A Dragon in the Night
Bright lights rounded the corner. Shining lanterns and torches. The shouts of what remained of a lynch mob unmistakable.
Lucien ducked further into the alley. There was a great ripping of cloth, the thumping of wind as limbs elongated and misshaped. Bursting from Lucien’s torso.
Matthew could not name what manner of creature formed from what had been a man only a short time ago.
There was heavy clacking as talons clicked the cobbled walk. The walls of the buildings bordering the alleyway began to creak as the girth of the creature grew greater.
Matthew could not make a sound. Only a squeak escaped. Then, equally as abruptly as the dark lord appeared…the man and his black cat had vanished.
The mob arrived in time to see the great beast dropping to launch itself into the night sky. Nearly knocking the slack-jawed mob from their feet. Nearly tearing roofs off the nearby buildings with the torentuous wind the massive wings created.
The beast disappeared into the night sky. A fierce whooshing which soon faded.
An incredible silence settled over InnerCircle.
The mob stood as slack jawed as poor old Matthew, himself.
Matthew Murdoch craned his neck to get one last glimpse of the thing from his shadowed corner. Only silence was left. Above stars glittered like diamonds on a windless night. The moon burned a dusty red. A Dread’s moon, some liked to call it. Such an odd night for a red moon.
As he climbed to his unsteady feet and dusted his loose pants, he was mesmerized by the velvet night above. Glimpsing something moving he stilled. It was something small. Falling fast and looking like it would land on him. He took a quick step to his right and heard the clang of metal falling to the stones very near. The little thing glittered in the moonlight. Crouching on wobbly knees from a fortnight of starvation, his attention was magnetically drawn to the sparkle laying amidst the dirt and stones. The mob momentarily forgotten. The golden-eyed beasts forgotten.
Unable to resist any longer, he picked it up. Turning it in the light. Cold and heavy it was precious metal. Matthew the beggar held it reverently. The streetlight reflected off it. It glimmered with a life of its own. He judged its weight and the size of the inlaid rubies, rather large. He, who’d once been a wealthy merchant, an avid collector of jewels, recognized the piece for what it was. He tossed it in the air with a low whistle, catching it in a white-knuckled fist.
“What a precious little jewel to lose.” Even as he said the words, he heard another voice. A haunting one. Carrying all the qualities of an echo. Yet, strangely close to a hiss.
“For your silence, mortal.”
It chilled old Matthew deep into his bones. Into his very soul.
Matthew turned a fearful gaze back to a cloudless sky. It was empty. Black. Desolate. No creature stirred up there.
You’re mostly right Old Man. Lucien gave a toothy smile. His soundless wings coasting him through the foggy gray sky.
It’s only me. And miles and miles of lonely emptiness. Lucien Sabias thought.
His dark amber eyes glinting in the night as the fog cleared and he saw a distance of water he recognized as the NetherRunnel drifting from the Netherlands to cut through Grier and into Mane. Following it would lead him straight back to WaterRose.