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It was a dark, stormy night. Or so they say.

A traveller, carrying around her trusted staff and satchel, entered a cosy pub at the outskirts of the cursed castle. She drank ale on her own at first, listening to the local gossip and news. She refused a few potential suitors, wanting to enjoy some peaceful time alone.

"…And I saw that blasted dragon again!"

Now that caught the lady's attention.

"Scaring off my poor little sheep! Flying away into the sky, as if it owned the land!" the farmer sneered towards his circle of friends. "Pah! If it weren't for that barrier, I'd go slay it myself-!"

"Gentlemen." The damsel went near the gathered community. "I apologise but... I couldn't help but overhear what you were saying. You said something about a dragon…?"

As she lowered the hood out of curtsy, the youngest ones looked smitten towards her. The older farmers smiled at the girl, although felt a little weary about their well-worn story. "Nothing to apologise for, miss," lowering the pitcher with a loud stomp, the aged farmer took a long draught from it, before sighing, recalling the sad tale passed down through oust generations. Lowering his voice, seeing he had the full attention of the woman before him, stared back dead in the eye.

"Aye. There is a dragon nesting north from here, flying around the ruins of the Raptoria Kingdom. It's been there for at least a millennia."

Taking another sip, he let a curious figure speak.

"I've heard of that story," the blue-eyed woman enquired. "Is it the legendary azure dragon, the one who defended Castle Amari from the Gargoyle siege led by the dreaded Grim Reaper and Weaver Maker many, many centuries ago?"

He nodded. "The very same," the wise old man continued. "Strange you heard the old fairy-tale version. It's not common outside these parts. There are different tellings. Some say the dragon slew all citizens within the kingdom and took the castle for itself. Others state it took over the castle when the kingdom collapsed."

He resumed drinking his beer, not noticing the lady's pensive stare this time.

"Nobody knows what really happened. Too much time has passed."

"…I see…"

"All we know, is that blasted thing is still around, scaring away and eating my cattle!"

"W-Who cares about the c-ca-cattle! As long as he, it, whatever doesn't come f-for ah-us-!"

The blonde's head was planted square on the table. "Shut up, you stupid coward-!"

The woman placed a finger on her chin, musing about something.

"Gentlemen, that was most kind of you. May I leave a little something as thanks?"

All hard-working farmers shook their heads in politeness.

"No need ma'am. Your beauty is more than enough in this gloomy night."

Rising from the table, a trusted weapon materialised out of thin air. "I insist."

She placed her staff in front of the small crowd, all farmers making goofy faces alongside her. After three beeps, it flashed the vicinity for a few seconds, illuminating the pub brightly. All people involved in the photo magically had a portrait in their hands.

"Oh that's nice." "I'll hang it on my wall!"

For the lady wasn't of common folk, as you could tell by her robes.

"You can keep it my dears. As a memory of our meeting."

The farmers could only cheer in the nice lady's name.

Which was…

"Angela… Madame Angela of Ziegler."

One lift from the staff. All portraits now carried the mage's signature.

"Now it's more valuable-!"

"Ziegler? You come from Ziegler Island? Isn't that area only for mages and witches?"

She made a short curtsy, hat tip and all. "At your service."

The farmers, especially the youngest, wanted to see fireworks at display, clapping in feverish joy.

The talented mage didn't disappoint. "Careful though, those sparks aren't made to be touched~ "

For you see, this world was kind to the magic folk.

--

But not to dragons.

--

The sorceress looked at the magical barrier that was around the abandoned kingdom.

Her hand went right through it. As if there was nothing in front of her.

Holding her precious hat, the witch marched on, unhindered by any thought of dread trying to pull her back outside.

--

The villagers were not joking.

Vines everywhere. Abandoned places. Signs, grass, everything she saw was rotting.

Dying.

It was not a sight for everyone.

Ahead, a castle covered in a veil of thickening fog gleamed under the blackened sky. Wary about the wild brown lawn spreading forward, she knocks a heavy object hidden under the piling moss. At a close inspection, the path was blocked by the remains of a grotesque shell.

It was ruthlessly smashed into pieces. Carved stone was mutated into mindless tools of destruction, corrupting the land surrounding them. Life tried to grow but, suffocating like a snuffing hand, there was enough space to let air in, but nothing else.

What lied weeping in its shadows, not really alive but not dead, kept its voice silent, accepting its fate.

Kneeling, the witch moved some soil lying beneath the soles of her shoes. A small seedling was growing from it, but it was grasping onto its last remaining dry leaves. With a little mana, Angela helped the seedling to reach the light of day, never giving up on it. After almost maturing into a vibrant plant, it crouched back into its misery, new found strength being cut cruelly short. Rising in understanding, a tingle of sadness lingered within Angela's heart as she reached the citadel's once prosperous fountain, visible cracks of decay standing alone in the heart of a ghost town.

It had to be there. The dragon.

Angela needed a dragon scale in order to complete her training in witchcraft. However, everyone from Ziegler Island avoided this extent like the plague, never trying to enter the barrier. Angela was the first mage to enter the forbidden citadel in 1000 years.

Angela was the first human to enter the forbidden citadel in almost 1000 years.

…And, judging by the infamous dragon's sudden arrival and deafening roar…

Not without a good reason for it.

With vision completely clouded by dust and wonderment, a sorceress could only gaze, mouth agape as a myth came to life before her very eyes.

How did you-? What are you doing here?

Oh. A girl dragon. That is unexpected.

Angela did not need a translator or a spell. She could understand the dragon perfectly.

Leave-!

The dragon expected her to flinch. But Angela of Ziegler was too well composed to do so. Bold, scorching blue eyes pierced straight into the dragon's black ones, scaring the reptilian beast.

Now that she's seen them, they will haunt her for eternity.

Leave now! Or accept the consequences!

Angela raised her staff, to show that she was not a common muggle.

The dragon, despite many rumours of ferocity and dumbness, showed reverence.

A mage… I haven't seen once since…

One black eye looked ahead in the distance, as if the staff showed it a forgotten memory.

Angela felt compassion towards the dragon. The magic folk did not forget what truly happened here. The one who betrayed the order was the one responsible for Castle Amari's collapse…

They took care of her in time.

Duty first.

She withdrew her weapon, as courtesy towards the dragon lord.

Now she was unofficially the legendary dragon's guest.

"Dragon. I, Madame Angela of Ziegler Island, have come here to make a request."

The dragon in question shot a loud noise of disdain towards the demanding sorceress.

You come here uninvited. You go through my barrier as it were nothing. And now this? You ask for something else? Have you not humiliated me enough, sorceress?

Angela was intelligent. She did not fall for the bait. For if you ask a dragon for any kind of favour, you will owe it a life debt. The greater magic the dragon possessed, the higher the toll to pay back. And dragons are patient creatures.

It is their nature.

"I never asked for a request. I am making one. And I am in need of one of your scales."

It was then that Angela noticed the seal above the dragon's left eye.

As if it was blocking out something vile from her sight.

…Of course. Why else would…

Angela tilted her head curiously. What did she mean by that…?

Very well, mage. I will give you one of my scales. But… I want something in return.

The seal on the blue dragon's eye kept glowing red, pulsating with the winged beast's movements.

Angela made a small curtsy towards her, keeping the staff lowered.

"My magic is at your service. Tell me what I must do."

--

Angela had three tasks to complete.

The first was to heal the land around the castle.

She managed in three days.

The dragon brought her a single blue flower in its mouth, waiting for her response.

Angela took the freshly picked flower, inhaling from it deeply as possible.

"It's beautiful."

She wanted to say something.

It is.

--

The second task was much harder.

Angela had to strengthen the barrier around the castle. A difficult task for any apprentice. But the dragon believed in Angela's capabilities, being impressed with how easily she had gone through the barrier before. The winged creature said perhaps the magic around needed a little extra oomph in it. Angela couldn't help but laugh at the dragon's choice of words, leaving the creature dumb folded at her reaction.

"I'm sorry my lord. I didn't mean to offend-"

You didn't.

Dragon looked a little sad after that comment. Angela almost asked why.

She didn't need to say a word.

You stopped laughing. Have I done something wrong…?

That let another giggle stifle out of the sorceress. If the dragon could've smiled, she would've.

Madame Song's spell book resides in the castle. You can use it if you wish.

Angela succeeded within a week.

The barrier was supposed to collapse completely in a month's time, she said.

…in time for the 1000-year anniversary of my kingdom's doom.

Angela looked towards the dragon with a clear look on her face. "It is a good thing I came then."

It wasn't pity. It was empathy.

Dragon really wanted to say something. She brought a gift instead.

"You shouldn't have…"

A beautiful ruby bracelet decorated with gold and silver.

Woven around the clasp, a vermillion bird rested on one side, with a phoenix representing its shadow.

Please. Keep it. It is all I can do.

The dragon flew away, back towards the roof of the castle.

Angela held onto her pointy hat, the bracelet held close to her heart.

…What did she mean by that, exactly?

--

Angela kept looking at the bracelet.

A big black caldron was gently getting done for dinner under a clear moonlit sky.

She wondered about the dragon's true intentions. Did she try to make her feel pity?

Or perhaps…

Try as she might not to, Angela did feel something more beyond sorrow for the creature.

If only there was a way to…

Shaking her head, the witch cleared her mind. Now was not the time for such thoughts. Angela looked at the strengthened barrier, wondering how the magic lasted so long despite weakening in time. Perhaps the works of the Grand Mage Lucio still resided in the castle…

As if reading her mind, the blue dragon landed near her, approaching the tree stump.

She never came too close without invitation.

Sorceress. Is something troubling you? The dragon lowered her head. Are you… homesick?

Shaking her head, Angela smiled, not missing the relief slumping on her imposing shoulder blades.

"Not at all. We mages have to make this journey to complete our training. We have a full year cycle's chance to fulfil it. I have been on the road for two months now."

As the pot kept brewing, one big spoon stirred on its own. Angela flipped her spell book open.

One bowl for her and a big portion for the Dragon appeared in thin air.

I… appreciate, but I cannot. It is… quite dark…

The witch swore she could see a blush starting to grow on the dragon's scales. She smiled in earnest.

"I'm afraid the caldron's too big for one person. You'd do me a great favour."

Not exactly true, but…

As the dragon kneeled softly beside her, Angela made one tap on the black pot. Both bowls were now filled with delicious food.

"Please. Do tell if you like it. I accept all critiques."

It didn't take long for the dragon to ask for a third portion.

It is wonderful…

A black, onyx eye, looked weary. But happy. As the dragon…

Does she have a name

My. That was close.

Dragon tried to smile, fangs bared. Angela let out a small laugh of appreciation. It showed she hadn't smiled in ages.

My lady.

Now it was Angela's turn to hide a blush. She may have known… her for a short time…

But it felt like she knew Dragon for an eternity.

Eagerly, Dragon took leave for the nearest lake for awhile. Angela cleared up the cooking pot with a single wave of magic. She looked up, as Dragon returned (with a clean stout too) with another flower in her mouth.

This time, the colour was rose pink. It was thorn less too. Angela wore it behind her ear.

The dragon tilted her head, happiness clearly in her eye.

"Thank you… my lord."

This gave enough courage for Dragon to make a very… bizarre request, amid soft endearments being blurted out in almost a clumsy manner. Looking downwards towards the empty cauldron to hide her blush, Angela gladly accepted it, returning her seat to the tree stump.

After all, how many people knew dragons could sing?

When Dragon finished, the witch clapped enthusiastically, not expecting such a skill from her.

We dragons… love to sing when we are happy. Especially when in good company.

"Well. You do have a beautiful voice--"

Angela used the tip of her hat to hide her embarrassment. Dragon tried to tease a little.

Do I now? Have you ever heard another dragon sing to compare?

The witch admitted Dragon was the first she ever heard singing.

Then I'll sing for you again… if my lady permits.

The dragon let out a sly wink, which made Angela blushless like any rose.

Letting old memories at rest, Dragon resumed her serenade, as cirrus clouds chased the moonlight's rays.

--

The third task was the hardest.

Angela had to remove the seal from Dragon's eye. They planned to do this before the first gleams of dawn. Otherwise the spell would be too strong to remove. It was placed on her by the same woman who helped bring Dragon's kingdom into ruins.

"Weaver."

The very same.

Angela's hand found its place on Dragon's nose. Contentment settled in both their hearts.

Will it hurt…?

The determination in the witch's stare could've stopped wars.

"I'll make sure it won't."

Waiting for Dragon to give the signal, Angela held the charms on the staff.

I am ready. Do what you must.

Seeing the complete trust Dragon had towards her filled the witch with more determination.

Waves of magic surrounded the mage. She started making chants, layers of the seal being removed one by one. The second she removed the first one, Angela had to dive into the Dragon's mind, or the seal will remain intact even if she removed them all from the outside. Dragon knew of this, concentrating to not accidentally absorb Angela's conscious.

 

 

As her mother, the forgotten queen of the ruined kingdom, had taught many centuries ago.

 

 

The witch saw Dragon hatch from her egg, born in the ancient forest of Calpe.

Angela recognised the Warrior Queen from the legends at a very young age.

The future blood rider grinned confidently towards her, lifting the newborn form of Dragon up gently from the egg shell's remains. A part of it remained resting on a scaly head, resembling a tiny hat.

"Hello little one. What is your name?"

The baby dragon could only respond with a sneeze, a little flame coming out of its muzzle. The monarch was amused by this, snuffing out a burning strand of hair with her tongue. "You were just who I was looking for. Grand Mage Lucio was right. Now... what to name you…"

Angela found herself back near the castle. She saw Dragon grow to care for the dark-skinned warrior, believing the future Queen to be her mother. Though not related by blood or species, through the bond they shared, they might as well have been parent and child.

The witch saw some time pass.

The princess marched by Angela with Dragon on her shoulders, the slightly older girl giving a light pat on a tiny, azure head. Dragon puffed her chest outwards in response. They walked down the same streets the witch was now familiar with, this time bolstering with loyal subjects, fruitful labour, joy and life.

"Princess!" "It's Princess Ana!" "Majesty-!" "Good morning, your highness-!"

She saw Castle Amari and the kingdom around it in its full glory, warriors and mages pacing side by side.

Time passed by within seconds, never turning back.

They were now at the front of Castle Amari gates. Where once rust and forgotten memories resided, now opened forth for a battalion of controlled armed forces, dressed valiantly in royal colours, marching on toughened horses, following their two esteemed leaders. The sorceress held her breath. On either side, the legendary mages from aeons passed galloped on their rides.

She recognised them instantly.

Grand Mage Lucio and his assistant, Madame Song, waved their staffs towards the gates and the soldiers.

One magecrafter made the majestic and heavy iron gate rise from the entrance, the castle's defences temporarily lowered to let the main cavalry reach the battlefield, a confident smile mirking on her face.

The other made all soldiers and herself feel a rush of fuelling energy flow within their veins, gazing up at the younger mage through his lashes.

Suddenly, through a rush, Angela could see a vast lush of green pastures pass by under her gaze. Countless trees and lakes were surpassed with ease. Returning back to her steed, Angela looked behind, towards the castle's main tower.

There she stood. Still a princess, but almost a Queen.

This was her first expedition in battle by herself.

Not entirely.

Angela lifted a hand to keep the sun's piercing rays from blinding her, not believing the sight before her. The dragon came, flying high above in the skies, soaring above the mountain surrounding the castle like it was no small feat. She looked much older now.

But still so young.

Dragon was careful to avoid the surrounding village's square and people on its way to the fortress. Everyone from the humble town was staring upwards, waiting for the future monarch to fly in the skies. Her gigantic shadow engulfed all organised militias who followed their leaders without question. With a burst of wind, the take-off's impact startling the sorcerers' white mount, the only horse without any armour or royal decorations. It seems all the infantry was used to this arrival by now. The guards standing in the tower's bird nests didn't flinch at the jet stream of power Dragon made, as she hovered above the castle gardens.

Without hesitation, Princess Ana leaped off the castle's edge, not once closing her eyes at the drop.

One swift movement allowed Dragon to twist and turn, letting Ana land on the saddle strapped onto Dragon's neck. With a movement only precise synchronisation could make possible, the princess climbed onto the saddle, using the straps on the edges to prevent herself from falling, not to control her daughter's strength. Through the bond the sorceress and the dragon temporarily shared, Angela could now see through the eyes of the young princess. She could feel the deafening sensation of soaring all over her, sky blue being her only anchor of control. The sun rays may invade Ana's sight temporarily, but it doesn't last long. Rising higher, adjusting to the change in environment, Ana lifted her arms fearlessly against the winds, feeling free and powerful at once.

Two hands returned on her beloved daughter's neck, rubbing it gently as a token of affection.

The winged princess ushered a fearsome roar in return, her wings crashing air back into the lake's waters below. She leads the Amari kingdom's pride and future to their journey's end. Bellowing a war cry with all might, a well armoured knight carrying a menacing hammer led the troops below, horses and knights thundering against the ground.

The rest of the infantry followed their leaders, charging towards battle with precise unity.

A small smile escaped the young sorceress' lips, as the scenario melted into a rousing feast.

The opposing threat did not stand a chance.

Princess Ana's first campaign was an inspiring success.

Dragon was happy. She felt accepted by the whole kingdom's community, not only by her beloved parent. The two mages removed many arrows struck into a wounded neck through successful spells. Princess Ana fretted over the expert mages like a mother would towards her child. She slept soundly that night, the heavily lit bonfire made around them shining brightly throughout the inky skies of the night. Mercenaries, sorcerers and knights all celebrated victory in unity till the break of dawn, raising bountiful copper mugs filled with foamy ale till the very brim.

In the Queen's name.

 

Then, many years after, the Grim Reaper appeared.

 

The former knight, armed with immortal gargoyles, possessed dragons and witchcraft, attacked the prospering citadel without warning, leaving the kingdom completely unprepared for battle.

He and the sole remaining survivor of the Mechanist's Crisis were old friends for many decades.

But not anymore.

After Castle Amari reinforced its stronghold, The Reaper realised something.

As long as Queen Ana controlled her forces in the sky, they never had a chance to win the war.

Grand Mage Lucio and his trusted assistant had just completed the barrier spell.

"Now they are trapped with us! They cannot escape! Or bring support! We will crush them with all our might-!"

As the Queen encouraged her troops, a shadow placed a blue scale into a caldron, muttering a curse.

The young dragon started to feel Weaver's magic take possession, like a tailored glove.

Mother! Everyone! Run! I cannot bare to lose you too-!

The tattooed warrior looked towards her child in tears, unable to kill her family for the kingdom's sake. She locked Dragon into a soothing spell instead, which uninterrupted, would entrap anyone for 100 years.

Mother—!

As stone encased the winged creature, the Queen swore a solemn vow.

"After the final siege, I'll come back for you. I will come back for you!"

No… Ana… everyone… please…

Please...!

 

Fareeha's sight went dark.

The vivid sounds of clashing swords and shouting slowly faded in time.

 

When she opened them again, the magic spell had worn out its course.

And the citadel was already in ruins.

Only the castle, empty roads, houses, hallways and the encasing barrier gave the dragon company.

When Dragon finally reunited with her mother…

Everything came crashing down, one eye mirroring her parent's.

A heart-breaking roar was all but remained of the Amari dynasty.

 

 

The seal's removal took its toll, making the dragon collapse to her knees.

Angela paid no attention to the stream of tears rolling down her cheeks until a breeze of wind gently blew on her face. She wiped off all traces of tears with her robe, giving the azure dragon her best smile. She succeeded. The curse was finally broken.

Dragon opened her left eye for the first time in almost a millennium. It was healed.

Angela went to rest her head upon Dragon's. She followed suit, in gratitude.

The two opposites enjoyed the silence between them.

Angela enjoyed the little noises Dragon made. They sounded like little purrs coming through her stout.

My lady… mere words are not enough to describe my gratitude. I owe you my-

!

A sharp yell emerged from the winged creature, blood pouring from the left side of her face.

"Dragon-!"

Without hesitation, Angela started to make counter spells.

Of course Weaver would've left a fourth seal in case someone freed the poor beast.

A-an-Angela! Stop it! Stop the pain-! It HURTS—!

As she raised her staff, Angela aimed the enchantment onto the missing eye.

And with all her might, released the spell.

Somehow, she managed to save the dragon from dying in the nick of time.

Angela really needed to rest. The fourth seal took its toll, consuming all her energy to remove it completely. But… she didn't want to worry Dragon. Both hands clung hard onto the trusted staff, though Angela was not sure how long she'll last.

She hid her fatigue well enough for Dragon to not realise how grave her deteriorating health was.

Sorceress. I cannot thank you enough. The dragon's booming voice soothed the witch's nerves, raising her wing, beckoning Angela to crawl under. Letting out her best draconian smile, she continued. Please. Take as many scales as you-

At that moment, the gifted mage collapsed on the ground, staff and all.

ANGELA!

The ground trembled beneath her, yet the witch smiled at her lord.

"You said… you said it again… you called me by name, my lord…"

Angela! Please! I-I… I won't let you die because of me-! N-Not again-!

The dragon's roar of despair could be heard all the way till the village nearby.

--

"What was that-?"

"I-I-it's the dragon! I-I-I told you it, it it wi-will come for us e-eventually-!"

--

ANGELA! ANGELA-! PLEASE, HANG ON-!

The last thing Angela saw before her sight faded to black was Dragon making a new enchantment.

Were those…

 

Tears…?

--

Warm rays of sunlight illuminated the healed land, softly reaching for two souls bound in the realm of each other's dreams. The sorceress woke from deep slumber first. Sluggishly, she realised she was no longer in the empty cottage made through her own magic. Lifting the cosy, tucked in sheets made her note she was within the abandoned castle. From her room, Dragon's snout was nearby, sleeping peacefully by the window. Cute little puffs of smoke exhaled out of the dragon's nostrils, indicating she was asleep.

"DRAGON-!"

That jolted her up, sleep forgotten. Happiness evident in her brilliant, shining eyes.

Both of them.

She tried to have her whole head enter the room, but only her muzzle could go through the windows.

Angela found this incredibly endearing.

Angela! I'm so glad. I'm so glad you are alive, my lady…

At that moment, Angela felt something stir in her heart. A trembling hand went straight for her chest. It felt as if it was made out of coal and lava. And it was beating with the same rhythm as Dragon's.

She knew this because—

Hands on mouth, Angela figured out how she avoided certain death from exhaustion, feeling dreary emotions pour within not belonging to her.

Dragon's head lowered towards the outside.

You figured it out. Well… of course you would.

Black oval eyes met confounded blue.

You always figure everything out.

"Dragon! W—"

Angela stopped herself on time. "Tell me why you did this."

A name started surfacing in her mind. As if she could hear the dragon's thoughts.

Fareeha...?

Is that her name?

"You gave me something far more precious than a mere scale."

Fareeha's head firmly shook, as if half of her lifespan wasn't bonded with the person who had just woke.

You owe me nothing, sorceress.

Angela refused to believe what she just heard. "You give me these lovely flowers. This… bracelet. And now your heart…" She raised her head towards the fearsome beast, captivating Fareeha even more without pronouncing a single spell. "And then you say I owe you nothing. How- that's not possible."

For the dragon, the answer was simple enough.

Because you owe me nothing.

"But-!"

Tilting her head again, Fareeha looked away from Angela. Angela approached the open windows.

As long as I breathe, you are essentially immortal. If I die, then you will die as well.

Dra- Fareeha raised her stance completely, making Angela realise just how imposing the dragon was.

A snout approached Angela hesitantly, making her stroke the sides of warm, scaly cheeks out of comfort.

Nothing will happen to you... until my very last breath. That I swear.

No matter how imposing she was, Angela was never afraid. Even the first time they met… despite those circumstances…

My heart… is yours. To do with it as you please.

Angela started thinking about all possibilities. Surely there was a way to repay the dragon's kindness-

No. The witch stared at Fareeha disbelievingly. What I want from you… is not important. Go back. Back to Ziegler Island. You have remained here enough. Dragon looked away out of… shame? 

I have kept you long enough.

Tears started forming around Angela's face. "What if I wanted to stay…?"

Fareeha noticed her tears, lowering a towering stance to the ground, to make her appearance look smaller.

Do not cry. I will miss you as well. But… Fareeha's voice almost cracked, but stayed steady. You must go. To complete your quest.

The dragon looked like the weight of the world's shoulders came crushing down on her own.

I… must rest.

Fareeha tried to hide her sorrow away from the pact, but Angela could feel it anyway.

There it is.

There is the opportunity.

"Is… is there any way I can help, my lord?"

 

 

Two golden marks emerged expectantly on Angela's wrists, glowing and slowly becoming brighter once they met flesh. Wind swirled around the witch, yet she made no resistance, having wanting this to happen.

 

 

Fareeha stared in slight shock. Until it hit what exactly happened.

Oh no. This must be a mistake. Angela, please. Go to the library. Grand Mage Lucio's book is-

"No."

Angela was in control now. She knew exactly what to do. "I owe you now. Tell me why you did this." She placed a hand on her heart. "And I will repay you."

Fareeha's gaze was gentle, but firm.

Be careful, my lady. My request can be anything I desire.

Angela shrugged lightly, knowing what her request was deep down.

They both shared a heart now. Despite the dragon lord's wall of cement around her own.

"I am prepared."

Fareeha started loosening big, powerful wings, almost as if she wanted…

Climb on, my lady. What I inquire of you cannot be asked here.

--

Angela clung onto the dragon's exposed neck for dear life. Fareeha was secretly amused by this reaction to the very short flight. Her mother had gotten used to it from their very first ride together.

If only it lasted a little longer…

They returned to the citadel's square, the place where they first met.

Fareeha waited until Angela was safely on the ground before continuing their conversation.

I wished to ask you this under… different circumstances… Shining, glimmering cerulean orbs stole a glance towards the witch's wrists. Where you didn't feel you owed anything to me or my request.

Angela contemplated what Fareeha truly wanted. What -she- truly wanted.

Her mind was set.

"Then… allow me to make my own request first, my lord. But… before that…"

Angela went near Fareeha's stomach, almost like she was going to take a scale.

"Could you..."

Their link made Angela feel the tremble of fear that shot through Fareeha's heart. She really did not want no more questions to be asked, big or small. In case… the spell binding Angela upon her wrists would increase with a few more words, making the high debt heavier than it was.

They stared into each other's eyes for what seemed like hours. Until one of them finally spoke.

"I require you lower your wings and make them reachable for me. This is part of my request."

The dragon hesitated, but accepted the witch's appeal.

She rubbed Fareeha's wings to ease any aches and doubts.

Feeling an electric jolt skitter throughout the dragon's heart, Angela sighed in relief.

Very well my lady. But remember, I can refuse what you ask. You…

The sadness in her eyes made Angela almost leave a kiss on Fareeha's muzzle. To make it go away.

Owe me now.

Keeping herself from reaching out, Angela fought off her racing heart, taking a few steps back.

For life.

Oh.

She knew that.

Angela risked a glance at Fareeha's direction, hoping their newly shared bond will not reveal what she planned to ask beforehand.

She stared towards the part between Fareeha's wings and chest. "My request… is for one, single dragon scale… my lord."

The dragon tilted her head in interest. That is it? What a simple request. In exchange… for what?

"In exchange…"

She raised her hand, perfectly masking her emotions from their connection.

"I shall give you my hand."

Immediately, Fareeha retraced back, completely appalled by the request.

Smog ushered from the corners of her mouth, snapping whatever poured out from the dragon's maw, a mouthful of fangs tightening in rage.

I will never-! Never—! Such a request, I cannot accept-!

Surprisingly, a giggle emerged from the sorceress. She knew Fareeha too well by now.

"Darling, that was such a misunderstanding. You didn't even let me finish my sentence."

That gave the dragon some time to muse, a little jet of steam puffing from her nostrils in anger.

Of all things to reque—

…What did she say...

What did she say again?

Noting she stayed still as a statue, Angela walked towards Fareeha, adding a little swing to her hips.

"Where was I…" The golden marks on her wrists started to tremble. "I want a scale of yours, Fareeha. Only one. In return, I shall give you my hand… in marriage." Like they were about to break. "My love."

The dragon was left too stunned to talk.

Angela finally dropped a little kiss on her muzzle. She was amused at the increase of steam coming out of blazing nostrils. She did not back away this time. All what Fareeha had to do now… placing a tender hand softly on her nose, Angela let out her best smile, gently caressing it.

"Now… how rude of me. What was your request, my sweet? Do tell~"

The witch upstretched her hat with a single finger, giving the dragon quite a flirtatious glance. She was pleased to note a lipstick mark stayed on the muzzle, its vibrant red colour contrasting with azure blue.

A bright flush of red started emerging from Fareeha's electric, caerulean scales. Angela was enjoying the reaction. Quite a lot. To be the one provoking this reaction was… exhilarating.

So, Sor, Sorceress… Ang… Angela… no. This cannot be real… could this be Weaver's magic…

Angela stopped the caresses midway for a moment, shaking her head at her lord's stubbornness to accept that even a dragon like her could deserve happiness.

"Still speechless I see… well." She raised her hand again, the bracelet gleamed in the moonlight.

Fareeha looked downwards, to the same sky blue eyes that were spell binding, just like the first time she saw them.

Angela looked upwards, towards the same dark eyes glimmering with a soft explosion of light, that always saw right into her. Into her very soul.

The dragon hesitated, but soon gave into her feelings, finally letting go of the wall of cement around her heart.

Fareeha leaned into Angela's outstretched hand, nuzzling gently into it, enough to have both their faces end up mere inches from each other. 

"Do you accept my request then… my fair lady?"

--

"Arrrrrgh-! Of all days to be on sheep duty-!"

The blonde shepherd from the pub was running for dear life. He got caught in the thunderstorm, nothing but harsh winds, lighting and heaving rain around to keep him company.

Ah-a, yes! He knew there was a cave nearby-!

As he entered the cosy cavern, he heard wolves in the distance.

The sheep he didn't save on time will keep them company. And fill their stomachs.

He had nothing to worry about-

A huge, thunderous flash shone brightly both through the cave and in the farmer's vision.

There, he saw it.

"ARRRRRRRGH! DRAGOOOON-!"

A huge, gigantic blue dragon. Flying towards the cloud stained horizon. Going… south?

Was it leaving? Forever…?

"OH GOD that would be amazin-"

Another flash of lightening made the young man seize any possibility of thought and motion.

There, he saw it as well.

The outline of the beast, within the full moon.

Making a protective barrier around them, hat and robes in plain sight.

On the dragon's back.

THERE WAS SOMEONE.

 

The golden marks had vanished back into inexistence for a long time now.

 

-fin