Quick reminder: This is basically a rough draft and only temporarily available to read online. Once the book is complete, it will be revised, professionally edited, and then published on Amazon. For more details about the blog book, or to read the story from the beginning, check out the book’s main page.
I wake to a shadow moving over my face. When I pry my eyes open, I find a dragon above me, blocking the sun. I groan, shifting on the prickly grass, wondering how I managed to fall asleep in the meadow.
“Where’s the man?” Cadalia asks, peering down at me with her emerald green eyes.
The question startles me, and I roll over, looking for the prince. He’s gone.
How is he gone?
I sit up, frowning, and stretch my arms over my head. “Perhaps someone ate him during the night?”
Cadalia snorts out a laugh, and wisps of smoke drift from her nostrils. “I don’t think so.”
“Fine, dash my dreams.” I pull a brown, weedy twig from my hair, frowning at it before I toss it aside.
The copper dragon stares at me, and I know what she’s thinking—I can practically feel her reptilian judgment. It’s my responsibility to find the prince. Why it’s my responsibility, I have no idea. But that matters little right now.
“I’ll look for him,” I say with a sigh, pushing myself to my feet. My stomach rumbles, lamenting my lack of dinner—and now breakfast.
The dragon extends her wings, preparing to take flight, nearly knocking me over in the process. “I’ll see if I can spot him from the air.”
It takes me several hours to walk the entire perimeter of the meadow, and I grow nervous as the sun reaches its highest point. I fully expected to find the prince face down, dead as a piece of driftwood, long before now.
I glance toward the woods, my thoughtful frown turning into a scowl. “Surely not.”
How could he have made it that far with a broken leg and a raging fever?
Even though I believe it to be impossible, I follow the trail by the creek, reasoning it’s the only path smooth enough for a wounded man to hop. As I make my way deeper into the forest, I begin to wonder if I wasn’t right before—maybe someone did eat him.
“Good riddance,” I mutter under my breath. After all, Tarith can’t blame me if the prince looked tasty. It’s not like I ate him.
I’m just smirking to myself as I imagine the conversation with the dragon, not paying my surroundings enough attention, when I hop over a log and land on something that groans.
Blast it all.
The prince lies on the ground, more bloody and bruised if that’s possible. He doesn’t even have the decency to be dead.
I kneel, wrinkling my nose. He looks just awful. “How are you still alive?”
“I don’t know,” he breathes, his eyes closed, finally looking defeated.
It’s about time.
“Will you let me take you back to the cavern now?” I ask. “I’ve never mended a broken leg, but with a bit of prodding and a few good yanks, I think I can manage.”
He grimaces, and for a moment, I’m worried he’s going to be ill.
“Right,” I say, laughing to myself. “You’re not in the mood to find that amusing.”
Just as I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to lug him back, the prince fixes me with his battered gaze. I don’t consider myself a squeamish person, but his face is so grotesque with injuries, it’s a little hard to look at him.
“You’re my punishment, aren’t you?” he wheezes.
I tug on his arm, again wondering how I’m going to move him. He lets out a deep moan of pure agony, and I sigh, sitting back on my heels to think.
When I spot Cadalia above us, I stand and wave, hoping to get her attention. The dragon sees me and swoops through the trees, scaring half a dozen birds and at least one horrified squirrel.
I return to the prince’s side and crouch beside him once more. “You’re obviously delirious if you can’t tell I’m your guardian angel,” I say, finally answering him. “That aside, it would probably be a good time to pass out—because this is going to hurt.”