LET me tell you a story about the most powerful, most fearsome dragon I’ve ever tamed.

He wasn’t a dragon at all, but rather a young man with a dragon’s spirit.

My name is Drake, and I’m a dragon master from the tamer clan. My clan is comprised of men and women who convene with animals in order to gain a deep kinship with the earth. We protect our animals, and in turn they protect us. And by God, we need the protection, for we’re constantly under attack from rival clans.

The forger clan is a militaristic group, constantly at work creating more durable armor and more murderous weaponry.

The scholars are deceptively treacherous. They use cold, calculating tactics to bring destruction to their enemies.

But perhaps the most dangerous are the mages. After all, how can one compete with magic? Magic has the unassailable ability to break down any barrier it crosses.

Aedan was a member of the mage clan. And my barriers stood no chance against him. He invaded with the strength of a thousand men, decimating every wall that once surrounded the fortress of my heart.

 

AEDAN.

I’d first met him when he was barely fourteen. I was on the cusp of adulthood, moments away from my eighteenth birthday, an orphan raised by the whole of my tightly knit village. We were at the height of our summer season when a wild-haired man in his twenties made his way into tamer territory, bringing a thrashing, feverish youth to my hut.

“I can’t be seen here,” he whispered. “But this boy needs help. He’s burning up; his fever has lasted a week, and it’s not coming down no matter what I do. I fear that it’s killing him.”

I recognized the man right away as a mage. I wanted to ask him why he came to me, a rival, when he could pick and choose a healer in his own clan. But when I took a closer look at the boy, I knew at once the vibrant yellow eyes in his flushed, sweaty face. “He has dragon blood running through his veins,” I said.

The man—who introduced himself as Pax—confirmed my suspicions. Aedan’s father had been a dragon tamer. The old practice of the dragon tamer was to imbue oneself with dragon blood in order to better bond with the temperamental creatures. But the young boy was a budding fire mage, and he had his father’s fire dragon blood in him. This combination was not only dangerous, but it was potentially fatal. It created within him such a tempestuous and volatile personality that the boy was literally burning himself from the inside.

The best I could do was to tame the part of him that was fueled by dragon blood. I kept him in my hut with a cold compress on his forehead, and I gently massaged his temples, whispering the ancient language of dragons in his ear. Slowly, his fever died down.

As soon as he was well enough, I sent the pair away under cover of night. But I knew that Aedan would always maintain that fiery, uncontrollable spirit, and those impulses that could lead him to self-destruction. I knew that all I had given the boy was at best a few years of peace. As he came of age, the fire within him would ignite once again.