Nikolai is absolutely terrible at this

Oh, he had survived the night. Physically.

Part of Nikolai (don't ask which) was dead,and yet wiser. When the Dragon and Skade had collected them the morning of their tribulation, he had no longer felt fear for any of their respective dangers. Nonetheless, He followed Skade through the network of tunnels and caves and rooms. People flashed by in a pastel watercolor of lurching moveement, all except for Ragta. She was there, in full splendor, scales shining and tail swishing to the tune of her facade of pride. Deep down, he felt, she was trapped in the same way he was- scared to the bone, and unable to recover. One boot in front of the other, that was all Nikolai focused on. 

People rushed by, always rushing, faster, faster, more heavily armed, now with leaders and followers, now running forward, now running back, now limping, falling, dead. Hmm. Dead. Nikolai didn't understand why there would be dead people in the King's palace, but surely there was an explanation. A human one, perhaps,, but an explanation. He did not dwell on the subject longer than that, and focused more on stepping around the fallen dragon  and fat, stocky man clutching a sword and bearing a horrible wound on his brow. A discarded crown by the dead man's head stabbed him in the foot, but no pain came. In time, they reached a solid oak door, hanging on one hinge, at the end of a long hall. The group stepped inside, and made a few turns before reaching another cave, this time one with a large, open entrance to the outside world. Nikolai climbed on his dragon, and flew away behind Skade.

A few moments after lifting off, he was hit in the shoulder by something. The blood ran warm for the rest of the flight, but all he saw was grey. Should he have looked back upon the Great castle of the King, he would have seen grey flames, like devil's horns, flickering into the air a hundred feet above the ground, and grey sand like humans bubbling down a grey hill. But he didn't look back.

 

The safehouse on Wilde Mountain was reached, and he was given a cup to drink. It tasted grey, but brought blackness. Nikolai welcomed it.

The End

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