This night, it was a few hours before sunrise when sleep won the battle with Obsi. The sound of a large animal sniffing the air woke her. She listened for a moment, then slowly uncovered herself and made her way outside.
The food was gone. No sign of a dragon anywhere. Obsi sighed, and a sound from behind her made her turn.
Gunnar was hovering over the river, looking at her.
“There you are!” she exclaimed. “Did you get enough to eat?”
Gunnar shook his head and made her laugh. “Well, you’ll need to come into the den if you want more.”
Gunnar flew in circles around the hut then landed in front of her. She removed the moss that was hanging from his jaw horns. She placed her hands on the side of his face and looked at him.
“Boy, there is something I need to tell you. Someone…a friend…wants us to trap a ghost. Gustav’s ghost. I want you to know this before you answer: do you want to stay here with me?”
Will you keep me safe?
“Yes, of course I will.”
Will you feed me every day?
Obsi’s eyes watered. “Yes, of course. My dragons eat as much as they want every day.”
Will you make me leave when the ghost goes away?
The tears flowed before she knew it. She laid her head on Gunnar’s snout and whispered. “No. You can stay as long as you like. Forever, I hope. You’re a good boy. Gustav did not deserve you. I probably don’t either. But I promise you I will try to be worthy of you, Gunnar.”
You are kind. What can I do to be worthy of you?
Obsi sobbed and sank to her knees. This splendid creature was made to fight for a man who was the opposite of who he was. He was treated as property, and he knew it. He was told what to be, not allowed to be what he was.
Obsi looked up at Gunnar. “Just be a dragon. That’s all I ask. I will test you, push you to be your best, but I will never make you do anything you do not want to do. I just want you to be able to be you, Gunnar.”
Gunnar raised his head and sat. He lifted his front feet off the ground and roared. Within the thundering sound Obsi heard, “I SERVE THE DRAGON LORD OBSIDIAN DALL! SHE IS KIND AND I WILL BE HAPPY HERE! SHE HAS GIVEN ME A PURPOSE!”
The sound of running boots made Obsi stand, so her guards would know she was ok and to stand down. The four men slowed, then bowed to Obsi. To her surprise, they also bowed to Gunnar. The head guard approached Gunnar and gently rubbed his snout.
“Welcome home, boy,” he said.
Obsi and the guards took Gunnar into the Den, fed him, and left him sleeping soundly. She asked one of the guards to get a message to Astrid that they were ready for the next step in the plan. She was almost asleep on her feet when she opened her chamber door. The shutters on the window blew open, and a familiar voice on the wind said:
“HE IS MINE!”
Obsi shut and barred the shutters. “Like hell he is, Uncle” she said defiantly.