Seven times seven was forty-nine.
Small in terms of men, huge in terms of dragons. Each beast ate its own weight in food and even with feather-light bones it took two tens of hunters to feed them. The scoured the land as they went, stripping it bare of game. But the advantage would win them the war, so they kept on.
Seven times seven was too old to fight.
The farmer’s joints ached in the bite of an early winter and he focused his small magics on a blanketing warmth. Not enough to attract attention, but enough to soothe the pain. Beneath him the dragon shifted minutely, cupping wings closer to the heat.
Seven times seven was too young to notice.
He hadn’t been alone when he joined the march to the warfront. Every man that could be spared had donned the moss-green tabard of the sacred army and joined the ranks. They left the best behind, to carry their families forward; the gods of war seldom sent heroes home.
Seven times seven was the second tier of the sacred army.
There were fifty men in his unit, seven sevens assigned to a single leader mounted on a grass-green wyvern. He taught them, drilled them, lead them into battle knowing only a handful would survive to die another day. Dragons were almost invulnerable, men less so.
Seven times seven was magic, exponential.
He hadn’t thought, just reached out to hold closed the jagged deathblow that leaked bright light instead of blood. As he touched the lime-green scales the magic grabbed him, shook him, poured a dragon into a man and burst him at the seams. And they survived.
Seven times seven was a line of lifetimes, strung along a pine-green wing. A patchwork quilt of souls pieced together through war and death, but backed by centuries of peace.
Seven times seven was the rhythm of life, and they flew with its rise and fall, waiting for the next cycle of shared experience.