Theresa, Tabitha, Failure

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Like everything about dragons, their corpses were huge.

Theresa sighed, standing beside the newest one. She couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. Dragons had theoretical access to shapeshifting abilities, the vast physiological differences possible within their species made that clear.

The problem wasn’t their resistance to magic; she’d figured out a way to work with that. The spell diagrams should all be fine, though she and Tabitha would go over them again after this most recent failure. The theory was sound. So what was the problem?

Theresa put a hand on the dragon’s corpse, not surprised that it wasn’t cooling. They didn’t do that, really. “What are you hiding from me?” she asked. There wasn’t much point in cutting it open, it wouldn’t be any different than the last few. It wasn’t anything to do with its internal physiology, but it had to be, because what else could it be?

The dragon was still warm. Theresa looked at her hand, tilting her head to one side. Why did they stay warm after they died? Now that Theresa thought about it, she didn’t know the answer to that. They’d just sort of associated dragons with fire and heat and never questioned why. But the mechanism by which they discharged fire was a basic acid-spitting one that wasn’t that different from a lot of other reptiles.

Theresa stepped back a second, considering the body. “They’re on their way to get him out of here,” Tabitha said, coming up behind her.

“No, tell them not to,” said Theresa. “Why do they stay warm after they die?”

“Uh…yeah, that’s a good question, actually.”

Theresa nodded. “Whatever keeps their body temperatures so high when they’re alive should fade rapidly with death. They’re cold-blooded. It doesn’t make any sense. We need to figure out what’s causing it. Let’s check and see if it’s scale-depth or if it’s deeper than that.” She started walking in the direction of the dragon’s head, looking for its jaw.

“You think their heat retention is related to the problems with shapeshifting?”

“Don’t know. But we can’t figure out why the shapeshifting magic isn’t working, and we also don’t know why they’re so hot. Maybe their fat tissue exudes it? Either way, until we’ve solved one of those mysteries, we have to at least consider the possibility that they’re related.”

“Right,” said Tabitha, reaching into the dragon’s mouth. “Hot.”

“Yeah,” said Theresa, going for a gum. “Okay, go get a scalpel. We’re going to figure this out. And this one is staying here until it starts cooling down.”

“He’s going to smell terrible.”

“Whatever, get some masks,” Theresa muttered, already poking at the dragon’s warm gum.

That body had mysteries in it, and Theresa was going to solve them.



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