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A Tail of Dragons and Sai

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It was another hot, humid day.

Sai worked in the fields like she always did, tilling the soil, pulling weeds. She stretched out her back for a precious second, looking around the farm.  The plants were few and far between this year, and those that did come up were looking dusty and old.  It seemed that, despite the moisture in the air, none was hitting the ground for the plants to drink.  She hoped that the drought would end soon. If they had to endure another hungry winter, she didn’t know how they would survive.  There were no more cattle to slaughter, no more sheep or lambs.  And there were no more coins in the bank.

Catching her mother’s eye, she returned to the earth in front of her.  Pulling, weeding, removing a small stone or two.  Pruning the dead leaves from the crop.  As sweat trickled down her back, she allowed her anger to fester.

It was the kingdom’s fault that they suffered like this.  The king and nobles didn’t have to do a day’s worth of hard labour in their life, so of course things carried on as normal.  Taxes and prices increased as the poor remained broken and silent.  No one cared about them in the slightest even their it was their crops that were eaten on tables of oak and marble. Perhaps the king would notice their troubles when his plate began to go empty?

Sai began to chop hard at the earth, freeing the hard earth so the roots could seek moisture deeper.  She imagined that the soil was the king’s head, her hoe was a sword.  Cut, cut, cut.  What made him so special that he could be immune to the hardships of life? He was a king, a tyrant that had stolen his kingdom from his elder brother.  His blood was red like theirs, she had seen it when he had returned home from the battlefield. She bet that it would even spill the same way.

Shaking her mind free of the scandalous thoughts, she returned to work, carefully freeing one of the plants from a weed that had wrapped itself around it.

“Sai! Bow! Eyes to the ground!” she heard her mother hiss to her from her laundry rack.

Sai had just enough time to see a flash of a golden carriage, the six pure white horses that pulled it, and the Royal Family’s crest on the door.  She averted her eyes to the ground, dropping to the ground despite her clenched teeth.  Speak of the devil.  It was the little tyrant himself.  Probably showing off the countryside some other royal princess.  She waited until the carriage passed before raising, knowing that her mother would kill her if she dared to disobey.  She watched the dust cloud fade away before she returned to work.

* * * * *

Dinner was bland as always.  Soup with weak broth and even limper vegetables. Sai poked at it but knew better by now than to turn it down.  Their stores were running low and, judging by the empty fields, they would remain that way for some time.  They might even look back at this as a treat in the coming months.

That scared her.

“They said a girl was taken last night.  You’ll have to be extra careful Sai when you’re in the fields.” Her father told her, dunking his hard bread in the remains of his soup. His eyes were hollow, so his mind was elsewhere.

“A girl?” her mother questioned.  “Was it from the opposing army that took her?”  There was almost a slight hope to her voice.  Sai glared at her before following her trail of thought.  If the opposing army was coming, there was potential for Sai to be married off.  A dowry paid, their family would survive another year.  As Sai suffered or lived at the hands of her husband.  This was the way of life here.  Women were for children and the kitchen, they weren’t supposed to be out in the farm fields.  That was men’s work.

He shook his head.  “The family is quite distraught but has said it wasn’t human.  According to them, the girl was outside, all alone, tending to her chickens late at night.  When she screamed, they ran out and she was carried off by what appeared to be a large wolf.  They tried to pursue it but lost it in the Wild Wolves.  It was described as a wolf larger and faster than any man.” he sighed and shook his head.  “But who knows what it really was.”

“Makes you wonder if this drought is more far-spreading than we initially thought.  If the wolves are coming inland for food, perhaps the other provinces are also suffering.  That means our trade won’t be as bountiful either.” Sai’s brother began to look more worried.  No trade meant no seed.  No seed meant no crops, no food.

Sai’s mother and father looked so defeated.  “We will make do. We have to.” Sai’s father said.  “If not this year, then the next. I’ll go hunting tomorrow, see what I can find.”

Silently, Sai finished the last of her soup, looking around at the worried faces.  There was nothing more to say.  They had barely survived last winter.  Without food and other supplies, how would they survive this winter?

* * * * *

The days slowly passed without seeing improvement.  The plants withered and tried to die, but the farmers refused to give up on them.  Little shelters were built to protect them from the wind and hail, but still, no rain fell.

No rain, no water, no crops.

When Sai’s father returned from hunting, he had nothing more than a small bag of mushrooms on him.  None of the wild vegetables that grew along the creek bed had sprouted that year.  And there was no game to be seen.  Not a goose or duck, not even a deer.  “There was a cow’s carcass picked clean across the ravine,” he told them when they pressed him for details.  “I thought it had to have been that wolf but there was no sign of footprints, nor of a blood trail. It was like it was dropped out of the sky.”

That had to be a bad omen.

Another day, more backbreaking work. Sai sighed as she stood and stretched her back.  Her bones creaked with protest.  The humidity still hung low in the sky, but the temperature had plummeted.  Her father and mother worried for frost and already whispers of snow on the far mountains found them.  The winter had just left them.  It couldn’t return again so soon.

Many of the other farmers had already packed up their tools and bags and left for the winter homestead, hoping against hope to find some way of surviving the long cold winter.  Others turned to the sea, fishing the meat from the water, stealing its seaweed.  Anything that might help them survive whatever Mother Nature threw their way.

They already knew that it was too little, too late.

Sai’s brother was working beside her, tying little stakes to the plants, encouraging them to live. She could already tell that it was all for nought. The stem was dark and rotten, slowly dying.  Another loss when none could be spared.

There was the sound of quick hoofs.  As Sai and her brother looked up, a golden carriage with six white horses trotted up the way to their little cottage.  They shimmed as they stopped, the sweat on the coats catching in the dim light.  A guardsman hopped off the bench, folding down the steps to the carriage, before opening the door.  A blonde-haired man stepped out, glancing around at the farm.  Even if the gleam of the crown was missed, there was no mistaking those dark eyes, or the scar that raced across his nose.

The king… the king was here.

Sai and her brother look to one another, dumbfounded.  There was no reason for the king to be here.  Their father brushed the dust from his pants, walking slowly up to greet them, removing his hat as he went.

“He has to be lost,” her brother said, watching the guards and their shiny swords.  “There is no way that he would even step close to our farmland if he wasn’t.”

“Shh.  You can’t say that in front of the king.  You know that he has ears like those of an owl. He’ll have you beheaded.  Or even worse.” Sai hissed at him.  There were stories of what happened to those who disrespected the king.  Her brother rolled his eyes at her, but did not say anything else.  They both watched carefully should their father, or king needed help.

Their father had been talking to the king for what seemed like an age before the king nodded, shook their father’s hand, before climbing back into the carriage.

In a moment, it was like he was never there. 

Sai’s father watched them leave, a stunned expression on his face, hand still outstretched, before he walked into the little house. He closed the door firmly behind him.

“What do you think that was about?” her brother asked, watching the dissipating dust cloud. Sai could only shake her head.  She had no idea.

Something was very wrong.

* * * * *

That night, their parents tried to pretend that everything was fine, that everything was normal.  But it obviously wasn’t. They were trying to hide something from the two of them.  Her father had led grace in his usual baritone voice, but her mother was acting differently.  She even smiled at her from across the table quickly, encouraging her to finish the soup that was left in her bowl.

After supper, the night was quiet, not even the sound of a howling wolf broke the quiet.  This was the time for them to do their little extra activities.  Her father took his boots and thread, repairing his boots in the hopes that they would hold out for a few more months.  Her brother took up his carving, settling in front of the fire and kettle to work on his art.  Sai reached for her book.

“Sai.  Sit down in front of me.  I’m going to brush your hair this evening.” Her mother called out to her, already waving a hairbrush.

“Mom, I always brush my hair, I don’t need you to do it for me. I’m not a baby anymore.”

“Oh, just sit down for a moment and let me do it.  I haven’t done it in a coon’s age.”

Recognizing the tone, Sai obediently sat down in front of her mom. Slowly, reverently, she began to brush.  Sai’s hair was different than anyone else’s.  A natural purple and red, it was unlike anything that the midwives had ever seen before.  Today her hair cascaded down her back, past her shoulders, to her waist. 

Brushing slowly, her mom would pause every so often to dip the brush in water, making sure to detangle every strand.  Make the hair shimmer with health.  “When was the last time that we cut your hair?” she asked Sai, feeling the rough, uneven ends.

Thinking, Sai couldn’t remember.  “I think before last winter.”

Shaking her head, Sai’s mother grabbed her shears and carefully began to trim her hair.  Her scalp already felt lighter, cleaner than it had in days.  “What do you think?” Her mother asked her as Sai checked out her reflection in the mirror. Her hazel eyes were tired and worried, but bright.  Her cheekbones were slightly jutting, and the two dimples were winking at her in the reflection.  Not too bad, she had to admit to herself.

“It looks so much nicer than it has.  Thank you, but what is the occasion?” Sai asked, still running her hands through her hair.  It felt so nice.

It was her father that spoke this time.  “The king said that there was a little bit of a talent show going on tomorrow for the local girls.  He personally invited you and a few of the other peasant girls to attend as well as the nobles.  Your mother and I thought that it would be best for you to attend.”

Sai froze, her hand still in her hair.  Oh.  That was why she was getting all sorts of special attention.  “So, I guess that you signed me up for this contest already?  Hoping to parade me in front of all the single knights and noblemen and see if anyone would come for my hand?”

Her mother and father looked at each other before looking back at her.  “I’m sorry, dear,” her father said, “I had to answer right away… and you don’t dare say no to the king himself.”

“It doesn’t sound like I have much of a choice in the matter,” Sai muttered, folding her arms.  When her parents made up their minds, there was nothing that she or her brother could do to make them change them.

Her mother came up to stand beside her, pulling her head into the mirror again.  “All that we ask is that you do your best.” She said.  There was a warning squeeze to her shoulders.  “You will.  Right?”

There was no other answer Sai could give.  “Yes, Mom.” She said, trying to smile at her reflection.

“Excellent!  I have one of my Sunday dresses that I can trim and modify for you.  You will look so beautiful in it!” For the first time, in God knows how long, Sai’s mom seemed happy, excited even.

Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

* * * * *

Sai sat in her father’s old wagon, their old and arthritic donkey limping across the cobblestones. She looked around, doing her best not to stare at the other people and monsters she saw.  She had spent most of her life on her father’s farm, but she knew the existence of monsters, though she had rarely seen one unless they came down to their farm for fresh food.  They tended to live on the other side of the city. 

And the styles!  Her own hair had been braided and pinned up, the strands glimmering in the low light of the sun.  Her dress was a faded one of her mother’s, but there were no patches or stitches that could be seen.  Her mother had spent the night taking the dress so it would cling to her curves.  A bow was tied around her waist, amplifying her hips.  But Sai could already see that she was dressed plainly in comparison to the others.  It was painfully obvious who was from farming or peasant life, and who had enjoyed a life of luxury.  The richer girls’ dresses were bright and vibrant, dyed colours that Sai could only dream of owning. Bright pinks and purples, nothing that would last long, and nothing that was suited for working in a kitchen or in a stable.  There were frilly, bits of lace hanging from sleeves and dresses. 

They weren’t practical, but they were beautiful.  Like peacocks.

Her father said nothing as he directed the donkey through the crowds of people and monsters.  His lips were clenched tight and white, and Sai could see the bags under his eyes, his sunken cheeks.  He too contrasted against the rich merchants and their slight bellies.

“Here we are,” he said finally, stopping the wagon beside a wooden stage in the middle of town.  Sai recognized it as the one where the public executions would be held.  She gave a hard swallow, seeing the stain of blood still on the dark wood.  “Go check yourself in.  They are expecting you.  I’ll park John and be in the crowds.”  Sai nodded, carefully stepping off and onto the cobblestones, mindful of her dress.

Her father whistled and flicked his reins, urging the donkey off. 

The city looked so large and imposing.  Buildings that climbed the sky, merchants selling their goods, and the constant bustle of people.  Giving a hard swallow, Sai stepped towards a man who was holding a quill and parchment, watching her.

“I am Saiyurimai Farmar,” she told him, making sure her voice was clear and didn’t shake.

The man looked her over, an eyebrow raised as he scrawled something on his notes.  There was something deeply unsettling in his eyes, but Sai didn’t know how to explain it.  “Very well.  Go over to Nurse Mary and we’ll get your measurements.”

Sai did as she was told, confused but obeying.  Why would they need measurements for a talent show?  Maybe they would be adding a stage platform for the shorter ones?  That way they could be seen better?

Nurse Mary was a green and grey lizard monster, and she talked to Sai as she worked, measuring her height, waist and then her chest.  “You look healthy as a mule!” she exclaimed looking into her mouth.  “The drought has taken the health of so many.”

“My mom makes sure that we always eat a bit of a balanced diet if she can,” Sai said as the nurse weighted her.  “Need to have the energy to work the fields.”

“I can only imagine,” the nurse said absently as she wrote something down.  “Strong, slim and curves.  All the farm boys must be asking for your hand.”

Sai shook her head, trying to ignore the tinge in her gut saying that the question was wrong.  “Who has time for boys when you need to work?  Besides, my family has nothing for a dowry.”

The nurse seemed pleased by this and gave a quick nod of her head.  “Very well, dear.  Go into the small area there, have a seat and wait for your turn to be called.  Be brave.”  The nurse smiled as Sai got up and walked towards the old bench where a few other girls were already sitting.  Human girls only she noticed.  As she turned to leave, a quick flash of gold caught Sai’s eye.  There was a small pin in her apron, a crown engraved on it.

Why was a royal nurse checking them over? And why were they asking such intrusive questions?

Nothing was making sense anymore.

Over the next hour, Sai watched as women came up and paraded in front of the audience.  She quickly realized that the word title was being used very loosely here. One noble woman attempted to dance a jig while some hired help played music behind her.  She was off rhythm, stepped on her skirt more than a couple of times.  Mercifully, she left the stage when she tripped over a rougher part of the stage, falling into the servants.  She wasn’t the only one that winced at her display.  The king was sitting in his throne in the front of the stage. 

Sai’s stomach was full of butterflies, jumping with her heartbeat.  What if she was terrible?  What if he was disgusted with her voice and punished her?  Executed her?  Dishonoured her family?

“Saiyurimai Farmar,” a voice came, as if from far away.

Giving a hard swallow, Sai stepped onto the stage, looking around at all the unfamiliar faces.  The servants began to play and she took a deep breath, letting the music swell deep within her.  And then, she released it.  As she sang, everything else faded out.

She didn’t notice how the king sat up straight on his chair, staring at her.  She missed how the townspeople silenced their mutterings and listened to her voice.  She didn’t even see her father give a grateful sigh, watching as she captivated the town square.

She missed the flame and skeleton monster in the back, watching her intently.

* * * * *

After singing, Sai returned to the farm with her father, much like nothing had happened.  There had been more than a few eyes following her as they left, but no one came out to spoke.  “When do we find out the results?” Sai asked him, watching as they left the town behind in the dust.

“Hopefully soon.  They said that they will be sending a messenger within the week to tell the families of their selection.” Her father did not look at her.  He was staring straight between the donkey’s ears, avoiding her eyes.

Sai felt like something was off, or maybe he was upset with her. 

“So, hypothetically speaking, if I won the contest, what would we win?” Sai was expecting gold or jewels, or maybe a townhouse.  This was the king that she was performing for.  There had to be something big as a reward to draw in the crowd the size of what it did.

She was in for a surprise.

“The winning girls will be selected to join the King’s harem,” he said, still refusing to look at her.  “The families of the girls will receive a suitable payment for them.”

Sai turned to look at him, her eyes narrowing.  The pieces were coming together. The nurse’s questions, the unusual behaviour of her parents the night before, the insistence of her mother that she look as beautiful as possible.  “So.  I just performed to give you guys a chance to see me off and be a royal whore.”

“Don’t say that…”

“I bet it was for the good of the family too.  ‘Sai is just a girl, and unwed.  It is her duty to provide for the family since she’s just a girl.’ Isn’t that right?  Isn’t that the argument that you and mother had for putting me in this competition?”  He remained silent.  She knew that she was right.

A girl was always a burden until she bore sons.  That was the way of life around here.

He stopped the donkey at their house and Sai jumped off the wagon, storming into the house.  Her mother met her at the door.  “How did things go?” she asked brightly.

Sai spun around, getting into her mother’s face. Her temper was lit and no one was safe.

Especially those that put her in this position to begin with.

“How dare you…. I thought I was doing the family proud, going up on the stage and singing.  Showing everyone that, just because we are poor families, doesn’t mean that we are nothing. I just found out that I performed to be sold to the Royal Harem.  The next time you want gold, take to the streets and spread your own legs.  Perhaps then you will feel the shame that you had me suffer for the sake of this ‘family’,” Sai spat at her, pulling her hair free from the elaborate braid her mother had put it in.  “But if you excuse me, some of us have real work to attend to.” Pushing by her, she threw the dress to the ground, vowing to never wear it again.  It was tainted. Slipping into her work dress, she stormed out to the fields, ignoring the calls from her mother and her father.

* * * * *

Sai reached out and touched the plant that her brother had tied. The stalk had sagged around the rope, breaking the plant in two.  Another plant, dead.

This whole kingdom was a bloody joke, Sai decided, pulling the plant from the ground.  It was just as she suspected.  The roots were as dark as a raven’s feathers, dripping with sour smelling juice. Dead and rotten to the core and had probably spoiled the rest of the field.  With a small curse, Sai flung the plant out of the garden.  The soil would need to be burned for the next year’s crops otherwise the disease would continue to spread.

It had been two days since the ‘contest’ and, in those two days, Sai had refused to talk to her family.  How dare they deceive her the way they did?  Were they so desperate for gold or a break that they would ruin their only daughter?

She knew the truth.  They would.

A daughter is only worth the sons she bears.

Returning to her work in breaking the soil, she felt her anger feed her.  Every slash of the hoe was the face of the king, or her parents, or even her brother.  Her brother had refused to defend her and even had the gall to say that she would be happier in the castle then working the fields.  How did he know what she wanted, or what was good for her?

She had seen the parchment on their table.  She had won the contest and the king wished to discuss the finer details of her purchase with her father. Both him and her mother were probably already at the castle, discussing gold or jewels, seeds or equipment now.

Anything that would better their lives, and condemn her to her new life of servitude. 

The hoe sang as she moved, sinking into the soil with a soft thud.  She would show him, show them all, that she was worth more than a few pieces of gold.

Perhaps she should run away, start her own farm or business.  Show her family exactly what she was worth.  Make them miss her and know that they missed out on her.

There was a loud whistling noise above her, along with a strange crackle of energy.  It caused the hairs on the back of her neck to stand up.  There was something very dangerous above her.  Slowly she turned, her eyes slowly rising to the heavens.

Almost like they sensed her gaze, the heavens burst open.  Rain poured from the sky, dropping to the thirsty earth in a small downpour before dissipating.  Not that it would do any good.  The earth would lap it up and look for more.

However, Sai was not worried about her crops. Despite the human race living shoulder to shoulder with carious monster races, there were a few things that one could never prepare for.

Hovering above her, two mighty dragons seemed to stare down at her.  Both had to be twice the size of the farmhouse.  One was cloaked in entirely in flames, making its form more of a phoenix than a dragon, but the face was more lizard-like than a bird.  The other dragon was nothing but bones.  No membranes, flesh, or organs, only bones.  Sai could see two large cracks running through the eye sockets of the skull.

They had always been told tales of dragons, werewolves and other mythical creatures though they were rarely seen.  Humans had driven away creatures that they couldn’t control, hunting them to the brink of extinction.  Dragons were one of these creatures.

And now, there were two flying, hovering, above Sai’s head.

“Sai, get out of the way!”  Her brother came racing from the shed, a pitchfork held in his hands.  Hatred clouded his eyes as he stared at the beasts, lifting the fork like a javelin.  Sai felt a flash of fear for the dragons.  She doubted that the pitchfork would hit them and, even if it did, that it would do much damage to them.

But if he did, they may never return.

“Don’t!” she called out to him, her gaze turning from the beasts for one second. Just one.

The next moment was a blur of movement and heat.  Sai heard her brother scream, dropping the pitchfork and running towards her as if in slow motion, just as something wrapped around her and she was lifted off into the sky.  The phoenix-dragon had grabbed her in its talons and was quickly regaining altitude, flying off towards the mountains in the south.  With a small roar, the skeletal dragon followed them, flying just beneath them but keeping pace easily.

Sai was stunned.  She couldn’t scream, she didn’t dare move out of fear of being dropped. Instead, she felt her body go limp, allowing the dragon to carry her where he saw fit.

(Allow her to settle on my body, Grillby.  Perhaps she would be more comfortable riding than being carried like a fish.) The voice was deep and harmonious, centuries of intelligence engraved in it.  The words sounded in Sai’s mind, she was sure that she didn’t hear them by her ear.

(As long as she doesn’t fall off your skull.) The other responded.  This one had a smoker’s lisp to the voice. Sai was intrigued.  She had never heard about the different voices of dragons.  She had only heard how they roared or growled.  Never this inter-mind communication.  The phoenix dragon carefully readjusted her, dipping lower in the sky, before placing her on the skeletal dragon’s neck.  Instincts deep inside of Sai took over. It was sort of like riding a horse.  Squeezing her thighs around his neck, her hands seized the head of the vertebrae in front of her.  Powerful magic surged through her, further anchoring her to him.

Grillby, the phoenix-dragon she supposed, flew up, watching her carefully as she settled onto the other dragon’s neck.  (Well call me an ember.  She’s a natural, Gaster)

(I told you that she would be,) came the smug response.  (Now increase your altitude or you’ll start popping clouds again. We don’t need your flames going out again.)

Grillby shook his head but was soon rising above them, above the clouds. 

The three of them flew on, Sai looking over Gaster’s head and neck to see the scenery below.  Brown and orange colours of the landscape eventually changed to blue and grey, mountains beginning to scratch at the sky.  The oxygen was thinner here and she could see that Grillby’s flames were becoming less vibrant.

The dragons began to slowly descend, flying between the mountains instead of over them.  Grillby’s flames reignited, regaining their brilliance.  They passed glaciers and goats, passing waterfalls and low-lying trees.  Eventually they landed on an outcropping of the largest mountain that Sai had ever seen.  The ledge itself was able to fit the two dragons comfortably and it felt extraordinarily stable.  Like it had been cut out of the mountain itself.

Lowering his head, Gaster gestured to Sai to jump off.  Shaking slightly, she obeyed.  Taking one last glance around, she looked up at the two creatures.  “You’re… you’re not going to eat me, are you?  I doubt I would be a meal for one of you, let alone the two of you…”

Gaster and Grillby blinked at each other before looking back at Sai again.  (No, I promise you, my dear, that we do not wish to eat you.) Gaster said, nodding his head.

(Human flesh is much too thin and flavourless.) Grillby assured her.

Feeling the slight relief that she wasn’t going to be picked clean by these two dragons, Sai felt some of her courage return.  “Then can you please explain to me why did you kidnap me and why are we here?”

(We can explain inside,) Gaster said, nodding towards the entrance of a large cave.  (Please come in, Sai.  We will explain everything inside, but it will hail soon. Let us at least be somewhere safe and warm from the elements.)

Sai looked between the dragons and back up at the clouds.  They were looking a little swollen and grey.  Weighing her options, Sai stepped into the cave.

The floor was lined with fur and moss, like a giant nest of a bird.  It wasn’t as rocky or even as cold as she had imagined it.  The dragons stepped inside, the cave easily housing the three of them.  The lights in Gaster’s eye sockets flashed purple for a moment.  A large stone, outlined in purple magic, rolled in front of the entrance of the cave.  (That will keep the outside, out.) Gaster explained, already curling up on the floor.  Grillby perched beside him, his long tail wrapping around him.  (Now, what do you want to know?)

Sai was dumbfounded.  “How do you know my name?  Why was I kidnapped and why am I here?  Who are you and, again, why me?  Why was I kidnapped?”

The two chuckled softly, their voices melding together into beautiful music.  (We apologize, Sai.  Let me start over from the beginning.  My name is Gaster.  I am a SkeleDragon as you can clearly see.  Beside me is my mate of several hundred years, Grillby, a FireCloak Dragon.)

Grillby nodded towards her and Sai felt something in the pit of her stomach. Something hard and demanding.  How could she be jealous of a dragon, or two? “It is an honour to meet you,” she said, nodding towards them.  “My people tell of many stories of dragons.”

(Many of them ending with the dragons being skewed by some brave knight on a horse, I bet.) Grillby said with a slight chuckle.  Her cheeks burning, Sai gave a small nod.

(Anyways. We were in town, your town, a few days ago.  We were seeing what supplies were available for the upcoming winter.  It was a rather disappointing run as your village had nothing of use but then…. Well, that was when we heard you sing.  Your precious voice… it called out to us.  Held us under your spell.) The dragons paused in their tale, a far-off look appearing on their faces.  The skull flushed a faint purple while the phoenix-dragon became blue.  (We knew what the competition was about and we knew that we couldn’t allow you to be sold for use by that king.  We needed to save you and your voice… but before we could approach your father, potentially to make a deal, the two of you had driven off.)

Sai folded her arms.  “So you wished to buy me for your own, twisted, harem then? Is that all? you could have entered bidding for me with the king and got me that way”

The phoenix-dragon shook his head. (No Sai.  We don’t have a harem for you to join.  We aren’t as vile as that fool that you humans call your king.  You are too much of a priceless treasure as for that.  We wanted to save you from that life.  We would have done this properly, but once your brother came out and threatened to attack us…)

(Our emotions got in the way of us in that regard.  We knew that we needed to keep you safe and we were worried that you would have been hurt in the middle.  So we needed to get you out of that area, away from him, away from the greedy fool.) The two dragons bowed their heads towards Sai.  (Please forgive us for not doing this the proper way that you humans are used to.  We know that it will take a long time for you to trust us, especially in the way that we acted.  But if you give us a chance…)

Sai reached over, touching the two’s snouts.  “You did this, in a way, to give me my freedom.  To protect me from the king, my family…”

(Only the best for our mistress.)

Oh gosh did she like the sound of that.  Her cheeks turned pink as she looked the dragons over.  Unlike when she looked at the king, there was no fear.  There was no gut feeling to be wary of, nor impending death should you look at them the wrong way. 

It was silly, even contemplating this.

“Alright.  I’ll stay with the two of you.”

The two dragons purred softly at that, the sound emitting from their chests as the two of them wrapped around her, sheltering her with their bodies.  (Our precious treasure.)

* * * * *

And that, dear reader, is the end of our legend.  Or rather, the end of the beginning.  The Tails of Sai and the Two Dragons are lengthy, filled with adventure and love, gold and booty.

But that is all the time that we had for today. Keep your eyes to the skies and perhaps you will see a flash of flame or a gleam of bone.  And where Gaster and Grillby fly, Sai sits with them.  After all, you don’t leave the most precious jewel at home where others can steal it.