Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Knights.

Spoilers: The first 2 paragraphs hint to the end of volume 26.

A/N: This fic was written as a prequel to the manga, starting with pretty much the beginning of the world to Lord Lykouleon assuming the throne. There will be some spoilers (specifically volumes 24 and 26), but I will try to warn you of them before hand. Also, I've been using the Japanese names for the Dragons rather than the Tokyopop names, so to clear up any confusion: Honoo is Fire, Kahaku is Water, Riku is Earth, Hayate is Wind and Shin is Light/Little Deus. Also, any guesses as to why it's Ryuce and Ryula? And yes, the story is not very detailed at the beginning, but there's a reason for that.

"Each story has one thousand stories behind it, and one thousand more behind them."
-Agatha the Story Teller

The party was over, The Dragon Queen was out of sight, the guests were quiet and the former Dragon Knights should have been sleeping soundly for the first time in a long time. After all, they had won. The world was a good place again. Nadil was gone, and this time it was forever.

But there was more. There was still something missing, and it wasn't just Lord Lykouleon and Lady Raseleane, or all the lives that had been lost in the struggle.

The Dragon Kingdom was healing, though it would most likely never return to the golden age that it once had celebrated. Rath, Thatz and Rune had all entered at a strange place in history, in between two conflicts of grand proportion.

Something was restless in all of them that night. There was a time before Nadil, there was a time before Lord Lykouleon. It was strange to think about, but entirely true. Worse than that, no one remembered the Golden Age of Draqueen anymore, or the brave men and women who made the way for it.

Tonight, the old Knights came to me and asked me what I knew. There were no secrets between the three of them now, but the past before them lay in a dusky corner, forgotten and covered with spider's webs.

I have waited for them to ask me, because these are stories that must be handed down. If the Ancient Kingdom is forgotten, who then will remember Lord Lykouleon or Lord Rath Illusor, given enough time?

Come with me, new Lord and Officers. I have another story for you to learn.

Where to begin? Yes, let's start with Lord Ryuce and Lady Ryula, who were to become Lord Lykouleon's parents.

Or maybe we should start with the Dragons, who came before both Kingdom and Lord and Lady.

When the world was still wild—untamed by humans, unprotected by faeries, undefiled by demons, there were the five elements: Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Light. These forms manifested themselves into the five Duel Dragons. As the land began to give rise to the other races, the Dragons needed their Knights. Together they would serve as righteous guardians of this new world. Until the day came that their true Knights would be found, the Dragons sealed themselves away.

Lord Ryuce was, if one wanted to be specific, was the first of the Dragon Clan. It may come to a surprise to you to learn that he was not a Knight at all, but simply a man given a task: To find the Knights, to wake the sleeping Dragons, and find something called simply "Dragon Eyes". Ryuce was called upon as a young man to take up this quest. His journey would be long and difficult, and his friends thought that he was crazy when he left home. But he was not; he was following his destiny.

He traveled for a long time without truly knowing what he was looking for, just flickering visions floating through his head. He tried to use them, but found only dead ends. He was in a coastal village when he first saw her: a lovely young woman with golden hair and shining blue eyes. His quest might have stopped then and there, for he had fallen in love with her just as he had seen her. He spent days with her, every spare second he could without ever mentioning his duty. He did not want a near impossible quest to take him away from her. When he finally revealed his reason for being there, she said that she had something to show him. He followed her to a secluded grove where she showed him Kahaku, the sleeping Water Dragon. "He won't wake up, not for anyone," she told him sadly. "I want to see a Dragon, living and thriving in Dusis." She kissed him. "Please, Ryuce, complete your quest. And when you do, my heart will still be here, waiting for you."

Ryuce hated to leave her, but her promise to wait for him drove him onward. The sooner he could find the five Dragons and their Knights, the sooner he could go back to her. He didn't realize it then, but he had just fallen in love with Ryula, the first bearer of Dragon Eyes, the first Dragon Empress, and Lord Lykouleon's mother.

Ryuce's quest had now given him new purpose, and he spent every second searching. If Kahaku, the Water Dragon, was found by a river, it was likely that Honoo, the Fire Dragon would be found near a boiling volcano. As he traversed up dangerous mountains, he was surprised to find, not Honoo, but Riku, the Earth Dragon, as close to the bowels of the world as any creature could stand to be.

Ryuce didn't know how to awaken Riku. He waited by the frozen beast for possibly weeks, trusting that someone would eventually find them both. Although it took some time, Ryuce found that it was worth the wait.

Kene was a skinny traveler with not much more than the shirt on his back and worn shoes on his feet. He told Ryuce very little of himself, except that he had come from far away. He had felt the compulsion to leave the ruins of his old life behind. Wherever he was from, there was no reason for him to stay. He had wandered from place to place without any aim or purpose for the longest time, but now knew that he was meant to find himself here.

Allow me to distract us for a moment, for few images of the first of the Dragon Tribe remain. Kene was short, a fact that he eventually took pride in. He kept his chestnut hair long until perhaps their first meeting with Iden. When he and Lord Ryuce first met, he was little more than skin and bones and almost to the point of walking himself to death. Had life been kinder to Kene prior to this moment, he might have grown old and fat and happy. Currently he was none of those things.

Ryuce approached him first. It was unusual to see anyone come so far out into such a bleak environment, or climb a mountain without a good reason to. He introduced himself as a simple wanderer, though Kene, uncommonly stubborn at the time, offered little in replay than a grunt and a nod.

"I have something to ask you," Ryuce called out to him, but the young man kept walking. "I have seen very few people here." Ryuce trotted downhill until he was walking side-by-side with this stranger and there was no way he could be ignored. "You look as though you haven't paused in some time."

Kene stopped and brushed some of his long hair away from his face. "Because I have not."

"I have been living here, if you would like a place to stay or maybe a bite to eat. At the very least, some company other than yourself."

Kene was going to refuse, because that was simply who he was at the time, but for some reason that he was not aware of, he could not. "Very well," he agreed, trying to sound reluctant rather than eager to follow this strange man.

Ryuce took him up to the camp that he had made, right next to the Earth Dragon, so he could always be near it, just in case. He expected Kene to seat himself, but instead ignored Ryuce all together and took slow steps towards the Dragon, his right arm outstretched before him. He didn't even stop to ask Ryuce what this was; he simply understood that it needed him, and within seconds he would be touching his destiny for the first time.

"Riku," he whispered. It was a name that he had never heard before, but it felt familiar on his lips.

He touched the Dragon. Ryuce watched carefully, not knowing what to expect.

The rock hardness of the sleeping Dragon appeared to ripple with light and Riku, motionless for so long, raised its head, opened its maw and roared, one that shook the ground and made birds flee from their nests in trees for miles. Kene appeared perfectly placid, while even Ryuce would admit to fear in that moment.

Kene watched the Dragon rise, expand its wings and pull itself to its terrifying full height. It settled itself. Kene touched its head, feeling this new power, this new life all opening up to him.

That was the first Dragon Knight.

Kene had accepted the fact that there were things in this world beyond what he could see. He had accepted it the moment he first encountered Ryuce and listened to his explanation with an open heart. "I have spent so many years lost and wandering," he told Ryuce, "I have finally found the place that I needed to be. I will be honored to be the first Dragon Knight."

Kene also agreed to continue traveling with Lord Ryuce—in fact, he was the first one to give him that title. After all, Kene and Riku were now serving under him: why shouldn't he be their lord? Kene and Ryuce became great friends as time and the journey wore on. Of course, there were dangers, both in traveling and on the battlefield. Rogue demons had by this point emerged, not nearly as intelligent as they are today, but troublesome at best and deadly at worst. After one particularly brutal battle, the men stopped in a village to heal their wounds, which not serious, but enough to delay them. Kene refused to go on without a sword. They both made inquiries, which lead to a smith shop of unusual nature.

Iden was a sword smith whose blades were said to possess unique and strange qualities. They were alarmed to see him at first: he was blind. How could he make swords safely without his vision?

"I see things beyond the fires of my forge," he told Kene and Ryuce. "Like your magnificent Earth Dragon, sir."

Kene started. He hadn't said a word about Riku since entering. "How did you know?" He asked.

"I could feel his presence when you first stepped into this town. He is an obstinate soul, and you are rather flinty yourself." He smiled. "I could forge you a sword that matches him."

"How do you mean?" Kene asked.

"He will…let us say, pass through the blade, so he will always be with you, whenever you need to summon him."

Kene lightly touched the small-sized Earth Dragon. "I won't need to summon him if he's right here with me." The idea of having Riku away from him, in a sword, was clearly not one that he was comfortable with.

Ryuce, however, was intrigued by this. "Kene, it is an interesting concept, and it could prove to be useful. And you demanded a sword. Why not try it? If you do not like it, then it can easily be discarded." Ryuce was fairly well at tempering others, a trait which would come naturally to his son.

"What do you think, Riku?" Kene asked the Dragon sitting on his shoulder. After a moment he agreed. "Yes. We'll try it."

Keeping Dragons in swords, which you three are familiar with, proved to be a mixed blessing. Though it was highly effective and the blade protected both the Dragon and Knight, it took a slower time for them to deepen their bonds, though they were strong to begin with. Keeping a Dragon out of a sword was a common practice for a very long time, so both Dragon and Knight could be together, and one was not master of the other. But I digress. We can contemplate this all we want later. Right now we must continue with this history before we can debate its merits.

The next Dragon to be found was Honoo, Fire, tucked away in between mountains. For many weeks Ryuce and Kene waited for a Knight, but to no avail. They were going to have to take a more active approach to finding Knights; after all, Ryuce had just gotten lucky the first time.

Ryuce and Kene agreed to split up and search for Honoo's Knight. They thought carefully of how they could find him or her, and even tried to design tests to see if anyone had the potential to awaken Honoo. Of course, knowing very little about awakening sleeping Dragons themselves, their attempts failed. They were going to search, far and wide, and hope for the best. They made the plan to split up for one year, and when they reunited they would have the best candidates for Fire Knight with them.

They both searched for a year and met back at the appointed day, both ecstatic to see each other again, and both with a possible candidate. There were some criteria that they had decided upon, and the two candidates met these at least well enough. First: affinity to flame, and second: at least a hint of magic in their blood, and openness to the world, brought from forces unknown. Kene wasn't sure if the latter was truly necessary, as he had been closed to much of the world before he became a Knight.

Lord Ryuce had found Sonas, a man with black and a pointed face, nice enough, if a little shy, someone who preferred asking questions to answering them. He came from the South, unsure of where his life was really heading. He had always known that he had wanted more than the provincial life he had been assigned to, and if Dragon Knight was to be his calling, so be it. It was something new at the very least, and something much more if Ryuce's hunch about this young man turned out to be correct, which it often was.

Kene had brought a young girl with wide eyes and cherry red hair, no more than twelve years old. She was an orphan with a spark of magic that the Earth Knight could detect. True, it was not quite fire magic, but it was something, and Kene was not going to give up anything that could potentially help them on their way. "I believe that she could be a Knight of some kind or other, if not Fire."

"Kene, she is very young," Ryuce replied, "and this is a harsh journey that we've been on. Do you really think that she should come along with us?"

Kene nodded. "She'll grow, Lord Ryuce. And I have faith that she will be useful to our cause."

"Grow?" Ryuce repeated thoughtfully. "Have you not noticed, my friend, that we have become ageless?"

Kene stiffened. Certainly he knew, but he was never comfortable with the idea of immortality. Death, the one guarantee in life, was suddenly gone as soon as he had become a Dragon Knight. "I think it will be different for a child, my lord, and I must ask you not to send her away. Like me, she has no family."

Ryuce must have understood how his Knight sympathized with her, and although he was skeptical about bringing a child along with them, he allowed it. Later Ryuce would be grateful for this, as Lera would become a delight during their travels.

Sonas did prove to be the first Fire Dragon Knight, much to the relief of Lord Ryuce and Kene, saving them long days or even years of searching. Sonas did not seem overly pleased by Honoo's decision, but he accepted it anyway.

I would like to present you with a short scene. It seems that these factual histories leave no room for details or emotions, but how can you fully understand any history without them?

It was a cool night after weeks of searching with no fruition. Sonas had started a fire to cook. Now, Lord Ryuce and Kene were talented in many ways, but cooking was not one of them. Sonas hummed as he prepared the meat. "It has been a long while since I was able to serve so many friends a meal," he spoke. Sonas had been rather hard to the others since becoming a Knight, and he was finally beginning to open up to them.

"You like to cook, Sonas?" Kene asked.

"Ever since I was young." He let out a small chuckle. "My dream was always to be a banquet chef in a noble's house." He snapped a twig and tossed it into the fire. "Of course," he continued, his voice taking on distinctly less cheer, "time changes all your plans."

Kene leaned back against a tree. "A rule I know all too well." He closed his eyes. He wasn't always up for conversation, but tonight, something had clicked in him. The atmosphere was right, and he wanted to open himself up to the others. "I had a girl once. She was…going to be my bride. But she got sick…" He let his voice drift off into the darkness. Lera, who had adopted the Knight as an older brother, scooted herself closer to him. "I lost her. I couldn't stay where I was. I had to get out, move on. And then I met Lord Ryuce, and Riku." He placed a hand on the small-sized Earth Dragon, resting on his lap. "It's not the life that I had expected for myself, or even wanted."

Sonas nodded. "I was actually training to become a chef when my home was attacked. I've never been a very good fighter, they sent me away to find help. It was the best thing I could do for our town. I did, and when I encountered Lord Ryuce—" Like Kene, or perhaps following his example, the Fire Knight had taken on a more formal tone when speaking Ryuce's name, "Together, we helped to save my home. It was a difficult decision to make when he asked me to come with him, but I felt indebted to him for saving us. I thought I would be gone for only a few days and return to the life I had known."

"Aye," Ryuce remembered with a nod. "You had much to lose, and much to risk by choosing to follow me." He took a deep breath, looking across the camp fire to see the choices his companions had to make to follow him, and the sacrifices that their loyalty entailed. They way that they spoke, he almost wished they had not. "There is someone I love, too, who could not come with me," he told them. "And I very well may not see her again. But she is also the reason why I keep going, so that every step I take is a step closer to her."

A moment of silence passed between them.

Finally, Lera spoke. Her question was simple, but it would tell volumes of the men: "Was it worth it?"

And in his own way, the Lord and his Knights all said yes.

Now that Ryuce had been reminded of Ryula, thoughts of her almost never left his mind. More than anything he wanted to go back to her, see her smile, hear her voice, feel her warm in his arms again. He refused to let himself go. Kahaku would be last, and Ryula would be there, waiting for him. Right now, she was his true motivation. Everything he did now was not for honor or even destiny; it was for her. He had never been so tempted in his life to give up everything and find her again. But he could not. Fighting this temptation, the way he burned for her, would only make him move faster to find the remaining Dragons and the Knights that would free them.

Many more weeks and possibly months of fruitless searching passed. Time did not much matter to the men, though Lera still grew. More than that, she was growing impatient with the quest, tired of never staying in one place for a more than a few days, tired of packing up as soon as she got comfortable in any one spot. There are two things you should know about Lera at this point: she knew that this journey was of extreme importance, and that she was still a child. She possessed a wide-open mind that could find its ways around corners that the Lord's and Knights' could not. I always liked Lera, even after she grew up. She never lost that practical part of herself, or capacity to find a different way around obstacles when others were caught on them. And when she said she was tired of moving around, she meant it.

Grumpy as she was so often now, she asked Kene, "Why don't we just have someone else find them for us?"

Kene always listened to what Lera had to say because he wanted to encourage her to express her ideas. At first he continued the conversation for her amusement, rather than any advice he thought she would be able to give. "And who do you think could find them for us?"

Of course, just because she had a practical mind did not mean that Lera had no imagination, and leaped at the chance to share it. "A…A magical person. Not like your magic or Sonas's. More like Lord Ryuce's."

Kene smiled. "Lord Ryuce doesn't know where the Dragons are either, remember?"

"Of course I remember." She rolled her eyes. "But no one told him he had to go out and find the Dragons. He just knew. Someone like that, that's what we need."

"Someone else like Lord Ryuce…" Kene thought out loud. "A psychic, perhaps?" He looked down to Lera. "You have a great idea, Lera. I only hope that it will work."

This was how Sarazar found her way into the Dragon Kingdom.

Some time after this conversation, they saw her for the first time. She was walking down the path, opposite direction from them. A woman with short black hair and an unusual mark of a cross on her forehead, wearing loose and flowing clothes. She stopped suddenly as she and Ryuce passed one another. "You are as I am," he heard her whisper, bringing him to a halt. "Time shall not slay you."

"What do you know of us?" Ryuce asked.

She put her hand on his shoulder and closed her eyes. The cross on her forehead glowed with yellow light. It stopped, and she met his eyes. "That the mission you are on right now will shape the course of the world."

Now they all stopped. Sonas expressed some distrust. After all sheared hair on a woman at this time was common as a mark of shame. She understood this, and told them something different: in her homeland, women cut their hair as a sign of mourning. "It as grief for everyone around me that I express. As I have said, age will not take me. Death is not near for me, but for everyone close to me."

It would be difficult to deny the question, even the struggle with immortality was constantly on your mind. They were human men once. The thought that death was no longer a promise was both greatly relieving and unsettling. Yes, there is a reason that those marked as undying cling together. It is to avoid as much loss as possible. Still, it would happen, no matter what measures were taken to prevent it.

"Do you know what we are looking for?" Kene asked, daring to hope that Lera's idea had proved to be worthwhile.

"The Wind Dragon is waiting for you in the North," she told him.

Everyone was startled, except for Lera. She just grinned, more than a little smug. "I told you so."

"You know where it is?" Sonas asked, eagerness replacing suspicion. "How do we awaken it?"

Sarazar gave them a thin smile. "The Dragon Knight, of course." None of you knew her in person, but Sarazar enjoyed being quite sly when she was still alive. "I would teach you more, but the knowledge I can provide is conditional."

Lord Lykouleon would come to possess much of his father's diplomatic spirit. "And what is this condition, friend?" Ryuce asked, preparing to think carefully about what was being offered and what was being asked.

"Take me with you. That is all."

There was a brief discussion and quick vote, and soon Sarazar was traveling with them as well. After introductions, there was no stopping questions for her. Everyone wanted to know what the next step would be and where this would take them. Sarazar almost never gave straight answers when she was alive, preferring to let others work out the hints that she gave them. In this case, all she cared to tell them was to go North.

So they went North. It was a long journey, often hard and troublesome, and the first time any of them had seen snow. Bitter cold and delightfully fun, and not too much of a problem until the sun disappeared at night.

Sarazar could not pinpoint the Dragon's location, or at least would not for Ryuce and his Knights. As soon as they first came into the mountains, feet crunching over snow, the fortune teller simply looked at Lera and told her, "You lead."

Not even Kene was comfortable with having a child guide them, but upon Sarazar's insistence and Lera's enthusiasm for the job, it was hard to deny her, and reluctantly agreed that she should be followed. The others kept a close eye on Lera as she led them wherever her feet wanted to take her, but otherwise did not interfere. Many times she would get distracted at stop to examine something that caught her eye or playfully throw a snowball (which would melt as soon as it touched Sonas or Honoo), but always walked with purpose. In truth, I think Lera knew exactly what she was doing and where she was going. She was just taking her own good time getting to it.

Who knew how long Lera could have kept them, possibly until spring, if not for a blizzard. Sweeping in ice and snow, howling wind that bent tree trunks. They took shelter under the Fire Dragon's wide wings from the cold. Lera pointed up through the white haze that was blinding them. Through chattering teeth, she shouted, "Up there!"

The wind screeched around them, and everyone stood perfectly still. Were they still to follow Lera, even in a situation like this?

"Sonas, take us up there!" Ryuce called out after a moment's hesistation.

"We can't see a hand in front of our faces—" Kene started to protest.

"But Honoo can." Sonas was constantly full of doubts, but the one thing that he always had complete faith in was his Dragon: Honoo's strength and loyalty that would never let him down. The Knight touched the Dragon's skin, wet from the melting sleet and snow. "Honoo, can you fly in this?" A pause. "I understand." He turned back to the others who were shivering and waiting for him. "This storm is dangerous even for Honoo," he told them. "It will not be easy, but we have no choice." He helped the rest of them climb on to Honoo's back. Lera sat behind Sonas, shouting directions in his ear. She was trying to help him find the best place to land.

Despite being able to see almost nothing through the storm, Lera successfully navigated them to a mountaintop. She was the first to jump off as soon as Honoo touched the ground. She scrapped her hands on the ice when she fell, but ignored the small injuries and ran into a cave. There was no doubt now: this was the place that Lera had been leading them.

"Lera, wait for us!" Kene called after her, though she didn't seem to hear. She just kept going.

Sonas patted Honoo. "You did good. Thank you." After Ryuce and Sarazar had dismounted, the Dragon shrank to a size small enough to keep its Knight's shoulder warm. Though Sonas was in possession of a Fire sword, made for him by Iden, it was rarely put to use. In fact, this was one of the few times that Kene had used the Earth sword to hold Riku, and that was only because he was afraid that the storm would injure him somehow.

They dashed into the cave that Lera had lead them to, marvelously deep and enchanting. There must have been a thousand chambers for a child to get lost in, and Lera was nowhere in sight. How could they ever find her?

"Lera was eager to get here when we got so close," Ryuce spoke. "This may have been the place that she was leading us to all this time."

"She was very impatient when she was giving me directions," Sonas noted.

"Could she be—" Ryuce thought aloud for a second. The others were still, wondering if they had all just reached the same conclusion.

Kene nodded. "I knew that there was some kind of magic in her."

"There was no magic in your or Lord Ryuce," Sonas pointed out. He was not trying to dash hopes, but be a realist. What were the chances so there actually being a Dragon in this cave, and of Lera being its Knight?

They were waiting for someone else to speak now. Sarazar felt all of their eyes on her. She tossed her hair back, water from melted snowflakes flying off of it. "May I suggest that you stop waiting for me to tell you everything?" She then directed her speech to Ryuce. "My lord, you feel it as well, do you not?"

He nodded. "Yes. But how will Lera be able to awaken the Wind Dragon if she is not—"

He was interrupted by a high-pitched scream. The cave was so full of echoes it was difficult to tell which direction it was coming from, but this time Sarazar was finally willing to help. It took them minutes to find her. Kene clapped a hand over his mouth, shocked and revolted. Sonas stumbled back a few feet. Even Ryuce's breath caught.

A huge stalactite had fallen and hit Lera as she ran through the cave and pierced through her body. Blood dripped from her mouth as she sucked for air. Ryuce looked around at his companion's faces. No one knew what to do.

Finally, Kene. He got to his knees and held her hand. He sang something to her in a low voice. She was still. Kene gave her hand one last squeeze, and she was gone.

The others bowed their heads, marveling at the injustice in the world. She was a child; what had she done that deserved this? More than that, this could have happened to any one of them. Why her? If everything happened for a reason, why Lera, and why right now?

There was a rumbling from deeper within the chamber, slow. It shook the cave, like each thud was a small earthquake. Then, it stopped.

The Wind Dragon was massive, white and beautiful. It bent its long neck, touched its nose to Lera's forehead and breathed on her. The stalactite rose from her broken body, lingered in the air, then disintegrated into dust.

Lera's body hovered in air, her wound healing, her eyes opening. The Wind Dragon then let her feet touch the ground so she was standing upright. Lera, breathing and miraculously alive again, didn't take more than one second to know what had saved her. She hugged the Wind Dragon's head, her arms just able to fit around it. "Thank you, Hayate."

Seeing Lera curled up and asleep with the Wind Dragon and a fire crackling, pushing back the chill from the outside, the friends sitting together made the dismal cave almost feel like home.

Surprisingly, it was Ryuce that was the first to express doubts about Hayate's choice, once he made sure that both were sound asleep. "Sarazar," he asked over crackling flames, "do you think that Wind made the right choice?"

"She is still a child," Kene put in. "I don't want her to be a part of something that is too big for her."

"But if the Dragon chooses her, we don't have a right to say that she cannot be its Knight," Sonas added. "Just as I was never given a choice, and never regretted it."

"Lord Ryuce." Sarazar had always directed her fortune telling to him. "Lera is not the Wind Dragon's true Knight. She is, instead, highly suitable candidate for its Knight. However, should Hayate's true Knight come to find it—I do not even wish to think of the consequences; they are obscene. Pray that he never does find this Dragon. Hayate chose to save Lera, and they will be a good match for each other." She closed her eyes. "Do not break this bond, Lord Ryuce. It would be wrong, and it is not yours to break."

Four pairs of eyes looked over at the sleeping girl and Dragon. At least Lera was safe, and as long as the Wind Dragon was at her side, she would continue to be so.

The next day dawned, clear and cold, and Sarazar gently woke Ryuce. She wanted to talk to him alone. Shivering in her thin clothes, she asked, "My lord, where do you plan to take us next?"

"To find the Light Dragon," he said, as though she should have known.

"I see." The psychic bowed her head. "This is what I need to tell you, Lord Ryuce. Even if you were to search for one hundred thousand years, you would not find Light."

He stared at her. No, that was impossible! After all the struggles, after the long journeys which they were at last just two steps to completing—the Light Dragon would not be found?! "This cannot be," he whispered.

She nodded. "I am afraid so, my lord. It is because you are not the Dragon Emperor." He must have looked startled, because she went on to say, "You are a leader, and a messenger, it is true. You will establish the Kingdom. But Light will only appear for the true Dragon Emperor, and you will have to wait for him. Until then, the task will fall on you."

Ryuce was stunned. After so much work, he was only going to be pushed aside and forgotten as soon as this 'Emperor' emerged? He was furious. What he had supposed was his destiny to find the Dragons, to change the world was really to lead to nothing?! He was shaking, trying to contain this new spark of rage.

"Lord Ryuce, please," Sarazar said quickly. "Understand me. You will be rewarded for your efforts, and you will be very pleased when the Dragon Emperor is found. Until then, you shall rule in his stead."

"Sarazar," Ryuce spoke, making an effort to calm himself, "You have not lead me wrong yet. I must trust you here as well."

The fortuneteller smiled. "Thank you, my lord." She waited. "Lord Ryuce, you don't need me to tell you where you must go next. You already know."

Anger now passed, at a new realization, Ryuce smiled too. "Kahaku."