The Dragon

No Time — Truespace

It was in that time in the days after the party that the dragon came.

It is especially difficult to describe the dragon. Maybe I should call it a swarm of replicating disorder, or a torrent of corrupting cold fire, or a living storm of annihilating chaos. All of those descriptions would capture a part of the reality, but only a part. However we describe it, such beings, or forces, had been the great enemies of the prince and princess’s people since before the beginning of time. But as you might surmise from what I have said of the prince and princess’s life thus far, not even a rumor of such creatures had been heard anywhere in the vast realm of which the prince and princess’s land was part for more time than you can comprehend.

The prince was sitting in the tall tower of his observatory, smiling at his memories of the recent party: its symphony, meals, discussions, when the daylight darkened.

Frowning, he gestured for the dome to be withdrawn, baring his wide platform to the sky—and he saw the dragon, it vast wings folded back, rushing toward him with terrible speed.

The prince had time for one moment of amazement and terror, and then the consuming fire was upon him.

The flame missed killing him by inches, but half the platform was consumed in the roaring torrent and the rest exploded outward. The prince fell through the air, through the glass ceiling of the grand ballroom, to impact stunningly on its floor. It took him long moments to regain his senses and get to his feet.

Already the castle was shaking, its towers crumbling. Looking wildly around, the prince thought of the ancient weapons concealed in the deepest rooms of the castle, but swiftly understood that if the automated weapons had been unable to halt the onslaught of the dragon then his direction of them would make little difference. Above the broken ceiling of the grand ballroom the silhouette of the dragon soared and stooped. The sound alone of its passage brought down more glass.

Realizing that no defense was possible, the prince sprinted toward a staircase leading to the tower that the castle informed him was the last known location of the princess. Its systems already corrupted and failing, fighting with themselves, the castle was no longer able to provide current location information.

Above the filigreed ceiling strings of blue spheres erupted, arcing toward the dragon, their whistling flight audible even in the cacophony of explosions and sirens. The castles defenses were at last coming online. But as the spheres of energy neared the dragon it avoided them with contemptuous ease, then destroyed the emitters with its own fire.

And as it swept its flaming jaw toward the last of the weapons the stream of its destruction swept across the princess’s tower, consuming a great part of its structure and blowing apart the rest into a cloud of incandescent streaks.

Halting where he stood, the prince watched the fragments of the tower fall in graceful arcs and smoking trails. And when, moments later, the fire came for him he did not flee it.

Again he was not consumed, but the floor of the grand ballroom was shattered, and the prince found himself falling toward the green hills of his land a mile below.

Downward he plummeted, burning rubble falling with him.

Until a silver disk, diving at the limit of its ability, swept under him and applied maximum deceleration for the last two seconds before impact. They struck the ground together and the prince knew no more.

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