Shayla sat on the window ledge, looking down at the stone courtyard below. There was nothing left of the once gleaming stones but blackened soot and ash. Not even the bones or armor of her would-be rescuers remained among the ashes of incinerated bodies and marble blocks. At the moment, she didn't see the creature that had produced the destroying fire.

The great dragon guarding this castle obeyed only one person, it's master; the dark wizard who had kept the Elurian princess locked up in the tower. She was the youngest of all the princes and princesses and had been the easiest to abduct at the time. The dragon allowed only one person to pass its gate; the wizard himself, who thought this all to be one horrific game. Shayla yearned for the day her knight in shinning armor would come to rescue her from her prison, to take her back to her kingdom where her people where her people would praise and worship her for her bravery of seeing a dragon and living to tell the tale, while her knight would be praised for his courage in killing the beast. They would wed and become king and queen, the most beloved and adored rulers of the country in centuries. She would then fill the palace libraries with books, hundreds and thousands of books from across the land. When she had been taken here when she was young, she had detested literature, but in this cavernous expanse of a castle, inhabited by an evil wizard and his servant (who was as much a captive as she, if not more) , and guarded by a fire-breathing dragon, Shayla had found solace in the stories, where she could find refuge and lose herself within their pages while she watched and waited from the tower, for her knight in shinning armor to come.

Suddenly there was the pounding of a horse's hooves. Shayla looked downward expectantly and saw what she had been waiting for. A man rode up towards the castle on a white stallion, his armor gleaming as silver. The horse's yellow-blond tail swished anxiously as it approached the castle. It could smell the dragon nearby, the danger that it posed, and he was jittery and fearful, reluctant to continue the trek towards the castle. As if on cue, the dragon lumbered from where it had been to confront this new challenger. The knight jumped from the horse and walked forward a few paces, confident in his victory over the dragon. The beast in question roared in indignation at this lowly human who refused to cower in fear before him. The knight stood with his feet slightly apart, his armor gleaming in the sunlight, and drew his sword. It seemed to shine with an unnatural glow. The dragon took in a deep breath and let it out in a flurry of furious flames that engulfed all objects in the area, incinerating them instantly (flammable or not). The knight simply ignored the fire and charged through them as the flames parted themselves before him. The dragon was taken by surprise by this, no one ever having survived his fire before, though not stunned. He lifted his great foot and brought it down to crush the little man. The knight, for his part, stopped and hefted his sword, pointing it upwards so the beast's paw would come down on it. This seemed a futile gesture, since a single sword would be like a thorn to a dragon, so the dragon took no caution upon seeing this. A deafening howl of pain was heard as the weapon burrowed into the dragon's hand. He retracted his foot from the blade, trying to keep the instrument of his torture from burrowing too deep, but it was already securely lodged. He stood up on his hind legs as his limb turned to stone, originating from the point of contact of the sword, and spreading over the rest of his body. The dragon became still, his scales no longer reflecting a multi-hued crimson red in the sunlight, but gray the color of stone. The dragon stood as still as stone in his majestic stature.

Shayla soon heard a key turning in a locked door across the room, the telltale sign of the servant's entrance. Moments later, he appeared in the doorway. He was wearing his usual ensemble of black breeches and white chemise, well kept to his master's specifications. Shayla almost pitied this man that served the evil wizard, whom she had never actually seen with her own eyes, or she would have had she not been so wrapped up in her own self-pity.

"I am to escort you to the courtyard," he stated curtly as he turned on his heels and walked back down the spiral stairs leading down from the tower. She followed after him, slightly bemused and wary at once. Shayla didn't quite know what was going on or what to expect, unsure if the wizard would allow her to leave so easily. She followed after him, trying not to trip on the hem of her skirts on the way down. She had been made to wear a gown, as always. This one had a low-cut neckline and the top hugged her torso while the lower piece splayed out in a great poufy mass. The sleeves were thin and long, widened at the end and fell over her hands; the whole gown was a dark, yet vibrant, purple. Finally, they came to the bottom of the stairs and made their way to the courtyard, where the knight was still staring up at in awe and fear at the great statue of a dragon that loomed over his head.

"My master says that you have proven your worth and may take the girl," the servant stated monotonously before turning and returning to the castle, leaving Shayla in the courtyard. The knight turned to her and lifted off his helmet, shaking out his long brown hair that gleamed as his armor in the sunlight. All she wanted was to throw herself in his arms, though that probably would have been very uncomfortable with all his armor. So she restrained herself and stood there staring, not at the statue of a dragon that had not long ago been breathing fire, but at her savior's radiance.

He offered his now gloved hand, having removed the gauntlets while she was staring, and led her over to where his stallion had positioned himself away from the dragon. He mounted the horse and helped her to mount on behind him. When she was settled, he flicked the reigns and the horse galloped off, carrying her home. Shayla was finally going home, after so many years of waiting, with her knigh in shinning armor.

Shayla awoke with a start, sitting up abruptly in her bed. It had been three years since her rescue from the dragon-guarded tower, and three years since she had come home to find that all her other siblings were suitable heirs to the kingdom (as well as the fact that the throne to the kingdom was destined to the oldest male, not youngest female). It had been three years since she had learned of her arranged marriage to the Duke of Aria, which had been prearranged since her fourth birthday: When she was 12, Shayla was to wed the 16 year old Derek, Duke of Aria. Unfortunately, she had been the captive of a sick and twisted evil wizard at the time, and sod unable to wed to him until she was freed. Upon her return, the wedding had been scheduled immediately. Derek had seemed nice, polite, and respectful, but she had no interest in him, though the choice was not hers to make; she belonged to him. After the wedding, Shayla had discovered what he had been hiding beneath that mask of polite respect; he was a cruel, heartless monster. He could do whatever he wished with her, he could rape her (multiple times) and beat her half to death (carefully avoiding her face) and no one would care, let alone do anything about it.

Shayla could beg, plead, weep and wait to her heart's content, but there would be no one to rescue her from this nightmare. She had spent every day since she was 5 years old while in that tower waiting for someone to rescue her. They had rescued her from the dragon and had delivered her to a greater evil. There would be no one to rescue her, and there never had been. Her knight in shinning armor would never come. Shayla had to rescue herself.