My sister linked arms with me as we walked home from the market, our guards around us. She steered me over to a poster on the wall of a stall carrying fine cloth.

"Look another dragon gladiator!" She exclaimed happily. I smiled.

"Let's ask father if we can go when we get home, Dovev."

"No." Dovev's eyes shone with tears as they widened.

"But father!"

"I said no and that is final." He turned, and waved for us to leave his study.

"Yes father." We curtsied and backed out.

"Well I guess that's it, Runa. We can't go."

"Come on Dovev. I'm not giving up that easy. I'm going to go anyway."

Late that night I pulled on a black cloak, pulling the hood low over my eyes. Swiftly I slipped out my garden door and through the fragrant flowers to the wall. An old tree assisted me over the low wall.

I was already late when I arrived. I hurried into a side entrance and out the next door. Hurriedly I glanced around and started off by the wall.

A hot wind blew my hair back and singed my clothes. I slowly turned my head and caught my breath.

Glowing red eyes and immense fangs faced me. Another blast of blistering gale blew over me.

"Oh shit." I breathed.

A full-grown male dragon faced me.

The crowd's roar faded to the background as the dragon inched closer. A platform raised in front of me holding a dagger and shield. I hurriedly scooped them up, shedding my dark cloak and letting my yellow dress show. I strapped the shield on my arm and held the dagger in my hand.

The weapons felt odd and strange in my hand: I had never touched a weapon before.

All I could hear was the pounding of my heart in my ear and the sound of the dragon's heavy breath.

"Runa!" The heartbroken wail caught both my and the dragon's attention. Dovev struggled out of one of the guard's hold and fell over the wall. Instantly an inferno of flames turned her to ashes.

The dragon turned back to me and it's eyes mirrored mine for a second.

Humans. A deep voice resounded throughout my brain. I was frozen.

Dovev. My little sister. Gone. Just like that. A puff of smoke. A spit of flame.

"No!" The scream ripped itself from my throat as my knees buckled and I collapsed in the dirt.

Little one? the deep voice asked.

"How could you?" I asked the dragon. "She was all I loved."

She was disrupting the ceremony. She had to be ended. She was a human. She was expendable. My eyes widened and I stared at the dragon through my tears.

"You're talking to me. In my head."

Yes. Why does that surprise you? You are of the ignis filios.

"Flame children?"

Your ancestors were dragons, child.