Author: Huinesoron
Cassie sat on the porch of her spacious villa, staring out over the plantation as she brushed her flowing golden locks. "Alas," she wailed, as a flock of cardinals leapt into the air. "Alas that I am here, alone and forsaken, far from the cities I should love to see!"

A rumble sounded, like distant thunder, though the sky was a pure and deep blue. Cassie frowned out at the horizon: was there a shadow over the verdant hills? "If there is," she declared, "it is no more than the shadow over my heart."

Yet the darkness was growing, encompassing the wide lands of her inheritance, until Cassie could no longer deny its reality. She squinted into the black void, and saw at its heart a foxfire twinkle, a gleam that seemed to fly faster than the wind.

Cassie started to her feet, her body tensing as fight-or-flight reflexes took over. The light was taking on form now: two vast wings spread over the darkened fields, throwing darkness and light alike forward with every slow-sweeping beat. "The creature - no, there can be no point denying it, the dragon - is magnificent," Cassie breathed.

The wind swept over Cassie, tangling her long blonde hair, whipping her white dress as it passed, but she cared not. Her eyes were locked on the descending form of the dragon, and the black-clad figure that sat astride its neck.

The dragon touched down, crushing a barn beneath its taloned foot. The rider bent low, whispering words of encouragement to it, then sat back up, looking down at Cassie. His armour was of jet and ebony and forge-wrought iron, and about his head there was a circlet of midnight pearl, set with black opals that glinted like trapped stars.

"Who are you?" Cassie called, leaning on the rail of her porch. "Oh noble, proud and fair one, please - tell this humble maiden your name; for if you will not, my life must end this instant for grief!"

The shadowy knight continued to observe her, his eyes like deep pits into the heart of time itself. Then he glanced away, as if - unthinkably - he were embarassed, and muttered something.

"Brave sir," Cassie called again, "my weak and womanly ears have betrayed me: I heard you not! Yet I must know your name, for with every beat of my racing heart I feel my love for you flooding through me!"

The knight's second mumble wasn't much better, but Cassie just managed to make out the word 'Voyd'. She smiled her most dazzling smile, and tossed her head, sending her gleaming hair cascading over her shoulder.

"Sir Voyd," she called, feeling a thrill run through her as she spoke his name, "what brings you to this lonely and forsaken place? But no!" She held up a hand, pressed it to her forehead. "Answer me not, for I know in my heart that you can be here for one reason alone - to rescue me from this idle existence, and whisk me away to a fairer and greater life in your powerful arms." With another gleaming smile, she blew a flurry of kisses at him, then stepped back onto her porch. "And I will go with you!" she declared, throwing her arms wide. "Let me gather but a few of my most treasured possessions, and we will ride away into the sunset together!"

As she ran through the door, she completely missed Voyd's nonplussed response. It went something like this:

"Mumble mumble neighbour, mutter mumble cup of sugar?"