She reached the river about an hour later. The river had no name; the locals did not name it in an attempt to keep people from seeking it out and being victims of Kaiji. Dally steeled herself, tied the trap to a nearby tree, and went to the edge of the water. She knelt down and waited.
The rising sun reflected on green scales and red transparent wings swimming beneath the water. Kaiji appeared, his jaws wide, blue eyes glowing. He looked at Dally, who showed no fear.
"Well," the dragon said, "you are a curious one! Come closer so you can see me better."
Dally kept a calm expression, even as her heart threatened to beat out of her chest. She leaned toward the water, and braced for what came next.
Kaiji lunged out of the water and pulled her under. She held her breath and made sure Kaiji saw the string around her wrist. Spirits had a compulsion to follow a string, and to her relief he released her to follow it. She swam to the surface and crawled onto the shore. Kaiji, who was smaller and ethereal out of the water, followed the string to the trap and was caught, stuck to the string and writhing to pull himself free. Dally sloshed her way over and picked the trap out of the tree by the wood. The dragon tried to bite her, but she laughed. Kaiji sighed and looked at Dally.
"What do you want with me, human?" he asked.
"If I let you go, are you going to try to kill me?" she asked.
Kaiji laughed. "I would not have to try. But, no, you have tricked me, and I respect that. But I ask again, what do you want with me?"
Dally sighed. "I need you to come to my camp with me. I have Haku, and now Saito said I need you..."
Kaiji's eyes widened. "You have Haku?" he asked in disbelief.
"Well, a Haku, not THE Haku."
"You are going after Ronin, then?" Kaiji asked.
"I think so," Dally replied, pulling the string and releasing Kaiji. He flew upwards, so that when he returned to his true size he did not injure her. He landed next to her and crouched down so that she could climb onto his back. She guided him in the direction of the cabin.
Saito heard them land and exited the cabin. He stood motionless in the doorway for a moment.
"You did it," he whispered.
"Of course she did," Kaiji replied angrily. "After getting Haku, I was a breeze."
Dally jumped onto the ground. "Kaiji, this is Saito. Saito, Kaiji."
Saito walked over to Kaiji who bent his head down to the blind Samurai. Saito ran his fingers along Kaiji's jaw and produced a key, which he tossed to Dally.
"Now," he said, "you must go to the second temple. But first, I will go to the village and let them know the river is safe."
He patted Kaiji's cheek and headed off toward the village. Dally took Kaiji into the stable, where he and Haku warily watched each other for a few minutes, then settled down to nap. Dally smiled, then went into to the cabin and change into dry clothes and nap herself.