A beam of sunlight shone over Haley causing her to stir. She slowly opened her eyes and sat up. She glanced around the room and sighed.

"It really did happen," she said to herself. "It wasn't a dream." She glanced to her left and noticed both of the mats were empty. "Guess everyone's already up."

She stood up and stretched before noticing a note left on the desk. She walked over and noticed it was for her. She rubbed her eyes and read the note.


I went with Ronan and Saliel to the market. We didn't want to wake you. Hope you don't mind. We won't be gone more than an hour. There's some sausage in the kitchen for you. There's also some bread wrapped up in the cabinet.


"Okay, so everyone else is gone. I hope Alex is doing all right. After how everyone reacted yesterday, I don't think Alex should have gone with them."

"Everyone is staring at us," Alex said as the trio walked through the crowded marketplace.

"Just ignore them," Ronan said. He made his way through the crowd to the stand where he usually sold his vegetables. "Hey, Mr. Fallows," he said to the man in charge of the stand. "I have some more potatoes to sell."

"I don' know how ya git yaself in these kinda things, boy," Mr. Fallows said as he took the sack of potatoes and began weighing them.

"What do you mean?"

"Takin' in those girls' what I mean. E'ryone's talkin' 'bout it."

"I couldn't very well let them sleep out in the rain, could I?"

"Course ya could. Those demons deserve it."

"They aren't demons."

"How's come ya only got one with ya?"

"Haley was still asleep when we left."

"Haley? What kinda name is Haley?"

"What kind of name is Andrevious?"

"Don' mock it. It was my granpa's name."

"I still say it's a girl's name."

"Jus' take ya money an' git."

"Nice doing business with you, as always." Ronan pocketed the money and left Mr. Fallows' stand to find out where Alex and Saliel had wandered off to. Whispers followed him throughout the thick crowd.

"Brother!" Saliel's voice drifted over to Ronan from a few feet away. "Over here! Hurry!"

Noticing the urgency in her voice, Ronan quickly scrambled through the crowd toward the direction of her voice. He found her standing with Alex near a stand selling fruit. Panic was swiftly moving through the area.

"What's going on?" Ronan asked urgently as he met up with Saliel. "What happened?"

"Reeto!" Saliel said, panic evident in her voice. "They're coming into town! There's at least a dozen of them!"

"A-a dozen! Are you sure? Ah, hell! We've got to get out of here!"

"Haley's back at the house all by herself!" Alex said also panicking.

"Saliel," Ronan said trying to calm her down. "Saliel, take Alex and get back to the house. Stay completely out of sight until I get back."

"Back? Where are you going?"

"I've got to go help fight them off."


"Go! Get to the house now!"

He ran off with the crowd headed toward the edge of town where the woods began. Alex looked at Saliel worried if she was okay. It took a moment before Saliel regained her senses.

"Come on," she said to Alex, "we gotta go."

Back at the house, Haley was eating the leftover bread. All of the sudden, she heard a loud shriek from nearby. She dropped her bread and ran to the window. She saw Alex and Saliel running down the road to the house. She ran outside to meet them.

"What's going on?" Haley asked when the two were within earshot.

"I'll tell you inside," Saliel said. She grabbed Haley's wrist and dragged her back inside. Once inside, Haley asked her question again.

"What's going on? What was that noise? And where's Ronan?"

"Reeto," Saliel said after she caught her breath. "Lots of them. At least a dozen is what I heard."

"Ronan went to help fight them," Alex said.

"But can they stop the reeto?" Haley asked.

"No," Saliel said sadly. "They could stop one or two, maybe even three, but not this many. They can't beat them."

"But I know who can." Haley raced off to the bedroom.

"Please tell me she's not thinking what I think she's thinking," Alex said with a slightly nervous look on her face. Haley came back with her staff. "Yep, she is." Not stopping to say anything, Haley ran out the front door.

"Wait!" Saliel called after her. "Ronan said to stay here!"

Haley heard her but kept running toward the battle. She gripped the staff tightly with both hands praying that it would work.

The battle soon came into view. One reeto was dead, but five warriors had already been killed. Ronan was trying to repair his broken spear when he noticed Haley running toward him.

"Haley!" he shouted. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Just trust me, okay?" Haley said stopping next to him. She gripped the staff tighter and held it as high as she could. "Jiroo!"

At first, nothing happened, and panic began to flood her mind once again. Then, a red stream of light shot from the end pointed toward the sky. It went up farther than she could see, and everyone, even the reeto, stopped to look at it. The peace only lasted for a moment.

"Haley! You have to get out of here! You're going to get hurt!"

"Jiroo will come! He'll help! The reeto know they're no match for a dragon! They'll back off!"

"Calling a dragon will only make things worse!"

A roar rang out across the battlefield. The reeto looked up in panic. Despite common belief, they weren't dumb creatures. They knew when they were outmatched.

"Jiroo, I'm so glad you came!" Haley said as Jiroo landed gracefully beside her.

"Don't worry. I'll handle this." The crowd of warriors and onlookers began screaming and panicking. Jiroo pushed and forced his way toward the reeto. Many were already backing off. Jiroo swung his tail at one knocking it into another. The reeto began running as Jiroo sank his teeth into one.

"You did it!" Haley screamed. She ran over and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I knew you wouldn't let me down."

"Anything for you."


Jiroo quickly shot in front of Haley and growled at the villager that had thrown the rock. Haley fell to her knees with her hands pressed firmly to her forehead. Blood seeped out from underneath and trickled down her cheek.

"Get outta here ya demons!" Angry shouts roared throughout the crowd.

"They should be destroyed!"

"Destroy the witch that controls the dragons!"

"Enough!" a voice boomed across the crowd. The heavyweight man it belonged to easily parted the onlookers. "The girl's fate is for me to decide."

"My fate? Don't you realize Jiroo just saved Tepratus?" Half of her face was covered with blood, but she stood to face the man.

"By the way you speak to me, I assume you don't know who I am?"

"No, I don't"

"I am Kind Koffka Larael, more affectionately know as King Koffka. I rule all of Tepratus and many smaller, surrounding villages. I am a man of kindness and caring, and I am not fond of strangers who jeopardize the safety of my citizens."

"But Jiroo saved Tepratus!"

"That may very well be, but I simple cannot have a witch that practices the art of summoning and controlling dragons in my town."

"What? I'm not a witch! Yes, I summoned Jiroo, but I'm not controlling him."

"How then, if you are indeed not a witch, did you summon this dragon?"

"I gave her the power to do so," Jiroo said.

"Why would a dragon give a little girl such a power?"

"She helped me, and it is only right for me to return the favor."

"Hmph, indeed. But I simple cannot have such a danger in my town. You are henceforth banned from Tepratus. You can go live with your dragon friends where you belong."

"Sir," Ronan said, "don't you think that's a bit harsh? They really did save us."

"Do you wish to join them?"

"N-no, sir."

"Then stand down."

"Jiroo began to growl at the king. Haley placed a hand on his head. "Don't. Let's just go." He stopped and lowered his head for her to get on. She gave Ronan a weak smile before climbing on. Jiroo shot into the sky, but Haley didn't find the ride as enjoyable as last time.