Fourteen year old Regan had been practicing her sword skills, the sturdy but ordinary training blade bit into the wooden dummy.

Thock!

She imagined it was the sound of her blade sinking into dragon flesh. Regan pulled her sword out, began to her pose again, and thrusted. Suddenly the sky over her darkened and she stopped her merciless attack on the wooden man to look skyward.

A dragon!

Dragons were a nuisance, stealing virgins and hoarding gold, but none had ever come so close to the capitol. She could hear shouts from the guards as ballistae were aimed and fired. The massive spears made from the thickest tree trunks flew overhead at the dragon who seemed to be circling the castle. The dragon easily dodged them, dipping gracefully in the air. The heavy wings beating the air to keep it aloft. It was stocky, muscular, with black scales that glinted beautifully in the sunlight.

“Regan!” Her name was shouted as she continued to watch dumbfounded as the big black dragon sucked in a breath and breathed fire upon the castle walls. The stones reddened and seemed to melt, but the ballistae caught fire, guards were screaming. “Regan!” She was mesmerized by the destruction, and didn’t turn to the sound of her name until her arm was grabbed roughly and she looked into the face of Thurston Waller, one of the officers in the royal guard. “Your father sent me to find you and get you to safety!” Thurston was a dozen years older than her, and had been the one who’d taught her most of her best moves with a sword. She had admired him, and trusted him. He was grizzled but had been kind to her. She wouldn’t admit but she had an innocent crush on him. He tried to pull her away from the wooden dummy and shake her from her paralysis.

“Where is my father?” Regan asked quickly. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She was afraid, she didn’t know what to do, but whatever she was going to do, she wasn’t going to do it without her father.

“With the king,” Thurston replied, “Come on, we need to get out of the castle!” He tried to pull her one direction but she twisted her arm from his hand and dashed opposite of him. “Regan!” Thurston lunged and grabbed her again. She fought with him, even bringing the training sword up to try to defend herself from him, but he easily disarmed her.

“I’m not leaving without my father!” She shouted at him as she struggled.

“Regan!” He shouted her name again, “His duty is to protect the king! He will fail if he has to protect you too!” Regan stopped struggling, but Thurston didn’t release his grip on her. He held her tightly for a moment before relaxing. “Regan?” She nodded mutely and he took her hand and led her away from the chaos the was happening all around the courtyard as the dragon continued its assault on the castle.

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