Dauria waited for darkness before she left the lair. She set out westward for the Mare Gallicum where she would find Graayyyavalllia. The constant wind of flight kept her eyes dry of tears as she flew.

Over her flight, she paid particular attention to the landscape of the Earth and found it much changed, though not unrecognizable.

Most of the mountains were the same, if more worn down. The landmasses were in slightly different places, though still easily navigable. Seas and lakes were, for all practical purposes, unchanged.

The rivers, though. What radical changes! The Iteru was much the same, and the Istros and the Reinos. Perhaps the Hiddekel and Euphrates as well. But the smaller ones? Most of those she knew were gone, dried up and vanished. Similarly, most of those now present had not existed when she last flew above the Earth.

What are the names of those rivers now? she wondered.

Across the entire flight, she cast her telepathic net far and wide, seeking to learn all she could about what sorts of men and women were in power in the human nations of this age.

The anger, the fear, the violence, and the apathy of the majority left her immensely disheartened as to the possible future of the human race.

Could The Watchers be right? she wondered. It was true that much of the damage to the world would have happened without humankind, but what about the rest? What about all the atrocities of man? What about the mass destruction directly— and directed —by his hand? What about the chemical warfare which destroyed not only massive swaths of human life, but also infected and mutated huge amounts of flora and fauna?

Was it their place to say humanity had its chance and failed? Did they have the right to take Mother Earth away from Man?

She wasn’t convinced of either argument, couldn’t decide on either answer.

Let the Elders decide, she thought at last. It is in no way my decision to make anyhow. That’s why we developed the Council of Elders in the first place.


Metal and Stone, Chapter 10
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The moment Kwallindauria opened her eyes, she knew the world had changed.

Dust motes floated through the air in beams of sunlight no human could see, the creaks and groans of the Earth sounded so near, she almost thought she was within a wingspan of the inner side of the Earth’s crust. The scents of iron and gold came to her on the breath of air from the surface.

In short, she was a dragon again, but now infinitely more attuned to her senses than ever before. It was almost as though she had opened her eyes for the first time, as though she’d been seeing through closed lids all her life.

What a wondrous sensation!

“Kaiyu,” she called, remembering his pain-filled shriek. “Where are you? It worked!”

Rising to her feet, she looked ar...

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