There was a grunt of annoyance from behind and above her, louder this time, and Mama delicately plucked Tegain up by the scruff of her neck with some nimble front teeth. For a moment Tegain imagined this was how the Redlings must have felt at various points throughout the day, dangling from Mama's mouth with all the pride of a piddling whelp. She returned to her place near the roiling mass of Red chicks as the back of her clothes/shirt/tunic hung in tatters at her back. She looked up to see those enormous gold eyes looking intently down upon her. Only this time, Tegain felt no intimidation whatsoever. In fact, her jaw was set a little tighter, her chin protruding with just a little more resistance. She locked her gaze with Mama and clenched her hands at her sides into fists, the oversized left one resembling a club at her hip. She then stomped pointedly right to the little Purple, who by this time recognized the power play afoot and looked up at his mother and cringed with terror. Instead of leaning into Tegain's touch, this time he arched back, as if her fingertips brought with them certain death.
And he was correct.
Mama angrily screeched in frustration and stamped one foot. The world around them shuddered as if in the throes of a mountain-toppling earthquake and Tegain's ankle buckled as she dropped to the floor of the nest. The Redlings froze, uncertain, and Mama Red swooped one mammoth talon through the air and cuffed Purple hard enough to send him flying. Tegain heard him cry out and tumble in the dirt outside the nest, finally coming to rest at the tree line, several yards away. His body lay in an uncomfortable and awkward pile, his immature wings spread at unnatural angles from his shoulders.
The weight of guilt hit Tegain as hard as Mama's blow to her son. Her headstrong actions had surely killed the poor, innocent fledgling, and sadness and fury mixed together as a tortured scream welled up from the depths of Tegain's soul, “Noooooooooooo!” Tears sprang unbidden from her lashes and her heart clutched in her throat. Had her pride killed the runty little Purple? She climbed over the lip of the nest and limped through the pain of her already-swelling ankle toward the still body of the young dragon. She collided with his long, serpentine neck and wrapped her arms around it in an attempt at an embrace. Tears coursed down her face as she blubbered, “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.”