Once upon a time long ago, in a faraway kingdom lived an enchanted girl named Ariana. A princess in fact. She was so plain as to make her beautiful. Brown hair spilled down around her shoulders to her waist. Her big, brown, doe-like eyes were gentle and calm, her skin tanned and freckled. This was, however, not your common princess. For as we mentioned before, she was enchanted. She had the gift, and the curse, of languages. She could speak all tongues spoken by man, animal.... and demon. There was, of course, a legend to go with the gift. It was said that one day, a demon named the Prince of Night would come for her on her sixteenth birthday at the stroke of midnight. Her parents grew ever more uneasy, but the princess did not fear the prince.
"What can he do to me?" She asked in her deep, untraceable voice. "Put another curse on me?" she would follow her statement with a bell like laugh and be off again to run through the forest, playing with her friends. On her fifteenth birthday, her parents forbade her to leave the castle, thinking that the Prince of Night might take her away while she was out.
Slowly she came to hate her prison and home until, on the day before her sixteenth birthday, she had to escape. She slipped out of her window that night and ran into the woods, her silvery dress and braided hair billowing behind her. A wolf ran up beside her, white as snow and with yellow eyes. She greeted him with a bark and leapt onto his back. The wolf bore her far far away that night, past the forest that surrounded her kingdom before asking her where she wished to go.
"I wish," She replied in the language of the wolves "To go the land that is under the rule of the Prince of the Night. I will come to him before he takes me."
The wolf continued running through the next day while Ariana slept on his back. Through three other kingdoms. Ariana grew dirty and tired, but she kept her goal in mind. The wolf had to many times stop to rest, but always they were met with hospitality. In those days, speakers were revered as wise and powerful. The two of them rode on and on through meals until they came upon a wretched man walking down the road in ragged clothes. Ariana requested the wolf to stop for a moment.
"Sir," Ariana said in her deep voice "Where is it that you are headed?"
"No where a wise speaker such as yourself would wish to go." He said, his voice scratchy from no water. "I head towards the kingdom of Night where the Prince of Night has taken my daughter."
Ariana offered him her water flask which he accepted readily. "You are mistaken, sir. I am Ariana, princess of the realm of Kinari. The Prince of Night wishes to take me tonight at midnight. I go to meet him before he can. Come with me. It is not far for my wolf now."
"Milady, I could not allow you to go! Your parents must be terrified for you!"
"No doubt they are, kind sir, but I have come to far now. I could not get home before he came for me. Please, do not decline my offer."
He bowed respectfully to her and climbed on the wolf behind her, showing no fear to the beast, but feeling it none the less. The company once again set out across the now desert like landscape.
As it began to grow dark, they entered the kingdom of Night. The man behind Ariana shivered as the wolf drew to a stop in front of a large castle, guarded by wooden samurai. Their eyes were made of shells and obsidian and glinted in the setting sun like fires. Both were standing over dead men who's agony was so terrifying as to almost be real. The wolf lay down, allowing the humans easy passage off of his back, then turned to walk away.
As the two travelers approached, a deep voice boomed; "What fools are these that trespass in the realm of Night?" The ragged man jumped and backed away a step, but Ariana stood her ground.
"We are people from the realm of the light who have a score to settle with the Prince of Night!" she called to the castle.
"Then you must first," Said the voice, "Settle it with us." The two statues jumped from their perches on their mangled victims and stood before them, eyes still glinting, but now their swords were glinting as well. Ariana held back a scream, but the man was not so successful. He screamed. The samurai who had spoken laughed.
"The fool will be a pleasure to kill. Tell me, man, what did you plan to accomplish coming here with no bravery and a wench?"
"I," Ari growled "Am not a wench, and he came for his daughter."
"His daughter!?" The samurai roared. "His daughter!? She is better off with the Prince than with this beggar! And if you are not a wench, what are you? A queen? A child is what you look to be to me."
Ariana smiled, a devilish plan coming into her head. "Why," She said innocently "I am the daughter her has come to save, Milord."
"But you are outside the castle!" The samurai roared.
"So we are. In fact, that is exactly why we want to get in! So that I can be captured and he can rescue me! You see, it is quite hard to rescue your daughter when she is in no danger."
The samurai was flabbergasted. This little thing was the most idiotic child he could have met. Wanting to be captured so that she could be rescued? It made no sence!
While the samurai mused as to what she had meant, Ari began to call animals to her. First she called the poisonous snakes, then the wild cats, the the falcons. She whispered her instructions to them, a series of hisses, whistles, and yowls.
The samurai decided that no matter what she wished, he could not allow her to enter his masters castle. He raised his sword and.... It was taken away by a swooping hawk. A faint hissing filled the air and the samurai looked down on a hoard of snakes. They began to strike and dodge the samurai's feet, though not all managed the second. A wild roaring came from behind as three mountain devils through themselves down from the path above, crushing the samurai and the snakes that were not fast enough to get out of the way.
As suddenly as they had appeared, the animals were gone. Ariana smiled and walked past the samurai's still forms. They had become wooden once more, but now they were frozen in the same terror as their victims. The man followed Ariana, if a little nervously.
"Light is the answer." A cracked old voice whispered from the shadow of a cliff. The man and Ari both turned to face it. "use the light and you may yet pass to the castle. the only thing that will kill the Prince of Night is a lady's rejection. when you see him, scream. Stay here no longer, for if you do, you will be found." the voice hissed.
"I thank you, grandmother." Ari whispered, bowing to the cliff. "And I will remember your advice." Together, the now quite paranoid man and Ari once again moved on.
They next came upon a large pit filled with boiling water. The man turned to Ariana, who looked as lost as he felt, but there was something about the set of her jaw. She was so determined to cross that lake. Ariana thought for nearly half an hour, silently. The man, realizing he wouldn't be needed for a while, sat against the rocks and began to doze. Around half an hour later, Ariana finally spoke.
"What is your name, sir?" She whispered.
"How," he inquired "Will my name allow us to pass this boiling pit?"
"Oh," Ariana said, flapping her hand as though it was not important "It won't. I'm curious though. Please, tell me your name."
"I am called Nacari among my people, though my friends, of whom I think you are one, call me Naca."
"Nacari. That means..... Dragon tamer?"
"Yes, my father was renowned for his skills with the beasts. I, however, have never even seen a dragon, much less tamed one." Naca answered.
"Still, 'tis a name that puts me in mind of a possible solution to our problem. I speak the languages of demons. Perhaps...."
"Milady, no!" Naca yelled, running to her side "Do not call one here! We will both die in a matter of minutes!"
"Do you truly think so, Naca." She whispered, looking across the lake at the path beyond "I think we have no choice. Prepare yourself. You may be about to see your first dragon, if all goes well."
A deep, rumbling, moaning sound began deep in Ariana's chest, rising up from her throat and mouth like an endless wave crashing against the coast. It grew in intensity until Naca could no longer hear it. It was beyond human abilities. The drone softened and lowered until it was no more that a slight growl in Ari's throat. The noise stopped all together and Ari doubled over panting.
"Not," She gasped "The easiest of languages, dragon." Naca was about to agree with her when he heard another roar begin. He looked over at Ari. Her mouth was closed and her eyes wide. This is what she heard in the roar that nearly deafened her companion.
"WHO," the voice boomed in her ears "HAS CALLED ME FROM MY SLEEP!?"
"I!" Ari whispered, her dragon speech a mere whisper compared with that of the true dragon. "Ariana of the Kingdom of Kin-kri! I come to beseech a favor of you, o mighty lord dragon!"
"WHAT WOULD THAT BE, HUMAN!?" the sexless, fearless voice replied.
"I have come here to free myself of the Prince of Night's claim on me! I ask your help!"
"WHY SHOULD I HELP YOU? THE PRINCE DOES NOT MIND DRAGONS AND I DO NOT MIND THE PRINCE! PERHAPS I SHOULD TAKE YOU TO HIM!"
"I would like it very much if you did!" Ari shouted, not risking a 'milord' or 'milady' lest the dragon take offense.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN!? YOU ARE NOT TRYING TO ESCAPE?"
"Oh no. Quite the opposite. We're trying to get in!" Ari yelled, oblivious to the cowering Naca.
"I WOULD ASK TO WHAT, CHILD, BUT YOUR DRAGON IS SO SOFT IT WOULD PROBABLY SOUND SOMETHING LIKE YOUR GOAT WAS IN NEED OF A DONKEY TO MILK! I WILL HELP YOU TO... ENTER" the dragon called, it's voice amused.
"Thank you, lord! I owe you much!" she called before breaking out of dragon speech and turning to her compatriot. "it is on it's way." she whispered, her voice cracked and raw from the effort of dragon speech.
"Are you a princess, or a demon, tell me truly." Naca whispered. Ariana sighed
"If I knew, dear Naca, I would tell you." she said.
A rushing filled the air and a great read and golden blob neared the two of them. As it came closer it took the form of a lean female dragon, flame colored scales gleaming and black eyes glittering with malice and mischief.
"Are you," It said, obviously whispering so as not to deafen them both "The Ariana with whom I spoke?" She whispered, filled ears perking.
"I am, great dragon. Will you help us to cross this challenge and proceed to the castle?"
"I said I would, but I require something in return, girl child. The necklace that hangs from your neck with the device of light on it will do, I believe, if it be true silver."
"It is, milady, and though I give it with reluctance in this desolate place, I will let you have it." the dragon laughed cruelly, causing both Ariana and Naca to cover their ears as hard as they could.
"Foolish girl. You will not live to enjoy it. Climb on my back, the both of you and I will take you across, for a dragon is a creature of word."
"Thank you." Ariana whispered as the creature chauffeured them to the other bank before throwing them off of her back and flying quickly away, shrieking with horrible, cruel laughter.
"What a horrible monster." Naca yelled.
"What a poor misled creature." Ari corrected. "There are scarce few dragons left and most are filled with bitterness and hate towards humans because we hate and fear them. Let us continue, I see then end of the trail ahead."
And indeed, there was the end of the trail, but there did not appear to be a castle there until they were about thirty paces away, then there was a castle. A horrible, terrifying castle that broke even Ariana's resolve for a moment.
It was made of black, chard bones and stank of dead flesh. They looked down at their feet, trying to divert their eyes and saw they were walking on sculls, some so fresh they still had hair and skin. Naca closed his eyes and took Ariana's hand, unable to look at the former heads that he trod on or the stinking, grim castle of death that they approached. Ariana watched with horrified fascination as the gory walls loomed ever closer, and then, five paces from the gate, it changed again, into green meadows and a silvery white castle rising out of the ground like a half buried crystal that a miner forgot. Wild, shining horses romped through the pasture, single horns sticking from their foreheads. Suddenly, a man approached them. He was tall with black hair and an almost white complexion. His clothes were so black that if you looked at them long enough, they began to hurt your eyes. In his eyes there lay an eternity of blackness, and yet, he was handsome and fair featured and his arm was held out in beckoning. In that moment, Ariana was lost. She began to run forward, entranced by his smile and eyes. A firm hand caught her around the waist and she saw a flash of what truly lay before her. The castle of bones and a cruel demon. His features ill drawn and appendages lopsided. It's skin was stretched over oversized bones and it's mouth was ajar in a gruesome grin, saliva spilling from between it's fangs. Ariana screamed, and the world shattered. The thing exploded and the bodies of many young women appeared, some living, some dead. Ari's friend ran over to one of the girls, releasing her limp form and letting her fall to the ground.
The next thing Ari knew was the feeling of a wolf beneath her.
"Where am I?" she growled to it.
"You, Ariana Goldfield, are going home. Were you shall live out the rest of your life, but the animals shall hear forth know you as Naira Kildelra."
"Dragon Slayer Warrior Slayer" Ari translated groggily. "How fitting."
"It is now, Naira. It is now."
And so on they rode until they once again came to her castle. Ariana's parents were overjoyed to see her alive and held a royal feast in her honor, inviting Naca and his daughter to attend.
It was a fine dance and one where she met the love of her life. Three years later, they were married, and lived happily ever after.