The Flight of the Beast

Minnie collapsed weeping over her brother's body, shaking him awake wildly, as coarse tears ran down her cheeks. "Thom! Thom!" she whispered.

At once, his hands were by her throat and Minnie gulped, feeling every one of the ridges and callouses lining her brother's hand. Even in the darkness, she could feel his cornflower blue eyes, very much like her own, glaring at her with rage and anger. But as Thom felt Minnie's tears fall upon his heavy hand, his grip slackened, surprise edging into his voice.

"Minnie?! Is that you?"

Minnie only sobbed all the more harder, clutching at her brother's dirtied tunic as she buried her head upon his supple chest. "Alanna-mmprfh-gone-"

Thom, now certain that the petite hands clutching at him, was those of his sister's let his grip squander on the dagger tied to his thigh. Instead he held Minnie to him, firmly holding her against his chest as he rocked forward and backwards, like he used to do when they were younger. "Minnie, please tell me - What's happened to Alanna?" He asked it sharply, now prying her away from him and holding her firm by the arms. Was Alanna hurt? Injured? The last he had seen of her was in the morn, when she had scurried past him in that maddeningly thin shift of hers and a worried frown.

"He's taken her! He's killing her! She's dead!" with each exclamation, Minnie pounded her fists in the bed, struggling with despair. Thom only held her all the more tighter.

"Who? What are you on about? Alanna can't be dead!" he quieried, and then frowned as his fingers brushed over the thin linen of his sister's shift. "What are you wearing? You're practically half-bare!"

Minnie gave a particularly loud wail, her words rushing out in snotty sobs. "The King...he ordered all the maids to see him this sunrise, and he ch-chose Alanna! And he took her up to his bedchambers-"

The blood pumping through Thom begun to freeze with horror. How fine the King should need a mistress when he already has two wives at his beck and call- he thought sourly. And then he thought of Alanna, and her sweet smiles and her delightful tendencies to laugh at the simplest of illusions. He thought of her blinding innocence as she stared at trust at every man who dared to send a lewd face her way, and that was when his horror morphed and twisted into an ugly form of revenge.

He gently pushed Minnie aside, lacing his tunic with one hand as he unsheathed his dagger with the other. Alanna was dead, and all because of a wanton King too headstrong with his conquests than the thoughts of ruling Phero true and fair. He blotted out the whimpers of the child behind him, and letting Alanna fill his every thought stormed out of the wooden stables, startling Shazar, the black beauty of the horses in the neighbouring stable into neighing violently into the night. He didn't have the heart to find a sugar lump or two, in his present state of his mind, he could carve the horse into ribbons of meat before thinking of feeding it.

The moon aided him in his sight, as he silently shushed the horse with a finger. Thom held it to his lips, and the horse recognising a familiar scent, quietened down amicably. "Good boy," he dangerously murmured, his agitated voice frightening the stallion once more into rearing onto it's hind legs. Thom cursed, raising his head to follow the movement of the equine when the glitter of gold at the topmost of his eye caught his attention in the darkness.

Why is somebody up the topmost of the castle at this hour? He pondered, and squinted, trying to pick out any movement. The virginal white that stood against the dark, sent Thom's heart furiously pounding and he stared with lax hands around his dagger. " Alanna?" he breathed, and although there was nothing to confirm his thought, it did not damper the spark of hope fluttering about in his chest in the slightest.

Maybe the King didn''t kill her...Maybe she survived his brutal, sleuthing ways upon the bed and fought against him like a wild-cat, and thus came to the conclusion to tie her up there so the crows could pick out her organs from her broken body...

He wanted to save her, god-dammit. He wanted to be her knight in shining armour.

The Dragon rode proud above the high winds; relishing in the wind that blew the flakes of blood dry against his flanks and the whistle of air that pricked his already salivating teeth. A Dragon's mind was one of simplicity and the only thought that prevailed tonight was the insatiable hunger threatening to overwhelm his bloodied stomach. He could taste it in the air. His power. The fear of the people below him as they dreamt on, wondering whose body they shall find in the morning, after his glorious feast.

He could smell everything. The treachery these men reeked off, as they lay entwined with the naked bodies of their wives, the semen of their earlier conquests of a harlot before that of their wives, warm against their thighs. The sweet nectar that flowed in the chilluns, as they lay with youth and innocence, oblivious to the cruel nature of the adult-world. And then there were those who were in-between. In-between an fully grown fledgling and a chillun. They reeked of sexual desire, of fertile wombs and lengthening swords nestled between their legs. Every noble. Every peasant. A tiny heartbeat fluttering away in their brittle ribs, waiting for them to be crushed.

The Castle of Jarput loomed before his silvery scales, and he dipped slightly, riding out a delightful current, before arising with the barest nudge of his powerful wings.

The King. He saw no picture in his mind, of what the mongrel looked like. All he saw was red, and that colour was enough to rip apart the bricks with claws at once. A jet of smoke arose from his nostril, as he visualised the scene of tearing apart the castle, and yet he would be so silent about it, not one would have realised anything was wrong till it was too late.

" ALANNA!" The yell shocked him. More than it should off and he reeled back from the south-east tower with practised ease. The voice could be no more than a loud whisper, but yet the sensitive neves in his brain picked it up as a yell. He would have immediately seeked out the culprit if it were not for the noise that arose next.

A small whimper. So delicate and frail that screamed easy prey. The unmistakable noise of a dagger being swished though the air and across silk arouse his interest at once. Who would dare to cut silk, except a silk-cutter? Silk was precious in the lands and by the violent ssss of the knife, implied a frenzied young man was the source of it all.

" Th- Thom! Thank god..." the choked sob did nothing to pluck at his heart-strings, but the slight rasp of this female's voice told him that she had not drunk any liquid for a while. And only a person, bound, gagged and trussed like a pig would be unable to access any saliva-This further arose questions. Why would a female be gagged and left outside on such a night, when the townspeople KNEW a beast was nigh? Unless...

The penny dropped, the moment the urgent voice of the girl hit him. " The dragon is coming! Do you not hear the silence of the clouds before the deathly slices of it's fire approaches? I can feel it in my bones that he is near and that I am his sacrifice!"

The sudden urge to claim what was his, struck desire deep within his belly.

The weariness was catching up on her. Red welts circling her tender wrists as she rubbed them with tiredness. But yet she stood upright, alive and breathing in the land of the living! Thom, still in the phase between becoming a man, and remaining a child, towered over Alanna with possessive hands, holding her to him, as he tucked a stray tendril of hair behind her ear.

"Hush, little one," he shushed, holding her head to his chest whilst she incredulously tried to jerk it away. Yet as she was still weak from standing for so long, her struggle became un-noticed by the boy holding her. " Alanna, you must believe me. The dragon doesn't exist. That bastard of a king must have fed you these tiresome stories in order to hide his true intention- for the crows of the night to come and pick your bones clean!"

"How can you say that?" Alanna asked dejectedly, finally suceeding in pulling away. She gazed up at him with an incredulous expression. "You think I've let leave of my senses! I can see it in your eyes- you think me mad and delirious from being captured so long!"

Her burning accusations struck Thom to his poor heart. He looked away, unable to meet her with his eyes and instead gazed out into the open night sky behind her.

" I knew it!" Alanna half-sobbed, wrenching herself away from his hands entirely. "You think me a fool! I wouldn't be surprised if you came to believe that I'll leap of this tower, this very instant!"

Alanna was planning nothing of the sort, but it did not lighten her mood when she heard Thom struggle for an intake of breath behind her. "Alann-"

She clenched her eyes very tightly, willing for Thom to stop speaking and in turn, cease killing her heart with very word. Thom. How could Thom, her childhood best friend, doubt her? Had he not been by her side for so long? Joking away the summer evenings and sneaking into her squalor at sunset with pockets full of almonds and apricots when matron had sent her to bed, hungry? And yet her stood behind her now, daring to question her sanity with every heartbeat his body sounded.

Thom did not attempt to say anything further and instead stepped forward to press her back to his chest and lay his head on Alanna's stiff shoulder. He had meant to be her knight tonight, but instead he was the villain, striking pain into his beloved's heart.

He wanted to ask her so many questions. What happened in the Kings bedchamber? What had Alanna done so horrifically to be left up here to rot? Did she unsatisfy him in his bed? Did Alanna moan as he impaled her? The startled gasp of Alanna, caused Thom to drag his lips away from her neck and into the skyline. His eyes widened with shock as they looked upon a silver sky, of all the oddest of things, with a black sun burning in the middle.

"This is a witch's sorcery!" he hissed, instantly clutching at the amulet hung on the chest. "The devil's work! An illusion to make us succumb to her evil powers!"

In the light of the situation, Alanna had been in no mood to laugh, but as Thom's curse singed her ears, she dared look back and give him a wry smile. " You believe in the witch and the devil, Thom, but yet you fail to see the credibility of a dragon... Perhaps, you think me sane after all?"

She faced forward again, and watched as in the distant horizon, a curtain of dark silver descend upon the sky, like thunder-clouds from the Storm Gods. It happened impossibly fast, the impenetrable mist overshadowing the entire landscape before flying upward again, living not a single blot in the azure sky. The black sun contracted, almost as if it were the pupil of an eye, and that dense smog of air that had vanished altogether almost seemed plausible enough to be a giant eyelid-

The penny dropped the same moment she saw Thom lunging forward with his dagger, determination scrawled all over his face. She opened her lips to call out a warning to only cry out as a burst of flame set Thom alight. Immediately he fell to the floor, screaming as he tried to beat out the flames with his blackening hands, and rolling heavily across the floor to put out the fire. Through his fiery torment, he caught sight of a claw of silver as wide as any raging river swoop through the air and swipe Alanna's feet away from her, causing her to fall to the ground and hit her head.

And then, the split second passed and Thom yelled out in fear, desperately attempting to pull the tunic that had seemingly melted on his body, clear of his frame.

His attempts were futile. It was not long before two prone bodies lay among the dust and fiery embers of the topmost tower.

One left to die in pain. The other left to live in agony.