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The Adventures of Howudino and Kashin

by Arthur

Chapter 1

Like many stories this one begins when Knights were bold and Lords and Barons ruled many small kingdoms that sprang up like weeds or rain drops on a barren field.

It was a time when society was structured and every man knew his place in the world, brigands and road agents were more common than most people would admit too and even Dragons were seen to fly high in the pale blue skies, although they were becoming rare as those who could ride and control them grew less and less as wars took their toll on their population.

As usual for the times, taxes bowed the heads of the working man and many were taken for service in the army in payment for any arrears as each small holding of a Baron or Lord was continuously at war with their neighbour as they tried to enlarge their territory, those who escaped the military service found themselves on the other side of the nobles laws.

Most holdings were of a size that held one or two small villages watched over by the noble's castle or armed keep; these villages were surrounded by small farmlets that were worked by tenant farmers and their families.

It was normal for the small villages to hold open market days, usually on the Saturday of each week, this was a time when taxes were paid, business done in the small dark shops and any repairs that were needed by the famers was undertaken by the local blacksmith, it was a busy time of the week when it was market time, Saturday was usually ended with the men folk spending the later hours in the single tavern with a few tankards of ale before making their oftentimes unsteady way home in the dark, this was the time of the road agents if you were not alert.

Each village had a small contingent of troops ruled over by one or two Knights who patrolled the open tracks that were called roads except they were only lanes of dirt or hard packed mud that became a morass in the winter months and many times impassable.

It was in such a village called Ravens Point that our story begins, within the village there was a single bakery, a blacksmith, a tavern, a cobblers and a small shop that sold goods of a mixed nature carried by merchants of the road, it was in one such shop as the cobblers that we find our young man who will take us on an adventure into the wild country of this time.

The owner of the boot makers shop was one Bertram the Cobbler, his wife had long died of the plague some five years ago and he was now left with three sons, the eldest, Thomas, who was now twenty years old would inherit the shop when Bertram came to his time, his second son was Will and was now in his third year of apprenticeship, when it was finished he would go to some far off village to work for another cobbler or start his own shop as was the custom.

This left only the youngest whose name was Kashin; he had just reached his fifteenth year but would not be a part of the cobbler tradition, there was little space for another in the small shop and so, some time in the not too distant future, Kashin would have to go out into the world and find his own way, perhaps as a farm worker or such other skill.

Everyone in the village and farms about knew the cobbler, he was after all the only one to supply them with the sturdy boots for work or the fine shoes for the ladies, all the boys were also known by those around the district and were referred to as the son of the cobbler, for instance, Kashin was called, Kashin Bahn Cobbler, Bahn standing for, 'The Son Of'.

It was seven days after his fifteenth birthday that Kashin was sat down by the evening fire by his Father and told that he had too leave the next day to find his way in the world, Bertram pointed to a well made leather bag with a long shoulder strap and told Kashin.

"I have placed a fresh loaf of bread, six boiled eggs and some smoked meat in your new bag, as your inheritance I will give you five silver coins and you may take with you what clothes you can fit in the bag, when you leave in the morning go to the blacksmiths, he has made a good knife for you, I'm sorry my son but that is all I can do for you, it is time for you to start on the road of being a man, I also know in my heart that one day you will make our name known in all corners of the kingdom."

Once he had finished what for him was a very long speech, Bertram leant over and squeezed the slender knee of Kashin as he looked at the boy for what may be the last time in his life, a small tear almost escaped the older man's eye as he looked at his youngest son and thought how much the boy looked like his dead Mother, the same sharp green eyes under thin eyebrows, a rather pert nose and a small almost sharp chin line, the boys hair was long and flowed to his narrow shoulders in soft dark curls.

The boy was built just like his dead wife, slightly shorter than normal and slender almost to being too thin and willowy, his other two sons took more after Bertram, they were tall and strong and, although Kashin was the smallest and youngest, the two older boys had always watched over him if Kashin got into something he could not handle, a common occurrence for Kashin as he was one of those boys who somehow thought they were larger than they actually were and had an inner strength that would not allow him to back down to anyone, even after once being knocked to the ground by the much larger son of the blacksmith, Kashin rose again to stand his ground, it took four weeks for all the bruises to disappear but he did get a lot of respect from the larger boy after that.

Kashin had known this time was coming but he did not think it would so soon, he looked at the sad face of his Father and tried to sniff back his own tears, it would not do to shame his Father with tears, there had been other boys that had had to leave their families when there were too many mouths to feed and nothing to pass on to them, now it was Kashin's turn.

Kashin sucked in a breath and said to his Father in a voice that was a little unsteady and filled with emotion.

"Thank you Father, I know it is my time and I will try to make you proud, I also thank you for the new bag and the gifts you have given me, I will go and say my goodbyes to my Brothers and leave at first light tomorrow."

Kashin reached for his fathers hand as it sat on his knee and gave it a light squeeze, he then rose from the wooden stool and went into the single room that the three brothers shared, the next ten minutes were passed in heart felt words and light slaps on his back as his Brothers wished him well and told him not too get into to much trouble on his journey.

Kashin awoke next morning well before the sun was up, his small family were still deep in their sleep as he carefully went about gathering the last of the few clothes he would take with him, with a last glance at his two sleeping Brothers, Kashin went to the main room and, after placing his few clothes in the bag, turned and left the small house for the last time, he did not want to prolong the parting so would go to the blacksmiths and wait until he opened for business to collect his new knife, then it was only a matter of deciding which direction he would take out of the only place he had ever known.

Kashin made it to the blacksmiths shop and sat on the edge of the water trough to wait, he didn't have long, as the first faint light of dawn showed in the sky, Kashin heard noises coming from inside the smithy, the blacksmith had risen early to light his forge ready for the days work.

Kashin went to the door and lightly knocked, a somewhat sleepy and gruff voice told him to enter, opening the door Kashin saw the large frame of the blacksmith at the forge pumping the bellows to liven the fire, as the big man turned and saw Kashin, he said.

"Ah young Kashin Bahn Cobbler, it's your time I hear, come in, I have your Fathers gift ready for you."

Kashin followed the larger man to the back of the workshop where he saw a new leather scabbard, if that was his knife then it was more than he thought it would be, it looked to be longer than a normal knife but not as long as a short sword, it was also thinner than a normal blade, the blacksmith had evidently taken his small stature into consideration when making the blade.

The blacksmith watched Kashin as the boy looked down at the unusual knife.

"What do you think of it young Kashin?"

Kashin lifted the knife from on top of the soft scabbard and looked at the strange knife, the hilt fit his hand perfectly and the balance was perfect for his size.

"I've made the blade so you can use it to cut your meat or use it to defend yourself in time of need although you will have to get a little close to someone to use it but, I'm sure you are fast enough to dodge most men."

"Thank you Sir, it's a great knife, I will treasure it all my life."

"Look closely at the blade; I have had my son engrave your name into it so none can ever claim it as their own."

Kashin looked closer at the shiny blade, the engraving was a work of art and, intertwined in the flowing vines and leaves of the pattern was his name in a very fancy script, the blacksmiths son had done something special for him, even after his satisfaction in bruising Kashin more than any other boy, he had still worked to perfection on the engraving, Kashin could only look in awe and wonder at the new blade, with a soft sigh, Kashin turned and thanked the large man as he slid the scabbard onto his old narrow leather belt, it fit perfectly but he would have to get used to the weight on his body.

Kashin shrugged his satchel higher and held out his hand to the blacksmith in farewell.

"Thank you Sir for such a great blade, I will never forget what you have done for me and give my deepest thanks and respect to you son for his fine workmanship, I will carry this knife to my last days."

The blacksmith patted Kashin heavily on the shoulder as was his way with everyone, and the slight boy nearly went to his knees but managed to hold up long enough to leave the smithy with his legs still under him, it was now time to set his course to his future, it was in the end, quite simple, he was facing east and so just kept walking in that direction, it was as good as any and, in the dim recesses of his mind, he thought he could remember someone at the tavern saying there was still plenty of free land far to the east if you were prepared to go and fight for it.

Kashin was still a little buoyed by his first day on his own and so did not stop for a meal at midday, it was now late afternoon and he was getting close to the towering ranges of the Spiked Mountains, he was hoping to be close enough to find a cave to stay in for the night, it was not safe to be out alone at night, not only were their rough people about but wild animals were often seen in the darkness.

As he strolled along, Kashin thought he could make out the dark dot of a cave mouth not more than one hours walk away, it would make a perfect place for the night, his stomach rumbled in agreement, he had not even taken one boiled egg the whole day.

Coming from behind Kashin, he heard the sound of galloping hooves, turning, he saw two riders galloping towards him, in the hand of one was a lance flying a pennant with a silver harp and three vertical arrows, it was the signet of Baron Saharadan, their liege Lord, Kashin knew better than to stay in the middle of the road with these men thundering down on him, he quickly stepped to the side to wait for them to pass, all the time smiling openly to show he was no threat to them, it did not bode well to antagonise the Barons Riders, especially a young boy on his own in the middle of nowhere.

Much to the surprise of Kashin, he heard the horses start to slow as they got near where he stood, from a gallop they slowed to a canter then down to a fast trot to finally slow down to a slow walk just as they came abreast of where he stood, he was more surprised when the two horses and their riders stopped right in front of him, both the men and the horses had a wild eyed look from the fast gallop they had been doing.

Kashin looked up into the two rough faces of the men, one was clean shaven although now showing about two days growth of beard, the other was fully bearded, both had long lank looking hair that hung out over the polished breast plates over which was the blue surplus with a silver hand holding a scroll, these men were either messengers or heralds of the Baron.

"Good afternoon Sir Knights." Kashin said.

The two rough men looked at him and slowly a smile spread across their rugged and battle worn faces until they burst out in loud peels of laughter which they kept up for several minutes until finally, they wiped the tears from their eyes and once again looked down from their lofty saddles.

"Knights, us Knights, nay lad, we are just messengers of Baron Saharadan, now tell us boy, what are you doing way out here alone, I would think there are only two reasons for one so young and pretty to be here alone, either you are the last son or you are a thief, which is it boy?"

"I am the third son Sir; I am on my way to make a new name."

"Hmmmm, a third son hey, I think you are a thief boy, trying to make us look like fools, how did you get that fancy knife you carry, no farm boy could afford such a knife unless he stole it, did you steal it little thief?"

"No Sir, on my honour Sir, it was my Fathers gift of parting."

The Messenger turned to his companion.

"What do you think Mikel, is he a thief or a last son?"

"No man in his right mind would turn away such a pretty young boy so he must be a thief, what say you Giles?"

"I agree, then a thief he is, we should take him to the Baron for questioning but, alas, it's such a long way, ten more days in fact, perhaps we should settle this right here and now, I am sure the Baron would agree and it would save us having to feed and look after him."

Kashin began to get a feeling in his empty stomach that things were going to get worse very quickly, with a quick glance up at the two smiling men, he spun around and made a run for the nearby trees that bordered the narrow track, just as he was within yards of safety, he heard the thundering hooves and something hard struck him full force in the middle of the back sending him tumbling to the ground.

Before he could regain his feet, Kashin felt a heavy strong hand grasp him by the scruff of the neck and pull him upright and spin him around to face the man called Giles, the other sat on his horse with the long lance pointed right at Kashin's chest, Kashin tried to pull air into his lungs as the two men leered at him, the look in their eyes was something more than just captivity, Kashin's knees shook as he realised the men also had a look of growing lust, it was not a good sign.

"Well Mikel," said the one called Giles as he held Kashin tightly." I think he must be a thief, no innocent man or boy would run for any other reason, lets see what he is hiding in that fancy satchel on his shoulder."

While Mikel kept the lance touching Kashin's chest, the one called Giles, spun him around then tore the new leather satchel from his back, next he almost tore Kashin in half as he pulled on his old belt until it broke and the man took the knife, to make sure Kashin did not try to run, Giles then back handed him across the face with his armoured hand, splitting his cheek open and knocking him almost senseless, immediately Kashin's left eye began to close as it swelled from the blow, he could also feel the hot blood from his cut cheek begin to slowly drip down his face.

Kashin's ears were ringing and even the sight in his right eye was now blurring, it seemed to Kashin, as he watched the two men talking, that their voices came from far away.

"What does he have there Giles?"

"This is good, nice fresh bread, six boiled eggs, some fresh smoked pork and.....aha..Look at this, five silver coins, the boy is certainly a thief."

"I want that knife." Said Mikel.

"Fine, but I get the five coins, they will pay for some fine meals and ale while we are on the road, the rest are just old clothes, lets keep the satchel to carry the food, now what are we going to do with our little thief?"

"If he were a girl we could bed him." Mikel said.

"Well he is good enough looking to be a girl and it's been a long time since the last whore, lets ask him some questions then we can spend an hour using him, we don't have much time if we want to get this message back to the Baron on time."

Giles bent down over the injured boy and began to ask questions, Kashin's ears were still ringing and his head felt on fire as he tried to make out what the man was saying, somewhere in his head he heard words coming through the dizziness and pain.

[What is my name?]

Kashin could only mumble as his mouth did not seem to work.

"I don't know." But it came out more as "I don no" again the same question came through the cotton wool in his head.

[What is my name]

"I don no"

[That is a funny name, I do not like it, give me another]

The face of Giles was now even closer and he was almost spitting in Kashin's face, his mouth moved again but his face was only a blurry image to Kashin.

[What is my name?]

"How would I know, you are a stranger, I don't know your name."

[Aha, yes that is a far better name, I will keep that one, thank you Kashin Bahn Cobbler, I will now be called Howudino, A fine and fitting name, now when are you coming to get me]

By this time the man Giles had had enough, the boy seemed to be simple in the head as he kept muttering words that made no sense, pulling Kashin upright with one hand, he drew back the other and swung a resounding blow on the boys right cheek, his signet ring of office cutting deeply into the soft cheek and sending the boy into unconsciousness, Giles released the limp boy and remounted, with a glance at Mikel he said.

"The boy was a simpleton, there would have been no fun in fucking him, the gods have mysterious ways to give the boy such looks and then fill his head with air, let's go, we have time to make up."

As he lay on the ground, Kashin could feel nothing, only the strong voice kept nagging him as he tried to go into a dark place with no pain.

[When are you coming for me Kashin Bahn Cobbler, it's not far now, you only have to get to your feet and I will direct you.]

Kashin could only moan with pain as he tried to shut out the voice in his head, all he wanted to do was slip into the darkness that was waiting for him.

[Hurry Kashin Bahn Cobbler, it is getting dark, you need to come and get me, get to your feet and walk to the cave, you will find me there, hurry, before the wolves come for you.]

Kashin had no memory of rising to his feet even less memory of actually walking or in which direction he was going, all he knew was that he had to make it to the safety of the cave before night fell.

Kashin's body finally had as much as it could take, the darkness of the cave and the cold night surrounded him as he stumbled over a large rock on the floor of the cave, using the last of his strength, Kashin bent down to move the rock and make a place to sleep, his body was sore and his head seemed to be in another world, his left eye was closed shut and he barely had vision in his right, all he now wanted to do was fall down and sleep, as he touched the rock all the world seemed to light up around him and that strange voice filled his head.

[Sleep Kashin Bahn Cobbler, you have done all you can and now you have me, sleep and heal]

Darkness overtook Kashin as he slumped to the floor, one hand resting on the rock, had anyone been able to see him, they would have readied a funeral pyre for him, his breath was barely moving his slim chest, his face was a mass of blood and bruises and both eyes were now showing black and purple colours and they were swollen shut, both cheeks were cut badly and still blood slowly dripped down his face and onto the cold stone floor of the cave.

Kashin's eyes slowly opened to slits, he could see the faint glow of daylight at the mouth of the cave but, it was in the cave itself that really caught his attention, the cave seemed to be glowing with a soft pulsating green light, Kashin raised his aching head a little higher and tried to look around, his head immediately filled with the soft voice he had heard before.

[You need to sleep more Kashin the Rider, you are not yet healed, lay your head on me and I will wake you in three more days, by then you will be healed and ready for our task to begin]

"What? Who are you, what are you doing to my head?"

[You should know who I am; after all, you named me]

"Me, no I don't think so, who, or should I say, what are you?"

[It is I, Howudino, now lay your head on me so I can heal you better and go too sleep.]

Kashin looked around as best he could, his eyes finally settling on the large stone he had under his hand, it was a very strange stone, it was about three times larger than his own head and oval in shape, it was mostly a pale green with darker green striations and swirls all over it that seemed to go right into the heart of the stone, it was then he saw that it was also the cause of the green pulsing light in the cave, suddenly a great fatigue came over him and he did as he was told and lay his head on the strange stone, he was asleep before he even got comfortable on the stone floor.

When next he awoke, Kashin could smell the scent of fresh cooking meat, he lifted his head from the stone pillow and found he could open his eyes fully, not only that but he was only slightly hungry, it was as though his body had been feeding while he slept, Kashin pushed himself to his feet, all the pain and swelling had disappeared and he felt much like his old self once again, that was until the voice came into his head again, now he began to doubt his own sanity.

[Oh good, you are back with the living, now we can get on with things, how do you feel are you ready to eat?]

"What is going on, where are you, who are you?"

[Oh Kashin the Rider, have you forgotten me already, it has only been five days and you forget the one you yourself named, it is I Howudino, silly boy.]

"But where are you, how can you talk in my head?"

[We are bound you and I, we always have been, do you not remember the times even when you were alone that you felt as though someone was by your side?"

Kashin had the sudden memory of just that thing, even when he was out alone he always felt as though a friend was by his side.

[That was me silly boy, now enough chatter, first you have to eat, I have had the stone people set some meat for you, there is a pot of cold fresh ice water for you too drink, when you are full then we shall continue and you will at last see me in all my glory.]

Kashin looked around but could see no one, the smell of fresh cooked meat soon got his attention and he made his way to the fire at the rear of the cave where a large hare was spitted and now well roasted, just waiting for a young boy to devour it, Kashin obliged, as the hot juices ran down his chin he also sipped from the black metal pot of fresh water, it was indeed iced water, it must have come a long way from the high ice fields of the mountains, Kashin had no idea how or when it got there but he was too busy filling his mouth to worry about it just yet.

As he finished sucking the last of the meat from the leg bone of the roasted hare, he let out a mighty belch that echoed in the cave, in his head a small boyish giggle started, Kashin felt full and somewhat comfortable as he went back to the glowing round rock, the giggle was still in his head as he sat down and looked closer at the glowing oval, it was a very pretty rock and would have made fine jewellery for some lady if he could get it out of the cave and even manage to carry such a large piece of stone.

[Well are you ready to see my most magnificent beauty, Kashin the Rider?]

Somehow Kashin could only nod his head, he also for the first time, caught the new name he was being called by the voice in his head, Rider, Kashin the Rider, now what in all the gods names was that about.

[Now Kashin the Rider, place your hands one on each end of the stone, close your eyes and find a picture in your head of the one friend you would like to see and have always wanted to see.]

"But I don't have any friends that I want too see, I don't even have any real friends."

[Yes you do, it is the friend you wanted when just a young boy, the one friend you desired above everyone else.]

Kashin let his mind run back to the time he was a lonely small boy, with his eyes closed he thought of that figure as his hands felt an increase in the warmth of the oval stone, at the sound of a loud cracking his eyes flew open and he stared in wonder at the sight of the oval green stone splitting around its middle, seconds later and he fell over backwards as, from the very heart of the stone came a gold coloured dragon, its small petite wings were the colour of burnt orange and its skin seemed to move as the faint daylight reflected off the iridescent gold scales.

The small dragon was only about one and a half feet long and stood no higher than Kashin's mid calf, it opened its tooth filled mouth in what Kashin thought must be a dragon's smile.

[See I am here, am I not magnificent, now we can have some fun.]

Kashin had fallen over backwards onto his butt, he looked at the miniature dragon and could not think of a single word to say, his mouth hung open in awe, not of the size of the dragon, but in the fact that it was a dragon, even a little one like this miniature was still a thing of dreams.

[Little, miniature, now, now Kashin the rider, it's not a good way to start our life together, starting with insults is not good for our friendship, after all we will be together for more years than you can count, now to business.]

To Kashin's ear, the dragon's voice almost seemed to be smiling, it was the sort of thing a young boy would say or do, Kashin gulped as he saw the baby dragon walk towards the remains of the shell that had looked so much like a green stone, without wasting any time, the little dragon began to chew on the shell and swallow it, the crunching and grinding of the little sharp teeth sent a shiver through Kashin but, eventually there was nothing left and the little dragon looked up at Kashin with its violet eyes and seemed to smile.

"Why did you eat the shell, it was so beautiful to look at?"

[It had to be eaten, it carried nearly all of my dragon magic, if I left it and a human found it there would be trouble in this world the likes of which you have never seen, now, time for you to have one more sleep, when you wake up in two days we will be ready for our adventures.]

As the little dragon finished talking inside Kashin's head, his eyes grew heavy and he fell once again into a deep sleep, it seemed that the cave which should have been cold and uncomfortable, was now like the softest and warmest bed he had ever slept on, Kashin sighed deeply as he let slumber overtake him.

Kashin's eyes blinked open and he yawned mightily, after a large stretch, he looked around for the little dragon, the green glow had disappeared but there seemed to be a soft golden glow coming from the very stone walls of the cave, he continued to look around but there was no sign of the little dragon anywhere, that is until he looked to the far back of the cave, what he saw made his eyes open even wider, for there, in the darkest part of the cave were two very large violet orbs looking back, each one was as big as his own head.

Kashin shivered at the sight until that same voice, but now more mature sounding, filled his head.

[So, sleepy head; how was your rest?]

"Uhm, yes good thank you, what now, and how did you get so big?"

[Oh that's normal, most humans seem to be of the idea that it takes us a long time to reach maturity but, when we eat the remains of the egg shell, the magic takes over and allows us to grow to our full size, the reason I had you go back too sleep was so that the change would not affect you, had you been awake the power of the magic would have damaged your senses, I could not let that happen.]

"Ok, I can see the sense in that, now what do we do?"

[Now you meet some friends of us dragons, then we get you fitted with your new clothes and set the Riders seat so you can fly with me, after that we have some revenge to take, those messengers of the Baron are still two days from the Barons castle, we will get there as they arrive, of that I promise you, it is time that men like those learn what it is to attack a Dragon Rider.]

"I don't think so, just look at me, how could I attack two large grown men, not only that but the Baron would have me drawn and quartered before I made it through his gate."

[You forget one thing my Rider, you have me now, we are one and my magic will protect you from everything, even aging, there is only one way for you to lose.]

"What's that?"

[I would have to die, and that's no easy feat, believe me, when we have taught a lesson to those puny men I will take you to our new home in the Spiked Mountains, there you will meet others and they will make you feel at home, now then, would you like to get a really good look at my magnificence.]

Kashin thought he could hear a chuckle in Howudino's voice, he then watched as the dragon revealed all of himself, what Kashin saw next took his very breath away as the miniature mountain that was a full grown Howudino appeared out of the darkness.

Kashin gasped loudly as he took in the full splendour of Howudino, his sheer size made Kashin feel like an ant as he looked up, the dragons legs were like thick towering oak trees, they ended in sharp looking black claws, each as long as his forearms, the giant wings now folded along the massive back were a bright flaming orange with the bone ribs underneath being in black, what was before, a few small nubs on the little dragons head were now four long thick horns with his pointed ears on the outside of the wide spaced horns, his golden scales now shimmered and seemed to move with the iridescence glow of swirling mist, each scale was larger than Kashin's chest, as yet he could not see far enough into the dark to see Howudino's tail but his imagination was more than enough, as he tried to take in the giant size of the dragon, Howudino spoke to the vacant air of the cave.

[It is time my friends, come out now and greet the Rider, you know what must be done, everything that is mine is also now his, take good care of him as he is our future.]

Kashin watched as the very stone walls of the cave began to shimmer and then move, with stunned eyes, Kashin saw small people appear from the very rock of the cave walls, they were even smaller than him and almost looked as though they were made from the very rock itself, their eyes were bright blue and their slender small bodies moved with a grace Kashin had never seen.

[These are the Messadine, they are the elves of the mountains and have the ability to move through living rock, they are also magical although it is limited to what is made of stone, except for their talent at producing things where they can call on the magic of dragons, then they can produce anything that is asked for, Messadine, welcome my Rider, Kashin of the Royal Weir, First Rider of the Prince of Tallas.]

Kashin looked up at the dragon, what was he talking about, as he tried to understand the strange new title, Kashin saw every Messadine bow low and smile in his direction, one stepped forward and spoke for the others in a voice that sounded much like a small child, Kashin could not tell if he was the leader or older than the rest as they all looked to be the same age.

"Greetings mighty Rider of the Great Dragon Prince, may you live forever and rule with patience and understanding, we the people of Messadine are at your service, you need only call and we will come to you."

"Er, uhm, ah, hello, uhm, thank you, I think."

Kashin heard a deep rumble from the large round stomach of Howudino, it was his form of chuckling, as he listened to the rumbling sound, Howudino bowed his head and smiled at the diminutive boy before him.

[MY, my, is that all you have to say after such a glowing speech, we will have to give you some lessons in court etiquette but, for now we have more important things to take care of if we want to catch those men and teach them a lesson, now my Rider, go with the Messadine, they will outfit you for our first flight, it gets cold up there and you will need your armour and cloak.]

As Howudino finished speaking, the Messadine walked towards the solid wall of the cave and, with a gesture from one of the small childlike figures, the cave wall shimmered and seemed to open into a much larger cavern, inside the new cavern was a bright golden glow and from the very walls themselves came a soft blue glow, Kashin tentively followed the Messadine through the wall of the cave, from behind himself he could hear the loud thump of mighty feet as Howudino followed close behind.

For the first time Kashin was able to see the dragon's tail, it was long and thick with very sharp spines running down the centre, the spines started just behind the shoulders of the dragon and ran in a continuous line to the tail which ended in a blunt spear shaped end, now that Kashin could see the full size of Howudino, he could only gasp, the dragon had to be more than twenty five yards long and stood a full ten yards high at the shoulder, for the life of him, Kashin could not imagine how he would get onto the dragon to ride him, it would be like trying to climb a mountain, he heard a chuckle in his head as Howudino caught his thoughts.

Once fully inside the new cavern, Kashin could see more of it, there were hundreds of the small Messadine in there, all seemed to be working on different things and the whole cavern was a hive of activity, it was as he tried to look at everything at the same time that his eye was caught by the golden glow at the far end, his jaw dropped and his knees shook, what he saw could not be possible for, piled almost to the roof of the cavern was a pile of gold and jewels that took the breath away, it was more than a kings ransom, it was more than ten kings ransoms, Howudino caught the look on Kashin's face and again gave the deep rumble of laughter.

[What is it my Prince among Riders, did you not know that dragons had treasures, which, by the way, are now all yours as well, now we have to get you dressed for your first flight.]

From his right side a group of Messadine appeared carrying what looked like a set of armour, but what armour, it shimmered with the same iridescence as Howudino's scales, as he stood in awe of the sight, one of the Messadine came up to him and asked him to shed all his cloths, this brought an embarrassed red glow to Kashin's cheeks, he had never been naked in front of strangers before, his brothers, yes, but never strangers, the small slender Messadine waited patiently for Kashin to do as asked, with shaking hands and more blushes he slowly began to disrobe, when he got to his loin cloth he hesitated but a slight nod from the Messadine finally made him close his eyes and drop it with the hope that no one would laugh at him, unlike his brothers he was not overly endowed with manly gifts, even the minute bush of pubic hair was nothing to sing about.

Kashin did not stay naked for long, as he opened his eyes a new loin cloth was passed to him, it was made of such fine silken material that Kashin almost got hard with the soft feel of it, quickly adjusting everything he waited for the next revelation, next, one of the Messadine gave him a pair of soft red leather breeches, they fit his legs and waist like a glove, he did not know that while he slept the Messadine, under orders from Howudino, had measured every inch of him for his new clothes.

Next was a fine linen shirt with the finest embroidery in the form of flying dragons that Kashin could ever imagine, the Messadine were certainly craftsmen of the highest order, it was now time for his armour, first there was a fine chain mail vest, this appeared to be made from the very scales of the dragon, then came the breast plate it also, like the rest of his armour was made of the golden scales, each piece fitted his slender body like a glove, his forearms were covered with a pair of braces that also went low enough to cover the backs of his hands but let him have full articulation of his fingers, grieves were fastened onto his lower legs and then wider plates covered his thighs, the whole set of armour felt no heavier than a winter coat and yet he felt as though he still had full freedom of movement, the last item was a full cloak with a hood, it was made of some soft fur woven into a cloth, it attached to the shoulders of his golden armour and hung to his ankles.

It was then time for Howudino to be saddled so his Rider could stay mounted in flight, four Messadine carried the strange saddle to the edge of a high rock platform, once they were up on the rock, Howudino lay down so his shoulders were level with the platform, the four Messadine walked onto the back of the dragon and placed the seat between the dragons shoulders, just where the neck met the main body there was a shallow dip, it was here that the saddle was placed, it was then that Kashin saw it was in fact two saddles in one, he watched as the Messadine closed their eyes and began to chant in words he could not understand, as he watched there came a blue glow around the double saddle and, within a minute, the saddle was fused to the dragons scales, there was no need for bulky girths or any other form of holding straps.

Kashin then asked Howudino.

"Why are there two seats on the saddle if it is meant for only me?"

[Oh, didn't you know, that's for your one love, sooner or later you will find him, you would not like to leave your one love behind when we went on an adventure, would you?]

Kashin thought about it for a while then something struck him, Howudino had said 'Him' no that could not be right; he must have made an error in translation.

[Not at all, all Dragon Riders pair with another of their own sex, it is part of the reason I selected you, do not worry it will all be good when you find him, you will know he is the right one for you, it is all magic, now we have one more thing to do my little Prince of Riders.]

Howudino bowed his head so it was right in front of Kashin.

[Now you need to grasp hold of the two central horns then close your eyes and clear your mind, it is time for you to receive your own magic, it will give you the power and knowledge of a great Knight as well as healing powers in case you get injured, it will also give you many more benefits so you can see as I do and feel as I do.]

The whole time since he had been injured by the messengers had been a blur so he just went ahead and did as he was told; Kashin had to step onto Howudino's long snout-like upper jaw to reach the two central horns, as he grasped them and closed his eyes he felt a huge shock run through his body, when he opened his eyes he saw a whole new world, his slender body felt as though it was made from tight iron bars and he felt his blood almost zing and fizz through his veins, his eyes could see every colour of the rainbow but in a new way, even the darkest reaches of the huge cavern looked like daylight, all Kashin could do was take a huge gulp and try to understand it all.

[Now for your last item of equipment, Messadine, is it finished?]

"Yes Great Prince, it is done as you requested."

[Then let's see it, I am sure my Rider is anxious to be acquainted with his new toy]

From behind Kashin there was a sudden hush as every Messadine in the cavern grew quiet as one of their number walked towards Kashin with something wrapped in a fine blue silken cloth, when the Messadine stood in front of Kashin, he held out the cloth covered item and bowed to Kashin saying.

"It is with the honour of all Messadine that we offer you Dragons Claw, a fitting sword for the Prince of Riders."

With his free hand, the Messadine revealed the sword to Kashin's eyes for the first time, Kashin gasped at what lay in the Messadine hands, the swords hilt was of the finest gold encrusted with red rubies and engraved with very small but fine scenes of flying dragons, the blade was of some white substance that looked much like bone or fine ivory, Kashin picked up the sword, leaving the fine red leather scabbard behind in the hands of the Messadine.

The balance for his small slender frame was perfect even though the blade was a full three feet long, its edge was so fine and sharp that Kashin thought it would bend and break at its first use, his fears were soon put aside as Howudino explained it too him.

[This blade is formed from the centre horn of a Unicorn, they are now extinct but their horns were so magical that we saved them all when the animals died, this is the last one, only the Messadine have the right magic to be able to form them into blades such as this, just as they are the only beings to be able to work dragon scales into your armour.]

"But where did the scales come from, you have all of yours so how?"

[They are mine, when you were asleep and, as I grew I would shed the scales to make room for my growth, they collected them all and used what they needed to make your armour, so you see, my Prince, we are one in more ways than just Dragon and Rider, now it's time to go and get those Messengers, they are about to arrive at the Barons castle, time for them to see what happens when they attack a Rider of the Royal Dragon House.]

"Uhm, Howudino, how do I get way up there to the saddle?"

[Why, jump of course, you are a magical being now, it is only a small part of what you can do, try it, you will soon see.]

Kashin took a deep breath and almost closed his eyes as he tried to spring high enough to reach the saddle; he almost over did it as he found himself laying with his head looking at the floor of the cavern far below him, with a few wriggles and pushes with his hands, he finally straightened up enough to twist around and seat himself in the saddle, no longer surprised that it fit him like another glove, even the seat was padded with a soft animal skin as was the high back that was just enough for his shoulders to rest against, there were two straps each side of where his thighs were, it did not take a genius to know what they were for, Kashin drew the straps over each of his thighs and tightened the buckles down until he felt safely secure, as the last buckle tightened, Howudino lowered his head and pointed it at the back wall of the cavern.

The dark rear wall suddenly began to shimmer under the bright gold light coming from the two outer horns, it took only moments for the wall to seemingly disappear and Kashin now saw the outside for the first time in eight days, it was full night and the darkness meant he could see nothing but he now, for some reason, trusted Howudino without reservation, he took a grip on the round piece on the front of his saddle and felt the large dragon move forward towards the new exit, seconds later and they were out in the darkness of the night, the fresh air filled his nostrils with the many scents of the land as he heard the rumble of stone on stone as the new exit closed once again to make a solid wall of rock.

As they flew higher and faster, Kashin found he could not keep his eyes open as the fast flowing wind created by Howudino's speed forced him to close his eyes.

"Howudino, I can't see, the wind is making me blind."

[Oh, sorry, I forgot to tell you, just think in your head the words 'Dragon Sight' then open your eyes.]

Kashin did as he was told, as he finished the words in his head he felt what seemed to be a thin layer slide down over his eyes, as he opened his eyes as told to do, he felt no wind and also he could now see around them as if in daylight, the change was dramatic and now he could see clearly, it was also enjoyable, that is until he looked down, they were far higher than he had at first thought, with his new eyesight he could make out the shape of miniature animals far below on the ground, much to his dismay, he saw that the small ants were in fact sleeping cows, he stiffened up in surprise although he also felt a little dizzy to be so high up.

[Now for your next surprise, just do the same again and think 'Far Sight' it will enable you to see far off things well before we get close to them, try it and see.]

Kashin did as told and the next second he was able to see what had been cow ants, now looked as though he was standing right beside them, he lifted his head and then found he could see so far ahead and in such great detail that, had he not been strapped into the saddle, he would have fallen to the ground far below them, with no need to be told, Kashin just thought 'Dragon Sight' once again and was back as before, he settled down in his saddle which was more of a chair than an open saddle, pulling the thick cloak around him, he now relaxed as Howudino took them at greater speed through the night sky.

Kashin opened his eyes just as the first rays of the sunrise hit him, this gave him a start as he had not realised he had fallen asleep in the saddle, only the thigh straps keeping him in place, shaking his head to clear the cobwebs of sleep, Kashin looked down and saw they were hovering high above the castle of Baron Saharadan, the guards at the gates and on the parapets looked so small they stood out as only miniature dolls in the dawn light.

[Well, Prince of Riders, where do you think we should introduce ourselves, the gate, or the courtyard?]

"Well, as they will probably carve me up as soon as they see me, we might as well make it the courtyard, and I would never get through the gate before they cut me up for dog food."

[Oh ye of little faith, there is nothing here that can harm you so it's the courtyard, when you land call for the Baron to appear, when he does, demand that you receive satisfaction on those two messengers, they are just now unsaddling their horses.]

"Are you wanting to see me spitted on their swords, they would never listen too me and the Baron will probably have me at the end of a rope before I can open my mouth."

A deep rumble of laughter came from Howudino's belly.

[You must get over these thoughts that you are just a normal boy, now, when you land, you introduce yourself as thus, I am Kashin, Prince of Dragon Riders of the Weir of Tallas, you then demand that those two be brought before you for satisfaction.]

"Land? Fight them? I don't know the first thing about swords or fighting, and how am I going to 'Land', aren't you going to settle down there with me?"

[Well landing is easy, I will go lower and hover over the courtyard and you just jump down, as far as fighting, well, you have all the skills you will ever need, Kashin my dear friend, you are now as magical as I, everything you need to know is in your head, when the time comes to fight just call out, "Dragons Claw" the sword will obey every command you make of him, too land you just think of a soft cloud holding you and you will float down like a feather, trust me, you can do this.]

"Well ok, but if I die I am going to come back from the dark and haunt your sleep."

[That could be difficult as I don't sleep, but I understand your meaning, but you have to realise that I would never put you in danger, you hold my second heart within your chest, now let's go and fix those ruffians.]

Howudino dived steeply until he was hovering above the central courtyard of the castle, below them there was a loud cry of alarm and the castle began to seethe with running soldiers as they looked up at the huge golden Dragon above them, most had seen dragons before but never one so large and never one that shone gold in the morning light, the diminutive figure sitting in the saddle looked to be no more than a young boy at that height.

[Well my Prince, we have their attention, now time for you to do your part, remember, think about a soft cloud lowering you to the centre of the courtyard and make yourself sound strong and loud, you are a Royal Dragon Rider and no man stands against your demands.]

Kashin took a deep breath to calm his nerves, he truly hoped that Howudino was right, with shaking fingers he released the two thick straps from his thighs, partially closed his eyes and thought about soft clouds as he jumped from his saddle towards the ground so far below.

Kashin's eyes snapped open wider as his feet touched the stone courtyard lightly, his cloak he had shed and placed on his saddle before the jump, trying to look bigger than he was or felt, Kashin crossed his arms over his chest and, in a voice that cracked slightly called out.

"I am Kashin, the Prince of Dragon Riders; I demand the presence of Baron Saharadan on a matter of honour and satisfaction." Kashin then stood with legs apart and tried to give his best glare at the multitude of soldiers now surrounding him in the courtyard, he then heard from above him on the steps leading to the main keep, the sound of a deep bass voice that had a hint of cruelty in it, the guards close to Kashin parted so he could see the large barrel chested Baron coming down the steps towards him.

"Who makes demands in my castle? Boy, you had better have a good speed in your skinny legs or I will split you from end to end, no one comes to make demands of me."

The Baron was still a little befuddled from being woken so suddenly and was at the bottom of the steps before he really saw the small figure encased in golden dragon armour, the Baron was truly a cruel man but he was not stupid, he well knew that only a fool would take on a Dragon Rider and his Dragon, he decided that discretion was better than force.

"Say again who you are Rider?"

"I am Kashin, Prince of Dragon Riders of the Weir of Tallas; I have come for satisfaction of two of your messengers." Although Kashin was still nervous, he tried to keep the small quaver out of his voice as he talked to the Baron.

"And who be the messengers you speak of and what did they do for you to call for satisfaction?"

"They are named Giles and Mikel, they robbed me of that which is mine by right and then attacked me."

"I see no injuries to prove this attack and, can you identify any items they may or may not have taken from you?"

"I can identify all of my possessions and I am a Dragon Rider of the Royal House, my injuries are healed by the Dragons Magic, bring the two men here and we shall see what they hide."

The Baron Saharan turned to one of the watching guards and told him to fetch the two messengers from the stables, while they waited, the Baron looked over the small boy before him, he knew that most Dragon Riders looked young but this one seemed even younger than most he had seen, a question popped into his mind as they waited.

"If these two robbed you, how was it you could not stop them if you are a Dragon Rider?"

"It happened before I became a Rider, I had just left my home as a third son and was on the road to find my new place, I now have that new place and this is what my destiny revealed."

The Baron looked the young boy over, the armour was definitely Dragon scale armour, he had seen the like before but never in gold, it almost pulsed with life in the early morning sunlight as though it had a life of its own, the long sword at the side of the Rider was still sheathed but the haft was of the purest gold set with sparkling Rubies, there was no doubt that this was indeed a Prince among Riders.

From the back of the now large crowd of soldiers came the raucous voices of Giles and Mikel as they laughed and joked with the man sent to get them, as they stepped into the large circle where the Baron waited for them, they saw Kashin for the first time, at first they were taken by surprise then they began to smile widely at the sight of the little Rider.

"Gods teeth, a sore ass and worn boots, look Mikel, it's our little thief, tell us little thief, where did you steal all that Dragon armour from, did you come here to have your head separated from your shoulders, or too sell that little ass to the manly soldiers?"

"SILENCE," Yelled the Baron "The Dragon Rider Prince has made accusations against you two, he has asked for satisfaction, tell me Giles and Mikel, Messengers of Castle Saharadan, is what the boy said true, did you waylay him and take what was his and leave him beaten on the side of the road some ten days ago?"

As usual, it was Giles that spoke for them both.

"My Lord, we did indeed stop this boy, he was a thief and carried items no farm boy, as he claimed to be, would have the coin to purchase, as you have dictated, all thieves should be given justice under your laws."

"Did you not know he was a Dragon Rider of the Royal Weir?"

"No my lord, he was just a boy with items he had no claim too and so he was a thief."

"If he was a thief then why did you not take his head as I have commanded of all thieves?"

"I tried to question him but he seemed to be a simpleton, I thought it was pointless and so just gave him a little beating to make him change his ways."

"So you admit you took items from him that he claims as his own, if this is so then you will return them to his hand and this will be over."

"Well My Lord, we have spent the five silver coins on food for our journey, the satchel we discarded after the food was gone as we had no further need of it, Mikel still has his knife so , if it is your wish then he will return it to the boy as you ask."

The Baron turned to the silently waiting Kashin.

"There my boy, you see it was all just a mistake, take your knife and we will call it all sorted out, there is no need for blood on this fine morning and these two good men have been loyal to me for years, it is done and you have your knife back."

For the first time, Kashin lifted his head to look the two men fully in the eye, he had forgotten that he still had the film of Dragon Sight covering his eyes, the two men saw the deep violet colour of the boys eyes and, for the first time in their lives, a shiver of fear flickered over their faces, Kashin also saw the fear and felt something deep inside that these two large violent men would be afraid of him

"Where was the satchel discarded?"

"It was some three days ago, somewhere on the side of the road, but, it was just a satchel no need for fighting over such a small thing." Giles replied.

"That satchel was made with my brother's hands, now there is the matter of the five coins, the repayment will be one Dragon Gold coin to pay for the beating and the theft, pay now or I will have my satisfaction here and now."

Giles and Mikel began to bluster, a Dragon Gold coin would take them ten years to earn, they both turned to the Baron with a look of begging on their faces, they now knew they were on very dangerous ground, no living soldier had ever beaten a Rider in combat and it was getting close to that time for these two.

In Kashin's mind he could hear the advice of Howudino as he seemed to easily read the men's minds as Kashin stood his ground alone in the courtyard.

"We can not pay such a high price; we don't have that sort of coin."

"Then draw your swords and give me satisfaction, there is nothing more to discuss."

Kashin stood solidly on the courtyard cobbles, his arms still crossed over his chest as he issued the challenge, Giles looked at Mikel, they had little option as they had been challenged in front of their peers, with an imperceptible nod to Mikel, Giles drew his long heavy sword and rushed without warning at the waiting boy, Mikel close on his heals.

Before Kashin could call his own sword to his hand, the great broad sword was coming down at his head, with a movement so fast no one saw it, Kashin swiftly raised his left arm to stop the sword blade with his arm guard, the crashing strike hit his arm guard and set Kashin back a step with its power, suddenly there was the sound of pieces of metal hitting the cold stones, Kashin opened his eyes in time to see the many pieces of the shattered sword down by his feet, he was just in time to see Mikel come at him with a large two handed battle axe as Giles stood stunned by the turn of events, in a voice that sound loud and steady, Kashin called.

"Dragons Claw."

As if by magic, for that was what it was, the white bladed weapon appeared in his hand, Kashin struck out to block the mighty axe and severed the handle like a hot knife through butter, the deadly iron head fell to the ground leaving Mikel with only part of the wooden handle in his hands.

As the two stunned men stood and looked at the boy with the white bladed sword, Kashin turned to Giles and said in a loud voice so everyone could hear.

"For your violence against me, you will never lift another weapon."

Kashin struck with the speed of a striking snake, everyone heard the loud cry of pain as Giles right arm just above the elbow fell to the cold stones and, as Giles was screaming for mercy, Kashin turned to Mikel.

"For your theft and violence towards me, you will never ride again."

The white sword flashed again and Mikel's scream tore through the castle as his left leg was severed above the knee, Kashin was surprised that he felt nothing for these men who had attacked him so brutally, as a last parting word, Kashin turned to the Baron.

"As these men were in your employ I hold that you are responsible for the payment of the coin, should you fail to make payment I and my Dragon will level your castle and take your lands as payment, decide now, my time is short and I have to reclaim my satchel."

Kashin could not believe the words coming from his own mouth, he had never been one to speak so forcefully to others and now he was making demands of one of the most powerful Barons in these lands, Kashin replaced his sword with ease as he looked into the eyes of the Baron and waited for him to fetch the gold coin he had demanded.

The Baron looked over at an old man standing behind him on the steps.

"Get the Riders coin and fetch the healer for these men, Rider, I will pay your price but, know this, should you or your dragon approach these walls again, the end result will be different, in these lands my word is law."

Kashin closed his eyes for a second as Howudino gave him advice in his head; opening his eyes once again he smiled at the Baron and said.

"Do not make threats you can not fulfil, this matter is over, do not try to make more trouble for yourself with threats."

As Kashin finished speaking, the elderly man appeared and handed him a single gold Dragon Coin, holding the coin in his hand, Kashin surprised every man in the castle as he seemed to leap straight up into the air and was then seated on the back of the gold dragon high in the morning sky, the murmuring of fear filled words went around the courtyard as they watched the pair turn and fly away in the direction of where the messengers had come from, it seemed that every man sighed with relief at the same time as the two disappeared into the morning light.

Sebastiano sat under the old large Oak tree, his sparse midday meal spread before him, his brown rough clothes, which were the sign of a land worker or farmer; blended in with the large Oak, to any passing on the narrow dirt path he was almost invisible.

Sebastiano, or Seb, as much preferred to be called, sat and thought about what had brought him so far to the East, he had been on the road now for more than a full month and, while he was not afraid to be alone, he at times felt there was something, or someone, out there waiting for him.

He was the fifth son of a tenant farmer, land workers in this day and age were renowned for their large families but, in the case of Seb's family, there were just too many mouths to feed and so, he as the youngest had made the decision to go on the road and find his fortune, his only other alternative was to stay and work as an unpaid farm hand for his Father and siblings, not the choice he wanted to make.

Seb was still a young teen, just over fourteen years, he stood about 5'7" with a nicely formed body from a long life of chores, his unruly mop of brown curls were hidden under a round wool cap that sat on his head and pulled down round his ears, his rough clothes were showing the wear and tear of his time on the road.

To feed himself he would do a days work or forage in the forrest for berries or nuts, not wanting to stay too long in one place, he had little time to trap or snare game so his diet had been mainly the fruit and nuts he gathered along the way.

So far he had been lucky in that no one had tried to stop him, the country was well known for vagabonds and bandits but he had been able to avoid any such men so far although he was also very careful, his green eyes were ever alert for trouble coming his way, he did not know why he was on this journey nor why he was going in this direction, it was just as though some force was pulling him further and further Eastward.

As he sat and nibbled on his sparse fare, something caught his eye, it was lying partly buried in the grass at the side of the track he had been following, breaking off a small piece of cheese to chew on while he went to look, Seb slowly approached the item, as he got closer he began to make out the shape of a brown leather satchel, once he was close enough, he saw the fine workmanship, bending down to retrieve it, Seb looked more closely and wondered why anyone would discard such a beautifully made satchel as this, perhaps it had fallen from a cart or wagon without being noticed.

Seb turned back to his place under the thick Oak, as he ate he looked over the finely made satchel, it was obvious, even to someone that had never owned such a fine piece of leather work, that this satchel belonged to some wealthy person, as he looked at it further, he began to wonder if he might not sell it, the coins he would get would keep him in food for a long time, Seb sat back and placed the last piece of bread in his mouth, the satchel on his knees as he dreamt of what might be.

Seb never heard the swish of large wings above him as he was now stretched out under the Oak dozing after his meal, the satchel still on his legs as he snored softly as only a teen with a full belly could, far above, in the clear blue sky, Howudino was drifting along slowly as Kashin used his Far Sight to watch the country side far below, they had covered what they thought would be the distance travelled by the two riders in three days and had seen nothing of the satchel, as they flew closer to where young Seb lay asleep, Kashin suddenly felt his insides begin to twist and turn as though he had eaten poison food.

Howudino suddenly heard the groan of pain from his small rider, using his prodigious Dragon magic he soon worked out was wrong with Kashin, the Dragon smile that passed over his long sharp teeth could easily have been mistaken for a dreadful snarl, instead of continuing his flight towards the next village, which would have been at the full extent of the distance that the messengers could have covered in the tree days, Howudino began to circle high above the land, at each circle he would drop a few hundred feet until he was no more than one hundred feet above the earth.

The closer he got to the earth the louder the groans and moans from his rider, Howudino's smile only increased, his sharp eyes were now looking for something other than a brown leather satchel, as he took another low pass over the road, he thought he saw something laying under a large Oak, changing to his far sight for better vision, Howudino soon made out the figure of a young teen asleep under the tree, on the boys legs was a brown satchel.

"Hold on Rider, I think we have just found the two things that are important to you"

All Kashin could do was groan louder, the feeling deep in his stomach only seemed to grow stronger the closer he got to the ground, he was now at a stage where he wanted to throw up as his head swirled with strange images of a boy with curly brown hair and green eyes, as he felt Howudino land on the ground with a thump of strong thick legs, Kashin tried to look around him but his stomach would not settle, quickly he released his thigh straps and almost fell of his saddle to reach the ground, from somewhere close by he thought he heard a loud yelp of fear.

Seb was happily dreaming of the coins he would get for the satchel, he might even get as much as a single Dragon Gold for such a work of art, it was as he saw his pocket filled with coins that something rather large landed on the road, the sound and vibration of the landing caused him to sleepily open his eyes and look towards the road.

At first Seb thought he was dreaming, then he felt fear, there was only one reason a huge Dragon would land on the road so close to him and he did not think it was for a good cause, especially as the Dragon was showing so many teeth, Seb knew he was not the biggest boy around so he didn't think he would make much of a meal for a Dragon as large as this one.

Seb watched in fear as suddenly, from high up on the back of the Dragon, a small figure seemed to fall as though dead, as the small figure hit the ground, Seb felt something stab him in the chest, it was like a hot knife and caused him to yelp out loudly, he noticed the Dragon just stood and looked at him with all his long sharp teeth showing, Seb fell back in a faint, if he was going to be the Dragons meal then he did not want to see it coming, his mind closed down and darkness over took him.

Kashin was surprised to find that he had no injuries from his fall, only the breath had been knocked out of him as he hit the hard ground, as he struggled to his feet, he heard the deep rumbling chuckle that was Howudino's version of humour, Kashin threw the Dragon a look as if to say, "Don't go there." He then turned to the comatose figure of the strange boy under the tree.

As Kashin grew closer, he spied his long lost satchel, it was now lying on the ground beside the young teen, suddenly Kashin felt a strong sharp pain in his chest, it felt like a sharp knife had struck him right where his heart was, Kashin went to his knees right beside the unconscious boy, as he reached out his hand to touch the stranger Kashin began to tremble all over, behind him he could still hear the deep rumbling chuckle of Howudino.

Kashin touched the boys arm and, as he did so, it seemed that both of them were suddenly surrounded by a soft golden light just before Kashin folded onto the ground, also unconscious beside the boy, his hand still firmly on the boys arm.

Howudino looked at the two teens as he continued to chuckle over the event, the soft golden hue around the two boys held them together.

"Well that fixes that, now he's got both his lover and his satchel, this should be interesting."

Howudino casually walked under the huge Oak tree and stood in the shade, not that the sun affected him in any way, it was just a better angle to watch the two boys when they awoke, Howudino bent his knees and lay down under the tree, his lower jaw resting on the ground and only inches away from the two figures.

The Dragon waited patiently, he was well aware it could take a little time for the magic to do its work, he lay and waited, before long the golden hue began to fade as the magic fully entered both boys, Kashin would always be his Rider and Prince of Riders in the Royal Weir, his new consort would also be able to fly with him but would never control a Dragon, his new place would be to support Kashin in his new life.

Howudino watched as the two boys began to stir, first to open his eyes was Kashin, by now his right arm was fully over the breast of his lover while the other boys arm was now clasping Kashin's shoulder, he also was now beginning to awaken although he was a little afraid when he opened his eyes enough to be able to see the rows of sharp pointed teeth so close to his face, but the warm arm of Kashin soon replaced any fears he had, through the golden glow of magic he now fully understood what was going on, he was now Consort to the Royal Dragon Rider.

As Seb recognised his new standing in life, he almost giggled with glee, the thought of a farm boy being a Dragon Riders consort was the last thing he could have imagined, but here he was, in the warm arms of Kashin, for a second, Seb started, how did he know the boys name?

In his mind he heard the soft voice of Kashin.

"It's the Dragon Magic, we can now hear each other in our heads although you will not be able to hear a Dragons voice but you and I are now joined in special ways to each other, Sebastiano."

"Oh, well that's nice, and it's Seb, I hate the long name they gave me, so what happens now Kashin?"

"We take off for the Weir, grab my satchel would you, if you walk over to Howudino's wing and climb up onto his back I'll help you get strapped in."

Seb watched as the Dragon lowered one wing for him, it looked big enough to cover a house, with as soft a tread as he could make, Seb stepped onto the wing, he was surprised to find it firmer and stronger than it first looked, as he glanced up he saw Kashin leap upwards and into the double saddle, he was amazed at the feat and continued his slow climb until he was standing high up and watching Kashin ready the two thigh straps for him.

Kashin removed his long cloak and wrapped it around the shoulders of Seb his own armour would protect him to a degree as long as Howudino did not go too high, after strapping Seb into his saddle, Kashin placed his satchel over his shoulder and sat at the front of the saddle, after a slight lurch, Howudino rose to his full height, something Seb was not prepared for, it seemed a long way to the ground from the top of the Dragons back, with a mighty thrust of his four strong legs, Howudino was airborne, Seb was leant forward holding tightly to Kashin's waist as the ground dropped away from them at a startling rate.

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