Embrace the temptation
One particular dragon, a fierce-looking, if smaller, black wyvern let out a piercing screech and lunged forward, straight toward us. Cassia hissed in anger, frost already swirling around her fingertips as she prepared herself to take out the enemy headed her way.
Great. This was getting better and better. Back in Terra Dracones, I'd seen some memorable clashes between females, but while those battles had been impressive, I suspected they would be nothing compared to what would happen should I not stop the reckless new arrival from stirring my treasure's anger further.
The gods were not entirely against me today, and the distance between us and the black wyvern, while not great, still gave me the opening I needed to intervene. I flew ahead, placing myself between Cassia and her attacker. "Don't!"
"Kerryn, what in the world are you doing?" Cassia snarled at me. "If this is another case of you thinking I can't handle—"
"My hatchling!" the black wyvern shouted at the same time, cutting Cassia off mid-sentence. "You're alive!"
Behind me, Cassia went still, and I suppressed a flinch. My female was at her most dangerous when she seemed utterly calm, and her current reaction did not bode well for my future.
I desperately wanted to find a method to do damage control, but I didn't get the chance to even make the attempt. The black wyvern pounced on me and started to nuzzle me with her snout, checking me over for injuries with her tail. "Oh, my poor baby!" she exclaimed. "What happened? Were you imprisoned? Wounded? Are you in any pain?"
I felt Cassia's gaze burning into my back. Through the corner of my eye, I caught sight of Raijin and Emmerich hovering nearby. I didn't know what was worse, my chagrin over the fact that my female was witnessing the entire scene or the knowledge that the other two dragons would never let me hear the end of it.
This was a punishment. It had to be. I'd deemed Lerna's tendency to call me "little Kerryn" embarrassing. This was a million times worse.
"Greetings, Mother," I said, hoping to keep her from erupting into further effusive declarations of affection. "I'm perfectly fine and not injured in any way. Your concerns were unwarranted."
"Oh?" My mother flew back and shot me a baleful look. "Why then did you not return to Terra Dracones? And why are you keeping company with a firedrake, a ryū, and a human mage?"
I would've liked to point out that she was technically keeping company with firedrakes and ryūs as well, and that Cassia was no human mage. However, correcting my mother in a way that would not make her already volatile temper explode would've been a challenge even for dragons far more tactful than I was.
On the other hand, she seemed to think that I'd been taken captive, which was a misconception I needed to correct at once. Despite my natural apprehension, I might have done just that, but before I could come up with an adequate response, the rest of the group reached our side. "Give the lad some room, Brigid," my father said. "I'm sure there must be some kind of explanation."
"Let us rejoice in the fact that they are unhurt," the female ryū I recognized as Raijin's mother added in a soft tone. "As long as that is the case, we can clarify the matter in time."
The relief that swamped me at her intervention was nigh overwhelming. It also didn't last.
"Actually, I'd like to clarify the matter now," Cassia said. "Kerryn, Raijin, Emmerich... I'm waiting."
Oh, shit. We were so fucked.