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A Tail of Two Dragons

November 19th, 2021

Fairytale by Maya Heins

Artwork by Olivia Shea

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, when magic still reigned the earth, there lived two shape-shifting dragon sisters on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. It was their responsibility to protect the inhabitants of the island from all manner of evil magic. There was the night sister, Selenite, as dark as she was beautiful, who spent the cold, dark, colorless nights patrolling the island with nothing but the stars to keep her company. Her sister, Helia, was as bright and full of color as her sister was dark, and she ruled the island with a fiery passion during the hours when the sun shone high in the cerulean stained sky.  Thanks to all of their hard work, peace and harmony prevailed on the island, and the townsfolk were spared the evils of untimely death, heartbreak and general anarchy that characterized an otherwise chaotic world. 

As payment for protecting the residents from the horrors of the world, the dragon sisters demanded not only the resident’s utter loyalty, but they descended into the town once a year in their human forms to collect a bounty in the form of gold, jewels and magical artifacts- treasures the island residents spent all year amassing so as not to face the wrath of furious dragons denied their due. Over the centuries, the dragon’s wealth accumulated in a massive and heavily guarded lair at the top of a cliff at the face of the open ocean, far away from prying eyes.

 

One late summer day, after a long ouzo fueled lunch, Helia took a little nap during her shift protecting the island. It was on this fateful afternoon that a tall handsome stranger suddenly appeared in town. He came from the sea, shedding his majestic golden tail for long tan brown legs, cunning blue eyes shining like sapphires cut from the ocean itself. His name was Hali and he had come all the way from Atlantis to find Poseidon’s magical Trident, which was fabled far and wide to have ended up in a dragon’s lair on a remote island in the middle of the sea. The sixth of seven sons to the king of Atlantis, Hali was a greedy merman, intent on claiming the throne of Atlantis for himself. He had spent the past ten years searching for all manner of powerful magical objects with which to lay claim to his father’s throne and dispose of his other six brothers. Poseidon’s Trident was the last, and perhaps most powerful weapon that he required to achieve his goals. 

Hali was as cautious as he was clever, he spent his first few days on the island buying the men of the island shot after shot of rakki in the local tavern, Jo’s, and weaseling out tidbits of information about the dragons from them. He charmed and flirted with the women of the village, eventually convincing them to tell him everything they knew about the two sisters who lived in the cave overlooking the bay. Despite their fear of the sisters, the townsfolk were so taken and flattered by Hali’s intoxicating allure and charm, that they told him where the cave could be found and that dragons were always drunk on ouzo. They told him the secret rumors of the raven haired sister’s loneliness and how the copper haired sister was fiercely overprotective of her younger sister. They told him all about the fabled wealth that the dragons had accumulated over the years in their lair and how the sister’s were so powerful they could keep even the nastiest monsters and the greediest evil at bay. The golden haired man listened and smiled and bought them more drinks.

About a week after his arrival, Hali bought a bottle of the finest ouzo money could buy from Jo and followed the local’s directions towards the cave. As he hiked to the end of the beach in the midday summer sun and climbed up the side of the grey volcanic rock mountain, the local shrubbery left angry red scratches on his beautifully muscled calves. Passing herds of goats, he grumbled about women never making anything easy before stumbling out on a ledge in front of a cave entrance sealed with colossal golden doors inlaid with a remarkable mosaic of the sea, made from mother of pearl and thousands of tiny opals, sapphires and lapis lazuli. Seated before a massive stone fire pit, looking at him with menacing midnight-blue eyes was the most beautifully dark woman he had ever seen.

 

Initially shocked to find a diminutive woman in front of what was obviously the dragon’s lair, Hali quickly realized that one of the dragons must be in her human form and turned on all of his charm, prepared to do whatever necessary to get past those immense golden doors. Selenite knew she shouldn’t trust a stranger, and particularly not such a good looking one, but ultimately it was the ouzo he brought as well as the years of loneliness that won out over her better judgement. Plus, she told herself as she invited him to sit next to her at the fire, she had entertained young men before. It was only when one of them had tried to break into their lair several decades ago that her sister had killed him and the villagers fell out of the habit of coming to visit them. As they drank, she found herself laughing more than she had in years, and he smiled in satisfaction as he slowly watched her let her guard drop.

 

They spent several hours exchanging stories over their various misadventures throughout the decades, but as sunset approached, Selenite knew their time was quickly coming to an end. She warned Hali that her sister was fiercely protective of the lair and that she was sure not to be so forgiving for his trespass. Helia had never understood her sister’s loneliness or need for romantic love, seeing it as a weakness in their defences, for she was comfortable in being alone and preferred it that way. After the failed attempt on their lair it seemed she had been correct and Selenite had given up her mortal lovers. But sitting across from the handsome gentleman, she realized just how lonely she had truly been the past years, and so she invited him to come back another time, that they might continue to get to know one another better. 

Hali left that day, but returned the next and for several weeks he would come for a few hours just after lunch, slowly wooing Selenite.  In the late mornings after a quick nap, she would pace anxiously outside the massive golden doors waiting for him to arrive, afraid she had dreamed up the perfect, almost too good to be true, golden haired man. The few hours they shared together after lunch began to consume her with a ferocious intensity, and over time, she threw her caution to the wind and fell deeply and irrevocably in love with him. Finally one day, after they had had a particularly romantic late lunch by the seafront, he asked to see their treasure- just to look!-  that she had so lovely told him about in the suspended moments where secrets and rules didn’t apply. In the end, even though she knew she shouldn’t, she took Hali into the cave.

Perhaps it was fate, or maybe it was just a coincidence, but as they roamed through the vast chambers filled with all the untold wonders of the world, Helia decided to come back a bit early from a boring day of guard duty to surprise her sister with some ouzo. Upon arriving and realizing Selenite was not there, she instantly knew something was up, and rushed through the golden doors that had been left slightly ajar. To her shock and dismay, Helia found her sister hand in hand with a handsome stranger standing in front of their most treasured possession: Poseidon’s Trident.  Helia was instantly consumed not only with a fiery rage at her sister’s betrayal but an intense jealousy that her sister had someone other than her in her life.

As Helia stormed up to the couple, she began violently screaming and shouting at them. She was incensed when her sister claimed to be in love with the interloper. It didn’t take long for the two women to become engrossed in their argument and transform into their dragon selves, one with midnight blue scales so deep they appeared almost black, the other a cherry red so bright it was like looking at the sun the exact moment it dipped behind the sea. Hali forgotten, the sisters took their fight to the skies and as they battled each other with claws and fangs and fire, far above the deep blue ocean, the villagers came out from their houses, terrified to see the protectors of their island at each other’s throats, fighting to the death. 

While the sisters were occupied with each other and the betrayal and rage that they felt at the other for not understanding, Hali seized the trident. Upon seeing her lover with the treasure emerging from their lair, a triumphant look upon his face, an earth-shattering deep despair consumed Selenite, for she realized her mistake in trusting a stranger who seemed too good to be true. It was at this moment that Helia struck a fatal blow to her sister’s flank, ripping open her intestines with her sharp claws. Consumed with regret at her rage, Helia cried out as she flew towards her sister, who was now dropping out of the sky like granite, nothing left to keep her tethered to this life. As the sisters fell out of the sky, their tails intertwined, Hali lifted and pointed the trident at them, turning the massive dragons into stone. They landed facing each other, on either side of the bay, frozen in time.  

 

And so it is that this story ends: Hali would take the trident back to his hometown of Atlantis, where he would become a terrible tyrant who would eventually drive Atlantis to be forever lost to this world. And the sisters? They wait on either side of the bay of Plakias on Crete in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Two massive stone dragons- one dead, the other sleeping, biding her time for the day the trident will return to bring her back to life, so she can take her revenge on mankind for betraying her and her sister.

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Helia patiently waiting for her day of vengeance

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The sisters at sunset