The hatchling trembled in excitement within its egg. Finally! She had found him! He tapped the inside of his shell, to find it securely fastened against him. He snarled and threw a talon against the shell, pushing with all his might. It would not crack. Was she not there? Didn't she know that he couldn't hatch without her presence? He squeaked in frustration, then settled down to wait some more. Surely she would return.

The slave girl jumped awake as a harsh slap was brought across her cheek.

"Get up you lazy wretch!"

She scrambled to her feet, mumbling a polite apology.

"Silence slave! Hurry up and go out into the fields!" the man boomed. She looked up, and bowing/cringing, she hesitantly asked, "Please forgive me, but I have never worked in the fields before this. The master never asked me to-

She screamed as his hand grabbed her hair and slammed her into a wall. Terror stricken, she ducked under his arm and bolted for the fields, nearly crashing into the door in her frantic retreat. She fled to her spot in the fields, and stood, quivering. The man stalked towards her, his brown stubble of a beard making him somehow more intimidating. He threw a rake at her, and she whirled around instinctively, instantly regretting it when the wooden handle struck her stiff swollen back. She was sent reeling to the ground, ripping up the dirt as stars danced in her eyes. She struggled to stay conscious when his boot kicked her side.

"Get up and work!" he snarled, and she gritted her teeth, trying to push herself off the ground to obey. She was yanked roughly to her feet, and the rake was thrust into her hands. Gritting her teeth against the exploding torture that her back was causing her, the slave girl dug the rake into the ground and pulled. Hot blood trickled down her back, and she grimaced as her body settled into stead throbs of pain. She threw the rake into the ground again and again, trying to ignore her back. But the pangs that wracked her body would not stop, nor would they lessen when she turned her mind elsewhere. Cautiously, she looked up at the man.

"Please sir-

The man's face twisted in fury, and she cringed.

"You would do well to hold your tongue, you worthless scum."

The words cut deep into her pride like a jagged knife, and she felt tears well up in her eyes. She was suddenly knocked to the ground by his boot. The tears came freely now.

"Get up and work! I have better things to do than look after a weak brat like you!"

The slave girl got to her feet painfully, grasping the rake once more and resuming planting. She felt the man's hawk-like gaze on her, and she worked until he was out of sight, where upon she set the rake down, her eyes scanning the ground for what she had seen last night. There! Excitement filled her when she spotted a mound of dirt piled up. She slowly dropped to her knees, trying to prevent herself as much pain as possible.

She glanced around to see if anyone was watching. No one was. She dug, her fingernails scraping the dirt away. It wasn't long before she saw a part of something that looked polished. The slave girl dug more furiously now, clawing at the dark earth and picking out rocks that hindered her progress. After a few minutes, it finally was unearthed, and she lifted it into her lap, gazing at it. It was an oblong stone, a beautiful golden-bronze color, and it seemed to be lit from within. Tan veins webbed across it in some kind of strange, transfixing pattern. It was as long as her forearm, and when she tapped on it with her rake, it produced a clear, bell-like note. Her eyes widened at the loud noise, and she thrust it back into the hole, burying it once again. She leapt for her rake, and furiously started working again, her adrenaline over-riding her back's pain.

After a few minutes, she felt safe again, and she contemplated what to do while she worked. It would be hard to enter the master's house with the stone, since she had nothing to hide the stone with. She thought of getting caught and flinched from the idea automatically. Her master would probably sell it, and she shivered at the idea. It was her stone, she had been the one to find it! The slave girl looked up at the sun, which was still high in the sky. She would have to wait.

The slave girl looked up at the sky, which was lined with colors of pink and purple, highlighted by the orange sun. It had been many hours since she had first been kicked out of her closet to work in the fields, and her stomach ached horribly. The last time she had eaten had been two days ago, and her body was starting to take its toll. She was terribly exhausted; she could barely stay on her feet. By this time, once again all the other slaves had gone in. Her eyes drooped, and she fell to her knees, preparing to succumb to the unshakable darkness shrouding her mind. Her hand rested on a lump of soil, and it took a moment to register what it was. When she did, she sleepily unearthed the stone, hugging the warm, pulsating surface to her chest and curling around it. Immediately, as darkness fell, the slave girl drifted to sleep, the stone somehow keeping her warm.

Yes! The hatchling squeaked in excitement and satisfaction within his egg. He knew it! She had come back! He threw his weight against the shell, feeling it wobble. He growled and kicked the shell. His Rider was waiting for him!

The slave girl woke with a weird feeling in the pit of her stomach. A flash of light caught her eye, and she looked down. The stone was…..glowing. She sat up wincing at her stiff, swollen back's reaction. She stared down at the stone in her lap that was glowing like the sun. A loud squeak made her jump and she nearly dropped the egg. Suddenly it wobbled towards her belly, almost like it was snuggling her. She heard something scratch the inside of the stone, and her heart leapt to her throat. She felt heat rush through her body, and she sat, paralyzed. The stone wobbled again, and she picked it up and put it on the ground. Another loud squeak pierced the silence, and she watched in awe as it cracked.

Wait…it cracked? A stone cracked? She thought in astonishment. Suddenly the top of the stone was wrenched out of place by a snarling angular head. A scaly tail was smashed through the other end of the stone, sending more pieces of it flying. The slave girl picked up one of the pieces, observing that the inside of it was white. It was an egg, she realized. When she looked back at the…..creature, it had worked its legs out from the bottom of the shell. She suppressed a giggle at the small creature whose eyes were furrowed in determination. At the sound, the creature swung its eyes over towards her, where upon it started squeaking excitedly, trying to clamber over to her.

"Come here, you, let me help you out of that," she said gently when it ended up on its back. She bent over and pried the rest of the egg off the creature, and it promptly scrambled into her lap, where it cocked its head up at her, cooing, adoration showing clearly in its eyes.

The slave girl looked around, her eyes adjusting to the darkness of night. Gently she went to pick up the creature to move it off her lap, but it thrust its head underneath her hand. She felt a warm, tingling sensation crawl up her arm through out her body. She held her palm to the moonlight, and a watched a golden oval form. Staring down at the creature, she sighed, and then gathered the egg fragments into a pile. She sat there, trying to figure out what to do with them. Finally she took off her shirt, and set all the fragments on it. A loud squeak interrupted her thoughts, and she froze when a finger trailed across her temples, leaving a sense of…worry? She focused on the sensation, and it broadened into a thought that was not her own. She looked down at the creature, who put its claws on her shoulders, searching her eyes. She felt the presence in her mind again, only now it radiated a sense of worry and puzzlement.

"What is it?" she asked, her calm and gentle tone seeming foreign to her. An image of her lying on her back popped into her head, along with a requesting-like feeling. She complied and laid down, and immediately the creature barreled over to her side, and she gasped when its claws scraped lightly across her bloody swollen back. Immediately the creature yanked its claws off her back, and she felt waves of concern radiate from it. The claws were replaced with a soothing tongue, and she sighed in relief as the creature licked her pain away. She felt the swelling go down, and the wounds closed up. Afterwards, the creature crawled over to her tiredly, its satisfaction and relief coming in waves to her. She gathered the creature in her arms, feeling oddly protective of her new friend.

Suddenly it hit her, and she nearly cried out in joy. She had a friend. She wasn't alone anymore. She had someone to love, that would and already loved her back. She had a family. She folded her tattered shirt over the egg remains, using it as a pillow and setting the hatchling beside her. Unconsciously, the hatchling snuggled into her side, and she hugged it to her, smiling as for the first time in a very long time, happiness washed over her.

The slave girl woke up to the sun peeking over the horizon. Frowning, she wondered why no one had called her back to her closet last night. Something yawned beside her, and she looked down, the memories of last night resurfacing. Looking down, she gasped. Without the darkness covering the creature, she saw what it truly was. It stretched like a cat and looked at her with big, striking sun-colored eyes. Ivory white spines covered its back from the top of its head to the tip of its tail, and white colored talons were featured on its forepaws and hind legs. But what struck her most was the way its golden-bronze scales glittered in the sunlight, shifting whenever it moved. Forcing her eyes away from the scales, she focused her attention on two….wings. This creature had wings! She gently took one her hand and unfurled it, looking at with wonder. They were bat like, and the bronze membranes were covered in soft fuzz under her finger.

The creature squeaked and crawled into her lap, positioning itself where it could see the rising sun. The slave girl sighed and put the creature on her shoulder, where it clung with taloned forepaws. She got up, gathering her shirt with the egg fragments on it. She shoved it under a bush, fiddling with the branches until she was satisfied. She snatched her shirt out from underneath the egg shells and scraped dirt over them. Setting the creature down, she slipped her grimy shirt on, then cuddled the creature to her chest. It sighed, and the slave girl felt its satisfaction leak through their link.

She looked up at the still-lightening sky. How would she keep the creature from being discovered? Where would she keep it? How would she be able to feed it? Her eyes widened as she saw slaves come out of her master's house. She shoved the creature under the bush hastily, and it squawked in protest. Today was going to be a very long day, that's for sure.

Well, that it for now. Did I update fast enough for you guys? Don't forget to give me some feedback, I thrive on it. Thanks for the reviews, by the way. I was worried no one would like my story. See ya later