Wind, scented with death, ruffled his hair and fluttered his clothes. Hairs on the back of his neck stood up and his stomach tightened into a knot.
He wanted to run, to scream, to find somewhere to hide. But he couldn’t move.
His eyes locked on the living nightmare above, an enormous beast encased in black gleaming scales. It was a dragon, and it had just passed less than a hundred feet above, its black leathery wings spread wide like sails.
It headed towards the River Green and the festival tents. A dozen vultures followed in its wake.
Theo stood, paralyzed, as if the dragon might notice if he blinked. Then he shuddered and jerked about as if coming out of a deep freeze. “Ho-leee!” he gasped, gulping night air. “Oh, Gods, oh Gods, Ollie! Did you see that?”
“No,” said Ollie. “Let’s get out of here.”
Theo took a step forward, puzzled. “Ollie... What’s it doing?”
“Nothing good, don’t want to know, and neither do you,” said Ollie, ruffling his feathers. “Time to go, time to go, Theo.”
Theo stood transfixed, as white hot flame gushed from the dragon’s maw. It raked the top of the main tent, which rippled as flames danced over it.
A gash opened up, ringed with flame. Burning fragments of fabric detached and curled away on currents of superheated air.
The beast banked sharply, swooping low over the south tent. It stretched out its talons and slammed them into the top, knocking the support poles. The tent shuddered and partially collapsed. The dragon beat its wings and rose swiftly up into the night. It belched fire as it soared past the King’s dirigible, setting it alight. The stricken craft careened earthward, wreathed in flame.
“Holy fireballs!” shouted Theo.