Exiled is coming out December 5th, 2017, and is on sale now. Below is a the story synopsis (devoid of all surprises and spoilers) and the first few chapters (out of 80), that have been edited, but have not been through the final proof. I’m also including a picture of the Map of Nalzambor, just click the link to see my new fully expanded map. My Nath Dragon stories have been my #1 bestselling books, with over 150,000 copies sold worldwide. This series is a prequel, at least 5 books, and written for fantasy readers of all ages with something everyone can enjoy. Only available to purchase at Amazon: CLICK THIS LINK. I promise these are some of the best books I’ve ever written as I always strive to improve with age and experience to give readers what they want…Great Fantasy!. Check it out and have a small taste of the great adventure that lies within filled with riveting content that will keep you glued to the pages!

Back cover copy

Cast out into a world of treachery and darkness,
a young dragon warrior seeks vengeance…

A dragon in human form, Nath is heir to the throne of the Dragon King and destined for greatness. Having reached the end of his first century—with another hundred years to wait before he is fully prepared to venture from Dragon Home—the warrior prince is restless and lonely, and shunned by the great winged creatures he will someday rule.

Map of NalzamborWhen a series of horrific acts perpetrated by shadowy malevolent forces shatters the peace of Dragon Home, suspicion immediately falls on Nath. Determined to unearth the true villains and mete out justice, he prepares to pursue them into the unfamiliar wilds of Nalzambor. But if Nath strays from his people’s secluded sanctuary, dragon law demands that he be exiled.

Still, Nath’s rage won’t let him remain idle, and the impetuous prince will not be deterred—though the destiny that awaits him is a dark one. For treachery runs rampant in this vast, unknown world of orcs, elves, and other races. And if the unsuspecting dragon warrior lets down his guard for an instant, he may find himself in chains…and a pawn in the sinister schemes of a powerful unseen puppet master.


Bestselling fantasist Craig Halloran once again carries readers aloft on dragon wings to Nalzambor, a fantasy realm as richly imagined as Westeros, Narnia, or Oz. Returning to a magical world protected by dragons and populated by orcs, elves, and other fantastical races, Halloran spins a breathtaking adventure from the earlier life of Nath—man-dragon, warrior- hero, and king-to-be, the protagonist of the author’s popular Chronicles of the Dragon series. A thrilling prequel to Halloran’s acclaimed Tail of the Dragon, Exiled: The Odyssey of Nath Dragon, follows the exploits of the young dragon prince, wrongly branded a murderer, as he sets out to clear his name in an unfamiliar world of thieves, ogres, traitors, and cutthroats. From the secluded sanctuary of Dragon Home to the teeming streets of Nalzambor’s major cities to the underground catacombs of a malevolent wizard and his undead army, Exiled: The Odyssey of Nath Dragon, embroils Nath in adventure upon adventure, in a thrilling fantasy epic that Raymond E. Feist, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, and even the great George R.R. Martin, would be proud to call their own.


With the cool air of the higher altitude in his face, Nath let out a joyous howl, “Wooooweeeeeee!” He was flying. Not under his own power, but something vastly bigger and more powerful, with great wings that spanned over a hundred feet. Those wings flapped with mighty strength, propelling them higher and faster. They were dragon wings. The wings of his father. “Go faster, Father! Higher!” Nath’s strong voice was almost drowned out against the wind that rushed through his hair.

“If we go too high you’ll get too cold,” Balzurth, the dragon beneath him, said. His voice was easily heard, rich, loud, and full of wisdom. “I can’t have you freezing to death on your one hundredth year celebration.”

“I’ll be fine!” Nath slapped his father’s broad neck. Balzurth’s scales were red, some flecked with gold, and shined like newly polished armor. Two grand horns adorned the top of his head. He was huge, magnificent, and most importantly, the king of the dragons. Nath climbed up between the two horns. Standing on the top of Balzurth’s skull, he wrapped his arms around one of the horns that was much taller than him. “Higher, Father! Higher!”

“It’s your celebration day.” Balzurth’s long neck bent, turning his face in Nath’s direction. His golden eyes were bigger than Nath’s own head. “Hold fast, son. I don’t want to lose you.”

“I will. I promise.”

Balzurth gave a nod. His wings pounded the air in slow, monstrous strokes, lifting them higher and faster. He punched through the clouds, plunging them into a sea of mist. Seconds later, they broke through the mist and the clouds stretched out like a field of cotton below them. He skimmed the top of the clouds, then rose even higher.

Nath’s flame red hair whipped like a banner behind him. The wind stung his eyes. His heart raced like a team of horses. Tingling with energy from head to toe, he spread one arm out wide and let out another elated cry at the top of his lungs. “Wooooooo-Weeeeeeeeeeee!”

Balzurth continued upward.

Nath’s teeth chattered. His nose and ears felt like icicles. He didn’t care. He loved flying with his father. Nothing in all the world thrilled him more. But he dreamed of flying on his own one day. To soar the heavens on his own—nothing could be more wonderful.

“Are you getting cold yet?” Balzurth asked.

With his teeth clacking together, he replied, “No.”

“Hah!” Balzurth’s huge body shuddered with rumbles from laughter. He turned his head slightly and puffed out a blast of steam.

The gust of hot air warmed Nath up instantly. “Ahhh,” he moaned. “That felt so good.”

Together, they rode the skies for hours. Balzurth blasted through flocks of birds. He dipped, dived, and barrel rolled. Nath clung to his father like drying paint. Nothing in the world could wipe the smile from his face.

“Father, will you take me over the cities? I haven’t seen them since I was very little,” he said.

Balzurth’s scales rippled beneath Nath’s feet. For a moment, his wings skipped a beat. “You are still little.”

“No I’m not. I’m a hundred years old.” Nath pulled a lock of his hair from his mouth with his finger. “That’s older than most people live.”

“How do you know that?”

“Maefon told me.”

“That elf has a big mouth,” Balzurth grumbled.

“She said elves, aside from dragons, live the longest, as much as a thousand years or so. The dwarves and gnomes live for centuries, but humans and orcs whittle away long before they are one hundred. She says that is because they are so inferior. She says they live foolishly and lack self-control.”

“Maefon says a lot that she should not be saying,” Balzurth said. “I need to have a talk with her.”


“Well, there are many things that I prefer are not mentioned in Dragon Home. The elves are our guests and they need to follow the rules of the dragons.” Balzurth’s head dipped. He scanned the forests and grasslands miles below them. “The world of the races is very complex, Nath, and I don’t want the elves telling you about them. The elves that serve us have proven good and trustworthy, but their view of the other races can be jaded. I prefer to teach you myself, when the time comes. Do you understand?”

“Is now the time?”


“But I want to know now. They sound exciting. Maefon says I look like a human. She says I look like a young man or old child, but I’m man size. You know, big.”

Balzurth shook his head. “You still have growing to do yet, be patient.”

“Ugh!” Nath rolled his eyes. “But you sleep sometimes five and ten years at a time. Can’t you tell me more now? I’m one hundred. That’s older than most people ever live. I’m ready to know, Father. You’ve even said yourself,” Nath imitated Balzurth’s deep voice, “‘You’re never too young to be ready.’ At least you say that in regards to my chores.”

“We’ll talk about it later,” Balzurth said. Beating his wings harder and faster, he picked up speed.

Swept away in the moment, Nath closed his eyes as they dipped down and went higher, and spread out both arms. For the longest moment, it felt like he was flying on his own. His body spun in the air, and he plummeted toward the earth. He caught a glimpse of his father. Balzurth was going up. Nath was going down. He stretched out his arms and yelled, “Father!”


Back facing the ground rushing to greet him a few thousand feet below, Nath looked skyward to his father. Balzurth’s humongous frame had become little more than a speck. He called out again, shrieking in the wind. “Father! Father!” He lost sight of his father when he passed through the blanket of clouds. Spreading his arms and legs out, he twisted in the air, rotating himself so that he faced downward. The trees seemed so far away at first, but they were getting larger.

Guzan! This is bad!

His efforts slowed his fall as he cupped his hands while keeping his chest toward the world. Everything below him that had once appeared beautiful and peaceful now rushed upward, ready to destroy him.

“Father!” Nath’s cheeks flapped against the gusting air. The wind roared in his ears. He spun out of control. The green treetops of the forest no longer appeared like somewhere he could make a soft landing. The trees spread apart, revealing seams and cavities of sharp rocks waiting like gnashing teeth that would swallow his broken corpse whole. “Faaaatherrrrrrrr!”

Seconds from being dashed on the rocks, four small metallic blue dragons, half the size of Nath, darted in from nowhere. They latched their talons onto his wrists and ankles. Their claws dug deep into his skin as their wings beat, slowing Nath’s death defying fall.

“Ow!” he said, wincing. “You don’t have to wound me, though I am thankful, little brothers.” The group of dragons flew Nath upward, making a straight line for Balzurth who’d just burst through the clouds. The dragon king’s golden eyes smoldered like cauldrons of boiling gold. “Uh-oh.”

“Take him to the ground, my life-saving blue razors.” Flying alongside them, Balzurth glared at Nath. “You and I are going to have a long talk!”

Twenty feet above a clearing in the forest, the blue razors’ talons released. “Whulp!” Nath landed hard on his feet and fell down. Eyeing the dragons who’d just saved him, he said, “You could have been a little gentler!”

The blue razors flew in a tight circle, flicked their tongues at him, then darted away with alarming speed. In two seconds, they were out of sight. He dusted off his hands. A tremendous shadow fell over his shoulders. Tree branches popped and snapped beneath Balzurth as he landed right behind him. Unlike most dragons, Balzurth’s arms and legs were longer, giving him a more human like appearance when he stood. “Heh, that was a close one, wasn’t it, Father?”

Sitting on his rear legs, with his front arms crossed, Balzurth said, “You could have died!”

“I know I’ll never die if you are around.” Nath dusted off his knees.

Balzurth’s tail swept Nath off his feet. He flipped head over heels, landing hard on his rearend. “I do not command power over life and death. Who will protect you when I am not around? Hmmmm? Would you have pulled off such a stunt if I was not there? Hmmmm?” He snorted out a hot blast of air. “No! Of course not, so why do it at all? You did this the last time, and the time before that. And you wonder why I don’t take you flying more. I wouldn’t have even considered it today if it wasn’t your hundredth year of celebration.” Balzurth’s tail rose over his head. It hung there for a moment, swaying a little from side to side, then wham! It came down like a great cedar. “I thought you would have wizened up more by now! I am disappointed!”

Nath shrunk beneath his father’s heavy stare. The hard scales on Balzurth’s heaving chest heated to a brilliant orange color. At any moment, Nath expected flames to explode out his father’s mouth. He’d seen those flames before. The purifying scalding heat destroyed anything it touched in an instant. With his head down and trembling, he said, “I’m sorry, but I just want to fly like my brothers and sisters.”

“You still have a defiant tone, Nath. You lack patience. And you know, Sultans of Sulfur, you know that you cannot fly without wings. Do you see the wingless red rock dragons try to fly?” Balzurth poked him in the chest with a massive talon. “Do you? No, because that would be foolish.”

Nath’s trembling stopped. He sat up cross-legged. “Well, that’s only because all they do is bask in lava. They are the laziest dragons I’ve ever seen.”

“They do more than that. You just don’t pay attention.”

Nath rolled his eyes. “I know, I know, the red rocks protect the border and enrich the soils.” He picked at the grasses, plucking out handful after handful, and tossing it aside. “I don’t think they are capable of much more.”

“They serve their purpose.”

“And what is my purpose? I don’t even know that? You won’t tell me. I know I’m a dragon born a man. The only dragon who talks to me in the Mountain of Doom—”

“Don’t call Dragon Home that.”

“Fine then.” Nath held up a finger. “Let me rephrase. The only dragon that talks to me in the Mountain of Boring, is you. All of the other dragons ignore me. Why that is, I don’t know, and you won’t tell me, but I’m positive that it’s because I don’ t have any scales and they do.”

“I’ve seen you engage with the other dragons plenty of times. You wrestled quiet well against them. It makes me smile when you do that?”

“They don’t like me. None of them do. They treat the elves better.”

“Friendships and trust take time to build. Dragons can be very picky and peculiar.”

“That’s an understatement.” Nath hopped up. “When do you see it, when you sleep, one, five, ten years at a time. And look at this.” He showed Balzurth his wrists. They were bleeding where the blue razors latched onto him. “They didn’t have to dig in to me like I’m some varmint they snatch from the trees.”

“That’s the thanks they get?” Balzurth shook his head. “That’s hardly a scratch. And don’t try to deflect this argument away from the subject at hand. You did something foolish, and you will be punished for it.”

“I’m sorry… and I’m glad I’m saved, just surprised. I didn’t think other dragons really cared.” Nath picked up a rock and chucked it high over the trees. “But it’s my celebration day.”

“Yes, and you need to make the most of it, because tomorrow, you will reap what you have wrought.”

“And what will that be?”

Balzurth lowered himself and said, “Get on. You’ll find out tomorrow.”

With his shoulders slumped, Nath climbed onto his father’s back. Please, please, please don’t let this day end.


With sweat on his brow and running down his back, Nath dug the shovel into a pile of coins. The metal clinked together with a distinctive metallic sound unique to the precious metal. He dumped the hundreds of coins into a half empty wooden wheelbarrow. This was the twentieth load of the day and the huge pile of treasure didn’t look any smaller now than when he started. He kept digging, dumping in shovelful after shovelful of gold and silver coins, accented by countless precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and pearls. It wasn’t all loose coins and gems either, but necklaces, bracelets, tiaras, chalices, silverware, and China plates gilded in gold.

Shirtless, Nath stopped shoveling, and dabbed his face on a towel woven from gold-colored cotton. “I hate this punishment. It’s boring. I’d rather have the dragon switch taken to me a hundred times than this.” His eyes swept the massive chamber. Treasure was stacked almost as high as his chin from one side of the chamber to the other. Back in the corners it was stacked up even higher. His father once told him that this treasure throne room had more treasure than all of the kingdoms combined times a hundred. Nath never had a hard time believing it. But now, the treasure just seemed to sit there, useless.

He shoveled until the wheelbarrow was filled over the brim, dropped the shovel, lifted up the handles, and started pushing. The front wheel squeaked as he went down the paths between the piles. The sound echoed off the towering arches of the vaulted ceiling. The chamber had to be plenty big for the largest dragon of all, Balzurth, and there was ample room for him in there, even when he was standing. The chamber could hold two dozen dragons the size of Balzurth if needed.

Rolling by Balzurth’s throne, Nath came to a stop. It was a huge armless and backless seat made from polished stone. It was more than big enough for Balzurth. Its design was simple, all stone, with some precious stones that twinkled in the ancient engravings. It was the most dominating object in the room, but out of place somehow. It seemed lonely. Balzurth used to sit on the throne and tell Nath stories that lasted for hours. The dragon king was a grand story teller. They were some of the best times, but as he became older, the storied became old and a little boring. Balzurth, once he started, was very long-winded. And the names he spoke seemed to get longer and take forever.

Nath patted the leg of the throne. “Don’t run off anywhere. You might be my seat one day, though, I find it hard to believe that I’ll be so impossibly big at the rate I’m growing.” He eyed the grand murals on the walls behind the throne. The painted images showed dragons of all sorts and kinds—flying through the skies, nestled in caves, or snaking through the willowwacks. All the images seemed to move the ever slightest with life of their own. It wasn’t an illusion. He could leave, and come back days later, and all of the images would have moved elsewhere completely. This was where he came when he was younger and his father taught him about the dozens of kinds of dragons. Nath learned about their powers, too. The only thing he never learned was how to get them to like him.

He sighed through his nose and resumed his trek to the other side of the throne room. Coming to the end of the path, he dumped out the treasure and sat down. “Twenty loads down, nine hundred and eighty to go. That should do it, anyway.” He picked up a coin and flicked it with his fingers. It shot across the room, hitting an adjacent pile. A waterfall of coins skidded down, revealing the edge of a pictureframe. There were plenty of paintings in the chamber. The largest ones, even bigger than Nath, were propped against the walls. Some of them hung from the gigantic pylons and pillars that held up spots in the vaulted ceiling.

Nath crossed the path, climbed up the pile of treasure, and wiggled out the painting. It was wider than his shoulders were broad and even longer than he was tall. He held it out. It was a portrait of a lovely woman on the back drop of a star-filled sky. Her wavy platinum locks framed her fair skin. Her soft pale lips smiled slightly as her head tilted a little to the side. Her extraordinary eyes sparkled like diamonds. The detail was so realistic Nath found himself trying to find his breath. He’d seen plenty of elves and some pictures of humans, but no woman was anything like this.

“Whoa. She’s a gorgeous thing, isn’t she?” a playful woman’s voice stated.

Nath jumped and dropped the painting. “Maefon, quit sneaking up on me! You aren’t even supposed to be here!”

“Oh, it looks like someone is in love with the pretty woman in the painting. Kissy-kissy.”

Nath frowned at her.

“Oh, Nath, don’t be mad. She’s very fetching for what appears to be a human woman. And the work is extraordinary.” She squatted down with her dark eyes fastened on the picture.. Maefon’s flaxen hair was pulled back in a braid. She seemed about Nath’s age, and had been his closet companion since she arrived a few decades ago. In a way, they had grown up together, though, she was more mature. She had a teardrop face, cat-shaped eyes that caught everything, and a dazzling smile that a blind man could see. Her sleeveless shirt was buttoned up to her neck just below the chin and she wore all black from neck to toe. It was a causal ensemble that fit snuggly on her elven frame. She cocked her head. “Do you love her, Nath?”

“Stop being silly. How can I love her? I just saw her.” He picked up the picture. “But she certainly is worthy of my attention. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that she is almost as striking as me.”

Holding her stomach, Maefon erupted with laughter. “Oh, you are so vain. You, good looking, now that’s rich. Why, you are the most unhandsome dragon I ever saw.”

He tossed his hair. “That’s only because I look like a human.”

“You are only an average human at best.” She climbed to the top of the pile and stuck her face in front of the picture. “Unlike me who is the prettiest of the elves.”

“You always say that and I know you don’t mean it. Your eyes stay glued to me even when you think I don’t know you are looking.” Eyes narrowing, he said, “I wonder who this is?”

Maefon grabbed the painting. Trying to pull the picture out of his grip, she said, “It’s nobody real because no human looks like this. It’s inhuman. Something from a dream. Trust me.”

“You don’t know. I think it’s real. It could only be real, even if it is otherworldly. Maybe she lives beyond the murals.”

“Maybe she’s been dead millenniums already. Who cares?” She yanked the frame out of his grasp.

“Careful,” Nath said with a smile.

Maefon’s eyes grew big. She fought for balance and footing. Coins slid beneath her feet. “Whoa? This is heavy!” She fell backward, and slid down the hill of coins all the way to the bottom. An avalanche of coins covered her completely. Only her hands were still stuck out holding the picture frame. There was a muffled, “Help me!” coming from under the pile.

Nath slid down the pile, picked up the picture, and gently set it aside. Kneeling, he dusted treasure from her face. “That picture frame was heavy, wasn’t it?”

She spit out a ruby as big as her knuckle. “I hate you.”

He reached into the coins, grabbed her hand, and pulled her out. “I know. I hate you too.”

They both burst out laughing.


“Nath, are you finished yet?” Maefon sat at the edge Balzurth’s throne, legs crossed and kicking. “I’m getting bored watching you work.”

“You are welcome to help.” Nath finished loading up another wheelbarrow and tossed the shovel aside. He wiped off his sweaty face on a towel. “I only have a few more dozen loads to go.” He gestured to the treasure that had dwindled down to a manageable pile. “See? You can handle this.”

“Oh no. This is your punishment, not mine. Watching you is my punishment.” She made a playful smile as her eyes grazed over his muscular body. “Sort of.”

If Nath noticed her attention, he didn’t show it. Instead, he pushed the wheelbarrow down the path. As he passed her, he said, “If you get caught sitting on my father’s throne, you’re going to be punished, too.”

“Oh, he doesn’t care. Balzurth is gentle and wise. We are just children to him. He would forgive me, don’t you think?”

“Eh, I suppose.” Nath ambled down the path and dumped the treasure on the new pile he’d created. He stretched his aching back and groaned. “Oh, I can’t wait to rest. This is awful. Who would think being in a chamber filled with such wonderful treasure could be so miserable.”

“It is a burden,” Maefon replied. “True treasure comes from simpler things.”

Nath made his way back to the pile. “Such as?”

“Well, having friends to share time with. Working in the gardens. Nurturing the young dragons.” Her eyes lit up. “Oh, how I enjoy that.”

“They try to bite me.”

She giggled. “They do not. You exaggerate.”

“No, I don’t. They hate me. All of them.”

Maefon hopped off the throne, landing lightly on her feet. She followed after Nath. “Now, are you feeling sorry for yourself again? Hmmmm? Pouting is not an admirable quality for a king’s son.”

Nath picked up the shovel and got to work. “How can I be the prince of the dragons when I look like this? If it’s absurd to me then it’s absurd to them. You know it.” He dumped a shovelful in the wheelbarrow. “And I know it. What if you had to go and live among men? Wouldn’t you feel out of place?”

“Oh no, I am certain they would worship me.” She untangled her honey-colored hair from the braid. The bouncy locks fell perfectly over her shoulders, somehow further enhancing her natural beauty. “Don’t you agree?”

Nath swallowed. He thought yes, but said, “I don’t know. I haven’t been around any humans to know. Maybe they would be frightened to death of you.”

“Hah! They would not be frightened. In awe, yes, but not scared like little children.”

“You really are a piece of work.” Nath refilled the barrel. He enjoyed Maefon and her wit. If it wasn’t for her, he might go crazy. The other elves who served the dragons were friendly, but more as a matter of courtesy. Maefon was a true friend. She cared for him. “Have you spent any time with the humans?”

“I studied all about the other races in Elome. I know all that I need to know.”

“You don’t think that gave you a jaded point of view? After all, what you’ve learned would be from an elven perspective.” He grabbed the handles of the wheelbarrow and moved on.

“The elves are the purest of the races,” she said, following behind him with her hands behind her back. “What they record is a neutral view of things. Hence, I believe what I read. The orcs are stupid, the dwarves are difficult, humans are unpredictable, gnomes are impolite, halfling’s are childish, and ogres are smelly. Should I go on?”

“No, no, your research is beyond convincing. So deep, well thought out, and thorough. I am overwhelmed.” He laughed. “And what does it say about dragons?”

“Well, there are many kinds, and we are still learning about them. That is what I’m trained for being one of the Trahaydeen. So far, you are the most interesting.”

He dumped the wheelbarrow. “I’m not even a dragon. How can I be interesting?”

“You are. And you are a good obedient son. Not all dragons heed the dragon king’s words. They seek their own purposes elsewhere.” She put her hand on his wrist, and her voice lowered to a whisper. “Many wander far from home and become wicked. They serve themselves and not Dragon Home. Many others are lost, never to return home. It troubles Balzurth. We wonder why that is?”

“Dragons, like any other race, can make their own choices. Nalzambor’s a large world filled with many dangers and delights, the way I understand it. Dragons can make the most of their own lives, but they always have Dragon Home to come home to. Sometimes they just need help finding it. That’s what Father says.”

“The races fear the dragons. They hunt and kill them. They call Dragon Home the Mountain of Doom.” She plucked an emerald-studded tiara from the treasure pile and placed it on her head. “How does it look?”

“It makes your head look really big.”

“Oh, shut it.” She slapped his arm then slung the tiara away. “Anyway, the races capture and torture dragons. They turn their scales into clothing. Sell dragon blood for potions. Their teeth, claws, eyes, or horns are used for decoration or jewelry. They are very nasty out there.”

“How do you know these things?” He started pushing the wheelbarrow along.

“It’s well known in the world, Nath. You are sheltered here. You only know what Balzurth tells you. I’m sure he only tells you what you need to know, and he is wise for it, I’m sure, but you should know more, just in case…” her voice trailed off.

He stopped and looked down at her. Her head came to the top of his chest. “Just in case what?”

“Oh, nothing. I’m just rambling. Don’t pay any attention to me. I’ve said enough already.”

He grabbed her arm. “No, finish your thoughts. Out with it.”

“I was just going to say, just in case something ever happens to your father. You’ll have to know more about the world of men. What if he leaves to the land beyond the murals and does not return for a very long while? You would be in charge, wouldn’t you?”

Nath’s brows crinkled. He glanced at the mural behind the throne. It was a place where only dragons could go that his father said he’d learn all about one day. Usually, older dragons went to the land beyond the murals, when their work in the world of the races was no longer needed. But only his father could go back and forth. It was something he didn’t fully understand.

“No, the dragon’s have a council. They run things when he’s gone. I just do whatever.”

“I think you should be in charge of things. After all, you are the prince.”

Nath shook his head and started pushing the wheelbarrow down the path. “You really need to temper your imagination before it becomes a dangerous thing. Why don’t you run along, Maefon? I’ll find you later. I just want to finish this on my own.”

“I’m sorry, Nath. Have I offended you?” Her big, dark eyes were sad.

“I said I’ll see you later.”