It was already begun by the time Nikolai woke up. Screeching filled every corner as if some putrid liquid, and the solidly overbearing pillars holding the cave together that had once seemed so comforting gave Nikolai shivers. Grotesquely shaped shadows reached, clawing, into the center of the room where the two had foolishly made camp, and shapes flitted above them. It seemed to Nikolai that the earth itself was rising, forcing terrible claustrophobia over him as bile forces vomit over one drunk. He knew the feeling. Beside him, his dragon- was it his dragon now?-, Ragta, lay curled up in fear, flames flickering from her nostrils, illuminating eyes swelled with fear. She must have gone through this ritual with her other riders, he knew, and yet experience did little for her spirits.
Well, Nikolai was not so easily defeated. Granted, his boots shook as the legs inside began to sway like long grass in the breeze after a single step towards the shadows, but Nikolai reasoned this was just girlish weakness. Another step, another- he could do this. Darkness enveloped him, and cold spread through his arms and legs, making it's silent way to the heart, to spread through it, too, to cease the terrible noise of life- life in HIS cave, bothering HIS sleep. WHY DISTURB ME, HUMAN? YOU ARE THE FIRST IN A LONG TIME TO BE SO FOOLISH, AND I WILL ENSURE IT IS A LONG TIME BEFORE THE NEXT OF YOUR KIND SHOWS HERE...
But there was light, and warmth.
So far, though....
No, he had warmth- in his jerkin! The ale he had smuggled in! Nearly dead fingers, fluttering with a numb panic, flew over his chest, worked ope the first button, clenched. Eyes stared blindly down, unaware that the mind could no longer even feel the hand, searching with dull, forced, hope for something that could no longer help him. Only the light, so far away.
And they bonded.
But the cold did not care.