Prologue The shiny black egg rolls down the hill, crackling over freshly fallen Autumn leaves that are golden in the dwindling sunlight, jumping over roots erupting from the brown soil, three men in a hot pursuit. It bursts through a pile of leaves, momentarily slowing the men as they spit them from their mouths and bat them from their face. The egg rolls into a hollow tree trunk, making an echoing thudding sound. It bursts from the log and continues down the hill. But the men stop. The egg is nearing a cliff. One man dives to catch it before it falls, but the egg rolls over his arms. The other strikes the dirt in front of it with an axe, but the egg easily swerves, and falls from the cliff. Time seems to slow down as it falls, everything turning a paperey yellow, dirt floating in the air as the men skid in slow motion. The egg lands softly on the ground, barely making a dent in the dirt, but stirring the creature within. It rolls into a cave and fits into a small hole, and when the men get down to search the cave, they cannot find it.
The egg cracks, and I enter the world for the very first time.
--< 14 Years Later >--
Chapter 1 I pull my hood lower over my face as I walk through the crowded marketplace, pushing through large groups of travelers and traders emphasizing how wondrous (and cheap) their rare items are. I walk over to the fish stall, pouring a sack of money into the merchant’s hands as he pushes a leather bag of fish towards me. I hear a shout and look up. “Taxes, pay yer taxes!” What those Hunters really mean is “Give us most of your money or die!” The only reason they can do this is because they invaded this market long before I was born, and have owned it for decades. I pull my hood down and walk in the opposite direction. I stop at the wall with wanted posters and stare at one. My oddly red eyes stare back at me, straight black hair pouring down my shoulders, and my name. I sigh and walk away.
I am nearing the edge of the market when I feel a yank on my hood. “And where do you think yer going, missy?” He turns me around and sees my face, smiling. “We’ve been looking fer you.” He grabs my arm and pulls me along behind him. I twist my arm and he yelps, then growls. I start running, and he chases after me. I round a corner, and then everything turns papery yellow as I run normally and everyone else slows down, the dirt I kick up floating longer than it should. I need to get off the island. I speed along the trail to a cliff and stop, the world turning normal. I lay there panting, and as soon as I catch my breath, I jump.
I imagine long limbs protruding from my shoulder blades and close my eyes to protect them from the wind. Mist forms on my back and my fingers elongate. I flap my wings and open my eyes again and snort smoke from my nose. I look down at my claws and smile, stretching my scaly tail. I am a dragon.
I dodge a net and look around. A Dragon Hunter boat shoots another round of nets and arrows as I open my mouth to fire. The net flies at me and surrounds my muzzle, snapping it shut. I turn and struggle to fly away. I feel netting encase my wings and I plummet. I panic as I fall into the water, white foam covering my vision.
This piece I am working on is with Johanna and rosemarywisdom