My brothers made me lay on my stomach, my bare back exposed to their brushes. We are a family of artists; my brothers make a fine design. My father, his fingers stained with ink, watched them work, his face warped in a scowl.

“She may not come.” warned my father. “She is the weakest of her sisters.”

“She is the smallest of giants.” I said, “She will come.” I haven’t had any contact with her for a year, but I believe she will keep her promise. I will not die. She is a warrior, she will come.

“You can still back out.” said my father, sudden concern on his face. “It is your right. You are not yet sealed into a contract.”

“Father.” I said. “I have prepared our hearth. I am in love with her. From the moment we met, my contract to the Gods was already written.”

My father has never liked warriors, and never liked the violence of their binding ritual. I tucked her letters in a pocket underneath my lavish robes.

“What are those?” my brother asks.

“I wrote her letters, every day.”

“You were not allowed to contact her.” he says, thinking he has found a loophole in the ceremony, imagining he can break the ritual before it began.

I shook my head. “They were never sent, they waited for her, like I did.”

My brothers tied me to a pole on top of a giant mound of burning sand. In some places in this dessert, pools of sand turn to glass in the terrible heat.

“These knots could be broken.” whispered my oldest brother. “If you run away, we will find you.” I shake my head. He does not understand.

In the distance I saw the giant lizard pulling at its electric chain. As soon as my brothers board the airship, the chain dissipates. I am not afraid. She is probably hiding. She is an intelligent warrior.

The lizard ran toward me. It was bigger than I thought. My brothers watched from above. I smiled at them. They were worried that even if my lover does come, she will fail. She has not yet made a name for herself in her clan but I know her strength.

The lizard crawled up the mound where I was tied when my lover jumped into my vision. She was caked in mud and she moved like a blur across the sand. I watched her as she shot a golden beam of light from a silver gun in her hand. It strikes the creatures side, a non-lethal blow. The Lizard roared. She drew her sword and it crackled with blue electricity as she leapt towards the monster.

She managed to deal a blow to its leg. It turned swiftly and knocked her to the ground. She lay very still then, and the creature hovered over her, snarling. The creature reared its head and I screamed, my blood burning inside of me.

Her eyes opened, and she moved quickly, slicing at its throat, its orange blood coating her as she rolled out from under its falling body. She dealt the killing blow, her electric sword shaking the giant lizard’s body. She turned and ran towards me. A year has changed her, she has become hardened from her time in space. I weep and she is wiped the blood from her face.

“Embrace me.” I cried. She hesitated.

“I am so dirty.” She said, shame on her face. It was her first words to me in a year.

I slipped out of the lightly tied knots, reaching for her. “Embrace me, and see if I care.”

From the airships above, our families tossed flowers onto the sandy mound, and we were one at last.