Aithan sat on the dank straw that covered the floor of the cell.  In the hours since his capture, his mind had raced as he imagined again and again the dragons he had seen.  They were real.  They were big, and cold, and dangerous.  And they had come for him, for Uncle Fri and him.  He stared at the wall in front of him, seeing nothing, as his mind churned.  Just like that, doom had come to them.

“Aithan, child, turn around, I have long desired that you should meet me.”  It was a small voice, not heard, imagined.  He ignored it as thoughts and fears boiled in his head.

“Beloved of my heart, turn and face me.”  The voice was gentle but more insistent.  Aithan was suddenly brought back to reality.  He had not imagined this voice.  He turned.  Before him, he knew instantly, was the soft, warm dragon of his recent dream.  It filled the cell, and it looked at him kindly with golden eyes.  It was covered in sleek fur, even its long, slender wings.  He could feel the heat of its body in the cold cell.  He sensed the fear rising in him, and then sensed it immediately pushed down, overcome.  He stared without speaking, without moving, and the dragon gazed intently into his eyes, and it smiled, and Aithan felt himself smile back.

Finally he had gathered his wits, and spoke.  “How?  What are you?  I dreamed of you…”

“All good questions, my child,” came the answer, but the dragon’s mouth did not move.  Aithan heard the dragon speak, but its mouth did not move.  “Now, we must leave.  Follow me.  You will be safe.”  And the dragon turned and went through the open cell door and out of sight.  Aithan did not move, and presently the head reappeared in the door, golden eyes shining.  “Come, child, do not be afraid” it spoke into his mind, and Aithan got up and followed.  The narrow corridor was lit by torches, and Aithan saw his guards asleep against the walls.  The dragon moved quickly, fitting through openings that seemed impossible to pass, and he had to run to keep up.  Up winding stairs and through one final iron gate and they were in a courtyard.  It was night, and torches flared in the wind.  Against the far wall were a half dozen hard yellow dragons.  Panic filled him, he stopped and turned to flee back into the dungeons, but a great paw stopped him.

“Do not fear these demons.  They have been bound.”  The dragons glared at Aithan but did not move.  Then one unleashed a torrent of unspeakable curses upon the boy, and he was frozen in fear.

“Silence, unclean creature!  It is your Lord and King who commands you be silent!”  barked the soft dragon.  Instantly the cursing demon began to gag and the curses stopped, as all the other dragons (demons, Aithan remembered) continued to glare.

“Climb on my back, child,” said the soft dragon.  Watching the demons warily, Aithan obeyed, climbing onto the dragon’s back as the heat of the creature’s body flooded through him.  Then, in an instant, the dragon reached back with its paws to hold Aithan firmly, and with a tremendous bound it shot into the night, and its great wings began to beat against the sky.

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