Jayden strolled around, inspecting the people who worshiped him. They painted all sorts of signs on their doors, probably hoping the dragon lord wouldn’t burn their houses. Did they even know what happened to the house he did burn? Its owner got to live forever.
He passed by a tree. Strips of paper were hanging from the branches. He took one down to read it. A girl appeared from the other side of the tree. He hung it back on.
“Hello, Echo,” he said.
“You haven’t been here for a while,” she said. “Have you missed me at all?”
“Of course I have.”
“The people here love you,” Echo continued. “At least, they fear you.”
Echo stood in front of him. “You know how I feel about you.”
He looked into her eyes but didn’t answer.
“I’ve been twisted to come into your world here,” she said. “My whole being is twisted. My existence here is fragile…and you’re so busy.”
“Look.” She pointed at a human girl running towards them. “Humans are better than tree nymphs, right? Aphrodite bless my heart.”
“I never said that.” A faint pre-existing gleam in his eyes dimmed until it turned dull. Lips drawn to a straight line, Jayden seemed even more distant to her.
Echo looked away in melancholy. “No, you never did. You’re too busy looking at yourself to notice me.” With that, she was gone.
Jayden sighed. Echo wasn’t part of this world, that much was true. She belonged elsewhere.
“Sir!” the running girl called. “You can’t touch that tree!”
“Why not?” But that tree was his.
“That’s the dragon’s tree. He will devour our village if his tree gets interfered with.” She looked frantic enough.
“Really?” When a tree nymph occupied it?
She nodded sincerely.
“How do you know?”
“Everyone does! The honorable dragon lord–” She glanced briefly up at the sky. “I think he took Simon away because he didn’t believe in him.”
Again, something Mary had been responsible for was dumped on him.
Another girl came up. “Simon headed towards the Ghost Valley and disappeared. Sir, do you happen to know where he is?”
“Do you want to see him?”
“Yes,” the second girl said. “I’ll eat him whole!”
“Oh, really?” Jayden crossed his arms. “Then come.”