Donavan woke later than every performer, but he had nothing else to pack. All of the animals were wheeled onto the train later in the evening, after his confrontation with Thanos. Still, when he collapsed onto his bed late that night, he laid awake for hours after that. His sleep was reduced to a mere hour.
He stood up and felt all the blood rush from his head. Dazed, he leaned onto the wall beside him until he could provide himself a proper foundation. The dizziness was soon replaced with a splitting migraine, with the center of the pain being his scar.
His meeting with Thanos must have left a lingering anguish. Donavan refused to let it affect his spirit, his ironclad will draped underneath his scar. He would remain fierce like a lion.
The animals were roused by the quickening pace of Donavan’s heartbeat. This was the odd connection between Thanos’ creatures and the animal tamer. They wake when he does, and they sleep when he sleeps, meaning some would be furious that they received only an hour last night.
The lackadaisical Donavan stumbled into the next train car, where the griffins roared and the wyverns stirred. Pegasi flaunted their wings within their confined space, and many creatures, as Donavan predicted, roared savagely at their master.
“Enough!” Donavan simmered irritably, “You can blame the benefactor for your lack of sleep.”
I told you not to go, didn’t I? One of the wyverns remarked, the same one Donavan spoke to yesterday.
“Silence!” he demanded, growing more and more miffed.
The wyvern continued despite the tamer’s command, Had you not gone in the first place, all of us would have gotten some sleep. You included.
Donavan approached the wyvern cage, glaring at the delinquent, “Who allowed you to speak?”
I’m no mere animal, as you’ve already noticed. You are my master, and I must look after your health, for the benefactor’s sake.
“If I do not care about the benefactor, then you should not either!”
It is not my will to command. I must obey the benefactor’s wishes. I am bound to him, lest he break our contract.
“Break your contract?” A glint of intrigued sparkled in Donavan’s eyes, “Are you not manifestations of the benefactor?”
The wyvern dissented, I am as real as the cage I am bound to, and so is your power. We have all been collected from magical lands by Thanos under a contract that offered us peace. However, we were not aware that this would be our fate.
Donavan smiled, “So you too harbor malice for the benefactor?”
I suppose I do.
Something had changed. The creatures had never displayed antipathy towards Thanos. None of them had dared to even speak his name. What brought on this new disposition? Donavan was stumped and perplexed, still juggling this new information in his head.
His migraine, however, made it difficult.
With his newfound respect for the wyvern, Donavan asked it, “Do you have a name?”
Byrrus, it answered.
Donavan promised to remember that name, and would recognize him by his piercing red eyes and his exhausted squint. Thanos must have tortured him, stolen everything he ever cared about. There was a soul there, and it yearned for an escape.
But right now, Byrrus could not leave. Not until the bastard Thanos has been dealt with.
“Byrrus, I will be the one to set you free,” Donavan vowed, with the dawdling afterthought that he may not be able to keep that vow.
Byrrus did not say a word, and Donavan turned to the next train car to gather food for the creatures. While passing the other creatures, he could detect the faces of anguish and grief from them.
The creatures lit a flame in Donavan’s heart. Now more than ever, he wanted the demon slain.