The Princess and the Dragon
PROLOGUE / Chapter 1
It is a fact that the act of piracy is rendered ridiculous by the use of a dragon.
When I first dared to put my stamp on that venerable art, the opening move was a gambler's throw. I remember it well: how the salt air would sing with the tension of bows bending on both sides of a narrowing expanse of gray water, and -- ah! the tumult and spray of that scaled neck bursting from the sea just aft of the prey, the crack of a splintered rudder if luck was with us! Hydra's bugle-cry was our call to battle. What followed then was sheer poetry: a flurry of shot and bolts filling the air, the screams and the twanging of bows loosed in wild panic. Ahoy! To the ropes, men! Swing across, swords out, and have to! Be bold but merciful, my lads; we're after loot not corpses!
I was young and rash. A cog capsized in its haste to quit the field, and another fight nearly cost me my dearest treasure. Digging a harpoon's barb from Hydra's