• Startled, I recoiled; the strand of energy I had been using to lift the statue was broken. The statue began to slowly fall. Recklessly I leapt from hiding, snatching the relic before its unearthly beauty could be marred by the cold, unfeeling stone of the floor. A painful jolt went up my arm as my fingertips brushed the smooth silver. My muscles tensed up as a chilling pain spread slowly through my body. Agonizingly I turned my head to see the dragon, watching it all with firey, wise eyes.

    Now there I was, caught like a rat in a trap. Pinned to the ground by weakness and shock, drained of energy. And the dragon knew it. A look of cold satisfaction spread across his scaly face as I lay helpless on his floor. He sat back on his haunches and curled his tail around his paws, eyeing me studiously. I was unable to avoid his gaze. Knowledge and pity shimmered in his golden eyes.

    “Mistakes,” he growled, breaking the heavy silence, “You have repeated mine, you foolish child. I too was drawn by its unearthly charms.”

    I had no strength to reply, all I could do was fear his mighty fangs and talons, and what they could do to me. He saw my terror and spoke once more.

    “I am not going to kill you, hatchling. That would be murder. . . you will need a name.”

    I was confused. I somehow summoned enough strength to respond. “I already have a name.”

    He made a rough snorting sound. Was he laughing? “Another kind of name, Korvik. You have cursed yourself. It may seem a blessing at first, but you will live to see your friends and family die, to see the world change for better of worse, and be viewed as a beast by your previous race. I applaud your idiocy,” he said bitterly, with a hint of sadness. He lowered himself onto the floor, but still towered over me, folding his massive clawed paws. “I feel sorry for you, little drei. Really, truly sorry. I will give you the gift of a name, though. A much better name than I received. Drei, I name you Stelriik; stardust. Bear your name proudly.”

    My body stung with icy pain. The warm golden light of the cavern began to spin, and swirled into darkness.