Prologue

"Aiden"

It was the children that always got to me. The children lined on the streets. Every time. No matter where we fought, there were children after the battle. I suppose it's not seemly or of good taste to pity beggars' children, but I always wondered what they could have been if they had been the lords or ladies.

It was always something I wondered, but I always managed to put it out of my mind. After a victorious battle there was ale, good ale, and lots of it. I could drown myself in its amber solace until I could no longer remember the battle. That's how I would survive for many years. That's how I became known as the Silver Dragon.

I was loath of the name, but it followed me, no matter where I would travel, no matter what I would do, but then that's what I was known for, the Silver Dragon. My sword, which was once gleaming iron, was now tarnished with many battles and the blood of other men. The dragon of my family was emblazoned on my shield and on my armor.

But the women of the time were the worse. I wanted to settle. I wanted to go home, back to the countryside. I wanted to lay down my sword.

The time came when I received a command, a reward, really. It told me to go immediately to a small town near the border called Clancorrlankerre. It was a strange town. I was to marry the Countess there whose husband had died less than a year before in a battle. The woman who I found was not what I expected. She was lovely, long raven hair and large, almond shaped black eyes. She regarded me with the caution that one gives a wild animal.

This Countess had no intention of marrying me. She cast a curse upon my head and I was turned into a horrible silver dragon. It was the end of my world. I was trapped.

She built a tower of stone and trapped me there. It was sealed up and I could not escape. I harbored hope of escape in my heart for many years. Yes, I wanted to get out and devour that evil witch who had trapped me. I think that's what kept me alive for so many years.

A curse, one of which I'd never seen before, was to be the end of me. Or so I thought.

Thus I continued for this way for so many days that I lost count. No light guided me. No food was fed me. But I did not waste away. No, I guess that that was part of her idea of revenge. I would remain this way forever in darkness.

2003

Part I:

Two Worlds

Chapter 1: Lady of Ancient Magic

"Aloreina"

The castle was old and full of history. It seeped with stories. It was perfect. I knew I was going to buy this place, especially at the price it was being sold at. The owner wasn't fond of the countryside and wanted to go back to the city.

I was successful enough, I suppose. I was living the life of a best-selling author in New York City. Oh yes, bright lights, tall buildings, and a complete loss of reality. I hate New York. I have only one close friend from all those years that I lived there, and she is getting married!

To tell you the truth, I'm a little jealous. You can never tell if people actually like you or just want to cling to the hems of your success. Either way, I'm done with NYC. I'm moving clear out here to the European countryside where I can get back to writing for myself.

I had decided that this was the perfect place. Its ancient walls seemed to whisper stories, and I'd already had several ideas that I figured would have made great books. The woman continued to lead me through the halls, dictating stories and old history in heavily accented English. I was tempted to tell her that she could stop, but the history of the place was too fascinating.

"There have actually been several disappearances in this castle." She continued.

"Really?" I asked curiously.

"Yes," she answered, "This castle is full of history. I always found it particularly interesting. There are even rumors of dark spirits that live here."

Wonderful, wonderful! I thought to myself. There will be books upon books on this place.

"The late Earl of Harriway left the owner of this castle the title, too. So if you do purchase the castle, you'll also receive the name."

"Why on earth isn't his heir receiving the title?" I asked curiously.

The lady shook her head. "The castle has a history of killing the Earls and Countesses of the castle. It's almost as though there's a curse on the place. But anyway, the late Earl retired the title, but the queen decided that she didn't want title gone. The heir didn't want it. The family is known for being a bit odd." She paused and watched me calmly. "The queen has ordered that whoever buys this place also buys the title. The heir doesn't' even want any of the paintings or furniture out of this castle. He simply wants to be rid of it."

I nodded at this strange turn of events. Though such a title would never do me any good in the US, it would be fun to have, at least to add to my list of accomplishments. For crying out loud!

"I love this castle." I told her. "It's exactly what I was looking for."

"Very good, Miss Locket. I will draw up the papers by the end of the week." She nodded and then the two of us left the castle. I was so pleased at this wonderful find.


2003


Okay, so a little about this story. I started writing this back in 2003, as a young, ambitious 16-year-old. Ten years later, I read this and cringe a little. On the bright side, I can tell that I've grown a lot and am much better at writing, on the other hand, I am a little amazed that I thought this story was SO GOOD when I started. I'm going to say 35 chapters of this story are really awkward. I really didn't know what I was doing with the characters, what I wanted them to be. They start out very contrived, but develop into individuals when the story progresses. Aiden and Aloreina were originally going to be the only main characters, but this story took on a life of it's own and went a whole different direction. I think that's a hazard of working on one story on and off for 10 years. So, if you do feel up to slogging through the first 15% of the chapters, the story does get better. Anyway, thanks for reading and I'll try to make any corrections or errors anyone mentions.