There are fifty men aboard this ship, and one woman; a virgin. How does a woman stay a virgin on a ship full of fifty men? It's easy when your older brother is the captain and keeps you under lock and key. I'm lucky he lets me on the deck at all, but we've sighted land and I'm permitted to rejoice with the others.

The cool sea breeze feels so refreshing, and the sight of the island growing in the distance is like food for my eyes. We cannot be far from our destination. After this island is surely our last stop, my last stop. My brother has promised my hand in marriage to some trader's son. I have no say in the matter.

Our ship anchors off the coast. I admire the lush and wild jungle and strain my neck looking up at the mighty volcano, whose peak is wreathed with clouds, or perhaps it's smoke. While looking up, I see something high above the clouds - some shadow.

The men are putting on their armor; preparing an expedition for supplies. I look for my brother.

"I saw something up in the clouds, around the mountain."

"What?" He asks while he fastens his sword into its scabbard.

"I think it's a dragon," I replied, looking for the shadow above again.

"Don't be ridiculous. We're only two days away from our final destination. There wouldn't be dragons that close. They'd of been hunted out by now."

"Well, maybe this one just got here. Please…I want a sword!"

He just laughed in my face and pushed me aside. My brother trusted no one alone on the ship with me, and he insisted on leading all expeditions. When they went out to explore, they all went, and I am always left alone, helpless and frightened.

I followed him. "Please, I don't feel safe here. Maybe it's nothing, but what if it isn't? Would you have me die here, with nothing and no one to protect me? Please, a sword, a weapon, I beg you!"

One of the crew members heard my plea and laughed at my expense. "You? With a sword? You wouldn't know what to do with it!" Then he doubled over laughing and several other men joined him.

They were wrong; I did know something of swordsmanship. Our father had had both my brother and I trained together. When we became teenagers my brother grew jealous that I was becoming better with a blade than he. He insisted to father that he end my training. Father had wanted me to know enough to defend myself. My brother insisted that I had learned enough and that if I were to ever become a proper lady, I must devote my education to things more appropriate for a woman. He may have convinced father to end my training, but he had not prevented me from practicing alone. Then father died, and my brother became the man of the family. When he discovered my secret practices he had all of my weapons taken from me.

"You don't need a sword. If anything scary happens, just hide," taunted my brother, and everyone laughed.

I hated him. If I had had a sword at that very moment; I'd have gladly cut his throat with it. Father would have given me a sword.

I watched all the men pile into the row boats and lower themselves into the sea. I watched with hatred in my heart as they rowed to the beach, and marched off into the jungle, leaving me alone and helpless.

When the men were out of sight I looked to the sky. The clouds seemed lonely now, but I could not shake the feeling of being watched. I started looking around the ship. Hoping desperately to find something to protect myself with, but the bastards had left me with nothing. Not even a row boat to escape the ship. Figures, my brother would also not allow me any means to escape him.

Then I felt it again; the feeling of eyes on me. I looked up, and just below the clouds, gliding down the face of the mountain – a dragon.

I had every reason to fear dragons. Nobody knows why they only seem interested in devouring virgins. It is only known; that once a virgin comes face to face with a dragon, she is never seen again.

No sword, no place to hide, and the fiery breath of the beast would destroy the ship, leaving us no way to escape. It seemed to be lazily circling the mountain, descending lower with every pass. I didn't have much time. I tore the sleeves and most of the skirt off my dress, fearing the weight would pull me under or slow me down. I leaped into the water, swimming for the shore with all my might. When I looked up from the water, I could see the beast circling lower still.

When I reached the beach I was exhausted, and my leg had been scratched on a coral, but I had no time to think on my discomfort, the dragon had landed.

He was many yards away from me, his back to the jungle, his wings still unfurled. He was looking straight at me. I started to shake as I beheld the gleam in his eye and the fierceness of his teeth and talons. There was a great boulder not too far from where I stood. My instinct told me to run - hide. I raced for the boulder. It was stupid. There was no escape; no real place to hide, but I was frightened and desperate. I could hear him running after me; his hissing breath and the sound of his scales scraping along the beach, the thud of his feet in the sand. When I reached the boulder, I froze. I heard him approach the other side, the sound of his sharp wings scratching into the rock. I could tell by the sound which side he was approaching from, and I ran to the other side of the boulder, so as to keep him on the opposing side. Again, he tried to circle around the boulder to reach me, and again, I ran to the opposing side, but he was done playing cat and mouse. With a thunderous crack of his wings, he leaped up to the top of the boulder and looked down on me with smoldering red eyes.

I was done. I knew it. I tried to back away and tripped in the sand; landing on my back as the dragon pounced over me. I could feel his hot breath as the shadow of his wings passed over me. I closed my eyes. I did not want to see death.

Suddenly, the hot breath was gone. Through my closed eyelids, I felt the sun somewhat return to my face. I opened my eyes, and instead of a dragon; I found a man. His eyes were no less hungry than the dragons, and I knew at last. When he leaned down upon me, the terrible hatred that had burned into my heart seared again. I slammed my knee into his groin with all my hatred and might. He doubled over and writhed about in the sand. I jumped up and looked down on this creature. His face was red, and his once hungry eyes were now watering. I felt a tinge of pity. "Is this what it's really all about?" I thought to myself.

I felt a flash of heat burn into the palm of my hand, and my arm grow heavy. I lifted up my arm to behold that I clutched the sword of my father firmly in my hand. It reflected beautifully in the sun. I took one last look at the pitiful creature writhing in the sand. Then, I turned my back to him and walked away into the jungle; in the opposite direction that my brother and his men had gone.