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The shell is dark and warm, and when you come into the world, you find that it is distressingly lacking in both things. It does, however, have smells. And sights. And shapes that attach themselves the voices that you have known. A girl feeds you a bit of meat to the approval of many. When the crowd is gone, she picks you up in her arms and wraps you in a blanket, so that the cold does not press upon you, and she sits down on the floor and blows out the candles, so that it is dark. She shifts the collar, so that the chain does not weigh so heavily upon your neck.

She repeats your name to you, like a lullaby to take you to sleep.

You realize only later that she has been waiting for you a very long time: time flows differently inside a dragon's egg.


You realize only later that she had been waiting for you a very long time, longer than any other captain had ever waited for a dragon. Modern Longwings tend to be long in the shell, and you were a very long time indeed. As a result, before you are ready for it, your captain dies: it is a chill in the lungs. She dies in a building that is too small for you to see her before she dies, and that night, her daughter comes and puts her arms around your neck. She cries, and you mourn. You feel that if you had broken shell when your captain had been a baby, it would not have been long enough, but Jane falls asleep cradled against your chest. As the night deepens, you realize you saw Jane as a baby. In fact, you saw Jane in her shell, inside her mother. You had bent your head and smelled the child inside.

After the birth, her mother walked out to you, shaky in the legs and very pale, followed by a nervous midwife, and she had lifted the baby up for you to look at and smell.

"I have a daughter, Excidium. What should her name be?"

You looked at her for a moment before realizing what was happening: Jane had been a late baby, a surprise, you thought. Unexpected. You had always known that your captain loved you, but had not realized what she was doing until that moment. You had not know that she was doing it for you.

You pause, thinking, before you name it Jane, much as you had been named all those years before.

Time flows differently for a dragon, and in a few hours, you wake Jane for her mother's funeral at dawn.