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Damia slowly swooped over the tops of the trees.  She’d had to snack on some lowly humans in the woods, but her wounds hurt far less after resting a couple days.  She wasn’t in splendid shape yet, but she would survive.

Damia approached the place where she’d left the princess.  Anticipation filled her, giddy expectation of a true delicacy.  Thisss would be a meal worth waiting for.  It would almost make up for the catastrophe at the castle.

The sun hung low by the time Damia could smell her prey.  It reminded her of fire, glowing over the horizon.  It warmed Damia’s belly.  She loved fire.

But something wasn’t quite right.  She sniffed.  The scents were there, the smell of sweet princess, hardy lower nobility, and lightweight, common knights.  But where was the delectable odor of dehydration?

She stumbled on the humans sooner than she expected, nestled in a sheltered nook she could only approach from one side.  Two knights and the princess’s life mate were there, protecting her as Damia expected.  The princess herself—Damia shook her head, then checked again.

It could not be!

But it was so.  Her prized treat, for which she’d fought so hard, was up and awake.

Damia screeched her rage.  She loosed a spurt of flames.  The humans saw her and sprang to their feet.  The males brandished their sharp sticks, but the princess did something stranger.  She started making a noise.  Damia thought it sounded like birds chirping, but with more effort.

And with that, Damia’s patience and hope snapped.  She was done with this, through with this cursed land where everything went wrong and she ended up increasingly injured, hungry, and perplexed.  Damia was leaving for good.  She’d find a nice, sane kingdom where her songs sent people to sleep like they were supposed to.  She’d gorge herself on greasy peasants if she had to, as long as she was anywhere but here.

She just wanted to make these horrid little humans suffer for all the suffering they’d brought her first.

With a spark of inspiration, Damia sent a stream of fire straight at the princess’s mate.

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