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Chapter 3


Important Events
  • Seraphina reflects on the past:
    • At eight years old, Seraphina's dragon tutor Zeyd dangles her off a cathedral to test Orma's emotional response
    • At age eleven, Seraphina found her mother's flute, but her father broke it and forbade Seraphina from learning music
    • On the thirty-fifth anniversary of the treaty, Seraphina is caught in a panicked mob; Orma, in his dragon form, saves her
    • Seraphina discovers she is an ityasaari
    • Seraphina's father allows Orma to teach Seraphina music
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Seraphina reflects on the three times Orma has saved her life, and the circumstances around them:

When she was eight years old, Seraphina had a dragon tutor, Zeyd. Of her many tutors, Zeyd was Seraphina's favorite; she found Zeyd's quirks to be fascinating. However, little did she know that Zeyd was an agent of the Censors, sent to test Orma's attachment to Seraphina. In a twisted lesson on gravity, Zeyd dangled Seraphina off the top of a cathedral. Orma arrived and casually convinced Zeyd that killing Seraphina would cause unnecessary diplomatic fuss. The incident left Seraphina terrified of heights, but not of dragons. Notably, at the time she was completely unaware that Orma was a dragon himself.

When she was eleven years old, Seraphina found her mother's flute. She taught herself to play, aware that her father would be furious if he found out. On Treaty Eve of the thirty-fifth anniversary, Seraphina planned to play her flute for their guests, shaming her dad into getting proper lessons for her. However, her father caught on and confronted her, forcing himself to break the flute to make his point. He tells Seraphina that he has worked to erase every trace of her mother's true self—he has renamed her, given her another past, and all that remains a threat is her brother and her music. He locks Seraphina in her room for the night.

The next morning, feeling rebellious and reckless, Seraphina sneaks out through the window. She finds a great crowd at St. Loola's square. She asks a former knight-squire pair—Karal and Maurizio—What are they waiting for; Maurizio explains that every five years there is a procession of dragons to celebrate the treaty. The dragons arrive, and the crowd, encouraged by Karal, begins to throw stuff at them and scream insults. One of the dragons spooked, frightening the crowd and starting a riot. Seraphina gets caught underfoot in the stampede until a dragon lands over her, scaring off the people. The dragon speaks to her and Seraphina realizes she can somehow understand the dragon language, Mootya. The dragon says her name and looks into her eyes, and he suddenly seems familiar. Seraphina faints.

Seraphina then experiences a memory. Her mother, dying in childbirth, is holding a conversation with her brother, Orma, telling Orma that she intends to leave Seraphina with the maternal memories traditional to dragonkind. These memories would be unlocked by the sight of Orma in his true form.

Seraphina stirs, awakening briefly in Maurizio's arms as Karal fends off the dragon who saved her—Orma. The men take her to her home, where Seraphina awakens to the irrefutable truth that Orma is her uncle, and her mother was a dragon. As Orma tries to explain, Seraphina is seized by a vision of a small Porphyrian boy, a Samsamese highlander, an old woman, and grotesque half-human people.

Seraphina was violently ill and feverish for a week. By the end of it, she had developed pale scales around her waist and her left forearm. She, her father, and Orma spoke, acknowledging the necessity of total secrecy concerning the nature of Seraphina's parentage; Goreddi religion considers dragons to be soulless abominations, and several scriptures described gruesome fates to befall hybrid human-dragons. However, the thought of the possibility of hybrids generally does not ever cross the minds of anyone, even dragons.

Orma offers to teach Seraphina. He believed that the dragon techniques of cognitive architecture could help Seraphina control her visions so that she would not be constantly tormented and bedridden. He also convinces her father to let him teach her music, and in hindsight, Seraphina recognizes this as the third time Orma saved her life.