1 Prologue

Prologue        

 An emerald scaled beast charged through the underbrush. The night sky and half moon provided more than enough light for him to see, but would help cover his tracks. He could hear the pounding of hooves behind him, the barking and howling of dogs, the shouts of men on horses giving and responding to orders. His humanoid form was staying low to the ground trying to conceal itself in the forest vegetation. The wings on his back were tucked in and his tail streamed out behind him, a row of spines travelling from its tip to along the length of his tail, then up his back to the base of his head, where a pair of horns rested. His bare hands and feet were toughened with scales, while his fingers and toes bore hook-like claws. His eyes were amber with black slits for pupils, and his teeth were long and curved like small knives. 

Normally, such a creature would bring fear and awe to those around it, but not this time. This time the creature itself was wracked with fear. The fact that he was running for his life and was drenched in blood, with arrows sticking into his back and a large gash across his belly, was enough to prove this. Even his clothing, which at one point would have been an ornate robe of incredible quality, was now in tatters and covered in dirt. He was being hunted, and the hunters weren't far behind him. 

The reptilian humanoid continued sprinting ahead of the hunting party, squeezing through the thickest patches of vegetation, his scales helping to protect him from the thorns on most of the bushes. It helped to slow down the hunters and gave him some breathing room, but it came at a huge cost. He was still leaving an obvious blood trail and his clothes were getting caught on the bushes. When the hunters arrived their dogs were in a frenzy. Actually, dog would be a tame word for these creatures. They were more akin to massive wolves as large as medium sized horses. The human hunters at the front of the group carried torches and either arming swords or short spears. They began hacking away at the brambles and thorny bushes to clear a path. The hunters bringing up the rear had short bows and crossbows. They aimed their weapons into the brush and darkness ahead of them, trying to get a shot on their prey. 

The creature, however, was already making use of this break. 

         "I can get away! Now's my chance!" He thought. "I just have run as fast as I can!" 

His optimism rose when he heard the sound of rushing water. He quickly ran to the river that he knew was nearby, but stopped short as his eyes and ears picked up something alarming. The barking of wolves on the other side of the river confirmed his fears. He quickly ducked his head down as hooded figures emerged from the bushes. Now he was trapped with a large enemy force pursuing from one side and an unknown enemy on the other. "I can't go left or right because I'll be spotted if I move. I can't turn back because I'll be spotted by my pursuers. I can't stay here because they'll catch up to me. The only place to go…" His eyes looked at a nearby tree. "Is up." Silently sliding across the ground he inched toward the nearby tree. 

The hunting party chasing him was closing in fast. The moment he was well behind the tree, he launched himself up the tree, his claws hooking into the bark and pulling him up as fast as his injured body could carry him. The ambushers on the other side of the river may have been able to hear him, but they couldn't see him. The hunting party behind him was baffled when his trail suddenly stopped. A man in the front of the group called to the other side of the river. "Did you see him?"

"No. But the dogs caught a whiff of him," was the response. 

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The man huffed before giving his orders. "Spread out into small search parties and find him. Keep within eyesight of each other and don't stray too far. He has to be nearby." 

The hunting party all nodded. "Yes sir!" Armored knights in plate and chain mail, along with other soldiers and peasants in plate and leather armor, quickly searched both banks of the river. The dogs sniffed the ground where their prey had hidden. For a few moments nobody had any idea where the target had disappeared to. That is, until one of the dogs suddenly erupted into a barking, snarling fit beneath a tree. A tree with bloodstains on one side. 

"It's in the tree!"

 Arrows began slamming into the tree from all angles. Once the satisfying scream of a cross between man and beast reached their ears more arrows began pelting the tree. A dark shape launched from the tree and began gliding upriver.

"After it!" Soldiers began mounting their horses and the large dogs led the charge once again. Neither side of the river was safe. 

The creature glided over the water for a few minutes, doing his best to keep ahead of the hunting party. But he had to stay in the open to effectively use his wings. Arrows sailed past him as they failed to hit their mark. The creature could feel his wings aching, arrows having hit dangerously close to his joints. When his wings were about to give out he landed in a nearby tree on the opposite side of the river. Once he landed he snapped the shaft of the arrows he could reach. 

It wasn't long before the hunters caught up to him. They had seen him sail into the nearby trees and quickly dismounted their horses to search for any sign of him. The creature stayed silent, holding his breath and keeping as still as possible. But what he couldn't stop was the flow of blood dripping down the branches. One young soldier felt a warm, wet droplet land on his head. When he wiped it off he noted the crimson solar on his hand and looked up. The glowing amber eyes reflected in the torchlight, the crimson liquid staining the tree branches. 

"Over here!" he shouted as he fired a crossbow into the tree. The creature leapt through the tree branches, trying his best to avoid the incoming projectiles. But it was only a matter of time before he was hit again. That time came quickly as the arrows hit him in his more vulnerable underbelly, sending him crashing into the forest floor. 

"Finish him, quickly!" 

The massive wolves were the first to close in. They saw that their prey was injured and weak, looking like an easy kill. They eagerly lunged at the fallen creature. 

But this creature lashed out like a cornered animal. He gave a deep snarl as he spun around, his tail whipping around and catching the first wolf across the face and sending crashing into the ground. The second wolf took the opening and pounced on top of the humanoid creature. The creature grabbed the wolf's neck to hold back its mouth, tucked his legs in and raked the wolf's belly with his rear claws. The wolf yipped in pain and tried to jump off, but the creature ripped the arrow out of its belly and jammed it deep into the wolf's chest, leaving the arrow there as the wolf died on the ground. 

The first wolf, enraged by the death of its comrade, barked fiercely as it charged the creature. The creature jumped high into the air, using its wings to stay out of the wolf's reach for a split second to avoid the incoming bite, before dropping back down to slash at the wolf's face. The wolf flinched for at first before taking a second to prepare for another attack. A second was all it took for the poison to take effect. The poison that was currently dripping down the creature's claws. The wolf began whimpering and whining in pain before falling onto the ground and passing out. 

An arrow sliced through the creature's cheek. The mounted archers had arrived, firing a hail of arrows at it. The creature quickly whipped sucked in a breath, feeling the chemicals build up inside of its throat. One of the hunters shouted a warning. "Breath attack incoming!" Everyone scattered as a stream of poisonous smoke spewed from the creature's mouth, engulfing one man and his horse and dooming them to a brutal and agonizing death. The creature then lunged at someone trying to flank it from the left, tackling him from his horse and taking him to the ground before sinking his teeth into the man's neck, pumping him full of venom. A woman stabbed him in the leg from behind, but she paid for it when the creature knocked the spear out of her hands with his tail, spun around and grabbed her by the throat, his claws injecting her with poison. 

But his wounds were slowing him down. A knight fired a crossbow at him and hit him in the chest before he could react. That left him open for another soldier to come at him with another spear. The creature was stabbed through the side, and when he grabbed the spear he was hit in the head with a torch. He prepared another poison breath attack, but was pinned from behind by a wolf, which proceeded to maul the back of his neck. He bucked upward, using his spines to ward off the wolf, but the damage was done. 

He growled a warning, but another arrow sank into his shoulder. The knight from earlier had crossed the river with his party. "Your time is up, dragonblood," he mocked as he loaded his crossbow.

The dragonblood coughed blood onto the ground. "You… and your kingdom are traitors," he snarled. "Have you no honor? After all that we did for you?" He was on trembling hands and knees, his time on this world down to mere seconds. 

The knight glared at the downed human dragon hybrid. "This is for the good of our country. For all the countries that were oppressed by you monsters." He aimed the crossbow at his prey, finally too weak to run. "Besides, you cost me 14 soldiers, 3 horses and 5 dire wolves. I'm paying you back for that." 

The dragonblood teared up as his life flashed before his eyes. "But not all of us oppressed you! You're killing not just killing men and women, you're killing children! How are we the monsters?!" 

Some of the soldiers and hunters glanced at the knight, the said knight glared even harder, his seething hatred for the dragonblood in front of him buring hotter that the fires of he'll itself. "We're not risking another dragonblood nation rising up again. Not after the pain we've suffered under your rule," he answered. "No longer will the Humans, Elves and Dwarves suffer in fear of the dragons. The drakes, the wyverns, the sea serpents… even you dragonbloods. The age of dragons has come to an end." He pulled the trigger on the crossbow and let the bolt fly.. 

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