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Well, this seems like a good place for me to store this business while I finish it! I've been writing it in parts, so it's really patchy right now... urgh... must. work...

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By Kittyluvver. WIP - don't read yet, if you please.


Her wings were as black as ebony, her eyes blue as shattered midnight, her scales as cold as winter’s sorrow over frosted, charred leaves too proud to die. Her chest heaved; she gasped and her lungs crackled harsh and dry as crumpled paper. The slump of a horned head, the arch of a twisted neck cast its dark silhouette over the long, black mahogany desk; shadows writhed and twisted across the far wall as the NightWing with the eidetic memory struggled to remember how to breathe.

She was the one with answers; the dragoness with inkstained wings and chalkdust on her paws, the one who had been blessed with the clarity and the curiosity to search for the greatest secrets of universe. Too little, too late, too proud, a beautiful mind laid low, crystalline eyes clouded like a snowy river choked with ice; she with the words to frame eternity was now drowning, dying as alone as a broken, scarred moon in a field of starlight.

Phi the NightWing stirred, a glistening tear carving a silver trail down the side of her face. Glittering like a drop of light, a captive star, it paused, dawdled, at the ridge of her chin – before it fell and was swallowed by the darkness.

***

FIVE YEARS EARLIER

***

“Do you know why I named you Phi?” Tesselation asked me.

An impish smile played about her mouth, and her eyes flashed and glimmered like pebbles at the seaside. Blue and sky-soft they shone, wet from the ocean spray and dazzling in the sunlight. She was a sight always strange and yet familiar, for Tesselation’s eyes were my eyes, albeit set in a laugh-lined face both older and wiser. And yet she wore them better. She held oceans and skies within her eyes. She made you feel, at the same time, tiny and like the only dragon in the world.

For my mother could do something that I somehow never could - she bore her genius with grace and humility. She did not tout it or wear it on her sleeve, unlike so many of her peers, unlike me. And even though it was quite evident to those around her, to her it was no more than an afterthought; something of little real substance, no excuse to raise herself above others. In Tesselation’s bluest eyes, the brilliant department chair was all but equal to the janitor sweeping her office floor. Both worthy of dignity, both worthy of her respect.

However, she had so far failed to impart this benevolence upon her five-year-old misanthrope of a daughter.

“No,” I responded dully, my head bowed and my mind far away as I pondered the limits of the space-time continuum. Scribble, scratch, whispered my pen as it circumnavigated the face of the paper napkin in front of me. Within a few strokes it had modeled the universe in the shape of an n-dimensional torus. A world in cheap ink and tissue paper.

8:00 in the morning and the university coffee shop was filled with the rustle and shake of newspapers being unfolded, the bubble of coffee pots and the cloying aroma of waffles drenched in syrup. Watery morning sunlight streamed through the windows, casting each swirling dust mote in silver. The quiet buzz of conversation coalesced with the discordant clink and clatter of cutlery on plates. It was exactly the place where I hated to be. The hum of voices, the constant spine-tingling presence of other dragons around me was near unbearable - how could Mother stand it?

True, I cringed and whined about every time I had to be out in public, but I reserved a special brand of loathing for our semi-weekly outings to the coffee shop. How could one elevate one’s mind to higher pursuits and begin to fathom the workings of the universe, when one was surrounded by vapid waitresses and the constant refrains; will that be all? Do you want fresh ground pepper on that? Aren’t you a little young to be drinking coffee?

“So serious,” Tesselation laughed, and her laugh was like the chime of bells and the tinkle of a piano coda. Laughter came easily to my mother, tumbling from her mouth as easily as a butterfly flutters free of its chrysalis. Genius was not a heavy burden for Tesselation - and that was something I never quite came to comprehend. Somehow, I grasped the most complex concepts and theorems with effortless grace, and yet the simplest social aptitude eluded me.

Don’t take yourself so seriously, she’d say, and laugh that butterfly laugh of hers.

And I’d nod as if I understood what she meant, as if I, like her, knew how to put my mind away into a drawer when I wasn’t using it. For a little while, to see the world through the eyes of an ordinary dragon and not those of a theoretician. As if it were as easy as just taking off my glasses, and letting the world unfocus into a myopic chaos of shape and sound.

No, ignorance might be bliss, but I preferred knowledge.

Tesselation looked at me through her sea-green sea-glass eyes, and not for the first time I allowed myself to to entertain the possibility that if she, like the moon-touched NightWings of legend, could read my mind.

“Phi,” Tesselation mused, tapping her ebony claws against the polished linoleum surface of the table. Her voice washed over me, and suddenly the clink and clatter of the cafe faded into the background. “I named you after the Golden Ratio. 1.6180339987,” she recited, tossing the numbers effortlessly forth. “The most beautiful number in the universe, the offshoot of the Fibonacci sequence. All nature, all art, all beautiful things - from the chambers of a nautilus and to blossoms of a sunflower, from the great orchestral symphonies to the animus-touched masterpieces — obeys the mathematical proportion of phi. Even dragonkind. The world has an underlying order, divine in its simplicity. And you, my daughter, are a living, breathing tribute to that.”

Tesselation smiled, her blue eyes turning up at their corners as she transfixed me with her knowing gaze.

“You are perfection."

***

Irrationality.

It was almost painfully ironic how phi - 1.6180339987 - was an irrational number. For already, at five scant years of age, I had dedicated my life to fighting irrationality. Where it bloomed, I cut it short. Where it bubbled forth, I wiped it away. Where it hid, I hunted it down and killed it. Because irrationality was the enemy of knowledge, of understanding, of everything I held sacred. It was the antithesis of reason. And I had come to think that in order to achieve enlightenment, in order to fulfill my destiny, I must first destroy irrationality.

And yet, irrationality seemed to dog me wherever I went, in the way that sharks follow a trail of festering blood. Try as I might, I could never truly shed it and leave it behind. I could not cut it from me any more than I could cut away my own lungs and be free. It was a part of me, a part that I loathed and yearned to be rid of, but a part of me I could not live without.

One sunlit morning, I was walking through the hallways of the University’s science department, my mind far away as my footfalls sounded softly and rhythmically against the polished tiles of the floor. Back then, at age five, I could still walk. I had no need of a wheelchair, for this was before the fateful day that withered my legs.

I was so lost in thought, my face buried in my notes, that I did not notice the young dragon until I nearly tripped over his tail.

He was a dark blue SeaWing, with bright cerulean photophores and a face that suggested good humor, but was at the moment contorted into a snarl of deepest loathing as he attacked the vending machine in the hallway. I stopped, momentarily stunned, as blow after blow pummeled the scratched glass face of the poor appliance.

“Vending machine stole my money!” the SeaWing cried.

This wanton display of purest irrationality was dissonant against everything I knew - dissonant against all logic and reason. I reacted instinctively, bursting out with the first thing that came to mind.

“You’re an idiot,” I stated. There was no malice in my tone, for I was simply reporting a fact as I saw it.

The SeaWing looked around, panting a little from his exertions, and all at once his face fell into a boyish grin; seemingly his default expression. He didn’t seem even the least bit miffed at my words, instead taking it all in stride.

“Hi,” he greeted me, offering me his forepaw to shake - a forepaw that went ignored, as even then I did not voluntarily touch other dragons if I could help it.

“I’m Cobalt.”

“My name is Phi.”

And thus, a friendship began.

***

Nightmares - the epitome of irrationality. The sensation of helplessness, the confusion of what is real and what is not, the strangeness of it all. I always thought that, given my intellect, I would be above something as empty and vague as a nightmare. And yet they stalked me relentlessly as a dragonet.

Strange nightmares, terrifying in their irrationality - I was suffocating, chased by wild beasts, burning, falling into a black abyss with my wings bound. They would send me flying bolt upright in the middle of the night, a scream clenched tight my throat, as nameless terror raced through my veins and set my heart aflutter.

I still have them sometimes.

But back then, as a dragonet hiding from the night, I would gather my blankets and tiptoe over into my mother’s room, to burrow into her bed. She would turn over and raise her wings, so I could curl up underneath against her warm belly. And we would bleed warmth into each other as we dreamed, safe from the night and the cold.

And there I was safe and warm. And there the nightmares did not trouble me.

***

And yet, sometimes it seemed that the greatest bastion of irrationality in my life was Tesselation herself. Tesselation, the genius, the physicist, the professor, my mother, the one true constant in my life that I clung to. Tesselation, the pianist.

Genius works in strange and mysterious ways, and sometimes mathematical genius chooses to go paw-in-paw with musical talent. My mother was one of those rare doubly gifted, and when I was young, one of my greatest pleasures was to watch her play the piano. To watch her dark paws dance across the ivory keyboard, like blackbirds against a cloudy white sky. She taught me love. She showed me beauty in the turn of a phrase, the drop of a note and the shatter of silence, perfection in a melody flawlessly rendered. She’d spent too much time with her paws caressing the ivory keys of the piano to live out her days in the soundless lecture hall of my mind. So Tesselation showed me art in the touch of a key, the hum of a string; she placed music in the shuttered ears of a dragoness who thought herself deaf-mute to the rest of the world.

***

It begins in the raindrops and mist of a sunless morning. It begins in the stems of white roses clamped tight in clammy paws, in the prick of thorns drawing bitter crimson blood. It begins in black lace and crumpled paper and an ebony piano singing a requiem and a lullaby, as an ivory casket is lowered into the earth.

It begins with an echo and an ending. It begins in the heart of a NightWing dragoness with scales the color of twilit dusk and tears as cold as rain. It begins with eulogies; words, empty and hollow, thrown like birds but dead like stones. It begins as she tears the petals from the rose, one by one, letting them fall the muddy ground and nestle like pearls. It begins as cruel loneliness forces its way down her throat and takes her breath away. It begins as she drowns.

It begins.

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