The house was beautiful. Maud   led me past room after room of fancy furniture, exquiste paintings and  delicate lamps. She went up a flight of steps, and I followed her. She entered a closed door and I stepped into the grandest bedroom I’d ever seen except for the one where we’d rescued Sam. The entire room was white with gold trim. The bed was white with gold sheets and a white blanket with a gold embroidery. Chairs, dresser and a massive mirror, all white and gold. Through a smaller door in the rear of the room was a smaller room. A room I’d never seen before.

Inside the room was a large tub, I’d seen bathing tubs before, I’d just never seen a room made for just one. I’d also never seen one so larger before. In my house I had shared with Paul, we’d had a bathing tub, but it was only usually pulled out of the kitchen when I needed to bathe once a week. What really surprised me was the bathing tub had a water pump built into it. Maud reached over and turned a valve and suddenly water began to pour into the tub. Steam rolled up from it. She reached into a cabinet and opened a bottle and poured some into the water. A smell of flowers filled the room and bubbled began to appear on the water.

“Here you go,” she said sweetly. She seemed to notice my  wonderment about the bathrub. “Oh sorry, you’ve never been in a bathroom before?” She asked as I finally took my eyes off the bath tub to look at a white chair that didn’t look like any chair I’d ever seen. It looked kinda like a out house seat but was clean. A pull chain hung from a box above it. “You turn these knobs to turn the water off.” She explained. “I’ll leave you to wash, and when you’re done, just put this on.” She indicated what looked like a soft fuzzy dressing gown. “I’ll see if I can get you some clean clothes to wear.” She smiled and closed the door behind her.

I stood there a moment. I sat down on the weird white chair with its hole in the middle of the seat. Almost a birthing chair, but instead of empty space, there was a white basin full of water. I pulled my boots from my feet. Then the coat from my shoulders. I peeled off my breeches and pulled the shirt from my chest. Leaving everything in a pile on the floor I slowly slid one foot into the warm water of the tub and nearly dribbled the rest of my body in it felt so good. I oohed and ahed audibly unintentionally, I hadn’t had a bath feel this good in a long time. I suddenly felt my stress and my worries and knots in my muscles began to loosen and disappear. I sank lower into the water, the bubbles reaching my chin.

Louella,” whispered a voice in my ear, I jumped, I hadn’t heard the whispers in awhile. Water splashed in my surprised. I knew I was just hearing things, but it was still unnerving. I found a cloth and a bar of soap, those I was familiar with and took the time to slowly wash all of me. It felt so good to be clean again.

I finally stood from the bath, and pulled a drying towel from the rack on the wall. The water in the tub had grown lukewarm and nearly felt cold to me.  I dried myself and pulled the fuzzy dressing gown onto my shoulders and tied the belt around my waist. I stepped from the bathroom, carrying my clothes. I was surprised to see Maud standing in the middle of the bedroom with a tray in her hands.

“I’m sorry, I thought you might like some tea,” she stated, always smiling. She placed the tea on a sideboard and poured some from the tiny china pot into a tinier china cup. “Do you like cream or sugar in your tea?”

“Sugar,” I replied. Honestly I hadn’t had tea in a long time. I sat in one of the chairs, feeling almost civilized again as she brough me the cup and a tiny spoon. I stirred and took a sip. The tea was fantastic, the best I’d ever had.

“Here, dear, I’ll get these washed for you,” she said picking up my clothes. I nodded, I was suddenly tired. Perhaps it was the calming hot bath, or maybe it was the excellent tea. I yawned and covered my mouth with my hand.

“Oh I’m sorry,” I said, “I’m just suddenly exhausted.”

“Its alright, dear, if you want to take a nap, I’ll make sure you’re not disturbed,” she said and I realized I was really, really tired. My eyelids were like lead. The room began to grow dim. I was trying to stand, and walking, but I think Maud was leading me to the bed. She drew the covers back and I found myself crawling into the bed. I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow.

Louella! Wake up! You’re in danger!” I was now hearing the whispers in my dreams.

“Come on! Wake up!” I was roughly kicked and scrambled to fight off my attacker, but I was halted by the jarring realization my wirsts were chained together and I was in fact chained to something else. I squinted in the bright daylight. I was chained to a post on a part of the island I hadn’t seen. I could hear the beating of the dragon wings, I was close to then.

“Sorry that about, darlin,” said the same voice that had yelled at me to wake up and probably the owner of the foot that had kicked me. His accent was that of other people I’d heard on Draco Island, broad sounding. I thought back to Sam’s accent, he sounded aristocratic, not broad. I looked over at the speaker of the voice. The man was slender, blonde, atractive and also chained to a post. I looked around us. We were on a large raised dais, I counted about fifty young people, all in their twenties, all blonde and all rather good looking, fit, and all chained to posts. I seemed the oddball. I was back in my pirate garb, all the way down to the boots and overcoat, I was brunette and I was about a decade older than all these people around me. I also noticed that all the women were in various stages of pregnancy. The post I was chained to was only about two feet high and solidly in the ground, the ring I was chained to also seemed solidly in the post. My shackles were solidly around my wrists. “I didn’t want you to miss the big event.”

“What big event?” I asked.

“The culimation of the celebration, of course, what rock have you been under?”

“I’m not from Draco Island,” I replied.

“What is Draco Island?” He asked, then thought a second, “You mean Eryana?”

“What is the culmination?”

“There will be a blessing ceremony and then we’ll be offered to the dragons who protect us,” he explained. I saw Josiah walking up a set of stairs to a podium higher than the dias we were on. All around the dias were a massive crowd of people. We were on the edge of the island. We were near the chains that held the dragons to the island. I could see clouds all around us. I don’t know if Draco Island was still tethered to the surface or not.

“Offered? What do you mean offered?” I asked. I really didn’t want to know that offered meant what I thought offered meant.

“Its an honor to be offered to the dragons,” he said gayly. He was smiling too and that botehred me, everyone was always smiling here, it was getting on my nerves.

“Is this thing on?” I heard Josiah’s voice and the sound of tapping and then a high pitched squeal. I wanted to cover my ears with my hands but the shackles didn’t allow me to do that.

“GREETINGS CITIZENS OF ERYANA!” Josiah’s voice boomed around me so loud I thought for a moment God was talking to me. The throng of people cheered back at him. “TODAY WE GIVE THANKS TO OUR GUARDIANS BY OFFERING THEM THE BEST OF OURSELVES.” The people cheered again, even the ones chained to the dias.

“We’re getting fed tot he dragons, right?” I asked quickly, hoping the blonde guy near me could hear me over the booming magnified voice of Josiah.

“Yes, its an honor!” he shouted back at me.

“If its an honor, why are you chained to a post?” I asked. He looked at  me a moment as if thinking and looked at the shackles on his wrist.

“Some forget that its an honor!” He shouted back. Josiah was still speaking and I’d stopped listening to him. He was waving his hands.

“MAY THE GREAT ONE BE WITH OUR OFFERING!” I heard and the crowd cheered again.

“HEY! GO FUCK YOURSELF!” I shouted at Josiah who stumbled over his next words at my outburst. There was a collective gasp around me. I jerked on my shackles, putting my foot on the post, trying to pull the pin out.

Suddenly the flapping got louder, and I redoubled my efforts as I noticed the dragons had suddenly changed their course and were flying towards the big dias. Well the three smaller ones were, the big dragon seemed to be flying lower, to somplace under the dias. In a whoosh the three dragons landed on the dias, with massive beaked jaws they snatched and tore at the chained people. I realized I wasn’t screaming, but those around me were. The hands of the dragons grasped at people, their mouths chomped them in half. Arms were ripped from shoulders as the flesh was weaker than the chains, the dias began to become red with blood. Organs plopped down around me as they fell from the gulping jaws of the dragons. One of them tried to snatch at me, I tried to dodge as best I could, pulling against the chains. Suddenly a whistle cut throgh the air, and the dragon’s head was knocked aside, black blood dribbled on top of me.

BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM! I knew that sound, I had felt it blast through me.

“The Deceit,” I whispered. I’d never been so happy to hear her cannons before. The dragon that had tried to eat me shook its head, scratched at the side of it and the cannonball dropped heavily to the ground, almost landing on me. It was still smouldering, I tried to kick it away, it was about to explode.

BOOM! I was knockd aside, the post I was chained to splintered. I heard screaming, and the roar of dragons as they turned from their meal of athletic young males and pregnant females. I could see the Deceit riding the clouds, bobbing up and down, the cannons being reloaded most likely. The dragons flew to the ends of their chains, pulling the island towards the Deceit in their rage to attack what had so brazenly attacked them.

BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM The cannons raged again. I realized that I was freed of the posts and one wrist was broken. I ran from the dias, right towards the stairs where Josiah was still flabbergasted on the podium. I had every intention of strangling him  with the length of chain that hung from my wrists. Suddenly there was a collective gasp and I turned to see one of the dragons curl up and fall from the sky, it disappeared down into the clouds, holes in its wings, its head only attached to its neck by what looked like a practically severed spine. The island lurched slightly from the weight of the dragon. I jogged up the stairs two at a time. Murder on my mind, I needed to wrap my chain around Josiah’s throat.

“Honesty!” Josiah said, surprised to me.

“What kind of society is this? You feed your pregnant to draogs?” I asked.

“Its how we control the population!” He shouted back. I punched him, and winced remembering my wrist was broken. He held his nose as blood gushed from it. It stained the white gloves on his hands. I flung the chain around his throat, grabbing it with my hands. We tumbled down, pushing the podium its stand. I put my knee into his hand, and pulled with all my might on the chain. I was either going to strangle him to death or break his neck, I didn’t care which as long as he died.