Days of Nano Past
...in honor of Nano this year, he’s a clip from last year’s Nano, about an attack by an undead dragon.
It took hours to fill them in on where he had been. He told them about the ball of foil, and the various scenes he had witnessed. Then, there was the Zen garden where Meroving had died, and after that, the separate garden that supposedly existed inside Trevor's head. He even told them the deep, dark secret that had so fooled the Necromancer.
"So, Meroving sent him on a wild goose chase," Lewis interjected.
"Exactly," Trevor agreed. "Meroving hoped it would keep him so busy hunting for a mythical item that he wouldn't have time for all the world-conquering stuff."
"You've learned a few mystical tricks, then?" Kiriana said with half a smile on her face.
"Oh, I'm looking forward to showing them to you," Trevor said.
"We're not going to have any time for that," Tesla said, his face serious.
"Why?" Dorian asked.
"Because the Necromancer is here," Tesla said, with a hard edge to his voice.
Across the room, standing exactly in Tesla's contemplation point at the plate-glass window, stood the Necromancer's puppet-figure. It was eight feet tall and appeared to be molded shadow, a cloak like dark mist hovering a few inches off the ground, eyes of fire blazing from the shadows of a hood that was itself shadow.
"Your time is up, boy," it said, in a voice from the grave. "You will bring it to me. NOW." The dark figure took a step towards the group.
Kiriana began chanting her defesive spells, and Tesla and Dorian both moved to interpose themselves between Trevor and the Necromancer, but Trevor shouldered his way between the two of them. He stood, thirty feet from the dark shadow that was the Necromancer's herald, and said simply, "No."
"You dare refuse me, child?" The shadow grew larger, nearly ten feet tall now, and the fires in the hood blazed white-hot. "There isn't an entity on this planet that would dare to challenge me. I could slay all of your defenders between blinks of your eyes. Do not defy me!"
"Of course I defy you!" Trevor shouted. "You're nothing, just a magical puppet sent out because you're too afraid to take us on yourself! If you had any guts at all, you'd be standing here in the flesh, challenging me to a duel in the aetherial instead of sending this stupid dime-store animated Halloween costume!"
Tesla, standing just slightly behind Trevor's left shoulder, muttered, "damn, I really hope you know what the hell you're doing..."
Trevor held up the crystal that had been Meroving's spell. "It's right here. In the words of 300, you want it? Come and take it."
The shadowy figure held up a finger, a long semitransparent digit that pointed at Trevor like an arrow of doom. "You...will die," the shadow said.
"You've been saying that for a long time, but I'm still standing right here," Trevor said.
The black shadow figure vanished, and they all started to breathe a sigh of relief. But barely a moment later, the plate-glass window smashed inward. Shards of bullet-proof glass scattered across the room, sending them all diving for cover. And from behind the glass, slithering its way into the room, coated with silvery shards of broken window, was an enormous black dragon's head, with one horn broken off, screaming in rage and fury.
Threosh circled the city, moving quickly, but he couldn't get a clear picture of where he was supposed to be. He had been charged with protecting the boy, but if the boy disappeared, how could he protect him then?
This task was getting harder by the moment.
He still had heard nothing through the aetherial from the other dragons, though that wasn't necessarily a bad sign. Elder dragons took forever to discuss and deliberate their plans; it sometimes took weeks for them to reach a consensus on what the best approach to a problem would be. Threosh, who was still centuries away from developing the exacting patience of an elder dragon, had to remind himself of that fact; he was fretting about word that may not come to him for days...perhaps even weeks.
Threosh was beginning to consider the various humans and beings he was forced to associate with as his friends, though, and he still couldn't understand why a friend would vanish like that. It left a very human hole in his draconic heart, and it was an unfamiliar pain to such a young being.
He went into a long, gentle arc, meaning to fly a third lap around the city. He knew Trevor was gone, probably to another realm; he had even considered the possibility that Trevor was dead, and his mission was an absolute failure. There was no way he was returning to the elders with that message, though, until he had seen Trevor's body for himself.
Would that be his curse, then, unable to return to the realm of his birth because he was unable to locate the body of the human he had been assigned to keep alive...?
Threosh wrinkled his nose in disgust. That scent--that horrific odor of diseased flesh, commingled with the stench of unbridled ambition and cruelty--that was the smell of the Necomancer. The monster was here, in the city. That meant that the humans and Tesla were under attack, and if the Necromancer was around, then...
...then Threosh heard the noise he had been dreading...the strangled, half-dead cry of a dragon that should have been laid to rest long ago.
The dragon rammed its entire head and neck into the museum, scattering heirlooms everywhere. Poisonous acid dripped from the burned patch on the side of its face; the Gutenberg bible caught a stray drizzle, and disappeared in a puff of flame and caustic smoke.
Lewis and Tina, both knowing they had no real chance, tried to dash for cover, but everywhere they ran, the dragon's thrashings threw wreckage in their path. Tina screamed as the Hammurabi tablets barely missed them.
Dorian leaped into action, jumping forward and striking the dragon across the snout with his practice sword. The blade shattered, and Dorian himself wound up being flung to the far end of the room when the dragon lunged at him in retaliation. The dead dragon screamed in pain and triumph.
But while Dorian had kept it occupied, Tesla had managed to unlock a specific cabinet. He pulled out a strange-looking firearm, sighted down the barrel, and fired. A net lashed forward, opened in flight, and wrapped itself around the monster's mouth. Several of the cables hooked over the dragon's horn. Mouth tied shut, the dragon growled, a deep-throated noise that would have terrified an enraged grizzly.
"That won't hold it long!" Tesla shouted. We need to do something!"
"I'm open to ideas!" Trevor shouted back. The dragon was lashing its head back and forth across the room, smashing more and more of the museum's exhibits into expensive fragments. Trevor caught sight of Kiriana launching a magical attack of some kind, but then dodging away from flying computer components, shattering her concentration and breaking the spell. He couldn't figure out how to attack it in the aetherial, either; his lessons with Meroving had not yet reached the point of dragging a being into the aetherial for combat, only defending oneself when they were pulled in.
The net snapped from the stress. The dragon opened its mouth, shrieked in triumph, and shoved a table off of Tina and Lewis. She screamed, he flinched and closed his eyes...
...and something small and greenish-brown latched onto the back of the dragon's neck.
Threosh followed the scent of the Necromancer all the way back to the god Tesla's home and museum.
There, he could see the dead dragon, claws hooked deeply into the facade of the building, head and neck buried to the shoulder through a hole in the wall. Threosh thought long and hard about what he needed to do, and as he reached the building, he came up with an answer. He stooped like a peregrine falcon, as fast as he could fly, trying to land his attack before his enemy could spot him.
But he couldn't do it. The soul-mind of the elder dragon spoke to him before he was halfway there. Little one, it said, I told you to run. Now I must slay you as well. The voice was morose, depressed beyond all measure, a mere passenger on a body that was no longer his to command.
Surprise lost, Threosh slowed down, rethinking his attack--and then hit on it. He redoubled his speed, diving between the dragon's slashing wings, and planted his claws deep in either side of the dragon's neck. Over the horns, he could just see the humans struggling to get out of the reach of the dragon, but it was no longer paying any attention to them; it was solely concerned with the interloper attached to the back of its head.
It lashed wildly to one side and the other, trying to flip him off. Threosh hung on, doggedly, refusing to allow himself to be thrown free. The dragon smashed Threosh against the ceiling, scattering light ceiling tiles all over the already wrecked museum, and still Threosh kept his grip, while cables and wires and bits of wreckage dangled from his wings.
I will get you eventually, the dragon's soul said to him. You cannot help me. I must do as my master commands.
No, Threosh answered. Your slavery is at an end, elder one. I will not allow the Necromancer to torture you any further.
Threosh allowed the flammable bile to lather up in his mouth, and mix with the acid-poison there. Without releasing his grip, he reared back, spat forward, and delivered a long, thin, napalm-stream of liquid fire directly to the hollow at the base of the dragon's skull. As it burned away the outer skin and the skull, Threosh fired again, and then again, though the heat and flames were beginning to recoil into his own face. Only when the dragon screamed in agony and began to thrash aimlessly did Threosh finally relent, and release his grip.
Threosh allowed himself to be flung across the museum, to safety; he rolled twice and came up beside Dorian, who was unconscious and lying still, body bent all in angles that did not appear to be natural for a human.
Thank you, little one, came the voice, one final, fading time.
The flame-poison had reached the brainstem, and severed the spinal cord. The dragon was losing all control of its extremities, and was thrashing about, slicing great rents of flesh out of the neck scraping against the sharp edges of the bullet-proof glass. Then, it lost it's grip on the wall of the building, and begain to slide backwards, out the hole. It thrashed sideways once, catching the neck against the edge of the window, slicing the head almost completely free; the half-decapitated head caught there, in the window, for a long moment, before the weight completed the task of breaking the window free. The dragon fell, and as it fell, the foul magic that had been keeping it alive and corporeal far past it's time began to fail. The fingers and toes began to crumble, to scatter into dust at the touch of the wind blasting by.
By the time the dragon had fallen twenty stories, the wings were gone. At forty, the ribs were visible. And at ground level, nothing remained, except a fine ash that smelled distinctly of gunpowder and brimstone, caught on the morning breeze and swept into drifts against the curbs and windshields of cars parked nearby.
Deep in his lair, the Necromancer screamed in rage and pain. Rage, because his best and most powerful weapon was now nothing but ashes in the wind, and pain, because he had invested a lot of power into animating that dragon, and its death was now causing a backlash effect that would have blown a lesser man into molecules.
But the Necromancer was no lesser man. He held his hands against his temples, as if keeping his head from exploding by sheer force of will.
They will pay, he screamed at the pain within his skull. Oh, yes, they will pay!