2200+ Words Approx. Reading Time: 9 minutes
Rating: T+ Ages 15 and up for Violence, Animal Death, Crude Language
The kingdom was a dull grey. Clouds covered the sky in varying heights, shielding the virgin night sky from the atrocities that were about to take place. The castle. Again, a dull grey that tried to shield the inside from the dangers of the world. However, the world was after someone inside the walls.
Crying, screaming, weeping. Dead.
I’d never seen anything quite like this. Lightning struck the center capitol and exploded into a loud deafening roar. The elders saw this as a sign. A sign from the gods that couldn’t be seen as anything but a tragedy. The king was dead.
Less than 10 years ago, the old king, King Thuror IV passed in his sleep. And now? Now his son was assassinated.
The twelve year old king who knew little about being an actual king and wanted more to do with video games and colored pencils than anything, was dead. The greatest fears of the nation had been realized and now the guards took chase. They were after one person. That one person?
I sprinted from the castle while my lungs pressed against my ribs and my heart beat with every quickened step I took. I heard my horse nearby whinnie and buck with anticipation. She was ready to run with her stronger legs so that my weaker ones could rest, but it would not be that way.
As I reached for her saddle, a shotgun blast rang out and struck her backside. She fell over, eating the dirt and grass as her last meal before death glazed her eyes.
I couldn’t stay and mourn my lost friend, for if I did, I knew I would join her, so I resumed running. Rifle fire and shotguns attacked my back, teasing my nerves with their devilish touch. They didn’t dare touch me, for if they did, they could no longer have fun. Soon enough, I was in a clearing. A clearing that I knew well. I turned with my back to the crater, looking with dismay at the oncomers. They surrounded me with machine guns and blunderbusses.
“Any last words, king killer?” I heard one say. I said nothing, but instead fell backwards with my palms down, waiting to grab onto another saddle. This time, it was the saddle of a dragon.
The guards looked up into the sky in horror. Most ran, however some of them stayed behind to fire their rifles into my companion’s thick, scaly armor. Their effort was in vain, and the ones who fled were spared a fiery peril. The dragon, whom I’ve taken to calling Narasha, after my mother, growled lowly as I got off her back and entered the lair.
“I know, Nara. I’ll stop jumping off that cliff when it stops being fun, okay? Besides, you get to have some fun too, right?” She growled again in admittance. “I thought so.” I turned back around and entered the lair, grabbing a bottle of cola from my refrigerator and sitting down in a chair to relax. After all, the king was dead. There wasn’t much else to do after this point. I cleaned up any other witnesses who saw my face before I left. I took a gulp of my cola. I was golden.
The TV buzzed and hummed, receiving the kingdom’s official broadcasting signal. Their news channel was the only thing worth watching, as it kept me up to date on what I’d need to do to stay alive and hidden. After my attempt on King Thuror IV’s life, I was captured and tortured until a friend of my mother’s broke me out. Soon enough, after helping me find my way, and passing down my mother’s cave lair to me, she allowed herself to be captured and executed for treason in my place.
“I won’t forget everything you’ve done for me.” I told her on the night before her execution.
“Promise me that you won’t let my gifts go to waste. When this old fool is dead, kill the next one. And after that, make sure that no kings ever return to this kingdom.” She demanded before she succumbed to exhaustion.
I’ve always gone over that scene in my head right before I slept. It always reminded me of where I was and how far I’ve come from being a simple street rat, stealing a loaf of bread for the day’s singular meal. I swore that I’d never let her friendship and loyalty go to waste.
I took five sleeping tablets and left the TV running for background noise and I soon drifted into a peaceful rest.
Flashes of red, silver and loud screams quickly being deafened awoke me. It was another night terror. The same one I’d had for months. Flashbacks to my mother’s execution when I was 6. King Thuror IV wanted her dead for treason. I wanted him dead for murder.
The news was still on and now instead of “King Thuror V Killed!” on the headline, it read “10 Ways to clean your kitchen with manure!” It might as well have said that, anyway. No one would have paid attention if it had been anything normal, like “clean your kitchen with a mop like a sensible human!” I took the filled, warm coffee pot and poured myself a cup of black sludge before I pulled on my clothes and walked up the steps to my house from beneath it.
My work was monotonous. Click this, type this referral, fax this to the castle, fax this to the other side of the building, print this, blah blah blah. It was beyond boring work. My “friends” didn’t make it much better. My friend, Marriette works in IT and often comes by to check on me.
“Hey! How’s the work coming?” She asked, smiling a bright smile, outlined by her bold lipstick choice of the day.
“It’s coming.” I said in a low tone, indicating that my mood wasn’t the best. When is my mood any good, anyway?
“Did you hear about King Thuror V?”
“No, what happened? Did he not wet the bed last night?”
“No, he was murdered!” I tried to look shocked, and apparently it worked, because Marriette elaborated. “They found him in his bed with his throat slit open!”
“Who would have done such a thing?” I asked with fake surprise.
“I don’t know, but I doubt they’ll catch whoever did it… They say that anyone who could have been a witness is dead.” I sighed. Thankfully, Marriette took this as a sign to catch a water break, relieving me from reliving the events of the previous night.
My workday continued as usual. Once I got off of work, I knew I needed a new gallon of milk. The other one was spoilt, and ruining the smell of the apartment. My cashier, another “friend” named Josh who had an obvious crush on me, rang up my few groceries and tried to flirt with me. I wasn’t interested.
All in all, a normal Monday.
The sky was still a dull and boring grey, however streaks of sun tried to poke through the shield, to remind everyone that it was okay to be happy. However, the clouds would have none of it, and they quickly shut the blasphemous sun up with their tears and roars.
I walked into my house just as the rain began to begin pouring onto my street. Putting away the milk, eggs and various foodstuffs, I turned on the TV to make noise, so anyone who came by knew I was home, and I touched the button that unlatched the secret entrance to my lair. I walked down the stairs and went to pet Nara. She wasn’t at her spot however, and so I called for her. Nara came back after a minute of letting me watch her swoop around in the cooling rain.
She flopped back into the lair and shook herself as dry as she could. I pet her and smiled at her, giving her another whole turkey for her snack.
“You sure are one special dragon, aren’t you girl?” She grumbled with her eyes closed, like a cat purring. Only she wasn’t a cat. She was a dragon. And she wasn’t purring. She was grumbling.
I turned around and met the shocked expression of Marriette. Apparently the sign “do not enter” on my front door doesn’t apply when you’re a complete snowcone.
“D-D-D-” She almost screamed. I ran to her, ready to silence her for good with my switchblade, but she ran up the stairs before I reached her. She cried out, “Guards! Guards! I found the killer! It’s…”
I scrambled to hit the lever that hid the entrance to my lair. Running and almost tripping down the steps, I grabbed my weapons and what clothes I could and I saddled Nara. She let out a confused growl, wondering why we were leaving in such a hurry.
“Nara, there are bad people after us and I don’t want you to get hurt. Now fly!” Nara took a second to breath a single, solitary spout of fire at the guards racing down the steps before she took off from our lair for good.
We flew away for what felt like hours until a clearing gave us a place to sleep for the night. I no longer had her whole turkeys, but Nara made do with a few wild antelope. Myself on the other hand? I was starving. I actually hadn’t eaten in a few days and my stomach growling notified me of this fact. Nara took it upon herself to go hunting for me, which she did so in bringing back a small rabbit… that was charred and black. I thanked Nara and let her sleep before I ate at the gristly meat.
I laid down to try and sleep for a few hours, using my coat and shirt as a blanket and pillow, leaving my bra as my only source of warmth against the cold night. I crawled under Nara to resolve this issue and for the first night in the past few months, I had no night terror. Instead, I had a dream about the kingdom crumbling under the weight of it’s own oppression while the elders fought over who should be king. After all, a twelve year old boy isn’t old enough to have descendants, so this left no heir.
When I awoke and Nara took flight again, I saw the city I knew in the far distance being licked with flame and explosion. Overhead, I heard helicopters flying from the nearby nations going to either help or hinder the crumbling monarchy. I didn’t care which. All I cared about was crossing the border to the next nation. There, I’d be seen as a refugee, trying to escape the anarchy.
I had a realization… I nearly cried there on the back of Nara. My heart sank and felt like it was bleeding. Nara was confused as to what suddenly made me feel like this, but I couldn’t tell her. The pain was too great to share.
We flew for another five hours before setting down again for a break. I contemplated how I’d do it. Making it across the border would be difficult unless I did, but I knew I had to if I was to survive. I took out my phone and walked over to Nara.
“Hey Nara, wanna take a selfie with me before we reach freedom?” She chirped like a bird would. Only she wasn’t a bird. She was a dragon. I took the picture and gave Nara a big hug before almost breaking down into tears again. She growled in concern and I just looked up with a fake smile. “We’re almost there, Nara. Aren’t you excited too?” Nara nodded.
I climbed back onto her back and we flew away again before night fell.
As the sun was setting, we landed yet again. We were about a half-mile out from the border. There were soldiers standing by, ready to aid any refugees. But I almost couldn’t bring myself to do it… I couldn’t walk across that line with a healthy conscience, but I wouldn’t even get to walk if I didn’t. I gave Nara a big hug and said, “Nara… I love you. I’m sorry.” I stabbed her throat with a hypodermic syringe, strong enough to pierce her skin, filled with a concoction strong enough to put her to sleep for good. She whined and groaned for ten minutes. It was the most agonizing, painful ten minutes of my life.
“Nara, I can’t tell you how hard this was for me.. But I can’t take you across that line…” She nodded in understanding. She was smart like that. “I can’t hide you the way I could in the kingdom…” She nodded again. “And I can’t just let you roam, because I don’t think anyone could or even would take care of you…” She nodded. “And if you went wild, hunters would kill you in a worse way that I have…” She nodded. Her eyes slowly drooped closed. Her breathing slowed and soon stopped. I cried.
I could mourn this friend. At least for a while. I knew I’d have to get moving soon, so I tore a scale from her hid and put it in my pocket before trudging off to the border. There, I knew I’d be patted down, my weapons would be confiscated and I’d be allowed entry into the country. I made it. I was free at last.