e noticed that he was staring at his right hand, the black scar on it’s palm that showed as a hairy star and a black dot on it’s back.  He pondered calling forth powers that were even greater than his wizardly knowledge, and paid for by dear cost.  Dragons were kin to the same magick energies of this world, but this was from beyond.  “Perhaps-” he thought.
     This hesitance nearly cost the man his life, for a flash of light signaled that the dragon was upon him and moving at such a speed that he could not hope to sidestep.  Desprately, he ran, forgetting any strategy he had planned.  He knew many combat spells, but none were anywhere near powerful enough to slay a dragon with one hit.  As he ran, the dragon shot through the air just above the sand, its claws leaving raking deep trails in it.
     Perhaps it was last minute inspriation, though more likely desperation, but Woodbead pulled the bead from his sleeve pocket which he had focused an ‘air cushion’ spell on it.  He threw it at the dragon, activating it in its face as the great maw burned with the heat of another flame blast.
    Instantly, the air shimmered and warped around the beast, until it’s neck and arms were covered by what seemed to be a gelatain.  The dragon was slowed by this, though it still pushed the cushion with it, now causing a great depression in the sand instead of raking claws.  It seemed like time had slowed down again, but this would be only for an instant.  The dragon, now even more enraged, howled and pushed at the spell.  Energy, cracling like purple lightning covered every part of it’s body covered by the majick and fought it.  A spell that would last minutes unless dispelled earlier would not last seconds against such an opponent.
    As Woodbead used this instant to run to the side, Ayeesha climbed back into the saddle, then pulled a hidden knife from her dress.  She cut the saddlebag quickly and jumped off just as the dragon pushed through the magick and shot off again into the sky.  She did not say anything to him, but started franticly rummaging through her saddlebag.
    Woodbead quickly wondered how he could fend off the dragon.  If he could extend its range, a kinetic blast might shatter one of it’s wings, but it could easily move faster than him on land and especially in the shallow water.  Fire would minimally hurt it.  What forces could he use that would save his life?
    “Do it again!” Ayeesha said loudly to him, catching his eyes in a stern, urgent look.  As he saw the distant flame getting brighter he knew that she meant his ‘air cushion’ spell again.  She had something in mind, which was why she was going through her saddlebag rather than escaping.
    Facing the growing fire, Woodbead plucked a carved bead from his large string of beads, strung around over his shoulder to his waist.  He pushed his mind into a concentration pattern and focused on the bead.  His mind wove subtle thoughts which pushed into the fabric of reality, then vibrated, making small white waves resonate into the bead.  An untrained eye would not see this, but would still see the bead softly glowing with a blue-white glow.
    The dragon burst through the mist, now charging at him at maximum speed.  It’s eyes were still mad with hatred while it’s fanged mouth again began to glow, the wind blowing a trail of flame behind out the corners.
    This time, Woodbead was ready for it.  He flicked the bead right into the dragon’s face, again enveloping it in a cushion of air made jello-like with magick cohesion.  With more preperation, the spell was much stronger.  Still, it was no match for the Dragon’s inner magick and again the beast’s hide began to flicker rapidly with purple lightning as it pushed it's way through the spell.
    Woodbead stepped aside, and Ayeesha ran forward quickly.  She held an open bottle with a blue liquid in it, then splashed it in the dragon’s face with a swing of her arm.  As with the Dragonsbane seed, the liquid was immediately sucked into the creatures nostrils.  She dashed to the side as the dragon bit and choked, trying to clear it’s throat.
    Just as she got to the side, the dragon again broke free.  Woodbead pulled her down to the sand, saving her from losing her head as the dragon whipped it’s tail behind it.  The dragon again darted to the sky, but lost it’s momentum and fell hard into the shallow water thrashing it’s head.  After shaking and convulsing a few moments, the dragon fell silent.
    “Hurry!”  Ayeesha shouted.  Woodbead had never heard her talk so directly.  He followed behind as she ran into the water, uncaring for how it and the sand messed up her fine clothes.  Luckily, the head was not beneath it’s body, so Woodbead only had to twice sink himself into the muck to pull it up.  While he did this, Ayeesha kept petting and coaxing the dragon until it awakened.
    The dragon mad a low, whimpering wail and limped to shore.  Woodbead almost dozed off from exertion on the beach while Ayeesha examined her ride.  She soon came over to him.
    “He’s broken a few bones, including an arm and his right wing.  He’ll heal, but he won’t fly me back.  Can I ride in your boat with you?”
    “Yes, you can.  What about the Dragon, we shouldn’t leave him here.  Even I can tell that right now a few beginner warriors would have no trouble slaying him.”
    Ayeesha smiled.  “I’m so glad you are not angry at my Dragon!  I hope not me, either, for the fault’s all mine.”
    “It’s an accident, besides he guards all our treasure at the isle.”
    “Well, don’t worry, for he can swim good.  He’ll just inflate large with air and flatten his tail.”
    They started back sooner than later, for the Dragon needed nourishment to heal more than rest.  Woodbead rowed, while Ayeesha held onto a rope to guide the dragon, which had no trouble keeping up.  On the way back they speculated about things like biting fish, but in that case Woodbead knew plenty of ways of attacking that would be dangerous to fish but not break the dragon’s hide.  Fortunately, he did not have to do that.

    At last, they arrived back at the isle of mist’s gift, after the sun had set.  Because of the clouds, true night was longer in coming though the mists deepened and the sky grew purplish.  The dragon was uneagar to dive for it’s underwater entrance to it’s “Lair”, the guild’s treasure room, and opted for the small island beside the two large ones instead.  This might seem non-secure, but the door required the strength of a dragon, and the island was home to many wizards.  King Zodenan himself would envy that level of security.
    As the dragon crawled onto land, holding one of it’s legs above the ground, and not fully retracting it’s wing, it looked hungrily at the sheep grazing on the grass.  It gave a look to Ayeesha and Woodbead, but was too proud to call for their aid.
“DRAGON NEEDS FOOD!  BADLY!” a booming, deep voice came from above.

The Announcer

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