Once again Zachary awoke on a muddy slope. Of course he couldn't really call it waking up since this was in fact a dream. It was the same dream he had been having every night for longer than he cared to remember.
He was on a slippery slope above a gaping crevice. He did not know how he came to be there, he did not know what lay in the open wound in the ground below him, all he knew was that if he couldn't claw his up to the top of the slope he was going to die.
Of course this was easier said than done. It was dark, it was cold, he was soaked through, and the earth beneath his tenuous grip was quickly turning to mud. He could barely move and it was almost impossible to think over the sound of the storm above him.
"Let go!" Somehow Rufu's voice carried over the thunder and the rain. Zachary gritted his teeth and continued his ascent. How did Rufus get here?
"I said let go Zachary!" There it was again. Zachary couldn't believe it but Rufus' voice rang out with impossible clarity. Zachary couldn’t tell where it was coming from but he knew it was from somewhere below him.
"Zachary, you are going to be alright, you just need to listen damnit!". A bitter laugh caught in Zachary's throat. As if were as easy as that. Rufus was making another one of his assumptions. Rufus was making more and more assumptions these days. It was the only thing that Zachary truly hated about him. Of course there was some truth to his words, after struggling on this blasted slope for so long maybe it would be easier to let go and take the risk of discovering what lay below him.
"Don't listen to him" the sound of another voice broke Zachary's train of thought. He looked up, and although he could barely see he was able to make out the figure of Queen Reine. Somehow he could see her face. She wore the same expression she wore when she first commanded him to enforce the curfew. It was an expression that would forever be etched into Zachary's memory. It was a look of hatred, of someone who felt betrayed. It was the look of someone who had been hurt and decided that they were about to start hurting back.
"You can make it to the top" she told him "you know what you have to do".
"Don't listen to her"" something in Rufus' voice made Zachary pause. Was... was Rufus actually pleading him with him? "it isn't worth what you will lose".
"I command you to pull yourself up this instant" Queen Reine snarled down at him. Zachary chuckled. She may be the Queen but Rufus was his brother, there was a trust that came with such a bond that someone like Queen Reine just couldn't compete with. Zachary knew what he had to do. He was going to let go.
"Zachary" Zachary froze. It was Sverrin. His voice was both honey and vinegar to Zachary's ears. He lifted its heart and yet it pierced it. It was the one thing that Zachary wanted to hear more than anything in the world. In the back of his mind Zachary was aware that Rufus was still shouting, begging him to let go but he was no longer listening. His muscles no longer ached, his body was no longer cold or sore. In an instant Zachary changed into his dragon form and thrust himself into the air. The ground beneath him shook and his body pulsed with power. The rain got worse but Zachary soared through the sky against it.
With a mighty roar he let out burst over fire, followed by another, and another. He landed next to his prince and bowed his head.
"My good and faithful servant" Sverrin smiled, but something was off. It wasn't his smile. It was like someone took the spark out of Sverinn's eyes and the life of out his face, leaving only an imitation behind.
It was at this moment that Zachary would always wake up in a cold sweat. Zachary was infuriated by this dream. It wasn't first nightmare but none of them bothered him like this one did. He wasn't even sure why he was calling it a nightmare. He managed to avoid falling, no matter what Rufus said that was clearly a victory on his part. And he got to see Sverrin again. But why did something that should fill him with such joy, make him feel such dread?