to take in the scene. More dragons were coming in from the mountains, flying in toward the castle. Pretty soon there was a large crowd outside the gates, each carrying their own collection of eggs, waiting to get admitted in. The castle guards inspected everybody's load, before letting them all in without incident. As Summit watched the castle, he saw the dragon he'd wrestled with the night before present his egg, exchange a few words, then enter. I wonder where he's going now that he's in, Summit thought as he disappeared through the gates.

"They don't seem to be very cautious," Ravine observed.

"From Em's description, they don't sound to be a very aggressive tribe." Summit informed her, "They've never been much used to violence."

"Eating your own children sounds pretty violent to me," Ravine said.

So does laying an egg, Summit thought to himself.

"They don't see eggs the same way we do," Summit explained on out loud, "To them, they are no different than the ones we collect from chickens... Except like in taste and stuff... I think... Never tried one..." He was blushing, "Never want to."

Ravine huffed, turning her attention back to the arriving dragons, "Even so, some of these dragons seem to be returning pretty badly beaten up."

She was right Summit noticed, one was flying along with a limp to his wing, barely able to hold himself up, while another... was she missing a limb? The expression on her face though as she flew near told him to her, it was nothing... Like she'd had worse experiences before, and they were... natural. Summit felt himself sickening at the thought that laying an egg might feel worse than a forced amputation. How could Embryo... Oh Em, how could... How could that have become of you?

"There is the problem of getting inside." Ravine observed.

Summit felt his game bag. "I might have an idea," he said without any enthusiasm. Em's heartbreaking screams still echoed in his mind every time he felt it.

Readjusting the bag on his shoulders one last time Summit sighed. He hoped he was ready. With that, he opened his wings and prepared to take flight.

Okay, let's do this.


Em laid in the bed silently, hardly moving a muscle. She didn't remember when she woke up, it had just happened, much like when one drifts off to sleep they are unaware of the process, she must have simply drifted awake. Sunlight was shining into the window, leaving rays of warmth on the bed. It felt so nice, just to lay down, to not have to worry about the strain on her body and mind caused by flying... caused by egg laying. Right now there was nothing more for her to go through.

She heard the sounds of wingbeats outside, the army must be returning from their night raids right about now, were they successful? She didn't want to think of that terrible moment when the parents awoke to find their precious dragonet eggs, which they'd struggled so hard to lay, missing.

Yes, she just wanted to stay in this nice warm bed for the rest of eternity.

The servants would surely be ready to bring in her breakfast soon, only to find that she hadn't eaten her eggs from last night. She didn't want to deal with that now, but she knew she'd have to say something. She'd say she wasn't hungry. She wasn't absolutely sure that was true, but with the constant knot she'd had in her stomach these past few days, she didn't think she'd be able to eat anyway.

So she just laid there, taking in the warmth, the softness of her bed, until the inevitable knock came at her door.

Em whimpered to herself, she knew she was expected to answer, but she just didn't have it in her.

Another knock, and again, Em just laid there.

Finally, she heard the turning of the lock, and then the door creaking open, slowly, carefully.

"Embryo, sweetyoke, are you okay?"

Vitellus. What did Em expect?

"I'm sorry, I would have come earlier, but I didn't know you were here until just a few moments ago." Vitellus paused, there was the sound of the door closing behind him, apparently his escort figured it best they talk amongst themselves, "I heard what happened, sounds pretty hard boiled. Thought you could use some friendly company- Oh, you still have some Egg leftover, mind if I have some."

Embryo said nothing. A few seconds later, she heard the sound of a fork on the plate, followed by chomping and chewing.

Embryo laid in her bed feeling very awkward. She still didn't want to get up, but she felt she had no choice right now. Finally, she shifted a little, sliding out from under the blankets. She turned to face him, where he sat, enjoying the eggs that had been left out overnight.

"Listen, Vitellus, I'm not really in the... mood right now." Her voice cracked as she remembered her and Vitellus were expected to be together or something; how he wasn't...

"No, I get it," Vitellus said, jumping to attention, "The world out there is crazy, it could send anybody back scrambled. Just last night, I was jumped by some cracked shell just because I was going Egg Hunting or something. Oh, by the way, this Royal Feast - I'm sure you've heard of it, yeah? - Well, I did went hard peaks on that Egg Hunt, if I do say so myself, and from the looks of the crowd outside, the gathering has been quite a success. I think you'd be proud of me."

So there you have it, the Egg Gathering really had happened, they'd succeeded, eggs all across the continent were now being brought to the OmeletWing village to be prepared and eaten like any other eggs even as they spoke. Ever since the pain she had suffered laying her egg, she'd slowly come to realize, if only in the back of her mind, that if there was one good thing to come from egg laying, it was the love for the dragonet inside. She knew her own egg would never be such an egg, but she was beginning to understand that sense of mothership that came instinctively from laying an egg. When she'd returned home, she began to realize how beautiful the love for a dragonet was, how after all that pain, maybe there was something beautiful beyond it after all. But now all that beauty was to be brought to an end by the only tribe she had ever known as her family.

Vitellus paused, noticing Embryo's lack of response. He looked at her. She just sat there, half out of her covers, looking down at the floor. Bothered by this, he empathetically settled himself at the end of the bed. "Listen, I know these past few days have been hard, I want to help you through it. I want to help you find the beauty of the Omelet that you've lost. It's still there, deep inside, I know it, you just have to rediscover it."

Vitellus paused after this inspirational speech, kind of confused. He wasn't entirely sure why he was talking this way or if it connected to her situation much, but it sounded right (probably because it had something to do with Eggs), and he was sure Embryo would be moved by it.

But Embryo just sat there, looking distraught. Vitellus would never understand what it actually felt like to be her. Actually, no male ever could. But that wasn't... "Vitellus, you don't understand. I can't- you can't- It just..." Embryo felt her eyes tearing up. Finally, it just came out, silent, little more than a whisper, "You're not Summit."

And then her eyes began to tear up, to pool with sadness that she had no more voice for. Everything she'd felt, all the emotions, conflicting, no idea where to start, she didn't even know what she was sad about anymore, it had just all fallen together, soaked together into just one mindless puddle. But in the center of it all, there was Summit, somehow she knew... she didn't know what she knew, she just knew that Summit... he'd... she just wished... why couldn't she love him again?

But instead, here was Vitellus.

But now, Vitellus was just looking at her, his eyes empty.

"You're right, I understand."

Slowly, he backed up toward the door, not sure whether he should take his eyes off Embryo. He reached it and then he knocked, waiting for the guard to let him out. As he stepped out of the room, he took one last look at Embryo, "Take care," he rasped, and with that, let the door swing shut behind him.

Lonely silence settled over the room once more. Em looked at the door blankly, feeling like she couldn't leave it like this. But Vitellus was gone, it was over now.

Finally, Em laid back down in her bed, pulling her blankets back over her, hoping that this whole scenario meant she wouldn't be receiving any more breakfast this morning.


Summit and Ravine arrived at the wide gates of the castle where many of the villagers, lined up with their eggs, gathered from various tribes all across the continent, were waiting to be admitted. Each dragon, when they got to the gates, would present the eggs they'd collected, and with a cheery greeting from the guard, were directed inside in the direction of the kitchens.

As he stood there, Summit couldn't help but feel himself cringing at some of the dialogue exchanged between the OmeletWings. The OmeletWings were really as kooky as they sounded. Summit felt bad thinking Em's tribe as kooky, but that's kind of what they were. He didn't like to see Em that way, but he could tell now why she was so confused and all, brought up by these types of dragons.

But while Summit was here, he realized this was probably actually the best time to find out about Em.

"Hey," Summit asked the dragon in front of him, "Do you happen to know a dragon by the name of Em- uh - Embryo?"

"Of course," the dragon said, "She's the one who reported to the Queen that the other tribes don't eat Eggs, can you believe that? Well, supposedly, she'd been cracked herself, poor thing, so the Queen decided to see to her immediate care. I believe she's staying in the right wing of the castle now if I've heard right."

Summit looked at the castle. So Em was here now - being held prisoner? - What had they done with her?

When Summit and Ravine reached the front of the line, the guard gave them a double-take. "Do I know you," he asked, looking at their bright red scales, "you don't look like you're from around here. Never seen you at Breakfast. Yum," He added, thinking of Breakfast.

Summit knew it was time to speak up. "O' mighty OmeletWings, we have traveled from O' so far away. We have heard of your O' so special Omelets, and we have come to contribute in your O' so great of cause." Summit wondered if he had used the word "O'" too many times.

The guard looked at them, without a hint of suspicion. He was a true OmeletWing, raised with such a strong love for Omelets his whole life, it was beyond him that anybody could possibly think of betraying an event as beautiful as this one, how any words pertaining to a love for Omelets could not be authentic. Of course these two were here for the Feast, no other possibility could have ever crossed his mind. Also, this dragon had used the letter "O" quite a bit, and that was kind of the shape of an Egg, so he couldn't help but feel a bit inspired. But they were here early, and he wasn't sure what to do with them.

"Uh, okay," the guard said finally, "If you're here with the Feast... We could... It doesn't start for a few days, so if you want to wait..." The village never had any visitors, so he had no idea where to place any of them... "Perhaps you might like to see if you can stay with one of our villagers for the next few days - maybe Macrolecithal, she's a good Egg - while we finish preparations."

Ravine stepped forward, this was important. "No O' mighty OmeletWing, we are here to volunteer in your great event. I happen to be a chef myself in my own lands, and I have skills that would serve you well in your kitchens."

The guard looked uncertain. Never before had an outsider helped prepare Omelets, what if she did it wrong, what if it wasn't prepared the way they liked it? What if she ruined a perfectly good and beautiful Egg because she didn't know how to cook right!? If the other tribes had such good chefs, then how come the OmeletWings had to swoop in and show them how to eat?

Summit saw that this wasn't going to work. He felt his heart sinking knowing what he had to do.

He paused. Then from his game bag, he withdrew the Egg of Embryo, which he'd been carrying with him ever since Em had given it to him on that heartbreaking day of their separation. "Here, we also brought this," he sighed. He hated using her egg this way, as a prop in their act, but it seemed it was the only way he could get to her.

The guard's eyes lit up, "Oh, you brought an Egg, perfect, go right in. Follow the other dragons to the kitchens, they're to the left. Thank you for your contribution!"

As they passed through the gate, the guard only had time to momentarily contemplate the peculiar presence of their Egg. That Egg had looked like an OmeletWing Egg, the other Eggs all showing up today had looked different, unique to different tribes (and probably tasting different as well, he couldn't wait to try them all). So why were these two strangers carrying around an Egg that looked like an OmeletWing Egg. But he didn't ponder too much, the next dragon approached, and he decided to get on with his job. Could never hurt to have another Egg.

As Summit entered the OmeletWing Castle he was struck by the sight of the walls and columns, such pure whites and yellows, the ovalular shape of the domed ceiling, as if the castle itself was carved out of the inside of a giant egg itself.

Somewhere in this castle was Embryo.

Following a few other dragons wandering in, they reached the turn heading left. Ravine took a step to follow. Summit hesitated, his gaze drifting to hallway down the right wing, and Ravine turned to look at him. Her face softened. "It's okay, you go find Em," she said, "I can take care of it from here."

Summit looked at her, "Are you sure?"

Ravine nodded, "I got this, you find Em."

Summit looked at her gratefully. "Thank you." He turned to leave, then stopped, "Good luck with your Egg." Pause. "I mean finding it, not laying it, you've already laid it... Wow, that must have been horrible..." Summit needed to leave quickly. Ravine just chuckled to herself. "Well, good luck," Summit said again, departing down the hallway, ending the conversation before any more trouble could slip out.

So Summit made his way down the hallway into the right wing alone. He looked at the Castle, it was impressively big. Not as big as the SkyWing Palace of course, but for a tribe who focused all their attention onto eating, they weren't completely incompetent in the field of architecture. But Summit figured this too was largely a response to needing a place to properly dedicate to the "beauty" of their Eggs.

As he walked past various doorways, he started to wonder if he'd even be able to find out which one was for the room Embryo was staying. What if he got caught? So far the Castle seemed fairly sleepy at this time in the morning, but he feared that if he did run into somebody, they might not be quite as unguarded as the guard outside.

Unfortunately, just as he thought this, he immediately ran into another dragon, just as he was rounding a corner. Summit and the other dragon stopped, staring at eachother.

"Hey!" The other dragon exclaimed suddenly, "You're that cracked shell who jumped me last night!"

Yep, this was definitely not going to go well. But this dragon looked more guarded than furious. Maybe he could be reasoned with. "Listen, I'm not here to attack you again or whatever. I'm just here- I'm looking for someone. Do you happen to know where I can find a dragon named Embryo. She's kind of female and" -Oh why did the word female still sound so pretty - "and..."

But the other dragon was just staring at him, mouth open. "You're the Summit Embryo likes?"

Vitellus stared at him a moment longer, trying to process.

And then the dragon advanced on him, backing him up toward the wall.

"Listen here Shell, if you're going to be scrambling with Embryo, you better treat her with respect. Remember, it's her Laying the Eggs not you, so you had better cherish every single one of them, because it's you she's chosen to go through that special effort for, so you got to treat her like she's special too."

Summit looked at this other dragon, this must be the Vitellus Embryo had told him about. He doubted this guy even had any idea of this "special effort" he was talking about Embryo going through - Summit had witnessed it all too well - but Summit could see genuine care in this dragon, something he didn't expect in Em's betrothed, so he decided to say nothing. Besides, Vitellus might be lost to the realization that Em's egg had very little to do with the reason Summit was here.

Finally, Vitellus sighed, "Just take this hall, you'll see her room where the guards stand guard." Vitellus took one last look at Summit, "Well, Sunny-sides up," (some kind of farewell gesture?) and then he retreated down the hall without another word.

Summit followed the hall from where Vitellus had come. After a short distance, he found the door where a couple dragons were standing guard. They looked at him, his bright red scales, all of it in confusion. Summit looked at them.

"Is this the room where Embryo is being held?"

Suddenly, their eyes lit with understanding.

"You're that dragon who brainwashed Embryo!" They looked at eachother in shock, and suddenly nodded in silent agreement. Before Summit could process what was happening, they leapt at him. Summit struggled, but it wasn't long before they had him pinned down. He felt for his game-bag, hoping Em's egg inside hadn't broken. It felt fine, fortunately the bag's padding was enough to sustain it a little bit of jostling.

"We're sorry," said one of the dragons, "but soon you two will both come to understand the beauty of the Omelet. You two can be rehabilitated together, okay?"

Em felt her heart sinking when she heard the door unlocking once more.

But then her heart jumped in her chest as they threw him in, tumbling across the floor.

Then the door closed behind him, locking. He was trapped.

Summit should have felt lost by his defeat, but he didn't, because deep down inside, as his attention turned to the bed, he knew he hadn't been defeated, he'd found what he'd come here for...

Summit and Embryo had been reunited.

 

REUNION

Em stared at Summit sprawled on the floor, her breath still caught in her throat. Summit had come, he'd found her.

Why? Why had he come to her? She'd told him. She didn't deserve him. He shouldn't be here.

Em pushed back the tears she felt beginning to pool in her eyes, and instead climbed out of bed with her blanket still wrapped delicately around her, dragging on the floor behind her as she slowly approached Summit.

Finally, she stopped a few paces away from him. "What are you doing here?" she asked, fighting back the choke in her voice. She wanted to get closer to him, she wanted to hug him, but she couldn't bring herself to get any nearer.

"Em," Summit said, pulling himself to his talons, trying to explain himself, "I know what you said, I know you don't think you're worth it, but I couldn't leave you like that. I couldn't leave you thinking you were like that."

Embryo couldn't keep the cracking out of her voice now, it was all she could do not to cry, "You don't understand, I am like that! Look at me? What do you see? That's all I am! This is all I am!" Em wanted to go on about all she'd done, how she'd betrayed the whole continent, but she couldn't, she couldn't go on explaining without breaking.

"Em," begged Summit, looking at her, "Please..." He didn't know what else to say, he knew there was something deep inside him, some truth he knew about Embryo that he had to get out, to make her understand, but he couldn't find the words to say it. "Listen," he said finally, "Maybe this is all there is to you, but it's still you."

"But what does that mean?" Em flustered, "It doesn't mean anything; how could it? Summit, please, look at me, how could you see anything special in this? Summit... Please... Why can't you just see me for what I am?"

Summit looked at her, what did he see? Why did he see her the way he did? "I don't know," He admitted finally, "I don't know what I see in you, but I see it all the same, I can't not see it, no matter how hard I try. When I look at you, I see you, and I can't help but love you."

Em went silent. She knew he meant it; he did love her. But why? "I know you love me," Em admitted out loud, "But why? How could you see all this in me and still love me?"

"I don't know. I don't know." Summit bowed his head before looking back up at her with renewed assurance, "But I do. You're the one I wanted to see the world with, you're the one I want at my side for the rest of my life. You're the one I'd want to be with to settle down and start a family with..."

Summit stopped, noticing Em's face drop. He realized his mistake too late.

"I understand." Em took a slow step back. What little hope she had sparked in her heart instantly died out.

"No, I'm sorry, I didn't mean..." Summit stopped, he didn't know what he meant, did he really...

"No, it's okay, I understand." Embryo looked away; she didn't know why she should have expected anything else from someone who liked her. "You want to choose me, you want to start a family together - it's an honor, really - you just don't realize the hard job you'll never have to understand. You only see the beauty of laying eggs, you don't realize how lucky you are to be you."

Summit looked at her; he knew he'd messed up, but he couldn't leave it there, he had to continue. "Em, I mean, I do love you... And it's true I want to spend the rest of my life with you... I mean, I'd love to start a family..." Summit, he held his breath, trying to find the next words... "but I also want you to be happy. If you never want to have another egg in your entire life, I want to support you."

"I can't not lay eggs even if I wanted to," Em said finally, "that's not how I work." Embryo seethed her blanket with her talons, trying to let herself feel it's comforting texture, the only comfort she dared to hope for at this point. "You might as well take it, that's what I have to offer."

Summit took a deep breath, he had to say this right, he needed Em to understand. "Em, I know I can't tell you you'll never lay eggs again; you may never be able to change it; you may lay eggs for throughout the rest of your life... But just because Egg Laying is something you do, but doesn't mean it's the fullestness of who you are... Or stuff..." He paused. He figured it wasn't the time to fix his typo right now; he had to go on. "It doesn't mean it's your lot in life. You are so much more. And not just for me or yourself, but the world."

"Of course I'm not more," Em burst into despair, "you said so yourself, you said you love me because I 'experience things'. Well, any dragon can do that, Summit. You just chose me because you haven't been with anyone else... Because you have a crush on girls, and... and I was the first one you really spent a lot of time with..." Em felt herself cracking; all that beautiful love Summit had for her... It wasn't real. He wanted it to be, but it could have been for anyone else; she wasn't special. Embryo gave a shuttering sigh. "...But that's all I am, a girl, an Egg Layer, I'll never be anything but an egg layer."

Summit looked at her. Gently, he took a step closer. "But that's not it. That's not all you are." A breath. "Who you are... that's... you." Slowly, Summit was starting to see it, starting to understand; he just he had to form the words. "I know I once said you were all pretty and stuff, and I still mean that... But now I know... I don't just think you're pretty on the outside... It's your heart and... and your Soul that's beautiful too. From the first moment I saw you, I liked you... and yes, I know just thinking the word girl always makes me feel crushy... But then... I got to know you, an... I realized... That's not truly why you're beautiful. It's everything inside you that's beautiful... Because that's you... Everything... Everything you love, everything you think, everything you experience, that's who you are." He held up a talon to her. "You are the smile you make when feel the flowers in your talons, the laugh you make when you find something funny, the air you breathe rolling over the fields-"

Suddenly, Em pulled away, "The pain I feel when laying an egg, the screams I cry as I try to writhe free of my body." The pain inside her just speaking of it was too much. "Face it, no matter what I do, who I become, I will always be an Egg Layer."

"And that hurts me more than anything." Summit said, his voice cracking with the suppressed pain of having to watch her lay her egg, "Maybe I don't experience one drop of pain... but to see you... suffer... It hurts me worse than anything in the world." Summit tried to suppress the tears welling in his from remembering what he'd witnessed.

"But why should it matter?" Em said, "You'll never have to worry about knowing what it's like to be me. Maybe it's true, maybe you do want to spend your life with me, but you could never understand what it's like to be me. The Embryo you once knew is gone; she could have never comprehended what it feels like to be me now. You're a guy, you'll never have to understand what I've gone through. This is my pain, not yours, why can't you just leave it be? Why can't you leave me to suffer my girl problems on my own?"

Summit stood still, not quite sure how to respond. Finally, "I know I'm a guy, I know I'll never be able to truly understand what you've been through, but should I stop being there for you just because I'll never know what it's like to have... girl problems- or stuff?"

"But there are so many other dragons out there," Em said, "Why should you care about me when "me" is so...?"

"Because other dragons aren't you," Summit said, his words suddenly finding themselves with confidence, "I know there are other dragons out there, that they too experience things, but only you can experience things as Embryo. It's you who feels things for yourself, you don't have a choice, because that's who you are. And maybe I do have a choice on whether to feel things for you, but you're the one I feel things for. Even when it has nothing to do with me, I feel for you... I don't want you to suffer, I don't want you to be in that kind of pain..." Summit swallowed, "And that's why that's why I stayed with you, that's why I followed you... Because that's the Embryo I fell in love with, the one who experiences things as you, the one who will always experience things as you, because you will always be you. I could love anybody else, but then you wouldn't be loved by me. And if you weren't loved by me, then who would you have to love you as much as I do?"

Embryo said nothing, Summit looked at her, forcing himself to say what he had to say next. "If you want me to leave, truly want me to leave, then I will - I know it's weird that I have a crush on you, that I even... felt crushiness while you were laying..." Summit felt himself cracking with guilt even admitting it, but Em had to know. But she just glanced away, too far past her own self-consciousness it to feel much about it at this point. So Summit went on, "but please, don't send me away if you don't really want to. You're hurting, and I want to be there for you, don't turn me away because you think you don't deserve to be loved, because to me, you do."

"Well, it's not like you can leave, they've locked you in here too..." Em's eyes clouded, this was beside the point, she just didn't want to address it straight on... "But you shouldn't have come here, you don't belong here, this isn't your... I'm just not..." Em caught her breath, she couldn't continue, couldn't go on, she wanted so desperately to let Summit in, begging herself to let go, but didn't know how; her face was filled with such heartbreak and pain, holding back the tears built up inside from her lack of self-love.

And in an instant, Summit was there, throwing his wings around her...

And then she felt it, unlike anything she'd felt before. Love pouring into her. Into every ounce of her being it filled her; every aspect of who she was and every hollow space in between, his love embraced her, until everything she was was surrounded by his love. When Summit had first told Em that what he loved about her was that she "experienced things", she'd thought it meant nothing, but now Em began to understand. He didn't love her for anything she'd done, it wasn't just because she was a girl, not for anything more than she was - everything she was was still the same to him - Summit loved her because she was Embryo, and now Embryo felt it. It was a love beyond all romance, beyond all crushiness, it was a pure and wholesome love that went beyond anything he felt for himself. She simply just existed, and for Summit, that's all she ever needed to be. Not Embryo of the OmletWings, not Embryo the Cute Girl, but just Embryo, nothing more, nothing less.

And as Em stood there, in the warmth of his wings, feeling his heart beat next to hers, his gentle tears falling softly onto her head, she let the blanket slip from her grasp, and burst into tears, sobbing deep and uncontrollable breaths into him. She threw her wings around him, and she just sobbed, letting all her emotions, all her fear and insecurities, all her sadness and pain be washed away by his love. And he just held her, being there for her. And she just sobbed, tears upon tears, where she could no longer tell if they were tears of grief or comfort, nor did she care; never had she ever felt anything more beautiful, then here in Summit's embrace - his love - and right now that was all that she needed.

Finally, Em's heart began to calm. She looked at him, then burst out crying again, here she was, being made to be so vulnerable and embarrassing because of her girly weirdness, and here was Summit, so willing to put up with this. "I'm sorry I'm being so weak and helpless because I'm a girl, and I have to have you stand here as my support as a guy and hold me because I'm so weak. I screamed, and I acted so stupid..."

"You're not weak because you're a girl, you're weak because you've just gone through something hard; something I could never understand, and you don't know who you are anymore," Summit's breath shuddered, he couldn't imagine the sheer horror it must have been to be there, going through such pain like she had. "Anybody would have acted like that in your situation, that's nothing to be ashamed of. I don't know why just girls have to go through that, but that doesn't make you weak."

Em gave a deep breath of relief, letting her head rest against him once again. "Thank you Summit, thank you."

And, so there Em stood, just letting herself remain there in the comfort of his embrace, both finally together. And there they remained for a very long time.

And for once, Summit didn't even feel a bit of crushiness; he only felt Em.

 

KITCHENS

As Ravine made her way through the Castle toward the kitchens, discretely trailing the other dragons heading that way, keeping to herself, questions kept filling her mind of how she would do what she came here to do once she got there. How was she to stop the feast? How was she to evade capture when the OmeletWings figured out what she was doing? How in the three moons was she to escape with all those thousands of eggs and get away unnoticed?

The whole thing seemed like a wild fever dream, something she could only dream up when she was delusive with pain, like the pain you'd have while laying an egg (yes, it hurt that bad, but that was better left unsaid, Ravine thought). Dragons eating their own eggs? She still could not believe such barbaric practices could exist in the real world. And a whole tribe of dragons formed around it? Unbelievable. But here she was.

What if she was too late? What if they'd already started preparing the eggs? What I her baby...

Ravine swallowed hard. She wouldn't let herself think like that, she had to get to them in time. She would. There was no other way.

But just because there is no other way doesn't mean the worst can't happen, egg laying was proof of that, something too painful to imagine being real, but something that happened regardless. Ravine shook her head, that was irrelevant. What was important is that she would save her child, and nothing would stop her from doing so.

Ravine continued toward the kitchens. Somewhere, a feminine voice was screaming. Probably a servent laying an egg "for their society". That's not the least bit surprising. Was there anything in this place that didn't revolve around eggs?

Ravine had never made much of a deal about the pain of egg laying, she always felt it was something best left forgotten, the outcome was beautiful with an egg and a child, and that was it, the rest wasn't even worth thinking about. But even she couldn't help herself at marveling at what these dragons were willing to put themselves through day after day just to have breakfast every morning.

She looked at the egg Summit had passed to her before heading off to find Embryo. Summit hadn't told her much about it, but she could tell just by looking at the way his gaze had rested on it, that it was from Embryo. There was such care and gentleness in him when he held it, but the look on his face when he looked at it showed how much it bothered him. The laying must have been really hard to witness, and the egg for Summit must have served as a painful reminder of everything they'd had together. Ravine thought of Em, sweet and gentle, raised to believe this was what her life was about. That poor girl, there was no way she could have been ready for that egg she had laid. Summit cared so much for her, but it was best for his sake that he didn't truly understand what she'd been through. He was broken enough just trying to comprehend his sweetheart going through that, if Ravine could share with him all that she knew about egg laying, she didn't think he could handle it. Perhaps this was one time it was fortunate that words were never enough. It was something you had to live through in the moment and just let go, but Ravine understood that empathy didn't always work like that.

Yeah, being a girl was fun. When it wasn't your egg laying day.

Ravine shook her head. Geez, for being a dragon who didn't contemplate the consequences of egg laying much, she sure was thinking about egg laying a lot today. This place could mess you up.

Finally, Ravine reached the kitchens, another guard stood, well, guard, but once she saw the egg, she smiled warmly, "Oh yay! Other dragons from other tribes have come to support our Omelets! Welcome right in!" And so Ravine got in without any major difficulties.

When Ravine stepped inside, she gasped. She stood on a balcony overlooking the rest of the kitchens. The kitchens were a wide-open space with cooking supplies and stoves everywhere, much grander than her kitchens at the Tavern (though she'd argue hers was more cozy). The place was white, yellow, and clean and one could tell the castle cared very deeply for the qualities of their meals. Some dragon who Ravine could only guess was the chef was standing on an observational place on the balcony, pride obviously filling his eyes at the preparations going on before him.

Ravine followed the other dragons down the flight of stairs to the main level. Dragons were scurrying about bringing supplies from here to there, sauces, flour mixes, and other small tasks were being performed, dishes, the general kitchen duties. But as of yet, she didn't see any discarded egg shells or eggs being cracked open.

Please don't have killed my baby, please don't have killed my baby, she thought again and again to herself.

Finally, they reached a large vault door where the dragons were bringing their eggs, and instantly, Ravine's heart sunk. Inside the gaping room were rows and rows, stacks and stacks, of hundreds and hundreds of eggs, all different colors from every different tribes they had stolen from. Ravine felt her knees growing weak. Out of all these eggs, how was she to find which one was her own baby?

She walked into the vault and looked around. Even if her own egg wasn't buried under everything else, would her mother instincts be enough to pick out which one was hers from all the others?

She paused again as another rush of anxiety passed through her. Even if it was possible to sort back through the eggs, there was no way for one dragon, or even just her and Summit to carry so many eggs back across Pyrrhia to where they belong without getting caught. The feast was too soon.

Ravine looked around, getting herself back together. The task would be hopeless, but she might as well begin gathering as much information about this situation as possible. That was the best place to start.

She looked at Em's egg, then back at the stacks of eggs before her. The dragon standing guard at the vault would expect her to do something with it. She didn't want to loose Em's egg in here like she had her own, she'd have to pick an easy to find place to put it. She decided on a nice place right next to the door, where it could be seen right when coming in, but also not too in the way where somebody would likely move it.

I just hope nobody cooks it before I can get back.


Summit stood, just holding Em for a very long time. Finally, when it was time to let her go, he stepped back and looked at her. She looked at him.

"Thank you Summit," she said, "Thank you for being here for me."

"I know, I just couldn't leave you like..."

Though Em felt more calm than she had in a long time, her eyes beginning to dry, she noticed that Summit still had some tears in his eyes.

"Summit are you..."

Summit nodded, but by looking at him, she realized that Summit still had his own share of feelings stuffed up inside him.

Finally, "I failed you Em. You were so special, and I made you feel like you weren't special enough, I didn't let you know how I saw you, I didn't show you that I loved you, that you deserved to be loved-" And this time it was Summit who broke down crying. Hard and heavy, like Em had before him. He grabbed Em again and held her tight, no apology would ever be enough for the guilt he felt inside.

And now it was Em's turn to hold him, to wrap her wings around him, and just let him know that she was there for him.

"I still hear you screaming, even now," he said, "I see you in pain and I wish it could stop, I wish that it had never started..." Summit's voice cracked and he couldn't finish, he just stood there crying, letting go all the feelings he had experienced since he had seen her suffer so horribly. Though Em knew it was she who'd suffered physically, she knew Summit having to watch her like that must have been just as awful. To see a loved one scream like she knew she had, with nothing to do to stop it. He too had pain built up inside, and Em just held him back as he let it all out.

You came here for me, now I want to be here for you.

"I'm alright, I'm okay, I'm not in pain any longer," she said eventually. "The pain's over, I'm okay."

"I know," Summit said, "I just didn't want you to suffer such pain, I didn't want you to..." Summit didn't finish, he didn't want to finish... He didn't want it to be true. He gave Em another hug as much for her as for himself "I'm sorry Em..." and finally, he pulled away and wiped his eye.

Em took a deep breath, letting the air settle before she continued. It was time to accept the truth as it was, she couldn't pretend it was any other way now. "That pain... I know now that that it is part of my life, It's a past I can't undo..." despite the darkness she felt over the situation, she felt a new warmth somewhere inside her, "but I'm glad that through all of that, you've chosen to be with me."

Summit looked down, "I'm sorry you had to be born a girl. If you hadn't none of this would have..."

Embryo was silent a moment, thinking. Finally, "I actually think I like being a girl, all those awkward moments I got to share with you, I actually kind of enjoyed them. I want to be a girl. I just wish... why should being a girl mean... why does it have to hurt so much," Embryo sighed, "But it does. Whenever my body decides to have an egg it will, whether I want it to or not."

They fell again into a somber silence for a while.

Then, "Eggs." Em chuckled, looking down at her talons, "Girls really are weird, aren't we?"

Summit went red, he'd been able to totally forget feeling crushy for awhile, but now he could begin to feel it resurging, apparently that was only temporary. "Em, I know you are... but... it doesn't mean that..." He trailed off.

"You once said... that time when you told me that you found me attractive... You said you only wanted to focus on this part of me, right?" Embryo gestured to her upper half of her body. "But ever since my... egg... you've... you've known all about that other half of me, haven't you?"

Summit went still, feeling the guilt wash through him again. Finally, he nodded.

Embryo went red slightly thinking about all that embarrassing stuff he must now be unable to avoid thinking about her every time he saw her. Summit himself now knew that he could see her for more than that, but he knew that'd it'd always be there, an aspect of her that he would always associate with the whole. Summit opened his mouth to say something, but fell silent. There were no excuses.

Finally, Em spoke up, "I know you find me attractive - I am attractive, I know that - and it's weird to think of myself in that- that you see me in that way. At this point though, I think I've stopped caring how self-conscious your crush on me makes me feel. Summit, I know you care for me, I think you're just still trying to find a balance between your crush for me and your love for me."

"I didn't want to see you that way, I didn't want to seem creepy, but you were just... and I couldn't just let you be there alone, and I... but... I can't go back... now... to seeing you how I did before all this. And now my crush, and what I know, and... It doesn't seem fair-"

"It's only natural that you see me that way, it doesn't matter to me that you do - I actually like that you do - I know that that's not all I am to you," Em took a breath, "When you followed me halfway across Pyrrhia, it wasn't because you thought I was pretty, it was because you wanted to be there for me. Yes, you find me attractive, but I know you love me more. If there was anybody I'd want to share all this with, all this weirdness, it'd be you." She paused, "If you were to ask me to marry you right now, I wouldn't hesitate to say 'yes'. This side of myself... all of me, I'd be willing to share it with you forever."

Summit looked away, shocked "Marriage? But... Isn't it too soon? I mean, I want to be with you, but..."

Embryo shrugged, "I know. I'm just saying... We've been through a lot together, we've traveled the world, you've seen me lay an egg, everything we've told eachother, never leaving each other's side... if there's a better match for either of us than eachother, I don't know it, nor do I care to know it, because I love you, and I know that even beyond all your crushy feelings, you love me just as much. Because even more so than me being your crush, you always chose first to love me as a friend. I just had a hard time accepting that I was worth having you as a friend until now. Your friendship has been enough to show me that you'll love me no matter where our relationship's at. And that's the kind of dragon I'd want to start a family with."

Family... Summit felt the sting, knowing now what that would mean for Em. "About what I said about starting a family together earlier, listen, I thought of it, and... I know how hard eggs are- well, at least I've seen... I don't really know personally, but anyway... I really don't want to do it unless you want to."

Em looked back at herself, and felt her stomach, "I can't not lay eggs even if I wanted to, but if I must lay eggs, there's no one I'd rather have them with then you."

Summit bowed his head, "But we don't have to rush it. You can do it in your own time."

Em nodded, she rested her head on him, and he rested his back. And they just sat there for awhile, tails twined together, relaxing in the other's presence.

"We need to get out of here, you know," Em said finally, getting to her talons, "This whole egg thing... I started..." She sighed, "I don't know what to believe about eggs and the dragonets inside, anymore, but I know how other tribes feel, and we can't take their eggs." She was beginning to panic, "They aren't our eggs to..."

Summit reached for her with a talon. "Will figure this out."

Em felt her eyes watering again, emotions coming back, "But I started this. It's my fault."

Summit held her another moment, "We'll figure this out," he said again, "Ravine is here."

Em pulled away and looked at him, "Who?"

"Ravine. The tavern keeper? Her egg was taken too. She's here to help us."

"Oh," said Em. She didn't know the tavern keeper well, but she seemed nice enough, perhaps she could help them. "Where is she?"

Summit shrugged, "She has to do some stuff first. Hopefully she'll be here to free us at any point soon." Summit actually didn't know what the plan was. Would Ravine come back to free them? Perhaps she didn't know they were locked away. Summit and Embryo looked around. Hopefully she came. But until then, they could do nothing but wait.


Back in the kitchen, Ravine was still working on figuring out an escape plan. If she could talk to the chef, maybe so could get more information. Looking up at the balcony, she made her way toward the stairs and started climbing. Once up there, she had discreetly edged herself as close to the chef as she could without making it obvious.

And finally: "Hey sir."

He looked at her surprised. "Oh, hello missy," he replied kindly, "you can call me 'your Eggmajesty' actually."

Ravine looked at him, "Oh, sorry sir- I mean, your majesty-"

"Eggmajesty," the Chef corrected, "Yes, I am Shell, King Chef of the OmeletWings!" He looked at her, "You must be that dragon from the other tribes I've heard mention about. What brings you here to me at this moment?"

"Well your..." Ravine cleared her throat, "Eggmajesty," oof, did that word actually come out of her mouth? "I don't mean to question your divine culinary skills or anything, but I have some experience as a chef myself. What I'd like to suggest, is that - and I know you have a lot of preparations to do, and your wisdom is surely beyond my own, but, my suggestion is... you hold off on preparing any of the eggs until right before the feast."

"No no!" The King Chef replied in horror," Prepare the eggs this far in advance? I can't believe you'd think I'd do that. They'd go stale before we even got to them. No no, you can rest assured that I, as any good chef before my knows, that in order to keep an Omelet at it's freshest, you have to wait to prepare it until right before the feast. Will it be a lot of last minute work? Sure it will. But with the power of the Egg Sun raining down on us, there is nothing we OmeletWings cannot do."

Ravine couldn't help but feel a deep relief inside her. They still had one more night to work out a plan. It seemed good kitchen etiquette might have given them just the time they needed to save their young.

The King Chef looked at Ravine, "It seems like you have some pretty good instincts yourself when it comes to the culinary arts. We'll see if we can make an OmeletWing of you yet." He chuckled to himself, "No, we will start preparing for our regular breakfast in the morning, but for now, we will hold off on the ant major feast preparations until the time is right."

So that said, the King Chef returned to watching the proceedings of the kitchen with awe.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" He said finally.

Ravine hesitated, not sure where he was going with this.

Fortunately, he went on before she had to ask, "My wife, Queen Omelet, she had a pet scavenger once. Eventually though, she discovered that scavengers don't lay eggs. Pretty disappointing actually. It was on that day she truly realized how blessed she was to be a dragon." The King Chef sighed dreamily, "Female dragons are so lucky. Oh how wonderful, that a dragon such as her could be so blessed to be one."

"Nn-hmm," Ravine replied.

Ravine returned back to the kitchen level and continued to scout around. Glancing back up at the King Chef, she shook her head. What a dingbat.

As she inspected the place, her panic began to return. They had the extra day, but what if it wasn't enough to save their young?

But finally, Ravine noticed something. A chute on one of the walls. Was that where they sent out the trash? Something?

She went over to it , opening and closing it, wondering where it could go.

"Oh that," said a dragon coming up behind her, "that is how we deliver our food to the Breakfast Pavilion. We send it down the chute, and it arrives outside, ready to be taken to the villagers."

Ravine looked at the chute pondering, an idea beginning to form.

"Attention everyone," announced the King Chef suddenly, "I know we are all excited about the Royal Feast in two days, but let us not forget our Breakfast for the morrow. Now, we shall begin separating the Eggs for which we will eat tomorrow from the ones we shall eat for the Feast. Leave for tomorrow the Eggs that we can eat any day, and - though their value will not be forgotten - as for the Eggs which came from far beyond, let us save them for the Feast to be enjoyed by all, because those Eggs which we have given so much to achieve, they are truly something special."

There was a cheer from the crowd.

Ravine watched the OmeletWings with sudden disgust. All these dragon so excited to eat their own children, along with the children of all the dragons of Pyrrhia, it was sick. It was evil.

A dragon went to the vault to start sorting out the eggs, and Ravine realized her mistake as his eyes instantly turned to Em's egg, right in the front for everyone to see, looking like any other OmeletWing egg without a care in the world.

Ravine instantly made her way to the front of the crowd, stalling them just in time.

"Wait, not this one." She paused, making sure she had their attention. "You see, this egg may look like any other OmeletWing egg, but this egg is in fact special, having traveled halfway across Phyrrhia to be here today," (That was true), "I say this one we save, for the Feast. It is very important to me."

The other dragons looked at eachother. The King Chef from his balcony nodded.

"Well then," said the dragon in charge of the vault, "In that case, we will save it. Just so we don't forget..." He took out a piece of charcoal handed to him from one of the stoves, and on Em's egg, he drew a smiley face :)

The King Chef watched Ravine with pride. With what he'd heard about the other tribes, he'd feared there would be some form of resistance to their plan (why they would, he would never understand, but that's apparently what they did), but now here was a foreign dragon all in support of their cause, and it warmed his heart to know there were dragons out there who understood the beauty of what they were trying to do. The Queen would be so proud.

Ravine looked at the egg, she didn't know why she cared so much about sparing it, she didn't even know if Em really cared. If what Summit had told her was true, it was completely infertile, but she still felt a motherly instinct to protect the eggs, and this was the least she could do for Em. It angered her so much that she couldn't save all the eggs, but she couldn't risk alerting the OmeletWings to her plan before the game was up. As much as it pained her, she knew she needed that extra night to arrange the escape plan, and the least she could do as save the eggs of the tribes who actually cared for their young. Besides, she knew she couldn't save them all, even if she emptied the Castle completely of eggs to use, there would be other villagers who'd bring their own eggs in, and those ones would be lost all the same.

She would do what she could, but that's all she could do.


In the darkness of the night, Ravine snuck back into the kitchen. All was silent, nobody in sight.

She went to the egg vault, and looked at the door, there wasn't even a lock.

Ravine opened it. This was all too easy.

But off course it was, the OmeletWings were so caught up on their obsession with eggs, it was beyond them that any dragon would come along and ty to sabotage their breakfast.

Ravine looked at the eggs, she knew she couldn't free them all by herself, but there was one she knew she could.

One with a smiley face on it.

So that night, one egg slipped unnoticed from the egg vault, and Ravine began to hope that maybe all this could work in the end.

Outside, wingbeats sounded over the castle. The first of the "guests" were beginning to arrive for the feast.

And they were furious.

 

NEGOTIATION

Queen Omelet was screaming; it was too much! She was never going to lay another egg again! She just wanted to die.

Unfortunately, her screams couldn't be heard past her muzzle, and the only voice that could be heard from the Royal Bedroom were the cheers of her impressionist. Though Queen Omelet wanted to throw her out the window, her chains preventing it. And perhaps she couldn't appreciate it now, but the cheers were actually serving as pretty great propaganda for the crowds that had gathered around the castle overnight.

"GIVE US OUR EGGS BACK!" "LET OUR EGGS GO!" Dragons of all tribes were screaming. "DON'T EAT MY BABY!" One wailed miserably.

EGGS! I HATE EGGS NOW! Queen Omelet's Soul wailed blasphemously, WHY MUST THEY CAUSE ME SO MUCH AGONY! She was in so much pain that she now realized the ridiculousness that they always went through to get to the Omelet. If the other tribes didn't want the Omelet, why must they make them? Queen Omelet so hated her life so much right now.

But then the egg was laid. Queen Omelet gasped as the pain faded from her body; she looked at her freshly laid egg. HOW BEAUTIFUL! The perfect shape, the shininess of its shell... Oh how she had cursed her life while laying it; how young and naïve she had been. She saw now that Omelets truly were the beauty of the world. How could she have been so foolish? Maybe she hadn't really thought those things. Of course she hadn't. No dragon in their right mind would ever think any such things when it came to a craft as beautiful as Egg Laying.

Queen Omelet picked up her egg and went over, still sweaty from her Egg Laying ordeal, to the balcony of her castle to look down at the protesting crowd. Dragons were desperately trying to storm the castle through any door and window that could be found, and the guards were desperately working to fortify the castle, barely managing to hold them back. It was a miracle they hadn't burst through this opening yet, but it was only a matter of time.

"I don't understand," Queen Omelet observed, "They should be happy about the gift we're trying to give them, why are they so mad?"

The impressionist just looked at her and said in her most Queen Omelety voice, "They just don't understand the beauty of the Omelet, but they will."

"They will," Queen Omelet agreed, "Until the feast, we'll just have to fortify the castle and make sure no one else gets in, all the scouts have returned by now, have they not?"

"How would I know," said the impressionist, "I'm just the impressionist."

Queen Omelet nodded, taking note of that. She looked at the egg in her talons. Oh, it really was beautiful... You know what? She'd save this one. For the feast tomorrow. She went to her special cabinet and opened it. Inside was another Egg, the most beautiful one Queen Omelet had ever laid. It had been about a year ago and ever since, Queen Omelet had been waiting for a special occasion to serve it. Tomorrow was that day.

So, she placed the egg she had just laid next to it in the cabinet. It wasn't quite the same level as the one from a year ago, but it was a close second. Tomorrow would be the day that the world would be treated with both of them, her gift to the world as Steward of the Omelet, the great role bestowed upon her by the Giant Egg-Sun in the Sky itself.

"Now, let's see about our guests," Queen Omelet said, closing the cabinet and turning around. It might complicate things with today's breakfast, all them dragons crowding around the Breakfast Pavilion like they were. She dearly hoped not, but she worried of what she would do if she couldn't work it out.


The Queen stood with the King Chef addressing the situation.

"If we don't find a way to settle these crowds, we won't be able to have our Community Breakfast this morning," Queen Omelet said, "I mean, I know there is the feast tomorrow, but I can't bear the thought of having to cancel our daily tradition."

Ravine, who had been standing by as the couple discussed this, realized the perfect opportunity for her plan beginning to fall into place. She stepped forward. "Sorry to interrupt," she said, "But if I may your..." she cringed inwardly, "Eggmajesty, I know some of the dragons out there, I may be able to speak reason to them."

Queen Omelet looked at Ravine, then at the King Chef, "Who is this strange dragon?"

The King Chef looked at his wife, "She is one of the dragons from the other tribes that came for our feast, she has been helping in our kitchens and has shown great support for our cause." He looked thoughtful for a moment, "It may prove helpful to have the support from one of their own on our side speaking to them, perhaps she can help them see sense."

"Perhaps you're right," Queen Omelet replied, waving her talons aside, "Very well, send her out to speak with them."

Ravine followed the Queen and King Chef to the doors of the castle, guards struggling to keep it barricaded.

"Let her out," Queen Omelet told the guards, gesturing to Ravine.

So the guards opened the doors. As soon as they did, dragons of all tribes tried to bombard their way in. The guards desperately tried to push them out of the way, it was brutal fighting, but they managed to keep them out. "Sorry, you can't come inside yet," the guards said, "the feast isn't until tomorrow. Come back then and your eggs will be ready. Okay? Thank you."

In all the chaos, Ravine managed to slip out. As the doors slammed shut behind her, silence fell around the castle, and all eyes turned toward her.

Then finally: "Traitor!" It was just one dragon, but it stung for Ravine to think that anyone would think she didn't love her egg as much as any of them.

The rest of the crowd remained silent, trying to figure out what to make of a SkyWing emerging from the OmeletWing Castle that had stolen their eggs.

Before any more protests could be risen, Ravine raised her talons. "Wait, I need to speak to you all."

The dragons just continued watching, unsure what to say, when a dragon finally recognized her.

"Ravine?"

A SkyWing with scales of orange stepped out of the crowd. Ravine gave a sigh of relief, it was Warbler, she came into the Tavern every once in a while to share a meal, and it was comforting to see a friendly face.

"What are you doing here?" Warbler asked.

"Same as everyone else," Ravine said quietly, taking a step forward, hoping none of the dragons in the castle could overhear, or perhaps hoping that they would just misinterpret her words, "They have our eggs."

It would have been comforting if her husband was here, but he was still away on business apparently, and perhaps he had missed the news on these OmeletWings, though by the scale of the diversity of this crowd, she didn't think any area of Pyrrhia was completely unawares of the situation at talon.

As Ravine followed Warbler the rest of the crowd grew silent to try to listen. Fortunately, she was far enough away, and there were enough shifting talons and breathing dragons to muffle her voice from the inside of the castle at least somewhat. Still, she didn't dare speak much louder than a whisper, "I got a plan to get all the eggs out of there, okay, but you have to listen carefully."

Warbler nodded to show she understood.

"In the castle, there's a chute that leads out here, it's how the castle gets the eggs to the Breakfast Pavilion every morning." Ravine scanned the area, checking to see where the chute was located on this side of the castle walls. There. An intricate system of what looked like aqueducts ran high over their heads and toward the Breakfast Pavilion in the village. If Ravine hadn't been so unimpressed by these OmeletWings, she would have been petty impressed by their architectural skills. "Tonight," Ravine continued, "I'm going to send out every single egg from that chute, but right now, I need to convince them I'm on their side, and to do that, they have to believe I tried to talk 'reason' to you. So I need you to put on a convincing show that I did just that, okay?"

Warbler nodded.

"Okay, then tonight, go to the Breakfast Pavilion, gather up every one you can, and be ready to get out of here with those eggs. It doesn't matter who has who's, just get as far from this evil place as you can, and we can sort them out later."

Again, Warbler nodded.

"Now, I'm going to go back in. You can cover for me, right?"

"Yes." Warbler looked at Ravine seriously, trying to muster as much hope as she could, "We can do this."

Ravine headed back toward the castle doors. The other dragons watched her go in silence.

Then, as soon as the doors closed behind her, the uproar began once again. "Give us back our children!" "MURDERERS!" "DON'T KILL OUR EGGS!"

Ravine sighed. Crowds. Could never get them to do what you need. Hopefully Warbler at least could be counted on to do what needed to be done.

Queen Omelet and the King Chef looked at Ravine. Ravine just shook her head. "I couldn't get through to them."

Queen Omelet sighed, "It's okay, we will tomorrow at the feast; tomorrow they'll truly understand." But Queen Omelet still looked disappointed, "Still, looks like we'll have to cancel our community breakfast. The villagers will just have to have their Omelets in the safety of their own homes today. We won't be together physically, but will be together in spirit through the love of the Omelet."

Gee, was there any sentence that these dragons didn't have to cram omelets or eggs or some other form of the word into at some point? It was beginning to wear real thin real quick.

Queen Omelet waved her talons, "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to my duties, Sunny Sides Up y'all."

And with that, Queen Omelet departed. The King Chef looked at Ravine, "It's time we prepare our glorious breakfast. You coming?"

Ravine shook her head. No way was she going to help these dragons cook their own children for them. At this point she couldn't stop them, but at least she wasn't going to be a part of it. Instead she said, "Oh no, I need to use the restroom, all these eggs, got to empty your stomach at some point."

The King Chef just made a face. Okay... "Well, have a good time with that."

With that, he turned to leave, heading for the kitchens. Oh the feeling of having to go. Must feel a lot like having an egg he imagined. Sadly that was an experience he would never have himself, he'd just have to accept that having to go would be the closest he'd ever get.

Ravine watched him go, thinking of all the dragonets in those eggs they were about to make. She shook her head, she had to focus on her task, she couldn't be distracted by what happened to their eggs when hers was still in danger.

But right now, she was beginning to notice that Summit hadn't turned back up yet. There was a chance he was in some sort of trouble. Perhaps she should start looking for him...

But first, Ravine realized, feeling her tummy with discomfort, maybe she really did have to use that restroom after all. She couldn't recall when the last time she went was.

It wasn't until she started making her way to the pot that she began to suspect that, while she did most certainly had to go, that might not be the only thing building up inside her tummy.


The time wore on for Summit and Embryo, and though being in one another's company helped ease some of the tediousness of it all, being locked in the room for such a long time was causing them to feel restless. Summit had made his bed on the floor, and Em had given him a few of her blankets to keep comfortable, so it wasn't the worst situation ever, but it certainly wasn't the best. Summit had to do something to save these eggs, but there was nothing they could do, and Em wanted to help him, but had no idea how. Em's parents hadn't been in to visit her since Summit's arrival, and she began to wonder about them. Probably went to the house to pick something up, she thought, not too concerning, just curious. The sound of the angry dragons yelling outside the castle was unseizing (except for a few minutes during the morning when all had gone mysteriously quiet before beginning up again shortly afterward), but over time, it had faded into simple background noise. If her parents were out there, they probably wouldn't be able to make it back through the crowd anyway.

Breakfast was brought in as usual, but neither were in much mood for fetal dragon this morning, so they passed, settling on going hungry.

Summit found himself looking occasionally at a small painting on the bedside desk, a small yellow dragonet with bright eyes, the biggest grin on her face as she smiled up to the side, open-mouthed, at someone just out of frame. He picked it up to look at it.

"Is this you?" Summit asked curiously.

Em came up and looked at the painting.

"Oh, my parents had that done for me after I had just hatched," she said, "My parents must have brought it for me when the Queen first had me brought in here."

Summit couldn't help but look at the painting and want to smile back to the sweet baby girl inside, so full of life and wonder. "You were so cute."

Em looked at the painting, sadness filling her eyes. Gently, she laid a talon down on it as if to stroke the younger version of herself's cheek. "Poor little thing, if she only knew what she'd eventually go through to become me."

Summit looked at Embryo, and felt the cheeriness of the photo fading. This wasn't the life she'd wanted... This wasn't the life he had wanted to see for her when he'd first seen her joy in that valley of flowers what seemed so long ago. I'm sorry.

They sat in silence again for awhile.

"What does it feel like to be a male?" Embryo asked finally.

Summit looked up at her, taken off guard by the question. He hesitated, beginning to feel slightly awkward. "I, uh, I'm not sure how to answer that."

Embryo looked thoughtful. "And you'll never know what it feels like to be a female, will you? That's something only I can experience as myself?" Embryo asked. She looked up at him, "Isn't it weird that no matter how close we've come to know eachother, we still have no idea what it actually feels like to be the other?"

Summit hadn't thought of that, but it made him feel strange. It was a curious feeling to Embryo as well, one that strangely enough didn't exactly make her feel negatively like so many other feelings had lately. It was just curious trying to process that it must feel totally different to experience the world from Summit's body rather than hers.

But before either could think on it further, there was the sudden sound of talons in the hall, the door unlocking. Suddenly, the door opened, a guard standing ready.

"You have an audience with the Queen," he said.

Summit and Embryo exchanged glances, not sure if they wanted to know what the Queen had planned for them now.

But there was nothing to do, so silently, they followed the guard out of the room. In the hallway, they were joined by a couple other guards who nodded at them politely before leading them down the hall to an unknown fate. But by the goofy knowing grins on their faces as they looked at them, Summit had a bad feeling that that fate would be no less kooky than these OmeletWings were themselves.

Now that wasn't an encouraging thought.

 

MARRIED

The guards led them down the hallways and into the Throne Room where Queen Omelet sat on the throne all regally (She may be Queen of the Omelets, but she was still a Queen afterall). Queen Omelet held a scroll in her talons, her claws dipped in fresh ink, and as they entered, she looked at them considerably. Summit and Em watched her feeling anxious about what she might be about to do to them.

Finally: "I've been informed that you're no longer interested in pursuing a partnership with Vitellus, is this right Embryo?" Before either could answer, Queen Omelet turned her expression toward Summit, "And this is the dragon you want to spend the rest of your life with?"

Embryo hesitated, not sure where this was going, "Uh, well yes, but-"

Queen Omelet wrote something down on the scroll. Pausing, she looked back at Summit, "And your name is?"

"Uh, Summit your..."

"Eggmajesty," Em whispered in his ear.

"Eggmajesty," Summit finished.

"Ah, yes, perfect." Queen Omelet finished what she was writing, took out a seal, and stamped it to the page. Closing the scroll, she got up to leave. "Okay, it's official, you two are married, enjoy."

"Wait, what?" Embryo exclaimed, shocked beyond all words, "I-I meant in the long term. I didn't mean we were ready to get married now." She knew what she had said to Summit just last night, she knew she wanted to spend her life with him, but she didn't mean she was planning to get eloped then and there.

Queen Omelet gestured to the scroll as she got up to pass them, "This is an official document, I can't very well undo it." As she was about to take leave of the room, she turned back to look at them, "I recommend you enjoy your night together, the first night married is always a wonderful thing. And the Eggs that follow... So grandiose as well."

And suddenly she was gone.

Embryo and Summit turned to look at eachother still too stunned to speak.

Well, that's how I imagined my wedding going, Summit thought, completely stupefied.

Summit and Embryo were escorted back to the room in a dazed silence. As Summit walked beside Embryo, he could barely look at her. My wife, he thought, the words seeming too foreign for him to comprehend. I have... Em is... my wife? This is not at all where he'd planned his day going.

As the guard closed the door behind them in there room, he nodded at them politely, a knowing smile on his face. "Have fun." And then once again, they were locked in, left with no other options outside of the other's company.

Complete absolute silence. For the longest time, neither of them said anything. Up to this point Summit and Embryo had come to feel completely comfortable around eachother, they had known what they were to eachother, they'd loved eachother, they'd shared so much of themselves with eachother, but now, this new level to their relationship, they weren't... How could they be married? Summit had tried so long not to see Em in that way, they weren't ready for that. But now here they were. Could it be possible that now they were at a point where it'd actually be okay for them to... like that side of eachother?

But then Summit looked at Em and Em looked back at him, and they both knew, the love they felt for one another was true. Their relationship may have been young, they may have been in no way prepared for this day to turn out like this, but somehow they knew with the other, they'd be alright.

Embryo felt every part of herself filling with awkwardness, was she actually about to do this? Was this question... that existed on both their minds... was she really about to ask this? She opened her mouth hardly knowing where to start, "Since we're married," she started, "we might as well..." Her face went red, she could hardly believe this was her body that existed beneath her, she couldn't be real - girls couldn't be real - because if they were, that'd mean that what she was feeling was real- It couldn't be real, right. Yet every scale of her body told her it was. Em fought down all the the blushiness, making herself continue, "You know how weird my girliness is, you've already... you've seen so much of me," she spluttered, "so much... awkwardness. It feels so... it's so weird to think about. But somehow..." Oh, she was red now, how did that make her feel so wonderful? "Somehow I want to share all of it with you. Out of every other dragon in the world, I want to share my awkwardness with you." Of course this wasn't the first time she'd confessed her girly weirdness to Summit, but somehow this was different. Here, finally, was the moment she'd give all of herself to him entirely, everything weird, everything awkward; no matter how self-conscious it made her feel (and strangely, even because of it), she wanted to share it with him more than anything, the idea of expressing her most embarrassing self with Summit made her heart go light like it never had before. It was all so cheesy, but suddenly she couldn't help herself.

Summit looked at her feeling her awkwardness rubbing off on him, he'd always had a crush on Em, but he always felt bad that about how her girly weirdness put her on the spot when there was so much more to her than that. He took a breath. "I'm kind of awkward too you know," he admitted. He was starting to go red himself at this acknowledgement, in every inch of his being.

Embryo looked at him, her weariness fading as a slight look of peace came over her face, "Would you... would it be okay if you share it with me...?" Em trailed off, her face tarting to blush. Was she really asking this of him? What would he think? Would it make him feel weird like when she'd asked him out in the MudWing Kingdom? (Well of course it'd make him feel weird, she felt weird, but not in a bad way, right?)

Summit felt himself feeling all the self-consciousness all over. How could sweet Em be about to know all that about him? She had needed him to be there for her through some very personal girly moments, oh how awkward it must have been, having to share that weirdness with him while he had never been in a proper situation for him to share his own. But now they were married, it didn't matter anymore. This must've been how Em had felt, it was all too embarrassing to contain, but somehow it felt right, it was time for Em to know his weirdness back, he wanted to share his weirdness with Embryo.

But this was all happening so suddenly, the circumstances surrounding their predicament weren't exactly favorable; he was ready to embrace this feeling with Embryo... but still, he hesitated... "I would share anything with you, but Em, are you sure? An egg... What if you have another egg because of... because we're together?"

Embryo winced, still remembering how it had felt to lay an egg, the all-consuming pain, the inability to do anything but wish she could die... but she'd already been through it before, and like any dragon like her, she knew she'd eventually do it again. And as awful as it was to think about, she knew next time she'd survive just as she had before. She looked up at Summit feeling anxious but sure, "Then at least I'll have had it with you. I'll have had our baby. At least this one time the pain will mean something, and maybe that'll make up for last time too."

Summit hugged her, "I love you Em, so much. I'm sorry it has to be so hard."

Em gave him a nuzzle, "I know, but for tonight with you, it'll be worth it."

The looked into eachother's eyes. This was the moment to which a connection would be formed, where they would truly become a part of one another, not just tonight, but for eternity, everything they had ever felt together had been building up to this moment, this night when they would truly become one. Summit returned Em's nuzzle, and Em slowly let herself role onto her back as she gazed lovingly into Summit's kind and gentle eyes. She blushed; Summit felt his face go red as well, How can she be so pretty?

And so their night began, everything awkward they had experienced together, every moment that had made them blush, it all paled in comparison to this night; never before had they felt so self-conscious and ridiculous in their own bodies than they did around eachother in these moments, but also, never before had that self-consciousness felt so wonderful. As they fell into the weirdness of one-another, Em realized that though she should have felt ashamed of all these embarrassing things about herself, she didn't; her and Summit were so physically different from eachother, yet somehow those differences had connected them deeply to eachother in ways they could hardly understand. So many other dragons could've known what it was to be a girl better than Summit, and so many other dragons could have known what it was to be a boy more than Embryo, nothing could've been more personal and embarrassing than this, but they had each chosen the other to be the one dragon in the world to share it with. Though they couldn't have been more physically unrelatable, in spirit neither of them had ever been closer to anyone else. This was Summit, he'd seen everything weird and embarrassing about her girly weirdness, yet he never saw her as lesser for it; he'd only seen her as precious and valuable, as someone who's very existence - everything she felt, everything she was - was worth valuing. This was Summit, Summit who'd seen the world with her, who'd searched for her at the edge of the Earth just to make sure she knew she was valued. This was the Summit she was with now, one who had given of himself to show her she was his equal. Summit would never lay eggs, he would never experience what it was to live with girly weirdness firsthand, but yet he had connected with her experience deeper than any other dragon ever could, egg layer or otherwise. The pain, the awkwardness, the emotion, it had meant more to him than it had to any other dragon, because it was he who truly loved Em with everything he was, and it was Em who loved him back.

And so Em wanted to share all her weirdness with Summit, embrace the self-consciousness, the awkwardness of it all, embrace the love. For the first time since her laying she allowed herself to open up to her hypersensitive self again, she let herself take in every second of it. And this time, her senses didn't betray her. It was love, love so perfect that it emphasized everything she felt, multiplied it tenfold, it had never felt so ridiculous to be her, it was all too overwhelming, but somehow that overwhelming ridiculousness had never felt so perfect.

And for the first time in a long time, Em began to truly realize, that despite the weirdness and self-consciousness of it all, or maybe even because of it, at least in this moment, she could be glad that she was a girl, and that Summit was a guy.

And there on the desk sat that painting, a younger Embryo to whom none of this had yet happened. That version of Em had not understood the pain she would someday face, but nor had she known the experiences she would someday have with Summit right now. Back then, she had only imagined what it must be like to fall in love, it had always felt so sweet and whole, but she hadn't fully grasped what experiencing the fulfillment of that love would actually feel like. There was sweetness in that love, but there was also pain, a pure Soul shattering pain that had come with laying an egg. But perhaps there was some good in it after all, at least for this night, to feel what it was to be loved by Summit; this feeling of pure romantic overwhelming self-consciousness, this strange intensity that was both too much and too wonderful; so many unbelievable feelings she was feeling now that her past self could only begin to understand. That little smiling face had no idea of all the tears it would someday cry; that past version of herself had such a future of feelings ahead of her, of both love and pain, that she herself could never be prepared for. If Em had had to start over, she didn't know if she could bear reliving what it took to get here, but at least, with these moments with Summit, she could promise at least some of it would be worth it. Because this was the path that that little dragon in the painting was on, a path that would someday lead her to Summit.


It had been hours since Ravine had begun her search, it was already beginning to get dark outside, and Ravine still hadn't managed to locate Summit yet. She had no idea if he was okay, and she really couldn't ask without possibly raising undue suspicion. The King Chef thankfully didn't seem to have grown suspicious of her whereabouts yet, he was probably busy with his own stuff right now, or perhaps he figured she was still stuck in the bathroom with major problems today. As she walked the halls, she could feel a weight of another major situation growing inside her. Sigh. She had been so busy trying to save the egg that had been stolen, she had failed to notice the one that was growing inside. She really hoped it would hold off until tomorrow, she really didn't have time for it tonight. (Us females really need to learn to start having our eggs at more convenient of times, wouldn't you think? Hm, good luck with figuring that one out, maybe if she had known this would happen, she could have planned it out with her husband better, but it was always so unpredictable anyway, what was the point? Those scavenger ladies must really have it made not always having to lay eggs on random like this.)

The protesting outside had quieted somewhat thankfully, and it no longer hammered at the ears, but Ravine suspected that was because all the dragons had worn out their voices more than anything. Ravine sighed, she knew she had a plan to get the eggs out, but she had to admit if she had been on the outside she probably would have been doing the same.

But then, the commotion outside erupted again suddenly. A couple of dragons shouted to be let in as the crowds swarmed them. The gates cracked open; thousands of dragons were pushing and shoving to break through, then finally, two OmeletWings managing tumble inside and the gates shut and barred behind them before anyone else from the angry crowd could squeeze past. The protesting outside began anew for a few moments, but it only lasted a minute or two before it died back down again. The Feast was just a few hours away and morale was quickly running low as the dragons of Pyrrhia were beginning to doubt on whether they'd be able to stop it in time.

Queen Omelet stepped out to greet the newcomers, "Ah, Albumen, Yoke, you've been gone for quite awhile."

The male opened his mouth... There was silence, he didn't seem used to using it muh, then finally, "yes... we had to go home... pick some things up. Then the crowds..."

The female stepped in, giving him a look of gratefulness, but saying she'd take it from there. "I had to lay an egg. It was wonderful I might add, but it all took awhile. How's our Embryo been doing?"

Ravine looked at them. So these must be Em's parents. She was surprised they didn't seem like quite the pieces of work she had imagined.

Queen Omelet waved her talons, "Oh, fine. But they'll probably be resting up about now, and you know..." she gave them a knowing wink, "best not to bother them if you know what I mean. Well, gotta plan for Breakfast tomorrow. Keep it over easy." And with that, Queen Omelet went back the way she had come, leaving the hallway in silence.

Albumen and Yoke exchanged glances, "Think we should at least check on her? You know, quietly?" Albumen asked. Yoke nodded.

So Albumen and Yoke headed for the hallway.

The context of what Queen Omelet had said had clearly went over Em's parent's heads, but Ravine had picked it up it right away. They. That meant there was more than one of them, right? Well, unless Em had decided to start calling... herself(?) by a different pronoun - which come to think of it, probably wouldn't have been all too surprising considering what Summit had told her of their last conversation together... But something told her that, with how the Queen said it, she'd intended it as plural - and besides her parents had still referred to her as a "she" so -and there could be a whole other layer of politics going on here that Ravine really didn't want to get into right now (she already had enough OmeletWing politics to deal with right now, thank you)- but this conversation wasn't giving her that impression. Somebody was being held with Em, even if the Queen hadn't said so directly. It didn't seem like a deliberate skewering of facts to be honest, more of an oversight than anything, but there was still something important concerning their daughter that the Queen had obviously failed to mention (oversights seemed to be quite common among these OmeletWings Ravine observed. Must be bad inbreeding or something of the sort. But of course it was when you ate 99% of your offspring. But hey, who was she to judge?). Ravine had no way to tell if this other dragon with Em would in fact be Summit, but she had nothing else to go on, so she might as well follow this lead.

Ravine followed the couple down the hallways, staying discrete, but not too worried about anything, these two were as obviously as absent-minded as the rest of these folks. The castle went surprisingly deep, and Ravine didn't feel surprised she hadn't found them before, even if she had passed where they were being held, she probably wouldn't have known it. Finally, Em's parents stopped outside a door. There was no guard posted, but Ravine figured it would've been impossible to leave anyway. The guard was probably off for the night.

Yoke stepped up to the door to listen a moment.

"How's she doing," Albumen asked, "Anything wrong?"

Yoke turned away, "asleep I think. She's breathing, but slightly heavy."

"Heavy? Do you think she's Laying another Egg? Already?"

Yoke looked at her, "not that loud."

Albumen thought a moment, "You're right, I've never heard a quiet Laying actually. Do you think she's going to Lay one soon though?"

Yoke shrugged, raising a talon, "maybe we knock?"

Albumen shook her head, "We should let her rest, check on her tomorrow" Albumen paused. "Another Egg..." she mused "That might be good for her, get her used to it and all."

Yoke nodded.

They went over to the next door over, a few talonsteps from where Ravine was standing.

Ravine knew she was supposed to be being discreet, but she couldn't help herself. "Is that all you guys care about?" She rasped as quietly as she could, "Is that all your daughter means to you?"

Albumen looked up, "Oh, hi, we didn't see you there." She glanced at Yoke, "May we help you?"

"That's your daughter, right? Embryo?"

The two exchanged glances again, then looked back at Ravine, "You know her?"

Ravine nodded, "A little." Ravine took a breath, "Forgive me for intruding, but that's your daughter in there, okay? I don't know what that means to you, but I know what it means to her."

Yoke and Albumen exchanged another look, thoroughly confused.

Ravine looked at him, "When I met your daughter, she didn't understand there was more to life than laying, she thought it was her only purpose."

The two were even more confused, "What is there to be ashamed in that?" Albumen asked.

Ravine sighed, "Did it ever occur to you that there is more to your daughter than just that?" More blank glances, Ravine could feel heat rising in her, "Your daughter wanted to discover a life outside of egg laying, she traveled to the edge of the content to find it. And then she laid one anyway, and it destroyed her. She wanted so hard to see something more in herself, but she couldn't because everything led her back to that egg. Perhaps she could have lived knowing that was part of her life, but you taught her that's all there was! That pain, that embarrassment, that's all she saw her life being worth because you never taught her to live with it, only how she couldn't live without it!" Ravine was trying to keep her voice down, but she was fuming. Albumen and Yoke stood shocked, like these thoughts had never occurred to them. She tried to cool herself, taking deep breaths, "Let me ask you, do you love Em as your daughter, or as an Egg Layer?"

Albumen was too stunned to answer. Then Yoke stood straight, "We just wanted her to have purpose. What greater purpose than as an Egg Layer?"

Ravine looked at them, these two were hopeless, "Then perhaps it wasn't your daughter you loved." Without waiting for anymore, she stormed back down the hallway out of sight. She knew she needed to rescue Summit, but she needed a moment to calm down. She knew where the room was now, she'd wait for the parents to leave before she did any more.

As she let herself cool, she began to rethink what she had said. She knew she'd needed to say what she did, but she also wondered if maybe she'd been a little too harsh. Yes, they hadn't exactly instilled the best self-image in Em, but how could anybody think straight living in this atrocity of a society, and despite their shortcomings, they did seem to have a deep care for Em. Ravine sighed, what was said was said, she would just have to let it rest for now.

Albumen and Yoke meanwhile had made their way back into their room and were sitting there looking at each other, still trying to process what Ravine had said. They did love their daughter right? Was it possible that she really believed there was more to their lives than just Omelets? If that was so, they'd still love her right? Of course they would, because their daughter was more valuable to them than any of that.

...

And if there was something in life more valuable than Omelets... then was it possible that Omelets weren't everything?


Embryo rested under her blankets feeling content. Her face was as red as it could be from the embarrassment she felt at all that had just transpired, but at the same time she had never felt so at peace with her physical self, as if somehow being with Summit had made her feel flattered about everything embarrassing about herself. For once, it felt that maybe her crush on herself had paid off.

"How are you feeling?" she asked Summit who was sitting on the other side of the bed from her.

Summit's face went red, he covered his mouth, trying not to crack up. "I'm sorry... I can't believe..." he held his breath, trying not to loose it, "I can't believe we are at this point in our relationship."

Embryo felt herself starting to crack as well, she pulled her blanket to her mouth and started gasping into it. Suddenly she started screaming in laughter, rolling around under her blanket, kicking her legs hysterically, holding it tight to smother her howls of amusement. Summit was a boy, but now he knew more truths about her girly weirdness than any other girl ever would. It was SO EMBARASSING, but for the first time she felt no shame by her embarrassment, her and Summit had just involved themselves in some pretty unspeakable things, but somehow, it had still felt pure, because that's how their love felt, though young, it was pure selfless love.

And it felt great to be screaming out of amusement for once rather than pain.

Summit was trying to hold back hysteria as well, not doing well, and falling off the bed in the process, trying to hold back sputters. Marriage was so weird.

Finally, they managed to calm down enough so they could speak. Summit decided perhaps it was time to change stuff up a little.

"You know how I told you that if you hit me in the wrong spot, I collapse in an instant?" Em looked at him in thought and Summit turned around self-consciously so his tail was facing her, he looked back, "since we're sharing all our awkwardness together and all that..." He swallowed, feeling red, "you can try it if you want."

Embryo hesitated. Though it made her want to crack up just thinking about it, it seemed a little aggressive compared to what she was used to. But he was offering to let her try it, so maybe she could...

So Embryo climbed down from the bed and looked at Summit, "Are you sure?"

Summit went red, "I mean if you want..." He couldn't speak anymore, it was too embarrassing to acknowledge more than that.

"Okay..." She hated to admit how much she wanted to try it.

Embryo realized the positioning was kind of awkward given their primarily quadruped nature, but sitting back against the bed, she managed to pull back her back talons in a way that felt somewhat natural (although none of this was probably natural to be honest). Aiming for position, she drove her talons forward as hard as she could.

TWACK!

Summit dropped, instantly crumpling to the floor, crying out in sheer agony.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Embryo cried, instant regret for what she'd just done.

"What was I thinking!" Summit wailed, writhing on the floor.

Embryo was blushing, bad. As she watched him writhe and moan, she realized, though this surely didn't hurt anywhere near as bad as Egg Laying, guys apparently had a few of their own pity-worthy things to worry about. Oh, she felt so bad having done this to him, but he looked so cute folded up like that with that pitiful expression on his face. She couldn't help but feel the cushiness return to her face at the knowledge that it was his embarrassing boyey weirdness that was responsible for this actually pretty adorable scenario. This must have been how he'd felt after she'd had her egg, trying so hard to sympathize with their vulnerability but unable to suppress the crushiness it makes you feel.

"I'm sorry," Em said again.

"Please tell me eggs don't hurt this bad," Summit moaned.

Embryo shook her head sadly, "Worse."

"Oh Em, I'm so-" he laid his head down groaning, "Don't make me think of worse right now, this hurts too much as it is. Ugh. I'm so sorry."

The pain was so intense, he could hardly process his own reality. If egg laying hurt worse than this... Poor Em.

And then there was the embarrassment of having the girl he had a crush on seeing his vulnerability exposed as he moaned at her talons. But she was his wife now... Em his wife...? This all was so weird. Why did that expression on her face as she tried to suppress her amusement at his mortally agonizing predicament have to be so cute...?

And with that, he let himself lay there, crumpled in on himself on the floor, unable to do any more than moan.

At that instant, there was a sound of metal turning, unlocking, and suddenly, the door opened, and Ravine stepped in. She took in the scene, Summit on the floor, Embryo standing over him sympathetically. Em looked up at her in shock. Ravine's eyes went wide.

After a moment, Embryo shifted her legs awkwardly. "We're married," she explained.

Ravine gave the scene another once over. "Oh- Ohhhh..."

 

HEIST

Ravine waited there while Summit recovered, she knew this could take a few minutes. Finally, Summit was able to release his injury, but he was still greatly uncomfortable. Em helped him to his talons.

"I know how to get the eggs out of here," Ravine said evenly, "are you ready, or do you need a few more minutes."

"No, I'm ready," Summit took a step forward, the movement suddenly causing a new jolt of pain to shoot through him. "Yeah, I need a few more minutes," he whimpered pitifully, folding back in on himself.

While Summit continued to tend to his injury, Ravine could do nothing but just stand there waiting.

"So a tribe of dragons is about to ruthlessly eat the entire next generation of young in Pyrrhia, and you two are just sitting in your room acting out your Honeymoon?"

Summit went red, "We were prisoners."

Ravine gave a nod, not bothering to hide the amusement on her face, "Yes, a perfectly normal response to finding yourself held captive with a cute girl."

"It's also our wedding night," Embryo added, probably unhelpfully.

"Of course," Ravine responded satirically.

In truth, she thought these two were cute together, she couldn't think of a more fitting couple if she tried. Of course, they had hardly been acquaintances very long - Ravine couldn't believe the Queen had made them get married like that - but looking at the two of them together, she figured there were worse fates they could be given.

Still, Ravine looked at Em cautiously, not sure how an OmeletWing, even a gentle one like her, would feel about the plan to save the eggs. She was sure they could leave her behind in the room, but Ravine didn't want to lock her back up if not need be.

But Em seemed to detect what she was thinking, because - with a talon still gently on Summit's back - she took a step forward. "Listen, I want to help," she said, "what my tribe is doing to you guys, it's not fair, I know how you dragons feel about your eggs, and our way of life, I know it's not for you. Or your eggs."

Em felt a talon of guilt inside her, everybody in her village had loved and cared for her like family, and now she was having to go against everything they believed like she was their enemy. But she knew she couldn't let this happen, she knew she had to save these other families, even if it meant betraying her own.

Summit finally straightened back up shakily, "Okay, I'm ready. I hope." Again, he took a cautious step forward and winced, "I can do this, I can..." He took a deep breath, his eyes watering, "Let's do this." Oh how much he wanted to die.

Summit and Em followed Ravine down the hallways toward the kitchen. As they did so, Em couldn't stop thinking about hers and Summit's night together. What was that, how could it have been so... It was too much to put into words.

But then she realized something, she felt content in herself. She couldn't speak for every dragon, but looking at Summit, she almost felt something special about being female, weirdness and all. She liked her body, she liked sharing it with Summit - she liked the blushiness, the weirdness she felt in herself that came with thinking about how she was a girl - she wanted to like living with it... Just why did living in her body have to bring her so much pain?

But still, this was something. That Summit and her were so different. Every step she took, as her legs moved against eachother, the feeling of herself was distinctly female. Once again she marveled at how - as close as they two were in spirit - how something as simple as a walk could make it such a mystery on what it must be like to be Summit. How must it feel for Summit to take every step as male?

She looked back. Summit limped behind the two girls trying not to whimper each time he took a step as his leg rubbed against himself. Obviously the distinct feeling of his own walk wasn't at its greatest right now. "It hurts," he said, feeling bad for slowing them down, but not being able to help himself.

Em took a step back to nuzzle him affectionately. "I know sweetyoke, I know." Wait, when did she start calling him "sweetyoke"? She didn't know but it felt right.

"Maybe next time try to go a little softer," Summit suggested.

"Next time?" Em said, stopping in her step.

Ravine rolled her eyes, but secretly she was amused. Young couples these days.

But though Summit was suffering greatly, he had never felt lighter. Em had been through so much, but tonight he had made her happy.

But now, it seemed even more than that, now she almost seemed to be in love with herself the same way he was now, girly weirdness and all. And seeing her see herself this way was probably the absolute most adorable thing he could've imagined that it made him blush. He loved seeing Em love herself... Wait, was that weird? He'd have to ask her later, he supposed, when they had more time.

After a few turns, Summit began to adjust to the movement of his legs and walk with a bit more confidence. Ravine seemed to notice this and picked up pace, nodding for them to follow.

Em watched Ravine as she walked, she seemed so comfortable in her own body. Perhaps all dragons became that way as they got older. But Em was beginning to like feeling weird in herself. Perhaps Ravine had learned balance that feeling of weirdness to all the right times that when it came down to it, it didn't take her down in life when she didn't need it. Perhaps she had learned that her body was meant for more than just Omelets (Even if Omelets were still delicious, Em realized. Perhaps there were some things about herself that would never change, even if she couldn't continue to go about it the same way). Em didn't think she would be able to tone down her own feeling of weirdness right now though, not so soon after that first night with Summit. Em just hoped her and Summit would be able to focus on what they needed to do right now, because right now, thinking of Summit felt so hot; thinking of how hot she was to him... She could barely focus. I am absolutely crazy!

But that's what made Summit so special, though he couldn't help but be attracted by Em's physical self, he had still seen more to her than that. Perhaps that's where the OmeletWings had got it wrong, perhaps this was how girls like her were supposed to be seen, pretty of course - even she couldn't deny that - but as her own individual self first and foremost. One could be appreciate for their beauty, while still being valued for their individual Soul. Of course Em still loved omelets, but wasn't there a way to find a balance between that attraction to what was on the outside, and that which was deeper on the inside. (Well technically, eggs started out on the inside too - Em furrowed her brow - perhaps she meant the part of oneself that was deeper inside than merely the physical, or maybe that value inside included the dragonet in that egg? No, she was getting mixed up, although she thought there might be some truth to that, that's probably not what was meant by "inner beauty").

If there was a balance to be found though, she'd have to find it soon, before these thoughts became too distracting, and her and Summit would have to rush into a kitchen cupboard somewhere, completely throwing off their heist (that thought sounded too fun for Em's own good). Oh, why did this heist have to be so close to their first night married?

Breathe, just breathe, Em thought, feeling the floor with her talons. Ravine looked at her, an expression on her face like she knew what she was thinking. Em shifted her talons. Such weird thoughts, how could she be having them right now? She wondered if Summit was suffering the any of these same thoughts as her.

Marriage. So awkward.

Finally, they reached the kitchen. There seemed to be no guards present; this area must not be heavily guarded - either that, or all the guards had been posted to deal with the angry dragon conflict outside instead, not caring to think that the greatest threat to their feast may not be coming from there, but actually on the inside. Ravine reached for the door, opened it, and cautiously, they stepped in. Em could still smell the remnants of last night's shift in the air, (and she had to admit it did smell a bit delicious), but the air felt calm, the stoves and ovens all dead for the night. At first, all seemed quiet, but then there was the sudden sound of talons scraping along the floor.

Ravine motioned for them to follow, and they quietly followed her down the stairs from the balcony and into the kitchen.

As they neared the vault, they could hear the sound of a voice. They rounded the corner, and there Queen Omelet stood in the entrance to the vault, her two very special eggs sitting in front of her, talking to them soothingly.

"...Just wait my darlings, when the world tastes your deliciousness tomorrow, they'll understand, they'll understand how special you really are." Then, the Queen stroked the eggs affectionately and stepped away, "I know you'll make your Layer proud."

A tear rolled down her face.

Ravine couldn't believe it, the way Queen Omelet was talking to the eggs was almost motherlike, as if some deep instinct inside was causing her to care for them - that hidden behind the love she felt for the omelet, there was also buried the love of a mother, even if she did not know it herself.

Then without another word the Queen closed the vault, and turned and left, her eggs still sitting inside the vault, right at the front, a symbol of pride to lead the coming feast.

Ravine, Summit, and Em slipped behind some shelves as she passed, and without noticing anything amiss, she left the kitchen with no further incident.

When she had gone, Ravine, Summit, and Em crept over to the vault, and grabbing the handle, Ravine flung it open.

And there they could see the full scope of the egg theft, thousands and thousands of them, from all tribes near and far. Thousands of layings; thousands of dragons, all female, who had suffered so horribly to bring them forth.

The memories of the screams of every dragon Em had ever heard laying once again rang through her head. As Em looked at all the eggs, she was once again reminded of the pain, the sheer horror of knowing what it felt like for that pain to be inflicting your own body. This past night, Em had once again begun to find peace with her body after her laying, even begun to enjoy it, she was almost glad to be female right now. But if she had known what it would feel like to share this relationship with Summit back when she was laying, would it have been enough to help her see through it. Her stomach twisted as she remembered the pain, and she realized with certainty, that the Em that had went through that would have still wished for death, for anything for it to be over, even knowing how her time with Summit had been tonight, it would never have been enough. Her time with Summit may have been wonderful, but back then, she would have still given that future up entirely if she could have only spared herself another moment of that agony. Everything she would go on to feel since then didn't matter one bit to that Em from the past who had been screaming so desperately for mercy. How could she ever be truly content in her life if the only way to get to this present had been to go through something that no contentment could be found in any possibility of a future where she had to live to endure even one more second of that pain?

Em looked at her talons. But that was the past, right? She had made it through whether she had wanted to or not. It was over, irrelevant.

Summit looked at Em, saw the painful memories written on her face. The pain of knowing she would never be able to look at an egg again without remembering what it felt like to lay one.  "Em?" He said, gently laying a talon on her shoulder. "It's... I'm sorry."

Em looked at Summit. The question was, was this all worth it to the Em who stood here now, everything since her laying, had she made the best of it? Of course the Em who was laying could never bear the thought of going on, if even to see a better future down the line, but could Em now? Could the Em who existed now see a future worth living for? A future with Summit; a future she could love? The unspeakable had happened, and she couldn't trade it in, she could only make do with the life she had before her right now.

She took a breath, tried to get her mind together. Focus on the now. It was hard because she knew that the now couldn't always be tolerable, but this now was, so she had to make do right now.

Seeing that Em had started to calm down, Summit nodded at her gently, and turned his attention back to the other problem at talon, just how daunting the task ahead of them was going to be. "Okay, let's get started."

So the three of them started to gather up eggs. Ravine showed them where the chute was that led out to the Breakfast Pavilion. When she opened it, Summit looked inside.

"Won't the drop hurt the dragonets inside the eggs?" He asked concerned.

Em shook her head, "The chute is designed to deliver the eggs to the Pavilion without making a mess of them, they might get a bit dizzy, but they should be alright." Hopefully, Em couldn't help but add to herself.

So cautiously, Summit took his load of eggs, and sent them down the chute.

From there, the eggs roled down the chute, out across the aqueducts, and gently out into the Breakfast Pavilion where Warbler and the other dragons were waiting.

Warbler turned to the protestors, "See? What did I tell you, Ravine has come through? Now let's get these eggs as far away from here as possible. Come on, let's move."

And so the rescue began in full force, Summit, Ravine, and Em unloading eggs into the chute, and the rest of the dragons of Pyrrhia carrying them to safety.

"No, I don't care whose egg that is," Warbler said, "we'll have time to sort through them later!"

As she worked, Em couldn't help but feel that awkward old OmeletWing instinct rising up in her every once in awhile. These eggs did look delicious, she could see why the OmeletWings had been tempted. But no, that was not what these eggs were about, they were about the dragonets growing inside. Sorry everyone, but I have to do this. So as quickly as they came, Em pushed those thoughts down.

Em was gathering another load of eggs when she stopped, noticing one that was sitting in the doorway untouched.

"Em, are you okay?" Summit asked.

Em put down her load and walked over to it. Summit went over to it and picked it up.

"Em, I meant to give it back to you, we needed it to get in..."

Summit handed the egg to Em, and she looked at, her face relaxing.

"You kept my egg."

Summit looked at her. "Of course, I didn't want to eat it." He shuddered at the thought, "I mean, I know this one wasn't one of ours, and there's no dragonet inside, but..." When he ate bird eggs, they were just eggs, but this had come from his girlfriend- his wife now - just the thought of how... it was too... "I know you wanted to give it to me, but I think you should keep it. I mean, if the memories aren't too... It just feels too... It doesn't feel like me- Not that you aren't... I mean, you're still important... You mean a lot to me, but... I mean you do..." This wasn't going anywhere good.

But Em took it gratefully. She looked at Summit, as if seeing her egg had brought some sort of resolve - that this egg could exist outside of her pain, and it was hers. Perhaps it was just motherly instincts, but maybe she could begin to understand what it must feel like for a dragon to love her egg.

She looked at Summit. "Thank you."

They looked at eachother a moment, then suddenly Summit stopped. "Sorry, here, you might want this." He pulled the game bag off his shoulders and handed it to her as well, "to carry it."

Em smiled, and Summit smiled back; Em gave a slight laugh, her eyes watery, "I still have to give you something nice." Then Em put the egg in the bag and they continued on with their task.

After that, working with all these eggs actually began to feel kind of soothing, as with her egg, these egg were a reminder that these things could exist beyond the initial pain that they could bring, that these eggs that were sitting here in their silence right now were just that, eggs, the pain that they had been a part of was long over. Each and every one of them had something precious inside (or nearly all of them, Em realized, hers was sadly an exception), dragons from all over the continent had come to save that preciousness, these eggs were no longer a symbol of pain, but a symbol of love.

And in all of it, Em just enjoyed working side by side with Summit. She didn't know if she'd ever want to lay another egg, but if she did, she knew that too would be created out of their love for eachother. (In fact, perhaps it had already been put into action for all she knew.)

Summit and Em exchanged a glance and smiled at eachother.

Ravine caught their expression and sighed deeply, she didn't know if it was her place, but she felt it needed to be said. "You know, you're still young. I know you love eachother, I don't doubt that, and I don't want you to either, but you got many more years together ahead of you than you got behind you. Don't worry about spending all your lovey-dovey moments now, you'll have to learn to live with eachother's flaws as well." She looked at them, their expressions confused as they thought about what she'd said, she wasn't sure if she herself had said it right, "But don't worry, I believe you'll do fine, you started quicker than most but that doesn't mean you love eachother any less than anyone else, it just means you weren't given as much of a chance to be uncertain, to see how far you're willing to go. But looking at you two, the lengths you continue to go through to support eachother, I believe your love is real."

As Em continued to work, she thought about what Ravine had said awhile. Somehow in such a short of time, her and Summit had grown closer than she could've ever thought possible, but yet she knew that their bond was one that could not easily be broken. She didn't know what she did to deserve this relationship with Summit, but somehow, he didn't seem to care, who she was was who he loved, and that wasn't going to change.

Finally, "Summit," she said slowly, "I know you love me, and... I still don't know if I believe I'm worth as much as you think I am... But I know now that you've never seen me for anything I'm not. So if you see me for who I am and you still believe I'm worth as much as you do, then maybe... maybe you know what you're talking about, and I just want to say... thank you."

Summit sighed, "I know I haven't been able to explain it well all the time, I don't even know if I fully understand it myself, but there is something special about you, just being you and all. I wouldn't trade it for anyone else."

Em also wondered if maybe she had shown Summit the same level of unconditional love as he'd shown her. He'd gone to such lengths to support her, she wondered if she had even had much chance to show him the same kind of love in return. Had she truly appreciated him for everything he was, or did she just feel the way she did about him because of how he made her feel about herself. If so, she'd have to work on that.

Outside of me, who is Summit, and why do I love him for that? She thought a moment. He was the gentleness in his smile, the sincerity when spoke, even the awkwardness as he tried to be helpful and it came off wrong; his attempts to make it right, his determination to see her as who she was and not just some pretty girl; maybe he was somewhat of a goofball, but in all of it, it was all him...

But even more than that, he was him, in that special, unexplainable way that no other dragon could be, because even if all of that changed, that spark inside him that made him him would never change. And finally, Em began to understand what Summit saw in her, because she could also see it in him... His life... His Soul.

As they gathered the eggs, Em continued to think these thoughts about Summit, and she couldn't help but feel a smile rising on her face. Yes, she really did love him. He wasn't perfect, but he was Summit, and that's all that mattered to her. And if she could feel this way about Summit, perhaps she didn't need to doubt what he felt about her.

And they continued to unload, egg after egg, down the chute and to the Pavilion. As the night wore on, the amount of eggs in the vault depleted, and it began to look hopeful that this operation would be a success.

Even having found peace with herself, it was impossible for Em to see so many eggs left and right without having a sense of some of that girly weirdness returning, though perhaps in a more positive light, and she couldn't help but make a remark about it to her husband.

"If you think about it, if you take away the pain aspect, don't you think laying an egg is sort of ridiculous?"

"I try not to think about that," Summit said, too awkward by the question to acknowledge what the answer must be, "I can't think about that when you're in pain like that."

"But if I wasn't. I mean you saw how it's done," Em blushed, "You have to agree it's probably the most ridiculous thing in the world? It's just so weird to think that I have... well you know about girls."

"Well, I uh..." Summit turned red. Suddenly he grabbed his mouth with his talons to hold it in, but he could no longer hide how much crushiness this whole conversation gave him.

That was enough for Em. She tittered pitifully as she tried to hold back her own onslaught of giggles, it was too adorable that her girl self could be so funny that it could make Summit blush like this.

"Okay, focus," Ravine urged, "We can't afford any outburst right now, you can kiss and giggle all you want when this is over."

"It's not our fault girls are weird," Em managed weakly.

"But you're the one who keeps reminding me," Summit replied with great redness.

"I think I like it when you're reminded," Em blushed back, feeling that sense of feel good self-consciousness inside her that came with Summit seeing her this way.

Summit only blushed harder, which made Em blush even more, which in turn made Summit blush more, and the two of them could no longer hold it, they grabbed their mouths and collapsed to the floor hysterically, suffering as they struggled to hold in their roars of laughter.

Ravine rolled her eyes, hiding her amusement. These two lovebirds were sure to get them caught. But then she remembered how she had felt when she had met her first boy. That sobered her up.

And then, it was at that moment she felt it, the disturbance in her stomach, the prelude to the contractions she knew were now just minutes away. The egg that had been building up inside was here, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

"Guys, stop." She said, holding up a talon.

Em and Summit stopped rolling and turned to look at her, noticing the seriousness in her voice.

"Is there a problem?" Em asked.

Ravine took a breath, "I'm about to... I'm about to lay an egg. I thought I could hold it, but I can't."

In an instant, all humor was lost as the full realness of the situation hit them.

Summit looked away, his face flushing with anxiety. Slowly he took a step away. "I'm sorry, I can't do this," he said, "Being there while Em did hers was one thing, but I'm sorry Ravine, you? I can't see you go through that." He looked at Ravine and Embryo, realizing that did not sound like he wanted, "I mean, it's not that I mind seeing you in pain- I mean, I don't want to see anyone in pain, but I'd rather see you in pain than Em..." wow, he was really messing this up, he looked at Ravine, "no offense."

"None taken," Ravine said as she winced through the growing tightness in her stomach.

"What I mean," Summit continued, trying to regain his composure, "is that I can't see you like I do Em... Like a girl... I mean of course you are a girl, but... I can't see you like that, not like a... You know." He glanced at Em and couldn't hide the anxious blush, "It just wouldn't feel..."

"I'll help Ravine," Embryo said, taking over for Summit's thoughts "You take care of the rest of the Eggs."

Summit nodded, feeling regretful, but he knew there was no time to focus on that, he had a job to do.

So Em led Ravine away to find a quite area - a closet maybe? She understood why Summit couldn't be here, how much Summit was trying to respect his relationship with her. Em really didn't want to witness this either, it was causing all her nightmares to rise once again to the surface, but she couldn't tell Summit that right now, he would feel so bad for putting her onto this, and right now he needed to focus on saving the eggs. She on the other talon knew what Ravine was going to go through first hand, she was the best one for this. Em took a deep breath, focusing herself in her surroundings, in the kitchen that existed around, on Ravine standing beside her. She could do this.

Finally Em found a quiet closet with not much going on, and moved a mop and a couple of dishes so they wouldn't risk falling over and clattering to the floor and making a bunch of noise. It wasn't ideal, but it was more comfortable than being out there wide in the open. So all situated, she turned around and closed the door behind her and Ravine, hoping that would hold in most unwanted sounds. (When she'd thought she might need to find a cupboard to spend some time in tonight, this was not at all what she'd had in mind.)

"How are you doing?" Em asked, turning back to look at Ravine. She knew the question in and of itself had to be ridiculous - there was no way Ravine could be doing any good right now - but what do you say to one you know is about to suffer more pain than you can speak of?

Ravine gave a weak chuckle, "It'd be nice if these eggs could actually come at convenient times," Unfortunately for us, we're like chickens, so that's not happening anytime soon.

Apparently she hadn't reached the worst of it yet, but Em could still see the strain on her face.

"You know what you're about to go through, don't you?"

The lightness dropped from Ravine's face and she nodded grimly. "Em, you're going to have to keep me from screaming, I know I can't do it on my own."

Em nodded.

And right as she did, Ravine's eyes went urgent, "Now Em! Now!"

Ravine clamped her own talons to her mouth, trying to hold in a scream, but it was no success. Em reached her and clamped her own talons around Ravine's mouth right before it was too late, and held on tight as Ravine's arms went flailing. Ravine's muffled screams reverberated in her throat, Ravine thrashed and writhed, trying to jerk away from Em's grasp, desperate for to scream out her agony as if her very life depended on in. Em struggled to hold on.

Em could see the pain in Ravine's eyes, feel the tears in her own, "I'm sorry, I have to do this."

Ravine threw her head back, a guttural wail rose in her throat, no way to escape. Em could see the tears welling in Ravine's eyes, as with every dragon ever, all she wanted during laying was relief, and Em couldn't give it to her.

Just a few minutes ago, Em had even been laughing about this whole egg laying thing, she had been so caught up in her relationship with Summit, that she'd been able to focus on what was good about being a girl for once and forget some of the bad, but now watching Ravine, it was all coming back. In truth, her laying had begun to feel so distant, she could almost begin to pass it off as nothing more than just a bad dream, something that may have happened but that maybe it hadn't really happened as she remembered - something that didn't have to be remembered. She had been able to forget those memories that had been reignited upon seeing the storeroom of eggs in the kitchen, but those had just been memories, nothing more, how could she forget now when she saw that very pain in Ravine's eyes right now, the pain that was part of every laying. Actually seeing such a strong dragon as Ravine trying not to scream in such agony right here in front of her brought it back in full perspective just how horrific the experience really was, that if Ravine was unable to handle it, how much worse it has to have been on a hypersensitive dragon like herself. In these past few days Em had become so disconnected from her past self, she couldn't even comprehend how that dragon who had felt so much pain had once been her, perhaps that meant it was time to let that past-self rest, fade into history, but if only she could if she didn't know that egg laying wasn't just the past, but part of the future as well for every girl dragon like her ever.

This isn't the time to dwell on my future, she reminded herself, or forget the past, it's time to focus on Ravine and the pain *she* is feeling right now.

Em put a talon gently on Ravine, "I'm sorry," she said again, she knew it did nothing to help, but she didn't know what else to say.

Summit meanwhile continued to unload the eggs, sending them down the chute one after another with renewed pace. They had been working for nearly the whole night and dawn couldn't be far off. He looked at the quickly depleting supply of eggs and felt if they just had a few more minutes, they could make it. But how much longer would Em be able to keep Ravine at bay? He remembered how Em had acted when she laid, and the thought of having to force another to hold it in was just unimaginable. He felt terrible for leaving Em with that horrible task, but he just couldn't imagine forcing himself to look at Ravine that way. Em had been through so much, yet she'd still been willing to aid Ravine when she'd known how many memories it'd bring back to her. He counseled himself that there was his own task that needed to be finished, and he put his attention on that.

Summit was almost done with the eggs, just a few more to go, he could hear the thrashing in the closet, the struggle of Em trying to hold on to Ravine. Just these few more...

And then, with a sigh of relief, he was done, the last of the stolen eggs was rolling down the chute.

But then he looked back, two last eggs... Queen Omelet's.

Should he do it?

He had come here to save the eggs of the other tribes, these were the Queen's eggs, those from her own tribe, they weren't his to save.

But then he thought of the dragonets inside, maybe even about to hatch, and he just couldn't...

Unfortunately, in the closet, Em was struggling to hang on, Ravine's thrashing was getting more frantic. Suddenly, Ravine's claws were out, and Em gave a yelp as sharp claws marked her face. Em lost her grip, and in that moment had that happened then a bloodcurdling scream erupted from Ravine's throat; All went still as Ravine's agonized wail rang through the castle.

Moments later, Queen Omelet and her guards burst into the kitchen.

"What in the zygote was that!?" Queen Omelet demanded as they made their way to the source of the noise.

"It sounded like a dragon laying an Egg, your Eggmajesty," one guard said.

"What would they be doing down here?" The Queen questioned. "And wait, how can you tell?"

"All dragons sound like that when laying, your Eggmajesty."

"I don't sound like that!" The Queen exclaimed indignantly.

"Well of course not, you have a muzzle - a nice one I must add - and your interpreter sounds lovely," the Guard replied.

"Why thank you," replied the Queen flattered, "I chose her myself."

But their conversation was interrupted as they rounded the corner.

Queen Omelet gasped.

They had arrived just in time to see Summit unloading the last of the Queen's eggs down the chute.

Oh the HORROR! She could see their feast - their culture - unraveling before her very eyes. Queen Omelet screamed, a scream rivaling that of a dragon in labor. "GUARDS!" She screamed, "GUARDS! THEY'RE GETTING AWAY WITH THE EGGS!"

The castle suddenly erupted into an uproar! Every guard was on alert! They looked out windows, dragons of other tribes were scattering in every which direction with their Grand Feast!

It only took moments for them to organize themselves, gather into groups. They were off, only one goal in mind, to round up as many dragons escaping with their Eggs as they could. They were furious, and they were not to be messed with.

Meanwhile, Queen Omelet was pounding Summit to the floor, standing over him, screaming in his face, "How dare you!" she wailed, "How DARE YOU!" tears of horror and emotion pouring down her face, "I let you marry one of our finest dragons, and this is how you repay us?" She didn't even hate him, it just hurt her so much to see such a fine young dragon so twisted up by the ways of the outside world that he would do something like this.

"Your Eggmajesty?"

The Queen turned around to see her guard leading Em and a very exhausted Ravine to the center of the scene. Ravine was carrying a freshly laid egg, and she was still breathing hard in recovery.

"You!" the Queen growled.

The King Chef had joined them by this point and was looking at Ravine with shock and betrayal. "You?" He said, "You did this?"

Even through her exhaust, Ravine looked at him defiantly. "Those eggs are our children, and we will never let your tribe take them away from us."

A look of hurt entered the Kings Chef's eyes. "I thought you were here because you truly believed in what our culture stood for, but all this time you were plotting behind our tails to tear down everything we believe in. I never knew a dragon could be so evil."

Ravine had thought she was ready for whatever these OmeletWings could throw at them, but at these words, she was taken aback. Evil. How many times had Ravine thought those very words about these OmeletWings that stood before them right now?

"Guards," declared the Queen, "Escort these dragons to the Pavilion. We're going to do what we can to salvage this feast. We are going to do what we set out to do. It is time for these dragons to finally understand the beauty of the Omelet."

 

OMELET

As the dragons were escorted back through the castle, Embryo could feel the tension in every talon beat upon the castle floor. The Queen walked ahead of them silent, her face revealing no expression but the determination to follow through with what she was about to do.

As they walked, Summit fell in besides Em, he saw the clawmarks on her face and winced. "Are you okay? I didn't mean to... I'm sorry I made you..." He stopped, how could he ever dare to hope anything Em had ever been through had ever been okay after he'd seen her as he had when she laid her egg. At least Em seemed to be carrying this much better, so at the very least, this scratch wasn't as bad as her laying had been, he'd hate to think of her going through that experience all over again.

Ravine looked over at her, "I'm sorry Em, I didn't mean for that to happen."

Em shrugged, trying not to wince at her own wounds, the sound of Ravine's screams still ringing in her ears, "It's nothing compared to what you had to go through."

Summit rolled his head, neck and shoulders still aching from the pounding Queen Omelet had given him.

"It seems we've all had our share of beatings for the night," Ravine said.

"Believe it or not, that is not the most painful thing I've experienced tonight," Summit admitted, hoping to alleviate at least some of the pain the girls had been through in their time.

It took Em a moment before she caught on what he was referring to, stopping her in her tracks, "Ohh...." A guard nudged her to keep going, "uh yeah..." she trailed off shifting her legs as she remembered the experiment her and Summit had pulled off earlier that night for their wedding.

Through all the pains and beating they'd had tonight, she hated to remind herself that she too had had the worst of it just a few days ago. She looked back to Ravine, fortunately, she seemed to be doing mostly fine now, this hadn't been her first egg after all, she knew how to recover, Em supposed, even if she didn't know how to tolerate it while it was happening. She supposed, she realized with a sinking feeling, someday she too would have learned how to recover from her experiences as well.

Em gently felt her stomach, she could already feel the beginnings of a new egg of her own growing inside of her. But somehow, in that moment, she realized maybe it wasn't all bad, at least not partially. She exchanged a shy glance with Summit; to remember that he, a boy, knew more about her girly weirdness than any other girl ever would... she couldn't help but blush bashfully. There was a feeling of sadness in her knowing what this all meant for her future self, a twist of nausea knowing she was soon to go through the experiences of her first laying all over again, but buried under it there was a sliver of love, this egg would have a dragonet, and she knew someday, even if not now, she would pour all her love onto that dragonet. Her baby.

As they made their way out of the gates of the Castle, the Sun was just beginning to light the edges horizon with a faint bluish light, just peaking over the mountains beyond the castle behind them. In the crisp Twilight air, Em could see OmeletWings escorting escaping dragons back from the mountains with their loadages of eggs, many of them lacking the necessary speed to get away bogged down as they had been with the weight of the eggs they had meant to reclaim. As they reached the pavilion, they were forced to dump their eggs out on the terrace. Ravine could only watch and hope that as each bag was emptied that none of the eggs reclaimed would be the one she had come here to rescue, that her child had been able to get away. She had been so wrapped up in the laying of her new egg, she had failed to be there to make sure her first egg had gotten away, and now there was nothing she could do, as more and more OmeletWings flew in with their captives, she knew she had failed her baby.

The air was still, only a slight touch of wind blowing in that sent a shiver down Em's spine. Other dragons from the village meanwhile, were beginning to trickle into the pavilion, either for their daily breakfast routine, or having been alerted by the noise. Em caught sight of Caviar and Vitellus and many other dragons from the village, dragons she'd known all her life, but suddenly realized she felt like she didn't relate to anymore.

Albumen and Yoke, who had been awoken by the whole ruckus, spotted Em on the terrace and rushed out to her.

"Em?" Albumen asked, "What's going on?"

They took in the guards surrounding them, the seriousness on Queen Omelet's face.

"Em, what did you do?"

Em could only look at her parents, not sure how to respond, she had done what she believed was right, but in doing so she had betrayed her tribe, her family. Em could only shrug helplessly.

When Queen Omelet saw her special eggs being unloaded into the pavilion, she stopped what she was doing and rushed over to them, eyes shining with relief.

"Oh, my babies, thank goodness you're safe."

She took a deep breath...

And then she turned to face the crowds that surrounded her.

"Good morning all. I see our Royal Feast has ran into a slight complication. But not to worry, we will have things back on track momentarily."

As the last of the escaping dragons were escorted back to the pavilion with their eggs, it was clear that it was over; defeat shown in their eyes, after all they had done, it all come back to this, their eggs, their children, all about to be destroyed for the OmeletWing's breakfast. Perhaps a few of them had managed to get away, but for these eggs here, they had failed. Seeing them look so deflated, Em felt a pang in her heart, with her new egg now inside her, she realized now she could feel the tension and pure hopelessness the other mothers must be feeling right now; somehow it was a mothers instinct and it hit her naturally. It was strange to realize she was already feeling affection for something she had only just realized was there, but now that she had, she knew what Ravine and the other dragons had been so desperate about. She didn't know if it was alive yet or not, but the thought of Queen Omelet taking it and cooking it and serving it up for breakfast... It was a thought too painful to bear, almost more painful than the knowledge that she'd eventually have to lay this egg as she had done with the last one. Looking at these mothers, Em realized, maybe whether she believed the egg was alive or not wasn't what mattered, what mattered was the love inside that a mother felt for her child. But now, Queen Omelet was going to destroy that all because that kind of love was a love she had never sought to know.

In the cold chill of the pre-morning air, Em shivered; there was a stillness in the air, Em could feel it, a collective heartbeat of fear, anger, and apprehension as the crowd waited to see what would happen next, knowing at any moment, for these eggs, this would be it.

Queen Omelet took a deep breath, "As you can see, some of our guests are satisfied with the Feast we have to offer, they have taken it upon themselves to insult our greatest of traditions. You see before you a dragon who poised as a dragon after our own yokes, but was really no more than a traitor who seeks to pay INSULT to our Omelet!"

Villagers gasped in horror, looking at the recaptured dragons in stunned disbelief!

Queen Omelet turned to look directly at Ravine. She stepped up to her and looked her straight in the eyes.

"How dare you do this to us, how dare you come into our Kingdom and lie to us, how dare you come into our Kingdom and insult our way of life, HOW DARE YOU COME INTO OUR KINGDOM AND STEAL OUR LOVE FOR THE OMELET!"

The King Chef averted his eyes, knowing he too was partially responsible for trusting Ravine in their Kingdom.

But Ravine just stood there facing Queen Omelet head on, deathly calm, "The only thing we stole from you was what you first stole from us when you came into our homes and stole our eggs."

Queen Omelet huffed in exasperation at the ignorance of these dragons, "You were lost, confused, you didn't understand the wonders you were missing out on, you didn't understand the beauty of the Omelet."

"And you don't understand the value of life."

Queen Omelet spun on her talons, she was eye to eye with the one who had spoken. Summit flinched, the Queen glaring him down, but he didn't break eye contact.

 "When I met Embryo," he continued, trying to remain strong in the Queen's gaze, "she believed her only purpose in life was to lay eggs, but you were wrong, she's much more than that, she's always been much more than that, behind that egg laying body there is a Soul more beautiful than anything you can imagine, behind every shell of every egg there is something beautiful and precious just like her, I know this because she came from one of those eggs. You keep talking about the beauty of the omelet, but you fail to see the most beautiful thing of all, the beauty of each and every individual life."

Queen Omelet looked at Embryo, standing close to Summit, her eyes filling with betrayal "You brainwashed our Embryo into your ways!" She shouted at Summit, "Our own Embryo who we entrusted to you in marriage! How dare you!"

Summit took a step back, shocked. That was not what he meant.

But now a new dread began to fill him. He'd never do that to Em, he'd never brainwash her, right?

But then Em stepped forward. She felt the weight of the eyes of her villagers upon her, the feeling that to them, she just been too weak to hold true to her culture's values when faced with the real world. Well she was weak, and she laid an egg, something not even the strongest dragons could take; she knew what it was to fail at being what she needed to be; she knew that whatever all this meant, it wasn't Summit's fault. "Maybe I am brainwashed," she said, "I don't know about eggs- I don't know what to believe anymore, but I know Summit has never meant my any wrong, he only wanted me to see the best of myself, so don't blame him for what I've become. You may be right, these eggs may be nothing but Omelets, but they were never our eggs to take."

Queen Omelet felt defeated, Embryo was gone, she was beyond all hope, "I see you are no longer one with the Omelet, it is a shame to see what you've become."

"What shame?"

Eyes turned to see where the voice came from.

Quietly, Yoke stepped forward from the crowd Albumen standing next to him, "Maybe our daughter is worth more than any omelet." Yoke looked at Summit gratefully, and Albumen grabbed her husband's talon in support.

Em looked at her parents, feeling a sense of lightness from their support. After everything, they still loved her; despite all the eggs and everything, she was their daughter.

But Queen Omelet just stood there, mouth open. The shock of betrayal, not just from one young misguided dragon who was led astray, but by her parents as well, dragons who had lived as OmeletWings their whole life, under this Kingdom, under these traditions, under this TRUTH...

Fire ignited in the Queen's Soul, a feeling stronger than the blaze of laying a hundred eggs. Her society, which she had dedicated her life to from the moment she hatched, unravelling before her very eyes. The community, the fellowship, all united under the love of the Omelet, it was all being destroyed by the actions of these blasphemous outsiders.

"How could you do this!? How could you all fall victims to these lies!? Don't you all know how wonderful the Omelet tastes? How could such a perfect vision all have come to this?"

Ravine stepped forward, looking the Queen straight in the eyes, "Your 'perfect' vision - all this you did to steal our eggs - you failed to consider one thing, the one thing you don't want to mess with is a mother who's been separated from her child."

"You think that scares me!?" Queen Omelet yelled, "Your motherly instincts mean nothing compared to you messing with me when I'm HANGRY!"

Queen Omelet spread her wings, flew over to her spot at the center of the pavilion, eyes blazing with conviction, fury. Taking from her servant her royalist of forks, she held it in her talons like a scepter, she looked out before her, dragons of every tribe watching her with dread; eggs from every corner of the continent surrounded her, overflowing the pavilion; she was Queen Omelet of the OmeletWings, and nobody would take this kingdom away from her.

"Don't you see?" She cried, "This is what happens when you abandon the Way of the Omelet! Don't you all see what they are doing to us here? We invite these dragons here to share our way of life and instead they try to steal it from us! Look at you! Look at you all! Is this acceptable?! Look how they have contaminated our society with their tasteless appetites and LIES! Don't you remember the Egg from which you came? Don't you remember the Great Omelet that shines its light down onto us? Well to all of you who stand by me, I ask of you, REMEMBER!" Queen Omelet held out her fork high and proud; OmeletWings everywhere just stood watching with awe; as she spoke, the Sun began to rise over the peak of the mountains, illuminating the valley in a golden light; from a certain angle, it almost appeared as if a hallow shone behind Queen Omelet and her castle, "REMEMBER the Great Omelet, REMEMBER how it rises each and every morning over our Breakfast, REMEMBER how it lights up our valley with its glorious light each and every day, REMEMBER THE GREAT OMELET which in our time of greatest need will hatch, and rain down Omelets upon this hungry world! Well all you naysayers, I say ENOUGH! THIS IS WHO WE ARE! OMELETWINGS, PROUD, STRONG, UNITED, UNDER THE GREAT OMELET SUN! On this day, the time has come! Today is the Day of the Omelet, and whether you stand with me or not, YOU WILL ENJOY THE OMELET!"

Then, fire blazing in her Soul, Queen Omelet raised her fork in the air...

And she brought her talons down, right upon the egg in front of her.

There was a shriek from the crowd.

A sickening crack.

Fragments of the egg came crumbling down.

And there, within the shattered remains of the shell laid the fetal form of a newly hatched MudWing dragonet.

The world fell silent, Queen Omelet stared down in shock, dragons held their breath in waiting, the dragonet's eyes were closed, had it been injured in the shattering of the egg?

Then a breath, long and deep... in... and out.

Air, fresh, clean, pure; a spotlight of warmth shining down from somewhere above, giving strength to the fragile body.

Then the dragonet opened its eyes, squinting in the bright light of the morning sun, blinked a few times...

Then looked around for the first time in wonder at the world that surrounded it.

Queen Omelet regained her composure, "What you see is not what you think, that egg was a dysfunctional egg, it has rotten and mutated to what you see before you, another mouth like ours just ready to try for the first time a nice juicy Omelet!"

But the MudWing wasn't paying attention to the Queen.

Clink, clink.

From it's tiny young ears, it heard the sound, the call so deep that only a MudWing could understand.

It scanned the eggs surrounding it.

It spotted the source of the call.

The MudWing dragonet stood up, its talons weak, but then it took one step forward, then another, each talonstep moving it toward it, closer and closer, winding its way through the pavilion of eggs until it stood right there before it.

The dragonet inspected the IceWing egg; reached out and touched it; ran its talons along the soft shell; put its ear to it; listened; heard the deep thump-thump radiating from within.

The dragonet looked down at its talons, noticed a fork laying abandoned in the plaza beside the egg; picked it up...

Queen Omelet's face relaxed, the realization of what was happening all starting to make sense, "See all? His first instinct is to go for an egg. Is that not a sign to you all that from even our very first breath we are bound to the Omelet?"

The dragonet stabbed the egg with the fork, but there was no cry from the crowd this time.

Then gently, the dragonet pried away a small section of the shell with the fork, and then reaching in the opening, pulled the rest of the shell away...

And there from inside, curled up, was another new-hatched dragonet, breathing in peacefully as it took in the fresh air of the world for the first time.

The MudWing nudged the IceWing dragonet and the IceWing blinked open its eyes. The MudWing gave it an affectionate nuzzle, and the IceWing chirruped back batting away the MudWing playfully.

Queen Omelet stood there silent; too many words, all beyond her grasp. All the dragons in the village stood watching as the MudWing dragonet greeted the IceWing into the new dawn.

And then, listening once more, the BigWing dragonet turned it's attention to one final egg, the beat of life gently thumping from within.

Queen Omelet's heart skipped a beat.

"Wait, that one- it can't be- my egg wouldn't-"

But the MudWing dragonet was already heading towards it, the special egg she'd been saving for a full year for an occasion such as this, formed straight from the Queen's own body. Queen Omelet opened her mouth, tried to protest, but the words all froze within her throat.

And then the dragonet was there...

He took the fork; started peeling the shell away...

And as the shell crumbled once again, from inside emerged the form of a young OmeletWing dragonet.

The MudWing gave a squeal of delight.

But rather than looking at the MudWing, as the new-hatched OmeletWing's eyes opened the first time - as it's eyes began to focus in the sunlight - its gaze fell directly on Queen Omelet, as if an invisible bond connected her straight to the one who had borne her.

Then, from her mouth she gave tiny little squeak, the smallest of sounds meaning the most simple of things.

"Mama?"

And the fork fell from Queen Omelet's talons, clattering to the ground.