The seashell stand, unmanned and unvisited, glittered dangerously in the sunlight, like a thousand tiny blades were for sale instead of gem-encrusted shells. There were no prices on the stand, no signs at all. Just glittering shells. The last person to take one was last seen walking into the ocean at dusk from the resort-front, shell clutched tightly in xir hand.

In the break from customers, the werewolf basked in the warm sunlight streaming through the display window, stealing away with the leftover winter chill. That is, until xe felt xir hair stand on end. Xe was being watched.

Knowingly, the werewolf turned around and watched as the spirit flinched back as if afraid to be caught. The werewolf continued to stare until the spirit finally spoke. “Does it feel nice?” ze asked in a meek voice. For a moment, the werewolf could swear tears shimmered on the spirit’s face. 

Pity consumed xem and xe could only nod. The spirit made a dejected sound and drifted upstairs towards the living quarters. The living quarters that used to be zirs, back when ze was still among the living. The werewolf felt shame mix with the pity. If only xe hadn’t been the unknowing cause of it all. Xe would take it back in an instant, but that didn’t matter now. Xe couldn’t go back and alter the past.

The Faerie planted xir feet firmly at the entrance to the little cubby in the wall, peering sharply through the colorful and writhing aether of already-eaten dreams. A dream eater den was no place for this lost babe but the Faerie had to have answers, and answers xe would get. With teeth bared, xe walked in with purpose. The babe slept soundly the whole time.

The drake perched upon the abandoned village’s roofs, smoke wafting from its nostrils, its scales shimmering in the dying summer light. The rogue princex, run ragged and weary, looked up to it and flashed a fearsome grin. “What say you to being a help to me for a while? I’ll make sure you get a fair share of treasures and a lair perfect for yourself.”

The drake shook its head as if shooing off a particularly annoying fly. Thinking of a fly sized enough to annoy a drake mildly perturbed the princex. “I wish not for treasures, mortal,” the drake rumbled. “Nor a lair to call my own. You claim to be heir to this wretched kingdom’s throne? Good. That will be help enough. I will tell you when the time comes what I wish from you. Not before." 

The princex stared up at it, briefly concerned at what the price might be for this drake’s help, but xe shook its aside. "Then a bargain has been struck,” xe said proudly. And then xe felt the bargain take, the spell binding the princex to the drake. There would be no running from this, not now. The drake gave a fearsome, jagged grin in response. 

Dawn broke over the battlefield as the heroes and warriors marched home, their feet dragging with exhaustion. Only their leader noticed it, the subtle strings of otherworldly power around the group. Xe looked to the sky and smiled wearily, murmuring a small prayer of thanks to xir goddex before continuing on. The goddex smiled warmly from their throne on high.