The sky darkened as ominous thunder clouds rolled overhead, casting a gloomy shadow over the palace. The women of the village adorned themselves in black dresses, while the men wore the nicest clothing they could afford. Children ceased their daily routine of laughter and play to cling to their mothers, while dawning the same clothing as their parents. Angus Fletcher, one of the twelve Elder Dragon Riders, died peacefully in his sleep, along with his beloved Wyvern. Immediately after his funeral, the village was thrown into a frenzy. Without all twelve Dragon Riders, the peace was not to last. After a town meeting, everyone decided that it was time to pick a new replacement. It was the only way to keep the land as prosperous as it had always been. A poor nineteen-year-old boy by the name of Vincent was chosen entirely by Fate. The kingdom rejoiced as the new Elder Dragon Rider was chosen, and the village waited patiently for the boy's would-be dragon companion to find him. However, Vincent was not so enthusiastic. He had heard a million times the stories of riders who were manipulated by their dragons to do evil. And unfortunately, it happened quite often. In his fear and confusion, Vincent ran away, hoping to escape the possibility of being converted. Running wasn't as easy as he thought it would be, for he was pursued by something large.... And there was more than one of them.... many, many more... Vincent tore through the forest as fast as he could, branches and vines scratching violently at his ankles. His heart thudded loudly within his chest, and he began to slow down. As soon as he stopped, he sank to one knee, breathing heavily. He had been running nonstop for three full days, and the exhaustion was beginning to settle in on him.