Disclaimer: This is a fictional story of my own creation. No fictional dragons were harmed during this process, unless you count hurt feelings and or love bites and such. Also, this story belongs to me and me only. Please respect the hard work and dedication it takes to take pen to paper as it were. If you copy this story or any of my other work without my permission I will find you and send the puppies of war out for sweet sweet vengeance. Enjoy!/

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Of love and other creatures

1

Some are Born to Sweet Delight
Some are Born to Endless Night

-William Blake

Rolling mist enveloped the mountains in damp, thick curtains as the young woman ran through the darkness, panting heavily and gasping for air in quick panicked bursts. The waning moon casted a dull, milky glare across the landscape, panting the trees with a sickly white cast. Bits of dirt and leaves stuck out from her tangled pale hair, and, amongst other things, bloody, bruised scratches adorned her face and body, the result of running through an unfamiliar woodland in the middle of the night, and other, more unpleasant occurrences. On her neck, an angry red brand throbbed painfully emitting a soft scarlet glow, her owner's mark. Pure, raw terror clawed at her as she visualized dark, skittering shadows at the corner of her eyes, and she tried, not for the first time, to remain calm and think clearly. She had a mission to accomplish and not much time to do it. Slowing her pace to better catch her breath, she reached inside her satchel and cupped the smooth cold metal of the collar with trembling fingers, steeling her resolve. Yes, she would succeed, no matter the cost. The price of her and Valeria, her younger sibling's freedom was to enslave the creature, so this she would do. Unshed tears filled her eyes at the thought of the one she left behind, but she knew her little Valeria would be safer back on the wizard's castle than with her on that strange magical forest where no beings resided and the bitterness of old magic chocked the air. Well that wasn't quite true; there was one being that resided there. His ancient slumbering presence enveloped the vast wilderness and his very breath arose in fat sulphurous pillars from the soil.

The entrance to the dragon's cave came into view and Mara Luna stilled her pace, leaning against a tree and keeping a conservative distance, thinking of the tremendous task that lay before her. According to her master, the great dark wizard of the North Elflyn, the creature would be slumbering and would need to be roused and in his human form in order to carry out the necessary incantation and place the collar around his neck. She would need to be fast and silent so as not to awaken him before she had set her trap. Pity dug its claws on the back of her head as she contemplated placing such an ancient and majestic creature, a free creature, into an eternity of slavery just to buy her and her sister's freedom. She had made a promise long ago to care for Valeria and provide for her as best she could. She would do this and worse in order to carry out her promise. Life had been a cruel mistress and taught her that more often than not, the only way to get what one wants is to take it from another through any means necessary. Violence and aggression had been her nursemaids for the past 3 years, Valeria her only friend. Ever since Elflyn had passed through her town and taken the two orphans, Mara had only known exhaustion, fear, and pain. Her mother had passed on giving birth to Valeria on a cold January night after a long and brutal labor. Her father had succumbed to the eternal rest not long after, finding life without his mate not worth living, not even for his two young daughters. This left Valeria caring for a tiny helpless newborn at only 17 years old, a careful but inexperienced gardener trying to keep a precious seed alive, nurturing as best she could and watching it grow with trembling hands.