Carefully climbing over rubble and debris the knight neared the tower. The ruins seemed completely devoid of any life. The grass was dead and burnt, and only the skeletal remains of trees still stood in what once may have been a luscious courtyard.

The knight entered the tower, stepping over large oak doors that had long since fallen from their hinges, and stared down the dark abyss of the entry hallway. Slowly his eyes adjusted and he could make out the shadowy outlines of great pillars that ran along either side corridor. He carefully crept down the hallway, trying to remain as quite as possible. So far he hadn't seen any sign of the dragon, and he planned to keep it that way if at all possible.

Suddenly his foot snagged something lying in the floor and he had to grab a pillar to keep from falling, his armor rattling loudly in the process. Expecting to see more rubble, the knight looked down and was surprised to find himself gazing into the empty sockets of a human skull incased in a scorched and rusted helm.

Before he could react a great shape leapt from the shadows and butted him into a nearby pillar, cracking a rib in the process. Hearing a deep inhalation of breath, the knight immediately rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding a jet of flame. He had just drawn his sword when the great beast's tail caught him off guard and slammed him against the wall. Stars swam before his eyes and his head throbbed. He fought desperately to remain conscious as the dragon swiveled its head to face him. Inches away, he could smell its rancid breath as it inhaled, ready to roast its next meal.

Feeling desperately for his lost sword, his fingers brushed something on the stone floor. Grabbing the hilt of his broken blade, the knight swung with every remaining drop of his dwindling strength, and brought the blunt tip down on the crown of the beast's head. The dragon crumbled instantly and the knight, completely drained, could fight unconsciousness no longer. Everything went black.

The knight drifted in and out of reality, hearing garbled noises and seeing blurry images. He could remember the sound of footsteps, and a familiar voice. In the light of a flickering torch he could make out a group of men, all clad in armor except one. One with golden shoulder length hair.

"I've come to rescue you M'lady," said the blond haired man. "I've traveled many miles and I've single handedly slain the dragon. Now I'm here to take you home."

The voice that answered was the most beautiful the knight had every heard, like wind chimes in a summer's breeze. "My hero, my savior, I am forever in your debt."

The knight tried to move, tried to cry out to the beautiful voice, but searing pain shot up his spine and then… Darkness.

The knight finally awoke as the rays of the rising sun streamed through a high window. It took him a moment or two to remember where he was and how he had gotten there. Gently he tried to stand, but a great weight in his lap kept him pinned. Still disoriented and barely conscious he could only watch as the dragon raised its head to look him straight in the eye. Preparing himself to be roasted alive, the knight was shocked to hear the beast whimper and rub its scaly face against his cheek. His muscles screamed with pain as he slowly raised his hand to scratch the creature behind the ear. It had spent its entire life guarding the tower. It had been created for just that purpose. And like the knight, its job was now done, suddenly gone with nothing to replace it. It no longer had purpose.

Using the dragon's neck for support, the knight managed to get to his feet without blacking out. Once the nausea and dizziness had past the two made their way to the door. At the threshold he paused for a moment to gaze up the stairs at the now empty room in the tower's peak. He could only shake his head and sigh.

"Come on boy," the knight said quietly as he scratched the dragon behind the ear once more. Together, they strode side into the cool morning air, and side by side they walked off into the sunrise.