Shitsuren Ryuu to Keiyaku no Hana Yome (The Heart-Broken Dragon and the Contract Bride) is an on-going(?) romance series with five books now. The first two novels form the first arc to this story, v3 takes place 10 yrs later, and the main charas from v4~ is completely different.
Unfortunately, I can't seem to trim this one's cover img well (MS Paint is a pain to work with...), so that part will have to wait, but... I have to admit, I did like how these two met. :P
Sixteen year-old Swena returns to her home town after having been expelled from the magic academy. Going out to look for medicinal herbs, she ends up getting lost in the forest for a number of days, when she finally finds herself by a mysterious lake. There, she finds a giant dragon holding a glowing sphere as it lays sleeping. Incredibly hungry, Swena unthinkingly ends up 'eating' the dragon's orb thus saving herself from starvation. But the next day, a magnificently beautiful man carrying a dish and chopsticks appears and tells her to 'produce what she's eaten'...?! The love story of the cry-baby magic user and the arrogant dragon Duke Merrill as they risk their lives!
The B&W version of the cover img
Swena finds herself lost in a forest. She'd left home to search for medicinal herbs for her ailing father. Normally, the forest was about half a day's walk away, and she would get the shortly before dawn; she needed to pick the herbs while they had morning dew on them. This time, however, she was having trouble finding any herbs that she could use and ended up wandering deeper and deeper into the forest, eventually getting thoroughly lost. She has no idea how long she's been wandering about. All she knew was that she was incredibly hungry and thirsty.
Eventually, she comes upon a beautiful lake and slakes her thirst and cleans herself up when she notices that one rock in the distance is a different colour from the ones around it. Curious, she goes to investigate. Touching the purplish red rock, she finds that it doesn't feel like rock but is warm and seems to have a pulse. Fascinated she follows the 'rock' until she eventually comes face to face with a sleeping dragon holding a glowing orb. As she stares at the dragon, Swena suddenly notices a wonderfully delicious smell and realises that it's coming from the orb. Unable to resist, she takes the orb and puts her mouth to it and somehow manages to swallow it. Upon ingesting the orb, she finds her energy returning to her when she finally realises what she'd done. Shocked, she apologises to the sleeping dragon and flees, managing to run all the way home.
Swena eventually comes to a lake where she finds a sleeping dragon holding a glowing orb...
After getting home, Swena learns that she'd been gone for two days; her father, step-mother and half-siblings had been very worried about her, and are relieved when she returns home safely, but her step-mother can't hide her exasperation with Swena at having gone off for so long, caused them so much worry, and then returning home empty-handed. Swena finishes off the dishes as her mother puts the younger kids to bed, when she hears a knock at the door. She cautiously opens the door only to find herself staring at a large white dish and some chopsticks. Looking up, she finds a man with blood-red eyes and she promptly closes the door on him. The man angrily demands that she open the door and let him in. Swena hesitates, but when he threatens to knock the house down, she opens the door.
Merrill appears before Swena and shoves a dish and chopsticks at her...
"Out with it."
"Out with it. Now."
"W... with what?"
She didn't find herself suddenly engulfed in flames, nor did he suddenly cast a curse on her. He shoved the dish and chopsticks insistently at Swena.
Swena looked up at him frightened. The man's face was full of rage as he returned her gaze.
Swena shivered as she took note of the man's appearance - not out of fear, but for a different reason. He had a chilling beauty with his almond eyes and strong nose, blood red eyes, and cruel-looking thin lips. His pitch black hair seemed to melt into the darkness. He was a beautiful man the likes of which Swena had never seen before.
"I'm telling you to defecate," the beautiful man said clearly as he looked coldly at Swena.
Despite his blunt words, Swena was unable to immediately grasp the meaning of what he'd said.
"Produce what you've eaten. Right now. Then give it back to me!"
After four days of no results, Merrill loses patience and threatens to kill Swena only to have her family protect her. He then threatens to tear her family to shreds first. Desperate to save them, Swena somehow manages to form a contract with him and forces him to obey her and not hurt her family. With no other choice, Merrill proposes that they visit the sage Janice and seek her advice on how they can get the orb out of Swena. He needs the orb that Swena accidentally ate in order to return to his dragon body.
As they travel, Merrill discovers that, even for a human, Swena is incredibly weak, clumsy, and dense as she falls into various traps and pitfalls set out by various plants and fae. Stopping for the night, and noticing that Merrill seemed to be suffering from their trip, Swena offers Merrill her water. However, much to her surprise, he ends up drinking all of it. Swena suddenly remembers that since his body was a creation and not alive, he shouldn't need food or water since his body was fueled by magic. Shocked and distressed at the loss of her remaining water supply, she ends up crying. Seeing her tears, Merrill comments that it's a waste and ends up licking them and shocking Swena. He himself is surprised at the taste of her tears, but is quickly distracted when Swena slaps him. Merrill tells her that while he could use food in place of magic for the body, he needed water or his body would become dehydrated and die. If it died, his soul would die without being able to return to his real body. And if that happened, his dragon body would die. Without the orb that Swena ate, he would die.
Knowing that Swena had been learning magic, Merrill tells her she should use magic to find or make water, but Swena admits that she can't use magic and that she was expelled from the academy because of that. Merrill can only wonder at how dense she must be to not even be aware of her own magic ability. He then decides to teach her what to look for in order to avoid the dangers in the forest as they travel.
In need of water, Merrill drinks Swena's tears
Having run out of water the night before, Merrill finds a small spring by a hollow tree. When Swena goes to get water, a small hydrus attacks her and pins her to a tree. Just as she feels like the hydrus is about to crush her to death, Merrill finally saves her. The defeated hydrus flees, but several minutes later a much larger hydrus then attacks Merrill.
Merrill fights a hydrus
Merrill ends up injured by the large hydrus and unable to travel. Swena manages to make a bargain with some pixies in exchange for some of their milk which is supposed to have healing properties. When she gets back to Merrill, he refuses to drink the milk since it smells sweet but she eventually manages to feed it to him by dipping her finger in the milk and putting her finger in his mouth.
Swena takes care of Merrill and coaxes him into eating a bit of food and can't help laughing at her change in attitude towards her situation. Initially, she couldn't help wondering why her - why were these things happening to her. But having travelled with Merrill for some time now, she was finding that it just seemed odd instead. While Swena's used to getting hurt herself, she hates seeing others suffer; she promises to try harder and to try not to cry so much anymore, so she hopes that Merrill will teach her more things as they continue to travel.
The next day, the two set off continuing on their way to see the sage Janice. Merrill tells Swena that he hasn't seen Janice for a very long time - some 275 years now. Apparently, Janice had originally gone to try to lock him away since back then, he was like any other monster and ate people whenever he got hungry. It hurts Swena to hear Merrill tell about how he and Janice met, and considering how Merrill had counted the years since he and Janice last met, she realises that Janice must have been very special to him. She also realises that she might be falling in love with Merrill and can't help wondering if he was being nice to her because she's human like Janice was.
Given how taxing he was finding their journey, Merrill realises that it must be even more difficult for Swena. He realises that if he doesn't protect her, she could very easily die. But the instant he thinks that, he can only wonder if he's gone mad. After all, there was no reason for him to protect a human.
As they continue travelling, a salamander who'd sensed Merrill's presence attacks the two. Badly injured, Merrill tries to convince Swena to run, but she refuses. Desperate to save Merrill, Swena uses the contract between the two, and along with his magic, she manages to fight off the dragon.
A salamander comes upon them and attacks
Swena can only wonder at how, granted with Merrill's help, she was able to summon magic powerful enough to fight off the dragon. Merrill suspects that it's the nature of her magic - she can't use it for herself and is only able to use it when others are in danger.
Thanks to the nature of his constructed body, Merrill's well enough to travel after resting for a couple of days. Pained at the idea that Merrill was wanting to see Janice, Swena is certain that she is indeed falling in love with the dragon. While normally, it would take over two months to reach Janice, Merrill and Swena use a teleportation ring to travel instantly to an area just outside the forest where Janice is.
Swena had thought that such magic had been lost a long time ago, and Merrill explains that Janice had the ability to make such things. He then tells Swena about the agreement Janice made with the country - she would protect the country when it was truly in danger, and in exchange they would not disturb her and her work.
Merrill visibly weakens as they enter Janice's forest, and Swena realises that it's because of his demonic nature. As he rests, she goes in search of medicinal herbs but is unable to find anything. Such herbs only grew in places touched by the demonic. The forest they were in was so pure that even Swena found it difficult to breathe, so no doubt it was much more harmful for Merrill.
Two days pass before Merrill wakes again. Swena tries to get him to have something, but he ignores her. Swena realises that at this rate, Merrill will die, so she orders him to kill her and to reclaim his dragon's orb. Much to her surprise, he refuses, so she tells him if he doesn't kill her, she'll kill herself. Despite his weakened condition, he manages to stop Swena before she can hurt herself and kisses her instead. Merrill discovers that kissing Swena tasted the same as her tears had tasted earlier, and that by kissing her, he could gain strength from the orb inside her. He realises that Swena was, in a sense, the orb.
Three days later, when the two stop to rest for the night, Merrill holds Swena from behind hurriedly explaining that he could feel the orb's power by doing so. Swena ends up letting her full weight rest against Merrill, but when she realises what she'd done, she quickly tries to pull away. Merrill tries to prevent her from moving away, and ends up accidentally knocking her to the ground. Merrill kisses her again, but this time, he seems to want much more from her. Swena agrees entrusting herself to him, and the two end up making love.
Merrill and Swena stop for the night
When Swena wakes, she realises what happened the night before and ends up crying. Seeing how she'd told Merrill how she felt about him, she couldn't help feeling hurt that he'd gone so far simply because he wanted to regain more energy from the orb. Flustered, Merrill denies that's why he'd done what he had, and he manages to stammer out his own feelings for her.
Janice ends up interrupting the two when she appears. Merrill asks her how he can get his orb back from Swena without killing her, and Janice tells him that all he had to do was wait 10 months and 10 days - a new orb would be born together with their child. She then chides Merrill telling him that he'd better propose properly and that having the girl say things first would be undignified.
Janice appears before Merrill and Swena
Janice remembers an incident that happened over ten years ago. Even though Merrill and Swena didn't remember, the two had met back then. Swena had run away from home mourning the death of her mother and unhappy at her father's re-marriage. as she runs, she suddenly realises she'd accidentally run off the edge of a cliff but rather than ending up plunging to her death, she suddenly finds herself on the back of a dragon. The dragon tells her his full name which Swena struggles to repeat. She then asks the dragon to stay with her and that she hated being alone. The dragon figures the little girl won't remember anything come morning and readily agrees not realising that in doing so a contract was formed between the two.
Young Swena on Merrill's back
Hmm... maybe a bit too long still? Hard to tell on Haku. I wonder if I can do this with other series as well. Not sure about HakuYou seeing how that series seems to be completely out of control. Still, I will admit, I did delete a number of paragraphs when writing this up. *sigh*