Rey’hana walked through the mountain tunnel, staying close to the shadows and making sure to not make much noise. Her dark, studded-leather armor blended in with the surroundings around her, and since she was an elf, she had no need for a light because her eyes were sharp enough to see in the dark. The hood cast over her head concealed her face and low black ponytail. She was well-armed with a longbow slung across her chest, arrows tucked into a quiver on her belt, and a dagger hidden in her boot.

Rey’hana had been in this cavern for a while now. She was exploring it for her guild. The people of Faywind wanted to see if it was safe enough to mine for minerals and ore, so they sent for an expert scout to investigate. Rey’hana was their top choice: she was the most experienced with exploring potentially dangerous areas, and she knew how to take care of herself in a fight. During her expedition, she had found various side passages that led into sprawling caverns, but there was nothing except bats and crawling insects. The cave was really mundane compared to previous expeditions. She rounded another corner and continued down a dark tunnel.

A glowing light caught her attention. What’s that? Rey’hana wondered, instinctively crouching out of sight. Perhaps there is something of interest in here after all. Rey’hana stepped from the tunnel into the cavern. She blinked as her hazel orbs adjusted to the light, her nose wrinkling from her slight squint. Once her eyes settled with the new aura, she scanned the room. A large silver boulder glowed slightly.

Wait. Rey’hana suddenly noticed that the boulder appeared to be breathing. She stepped forward to get a better look, then froze. A soft gasp escaped her throat as she stared in awe.

The large form of the sleeping dragon was still except for its breathing, the glow revealing its silvery white scales and ivory colored claws. They were sharp and clean, like they had never been used before. The dragon was large, but it didn’t exude power like Rey’hana would have expected from a great beast. Maybe because it was sleeping, but there was something youthful about it.

She took a cautious step forward. The dragon made no move, not even a stir of slight motion. She paused, eyes narrowed with confusion. I thought that dragons were supposed to have sharp senses. How has this one not woken up yet? Rey’hana took a few more steps forward, but the dragon still did not move. A metallic shimmer then caught her eye. A chain was attached to the wall and wrapped around its leg. The chain looked ordinary at first glance, but then she noticed it was glowing slightly. She walked towards it with more confidence, reaching out to study it further. The chain grew brighter. She felt the temperature around it rapidly increase. She paused, glancing over at the dragon, but still it slept, undisturbed. Letting out a quiet, tense breath, she continued to reach for the chain. Very hesitantly and gently, she grabbed it and lifted it up. It was incredibly warm to the touch, but not enough to actually be painful. She felt the chain vibrating with some sort of arcane energy within her grasp, but the metal itself was weak. The chain was thin and she knew she could easily snap it. So why doesn’t the dragon just snap it and fly away and be done with it? Rey’hana looked back at the dragon. Maybe the chain has kept it asleep with some magic.

She looked back at the chain, then pulled out a small dagger. She slid it under the chain, then quickly swiped it upwards. The chain broke with a metallic, bell-like ring, and its glow went dark. She immediately felt the dragon stir, and heard it let out a low growl. Backing away, Rey’hana ducked behind a large boulder. Once she was safely hidden, she peeked out, watching the dragon carefully.

It slowly opened its eyes, revealing ruby-red reptilian orbs that glowed in the darkness. Rey’hana held her breath as the dragon blinked a few times and peered around at its surroundings. It was then that she realized that this dragon might have been locked up because it was evil. Her heart began to pound painfully in her chest. I may have just released a savage beast onto the land! She backed away slowly. The dragon still didn’t seem to sense her presence, which puzzled her. Dragons were known for their power and sharp senses. So why didn’t it have either of those?

The dragon started to stand up, but its legs were shaky and couldn’t support its enormous body. It stumbled back to the ground, letting out a soft groan of pain. It lifted one of its claws to its face and stared at it. What is it doing? It stood up again–this time managing to stay on its feet–and spun around wildly as it attempted to examine itself. The more it saw, the more panicked it became. What’s wrong with it? It is acting like it has never seen a dragon before.

Suddenly, the dragon let out a loud, terrifying roar that brought Rey’hana to her knees. It echoed through the cave and caused her already sensitive ears to ring like mad. Rey’hana clapped her hands over her ears, crying with pain. She quickly ducked behind the boulder again. The beast abruptly stopped roaring. She froze, heart pounding again. She didn’t dare move or even breathe as she quickly scanned the area for an escape route. The only way out was the way she came in, a small cavity a few feet from the dragon’s head. If she wanted to escape, she’d have to dart in front of the dragon. She took a deep breath. She knew it was suicide, but she had no other choice. She crouched low and readied herself.

On three, she thought. The dragon still hadn’t moved, and it was looking around in confusion. One…

Two…With one more deep breath to steady her throbbing heart, she focused on the exit out of the dragon’s lair.

Three! She made a mad dash for it.

The dragon roared again. It wasn’t as loud as its last one, but still frightening. She saw the dragon move, but she kept running. Its tail suddenly slid in her way, but the movement was slow and awkward. All of her time in the forest as a ranger had instilled in her sharp instincts and decent agility. She dove under the tail and into a roll. She came back up smoothly on the other side, right in front of the exit.

She could barely believe her luck, but she didn’t stop to ponder it. As soon as she broke out of the roll, she took off once again. She heard the dragon roar again as she sped off into the dark tunnel, then the cavern began to shake with jarring thuds. The dragon had taken up the chase. Rey’hana kept up her pace as she ran through the tunnel. The dragon was panting as it tried to catch up with her. She heard crashes and thuds followed by growls of pain.

Then, something bizarre happened.

H – hey! Stop! Wait, WAIT! A youthful, female voice called out from inside Rey’hana’s head. Out of pure shock, Rey’hana skidded to a halt. She whipped around just as the dragon also stopped.

The dragon was out of breath and panting heavily. By the gods, you are fast! The voice spoke again. I didn’t think anyone would be able to run so fast in the dark.

“Who are you?” Rey’hana asked aloud.

The dragon looked puzzled for a moment, its head tipping to the side. Then it exhaled a loud breath—something like a sigh.

Oh… right, the voice said. Um… well, my name is Adeana. I am… a dragon right now, but I’m supposed to be a human girl.

Rey’hana stared at the dragon. “You? You’re a human?”