Chapter 1:

Prologue: Birth of a Monster

Requiem for Cinderella: a Dragon story.

22nd of March, 1673, a clearing near the Red Forest, Dalia.

“Kevin Miller, is this your true wish?
- It is, teacher. The boy focused his mind on the eerie blue flame.
- You understand that for all intents and purposes, bearing a dragon’s power should not be taken lightly, that it carries personal responsibility.
- I do.
- It will shatter your limits, replace them with new. But the price of such power is shape shift, the alteration of body and mind. Should you survive through the process, you’ll be condemned to the two ends: to die as a man or become one of us once you’re old and weak.
- I accept it.
- Kevin Miller…
He felt cold, tiny palms coil around his sweating neck.
The voice changed to a low growl.
- Are you afraid of cheating?
- I am afr…”
A loud inhuman scream cut him short and blew in his eardrums. The boy fell on his knees, a sharp pain running through is body. His cheeks got wet with something warm, his fingers dug the soil in spasms. He was completely blind and deaf, if not for a piercing, ringing sound. His frantic gestures led him to a tree, and then to the stone he remembered.
She sat on that stone.
Cold scales, snake skin. Or was it…
When that thing moved, it sent him flying against a tree. He swore some ribs cracked on his back. He then smelled iron, soot and smoke. The temperature went down – the wood was burning. His shoes caught fire.
The instinct told “run”, but each move brought pain. It only remembered it had to survive. Not it. Him. Kevin. The skin could burn. Insides could burn. He still had to move or won’t move again.
His legs worked, somehow. The boy clashed with trunks and with branches, he stumbled and fell on roots, bushes, at times furry animals. One fell on his back and didn’t let go. It scratched his naked skin when he lost his way. He couldn’t get closer to the fire.
Fire. Fire. His lungs were on fire.
Finally the animal left. The rustling sound of a spring followed by something falling into water explained why. Kevin jumped in and swam until he reached something big. He clanged to the dead tree for dear life while drifting away, the farther the better.
It was only when the tree reached stuff made of twigs that the boy let it go. He knew well that beaver’s home. The evening wind blew in his face. With only his smell and his touch, he got to a place he could use as a beacon. Monks lived a mile down the stream. Even if the fire got worse, they couldn’t have all evacuated.
The boy bit his lip and swallowed the pain with his tears.
Come on, dear two legs. Even if you crash in the end I still need you to walk it, at least this one mile. Else I am toast. Haha.
The boy tried to laugh, but his throat felt both parched and dry.
The pain wouldn’t stop too.
Step by step, he walked forward, sometimes resorting to a crawl.
Crap. There was a sharp branch on that pine tree. I guess there’s a hole in my back.
See? Hahaha. It is wet. Don’t worry. I’ll still make it there. I promise.
Covered in scratches and slowly losing strength, Kevin still walked, Kevin still walked. Some smoke reached his nostrils. Waves of heat. Trees were burning behind his back. Kevin kept moving, crawling, and falling.
When he fell one more time, his hand brushed past a wet muzzle.
A donkey brayed. He was safe.