The first chapter of many. Enjoy!

Fire skimmed the treetops of the forest as metal clashed against scales. A fierce battle made clear by cries of pain and the sound of a creature roaring from anger. An explosion not too far away. The serpentine neck rose above the treetops before quickly striking downwards again, flames bursting from where it's head landed.

Running toward the scene of the battle, a young man in leather clothing weaved and jumped through the thicket to aid in the battle. The large serpentine creature became clearer as he drove closer, his yellow eyes showing nothing but hate for the puny creatures beneath it. Its claw swiped to the side and sent a Crusader into the closest tree, breaking the wood in two. Its wing was severely damaged, no doubt from a surprise attack. The crusaders otherwise would have been even less of a match for it.

A girl wore icy blue armor (fitted to her figure well enough for the boy to know it a woman) and held a two-handed sword as if it were merely a dagger. She parried the dragon's next swiping blow, an impressive feat, but had to dodge a stream of fire from its maws. In her other hand was a shield, with the head of a lion. She used it to keep the trails of flames from hitting her. She pointed the shield towards the dragon, facing away from the quickly approaching boy. The Lion's Mouth opened, launching a shard of ice at the dragon, hitting it in the neck, about halfway between the body and head. There was the boy's chance!

He leaped from the thicket with a howl, flames licking his lips and his eyes glowing yellow. His hands morphed and changed into that of a dragons. Scales covered his forearms, and claws replaced his fingertips. His hair seemed to be the very same flames the dragon sent at another soldier, but it was merely his dark red hair flowing in the wind. He struck down at the Leader, and she barely managed to get her shield up in time to block. The boy's claws left deep marks in the lion, its likeness now permanently scarred.

The blow, however sent him backward a bit form recoil. The Crusader was quick to swing her bastard sword at the boy. He parried the blow with his hand, using the force to flip himself over the blade, landing square on his feet. He the lunged forward at the crusader, delivering a crushing blow to her breastplate, caving it in. Her breathing slight now from the damage, she jumped backward. The pointed the shield at the boy and the Lion's Head once more shot a shard of ice out from it's mouth. The boy reared his head back then let out a mighty stream of flame from his mouth, melting the shard before it could reach him. The stream of fire reach the girl, but her shield bore the brunt of the blow.

Once the fire and smoke cleared, the boy began to turn to fight another Crusader. But out of the corner of his eye he saw the shield standing on itself. A tower shield indeed. She was not behind it. Instinctively he turned around and cross his scale covered arms in front of his face, quickly enough to block a blow from the girl's sword. Using both of her hands increased the force of the blow. She had somehow removed the armor very quickly, and wore a tight fitting mail hauberk, which had a small dent on the chest from his blow earlier.

His arms cried in pain form the blow but he didn't relent. The girl however thrust her leg forward, delivering a hard kick to his abdomen, knocking the air out of him. She swung her sword back then forward, switching hands as she did so to keep momentum, and struck at his side. He barely blocked the blow with his right arm, sending him flying to the side. He heard the cries of the dragon in pain as he crashed into a tree, next to the godforsaken soldier the dragon had done something very similar to.

Looking up, the boy saw the dragon in worse shape than before. A new Crusader had shown up, wearing golden armor, though it did not shine. His hammer brought itself into the dragon's side, and his helm covered his face. A Highlord of the Crusade, he was an even match for the mighty creature, but the odds were uneven. The boy could not even the odds.

The dragon cried out one last time in pain, before falling to the ground. It was not yet dead, but the Highlord knew he had won the fight for his side. While the few survivors of the battle, including the girl that the boy had fought, sought to gather their fallen, The Highlord walked with his hammer snug on his shoulder toward the head of the creature, whose eyes flared in anger as the insignificant captain approached.

"You fought well. But even Demons are powerful, are they not? Your hellfire shall no longer torment those of my people!" The Highlord rose his mighty hammer above his head. "Any last words, Demon?"

The dragon spoke, although its mouth did not move. It was one of the few intelligent of it's race, a prize bestowed only amongst their oldest. That made this loss all the worse for the boy, whose eyes started to swell with tears. It voice was like a melody, resounding off the trees of the forest. It was as if nature itself was crying for this poor creature. It was the voice of a woman, or what humans would consider female.

"You make a grave mistake Shining One. Your faith is misplaced, and you shall rue the day you raised your hammer against my kind."

The boy could no longer take it. He roared with the power of hellfire behind him. He burst out of the trees and struck at the Highlord with his clawed hands. The Highlord effortlessly swatted him aside, the wounds form his battle with the Crusader too much for him to compensate for with adrenaline and dragon fire.

"Huen?!" the Dragon cried out in its language as it began to rise again. The many Crusaders dropped whatever they were doing, even in aiding comrades to ready themselves for a renewed battle. But the Highlord stood still. His confidence was well founded. The dragon fell back onto its stomach, its eyes filled with tears.

"You brainwash this boy? Infuse him with your hellfire? Huen you called him?" The Highlord walked over to the now unconscious boy. He inspected him, and noted he was young. Only about 13 or 14, much like one of their newer recruits, Ashlynn.

"Ashlynn! Take this boy. We will care for him, and exorcise him at the Temple." The girl, Ashlynn, obeyed and approached the boy to carry him.

"LEAVE THE BOY!" The once melodious sound now scratched thee wood of the forest. It sounded as crows and ravens crying out in pain. The voice of the dragon, still clearly female, was angered.

"Hah! You fancy him one of your kin? You fancy yourself a mother bear protecting its cub? It is a relief to know Demons fool even themselves." The Highlord approached the dragon and lifted his hammer. This time, he would not wait for more words.

The sound of metal breaking scale and skull resounded through the forest. The birds vacated the trees, those that had gathered to scavenge remains. The forest suddenly went eerily quiet. The Highlord turned toward Ashlynn, whom despite her eagerness before and during battle, seemed visibly shaken at the actual end.

"Do not worry, young one. The Demons take many forms and use guile and deceit to trick humans into believing them majestic. We used to worship such creatures, but Aylima has shown us the way." The Highlord's preaching seemed to raise the spirits of the other soldiers, whom went back to tending to the wounded and gathering the fallen.

Ashlynn slung the unconscious boy over her shoulder as a Healer approached to heal his wounds.

"No," halted the Highlord. The medic looked at him curiously. "We must first exorcise him, and for that he must be unconscious. I doubt he will not struggle through the procedure otherwise. Keep him alive, but make sure he stays in the dreams. We will tend to him after." The Highlord walked off, leading the group away. The Temple closest was a few days travel. They had been hunting for this dragon for weeks.

Ashlynn looked at the medic, whom she knew as Hamina. "Will he be okay?"

"You show a lot of concern for a boy who nearly bested you girl. Surely your icy heart does not melt for a heathen," joked the healer. She was about twice Ashlynn's age, and something of an elder sister.

"Bite me Hami. I just want to follow orders." Honesty. A fine trait in one so young.

"He'll be fine. I'd advise against choosing him as a suitor though. Knowing you, you'll have your hands all over him." Sarcasm. Not quite so good a trait, but fun as all hell.

The troop set off for the Temple, with Dragonsworn in tow.