The Stone Egg

Once in a land of dragons there lived a great dragon queen who collected eggs. Not the living eggs of her kin, but rather the preserved eggshards of youngling dragons. There were gold-rimmed shards from the firedrakes that built their nests near volcanoes, and transparent, glass-like shards from the moondrakes who danced their wonder-dances during the new moon so that the land might not be entirely dark, barnacle-encrusted shards from the seadrakes who kept their eggs in the wrecks of galleons where eyeless human kings stared from devalued coins. All these the dragon queen arranged upon the shelves she had carved into her lair.

Each day the dragon queen polished the eggshards with cloths she had gathered from diverse sources: ballgowns with their froth of lace, pennants-of-war dyed gaily bright, an immense quilt patched together from the jackets of beheaded knights. In the mornings she admired the way that the bloom of dawnlight glistened over the shards, and in the evenings she listened to the captive crystalline thrumming of dragon lullabies. And for all the beauty of her collection, she was reminded that all her egglings had flown away long aeons ago to distant worlds, there to found their own lineages and raise egglings of their own.

For all that, the dragon queen was not one to give herself over to regrets, and the collection was, in its way, a comfort. She did not dwell on her essential loneliness until one day, after a delegation from the queen of birds departed, she found an unexpected addition to her collection: a misty stone of lavender and smoke-silver carved into the shape of a dragon’s unbroken egg.

It was no true egg, of course; she heard no eggling within, dreaming dreams of flight and deep-diving and hoarding bright pebbles, jay feathers, and shed snakeskins. (Hoarding behavior begins with small things and progresses to the grander treasures for which dragons are better known.) Nevertheless, the stone’s misty swirls danced and shimmered in the light, and whispers in the language of dragons emanated from its mazy heart.

The dragon queen attended to the gift just as diligently as though it were a true egg, although her egg-laying years were far behind her. She curled around it to warm it with the heat of her regard, and recited meditations of fire and frost to it in the mornings, and crooned to it at night. All the while the stone egg’s swirls did not stop dancing and shimmering and whispering.

One night in the dead of winter, while the winds drove needles of ice against the mountains and the world outside turned silver-black, the dragon queen woke to the sound of a terrible crack. She roused immediately and hurried to her beloved collection. She let out a great cry when she saw that the stone egg had cracked and lay in pieces at the center of the collection.

Moments later, however, she heard the unmistakable lilting song of dragons, a voice from each of the scattered pieces: her far-scattered children were greeting her across unmappable distances. The stone egg’s enchantment had been hatched by the persistence of the dragon queen’s affection. She called back to her children and they answered, telling her of the egglings they had raised, the museums they had founded, the constellations they had studied as they flew from world to world.

The dragon queen did not abandon her collection, but from then on she never spent a day without speaking to one of her family.

For Telophase. Prompt: egg.