He ran, on and on into the endless night. He slapped the pine branches frantically away from his face, but to no avail. There was always another branch to take its place. The rain made the ground slick, and the clouds heavy with moisture clouded the bright moon above. Thunder sounded overhead.
On he ran.
Blood wiped off from his hands to the branches as he swatted blindly. Yet still his hands were stained. The rain intensified. His long, regal black cloak had been tattered and torn in his retreat. His boots had been sodden with the mixture of rain water and dry earth, making them crusted with an almost-dry mud.
On he ran.
His hair was matted and mixed with a thousand tiny twigs, and was soaked and dripping into his face. His blood-red eyes were feral, and his mouth was set in a grimace. His thoughts jumped around aimlessly, and he couldn’t think straight at all. His heart pounded loudly in his ears, furiously trying to keep up with his frantic pace.
On he ran.
Finally, his mind focused onto a thought and stayed there: the events prior to his blind flight into the wilderness.
He had been at home studying the writings of renowned sorcerer Drakül Hayanardrä when he received a visit from the Prime Minister’s messenger. He was to meet the Prime Minister himself within the hour for an audience about his exceptional skill. Flattered that the Prime Minister had chosen to see him that night, he immediately had donned his best cloak and boots, and had followed the messenger back to the palace.
He had been served a lavish dinner, with all the opulent trimmings one would expect at such a palace. The Prime Minister had been there, along with his three wives, idly making small talk with him about various goings-on in his country. But once the final course had been served, and the Prime Minister’s wives had been dismissed, he began to wonder why exactly it was he had been brought here in the first place. He had, after all, been studying the one who trained his master, and he was eager to resume his studies.
The Prime Minister looked him in the eye and asked, “Were you told why I have summoned you?”
“No, my lord,” he answered respectfully. “I was given no details; only that you wished to speak with me.”
The Prime Minister grunted and replied, “Good. Walk with me.” They rose and left the room.
The Prime Minister led him through myriad halls until finally coming to an ominous wooden door, held fast with many locks. “Once inside,” he said, “We shall get on to our business.” The guard unlocked the door and they walked inside.
It was darker than night inside, and he couldn’t see a thing. The door shut behind them, and he felt an urgent sense that something horrid was about to happen to him. The Prime Minister laughed and asked, “Are you wondering why I have brought you here?”
“Yes, my lord,” he replied. His sense of foreboding increased. He felt the Prime Minister’s cold, deadly hands wrap themselves around his neck.
“The Guild has charged me with the upkeep of this country. And I must fulfill my obligations.”
“But my lord,” he protested as the hands increased their grip on his neck, “What has that to do with me?”
“Everything,” the Prime Minister replied, suddenly crushing his windpipe. Without thinking, the incantation of protection leaped to his mind, and was spoken. Moments later, black lightning shot from his body into the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister shrieked in pain as his life was drained away and transferred from him. His hands withered to dust as his body crumpled and died.
With eyes redder than blood, he turned and saw the dead Prime Minister and laughed. He extended his fingers towards the body and said, “Àkthúväràn!” The blood drained from the body and flew into his open mouth and nose. He reveled in it as it made him stronger with every passing second.
He heard a banging at the door and realized the guards were fiercely trying to unlock the door. Enraged, he shouted, “Püýrõnž!” He immediately transformed into a creature found only in nightmares. His body was mist, blacker than the night sky, with giant leathery wings. His face was that of a giant bat, his teeth pure, razor-sharp steel. His wings unfurled as the last lock was unlatched.
He flew out of the door in rage, and the guards fell and beat themselves in fear. One guard, father down the hall, saw the commotion and panicked. He ran the other way, only to run into other guards on his way.
Together, these guards raised the full alarm. He knew he couldn’t win against the Prime Minister’s royal army. He flew out a nearby window and landed in the forest, assuming his normal form once his feet hit the ground. He fled into the forest.
On he ran.
He replayed the events over and over, realizing that killing the Prime Minister had not been the rational thing to do. He hadn’t even figured why the man wanted to kill him in the first place. He rebuked himself many times over for his glaringly arrogant oversight. But he couldn’t change it now. He had to keep moving, or the guards would surely find him.
On he ran.
Into the night.