Vetta lay before the fire, stretched out with her great head on her huge paws, looking every bit the house cat, if she weren’t ten times larger. Shadows flickered across her black and orange stripes, as Kas held up the egg.
Eggs liked heat. So they kept this one as close to it as possible.
The house was small, barely big enough for two people, let alone a man and tiger, but for now it would do. They never stayed long in one place anyway. Too many other places, too many jobs. A lord here needing someone to track down a wayward child, a lady there needing someone to put fear into those who tried to take her land. Rogue vampires who couldn’t seem to remember the agreements, and feral werewolves without a pack.
Nasty creatures with more smarts than Kas liked. But he’d seen plenty of dragon eggs, nests of them at Lyrana’s sanctuary, and this wasn’t one of them. It was too bumpy. Dragon eggs were smooth, and glistened. This…didn’t.
Kas sighed, lowered the egg to the ground and nestled it against Vette. With the fire and Vette’s fur, the egg would be safe enough. He ambled to the back of the small house, to the bed against the back wall, and fell into it. His eyes closed, and he fell asleep quicker than he was used to.
* * *
“Kas! Kas, wake up, you stupid oaf!”
He woke, emerging from a dream in which a child dragon roared and spat fire at him, crying all the while. “You killed my mama!” And, indeed, he had, before taking the boy to the sanctuary and leaving him with Lyrana, despite the boy’s claim he would come back and kill Kas one day. Perhaps when the boy did come, Kas would be ready for death.
Vette tugged on his sleeve. “Kas! You awake?”
“I’m awake. Was going on?” He reaching for the drawers, and his sword on top, fingers clasping around the hilt.
“It’s hatching!” The tiger grinned, turned and bounded back through the door, Kas scrambling out of bed, forgetting the sword, and following.
Vette had gathered a few sticks, placing them around the egg to stop it rolling too far. It sat, nestled before the fireplace, trembling. Kas knelt before it, reached out, and placed his finger against the shell. He drew it back quickly; the shell was not just warm, but hot, hotter than it should have been, considering the distance between fire and egg.
Perhaps, really, that was all it was. A misshapen dragon egg, about to reveal the small lizard-like creature curled up inside. They should have taken it to the sanctuary, at least there it would have been properly cared for, and they could have contained the first fire bursts to come from the creature.
Vette padded forward, and Kas grabbed the scruff of her neck, pulling her back.
“Don’t,” he said. “We have no clue what’s inside.”
“It’s a child,” Vette replied, “whatever it is. It’s going to need-”
“It could be a dangerous child, Vette! A dragon, maybe.”
“That’s no dragon egg, you can tell, it’s-”
She fell silent, as a crack appeared in the top of the egg. It shook again, this time so hard it knocked in the makeshift nest. Sticks scattered across the floor and the egg went down, smashing against wood.
“No!” Vette cried, eyes widening. She had never been the maternal sort, but protective? Always. And her tiger form, the form the witch had trapped her in, brought that out even more. She skidded forward, then stopped, looking first at the egg, then at Kas.
He knelt, looking at the crack running along the shell, and gently poked it, before putting his hand over one half, and lifting it up.
“It’s okay,” he said. “It’s okay. I think…” He removed the half-shell, and stared at the stunned, dazed figure lying against the other side. The size of his hand, a humanoid body, arms spread and wings stretching out from a tiny back. They fluttered, and the figure sighed, opened her eyes, and grinned.
Kas staggered back, as the small creature threw herself into the air, tumbled, and came straight at him. Vette watched, gaze following the darting, dancing thing as it came after Kas. He knocked into one of the chairs, almost fell, but managed to keep himself upright, as the small, flying girl hit his chest and stuck there, arms stretched out.
Kas sighed, closing his eyes as he exhaled. He’d seen them, before; tricky, nasty, mischievous little beasts, never had a single pleasant experience with one of them. But they’d found the egg, they’d taken care of it, and he’d been the first thing she’d seen when hatching.
She snuggled against him for a moment, before climbing onto his shoulder and settling there, small wings fluttering, a contended smile on her face as Vette bit her lip, suppressing the urge to laugh.
“Well,” Vette said, “go on, Kas. Name your daughter.”
Kas rolled his eyes. Fairies. Of all possible things that could have been waiting in the egg, it had to be a damn fairy.
“Kas,” Vette urged.
On his shoulder, a small voice squeaked, “Kas! Mummy!”
Vette burst out laughing, and Kas sat on the nearest chair, the fairy giggling, like a child who didn’t understand what they were laughing at, but who found the whole thing hilarious, all the same.