He had lived for what felt like a thousand years. If his ancestors had lived as long as he, they had neglected to tell him how tiring it all was.

    Tiring, yes, he thought. And, lonely.

    The endless tides of time and magic kindled with the late evening air. Our world’s sky was bejewelled with stars that shone dully. He had been a babe since the stars overhead had lost their fiery life. Our world’s stories said that stars were orbs of floating magic. They were sparkled when the stars feel their own blood in man. Not since the TOWER had turned to darkness had the stars forgotten about their magic-kin. Now, the stars do not blink. They do not watch. They sleep and wait.

    Pain pulsed through the old man’s hips and up his back. His shaky hand clasped his side in agony.

    “Argh,” cried the old man to the sky. “Set us down Naidrea.”

    He felt the strong massive muscles of the dragon flex. She reared her enormous head. The moon’s glow bounced off her green – violet scales. Her wings behind the old man’s knee stilled their flapping. The rider and his dragon hovered precariously in the sky for a heartbeat.

    The dragon ran a waved down its body, from the tip of her snout to the tip of her tail. With one final flap, she descended snout first to the dark forest below.

    In spite of himself, the old man gave a whelp of excitement. It’s just like their younger days. Even then, a dragon’s movement does not surprise its rider. They were attuned, flying and fighting as one. It was a Dragon Rider’s birthright.

    The old man, riding without a harness, grasped the dragon’s neck with his ankles as they completed their descent. Naidrea straightened a few feet from the tops of the trees for a glide, circling the forest until she found a clearing to land.

    Naidrea lands like a lady. Her hind feet landed first until she has her legs tucked under her. The old man slid off on to the moist grass underneath. In contrast to his dragon, the old man shook unsteadily on his feet, successfully tipping over with a heavy thud. His all too big middle jiggled at the impact underneath his day tunic. His thin white hair provided no cushion for his head.

    The old man’s arms waved above him. Naidrea giggled at her rider. He had yet again drowned his sorrows in ale as he had every night for the past week. His heart had told her that he was preparing himself to go through with his plan – this plan.
    Eventually, the old man righted himself. He brushed soil and grass off his clothes and shuffled to the nearest tree.

    He looked back at his dragon. “No peeking!” To which, Naidrea rested on the ground and closed her eyes. The old man undid his trouser ribbons and relieved himself of what seemed like half of the night’s ale.

    While he hid in the shadows, he prayed to his lucky stars that this was the right thing to do. His youngest and only surviving son was strong and skilful. He had always known that the young prince would make a good King in the future. That future happens tomorrow morning when the whole keep wakes up to an empty King’s Chamber. What a laugh! He almost wished that he was there to witness it.

    The old man felt that his reasons were only right. He was old and weak. In times of war, this was not good for morale. He doubted his ability to be a good rider. He could not raid, much less fight off the TOWER. He hopes as he at last did his trouser ribbons that his son would forgive him. The old man meant to live what little of the life he has beyond the wall.

    Naidrea’s head shot up and her muscles tensed as her talons dug into the soft forest floor. The old man could feel the rush of blood in his veins as his link to his dragon made his heart pump faster. He looked up at the cliff a distance away. Lights blinked from the top. Someone was using star magic.

    He signalled for Naidrea to ease herself and stay still with the palm of his hand turned to the ground. “Steady,” he whispered. “This is not our fight.”


    As the old man’s lucky stars answered, the princess’ stars did not. The carriage had turned to a thousand splinters.

    “That idiot,” she whispered as she nestled her babe closer to her. “Doesn’t he know that he’d kill him too?” She watched from behind thick briar bushes as the TOWER guards rode past her hiding place. At the head was the Count, loyal her husband’s brother. It was tradition the Count said as he chased her through the palace corridors.

    Everything about the TOWER was bloody. Before a new sovereign ascends the throne, the heir left standing after the mass killing of all possible contenders had died. Her dearest husband had left them only a few hours ago. Now, the Count was under commands to kill her and her baby. The princess prayed with all her heart that the stars would awaken and save her poor innocent infant son.

    The TOWER guards found her hiding place. She ran as fast as her legs could carry her until there was nowhere left to run. She backed slowly against the night air with her heals feeling the edge. The Count sneered at her face. He held out his hand as his skin began to glow, filling with star magic.

    The princess did not know why she did it, nor did the old man watching her.

    She looked down at the darkness below. Her eyes sparked like stars should. She held out the bundle in her arms into the abyss… and let her baby drop from her hands into nothing.

    The princess closed her eyes as the star light enveloped her and turned her into nothing. If she would have opened her eyes, she would have seen a dragon and her rider flew against the cliff wall. The dragon reared her head and breathed fired on the entire cliff reducing everyone on it to cinders. Perhaps the princess knew someone how that the old King would catch her babe as it fell. Protect it from the heat of the dragon’s breath, then coo over it until the old King and his dragon had landed safely back in the keep.