It began with an egg, which is a suitable place to begin.

The Vhark all began their lives with eggs. Kavo and Garn were not unusual with their egg – though they were an unlikely pairing; Kavo was a slender Frostkin hunter, his hide brilliant azure, his curled horns black as polished obsidian, and his wingspan was enough to rival the Stormkin; his mate, a burly Firekin with ruby skin and shorter wings, who focused on the elemental magics for her trade. But there were more unlikely pairs in the largely-underground city of Druumat, and they had made eggs and raised healthy children.

So in that, Kavo and Garn were hardly unusual.

But three miracles incubated along with that egg, in that special hearth that had been set for it in the nursery.

The first was discovered two turns of the moon into its incubation. Kavo was standing vigil through the night; even in the heart of the city, tunnel snakes sometimes crept, hungry for eggs, and it was one such that his spear pinned to the floor before it could pierce the shell with its fangs and poison it. The scuffle woke Garn, who took over the vigil while he disposed of the snake’s carcass.

When he returned, he bent over the hearth, gliding his fingers over the smooth shell. Waiting for the snake to get near the egg had been anxious and uncomfortable; he had done it to be sure he could strike true, to be sure the snake would not evade him and slither away to try again, but now he needed to reassure himself that all was well.

That was when he saw the glint of colour on the white shell.

He paused, tail curling tight, and looked harder. It was just a fancy, he told himself. The eggs gained their full colour when the yolk was exhausted; it was a sign that they were near hatching. But that ought not to be for another two months; it shouldn’t be visible for at least one.

But the opalescent sheen was no figment of his imagination; the rainbow whorls stayed steady under his fingers.

He called his mate, and she, too, saw the shine, and was just as perplexed.

In the morning they spoke to the oldest and wisest healer, who was brought to their den on a palanquin borne by four sturdy Stonekin, who stood waiting for her; they were simple folk, as the Stonekin often were. Not so her assistant and apprentice; his hide was the same pebbled grey, but his topaz eyes were keen and alert, and he was the one who bent closest to the egg, feeling it, peering at it… listening to it, even.

Two hearts beat within that shell, they reported.

Twins. That was the first miracle; very rarely, a single egg would give rise to two beings. Usually, one became dominant and the other subsided, but one time in a great many, they would grow in harmony.

That dual presence meant that the egg was being consumed faster than normal, thus the early change in its shell. The young would hatch smaller, weaker than most Vhark hatchlings, more fragile. They would need careful tending. More, there was every chance that they might hurt each other in their bid to break the shell. One of them might die at hatching; maybe both.

But the day came, and one black egg-claw pierced the shell from within, and cracks spread and pieces crumbled away; and two squalling hatchlings emerged from within, small, but uninjured and surprisingly strong, each bearing the stubs of horns that marked them as male.

That was the second miracle.

The third was much shorter in revealing itself. As soon as the newborns were washed clean of the egg residue, it swiftly became clear that their hides were just as colourful as the shards of their egg.

Magekin. Even more rare than twins, they were. It was said that only two were ever born, every so many generations. Their arrival heralded the passing of an age, a time of upheaval – an upcoming catastrophe that they would together avert, and then, together, they would found a new dynasty of kings.

That was the third miracle. But it brought with it mystery. Every time in the past, when Magekin had been born, there was one male, one female, often born at opposite ends of the nation, sometimes as many as two years apart.

Now two had been born from the same egg, and they were identical. Any fool could see the signs that both were male. Healers examined them more carefully, to be sure that one of them was not just a sport, a female born with a male’s horns and other such cues – but no, both were definitely male.

Another might yet be born, it was said. If the forces of Destiny had selected this egg, it may well have been a grand coincidence that the life within had divided and given rise to twins. A girl might yet be born – perhaps already had been; Druumat was fairly remote.

So word was spread, that male Magekin had hatched to a pair in Druumat; word was sought, word that perhaps a female had been born elsewhere. Days turned to weeks, then months, seasons, and years; puzzlement became concern. Mulin and Kralin, named for the twin sons of the Stormbringer who had wrought the four winds, grew quickly, and they grew strong and healthy. Kavo and Garn did their best to raise them as healthy boys; there would be pressure enough upon them when they grew to adulthood – it was best that they were at least permitted to enjoy their childhood. And so they did; they played, they studied, and they grew still more. Both of them tested as magically very strong, which was to be expected of Magekin; Kralin especially promised to be a mighty wizard once his power awoke, but Mulin was not far behind, and his activities left him slightly stronger of body as well.

People began to wonder if prophecy had misfired. The world was at peace; a female had not come to light. Perhaps this time, the Magekin would not need to answer to any greater force than their own prodigious magical gifts.