I woke to the sound of my father's voice.

“Derek, get up.”

I lazily sat up in my bed, sleep still taking its toll on me. “What's going on, Father?”

“James is attacking. Get your armor on. Have you called Valerio?” he asked, quickly. From the sound of his voice and the name I had come to know for the past four months, I knew that there was a battle about to take place.

“I'll tell him to meet us at the top of the castle,” I said sprinting out of bed.

Valerio was the green dragon, who I found when I was four years old and when he was a hatchling. I took pity on him as he was weak and defenseless as he could not breathe fire yet. I brought him home and when my mother saw me holding a small dragon in my arms, she screamed for the guards. They took him from me and prepared to cut his head off. I cried and begged my father to let me keep him as a pet. I was little then and it would an act of cruelty to kill Valerio when I brought him home that day.

Now, I was sixteen, the age when I had to find a wife, and Valerio was a gigantic dragon of the same age and my steed. He told me that a bond formed when I begged my father not to kill him. The bond I had with him was as strong as marriage and family. Having Valerio with us, gave us a huge advantage in war. Not many people would befriend a dragon. People always thought they were just menacing beasts that killed for pleasure. They weren't, in fact they were a lot like people. They hatched, grew up, found a mate, and the whole cycle continued. It pained Valerio that he did not know how much of his kind were left in the world. For all he knew he was the only dragon alive in the world.

However, they were hunted to their extinction and Valerio could be the last of his kind. When he was welcomed into my family, it took our people a while to overcome their fear of him. At balls, he gave the children rides, with their parents' permission, of course. Some called me a fool for befriending a dragon, saying that he would betray me. Others called me brave. I considered myself unique for having a dragon as my best friend.

There was a balcony built outside my window big enough so he could land on it. He only hunted deer and elk, so the farmer's livestock wouldn't be threatened. He wouldn't need armor. His scales were impenetrable for all known weapons. His only weakness were his eyes, which was the size of a small coin. He also had razor sharp teeth and talons. He was known for crushing even the toughest armor in his jaws. His best known weapon was what made a dragon so frightning. The ability to breathe fire. At night, he would surround the enemy with a ring of fire. He also was able to breathe ice. Not many dragons had this power, so it made him feel special. He could combine his breath powers which gave him the name Valerio of the Frozen Fire.

I put my armor on and buckled my sword belt on. My armor had a slight golden hue to it, hinting at my heritage. My father was the king and I was the sole heir to the throne. Father was trying to get a princess from any foreign kingdom to be my wife. I wasn't crude or self-righteous, but I do not love any of them. Sure they were beautiful, but the only way I would marry was if I could get to know the girl first. Valerio was a factor to, the ones I did know, them running from the kingdom. I could not blame them. Who ever heard of a prince who had a dragon as a pet? He was a kind and gentle creature if they got to know him. There were only a handful of princesses who haven't seen the kingdom. Surely, one of them must be beautiful and not fear Valerio.

            I had no time for romance though. An evil king named James the Terrible was attacking our kingdom. He treated his people like they were vermin, I went there under disguise and saw nothing, but disease and death. He was driven mad by the loss of his first queen and unborn child. His crosshairs were now on our kingdom and he had been madly attacking for the past four months. My father was nothing like him. He was kind and gentle. Our people loved him which earned him the name Henry the Lion-Hearted. He has head full of brown hair and a beard of the same color. He also had brilliant green eyes. Surprisingly, I was just like him, but I had black hair instead of brown eyes, I had blue eyes. Whenever he wasn't fighting with his armor on, he wore a king's robe. We never wore gold crowns, as they were heavy and useless. Father called them Baubles of Royalty. They were just symbols of what our position was in the world. Our people lived in peace and prosperity. James was jealous of this and wanted our kingdom. He had no heir to continue his rule and he was just as old as my Father. We could not wait for him to die or killed in battle.

            Once I had gotten my armor on, I called Valerio. He was on his way to the top of the castle. I ran up there and stood next to my father. My mother was below the castle with our people. Only able-bodied men were allowed to fight. Sixteen year old boys were allowed as well, but only in the back ranks. This gave them a chance to run for the castle if we had to retreat. Having Valerio gave me the opportunity to fight. I had been trained to fight since I was ten years old. Valerio landed on his perch that was built for him. It looked like an oversized perch for birds. The early dawn's light do not give us much visibility. Valerio blew a fireball which gave the sight we needed. James's army was standing in front of the castle. Some of them backed up when the fireball was shot.

“Derek, take Valerio and attack only if they do first.” my Father said. I climbed on Valerio and placed myself carefully between his spiked back. A saddle was being made for me so I wouldn't accidentally sit on a spike.

“Henry!” we heard James call. “Henry, come out and fight for your kingdom, unless you are a coward!”

            Hearing him speak of my father that way angered me.

“Derek, do not let your anger blind you.” Valerio reminded me.

            My temper was not the best, but I managed to keep it under control.

“Fine! Archers, ready.” James shouted.

“Derek, go!” my father shouted.

            Valerio and I went in the air and above the soldiers. They were dressed in black armor and had a variety of weapons. From swords, to axes, to maces, and to morning stars.

“Shoot up! Up! Up! Up at the dragon!” James shouted to his soldiers.

            Valerio and I dodged many arrows that were on fire and he let out his own fire. Many of the soldiers were screaming as their flesh was burned and I saw that James was still standing.

“Using your son to fight your battles. You are lucky you have a dragon on your front! Charge!” James shouted, raising his double headed battleax.

            Valerio quickly rose into the sky and swooped down, making a firewall between the castle and James's army. He then landed and chomped down on a soldier. Bright red blood dripped from his fangs. He let go of the soldier and there were large holes in the armor. He started attacking another group, until a lone soldier dragged me off him. He held a sword in his hand and a shield in the other. Valerio kept the soldiers from surrounding me while we fought. I was a good swordsman, but this soldier was fast. Really fast. Once I lost my footing and he almost stuck his blade in me.

“Fall back! Retreat!” James suddenly shouted.

            I then knocked the soldier out with the hilt of my sword and climbed back on Valerio. He then picked up the soldier and flew back to the castle. He put out the firewall with ice before he landed on his perch, with the soldier, still unconscious, in his right clawed hand. Our men took the soldier to the dungeon. I looked out to the retreating army in the distance. I was glad this was over, but I knew that this was just the end of one battle. Not the whole war.

“They'll be back, won't they?” I asked my father.

“Yes, they will.” he said. “And we'll be ready.”

“Sire, we have a problem with the soldier.” a guard said coming up from the castle.

“What? Is he fighting back?” my father asked him.

“No, the soldier isn't even awake.”

“Then what's his problem?”

“Well...I believe you need to see for yourself.”

            We went below the castle on our way to the dungeons. Along the way, my mother stopped us. She was known as a very kind woman. She had brown hair to her back, warm eyes the same color of her hair, and a circular face. She was a motherly figure toward the kingdom, giving her the name, Helen the Gentle. She always wore robes of royalty, like my father. She was also expecting another child. This is what made her so important in our time of battle. “Derek, thank heaven you are safe.” she said as she hugged me.

“Mother, you know they cannot even get a sword in my gut.” I said.

We continued our way to the dungeon. When we got there, inside one of the cells was a young girl.

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