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Part 1 Edit

Night settled quietly over the ruins of the dungeon, and not a breeze stirred the dry, stubby grass poking stiffly out from the snow. The heavy folds of the tent hung motionless around the wounded rebels lying in the infirmary. Everyone lay sound asleep in their cots–except for the third-to-last occupant on the right. Treepelt convulsed gently in her sleep, twitching and frowning slightly. The tip of her tail, which hung off the side of the cot, swung back and forth.

Tree inhaled sharply and started awake, eyes flickering over the dark tent and chest heaving. Wincing, she sat upright and pressed her hands into her eyes, rubbing them and then running her hands through her disheveled hair. Her fingers rubbed her cheek lightly as she looked around blearily. One more death-defying accident. One more set of nightmares to add to the rotation. At least her mind was creative, she thought sarcastically. No way she could be bored now.

Her gaze fell on the cot across from her and a lump grew in her throat. A cut of moonlight fell across the occupant’s face, revealing his pale, blissfully calm expression and bandaged head. Vox looked so tired, so peaceful. One of his hands rested on his stomach, the other lay palm-up next to him, and she watched his chest rise and fall, rise and fall. Tree sadly watched him for a few minutes, soaking in the vision of his striking features, plain to anyone else, but the entire beautiful world to her.

Tree shook her head and lay down once more, staring at the draping cloth ceiling, but it soon became apparent that sleep would evade her. Sighing she swung her legs out of bed and slid out of her blankets, padding silently to Vox’s cot, lifting up the sheets and climbing in next to him. Vox’s eyes cracked open and the corner of his mouth lifted in a sleepy smile as he shifted to let her slip in beside him. He helped her pull the blanket over her shoulders and she snuggled closer to him, exhaling and pressing her face into his warm chest. His hand stroked her head, scratching behind her ears gently and she relaxed, closing her eyes. They didn’t say anything, just lay close together until Tree was the first to fade away, her soulmate’s presence surrounding her and his beating heart lulling her into slumber.

Part 2 Edit

[WARNING: CREEPY DEAD THINGS]

Scorch withdrew his head from the slit in the tent and slid back through the darkness, eyes narrowed and mind racing. That Thor-forsaken human again. The process of removing prisoners’ memories must have been more complete than he’d previously thought. He didn’t understand. She’d been caught up in the same anti-human fervor as the rest of them. And here she was, obviously and deeply in love with the boy.

This is not right. He passed the half-breeds’ corner of the crumbling dungeon where snapped a small campfire, surrounded by sleeping figures. Bjorn lifted his head and snorted questioningly, but the half-dragon ignored him and trudged past, back into the crumbling remains of the halls to investigate. This is not right.

The hallways were dark; Scorch opened his throat and created a pocket of flame inside of his mouth that emitted a strong orange glow. He stalked among the fallen walls, climbing over the frost-ridden piles of stones. The further he traveled, the more intact the dungeon became and he began remembering the story that Treepelt had tripped and mumbled over in their journey back home.

“When I got caught, I was angry. I was furious. I wanted to…kill someone.”

Rounding the corner, Scorch came across a cell with its door utterly destroyed and tossed to the side. The curls of twisted, tortured metal chilled his feet as he cautiously approached. There were claw marks around the doorway. He stepped through and lifted his head, casting the light over the cell. Half the room was covered in clawed scratches; the other half was relatively untouched. There were dark lines and spots of dried blood tracing the clawmarks and splattered on the floor.

“Vox stayed in the cell with me. It got harder and harder to talk to him.”

Something was carved on the blank wall. Scorch lowered his head, bringing the light closer, and saw the roughly carved words days since I touched her followed by a series of tally marks.

I I I I I

I I I I I I I I I

I I

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

In the last set there were too many to count, and they were not crossed out.

Scorch moved on.

The clawmarks continued down the corridor, along with many burn marks and broken-open cells. “They escaped one day.” The cries of the rebels seemed to echo down the dungeon, clashing metal ringing across the stone, pounding footsteps under his talons. He increased the fire hissing between his teeth and the ceiling came into view. A few bats squealed at the light and spiraled away. A column had fallen across the room he now emerged into, and he exhaled sharply through his nostrils at the sight of a skeletal arm and a boot emerging from under the crushing weight. Scorch turned away with difficulty. There were several other piles of bones around the large main room, along with splinters of shattered wood and twisted iron bars. At one point the place had been surrounded by thirty or forty cell doors but most of them had been destroyed.

“Rage. I just felt pure rage. She was beyond furious.”

In the very center of the room was a massive, crude stone figure in the shape of a snarling, nameless beast, easily ten feet tall. It was haphazardly cracked down the center and appeared to be hollow, as though whatever was sealed inside of it had broken out. There was a thick iron collar around its neck, secured to the ground with chains thicker than his forearm.

“I couldn’t think.”

At the feet of the beast were the remnants of what might have been plates and utensils, old bones, as though someone regularly lived and nourished themselves there. He got closer and saw a few long, dusty, orange cat hairs scattered over the steps.

“I couldn’t speak.”

There was a slight noise from one of the halls. Scorch froze, the fire going out instantly. He held his tail in the air, quivering, not daring to move.

“She had me. I was hers.”

He took a few tentative steps forward when nothing stirred, around the golem, into the gaping dark cave, eyes wide to seek any light that drifted in from the cracks in the walls.

“And now…”

There was something else on the floor. One paw after another, he approached, heart thrumming within him. He grew brave enough to spark a small flame and peered at the form. He gasped. His stomach turned, the fire went out but it was too late, the image was burned sharply into his mind. Scorch turned tail and ran, not caring if he drew the attention of whatever malevolent presence had been lurking in the dark, he just needed to leave, he needed to get as far away from the corpse with hollow, dead eyes, dead for a long, long time, but recently enough that the dragonskin left from the dead Night Fury half-breed still lay scattered across empty ribs and littered over the peeling, graying dead tail.

“She’s back. And I don’t know what to do.”

We need to stop her…before this happens again.

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