Chapter 1

A gentle breeze teased Kavron's soft white locks and threatened to tear the pages of the book lying open against his drawn up knees. His ocean water eyes darted back and forth as he read the exquisite handwriting upon the faded, yellowed page. A bird screeched in the distance, causing the young man to look up, a faint smile spreading across his thin lips.

He stared off into the distance at something only he could see before shaking himself to clear the daydream from his mind. He trailed his callused hand gently down the delicate painting of a slain black dragon, its once majestic wings lying limp about its huge frame as crimson blood pooled beneath its jaws. Etched out beside the head of the beast was a tiny figure looking very much like a little girl. The only difference was that she had a set of transparent, glittering wings which looked like they belonged on a dragonfly, not a girl.

It would seem odd to see a girl with dragonfly wings, but Kavron knew it wasn't a girl, but rather a faerie. A faerie born from the blood of the dead dragon. According to this book Mystical Creatures of Draglonia, whenever a dragon of Draglonia dies, whether slain or otherwise, a faerie is born of the dragon's blood. At one point in time, before the queen's rise to power, dragons roamed freely throughout the land, dying naturally. The faeries born after a dragon's death were viewed with a sort of fearful awe and respect by anyone who was lucky enough to see them, for faeries were shy creatures, much like wild animals. Though the faeries were shy, they were also mischievous and cunning, for they loved to play tricks on the unwary traveler, leading them into the faerie rings which sometimes grew around the resting place of a dead dragon. If one was led into such a ring by a faerie, they would wither away and die under the spell of the faeries' songs.

Kavron shifted his position on the rough shingles of the roof outside his bedroom window, being careful not to drop the book in the process. The book was given to him by his last tutor, a devote lover of the dragons of Draglonia. How his tutor managed to get the book, Kavron never knew. It was unlawful under the current rule of the queen to own anything suggesting dragons were anything but fire breathing demons needing killing by dragon slayers.

When the queen inherited the throne from her father, a lover and protector of dragons, she ordered every bit of dragon lore destroyed. Books, tapestries, paintings, statues, everything was either burned or hacked to pieces by her knights. One of the greatest losses, in Kavron's mind, was the public fountain set in the center of the market area. The fountain was once an elaborate work of bronze, silver, and gold worked into wide spread dragon wings upon a rearing body coated in scales of bronze and gold. Crystal clear water once spilt from the dragon's open jaws into the ebony basin below.

No longer.

Twisted, melted bits of metal and broken stone was all the remained. Only the elder generations of Draglonia remembered what the fountain once looked like. Kavron knew of it only from the pictures in his tutor's book.

A twig snapped in the courtyard, causing Kavron to bang the book closed and hide it behind his back. Sweat dripped from under his hair, his breathing quickened. He inched forward, glancing over the edge of the roof into the courtyard below. His heart froze, leaping into his throat; it was his father.

For a moment Kavron felt as though his body had shut down completely. He watched in terror as his father strolled casually down the dirt path meandering through the gardens making up the courtyard. The knight's black cloak flowed perfectly in the wind as he walked. Though his manner appeared cool and collected, his eyes blazed as they darted back and forth as though looking for something.

Or someone.

Gasping, Kavron snapped out of his temporary paralysis long enough to inch away from the edge of the roof towards his bedroom window. He had no doubt that his father was looking for him. If the dragon slayer found Kavron with the book. . .

Kavron shivered visibly as the thought of his father's punishments caused old scars, both visible and not, to throb. Trovalyn may be the queen's most trusted knight and the finest dragon slayer in all of history (or so it was said); his courtesy as a knight ended with his son. Anything and everything that ever went wrong became Kavron's fault. Over the years, Kavron learned ways to avoid his father whenever he could, which was often enough since Trovalyn was usually out running "errands" for the queen.

Clutching to book protectively to his chest, Kavron climbed through the window into his room. Cursing himself for whacking his head, yet again, on the window frame, Kavron hurried over to his desk. Still clenching the book, he yanked open one of the drawers. Trembling from head to toe, he removed the false bottom, dropping the precious book into the secret compartment before replacing the piece of wood and slamming the drawer closed.

"Kavron!"

Kavron swore viciously under his breath, the back of his shirt now soaked with sweat. He had just enough time to pull out a sheet of parchment and a quill before the thunder cloud roared into his room.

"Yes, father?" Kavron ventured, hoping his emotions didn't show as well as his enraged father's did.

"Where have you been?"

"What do you mean, father?"

Kavron seriously doubted his father believed what he was seeing, as much as he dearly hoped he did.

"I've been looking for you, boy! Don't play innocent with me!" The rafters seemed to shake with the force of the slayer's words.

"Have you? I've been here studying," Kavron replied as sweetly and innocently as he could, then added with a hint of venom, "father."

Trovalyn's sapphire eyes flashed dangerously in his handsome face, somehow made even more stunning and perfect in his anger. "Is that so?"

"Yes."

"You haven't been reading anything you should be? Anything on," he paused, letting the silence cut his son to pieces, "dragons perhaps?"

Kavron wanted more than anything to kill his father then, to unleash all of the pent up hurt, disappointment, and frustration out upon the man who so hated him. The question of why he didn't would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Teeth grinding themselves into shards, Kavron replied coolly, "I would never do anything to displease my queen, father."

Never had one word held such hatred, such venom as the word "father" did at that moment. Looking as though he would spontaneously combust at any moment, Trovalyn struck his son across the face with all the strength he could muster, sending the young man sprawling across the floor where a wall sickeningly ceased his momentum with a loud crash.

Trovalyn glared at the quaking form of his son against the far wall. "Don't you ever speak of the queen in that tone again! Do you hear me!"

Kavron spat blood onto the floor, moaning in obvious pain. He was pretty sure something was broken, seriously bruised at best, but he was in too much agony to figure out exactly where he was injured, besides his face.

"Damn . . .you," he swore through the shards of broken teeth and blood in his mouth.

"Did you hear me!" Trovalyn roared.

As much as it hurt, Kavron pulled himself to his feet, placing his hand on the wall for support. Glaring bloody murder at his father, he nodded. "I heard you."

"Good. Let this be a lesson to you, boy. Don't let me hear you speak against the queen again, or you will have more than a bloody nose to worry about."

Kavron wiped blood from his lips with the back of his hand. "Yes, sir."

The dragon slayer shot one last purely nasty look at his son before turning sharply on his finely booted heel and storming out of the room, black cloak trailing behind like a demon shadow.

Tears dripped down Kavron's face, causing the cuts and gashes on his face to erupt in stinging fire. Eyes squinting in pain, Kavron limped over to his wash stand and soaked a white wash cloth in the ivory basin. Bracing himself against the onslaught of agony, he began washing the blood from his face, wincing when the coarse fabric rubbed against his wounds. Once he was sure he had cleaned off most of the blood, Kavron ventured a glance into the mirror hanging above the wash stand.

An ugly, flaming red mark was spreading rapidly across his right cheek and blood still seeped slowly from a cut in his lower lip. When he bared his teeth, Kavron was relieved to see his father had only chipped a few teeth, rather than broken them. Considering the circumstances, it wasn't the worst beating Kavron ever received from his father.

"Well, this will keep Val from spending all of her time worrying about how my father treats me," Kavron told his reflection, his voice flat and dark.

Scowling at himself, he turned away from the mirror, his ocean water eyes sweeping the room before resting on the mahogany chest at the foot of his four-poster oak wood bed. He had inherited the chest from his grandfather after his untimely death from a rare, hacking cough which eventually collapsed his lungs, killing him. It was within this chest, safe under lock and key, where Kavron kept provisions for emergencies.

Pulling a key out from under his shirt, Kavron knelt before the chest, hurriedly unlocking it. After rummaging around in the old chest for a few minutes, Kavron pulled out a faded traveling pack and a forest green traveler's cloak, both of which he slung over his shoulders. He took one last look around the elegant room with its polished wooden floor, whitewashed walls, colorful tapestries of epic battles, and matching, finely crafted furniture, before climbing, once again, out of his bedroom window.

He moved across the rough, faded shingles before dropping, somewhat ungracefully, into the courtyard below. Ears straining for any source of sound, Kavron dashed through the gardens towards the stables at the far end. The stables were quiet when he arrived; the only sounds were the buzzing of flies and the movements of the horses in their stalls.

In moments he had his dappled gray, Winter, saddled with saddlebags attached behind the saddle. Eyes set in resolve, Kavron leapt into the saddle.

"Val might be in trouble," Kavron whispered to his horse, "you know where she is, take me to her, quickly!"

It took nothing more than a slight tap of his heels to get Winter to move into a wind cutting gallop. The gray's shod hooves thundered on the cobble stones, sending up sparks, as animal and boy raced away from the dragon slayer's estate.