Light enveloped me at last. A tiny aura, big enough only for me and the girl. My steed had merged with the dark, only feintly discernible by the twitch of his whip-like tail. It twisted and flipped like a separate being, like a snake snapping at mice in the grass.
I had stared off into the fire for a while, at least long enough for night to truly set in. The girl stared with me, nervously twisting a bit of her dirty blond hair. She really did look like a ghost if you ignored the bruises across her arms and the dirt on her simplistic white gown. Unnatural almost in the flickering lights.
Eventually, my interest in the flames waned, and although I was now awake, there was still a pull at my eyelids. I let my head subside into the darkness of the cloak, and let once again my mind sway to the flurry of mad thoughts.
The crest of my black hair shot out like a number of tendrils, and the forceful winds wrenched the doors closed behind me. Azzirths chamber, even in it's decay, was something of wretched beauty. The huge theater of torn red carpeting and gilded arches had once been exuberant examples of the Dragon's influence.
Azzirth had constructed a immeasurable pit in the middle of the chamber, inside had been brimmed with hundreds of balconies for his more human kindred to take residence and discuss with him how his empire faired. Now, most of the boxes had been reduced to nothingness, and their entrances collapsed. And the only way down was hours of falling. But alas, I knew that Azzirth would meet me halfway, and that would likely be a much more painful death than being plastered across his bedchamber.
I picked up the pace, quickly overcoming a number of squirming and limbless part-corpses that only remained animated by the Serpent's insane fury. They nipped at my heels, and I nipped back with the ten-shooter. I curiously kicked the head of one puppet into the pit, and watched it fade into black.
I felt the ground tremble with his horrific laughter.
"It's both our graves my scribe. Now quit being a cowardly bastard and FACE ME."
His taunting was laced with something more, some ancient tongue or impossible tone that made my blood curdle. The beasts behind faded to mist as the emperor dispelled his creations for the sake of more concentration. I felt myself sneer, and hiss like a demon.
I threw myself like a stick unto the funeral pyre. Into a hole that likely led straight to hell itself. And with back turned, the light of the distant skies, turned to nothing but a star on the horizon.
Here I snapped and wrapped my hand around the neck of the intruder who's careless approach I had sensed even through the void in my mind. It was a cold throat, not even warmed by the touch of life. Soft, tense, yet I felt that I could not break it even if I tried. My eyes did open to view the aggressor, but alas, I was only greeted by a face of slight shock which looked at me with question; how did you know?
The girl had been reaching for the black notebook at my satchel, it's fabric bookmark had fallen over the bag's top. I had noticed her watching it since long before I had even dared to sleep. I released my grapple, and she hesitated to return to he spot across a fire comprised of only a few embers.
"Can I read it?"
I paused to look at it, thinking of all the things still left from before the Dragon. And it might never again be seen.
"Don't. The second you do is the second I make a very unpleasant choice. Do you understand."
She nodded slowly, her eyes dull with some disappointment. She proceeded to sit beside me outside the receding aura of light.
"Writer, tell me, do your people still wander the earth?"
"I haven't seen my kin for a long time. They're all dead. I hope at least. One still might be writhing at the Serpent's Keep. An undying husk, changed for the worse by dark forces, and not permitted to die until he finishes a manuscript for his master. A master who is but a rotting husk himself."
She looked to me, her eyes half closed. Maybe in pity, maybe in disinterest. She waited a moment then asked another question.
"You know you're a story now right? In fact, your fable has almost faded into obscurity. But I think I know who you are writer. That in fact, the folkloric monster, the last of his kind actually is known in a much more famous legend-"
"Do not speak it. It's repulsive to hear that name from a child's mouth."
"You really believe I'm a child?"
I scowled and replied through my teeth, "I said a child's mouth. Not what you really are below that."
"So you guessed."
"Oh, you know nothing of my people. We had a hundred elders always working on the Tomb of Vitality. The serpent wanted a catalogue of every creature. We knew all that was, is, and made countless estimates of what was to be. I spent years of my life as a hunter of specimens. And I know your species down to it's unusual biology."
"So how old do you think I am?" She mused, twirling her hair again.
"I'm older. I know that, and will leave it at that."
We both went silent, and I considered trying to get some more rest.
"I've no where to go. The family is in ruin after the attack. I've been chased by those who sought to wipe the pure blooded families away. Writer, I believe you know what I am trying to ask."
I had listened. My hand caressed the notebook at my side. And this had been what I had wanted not to deal with.
"It's against our law. I cannot simply give you freedom to meander a book that I filled with the most destructive of my arcane teachings."
"Then let me join you at your side. My brothers, sisters, and even my own child will never permit my presence again."
She was right. She had been weakened, and her place likely taken. That was how it functioned in the great nobility of those pure blooded. A really, truly futile game.
"Following me will almost surely mean you becoming an irredeemable outcast. Do you really desire that?"
"Writer, I am unsure if your solitude brings you solace, and do not want to impose upon your life, and your goals."
"It does. My people are never coming back," I jumped up violently, and paced around the fire, "and the people of this world no longer see the writers, the scribes, or whatever name we had as the great seekers of the unobtainable."
I drew the book like I once drew the ten shooter at my hip. Such things in this book that should never be known again. Such things in this text though, that might bring a chance for the people of this world. Was I really content? Alone through the ages. Wandering from barren moors to desolate forests for years.
"I told you," my eyes narrowed, "that when you touched this I would have to make a choice. You have one last chance to leave and run, because the moment your gaze touches a single rune on it's cover, you are cursed to walk with me."
I heard her quietly get up, and almost silently glide to me. Her hands pulled my head to face hers. She smiled and her grey eyes now seemed to be like the raging stormclouds that I was so used to. So graceful in their passion.
"It is a price that I won't regret."
I felt the book slide from my hand.
"If this is your final decision, then so be it." I let my arms go limp, and I pulled my cloak back for the first time in ages. "You will find within, things that you will not understand. You must quickly come to learn. The dead world housed witchcraft and technology that are now lost. I have preserved a fraction within the tombs I carry, but even this mere chip contains things that few others would comprehend. You will observe them. You will construct them. You will practice them. But above all."
"You will respect their power."