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"Untie me," suggested Iolaus reasonably. "Two swords are better than one."

Anthius snorted. "I'll do just fine on my own."

An angry roar echoed through the night, shaking the forest trees and rattling the dried leaves like ancient bones.

"Sure about that?"

"It's just a dragon," replied the outlaw with a bravado he didn't felt. "I can handle an overgrown lizard."

"Ever see a dragon before?" asked Iolaus conversationally. "Because I have. Well, not a full grown dragon. A baby one. But it was bigger than a house." He looked up toward the star-studded night. "I wonder how big this one is."

"Shut up."

"Sure. Okay. Shutting up. Not a problem." Unconcerned, Iolaus leaned his head back against the tree he was tied to and closed his eyes.

Anthius continued to pace and warily watch the skies, his battered sword clutched in both hands. He'd never seen a dragon before but he'd heard the tales of monstrous lizards with wings, claws as sharp as swords and teeth as tall as a man. Could he fight against such a monster on his own? Or should he trust the man who'd been sent to bring him back to Corinth to stand trial for a crime he didn't commit?

"Oh, one more thing about dragons?" offered Iolaus helpfully. "They're smart. Really, really smart. Your scent is all over it's cave, so it's going to know you're the one that broke it's egg."

"It was an accident!" Anthius exclaimed. "How was I to know it wasn't a stepping stone?"

Another roar, closer now, shook the very ground on which they stood.

"Good luck explaining that to Mama Dragon by yourself before she eats you." Iolaus opened his eyes and met his gaze. "But she doesn't know my scent. I'm not the one who invaded her lair." He sat up, retrained by his bonds. "Look, I have a friend who's a dragon. She might know Braxis. And if she does, she might actually listen to me."

"You're insane! You really think you can talk to a dragon?"

"Not tied to a tree, I can't."

Anthius glowered at his captive. What choice did he have? With a growl of frustration, he swung his sword and sliced through the ropes.

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August 2011

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