Run



(Exile watched as Scarlet carried away the hapless prisoners through the air, still in his guise as a ten-year-old boy, a watermelon grin splitting his features. He walked off, whistling cheerfully. And then the whistling slowed as his face became more clouded. Exile felt watched. And watched by someone smiling. He rippled slightly before his demon form exploded out from within, scattering chunks of tender flesh, and roared. Impressive, admittedly. But it didn’t seem to work.)

Exile: WHO’S OUT THERE?!

(There was no reply, and the sense of the world smiling evilly grew. A chill wind kicked up.)

(Exile roared in frustration and growing worry. He spun and vented his anger by smashing a tree out of the way with one blow of his fist. The tree fell with an almighty crash, its canopy striking the ground like a wave. And revealing a slim, grinning figure watching with intense amusement from a bough behind it.)

(Exile leapt forward into the air, grabbing the figure and landing easily on the ground. He lifted the figure up to eye height and roared right into his face. The slim man’s face merely twisted into a deeper smile.)

(Exile grabbed one arm and twisted. A cacophony of cracks echoed sharply in the immediate forest as the man’s arm shattered and hung limp. The freezing wind gusted suddenly, Exile had a deep sinking feeling that that had been a mistake, and the man grinned. Exile suddenly realized the paralysing cold radiating out from the man that he had ignored because of anger, and dropped him. The grinning man landed lithely, completely ignoring his shattered arm.)

Exile: (breathes) Who ARE you?

(The man smiles even deeper, and the wind kicks up. Exile feels his body temperature being ripped away, and starts shivering. He hears a faint, whispering voice in his ear, saying -=I haaave noo naame, buuut the wwworrrllld caaallllssss mee Fffrrrossst…=- )

Exile: I have a powerful leader! You wouldn’t dare hurt me…

-=I caaare nnnothhinnng ffforrr you orrr you’re llleaders… Waaarrr innn Heavennn… Waaarrr in Helll… It doesnnn’t realllly mmmatter… The sssun willll stillll rrrise… The seasssonnns willl still turn… And there willl still be fffrrrossst…=-

(As if to emphasize this point, the slim man who hadn’t seemed to say a word tore off the damaged arm and dropped it, where it shattered to shards on the ground. The wind laughed in Exile’s ears, and the figures frigid blue, primeval eyes glittered like ice from before the world began.)

(Exile snapped, dove forward with desperation and punched the figure in the face. The slim man was neatly decapitated with a solid crunch, but the body didn’t fall, the hissing laughter didn’t stop. Exile blinked. There was no blood. With a hoarse cry he kicked the still standing body out of his way and ran. As he moved forward, he saw the severed head lying on its back on the now frozen ground, still smiling at him, blue eyes twinkling. Exile bent and snatched up the head.)

Exile: WHO ARE YOU?!

-=Rrruuunnn…=-

(A dry chuckle echoed in Exile’s ears…)

-=Rrruuunnn…=-

(Exile dropped the head and ran. The head shattered as it hit the ground into clean, clear shards, with one piece still watching Exile disappear from view with a flawless, frigid blue eye that twinkled with good humour…)

(Exile ran in blind panic through the forests, the disembodied laughter echoing in his ears. Adrenaline surged through his system, his heart pounded in his ears. He darted this way and that, occasionally smashing a tree out of his way rather than go around it, but he couldn’t escape the dry, cool, laughter echoing within his ears. Every now and then it would sound as though it was coming from a different direction, sending him stumbling off in blind panic once more. Finally he released a primal shriek of “GET OUT OF MY MIND!” and just RAN, not caring where, just as long as it was AWAY. The demon ran with long, loping strides, breath hissing between its teeth, arms pumping by its sides, and then slipped. Exile suddenly overbalanced and slipped over, striking his head with an audible *CRACK! * on the ice that he hadn’t seen. He lay there, stunned, on the frigid surface, the phrase ‘Blackcoldice…blackcoldice… blackcoldice…’ reverberating in his injured brain, as he lay on the black ice, waiting what was to come. His badly concussed mind registered movement above him, as a slim man smiled at him tenderly, watched with his cold, blue eyes, and moved on…)

(Scarlet hiked through the small townships and hamlets of the forest. She didn’t know what she was looking for, precisely, but was determined to find it. Her reptilian eyes glittered in grim glory as she thought of the target: Silveryn. It was REAL, and if it was real, it could be destroyed. She would go down in Dragon Lore for all time as the destroyer of the Lair of Unicorns, but there, her smile faltered. There was something else there, too. She was walking purposefully, actively SEEKING, her worst nightmare. She was destined to destroy Silveryn, of that she was sure. But what if it went wrong? Scarlet gasped and tried to press the image of her statue set in ice being gored to death by unicorns out of her mind. Scarlet looked grim and looked for an inn to try for the night. She paid her money, making special note that it wasn’t gold, and sat at a table, reflecting her thoughts. The accursed prophecy had practically predicted that Severen would wind up casting her down into her worst nightmare, which would translate to getting her killed at Silveryn. Again the image that Frost had engineered rose into her mind, but she was ready for it and forced it out.)

(Several tables away, a group of townspeople were gloomily discussing events.)

Stocky, bearded man: Ach, aye dinna like this. Th’ crops are ‘ardly ‘alf in, an’ theres a storm on th’ way!

Thinner man: Aye. Ye can smaile it.

(Another man nodded.)

Third man: Snow. And ye can well know wha’ tha’ means. Frost.

(Scarlet startled at the unexpected mention of the name. He was still out there, too, throwing an entirely new aspect of uncertainty into the picture. Scarlet bet with herself that he could be counted upon to show himself when least wanted. She stood purposefully and strode out of the inn, deciding that the faster she found Silveryn, the less time she gave Frost to cause her any grief.)

(As she walked away through the village square, an incredibly thin, wild eyed man dressed in rags broke away from someone holding him and ran towards her. She dropped into a defensive crouch but he merely put his hands on her shoulders and looked into her with desperate eyes, trying to get across a terrible message before it was too late.)

Wild eyed man: "No place to hide, no way to fight,
No victory in any sight.
No bones to break, no flesh to hack,
Frost. Is. Back."

(He spoke in rhyme, and his tone of voice was the most unsettling of all, speaking of horrors that no one else had seen, and with a dread, certain finality. Scarlet looked into his wild, crazed, tortured eyes with more sympathy than she had ever held for a human before, having partaken of some of what he had suffered. Two burly men dragged the insane sufferer away, one saying over his shoulder as they did,)

Burly man: Sorry about that miss, he was madded a few years ago out in the woods. He gets worse every year, we cannae kin how…

(The other man cried “Awa’ wi’ ye, Garald!” and clubbed him heavily with his fist as the madman tried to escape again. Scarlet watched this with something approaching sorrow, but sorrow for an animal rather than an equal. She raised a hand towards the whimpering madman and whispered, “Forget…” softly. Garald gasped and passed out, the two men picking up his arms and dragging him away towards a barn, muttering ill humouredly. Scarlet took a deep breath and steeled herself, despite feeling less and less certain of victory. Her jaw locked grimly. To a dragon, nothing is more precious than the sanctity of their minds, and it seemed that Frost had violated hers. She turned gently and looked at the village madman being taken away, part of his sufferings lifted, then turned back, the line of her jaw hard.)

(Yes, she had a bone to pick with Frost…)