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Dracona's Rebirth Prologue

“Why doesn’t anyone go into the forest to the east?” Cherie asked Olvan as they walked towards his house.
     “It belongs to the lords of Dracona,” Olvan said. “Of the few men that dared go in, one came back a babbling idiot. He had to be watched like a child until he died.”
     “What about the others?” she asked.
     “The other two were found laid out next to the forest,” Olvan said. “There wasn’t a mark on them anywhere, but they were dead just the same. Since then we stay out of their forest and they stay in it. Occasionally we will see one in the edge of the trees herding one of our cattle farther into the forest. It’s best to just let them do it. If we belonged to a kingdom we would be paying taxes to the king anyway, so we might as well let them take a cow now and then so they will leave us alone.”
     Cherie considered that as they walked along. She wondered what he would think when she told him who she really was and why she had been travelling.
     “I’ve heard that the villagers once lived in the town around the castle of Dracona, but those that survived to move here would never talk about why they left,” Olvan said. “Grandfather said his father had nightmares frequently and burn scars on one arm and most of his back.”
     Cherie shook her head. She would definitely stay out of Dracona’s forest.
     “You look worried,” Ovan said as he stopped. “I didn’t mean to frighten you with such talk.”
     “It’s just that I find myself wanting to stay here with you,” Cherie said. “I’ve never met a man quite like you.”
     Olvan smiled and said, “I would be very happy if you stayed. You are so different from any woman in the village. I find myself dreaming about you, then I wake to find myself alone.”
     “Oh, Olvan, are you saying?” Cherie asked as her heart started beating faster.
     “I’ve fallen in love with you, Cherie,” Olvan said.
     She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. He put his arms around her. She knew what she had to tell him might change his mind. She knew that if she married him it was almost guaranteed that what should be her duty would pass to her sister. She also knew what she was giving up if she married Olvan, but she loved him.