The thin, scraggly-bearded soldier stood on the banks of the rushing Archen River. Spray from the rapidly flowing water splashed up on his armor, darkening the dusty leather, but he did not move away from spray. He spread his arms wide, welcoming the sensation and the cool dampness, relishing the feelings as he closed his eyes. When I have this country, he thought, I shall harness this river and make it my own.

"My lord duke?"

He turned at the sound of his name, an angered flush blossoming on his hollow cheeks. "What is so important that you interrupt my concentration?"

"My sincerest apologies, my lord duke and wise commander!" said the other soldier, prostrating himself on the muddy grass.

He sighed. "Get yourself up. What is it you feel a need to tell me?"

The soldier got to his feet, cringing. "Captain Minodaurus wishes to know when my lord duke desires to cross into Archenland. What do you command me tell him?"

Turning back to the rushing water, Sabsestrin sighed and closed his eyes again, listening to the splash of pebbles and twigs being tossed about in the currents. "Without delay."

"Aye, my lord duke and wise commander."

The soldier left, and Sabsestrin was left to himself again. That little minx will soon learn, he thought, his dark eyes opening a slit. When you pull a dragon's tail, it will inevitably bite off your head.

To Be Continued…

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A/N: The End—at last.. :D Thanks so much for reading, guys—if you want to know the extent of my appreciation, click the link at the top of our profile!

And be keeping an eye out for "Sea Rat"'s sequel: "Taming the Tides"! :D

Edit (02/20/09): "Taming the Tide" is now officially up! Check it out!