The castle was remarkably clean and well lit for how uninhabited it seemed to be, but I didn’t have time to think about that right now.
“Princesssssss, where are you?”
Shit, it was getting closer. I wasn’t sure why it was hunting me, everything more than an hour before was fuzzy and hard to think about, I just knew I had to run, hide, find a way out of here. Maybe I’d hit my head on something while trying to run earlier? But in that case, why hadn’t it caught up with me earlier?
I crouched low to peek around a corner, before scampering carefully across the hallway. It didn’t sound like the beast’s voice had come from that direction, but I had to be sure. The halls gave every sound a weird echoing quality. I took cover behind a large arm chair in what seemed like a library to take a moment to try and still my breathing. Was it always so hot in the castle? I felt wet on my face and between my legs. Spying a small knife on a table nearby, I used it to cut a slit down the side of my skirt for easier movement and to try and cool down.
There was a sudden rumbling noise from the direction I had been running in, “there you are. Come just a little closer, princess.” I scrambled up and sprinted back the way I came and took a few more turns at random.
I was sure I’d lost it for the time being, but just then I let out an involuntary scream as I realized I’d turned into a room full of skeletons. I’d almost certainly alerted my pursuer, but I took another look. The skeletons were all silver plated. Servitors then. That explained why the castle was so clean, but they should have long since run down, unless the dragon was recharging them, but then why didn’t they ...
There was a faint puff of smoke and a mocking hiss from the hallway up ahead, “poor little girl, have I frightened you?” I quickly backtracked around the corner and pressed my back up against the wall, trying desperately to keep from crying out. The cool stone was a relief at least, why was I still sweating so much? My legs were slick and slid easily past each other as they trembled.
“You’re so easy to track princess, even before that little scare, such a delicious smell you leave behind.” The voice seemed to come from all around me now. “Does the chase excite you, little one? Think about how much better being caught will feel.” I could practically feel the thing’s breath. I spotted a large winding staircase and sprinted for it. I could hear the beast striding after me and I fell to all fours on the last few steps and dived under a long table and through a narrow doorway on the other side. There was a rush of air behind me as I barely dived away from the claws in time. I hoped it couldn’t follow. The room I was in seemed too narrow, so hopefully I had a moment to catch my breath.
I crept around, the rooms I was in, there were a number of long fireplaces with pots and pans hanging above, and tables laid out with knives and prepared food, I wondered who it was for. While the extravagance of the dishes matched what I knew of dragons, there didn’t seem nearly enough here to sate a beast’s appetite. Had it been ... was it planning to eat me? I whimpered at the thought, struck by sudden terror and ... something else I couldn’t place.
The beast couldn’t reach me here, but it might send the servitors to drag me out; I needed to find a way to escape the castle. I looked around carefully and checked all the exits, finding a small doorway with a window to the outdoors just a short dash across the hall. I took a few moments to find my nerves and ran with all my energy, shouldered my way through the door, and laughed in relief as I found myself in a moonlit garden just a few hundred feet from the treeline. I could see other lights just a short way into the forest. Just a little further!
There was the rushing sound of wings and before I had time to process what I heard I was knocked head over heels into the grass, a crodillian face loomed above me and leaned down to lick my neck.
I pushed against it ineffectually as I trembled under its claws. “Please don’t eat me!” I whimpered.
The beast chucked, its breath warm and wet against my face, “that’s not what you were saying last night.”
“I … what?”
“You look so delectable like this, little one, scared and aroused all at once, but I agreed I wouldn’t torment you too much. Remember for me, princess.”
I let out a long breath as everything came crashing back. Overlapping memories of the time we had spent together, the years in the castle, days spent flying, the night I had confessed my desires to her and asked her to hypnotize me, the first time we negotiated this scene, all the times before she had taken my memories so I could be chased while she stalked me, so she could pounce and I could be pounced. I reached up to pet her snout and kiss her nose. “Thank you, mistress.”
She gave me another lick all the way up my neck and under my jaw before lifting me up in her foreclaws, “that’s my good girl. Now, let’s get you in the castle before I eat you up.”
“Of course, mistress!”