Prologue: Dragon

I shuddered with delight, quivering with excitement in my soft shell. My rider had touched my egg. Lightning shimmered across my conscious. Finally. This was it. It was time – the time I had hoped for even as I slumbered for decades, always waiting.

I stretched my tightly hurled claws, opening my jaws, loosing my sharp teeth. I waded through the gooey soft plasma where I had swum in my slumber. I struggled and reached for the hard edges of my world. I scratched and snarled with my effort. I snorted and fumbled and tore at the hard outer core with my formidable teeth. I threw my mighty body and butted my spiked head against the purple walls.

Finally, the shell walls shuddered, and my world broke away. I chortled and ripped through the shell, bursting forth out of the purple recess, out for my purple abyss. I broke away and crawled out into a whole new world.

The feel of the new world under my claws as it curled away under me, the acute assault of putrid and sweet smells of my new home, the thundering and murmuring sounds of this foreign place – all of it overwhelmed me in its newness and intensity. And I loved it all – all before ever even opening my eyes!

Slowly, sluggish from first use, I opened my eyes. I winced. The light was blinding, and for a moment, I could see nothing of my new place in the world. I blinked away the plasma from my eyes, clearing my vision for my first fateful glimpse of my rider.

I wanted to sing, chortle a song, roar with praise when I saw my rider's face. He was a strange, odd looking creature, but in an inexplicably magical way, I knew instantly that it was him. The magic placed on me long ago urged me to reach for him, touch him, and make the bond. I moved towards his blue eyes, towards his funny pale hand extending towards me. I flapped my wings and surged forward.

Then, suddenly, a different hand – one a darker olive than the pale tan of my rider – fluttered before my eyes and touched my nose. I saw a purple flash and felt the magic flow out of me and into him as a bond was made.

No! I screamed in horror, the words I needed coming to me instantly from the young rider's mind. I roared with all my might, flapping my leathery wings in anger. FalseRider!

A bond was made that could not be made undone – a bond with the wrong rider.

Horror turned my stomach, revulsion clouded my judgment, anger consumed my conscious. I pounced on his mind, trying to smother it in the richness of my own. I plucked words from his surprisingly intelligent mind, throwing them at him, berating him in my rage.

I felt humor in the young rider at my splendid use of vocabulary. I'mnotyourdragon,evilswindler! I shouted, hopelessly trying to force him to understand his grave sin.

Others joined in with my protest, voices ancient and older than mine own, rumbling and growling with a fierce vengeance I had not yet experienced.

FalseRider! I accused as my voice was drowned in the others. I wailed in misery.

Was this it? Was this all I had received for the hope I'd held for so long in my heart? What had I ever done, encased and entombed in my purple shell, to be doomed to such a miserable fate?