FATESPEAKER: Yeah, I’m ready.
SUNNY: Okay. As one of the Dragonets of Destiny and a teacher at Jade Mountain Academy, I formally open this debate about the animus vow, five thousand and twelve years after the Scorching, eight days after the Battle of Jade Mountain. (to Starflight) Did I get that right?
STARFLIGHT: Yes. But you don’t have to ask that every time we get something recorded.
SUNNY: I know, but I feel like I can never remember everything we have to say for an official document.
TSUNAMI: What’s the point, anyway? If some future dragon tries to censor this, they’ll just lie about the date too.
STARFLIGHT: It’s not about censorship. If a disaster somehow wipes out all the scrolls but this one, historians wouldn’t know who was talking or what they were talking about. We have to give them as much information as possi-
ANEMONE: Can we get this done, already? I have homework to do.
TURTLE: I’ll help you.
ANEMONE: No! I don’t wanna be known as “the princess who needed her brother to help her with fractions”.
TSUNAMI: No one will say that.
ANEMONE: Whatever. Let’s talk about the whale in the room.
GLORY: The “no animus queens” suggestion?
SUNNY: (sighs) I knew that was going to be the biggest problem.
CLAY: I get why you suggested it, Sunny-
STARFLIGHT: Because of the crazy disembowelling king dragon.
ANEMONE: And what I did with the crabs-
TSUNAMI: And the crazy stabbing prince dragon.
WINTER: Queen Diamond.
GLORY: Okay, we get it! Every tribe has an “evil animus” story. But that doesn’t answer the question.
ANEMONE: I vote yes.
TSUNAMI: What?! Anemone, you can’t hate yourself just because the magic made you-
ANEMONE: It didn’t make me. Everything I did, that was my choice. The evil. And the good that I do now, too.
ANEMONE: It’s a vote, right? I vote yes.
GLORY: It’s not just about the madness. We can’t exclude dragons just because of how they were born. What if some future animus is a really great leader, but they can’t rule their tribe because we said, hundreds of years before, “No, we don’t trust you, Heroic Dragon We’ve Never Even Met”? That’s not fair.
STARFLIGHT: If the vow works, madness won’t even be a problem-
MOONWATCHER: But it’s too much power.
SUNNY: Have you seen anything about this, Moon?
MOONWATCHER: No. But that was the problem with Darkstalker, wasn’t it? He was born with- so much power- that no one else could stand up to him. Power corrupts-
WINTER: I don’t like that phrase.
TSUNAMI: Well, of course you wouldn’t, but-
WINTER: No. Some dragons are just born stronger than other dragons. That doesn’t make them evil. Qibli has a better brain than probably any SandWing alive. It’s always been that way, he didn’t force anybody to give it to him. So we don’t walk on weak ice around him, we don’t automatically suspect him of anything bad that happens, because that would be unfair.
ANEMONE: But being a genius, or whatever Qibli is, doesn’t make a royal challenge unfair. Animus magic does.
GLORY: A SeaWing trial by combat? Isn’t the point that the victor is stronger than the other?
ANEMONE: A little bit, but it’s about courage too. The reigning queen will nearly always be better trained than her rival, or have better weapons. To beat her, a rival must be stronger than all of those things, but-
STARFLIGHT: -They must also be brave enough to face her in the first place, knowing that the queen has all the advantages. Otherwise everything would just be about power. (frowns) I never thought about it that way.
WINTER: In the Ice Kingdom, we have a special dueling ring that prevents the combatants from using magic. I’m sure Snowfall would be willing to show you the spell’s transcript-
ANEMONE: There are a million ways to get around any spell. If we’re going to help animus dragons not be tempted, we have to limit the dragon, not the places they go. And I can’t imagine a situation where an animus dragon would need to become queen.
TSUNAMI: What if the queen was pushing them around, like Lagoon did?
ANEMONE: Then the animus leaves. Didn’t we cover this in the other meetings? “An animus may use their magic to flee any sapient being that pressures them to use magic against their will.” That’s what we’ll put in the vow.
SUNNY: Yeah. Albatross’ situation was awful, but a vow wouldn’t have fixed it. The problem was how he saw himself…how other dragons lied to him. We can’t help dragons like Albatross fight back if they don’t want to.
TURTLE: Personally, I think most animus dragons won’t be like Albatross. I was the opposite, wanting to use my magic too much.
ANEMONE: Exactly. I don’t need a crown to be important to my tribe. And neither do you.
ANEMONE: Shut up!
STARFLIGHT: Winter, has there ever been a time in the Ice Kingdom where all the heirs were animus dragons? Male and female?
WINTER:…No. The princesses Floe and Aurora fought an animus duel for the throne, but they were twins. There were several ordinary princesses who could have taken their place.
TSUNAMI: This rule is looking better and better. But we’d have to put in some sort of subrule, like “no puppeting your younger siblings”.
STARFLIGHT: We can do that. Where’s our draft for the brainwashing section? (papers rustling) Thanks, Fatespeaker.
ANEMONE: Are we done?
SUNNY: I think we’ve covered everything. Anyone?
SUNNY: Okay, so we’ll add a “no animus monarch” rule to the draft, and…“reconvene”…after lunch.
TSUNAMI: After I’ve washed this stupid paint off my face.
SUNNY: I’m sure Pronghorn didn’t mean to spill paint on you. All the dragonets say they love having you teach art class.
TSUNAMI: Probably because they use me as a canvas. Wait- Fatespeaker, stop writing!