The Dragon Tamer
Chapter 1

Caution: This Fantasy Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Reluctant, Magic, Slavery, Heterosexual, Fiction, Science Fiction, Rough, First, Oral Sex, Masturbation, Violent,

Desc: Fantasy Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Set in a world of war, magic and dragon riders, follow Sre uld Morthar, the last of her bloodline, from slavery to savior of humans and dragons everywhere. Hot sex included.

It was getting late in the day as Sre wandered about the woods outside of the town she lived in. She'd been thrown out of her job just that morning. She had worked at the Dancing Pig Tavern for the past 4 years in exchange for housing and food. But the tavern owner, an old friend of her father's, had tried to cohoarse her into his bed. She had refused him, and in a rage, he'd forcibly thrown her out. She had nothing but the clothes on her now. She'd come out into the woods hoping to find some summer berries to ease her hunger. Tired, she stopped at a small creek and knelt down, cupping the cold, clear water in her hands to drink. She felt her hunger pangs ease slightly, but she knew she couldn't live on water.

Sounds drew Sre's attention to the other side of the creek. Curious, she hopped over the water and quickly crept up the bank to some bushes, where she lay down and squirmed in between the branches, peering out at a huge clearing. A booted foot stomped down directly in front of her face. Sre held back a gasp and looked up at a soldier in fear. He, however, didn't even notice her as he called out to a comrade and marched off. When he had moved on, she noticed a fire not too far from her. A chunk of meat hung on a stick that leaned close to the fire. It was unattended, and Sre began to consider possibly hopping out and snatching it before anyone noticed.

She tensed up, her eyes darting around, when the ground shook under her body. Her mouth dropped slightly as a soldier led a war dragon past her by a large chain hooked to the bridle around its head. The beast was totally tame, following- obediently and calmly- the puny human that it could have possibly swallowed whole if it had thought about it. With a snort, the dragon turned its head and looked straight at Sre, sensing her presence. Sre's heart pounded in fear, thinking the beast would pounce on her. But the soldier gave a sharp jerk of the lead and the dragon turned and followed. Although war dragons didn't always like the company of their own kind, their loyalty and obedience to their human riders was whole and completely without question or hesitation. Keeping all the dragons squeezed into the same glade took much effort, but the dragons were about as smart as parrots and it soon occurred to them that simply accepting each other was in their mutual benefit. A few even huddled together as the sun slowly set.

The particular dragon that had just passed Sre was a young female, apparently just come into heat as her scales took on a soft purple branding. Several males started to honk and bellow and tug against their chains to get to her, but only a single selected male got the honor. Sre could see the beast, a huge black brute with grand sweeping horns and a regal crown of bone and spines that jutted out slightly from the back of his skull. He eyed the female quietly unlike the other males, perhaps because he knew there was no reason that he needed to waste his energy to impress her- she would be bred with him whether she liked it or not.

Sre turned away from that, and went back to thinking about the meat that was obviously done, though most people had gone to watch the mating as females sometimes turned against the males as they were usually larger than males. This one was young, though, so everyone wanted to make sure it wasn't the male who turned against her. Just when Sre had made up her mind, a man went over, plucked the stick from the ground, tore into the meat and walked off.

With a deep sigh, Sre started to back out of the bush, deciding it wasn't worth the risk anyways. She didn't know what kind of punishment could come from stealing food from the army, but whatever it was, she figured she wouldn't like it so it was best if she just left now before anyone noticed her.

She was about to stand when an iron fist gripped her hair and jerked her to her feet. She gave a small cry of surprise and pain, and her head was pulled back so that she was forced to look into the dark eyes of a man. His face was thin, hard, and angular, his lips thin, his black eyes glittering angrily. Sre let out a helpless whimper of fear.

"Spying on my troops, are you, wench? Perhaps you have an appointment with one of the men?" His accent was that of the Eastern Plains people, deep and intoxicating. His straight black hair hung down to his ears and slipped forward since he was so tall that he had to bend his head down to look her in the eyes.

Sre gulped. It just had to be her luck to run into the talon commander. "N-No, sir! I-I was just hungry, s-sir. I-I was g-going to..."

"Steal from my camp? Than it is better that I found you rather any of my men." A strange light glinted in his eyes, making her shudder.

"I-I had no intention..." she tried to explain but the man's mouth came down upon hers with a punishing force, stealing her breath away. She felt that she would suffocate in the cruel lock of his lips, but at the moment her limbs began to feel weak, he pulled back. His expert eyes seemed to bore through her raggy clothing, inspecting her young body.

In the near distance, they could hear the two dragons pairing. It was noisy business. The female roared and screeched, the male growled and grunted. The commander drew back slightly to look at her better. She then noticed his dragon scale armor, the cruel spikes on his shoulders and elbows, and his black cloak rimmed with golden fur. He was most definitely the commander. And in that case, it was his dragon being bred with the young female. His would be the biggest, strongest, and smartest of the lot.

Sre tried to struggle out of his grasp but he jerked her hair even harder. "P-Please, sir, I wasn't going to steal. I-I was just looking..."

He didn't say a word, didn't seem to even hear her, he just looked at her, his gaze sweeping her thin slender body under the rags of clothing. She shuddered and tried to stammer an excuse of why she had to leave, but the commander cut her off with his lips. His gloved hand came up and touched her small breast. She instantly attempted to recoil with a whimper, tried to push his hand away, but his grip on her tightened until she thought her neck would surely snap if she struggled any further. She had no choice but let him touch her, let him explore her through the clothing.

His gloved hand was rough, and Sre sobbed, her legs folding beneath her to escape his touch. But the commander held her up. His hand began to undo the buttons of her blouse and she again tried to struggle, grabbing his large wrist and trying to pull his hand away. He pulled away to snarl something at her when they heard a man calling out. "Commander Roscrow! Hey, commander, where are you? Your dragon's had his fun. What should we do with him?"

Roscrow lifted his head. "Put him next to my tent. I'll deal with him soon enough." Sre saw out of the corner of her eye a soldier push his way through the brush but Roscrow snarled. "I'm fine. Just do as I command. I'm busy." The soldier stopped, and he seemed to think about it, still not seeing them, but decided to do as he was told.

"Aye, sir, I'll leave you to your 'business.'" Sre could hear a hint of knowing sarcasm come from him as he went off back to the camp. Roscrow glared back down at Sre, who trembled in his grasp. There were tears in her eyes as the realization that she wasn't getting away dawned on her. He growled and released her hair finally, both his hands gripping her shoulders.

"Well, now you know my name, it is only fair I know yours." He seemed to get a little gentler as she lowered her head in submission and a few tears trickled down her cheeks.

"S-Sre, s-sir," she stuttered softly, sniffling. She prayed it would be over soon, and that he let her live after he'd had his fun.

Roscrow wiped away one of her tears gently, a move that surprised her. "Have men hurt you before?" His voice was low and kind, as if he was trying to gain her favor rather than just having his way with her without her consent.

Sre shook her head weakly, wiping her nose on her sleeve. Roscrow arched a brow in sudden realization. A small smug smile crossed his face but he only became more gentle. When she felt his grasp loosen considerably on her shoulders, she trembled inside but she took her chance despite her fear. She kicked him on the knee cap, and he grunted in pain as he fell on the ground. Sre was surprised for a moment that it had worked, but didn't take long to turn tail and run as fast as she could into the woods.

She'd gone only a short way but she was already out of breath, and she had to stop and lean against a tree. Gasping, her heart pounding, she nearly missed the sound of Roscrow right behind her. Adrenaline gave her a second wind and she took off again, thinking briefly that this is how a doe feels when she is being hunted. As she thought about it, she lost her footing on a root and stumbled into a creek. The cold water shocked her and it took her a moment to get up. As she rose, her clothing and hair dripping, a strong hand grasped her arm and dragged her out of the water. Roscrow's angry eyes glared down at her.

"I was going to be gentle, but you just got me pretty damn mad. Now if you just behave yourself for the rest of the time, I just might leave you some clothing to put back on by the end of this, bitch!" He pulled Sre over to a dry patch of leaves, throwing her down in his anger. She tried to crawl away, but he fell to his knees and put his arm around her waist, wrenching her back against him. She felt his gender stab against her bottom. She turned to claw at him in desperation, but was met with his short sword against her throat as he leaned forward, his body poised over hers.

She scuttled back in fear, her eyes wide, but when she felt her back bump into a tree, she gave a low sob. Roscrow stood and came toward her, his sword shining in the thin stream of light that filtered down from the setting sun. Tears sprang to her eyes and she cringed against the tree, squeezing her eyes shut, expecting any moment to feel the cold metal slicing her throat. She heard him kneel down in front of her, felt his hot breath against her ear, making her shudder. "Now what did I say about behaving, wench?" She couldn't move as his sword slid slowly down the middle of her chest, slicing through her blouse expertly, leaving no mark on her skin even though she could feel the tip of the blade, a warning for her to stay still.

Roscrow used his blade to move the thin cloth to the side, looking at her body. Sre gave a sob. She tried to turn to get on her feet, but Roscrow's hand reached behind her head and took hold of her hair, jerking her head back, laying his sword against her throat, its touch light but deadly.

"P-Please don't kill me!" Sre blurted out in a trembling voice, her only thought on getting out of this alive.

Roscrow drew closer to her until she could feel the heat of him, even through his armor made of large, overlapping dragon scales. "Then behave yourself." His whisper in her ear had as much of a blade to it as his sword. She felt his hand on her, his touch burning against her cold damp skin. Shivering, she could do nothing as his hand, which had released her hair, reached into her skirt and explored her, touching her intimately. The tiniest sound came out of her throat, and she thought she saw a hint of a smile on his stern face. A moment later, she felt his fingers slip into her and she struggled, giving a low cry of pain.

Before he could say anything, she aimed her foot at his jaw, glancing her slippered foot off the side of his face. Stunned for just a second, he gave a growl that froze Sre in mid escape. Now he was really mad. She was on her knees, trying to get to her feet, but the power of his anger made her stop and cringe. She was about to cover her head- a trained response from when her father would come home in a drunken rage- but Roscrow grabbed both her wrists, having dropped his sword, and twisted her arms behind her back. He shoved her forward and laid her wrists between her shoulder blades. She cried out in pain, but he pushed her harder against the scratchy leaves, and she knew he was in the perfect position to break both her arms. Either she quit struggling or she would wish she were dead.

She lay under him, trembling and sobbing, but finally subdued. She could feel him moving as he removed his groin guard. She closed her eyes, expecting ... she didn't really know, but she figured it was going to be painful. He pulled her skirt down, exposing her pale, round rump. His fingers gently moved away the folds of skin that hid the small organ that she had never paid much attention to til now. His touch was that of an expert, someone who knew exactly what he was doing. His fingers were callused from years of holding sword and shield, as well as reigns of dragons and horses, but he knew how to use that roughness to his advantage.

It really didn't take long for a warm tingling sensation to slowly make its way up into Sre's belly, causing her to squirm. She didn't know why his touch felt good, wondered if it was some kind of trick. A small moan left her before she could stop it and she heard Roscrow make a sound of humor. It was a cold humor, one without any care for her, and it scared her.

She suddenly, bucked, trying to dislodge him while his guard was down, but he was ready the moment she had tensed. "Damn it, girl. Don't you know when to quit?" he growled. He pushed down on her wrists hard, making her feel more like her back would snap, not her arms. She then felt the head of his member press against her. He was angry and he wasn't going to waste anymore time doing what he wanted to do.

"Please, sir," Sre pleaded between sobs. "I-I wasn't going to steal, I was just looking at the dragons. Please, oh please sir, don't do this. Please..."

Sre's words were cut short as she felt his length press into her. She cried out in a bit of pain, squirming uncomfortably. He pressed her harder, warning her to stay still. His movements were slow, purposeful. She could feel him tremble as he just barely contained himself from ramming into her. Ever so gently, he pressed through the barrier of her innocence, making her whimper in defeat. She wriggled under him, her arms hurting in the position he forced them in. But he didn't seem to notice as he moved faster and harder, eventually taking her as he chose.

She heard him gurgle in pleasure, felt the cold metal of his leg armor strike her ass again and again as his pace quickened. He moved with a tilt to his powerful thrusts, and soon Sre began to feel an odd warm feeling creep into her belly, slowly spreading through her. She realized that his free hand was gently rubbing in time with his thrusts. The bud was soon throbbing and aching for his touch, but he teased her when he felt her move, trying to get him to touch her more. She still tried to resist his gentle persuasion but the primal sounds erupted from her throat. She moaned and panted, straining to feel more. The leaves rubbed against her nipples, making them tingle and rise. She could hear him give a small chuckle when she whimpered unintelligibly her desire.

Sre began to feel a pleasant ache in her belly and she didn't understand the feeling. It continued to grow and fill her consciousness until her body was wracked with convulsions, pleasure so intense she felt like she would surely explode. She cried out, whimpering and moaning, unable to express herself in words. She continued to quiver, even as Roscrow slowed to allow the spasms to pass. When he quickened, she felt him tremble as if he were holding himself back, his breathing labored. His powerful thrusts pushed him deeply into her, leaving her breathless and panting heavily.

Yet again she felt her body begin to tingle and tighten. As he moved just perfectly, she felt her belly swell with the bliss until she was sure it was going to burst any second. But the Roscrow stopped. Trembling, so near to bliss she wanted to cry, Sre squirmed, grinding her hips, confused. She tried to talk, but could barely get out a few whimpers. She felt the vibration of his laughter as he bent over her. He suddenly released her wrists and pulled her up against him, resuming his movements slowly at first, agonizyingly slow. His hands traveled up Sre's thin body, taking advantage of her position. His rough, strong fingers expertly manipulated her hardened nipples, making her cry out in unexplainable pleasure. She tried desperately to get him to go faster, but he continued to move slow, purposeful. Just when she thought she'd go crazy with the nearness of Heaven, he grinned behind her and rammed her just right, tweaking her nipples at the same time. She very nearly screamed as she felt her body consumed by the pleasure, completely and utterly lost in the intensity of the orgasm. She couldn't stop herself from begging for more, trembling under him.

Sre felt him chuckle more than heard him this time. He bent over her, his hot breath against her ear making her shudder along the full length of her spine. "Be careful what you wish for." Sre sobbed with the pleasure as he quickened, his muscles straining. He gripped her hips, pulling her back into his thrusts, sheathing himself entirely within her. It took little time at all before Sre felt the sea of bliss close in over her head again, but this time, she heard Roscrow groan deeply, his body quivering against her. They were both panting, their skin shining with perspiration. Slowly, Roscrow slipped out of Sre, causing her to shiver with memory. With a grunt he sat back against a tree trunk, replacing his groin guard before reaching out to Sre, trying to pull her to his lean, hard body.

For a moment, caution forced its way into Sre's mind, and she tried to resist Roscrow's gentle hands, but her own lust made her weaken and the moment was gone. She leaned against him, her head resting comfortably against his chest, the scales of his armor warm. She sighed and closed her eyes, listening to his heartbeat, knowing that what she did was dangerous. He didn't care about her. He had only done everything for his own pleasure more than for hers. If she attached, she would hurt ever so much more. But she couldn't help feeling safe in his arms, even if for a few moments. One arm held her close to his warmth as the night chill descended upon them, making her shiver. The other hand stroked her hair soothingly. She barely remembered him pulling his cloak over them as she drifted off to sleep along with the sun.

When Sre awoke, the sun shone down warmly on her skin. She opened her eyes and realized where she was. She sat up and looked around, but the talon commander was no where in sight. Sighing sadly, she pulled her knees to her chest, feeling very alone and dejected, even though she had known this would happen.

She looked around for her clothes but only her skirt was intact. Whimpering, she pulled on her blouse anyways, holding it together with her hand. She went over to the creek and knelt down to get a drink, letting it refresh her. Her stomach growled even louder and she sighed again. It seemed like nothing was going right.

She stood and turned, then gasped and jumped back. Her employer stood grinning at her. He was an ugly man, overweight and cruel. "How strange that I should find you in torn clothing and tangled hair but yards from my tavern. I was, in fact, searching for you. Your father died just a few nights ago and he still owes me quite a bit of money."

Sre's jaw dropped and Jeboc's grin only got bigger. She put up her hand. "But I can't pay."

"Exactly." He grabbed her wrist with bruising force, making her gasp in pain. The grin on his face twisted with cruel intent. "And that means that you are my slave."

The tavern was full with soldiers. They had all been on the front lines for long months and now they had some leisure time. The serving maids showed their gratitude of the soldiers' bravery and sacrifice in every way imaginable. The noise in the tavern was almost deafening.

Sre sighed and tried to stay out of sight. "Sre! You lazy bitch, get your ass out to the well and bring some water before I belt you!" Sre jumped and lowered her head, hurrying away from Jeboc, who had very well established himself as her master. He had even had a metal collar made for her so that she could never escape, especially since he had had the lock fused. By law, she would have to be his slave until he felt her father's debt had been paid, which she knew would be never as long he lived.

She had to pass several soldiers to get out and they all tried reaching for her. Cringing, glancing back toward the kitchen to make sure Jeboc wasn't looking, she slipped past them and out the door. Shutting the door behind her, she leaned against it, sighing sadly. How her life had gone downhill. She headed for the well slowly, not looking about. She dropped the bucket into the well and brought it back up, struggling. She'd placed the bucket on the ground when she heard what sounded like war dragons.

Curiosity took hold and she figured she could go take a peek. The giant creatures always inspired her and made her feel better. Glancing around the barn, she saw them all tied down, several eyeing each other suspiciously, others dozing on their backs in the sun, still others staring at nothing. There was one that slept but a few feet from her. His great breaths filled the air like a blacksmith's bellows. Sre reached out carefully, wanting to know what they felt like.

She was only inches from the snoozing dragon's head when its eye, golden and piercing, opened and looked straight at her. She suppressed a scream and backed away as the dragon rolled to its feet with a roar, going for her. Sre squeezed her eyes shut, figuring it was the end. Not that it really mattered if it was. She figured anything after death had to be better than this hell, so she didn't even bother trying to dodge the beast.

A strong hand grabbed her arm and jerked her out of the way. The dragon gave a pitiful sound and reared back as a man's voice began commanding it in a spidery language. It backed off and bumped into another dragon, who snarled and turned to snap at it. The first dragon yelped and hunkered down, showing weakness. Immediately the whole talon was up in roars and they were all attempting to kill each other. The chains that held them to trees were snapped, and some of the trees themselves shattered. The noise was deafening as one large female pounced on the male that had been the one Sre had tried to pet. With a mighty roar, a huge black beast with golden stripes lumbered into the brawl, grabbing the female by the back of the neck and tossing her like she was toy. She went crashing through the trees, her cries of surprise turning to pain as her wings were torn by her thrashing to gain her feet.

Sre, stunned by the power and brutality of the creatures, backed away and then turned to run back into the tavern before anyone noticed that she had been the one to start it. Her only thought was not have Jeboc find out about this. Soldiers were running toward the battling beasts, even though the giant black dragon had already cowed all the others into noisy submission.

She had just reached the door when the same gauntletted hand that had saved her took a hold of her wrist and spun her around, slamming her against the wall of the tavern. She looked up in surprise and fear.

"Do you realize how much trouble you just caused, wench?" The voice was so familiar and so was his face. Tears swelled in Sre's eyes and she looked down at her bare feet. Jeboc gave her barely enough clothes to cover herself with and certainly no shoes. Roscrow's eyes narrowed in annoyance. He gave an angry growl, moving as if he meant to strike her.

"I-I'm sorry!" Sre cried, cringing. She squeezed her eyes shut, trembling as she felt his hard body against her shift in obvious irritation. "I ... I just ... I thought..." She really didn't know what to say. Nothing seemed like it would be a good enough excuse to save her.

Roscrow moved, making a sound that stopped all her thoughts about saving herself. She realized at that moment that he held the tag attached to her collar and, risking a quick peek, saw him staring intently at it. Only then did any emotion flicker in his cold black eyes. He looked up at her and sneered. "Let me guess. You were a runaway when I met you and then you were caught and your master stuck a collar on you?"

Sre gave a small sob. How could he think such a thing? Hadn't it been he himself who had taken her innocence? Well, better that it was him, not Jeboc. She stuttered in fear, "My-my father died with debt t-to J..." she lowered her voice should her master hear her speak his name, "Jeboc and I couldn't pay it. I wasn't a ... a slave..." She hated that word.

Suddenly, the door flew open next to them and Jeboc stepped out, his large belly making it out the threshold first before they could see his ugly face. He looked with worry at the dragons who had been making quite the racket as they were shocked into submission by the humans. He then turned and noticed Roscrow standing near him. Roscrow towered over him, his powerful, lean body hidden by the dragonscale armor. His broad shoulders were made broader by the spiked shoulder armor. His black metal gauntlets went up his strong arms and ended in spikes at his elbows. Those black eyes of his could pierce the soul. Jeboc was immediately cowed.

"Uh, g-g'day to you, s-sir. I-" he had to pause to gulp the lump out of his throat- "I hope the dragons aren't to rowdy. I-I would hate for them to ... crash into my barn and hurt themselves!" He peered around, making a show of vigilance when really he just wanted to look away from the commander.

"My dragon, Granger, has the talon under control. My soldiers can easily put them back in their places. You've no need to fear about your barn." He stood straight and tall, his figure so demanding and powerful that Jeboc found himself more afraid of the man than of his dragons. The large sword at his hip certainly didn't make him any less intimidating.

Taking a moment to get himself together, Jeboc looked about the courtyard, noticing the bucket of water still sitting next to the well. "I don't mean to bother you with my petty problems, good sir, but have you seen my slave about?" His eyes turned back to the commander in time to see Sre step out from behind him, her head bowed. His eyes narrowed, but she didn't need to see that to know she was in trouble. "You had something to do with those dragons, didn't you, Sre?" The anger in his voice made her tremble.

"Quite on the contrary. She alerted me to the fact that Tins had been harassing one of my smaller males until it looked like a fight might break out." He looked down at Sre who was too shocked to say anything. She heard his voice take on a sarcastically humorous tone. "You could say she saved your barn."

Taken by complete surprise, Sre could say nothing. Jeboc gave a sneer and waved his hand toward the inside of the tavern. "For that, perhaps I'll feed you tonight. Now get that water into the kitchen now before I change my mind!" Sre quickly fetched the heavy bucket and struggled back into the kitchen with it. She glanced up at Roscrow as she passed him, still confused about why he would lie for her. He only lifted his right brow slightly before turning at the sound of his name as a soldier came up to him to report about the situation with the dragons. The only part of the conversation she heard was " ... no idea what set them off, sir..."

The evening really wasn't any quieter or less busy. Some soldiers had passed out and were snoring, leaning over the tables, others had retired to their rooms. Most, though, were still at it. They sang old songs and spoke of their battles with other patrons.

Sre was reaching the end of her endurance when Jeboc finally waved her into the kitchen. "Here. Eat and then get your ass into the barn. And stay away from those dragons!" His glare sent a shiver down her spine and she muttered "yessir."

After she'd eaten her meager meal- little more than stale bread, water and some cheese that didn't smell that great, but it was better than nothing- she hurried to her bed out in the barn. There were only a few horses being housed there at the time and they were still nervous by the smell of the dragons that were so near.

Sre sank onto her bed of hay with an exhausted sigh. She had been expecting a black eye at least from what had happened today, but she'd gotten away with a meal. The air was getting chilly as winter approached and she drew her old wool blanket up around her shoulders. It was smelly and moldy and had seen much better days, but it was all she had to stay warm. Shivering a bit, she could hear the chorus of horses whinnying softly, the dragons murmuring and the many bugs out in the woods. The laughter and music in the tavern was muted slightly by the other sounds.

Sre was on the verge of sweet oblivion when she felt a hand touch her shoulder. Fear clenched her, thinking it was her master changing his mind about letting her get away without any punishment. She turned quickly, her eyes wide. No, it wasn't her master, but it was just as bad. Three soldiers stood over her. They had snuck up on her silently and now they trapped her into the stall that was her room. Fear made her heart leap into her throat. Normally, she wouldn't have been quite so scared but for the thick smell of ale and whiskey that wafted off of them.

"Ye gave us the slip earlier, gurl, but not t'is time!" The soldier nearest her slurred his words in his drunkenness. He was undoing his breeches clumsily. One of the others was holding a sword which glistening in the pale light that shined in from the tavern's windows through the cracks in the walls of the barn. Sre knew drunk men and she knew they were willing to do things that normally their consciences would not allow them to do sober. When she noticed the sword, she had to repress the instinct to try and flee. They were soldiers and they would not be against running her through if she tried to struggle.

Her breathing, quick and shallow, filled her ears. She backed up against the stall wall, hoping maybe, just maybe, they were too drunk to go through with what they intended and would fall flat on their faces. But it just wasn't her luck. The first soldier grabbed her by her collar and shoved her hard against the wall, knocking the breath out of her. Dazed by his strength, she could barely whimper in protest as the soldier bunched up her raggy dress. His comrades closed in, grins on their faces. They weren't the most handsome of the soldiers, thus probably why they had come after her since none of the free women in town were willing to bed them. She, however, had no such choice.

She felt him press into her and she gave a low cry in pain. A stinging slap across her face quickly quieted her. In a daze, she tried to retreat into her mind, a trick she had learned to bare the pain and humiliation.

"At attention!" The voice was so forceful that even the horses went dead silent. The soldiers snapped around, standing as straight and steady as they could manage, their members managing it better then their legs. "You three are suppose to be reporting for night guard! And instead I find you in here, drunk and with your pants down! I certainly don't want to know what you three were intending to do to each other, but you better clean yourselves up and get to your posts before it gets back to the rest of the talon!"

Stammering, the soldiers were completely at a loss. Finally, too drunk to know what they were even trying to say, they quickly departed, stumbling past their commander, attempting to salute him. He watched them go with narrowed eyes, making note of each to punish in the morning when they were sober. When they had left, he turned his attention to Sre, who had slid down into a heap on the floor. She staggered to her feet when she heard Roscrow come toward her.

"Did they hurt you?" He drew up close to her. She flattened herself against the wall, turning away in fear. In the faint light, she could barely make out his expression. He reached out his hand and gently ran the back of his fingers along her cheek where one of the soldiers had struck her.

"I-I'll be ok, sir," she said quietly. She was very tired and she really just wanted him to do whatever he intended to do fast and then leave her to her sleep.

Roscrow glanced around with a look of disdain. Then he turned back at Sre, those eyes of his reflecting the weak light. She knew then he wasn't fully human, but whatever in his ancestry gave him that ability had been nearly drowned out as no other features marked him a mongrel. This world was a mostly human colony, after all, and they had lived here for over a thousand generations. Only a few other aliens managed to make a living, but they usually didn't stay long.

Sre was suddenly stunned to feel Roscrow lift her hand to his lips. He kissed the back of her hand, his lips warm, all the while watching her expression. "I leave you to your sleep. It is very late. Sleep peacefully. No one will bother you." Her jaw slack, she looked up at him in surprise as he dropped her hand, bowed and turned, leaving her shocked beyond words. Only when he had left her sight, closing the barn door behind him, could she even breathe much less crawl back under her blanket. For some reason, though, what he had said made her feel safer than usual even though she had no reason to believe him. But just the thought that maybe he would keep his soldiers away from her made her sleep a little more deeply than she usually did.

"Sre!" The angry voice of her master jerked her from blissful sleep. "If I come in there and find you still sleeping, I swear I'll belt you til you beg me to feed you to these dragons!"

Realizing how late it was, Sre struggled to untangle herself from her blanket as the barn door swung open. She was able to stagger to her feet as Jeboc came in, glaring at her. He came straight at her and she cringed back, thinking he was going to hit her. He grabbed her arm with bruising force and shoved her toward the door. "Get'cher lazy ass in that kitchen!" Not wanting to stick around and make him any angrier, she ran to the kitchen door, quickly cleaned herself up and got to work preparing food for the soldiers and other guests.

Two of the barmaids came in to pour pitchers of ale. She could hear them talk even above the clang of cookware. "That commander is so handsome. But he doesn't talk. I tried everything to get him to even notice me but he just looks right past me."

"I know. But a man of few words?" She gave a small shiver. "I love the strong silent type! They always play hard to get, but they always come around in the end."

They both giggled as they headed back out the door. Rolling her eyes, Sre kept working. Leave it to those two to try and seduce everyone that caught their fancy. She was glad they had found someone who frustrated them. Roscrow didn't seem like the kind who would give those two the time of day much less any of his time or affection. Someone with as much rank and power as he could chose from far higher quality women.

Sre turned with a bowl of oatmeal and struck an immovable body. The ceramic bowl fell from her stunned fingers, shattering on the ground, spilling its contents all over the floor. Her heart leapt into her throat. "I-I'm sorry," she muttered as she quickly grabbed a rag and started to clean Roscrow's knee high black leather boots. They had not a scoff mark on them, were so shiny she might have been able to see herself reflected. Now they were covered in sticky oatmeal.

He was about to say something when one of the barmaids popped her head in. "Sre! Oh, Jeboc's not going to be happy with you! Oh dear..." She suddenly flushed when she noticed who it was that Sre was cleaning the boots of. She quickly looked down to make sure her cleavage was ample and very visible before rushing over. "I'm really sorry, sir, Sre is rather clumsy at times. I'm always telling her she could learn a thing or two from me..." She went quiet when his eyes turned to her. His gaze was so piercing she had to look away. "H-here, I'll help..."

"I think she can handle it. She dropped it, she can clean it." Sre shivered. The cold steel of his voice bit her to the bone. But when she looked up, she realized that his words were in no way directed at her. Malissa, the barmaid, was looking at him with wide eyes, totally white. She stammered unintelligibly before quickly retreating out the door. When he turned back to Sre, she was surprised to see a warmth in those eyes of his. "Those two are very irritating."

The tiniest smile crossed Sre's face at his tone. She quickly looked down so that he didn't see. "I did not mean to startle you. I'd only wanted to make sure no one bothered you last night. I'd given my men orders not to harass the locals, but I guess they are just too eager to drown their sorrows in spirits and sex."

"SRE!" She gave a little groan. Malissa had run off to tattle on her. Of course she couldn't stand the fact that the commander would give his attention to the slave girl rather than herself and she intended to get back at Sre. Jeboc came into the kitchen, his face red with rage and embarrassment. He glowered at Sre, who had finished cleaning Roscrow's boots and was trying to hurriedly pick up the pieces of the bowl. "I'm very sorry, sir. I promise she'll be punished for..."

"I certainly don't think so." The sword he wore at his hip was dull and chipped compared to the blade of his tone. "It was my fault. I should not have startled her. As it were, I was coming in here to ... seek her company."

Malissa flashed a glare at Sre. Sre could almost read her mind. What did a half starved, beaten slave girl have that she didn't? Honestly, Sre had no idea. She kept cleaning, waiting for a kick from Jeboc, though it wouldn't come while the commander was there. He never beat her when there was company. Besides, he was looking about as browbeaten as she was at that moment.

"W-well, good sir, her company does come with a price..." Sre looked up to see why Jeboc had gone quiet. She noticed that Roscrow had a smile on his face. It was the most dreadful thing she'd ever seen. How a smile could promise death, she didn't know, but his most certainly did. Jeboc was so pale that he looked like he might faint from fear.

His voice dripping with acidic humor, Roscrow motioned slightly for Sre to stand. "Your government thanks you for your sacrifice." It was a trained sentence. In times of war, no one could demand money from the army. Taverns were to house and feed soldiers for free, as were farmers and bakers and anyone else who was unlucky enough to find an army at their door. In peace times, it was different, Jeboc could even have thrown them all out. But right now, he walked a thin rope with swords on either side.

Without another word, not bothering to wait for Jeboc to say something, Roscrow turned on his heels and strode out of the kitchen, Sre close behind. Whatever he had planned for her would most certainly be better than what Jeboc would have done to her with Malissa hissing in his ear. He stopped only once to obilige a cheer that went up from his soldiers in his honor as they had been relating a tale of his bravery in battle to some newcomers to the tavern. After a slight bow, he continued his way up the stairs to the room he had taken residence in. It was the furthest room with windows that over looked the dragons resting in the clearing behind the barn.

Roscrow opened the door and motioned Sre inside. She entered with her head bowed but her eyes quickly flicked about in instinct. She could feel Roscrow's eyes on her and she jumped slightly when she heard him lock the door. She felt his body heat behind her, radiating out of his armor. His voice was low and gentle as he passed her and proceeded to remove his sword belt. "Too bad he didn't try to argue. I would have liked an excuse to swipe that ugly head off his bull neck. Unfortunately, I can't go around beheading people without 'proper' justification." He dropped the sword onto the bed carelessly. He obviously wore it more for show than anything else. She had no doubt at all that he could easily defend himself without it.

Sre didn't say anything as he continued to pull of his armor. The scales of his breastplate scraped together, making an odd hissing sound that made all the hairs raise up on her body. He laid it over a chair next to the bed. He then pulled the gauntlets off his arms. She was surprised to see that his forearms were covered in scars. He noticed her stare and gave a small shrug. "Baby dragons. Adorable bundles of death. When they get playful, they don't give any thought to the fact we don't have scales like them."

Curiosity gripped Sre. She liked the dragons a lot, but knew next to nothing about them. Cautiously, she cleared her throat. "How... ?" She stopped when he looked at her. She quickly looked down. Jeboc never let her talk out of turn.

"'How' what?" His voice was warm, deep, that accent intoxicating. She would love to listen to it all day.

"How ... big are they? The baby dragons?" She kept her voice quiet.

He gave her a smile. This one was not like the one he had given Jeboc. This smile soothed her, made her feel safe. How could he be so frigid one minute, then so warm the next? She thought steam should be rising off him from the ice melting so fast. He raised his hands to indicate their size. "When they are young, they're not very big at all. Like a dog. And they impress on the first thing they see. Usually, we let it be the mother as otherwise we'd have to kill her to be able to keep her away from her hatching young. She can hear them in the egg, calling for her. But after they hatch, we quickly pair them with a rider, usually a young dragon rider. We train all our lives for the moment we get our dragons. We are then paired for life."

"So ... you've had your dragon since he was a baby?"

"Granger was the biggest of his brood. And he chose me. If not for that, I likely would not have risen in the ranks. I can still remember, I was going to be getting the runt when Granger walked right up to me, gave me this glare. I just glared back at him and we stood that way for a good ten minutes. Finally, he honked, flapped his wings, and sat next to me. When the dragon masters tried to remove him from my side, he tore into their arms."

Sre smiled. He was obviously lost in the memory. He absently peered out the window to stare at his dragon who was sunning himself in the morning light. His black wings were spread slightly. He was a magnificent sight. She thought him lucky to have a dragon to protect him. Of course he didn't need any weapon. One call from him and Granger would tear the whole tavern down.

Sre realized Roscrow had turned back to look at her. She'd been staring out the window too, marveling at the beauty of the deadly creature. "I bet you'd like to touch one. You were trying to yesterday."

She looked away from the window. "I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

Roscrow waved his hand. He walked over to the window and swung it open. He gave a short sharp whistle. The tavern shook as Granger trotted over to the window. Unlike the other dragons, he was not tied down. He could easily peer into the second story window. Roscrow smiled as Granger mumbled at him. He then waved his hand at Sre. Stunned, Sre came to him. He took her wrist gently and reached her hand out the window. The dragon gave a happy groan when it felt the hand.

The beast was warm; its scales had a velvet feel to them, almost like peach fuzz. She ran her hand over his brow, moving over the small bony spikes that jutted out of the scales. She was in total awe and she felt like she must be in a dream. The dragon peered up at her with his huge golden eye. She saw a glint of intelligence. The beast knew he was to behave himself. He knew his rider had taken a liking in this girl. Why didn't matter. So he looked at the tiny human with as much interest as she looked at him.

"Wonderful, aren't they?"

Sre jumped. She'd been so engrossed in the dragon that she forgot all about Roscrow standing next to her. He was smiling warmly at her. She looked away shyly, snatching her hand back. Roscrow gestured briefly at Granger. He needed no other orders. He strode back among the talon, looking smug. He was as much a ladies man as his master. If Sre had tried petting him, he certainly would not have thrown a fit about it like Blask. The smaller dark blue male had always been a short fuse. The only human he even tolerated was his rider.

Roscrow never took his eyes off Sre. She felt smaller than usual under his steady gaze. He closed the window, taking a small step back out of sight of anyone below. She then felt him cup her chin, lifting her face up. Before she could say anything, she felt his lips on hers. They were warm and softer than she remembered, probably because this time he was much gentler. His hand had slipped behind her neck, holding her to his lips. She could feel his other hand on her waist, pulling her close to his hard body. The thin black shirt he wore under his armor to soak up sweat and avoid chaffing was tight enough to show the lean, powerful muscles that rippled with every move.

For a moment Sre relaxed. His touch was pleasant and warm, not like the heat of her master's anger or of those who were in a drunken stupor. But the months of her enslavement made her wary and she tensed up again, making a small whimpering sound. Roscrow pulled away, looking down at her with a raised brow. She bowed her head quickly. Her heart was beating so hard in her chest that she thought it might pop out.

Roscrow suddenly walked away from her. "I would appreciate it if you accompanied me in the shower. I never can scrub my back very well." His voice gave a hint of mischievous humor, although the order was very clear. Too afraid to resist, she nodded and followed him as he pulled off his undershirt, revealing olive toned skin covered in battle scars. It was obvious he'd been in a few sword fights.

He stopped outside the shower room, this room being only one of two rooms with its own shower and toilet facilities. Sre didn't realize she'd been watching him intently, marveling at how he walked and moved and how those lean muscles flowed with him. "Why don't you go and start the water rather than standing there staring at me?" Sre jumped and quickly lowered her eyes, terrified that he'd be angry, even though he smiled and his voice sounded like he was repressing a laugh. She hurried into the small room, figuring he needed to relieve himself since the toilet was seperate from the shower.

Although most technology had been abandoned long ago, some were still in use, such as electricity and plumbing. The tavern had a giant water heater in the basement, enough to supply the whole building. Sre had only ever been permitted to bathe in hot water a few times, usually having to sponge off with a bucket of cold water in the barn. She gave a little shiver, remembering the last time she'd been in a shower as she turned on the water. Men weren't the only ones to take advantage of her. Malissa and her friend and cousin, Jerassa, sometimes entertained themselves with her. Neither were very nice people, long past the age that they should have been settled down with families of their own.

As she'd been thinking, she didn't notice Roscrow's presence until she found herself pinned against the wall. She gasped, looking up in surprise. Roscrow smiled at her, his expression soft. He kissed her gently, his hands coming up to stroke her neck. She couldn't help but give a little moan. His hands moved slowly to the thin straps on her shoulders that kept her rag of a dress from just falling to the floor, which was exactly what it did when he hooked his thumbs under them and let his hands move down over her shoulders and her arms.

Sre could feel his naked body press against hers, feel that he was hard and ready. A shiver ran through her, only barely remembering their first meeting. But it hadn't taken much to knock those memories out of her head and Jeboc had done a good job of that. She was so tensed that Roscrow thought she could only snap like a string being pulled too taut. He suddenly pulled her under the hot spray, his arms encircling her when she stumbled forward, putting her hands out to stabilize herself.

His hold on her was protective, and under the drizzle of hot water, her terrified trembling slowly ceased. She dared to close her eyes for a moment, dared to relax into him for just a moment, imagining a better life as she often did to escape her reality. A sensation she hadn't felt in a long time brought her back to her reality. With a start she realized Roscrow was touching her, his finger probing her intimately, tenderly. She gave a whimper and pushed weakly at his chest, but she found her back against the shower wall, unable to escape. She had no choice but to allow his touch which made her squirm.

He touched his lips to hers again, but only for a short while before moving on, kissing and nipping softly to her ear, lingering there for a few moments until he felt her tremble with desire rather than fear, then moved down her neck and to her shoulder. She was soon clutching onto him, barely able to stand. She was starting to become more afraid of her feelings than of him. She was still scared of him, though, and the crazy idea that he was trying to bait her into doing something wrong so he could behead her crossed her mind. But it was just a crazy idea, she knew, somehow, in the back of her mind.

And in the midst of her blurry thoughts she realized Roscrow had lifted her up, planting her back firmly against the shower wall, holding her legs up around his waist. She looked up at him shyly, afraid to look him in the eyes. He looked at her with a smile, his eyelids lowered in an almost smug look. She knew he'd done this more than a few times, that it was all routine to him. Of all the women in the whole town he'd picked her probably because she would be the easiest to get into bed, and the least likely to go running around and telling everyone, like Malissa and her friend would do.

She wanted to hate him for it, for treating her so well only so he could break her heart yet again, but when he nibbled on her neck as he slowly lowered her onto him, slipping into her wet slit, she could barely think at all, much less think of hating anyone. His powerful thrusts drove him deep, leaving her breathless. She wanted to scream out as a sudden orgasm ripped through her, leaving her trembling and clutching him with all four limbs, but she bit down on her lower lip and swallowed the sounds, terrified if her master would hear her.

Roscrow stopped, letting it pass. When she looked at him, panting slightly, she thought she could see sadness in there somewhere. Maybe she imagined it, she couldn't be sure. "Someone's a little enthusiastic." Again she thought she heard sympathy in his voice, but she really couldn't say for certain. Why would he care about her? He had everything in the world that he could want.

She wanted to mumble an apology, still unsure if he had meant to bring that out of her, but his lips stopped her short. He started again, his body pressing against her. As he moved in her, she felt him tremble from his own desire, heard him groan in his chest. His movements were from one who was greatly experienced and it didn't take Sre long to feel herself losing her mind again. She panted and moaned and gave little cries, squirming in his grasp. And just when she thought to bite her lip again, she felt the vibration of his voice in her ear, sending a shiver up and down her spine. "Scream for me, wench. No one will hear you in here."

Finally, Sre buried her face in his broad shoulder and let her mind go. She could feel the pleasure like waves, each one lapping up behind the last in time with his thrusts. She mumbled incoherently, not quite sure what she was saying, but when he chuckled and leaned close to her ear, again making her shiver with the deep resonation of his voice, she could guess what she had said. "Be careful what you wish for."

He moved faster, hitting just the right spot in her, causing scream after whimpering moan to tear themselves from her. She closed her eyes, but it certainly didn't help as she saw flashes behind her eyelids, like shooting stars that were really pieces of pure bliss that where crashing into her body.

She felt him groan since she couldn't hear him through her own sounds. She could feel his body stiffen and felt a warmth inside of her. For a moment she was glad for the one tiny courtesy Malissa had shown her in the form of small device that prevented her from conceiving. But that thought went through her mind every time. She shuddered as Roscrow pulled out and slowly, carefully set her feet back on the floor. He then held her up as she gained back her balance. She panted heavily, trying to clear her wits.

"All I wanted was for you to scrub my back and here you went and distracted me." She tensed up for a second, thinking he meant it, but he gave a soft laugh, stroking her cheek. A little smile crossed her face dispite herself, and she giggled quietly.

There was a pounding at the door that made Sre's heart leap into her throat and choke her giggles. She thought her master had heard her. He often threatened her that if he heard even a peep out of her he would make her wish she was in hell.

Roscrow left Sre in the shower, stepping out and grabbing a towel to wrap around his thin waist. Dispite her fear, she couldn't help but let her eyes follow a few trickles of water that coursed down his back, tracing the lines of his muscles. It sent a shiver through her in memory, almost wishing he'd come back and do it again. He left the room and she could only guess that either he intended for her to clean herself up, or that he would return. Either way, she intended to clean up for it'd been a while since she'd had a proper bath.

She found the soap and lathered herself up, giving a little sigh. If it was her master at the door, she had no doubt Roscrow could easily dispatch him. Jeboc was a coward, really. He'd never even been to bed with a woman until he'd enslaved her. Malissa and Jerassa worked for him because they were family; cousins, if she remembered correctly. She couldn't really remember, mainly because she didn't really care that much. She tried to banish the thought of them from her mind as she let the hot water soothe her aching muscles. The fresher wounds on her back from Jeboc's belting still stung a bit.

Sre felt blessed to be on Roscrow's good side for she never heard him approach. She found his arms around her, pulling her close to his body. She tensed up, startled by his silent entry. She felt his hand touch her back, tracing a scar. She knew every scar, could remember the reason for each one, even though she tried to forget them. The one he traced was because she had tried to escape. She shuddered with the memory of being found and returned by a farm boy. He'd gotten a double reward while she'd gotten thrice the punishment.

"Do they hurt?"

So stunned was Sre by the genuine caring she heard in his voice that it took her a moment to respond. "Only their memories." She could barely whisper it. For no reason she could think of, she felt tears in her eyes. She had learned that crying got her nowhere and it didn't earn her any sympathy. But she couldn't hold back the sobs when Roscrow held her tightly to his body, almost cradling her. It took her longer than she thought it would to gain her composure back, but Roscrow held her silently through it.

Finally, she turned to look up at him, her eyes puffy. She suddenly felt very tired and spent. As if he could read her mind, Roscrow turned off the water and helped her out of the shower. He wrapped a towel around her and then lifted her into his arms. She gave a gasp, but didn't struggle. In fact, she blushed, not certain what to make of the situation. He gave her one of his warm smiles as he carried her out into the room. He laid her onto the bed gingerly, as if she were a glass doll. Then he kissed her with great passion and she couldn't help but squirm. In a show of his strength, agility, and playfulness, he managed to flip over her and into the bed beside her without ever leaving her lips. Wide eyed, Sre couldn't help but giggle against his lips at his boy-like behavior.

He stroked her lean belly, looking down upon her. She blushed hotly under his scrutiny because it was completely different kind of lust she saw in his eyes, not the cruel desire that she was so used to.

There was a great many honking and bellowing from outside, but Roscrow didn't bother to get up. Sre was about to sit up in worry, but he kissed her, using his body to push her back into the bed. "Don't worry. My lieutenant came to tell me that they discovered Fire Flower had laid her eggs. It's a few weeks early, but not uncommon. She tried hiding them, but Granger had sniffed them out. She's throwing a fit because we have to move them."

"Is ... Granger the father?" She was interested in this. Anything that had to do with dragons brought out her curiosity.

"Yes. One of many broods he's sired. He always seems to take a keen interest in his eggs, an odd behavoir for a War dragon. The males usually ignore the female and their eggs afterward. He's been defensive of Fire Flower ever since. All 10 months that she's been carrying around those eggs." He continued to stroke Sre, his eyes taking her in and holding her captive.

"Wh-when will they hatch?" Her voice grew quieter under his gaze. She wiggled about a bit, feeling a tingling in her loins from the look in his eyes.

"Another two months or so. Doesn't take them long. Especially since Fire Flower is a special dragon. Her mother was a captive Spindle. The Dragon Masters were trying to breed a new type of War dragon, one with the same power but that could breathe fire like the Spindles can."

"Oh," was all Sre could think of saying, followed by a whimper and a squirm. She could see that it greatly amused him that by just the slightest touch he could have her wiggling and moaning.

There was another knock at the door. Roscrow stood, plucking the towel right out from under Sre. She started to give a yelp, but quickly covered her mouth, glaring at him as he turned away with a grin. She realized what she'd done and quickly turned her eyes down. If she had glared at Jeboc like that, she'd have a whole new set of scars on her. She quickly got herself under the sheets of the bed, holding them to her body. Then she rolled her eyes.

"Oh my! Oh, um, good afternoon, sir. I- uh- I was told to bring food up to you by one of your soldiers. I ... hope I'm not interrupting anything?" Malissa and Jerassa were both at the door, holding platters of food. Roscrow raised a brow in obvious irritation, but they didn't seem to notice.

"May we come in? These are so heavy, although, I'm sure a strong man like yourself would hardly notice the weight." Jerassa very pointedly looked at his chest and arms. They had prettied themselves up, obviously hoping that the commander would change his mind. They both wore their most seductive clothes, their bosoms almost overflowing their lowcut blouses.

His eyes narrowed in annoyance, he waved to the table in the corner of the room opposite the bed. "Put it down and then you may leave."

The two slipped past him and into the room. Sre turned her head, hoping that if she looked browbeaten enough, they might think twice about tattling to Jeboc again. She saw Malissa cast a scathing look at her from the corner of her eye. Roscrow stood at the door, all the while glowering at them. Once they placed the food, they turned back to him, Malissa opening her mouth to say something, probably seductive.

"If you do not leave, I will have my soldiers come and take you out and trust me, you will not enjoy it ... but the dragons might," he added in a sweet tone.

Their eyes wide in disbelief and fear, they quickly left without another word. Roscrow shut the door behind them and locked it. "Hopefully, that will be the end of their irking me."

Sre couldn't help but giggle. Roscrow raised a brow at her. "It ... It's just funny. You're the one man they can't have and..." She went quiet, looking down at her hands which were in her lap.

Roscrow sat on the side of the bed, lifting her hands to his lips, kissing her fingers. He looked into her eyes as he did so. "And you can," he finished for her.

The smell of the food made her stomach grumble disgruntledly. Her face flushed brightly. Roscrow smiled at her and stood, dragging the whole table to the bed with barely any effort. He then turned around and held out a grape for Sre. She looked at him shyly. He gave her that endearing boyish grin of his. She opened her mouth to say that her master wouldn't be happy if he found out he was feeding her, but Roscrow slipped the grape into her mouth.

He shared his meal with her. Although she knew she shouldn't have, Sre couldn't help herself from taking what he offered. She hadn't had such a good meal in years. Not since her mother had died. Thinking of her mother suddenly brought tears to her eyes. She quickly banished the thought, shaking her head to regain her composure. She did not want to push Roscrow's patience by having another sobbing slave girl session. Roscrow, however, had all his attention on her and noticed the tears that she hid. He stroked her cheek, looking at her with concern. "Something plagues your thoughts?"

Sre looked down at the sweet bun she was holding. "I ... I was just remembering my mother." She felt the tears in her eyes again.

"What happened to her?" His voice was so soothing, making her almost angry. He had done what he wanted to her, and then he had left her to the mercy of the world. Now that she was a slave, only now was he showing her the kindness he should have shown her back then.

But she knew better than to show her anger. "She died when I was young. I don't blame her, though. My father was always drunk. He'd come home and usually fell asleep, but many times he would be angry for no reason. She protected me by letting him take it all out on her. He had such a heroic name, and such a worthless life. 'Bladen uld Morthar.'" She said his name with spiteful sarcasm. "But then my mother grew so ill she couldn't hold on. I miss her a lot." She whispered the last part, her throat constricting with the fond though sad memories.

Roscrow nodded, his hand reaching out and stroking her wet hair. She looked up at him, her eyes red with the threat of tears. "I'm afraid I can't say I know how you feel. My parents are Dragon Masters, although that meant they were usually too busy to watch me most of the time, which was why they sent me off to military school. Although, I admit mine is nowhere near as sad a life as yours."

He drew her into his arms as tears spilt down her face. He lay back onto the bed with her, holding her tightly, letting her get out her grief. He brushed her hair away from her face slowly as he heard her sobs soon turn to the deep breathing of sleep. He figured she'd be exhausted after such an odd day and not much sleep the night before. He, however, had things he needed to do. Slipping out of the bed, he got dressed and closed and locked the door behind him quietly to make sure Sre was not disturbed.

Granger honked happily to see his rider. Roscrow scratched him under his spiked eyelid where the scales gave way to skin. Granger drooled slightly and murred in pleasure. He had inspected the eggs to make sure they were all alright, though Granger had been making as much fuss about their being moved as Fire Flower had. She lay curled about them, glaring around at everyone. The only person she allowed near her was her own rider, and even he had to watch his step.

"Hey big guy. No need to worry about your brood. They'll be just fine. Five eggs this time. You keep this up and soon half the army will be made up of your kids." Roscrow patted Granger's muzzle as he smiled. The dragon rumbled what almost sounded like a sentence. Roscrow merely laughed and gave him another pat before moving on.

"Living the high life, sir?" His lieutenant called down to him from the back of his dragon, a large female named Beaut as she was the most striking in color from the others. Her scales were irridacent blue and green. She reared back a bit, accepting a pat from her rider with a muttering sound. He spoke a word in the strange, elegant language and she lifted her leg obiedantly, helping him slid down and setting him gently to the ground. Roscrow came over to help him remove the saddle from his dragon.

"You know me, Kelvin. I hate seeing the brutality one person can inflict on another for no damn reason." He pulled at a strap sharply, causing Beaut to glower down at him. But she was much tamer than most of the others, accepting his touch without protest.

Kelvin shrugged, dragging the heavy saddle off his dragoness. He was older than Roscrow by at least ten years, but he had no problem with following his younger superior. Roscrow had proven his worth more than a few times. He patted Beaut under her wing as she shook, relieved to have the tight saddle off. "I hate it as much as the next man, but honestly, calling Granger over to let her pet him? He's not a dog."

"I know. But..." He shook his head, a slight bit embarrassed to continued. Kelvin raised a brow. He'd never seen his commander cut his own words off.

"But what, sir?"

"Well, it might seem a bit crazy, but there's something about her.

Have you ever heard the name Bladen uld Morthar?" He glanced at Kelvin, who mouthed the name and looked thoughtful.

"It sounds very familiar. Like I heard that name when I was in the academy. But I'm afraid I can't place it." He shrugged helplessly.

"I know. It sounded familiar to me, too, but I couldn't remember where I'd heard it." Roscrow laid his hand on a thick breastplate, feeling Beaut shiver under his hand as she hunkered down, looking like a giant scaly cat as she tucked her hand-paws under her chest to keep them warm. She lowered her head and mouthed her rider. Roscrow had to smile when Kelvin batted her away, but it was too late to save his hair which was now covered in slobber and stuck up in every which direction.

"How did this come up, anyways, sir? Did someone mention the name?" He attempted to flattened his hair, casting a scathing look at his dragon who peered across the clearing with lidded eyes, murring happily.

"Yeah, she did. Said that was the name of her father. I was just wondering about it. uld Morthar sounds like it should belong to a Dragon Master." Then he shrugged. "Maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself."

Kelvin grinned knowingly at his commander. "I think you just want to take her home with you and keep her for yourself, sir." He waggled his thick eyebrows suggestively. Roscrow laughed as he turned away.

"Perhaps you have me there, my friend." He strode off to check the rest of the talon.

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