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“Human warrior,” the dragon says in its terrible voice. It does not sound distressed, but there is still a grief and a fury running beneath the words that reverberates in Guen’s bones, that churns his blood. He coughs and struggles to draw himself up, gripping his useless, blunted sword.

“Human warrior, your king is in peril.”

“They are going to kill him,” he spits, his hands trembling. He is tired, so tired. “I know. Why don’t you stop it? If you can come down from heaven, why don’t you fight?”

“You care so much for a dragon’s life?” The white dragon asks, its long tongue licking between sword-like teeth. It is not mocking him, exactly, but Guen still feels as though he is being judged. He staggers up to his feet, flings back his bloodied hair, and bares his own teeth at the god.

“When I met him, I didn’t know he was a dragon,” he says. “He didn’t tell me the truth for a long time. He was happy, I think, that I wanted to be his friend without knowing he had ever been anything more than a human like myself. When I did finally ask him about his name he confessed everything without hesitation, but he looked so anxious. Like he was afraid I would hate him, or see him differently. Like he was afraid of what I would do.”

The white dragon’s breath cascades around him and over him like a fall of water from the mountains, white and fine and rushing with power. Guen realizes he is smiling, and then that he is crying, too. He rubs at his eyes with his grimy hand.

“And did the truth change anything, human?”

“No. I loved him. I still love him. I would die for him man or dragon both, and nothing could ever change that.”

For the first time, the dragon moves. Its long body twists, flows up like white smoke, curling against the silver sky. Its head turns east, towards the sun. Towards the castle.

“Very soon, now,” the white dragon breathes, the words rumbling through Guen’s breastbone. He cannot feel anymore his own heartbeat, only the throbbing power of the dragon’s voice. “Very soon, now, Hiryuu will die. They thirst for his blood. They have spears; they have dragged him out from the stone house.”

For an instant, everything just stops—the pain in his hands, the light in the sky, the very breath in his body.

“Then save him!” Guen screams. “Save him, why are you lingering here with me? Why aren’t you stopping them?”

“He forbade me from harming any human, even to save his life,” the white dragon replies, and then those immense, lamp-like eyes pierce Guen again, the full weight of the dragon’s will and thought crashing over him like a flood.

“You say you love him as I love him. You say you would die for him as I would kill for him. If I gave to you the power you need to protect him, would you save his life?”
Guen sucks in a deep breath, and then breathes it out again. The air is so cold, his breath has become as white as the dragon's own.

He drops his useless sword and reaches out his hands to the white dragon. He holds them there, small and battered, palms up as if in prayer.

"Only give me the strength I need to save him," Guen says, "And I shall do the rest."