Daria Swiftblade stood near the ruin of the former Marketplace with her friend, Agrela the Timid. It had been leveled by a horde of monsters, angry over the Human intrusion on their lands. The Paladin was youthful still, about 25 in normal time (as it was, age was irrelevant in the land of Ardania, so Daria was simply classified as "young"), and her friend, a first-rate Healer, even younger, but both knew enough to recognize the signs of a Minotaur raiding party, descending upon the doomed Marketplace like a tornado. Daria grumbled over the fact that she had been summoned to her home, the local Warrior's Guild, when the Marketplace had not a hope of salvage.

Daria and her friend were Ardanians; that is, citizens of one of the many kingdoms of the magical land of Ardania. Daria had been reared by the Monks in the kingdom's only Temple to Dauros, the god of law, and completed her training to be a Paladin warrior there, but had then been compelled to make her home in the Warrior's Guild. From the moment she was old enough to begin her studies, she'd been taught allegiance to Dauros and to the Sovereign. The Sovereign was a mysterious figure, who few had ever seen in public, yet he was ruler of his own small Ardanian kingdom.

Agrela had also received training from a very early age, but hers had been at the kingdom's Temple to Agrela, the goddess of Life whom the Healer had been named after. She had been trained by other Healers, who had firsthand knowledge of the spells used in the healing of friendly Heroes. She was, therefore, a pacifist like every other Healer, which is why her choice of a friend in Daria was unusual- Paladins were known throughout Ardania for their fighting skills and incredible bravery.

Daria turned away from the wretched debris, disgust and exhaustion written upon her exquisite face. It was time, she thought wearily, for a break from hunting monsters; though it was one of her favorite activities. Perhaps she would travel to the Fairgrounds to participate in a Tournament, or maybe to the Blacksmith's shop to gaze wistfully at the set of plate mail she had been eyeing, and dream of the day when she had enough gold to purchase it. She would need it if the Minotaur raid was followed up by another attack-such things seemed to come in quantities of at least two. Hopefully, it would not be by Dragons, Rock Golems, or Trolls- Daria had a deathly fear of all three monster types.

Just then, Tor Silentfoot interrupted Daria's thoughts. Tor was a Rogue from the insidious Rogue's Guild, but he was also Daria's personal spy. After the two had talked, Daria dismissed him, and discussed the information he'd brought with Agrela. Tor had said that there was a dragon loose in the Kingdom, Daria's own worst fear come back to haunt her. It was ransacking the Palace, which in itself demanded instant action. With a heavy sigh, Daria stepped back. Then she closed her eyes. "Agrela, you know what I am going to ask you to do. Are you up to it?" Daria asked. Silently, Agrela nodded.

"Yes," she whispered

"Then come now. We leave. right away."

Daria, her eyes still closed, drew her massive, two-handed sword. "Now, Agrela," she said calmly.

Agrela took Daria's hand in her own. She closed her eyes, as well. "Teleport," she said, still whispering. The two friends disappeared from view, and reappeared right next to the Palace. There was indeed a dragon. heading straight for them! A second before collision. The two disappeared, and reappeared a few feet away. "Thanks," said Daria.

"No problem," replied Agrela.

At that moment. CRASH! A lightning storm was cast upon the dragon. Screaming in agony, it spontaneously combusted. "Well, our job is done. Let's go home," said Daria.

I hope you liked it- I didn't think it was all that bad for one of my first stories. I'm planning to release a brand-new novel soon; in the meantime, please send me your reviews for this!