(Make sure you’ve read Parts One, Two, and Three before you read this.)

“Meal time, kid killer!”

The guard yelled as he thrust a plate of slop through the door. It was hardly a meal. Watered down porridge, a dried piece of bread, and the body of a cockroach.


I couldn’t see his face, but I could imagine the toothless grin he had. He thought he was clever, trying to gross out a child with a dead bug in her food. And for most kids, it would have worked.

But then, I wasn’t most kids.

I had a dragon. And she taught me many things.

Looking back on it all now, I am amazed at what I had overcome. Yes, my world was different. Yes, having a unique life companion shaped me into a rare breed of person. But I was still a kid. Being stripped of my family, even though they feared and resented me, was a nightmare. There were nights in prison that I wept, feeling alone, feeling abandoned.

The hatred, the rejection, those negative feelings carry enough weight to crush a child into a powder.

My weeping and mourning went on for weeks before Salanth came down from her perch.

“Come,” she said, “it’s time to push through this, child.”

I didn’t even question that my dragon was speaking to me. The pain was too great to process what was happening.

“How?” I sobbed.

“I will teach you.”

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