Death of a Norn

 17 hours and 12 minutes.

Meet Ecru Axe. She's been a fixture of my Imperator Dragon testworld for over 17 hours. It's funny when you know for a fact that their end is coming soon, at a specific time. The max lifespan of any Dragon Norn so far is 17 hours 33 minutes. So she's going to die soon. And there's very little I could do to stop it. I could give her a Cupid's Halo, but that's the only way, and if it ever bugged out she'd be gone. I usually bestow that on a pair of Gen1s to keep the bloodline from mutating away from its origins too much, but I didn't this time. Just forgot. So all the Gen1s are long gone. Ecru was one of the first Gen3s to hatch. There are younger ones of course, because of egg piling. It'll be a while yet before the last Gen3 egg hatches, lives, and dies. 

Still, though. Her personal time is coming to a close soon.

17 hours, 15 minutes.

She pushes a portal and warps through the network, appearing in the Hydro Nornterrarium. Here she gets into an amorous fight with a Gen4 male, Vermilion Axe. Though a well-grown adult himself at 7 hours 44 minutes of age, he's significantly younger. That doesn't stop Ecru from flirting. Soon they're joined by another Gen4 male, Cynical Sundew. The three of them engage in some friendly slapping (since it takes a lot of hitting to really injure a dragon norn, mild bouts of slapping don't do much to change their opinion of each other and friendly individuals are still wont to slap each other). 

The three then share a meal of goldfishies, all choosing to eat at roughly the same time. I know better than to think it was a purposefully shared activity, or that their opinions or choices really influenced each other - but it was interesting to watch anyhow. My brain wants to make those connections even though it knows better.

Cynical Sundew wanders off to look for a toy. Ecru and Vermilion decide to have a nap, joined shortly by another Gen4 male, Titanium Sign, coming through the portal. 17 hours, 20 minutes.

I have mixed feelings watching this. Bittersweet. It's good to see her enjoying the last of her life. Not every dragon norn makes it to their oldest possible age. Most don't, actually, even in less dangerous environments than the one I set up this time. Especially once they've bred past Gen3 and weird mutations have begun to stack up. So it's always special when a post-Gen1 individual makes it this far. Part of me wants to reward her for being so clever and survivable by giving her the halo. Part of me feels like that cheapens her achievement, that she deserves to be in the cemetery with her age at death clearly marked: 17 hours, 33 minutes. I find it hard to decide what I should do.

So I just watch and wait. The least I can do is witness her passing.

She has ten minutes to live left. A cluster of males has formed as more come through the portal (it's a funny coincidence that no females have come through the portal into the Hydro since Ecru did). She's in the corner, eating seeds and young crabs. Most of the males wander away into the rest of the metaroom, but Vermilion Axe remains nearby, and she takes another nap next to him. She's sleeping a lot at her age, naturally. He joins her, lying down at her side, and another Gen4 male by the name of Angelic Quake invites himself into the snuggle pile too.

Ecru decides to flirt with the boys, announcing that she is "extremely friendly". I don't think she has enough time left to carry a pregnancy, even if she can get pregnant in the first place - but then, she doesn't know that, does she? And there's no way to tell her. She wouldn't understand the concept even if I had a way to communicate with her beyond the simple phrases she understands. Eat critter, push norn, rest. I wish I could grant them greater understanding... but then, maybe it's merciful that they don't know.

27 minutes. She awakens and eats a few more fish, kissing Vermilion, then exchanging some slaps. By 28 minutes, she's asleep again, Vermilion right there with her. I wonder if they had a closer relationship than I'm aware of. I've mostly been letting this batch wolf, seeing how they handle being on their own. I don't like my dragon genomes to need too much stewardship. I'll have to check her breeding records to see if they've made any eggs together. He's being a loyal companion now, even if he has no idea the end is near for her any more than she does; despite that, it's comforting for me, watching them, to know she has a friend with her at the end. 

31 minutes. I start to think she's going to go in her sleep. She keeps waking up, indulging in a kiss, a slap, or a snack, perhaps a pull seed or a get critter, then going right back to sleep. 

She wakes up at 32 minutes. She and Vermilion begin kissing, then kisspopping. She gets pregnant. I think, "Oh no - I should make the halo and save her, at least long enough to lay that last egg." But even as I'm thinking it, the minute rolls over. 33 minutes. She lies down at Vermilion's feet and dies. He remains by her body until it fades away.

I remember to check Vermilion's history. That last egg she never got to lay was the only one they made together. I regret not being able to save it.

A new egg hatches to fill the empty slot in the world's population allowance. Life continues for the Imperator 1b run.


  1. This is so touching and well-written. There is something so precious about observing a creature's final moments and I'm glad you were able to witness and document it. Such a shame about the lost egg, but life just breaks your heart like that sometimes.


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