“What about sending Dejon out with Jarod on a job?” I asked.
“Sorry, master, but Dejon doesn’t have the knowledge to be of any real value to Jarod, and Jarod hasn’t been taking any low salary jobs recently. The twins keep him… occupied.” explained Mila.
“Cosette! She said she’s resistant to his ability, and you could monitor things for me.” I suggested.
“I’ll speak with her about it on your behalf, master.” she replied.
“No. I’ll talk with her.” I insisted.
“Sorry, master, but the twins have a more urgent concern for you.” stated Mila as she opened the door and stepped out of the office.
Ai and Mai rushed into the room, crossed their arms, and glared at me.
“I see you’re displeased about something.” I stated.
Mai held out a hand bearing a wedding ring.
“What? Did Ai lose her ring?” I asked. “I’ll gladly ask…”
“Baka-yarō!!!” they exclaimed in unison.
“That isn’t nice.” I stated.
“Where’s Lady Pendreigh’s ring!?” they asked.
“I don’t believe the wedding rings have been made yet.” I explained.
Ai sighed and said, “The engagement ring.”
“We’re already engaged.” I told them.
Mai slapped her forehead with her palm and said, “Yes, but aren’t you going to give her a ring?”
“Your wedding is in one month!” exclaimed Ai.
“Are you certain she wants one?” I asked. “I’m not really familiar with Slayer customs.”
“You’re in the U.S., aren’t you? It’s expected here!” exclaimed Mai.
“The wedding invitations have already been sent out, so everyone knows! People will wonder if she’s caught without a ring now.” insisted Ai.
“She’s British aristocracy, so they might not.” I feebly argued, realizing I made a serious mistake.
“Yes, they will!” they exclaimed. “Do you realize who all has been invited to your wedding!?”
“No, honestly, since I didn’t take part in the guest list.” I replied.
“You’re going to have one of the most high profile weddings of this decade, so get Lady Pendreigh an engagement ring already!” they insisted. Then they turned and stalked out of the room.
“Right.” I muttered to myself. “Mila, will you please scroll through images of engagement ring designs, preferably exotic ones.”
As I perused the designs, I was very grateful that Mila’s systems were as fast as they were. This would take far longer otherwise. As minutes passed, I still didn’t feel any closer to deciding what to get.
“BOO!” exclaimed Aaliyah, jumping up from behind my desk!
“Hello.” I greeted her.
“Aww… you didn’t jump.” she pouted.
“You knew I wouldn’t without you really trying to scare me.” I replied. “Any suggestions on what Alma would like for an engagement ring?”
“Of course, boss-man, sir. I’ve got a model all set to inspire you.” she replied with a grin.
“Oh?” I asked. Suddenly, I found myself standing elsewhere. Looking around, I decided I was far elsewhere. The trees nearby were enormous as were the creatures. A shadow was all the warning I had that something was swooping in toward me from the sky. I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked up and saw a dragon. An enormous, winged dragon with cobalt scales glinting in the sunlight was descending toward me. I could see residual energy pouring off the creature and couldn’t help smiling. Jarod would be so jealous right now.
Wind whipped around me as the dragon caught the air with its massive wings, slowing its descent to land right in front of me with an audible thump. The creature’s huge muzzle was mere feet away as it eyed me.
I felt a pressure that I recognized and allowed to enter my mind.
:Who are you?: asked the creature.
“James Michael Somerset III.” I replied with a small nod. “Who are you?”
:You’re from my world. How did you get here!?: she asked, moving her head to look at me from different directions.
“Oh. Sorry. I thought I was expected. My secretary had said she arranged for a model to inspire me.” I replied, not seeing Aaliyah anywhere.
:A model!? Here? For what purpose?: she inquired. :You seem incredibly calm for someone seeing a dragon. Most would reek of fear:
“Well, I don’t really frighten easily these days. I’m trying to come up with an idea for an engagement ring. Alma and I are already engaged, but she apparently wants a ring…” I explained, hesitating as the dragon drew back. “Is something the matter?”
:Tell me Alma’s full name.: stated the dragon.
“Lady Alma Lucy Pendreigh V.” I replied.
The dragon snarled as it said, :You think yourself worthy of my daughter!?:
“Pardon?” I asked, shocked by the truth in her words. This was Alma’s mother. How!?
:I am Adelina Slayer, and I do not find you worthy.: she declared, opening her maw. :Scared that your little spell didn’t bedazzle me, mortal?:
“Oh. Sorry. I can’t do anything about that enchantment. Please don’t attack. I really don’t want to hurt you.” I told her, frowning as she snarled and lunged at me. I moved, sucking the energy away from her body.
Adelina seemed surprised snapping her head to the side to find me hundreds of feet away.
“Sorry, but I don’t want to be eaten either. Your daughter’s doing well, by the way.” I told her.
She rushed to attack me, but something far faster came down from above, pinning her down with a single claw and casting a spell to redirect the air as it filled the vacuum she left in her wake. I was impressed by the complexity of the spell. Where Adelina was easily fifty feet long, this new dragon was easily two hundred.
:Manners, little one.: stated the larger dragon.
“Adelina!” exclaimed Aaliyah, sliding down from the larger dragon’s back. “I wondered where I misplaced James.”
:Death.: snarled Adelina, wincing as the larger dragon squeezed her.
:My apologies, James. This one is young and impudent. She’ll learn.: stated the dragon. :I am known simply as ‘mother’ for my mate and I were the first of our kind and no other intelligent life dwells here, save for Death.:
“Meeting you is a pleasure.” I told her, feeling awed by her presence.
Her scales were pure white and the largest was easily taller than me, but she also had enormous spines stretching down her back where Adelina did not. There was a distinct difference in the ridges of her face as well.
She smiled as she said, :Meeting you is a pleasure as well. You are known far and wide.:
I saw my shock reflected in Adelina’s expression as well.
“Isn’t he wonderful?” stated Aaliyah as she nodded. “We’ll be back soon to talk, but his day will be busy as ever! We’ve gotta get these rings done before the wedding. Adelina’s daughter will come with us next time, so that’ll be a treat, won’t it?”
:Wedding?: asked the dragon mother. :I look forward to welcoming you to the family, James. Please, enjoy your time here.:
Adelina stared at us for a moment after the dragon mother leaped into the air, but then she followed without a word.
“Rings?” I asked.
Nodding, Aaliyah said, “Yep! Gotta teach you how to make rings, so you and Alpy can make your own wedding rings. We’ll be making your engagement ring too, of course.”
“I see.” I stated, knowing Aaliyah had a plan. “What did the dragon mother mean when she said I am known ‘far and wide’?”
“Pretty self-evident, isn’t it, boss-man, sir? Everyone knows you!” she exclaimed.
I took that to mean I wasn’t getting an answer yet. I followed Aaliyah to a cave in a mountain. The heat coming out of it was immense, and I smirked when I saw lava flowing far beneath us deep inside. Was I to craft the Ring of Power out of Lord of the Rings now? The feeling only grew as she started instructing me on spells I’d need to use. I quickly realized this would certainly be a one-of-a-kind engagement ring.