Skade was insane. Ragta had realized this when she had watched her kill the king. Nanye was even more insane for not realizing this, or perhaps he did and just didn’t care. But what sacred Ragta the most was that Nikolai, her rider, seemed to share Skade’s disease.
Should she have seen it when they bonded? Was it bonding that had turned him? Had she done wrong? Should she have let the spirit’s take him? Should she have taken their attack to signal that he wasn’t fit.
Ragta trembled as they flew. Nikolai didn’t seem to understand who they were tracking. Lady Aryanna and Princess Vellery had always been nice. She did not want to kill them. But what was she to do if Nikolai continued in his present state, kill him as she had killed her last rider? But, that had been an accident, she hadn’t meant to do that. She couldn’t kill another rider. Even with the Soulriders in chaos, Ragta wouldn’t let herself bond again if she caused Nikolai’s death no matter how monstrous he was.
Was that the pain Nanye felt? Was this the same chaos that went on in the elder dragon’s mind? Ragta trembled again and Nikolai forced her down. She tried to slow down to give the people below them time to escape. But Nikolai, in his mad state, was faster and five more were killed by his blade. This time it was a family with three young children. The only comfort Ragta could find was the fact that the day was ending.
“We need to find rest for the night,” she told Nikolai, braving to break the silence that existed between them.
“No,” his answer was flat. “You can see in the dark.”
“I need to eat and so do you,” she insisted.
“You ate three days ago.”
“And I have been flying non-stop since then.”
Ragta landed; her nose scenting deer nearby. She waited only long enough for Nikolai to dismount before vaulting back up into the air.
“You abandon me and you are a dead dragon!” he yelled at her.
“I would never abandon my rider!”
Ragta swopped and killed two does and a yearling. She ate the two does before picking up the yearling and bringing it back to Nikolai.
“I would die before I abandoned my rider, no matter how horrible he was.”
Ragta studied Nikolai with her fiery eyes, but she couldn’t tell if he’d understood. Curling up she let herself rest determined not to budge until morning.
Morning brought a new scent to Ragta’s nose. Nikolai had built a fire and had cooked the small deer. She could still smell that, but there was something else; another person. She moved her head ever so slowly. Nikolai was still asleep.
The person was nearby. Ragta sensed no fear, but rather a sense of wisdom.
“Password!” Nikolai demanded jumping up as the shadow moved in the trees.
“It’s Cyllell!” Ragta mentally shouted at the figure.
“TRAITOR!” Nikolai suddenly spun upon Ragta his balde biting deep into her leathery hide.
She roared in pain.