She can’t outpace the swarm. In this moment, Cyrilla is a runner who cannot run. To make matters worse, all of the disturbance caused by the Pygasalis has only caused more creatures to gather. Reptilian creatures size up the fatigued Cyrilla and mud-folk are forming among the shadows again. Her protective magic is nearly dry, only just strong enough to ward off the insects around her. Any substantial attack will cause that barrier to shatter, exposing her to the elements in this place of death. She’s easy prey, so why, she wonders, have they not attacked already?
Cyrilla spots a clearing through the thicket. The swampland turns to grass, though it still looks a muddy turquoise. She isn’t out of the territory but she reckons it’ll be safer out in the open where the mud-folk can’t flank her so easily. She drags her heavy body along, staining the plain with her dirty body. The clearing is gigantic, it feels unreal how far out it goes with naught a single tree. Cyrilla casts it off as her tired mind playing tricks. After all, she can’t even hear the mosquitos buzzing around her any more.
Every step is hard, it feels to her as if the mud-folk are still trying to drag her down. Even when her mind fades her resolve fuels her need to walk forward. A thoughtless body keeps going, blindly searching for safety. Yet, this cannot go on forever. Once her entire being is spent, she lays in the grass and sleeps. Completely exposed to the wilderness.
An impossible string of hours passes and Cyrilla wakes up with the whole of her body still intact. Even more extraordinarily, she feels as if the magic within her has been totally refreshed. Her wounds still echo soreness around her body upon even the slightest movement and her mind is still hazy upon just waking. She takes a moment to recall what happened before her sleep. Everything that happened after the fire spell slowly emerges and Cyrilla lets the sorrow catch up to her. She notices the flap of Draego’s skin in her hand and lightly clutches it. A morbid memoir of her fallen teacher.
She lightly sobs, too dehydrated to shed many tears. Any supplies that she brought were ruined when the mud-folk tried to pull her under. Vigilant instinct kicks in as she remembers the creatures. Her eyes open wide as she perceives her surroundings in search of threats. All around, walls of grass which are nearly half her height. A trampled path makes clear the way she stumbled, though she doesn’t recall doing so. More interestingly, the grass where she currently sits is not as long as that which surrounds her. It’s a flattened area, one she thinks unlikely that she made herself.
She turns to look at what she assumed was a stone that she’d unconsciously chosen to rest on. What she sees is no stone, nothing even close. It’s an egg, a gigantic one made entirely of a crystal substance. This is Cyrilla’s prize for her foolish decision to enter the turquoise swamp. A mythic vision to surpass all that she’d seen so far. Sunlight reflects a light-blue shine across her and the surrounding flatland. Nothing to threaten her and no one to snap her out of it, she is hopelessly charmed by the crystal egg. She gazes, seeing a perfect reflection of herself on the egg’s surface. She allows herself to forget all the pain and misery of before for just a moment. That’s when she notices a cracked, outwards bump near the egg’s base. Close to the side she had rested upon.
It looks as if whatever is inside of this egg has attempted to get out. Cyrilla wonders if this means that it’s ready to hatch or if something is wrong and it can’t get out or if it’s a creature that needs its mother to aid in the hatching process- there was just too much she didn’t know. Weak to the temptation of curiosity, Cyrilla examines the cracked area and feels for how frail it is. When she touches it, she feels a vibration and hears a soft scratching. Certainly, it would seem as if the young creature within this egg is trying to free itself. Given the stage of maturity that the unknown creature has clearly reached, Cyrilla sees no harm in giving it a little helping hand before the mom turns up.
The egg is unnaturally tough for an egg yet soft for a crystal. It would take an impressively powerful creature to break out of it as a newborn and the thing inside has certainly made a dent. Cyrilla’s mind fills with thoughts of legendary creatures that she read about in the book of myths.
“Wonder what you’re gonna be… Bird or reptile… I’m thinking reptile!” Cyrilla speaks to the egg, intending to make friends with whatever pops out. The little scritching inside intensifies when it hears her voice. Cyrilla keeps on speaking as if to guide it; “Wonder what I should name you. Species-wise you’re obviously going to be a crystal-something but I want to give you a proper name. I doubt your mom would mind… At least I hope not. I don’t want to get on the bad side of a mother who can lay an egg this big. A name… A name… Well, naming you Crystal would be a bit unoriginal. Maybe I could name you after someone important to me, like Anna or… Draego…”
She pauses and leans back for a moment. The sadness wells up within her again but she forces it back down. Draego gave everything for her to be here, he’d want her to appreciate it and be happy. “… Maybe not. I suppose it would be best to name you something original or it’d be embarrassing to introduce you to your namesake. In that case, how about… Adrium?”
As she says the name, the cracks in the egg suddenly spread across its entire surface as if it’s about to shatter. The bump pushes out further as the mysterious crystal creature makes its last push. Pieces of the shell break away and fall off as something starts to emerge. Cyrilla keeps a safe distance until she notices something off. She expected a claw or talon or beak to poke out of the egg but instead she sees the hand of a human baby with sharp and tough-looking nails. A kind of protective instinct kicks in and Cyrilla moves forward, pulling away pieces of the egg shell away herself.