Sai sat up in his makeshift bed, jolted out of a deep sleep by a sudden cold sweat. His fire had gone out, but he could still feel the two drakes out front keeping watch. His abilities had improved significantly over the past months, and he’d managed to eke out a rather pleasant living by himself in the desert. But right now, something was wrong. He shivered in the dark. What had woken him? And why was it so cold?
Something heavy thudded outside. It was almost by instinct by this point that he reached out with his arm and felt for the mind of whatever wyrmkin was stalking around outside his cave. He found the mind immediately, but it did not belong to a wyrmkin. Come, the mind bid him in Draconic, and he obeyed without hesitation. Part of him screamed that he was being controlled against his will, but he could not disobey. The screaming part grew quieter when Sai realized he could suddenly see in the darkness of the cave and was silenced completely when he saw the dragon that awaited him outside.
He had never seen a black dragon before. Its scales glinted in the distant specks of light that dotted the skies all around them. The patch of sand outside his cave was familiar, but it ended at a wall of darkness. Glancing behind, Sai realized his cave and its stone outcrop had also been consumed by the dark. With a gulp, he turned back to the dragon.
It was now surrounded by a host of wyrmkin of every size and shape. “Gorgous creatures,” it whispered, its voice dark and velvety in the still night air. It surveyed them, seeming to ignore Sai. “Definitely some of my finest work. Powerful and mindless, bred only to destroy. With a tool such as this, I could unmake the very world.” Then it turned to Sai and smiled. Its fangs gleamed a brilliant white in the not-light. “And I have you alone to thank for it. Eldritch was right. A day did come when I would choose a champion. I wouldn’t have believed it until now."
There was a sudden flash of green light beside Sai, and a green fairy appeared on the shadowed sands. “You!” it shouted, leveling a finger at Sai. “I finally found you. You and I are…” it trailed off as it looked around. It scowled when it saw the shadow dragon. “You. I might have known. This one’s mine.”
The dragon didn’t move, but dark laughter rolled across the desert, seeming to come from everywhere. “Sorry, but I’ve already laid claim to him. Now run along and play with your other creations.”
“Oh no, you’re not getting off that easily. Do you remember the pact at all? You and I were supposed to be in balance. No more monsters than there were people. Any of this ringing a bell? You don’t get to break that pact just because some clueless mortal gives you the tools to do so.”
“And who’s going to stop me?” the dragon asked with another smile.
“Stop? Who said anything about stopping? I just need to you slow down so I can catch up.” The fairy laughed. “Are you kidding? With an influx like this do you realize how many more people I get to have? It’s going to take a few generations, though. People-making’s a lot slower than monster-making.”
“What if you use the same method?” Sai asked without thinking. Both dragon and fairy turned to him. He tried to stop talking, but couldn’t seem to help himself. “I mean, can’t you make people out of the wyrmkin?”
The fairy considered this, then smiled. “I can see why you like this one. He’s sharp.” There was another green flash, which left a green dragon standing where the fairy had been. “Well, I must be off. Lots of work to do. Always good seeing you, of course.”
“Liar,” the shadows hissed.
“A poor one at that. You always could see right through me.” With another flash, the dragon disappeared.
The shadow dragon shook its head. “And now you have removed the opposition from my strongest foe. You truly are amazing. Know that I have my eye on you, mortal. Just turn to the shadows if ever you need assistance, because I am always there.” It began to fade into the darkness, and another laugh rolled across the sands. “Of course, I may not actually help. You’re still one of Gayo’s creations, after all."
Then the strange light-speckled darkness vanished, and Sai was left in the true dark outside of his cave flanked by his guard drakes. He shivered. Just when he’d thought things might be starting to get better.