• Author's note: The words Fel Darrh and idrejk are draconic words. Fel Darrh means evil terror and idrejk means fool or stupid.

    There was a loud roar from nearby, and the villagers shielded their eyes as the black dragon descended and landed in the clearing. The beast looked at Steve with hunger and readied itself to strike, but before it could do so, it let out a pained roar as a blade pierced its thick skin. The villagers looked on in horror as they saw Traint sitting on the dragon's back, a large sword embedded in the beast's shoulder. The young man's face was emotionless as he withdrew the blade, dark blood dripping from the metal.

    "Ye've eaten yer last meal, dragon," he growled. The beast bucked and threw Traint to the ground. The young man rolled to his feet and came to a stop in front of Steve.

    "Ye'll kill no more, Fel Darrh!" he yelled, pointing the blade at the black dragon.

    How dare you defy me, mortal! the dragon growled. I will devour you, and the sacrifice will follow!

    "Then come and get me, beast!" Train replied. Fel lunged at Traint, who rolled to one side after thrusting the blade into the dragon's right foreleg. The beast roared again in pain and anger, swiping at Traint with its left foreleg. It missed the young man, instead gouging the earth where he'd been standing a second before.

    "Ye'll not win here, foul beast!" Traint said. The fight continued for a few minutes before the dragon finally managed to land a blow, which threw Traint backward into a tree. Jenna, who was watching with the other villagers, let out an involuntary "No!" as Traint hit the tree. Traint, however, didn't seem to feel the blow as he rose and looked at the dragon with a scowl on his face.

    "Is that all ye've got, Fel Darrh?" he asked, contempt in his eyes. Traint's back was to the lake, and he could tell the dragon had been living in complacency for the time it had been terrorizing the surrounding villages.

    "Try something better!" he taunted, and the dragon growled.

    Silence, mortal! the beast roared. You will burn, here and now!

    Having said this, Fel released a stream of fire from his nostrils, engulfing Traint in flames. The villagers let out a cry of horror as they watched Traint seemingly incinerated on the spot. When the fire finally stopped, however, there was another cry as they saw Traint, completely unharmed by the dragon's flames. Even the black dragon was confused as to how this mortal was still standing.

    How do you yet live? It asked. No mortal can withstand a dragon's flames.

    "Ye're right, Fel Darrh, no mortal can survive a dragon's flames," Traint said. "But I'm no ordinary mortal."

    Even you should have perished, mortal! the dragon snarled.

    "As I said, I'm no ordinary mortal," Traint said. "I can see ye're confused, so let me refresh yer memory. A century and a half ago, ye took control of the lands north of here, and in so doing, slaughtered an entire clan of dragons. Nearly every member of that clan perished beneath yer claws, except for one small hatchling, who was forced to watch, helpless, as ye took his family from him. This hatchling, ye cursed to remain in his human form once he was able to shift for the first time, saying that only yer flames could break the curse." He stuck his sword point-first into the ground, stepping away from it as he began to glow from within.

    "It was foretold that ye would be defeated and slain by a younger, more powerful dragon," Traint said.

    How do you know all this? the black dragon asked. That hatchling died a century ago.

    "He didn't die, idrejk!" Traint said, a hint of a snarl in his voice. "He merely went into hiding, training and waiting for his chance to fulfill the prophecy. Ye should have heeded that warning, dragon."

    He was still glowing and the glow intensified as he continued to speak.

    "Ye should never have breathed fire at me, beast," he growled, his voice deepening as his newly-unlocked power began to take over. "By breathing fire at me, ye've unlocked something that's been lying dormant for far too long." The black dragon blinked, confused as to where the power he could sense was coming from.

    "Still confused, beast?" Traint asked. "Then let me show ye yer final mistake!"

    As he finished speaking, the villagers watched in horror and fascination as Traint's body began to change right in front of them. Scales burst from his skin, golden in color, and he sprouted wings, horns, and a tail with spikes on the end. He grew in height until he was six times taller than the villagers. The black dragon watched in horror as he realized his fatal mistake. The mortal before him wasn't a mortal at all, but the hatchling he'd cursed 150 years before. By the time the change was complete, Traint was no longer there; in the place Traint had been, a huge, magnificent golden dragon now stood. Opening his eyes, Traint roared to the skies, then turned his eyes to his adversary.

    Now, let us end this! he said, and the black dragon took to the sky with Traint hot on his tail. The two dragons battled fiercely for nearly an hour before Traint landed a fatal blow on his adversary, sending the black dragon crashing to the ground. Traint roared his triumph to the skies, then landed near the black dragon.

    Ye made three mistakes, beast, Traint said. Yer first was killing my clan. Yer second was letting me live and cursing me to remain in human form. And yer final, and fatal mistake, was breathing fire on me and breaking the curse.

    So end it, the black dragon said. End my life, like you've wanted to do since I took over your lands.

    And give ye the satisfaction of knowing ye got what ye wanted yet again? Traint asked. Not a chance. Ye'll die here, where the villagers ye've terrorized for too long can watch.

    Having said this, Traint turned to look at the villagers, to see them staring at him in fear. He realized that he would have to still their fears, and he spoke to them.

    I have no intention of being the monster this beast has been for the last century and a half, he said. All I wanted was my family's lands and my birthright. Now that I have them, I shall leave, if ye wish.

    As he spoke, he was looking at Jenna, and was surprised to see no fear in her eyes, but rather, curiosity and awe. He waited for the villagers to say something, but when no one did, he turned and spread his wings.

    I shall take my leave for now, he said. I hope ye can forgive me for deceiving ye like this. Ye know where to find me, should ye wish to seek me out.

    This last comment was directed at one person in particular, who watched with sadness as Traint took off and quickly disappeared from sight. She knew he was likely going to reclaim what was rightfully his, and she wished she could have gone with him. Even though they'd only met the day before, she felt like she'd known him all her life, and she wanted to get to know him better. The only problem was that she didn't know if Traint wanted the same thing.

    Traint flew above the clouds toward his family's lands, his heart heavy for lying to the villagers as he had. The one good spot out of the whole ordeal was that there was no fear in Jenna's eyes. He'd fully expected her to reject any friendship with him, but instead, he'd sensed a desire to learn more about him. This had surprised him; it wasn't something he was expecting. His final comment before taking off had been directed solely at Jenna, and he sensed she knew it was for her. The place he'd found her in was a secret spot that only he had known about, when his parents were alive. It was his quiet place, a place he would go to meditate and ponder what his purpose was. Now, it would belong to Jenna, as well, should she decide to continue visiting the place.

    Jenna, for her part, was glad the black dragon was finally dead, and so it was, as it had vanished into dust before the eyes of the villagers, the dust going up to the sky. Now that the dragon was dead, however, there was still the matter of Steve's execution. The Elder had decided it would be carried out through beheading, and Steve was taken to a secluded place and executed, so that his body wouldn't taint the water of the lake. After this, the body was buried in an unmarked grave, so that he could never be found again.

    Traint found the lands once ruled over by his clan, and upon arriving, realized that though he had every right to claim them again, he didn't want them. He wanted to be around people, around the villagers he'd become friends with in the short time he'd known them. Most of all, he wanted to be with Jenna, as he was beginning to understand what was happening to him now. While he was still young by dragon standards, to the standards of man, he was ancient. Even so, time cannot dissuade the emotions of the heart, and Traint found himself longing for Jenna to be with him. However, it would be several years before he would admit, either to himself or anyone else, what he truly felt for the human girl he'd rescued from a bad situation.