Chapter 1

Larkspur was an assistant to the foul sorceror, Gothorn. He was not very nice, which is the reason I call him foul.

Eighteen year old Larkspur, Larken for short, was an orphan. Her father had died when she was only two years old in the War of Linot, a battle of humans against invading trolls. The humans won, wiping out half of the troll population. Still, there remained enough trolls to make a person wary when traveling on a lone country road at night.

When Larken was thirteen her mother had sent her to work for Gothorn to earn extra money to help support them. Larken's mother died five years ago of scarlet fever. After that she stayed with Gothorn because the pay was good and she only had to do household chores. That was her job. Clean the dishes, sweep the floor, cook the meals, wash the clothes, and stay out the way.

Nothing interesting ever happened around the cottage except for the occasional puff of smoke or small boom from Gothorn's spells.

One night Larken was sleeping on her pallet when she heard a loud flapping sound like someone shaking the dust out of a gigantic rug. Larken sat up and peered out the window. She saw Gothorn mount onto his horse and take off at full gallop. A strong rush of wind suddenly blew through her window and almost knocked her back.

The cottage then trembled, as if fearful of the enormous dark shape that had just flown over the house. Then all was quiet for a long time. Larken, shakily, got back on her cot and, since she was exausted from cooking for Gothorn's company from the day before, she soon fell asleep again.

Larken was awakened just before dawn, by the sound of chains rattling. She groggily crawled off her cot to her window. There, she beheld Gothorn standing in front of a dragon. It wasn't a gigantic dragon, but it was fairly big.

"It must be a young dragon," Larken thought. Gothorn had a manacle around it's neck which was attached to a chain that was staked into the ground.

The sorceror raised his arms, then brought them together, then separated them again. Larken's curiosity was fully peaked when she saw the dragon appear as if it was fighting an invisible foe. Suddenly the jaws of the dragon slowly and reluctantly opened.

Gothorn lunged forward and poured a bright pink liquid from a flask down the dragon's throat. The dragon shook his head as if to comment on the awful taste of it. Then it raised it's golden eyes and dropped to the ground. Larken stood up in anger and alarm.

"You killed it!" She cried. Gothorn looked up, startled, then he glared.

"Go back to sleep," he said, simply. He waved his hand and Larken felt an overwhelming exaustion come over her. She didn't even remember falling back onto her cot.

The next morning, Larken found that Gothorn had gone on an errand. Larken took advantage of that to see what happened to the dragon. Larken ran out the door to where the dragon had been.

She was startled to find not a dragon, but a young man sprawled out on the ground, asleep. Around his waist was the manacle and chain that been on the dragon the night before.

Larken came up to him and kneeled by his side. She shook him gently.

"Sir? Sir, wake up!"

The young man stirred and slowly opened his eyes. He blinked at the early morning sun.

"What are you doing here?" Larken asked, truly puzzled. A barely audible "huh?" was all she could get out of him.

"How-did-you-get-here?" Larken asked, slower this time.

The young man ignored her question and groggily turned his attention to a lock of his own flaming red hair that suddenly fell over his eyes. He frowned in muddled thought at it. Then he slowly reached up in order to brush it away. Suddenly he stopped. His eyes widened.

He stared at his hand, which was now in front of his face. A startled cry escaped his lips. He scrambled to his feet, all the while still staring at his hand.

"Wha . ." he began, then stopped to touch his throat. "What . . happend?" He finished, his voice wrought with panic.

"That's what I want to know," Larken said, growing impatient. "Where is the dragon?"

The young red-headed man stared at her for a second then began to struggle furiously with the manacle around his waist.

"This can't be happening . . this can't be happening!" Larken heard the young man mutter over and over again.

"Sir," she said, her patience on it's last thread. "Where-is-the-dragon?"

The young man suddenly looked up at her with fury in his eyes.

"I am the dragon!"