It took him a while, but he managed to find his way all the way over to me. He was still far larger than me, although he was now only the size of a large man. “I'm Oliver,” he said.
“I'm Faeah.” I told him. He smiled at me knowingly. He shook my hand, holding me firmly as though he'd known me for years.
Oliver pointed with his crutch toward the ship. “What d'you think?”
“It's beautiful,” I told him. “Did you build it yourself?”
“Yes, I did.” said the man that only moments ago was a dragon.
“You're a shape shifter.”
“Yes, I am.”
“But,” for a moment I wondered if anything I was seeing or thinking was real, I wondered if it all was just a dream. But then, that wasn't too foreign a thought for my mind.
“I know, shape shifters are rare here.” said Oliver. “They're even rarer where I come from.”
“Where do you come from?”
Oliver pointed back to his ship. “So, do you think it'll sail?”
“Oh,” I said, noticing my question had not been answered, “I think it would sail wonderfully.”
“Would you like to come aboard?” he asked me.
I didn't even think. I didn't even second guess myself. “Yes, I would.” I told him.
But, he did not lead me to his ship. He just stood and stared at me. His expression was warm and kind, but I could see a bit of the dragon in his deep brown eyes. “Fae?”
I enjoyed the way he said my name. Almost as if mulling the word over for its meaning. “Yes?”
“Why are you here?” he asked.
“I told you, I heard you calling.”
“Yes,” said Oliver, “but, so did the whole kingdom. You see, a dragon's call is loud. You were not the only one to hear it.”
“Don't patronize me, I know that.” I said, feeling stupid again.
“Then, why did only you come?” said Oliver. “Because, although I was hidden, I was not hidden well. And, although I am discrete, I am not so quiet in my sleep. Couldn't anyone have followed the noise and found me?”
Oliver sighed and flopped at once upon the ground. I thought he might have fainted or tripped, but his demeanor never changed. He tucked his hands underneath his head, he crossed his right leg over his left. He looked up at the sky. “Faeah?” he inquired.
I suspect at this point I was looking at him quite strangely, but he made no sign that he noticed.
“What do you see?” When I still had not answered, caught up in confusion, he clarified. “When you look up, at the night sky. What stands out to you?”
Hesitantly, I glanced up at the sky. And then, remembering the lack of fear I felt climbing down from the castle, I flopped down onto the sand beside a strange man. It was little different than what I was accustomed to doing every night with Auggy, but somehow I found this far more enjoyable. “The moon, I guess.” I answered.
He hummed approval. “Certainly the largest, most pronounced object in the night sky.”
“What do you see?”
He pointed toward the sky, a golden-chested imp flew by. “Back where I'm from, we look up at the stars. Years and years and years ago, people looked up at our skies and they saw pictures made out of stars. Conquering warriors, snarling beasts, twin ladies as beautiful as yourself.”
I hesitated. “Thank you.”
“And, they made stories out of these pictures. Pictures based on simple patterns in the sky. One story, for instance, tells of a son of a sea-god and great huntress named Orion. He inherits tremendous ability, but he becomes arrogant in his talents and makes the mistake of challenging all types of creatures throughout the world. In the end, just one scorpion, a tiny little poisonous insect, kills him. I suppose it's a story about how easily the mighty can fall if they are not careful, but that's all it is. Just a story.
“But then, back at home, I have a young son. I named him Orion, after the fictional hunter my ancient ancestors imagined in the night sky. I suppose he's the truth that sprung from the myth.”
The sea sirens sang delicately in the distance.
“Faeah,” said the man, he sat upright and looked at me closely, “has it ever occurred to you that your world is wrong?”
I sat up, too. “What do you mean, wrong?”
“I mean that it isn't right.”
“Oh. Much clearer now, thank you.”
“Well, come on, haven't you noticed?”
He waved his hand around. “I could go deep into the biological ridiculousness of the variety of species, but the most blatant logical blunder is that.” he pointed to the dustlink. “It makes no sense.”
The dustlink encircles my planet and it connects us to the sun. I do not remember when I learned of it, or who I learned it from, but the knowledge of its existence is imprinted on my mind.
“What do you mean it makes no sense?”
“If it is keeping you attached to the sun, then how was your planet kept in orbit before it formed? Not to mention the fact that chains made of dust don't hold anything together. Not here on your planet, not on my planet, and certainly not in space.
“Your laws of physics aren't laws at all. They are made up of the whims of a mad man, and there is only one way that can happen. Only one way a universe can spring up out of nowhere and be so malleable in reason and so unobservant of physical laws.” He looked at me. He looked at me as though he knew the deepest, darkest core of my soul. “You know what I'm going to say. Don't you?”
Ice ran up my spine. I shot to my feet and backed away. “Listen... my family's probably looking for me.”
He shook his head. “They don't even know you're gone.”
“Yes. Yes, they do. I told them.” I lied, knowing he knew. “I have to go. Long day tomorrow.”
“Preparing a wedding is a lot of work.” he said. “I hope you rest well.”
“You're... you're not going to try to stop me?”
He pushed on his arm braces to raise up to standing. He grunted painfully. “No point. There's not one person can stop you when you make up your mind. Not in this Universe.”
“Right... well... goodbye.” I turned my back to him and walked quickly away.
“See you soon.” he said. I looked back, but he was no longer there.
I ran all the way back to the castle. Luck upon luck, I managed to make it back to my bedroom unnoticed. Auggy's snores were louder then than when I left.