Nicholas: In Which I Make My Visitor Faint And I Have A Strange Dream
After a rather impressive demonstration of just how powerful his lungs were, my human visitor suddenly went very quiet. He just stared up at me, his terror-filled eyes wide and practically unblinking. "It's alright," I said as gently as I could, "I'm not going to hurt you." I bent my head closer to him and he scooted further away from me, his terror-scent growing stronger. I winced guiltily. You'd think that after all this time I'd be used to the fact that most people don't believe me when I say that, especially if I look like this when I meet them. "Here, why don't we make this a little easier on you?" I suggested, straightening up again. "It's hard holding a conversation with someone if you're absolutely terrified of them. Just give me a few seconds, alright?" I closed my eyes, and a moment later I felt the familiar heat of transformation magic wash over me.
Unlike werewolves and other shapeshifters, being a member of dragon nobility meant that transforming was short and (usually) painless. That means that the transformation process is very quick for me. Also, I didn't have to worry about having to find clothes after every time I shifted back into my human form. The magic of the whole thing is fairly complicated, and even I don't know how to explain it. But I suppose the best way to describe it is that our dragon skin sort of transforms itself into a robe for us to wear, becoming something like a 'second skin'. It's rather convenient not having to worry about searching for clothes, if I do say so myself. But like I said, the magic for the whole thing is rather confusing, so I'd best not go into too much detail at the risk of mass confusion.
At the sound of his startled gasp, I opened my eyes and met his gaze. He didn't look as afraid anymore, but he looked completely and utterly confused. I couldn't really blame him-watching a gigantic magical beast transform into a human can be a rather disorienting experience. I smiled gently as I walked over to where he was lying and knelt down next to him. "My name is Nicholas," I said, "Dragon Prince and owner of this humble cave." I extended a hand out for him to shake. "It's a pleasure to meet you...?" I continued, letting my voice trail away to indicate that it was his cue to speak.
To my dismay, though it wasn't completely unexpected, I received no answer. The young man only continued to stare at me, completely frozen. I could practically see the wheels in his head frantically working to try and make sense of the whole situation. "U-uh, I-I..." he stammered weakly, before suddenly slumping back down to the ground as his eyes fluttered shut. Did he...did he just faint? I thought in some surprise, poking his cheek with a tentative finger. He didn't stir, and I heaved an exasperated sigh. I can't believe it. He actually fainted. Sadly though, he wasn't the first to have done so, and I could guarantee that he wouldn't be the last. Though if I was being honest with myself, I hadn't expected him to be the fainting type.
"Well," I murmured aloud, "I should probably put you somewhere more comfortable. Wouldn't want you waking up stiff and uncomfortable on the floor, would we?" I slid my arms underneath him and lifted him up, noting with irritation that he had manacles on his wrists. I'll take care of those when I find him a place to sleep, I thought to myself as I carried him further into the cave. I whistled sharply, and a shimmering ball of golden light appeared in front of me. It bobbed almost sleepily in front of us as I carried my visitor deeper into my home. I could give him a tour of the place when he woke up if he so desired, but for now a comfortable bed and warm blankets was all he needed. As I carried him he shifted in my arms and curled a little closer to me. I could feel him shivering a little bit, and my ears pricked up at the sound of his teeth chattering. Yep, he definitely needs some warm blankets right now.
I paused in front of a door and nudged it open with my foot. I carried him inside and the little ball of light bounced over to the bed and glowed a little brighter so I could see where I was putting him. I snapped my fingers and the covers pulled themselves back as I gently put him down on the mattress. I snapped again, and the manacles around his wrists shimmered for a moment before disappearing altogether. Taking the covers in both hands, I pulled them up over him very gently so as not to disturb him. He stirred as I finished tucking him in, then rolled onto his side and curled up into a tight ball under the blankets. His shivering had gone down, and his breathing was slow and even. "Pleasant dreams," I murmured, smiling to myself as I slipped out of the room. The little ball bounced after me and, once it had exited the room, I shut the door quietly behind me.
I retired to my own bedroom, walking inside with a tired yawn. I slipped off my robe and climbed into bed, pulling the covers up to my chest. I whistled again and the ball went out with a soft pop, leaving me in total darkness. I closed my eyes, letting my mind wander for a few minutes as I slowly relaxed. My thoughts wandered back in the direction of the sleeping boy just a few doors down the hall from me. I had the sneaking suspicion that he was here for the same reason the others had been, but there was something about him that piqued my curiosity. I was curious about the young man, more so than I'd been about my previous visitors. After promising myself that I could find out more tomorrow, I finally felt myself drift off to sleep.
In my dream, I was standing in what looked to be a poorly maintained courtroom. I was standing behind the judge's seat, and could hear him talking loudly over the indignant bellowing of the person he was sentencing. I covered my ears, cursing their sensitivity, as I peered around the chair. With a jolt, I realized that I was staring down at the outraged face of the young man sleeping in my guest bedroom. His black hair had fallen into his face and his eyes were practically glowing with rage. He struggled against his captors, who had to physically pull him back from where the judge was sitting. I could see the strain of his muscles as he fought to free himself.
"...and for your crime," the judge was saying over the young man's angry cries, "I see it fit to sentence you to death. You shall be transported to Goldeneye mountain as soon as I dismiss you." The young man roared in anger and lunged at the judge, only to be yanked back again by the guards, who were all sweating and red-faced from the effort of having to constantly be restraining him. I sighed heavily and rubbed a hand over my eyes. I had been right to suppose that he had been condemned to the same fate as the others before him. Most of the people who stumbled into my cave were there to serve a death sentence. "Do you have any final words before you are taken to the mountain?" the judge continued in a loud voice. Suddenly, the courtroom went very quiet, the only sound being the heavy panting of the guards and of the enraged young man.
"Do I have any final words?" he snarled, soft enough that the judge had to lean forward to hear him better. "Heh...you better believe I have some 'final words' for you." He straightened up to his full height, his eyes flashing dangerously. "Count Dumeire is a sick, twisted bastard who deserved exactly what I gave him," he bellowed, "and if he's really alive then he should be here instead of me." The judge tried to cut across him, but he wasn't finished yet. "I don't care what you assholes think happened in that alleyway," he snapped. "I know what happened, Lucille knows what happened, and the Count knows what happened. And I'm pretty sure you know what really happened there too, you just don't want to admit it because you just want another rat off your streets."
The judge's face had turned an ugly shade of purple during the young man's little speech. He didn't say a word, but he waved a hand at the guards to signal them to take him away. The young man struggled harder as he was dragged out of the room. "I'll see you sick bastards in hell!" he screamed. "And I can promise I'll be the one watching you while you rot there!" He was calling more profanities over his shoulder, but the door to the courtroom slammed shut, silencing whatever foul names he had chosen to call the judge and startling me into wakefulness.