CHAPTER TWELVE

1

Little is known of what actually happened between the dragon-princess and the peasant who stole her from the bosom of her kind, all those centuries past. We know he was wily enough to thieve the diamond as well, to ensure he would have Draumr to bind her by his side. We know he was hungry enough for her to risk his own life to keep her, and ruthless enough to destroy her family when they attempted to rescue her from him.

But what did she think, that lovely, lonely girl? Like silent Helen of Troy, we have no records of her thoughts. We know only her actions; we know what mountains men moved for her. The mystery of her soul remains unsolved.

We know she wedded the peasant and bore tainted children by him. We know she remained by his side for many years, raising her family, ensorcelled by the stone.

She had been the prize of her people, cherished and pampered, meant for a royal future. He was naught but a child of the dirt, who did not deserve to even glance into her eyes.

That night she put a blade through his heart, what raced through her mind? When she took the diamond from her husband’s body and vanished into the mountains, did she regret her story? Did she fret for her children, left alone and vulnerable to the mercies of humankind? Was it difficult to step into the void of that abandoned copper tunnel? Did she ever hesitate to take her own life?

Perhaps she was merely relieved to have her nightmare ended. Perhaps she focused only on breaking the spell that had enslaved her.

I don’t know. I think she was a fool, to wait so long to kill him. I would have done it the very first night, the moment he dared touch my skin. I would have snatched the diamond from him and swallowed it, and then shown him the true, awful beauty of my gilded self.

But I’m not her.

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