The castle walls were weeping.
From the gaps and spaces between the stones, a thick, red substance oozed out of the mortar. It dripped like maple syrup trickling down a tree. Slowly, now, as it was winter, and even the air on the inside of the tower was chilly.
He was fairly certain that the walls bled on the outside, too, but he couldn’t be sure. He had not been outside in…
How long had he been here, in this imprisonment? He could not remember a time before.
His whole life consisted of this room, with its walls of dark bricks and red goo.
It was sticky and viscous, rather like molasses. In the summer time, it had a strong smell, a bit like sweat. In the winter months, though, it was relatively odorless.
He sighed, slumping down onto his large, comfortable bed. It was all he did, really. Sleep. Often for months at a time, though the only reason he knew that was because the season would be different when he’d awaken, and the red goo’s consistency would reflect the shift in temperature.
He might just stay asleep, if he could. His life outside of his dreams was monotonous and dull.
Well…except for the few times when the dragon would scale the tower and watch him through the one, tiny window that was too small for him to fit through.
The creature usually remained on the ground, curling its long, scaly body around the perimeter of the tower, greedily guarding its castle and the treasure within.
He must have been someone important, before he was brought here, in order to have caught the attention of a covetous dragon. But he wasn’t certain of who, exactly, he had been. No matter how hard he tried to remember, no matter how desperately he would focus his attention on conjuring up some kind of memory, he could not do it. Every time he thought he may be on the precipice of unearthing some telling recollection, he would suddenly grow very tired and be lost to slumber before it came to him.
Which was also what happened whenever he tried to think of ways to escape, of course.
It must be this fortress, he’d concluded one day. These leaking walls must be enchanted, making me sleep all the time and never need to eat, constantly fogging my mind and blurring my memories.
He did recall things such as larger concepts and ideas, though. He remembered stories of magical entities and their supernatural abilities, and that dragons, in particular, were especially dangerous. Massive creatures that sought out rare and beautiful things, stealing the world’s most prized possessions and hiding them away in their lairs. Usually it was literal treasure, gold and gems and glittering jewelry. Sometimes they would take antiques, priceless artifacts or irreplaceable texts.
Occasionally, a person.
But that was, supposedly, a rare occurrence, and so he must have been someone very significant indeed to find himself here.
But his name, his home, everything about himself from before his within these weeping walls… He wasn’t sure. He couldn’t remember any of that.
Vaguely, he wondered if someone would come to save him. A knight on a white stead, perhaps, to slay the beast and set him free. He scoffed. It seemed unlikely. If his hazy recollections on such stories were accurate, it was usually the damsels in distress who the valiant knights went to rescue, not princes. If he was a prince, even. He had no idea.
Perhaps he wasn’t anything special at all, and this dragon just happened to be insane. Maybe that was the only reason he had been taken in the first place, because his captor was a scaly, psychotic loon.
The hairs on his entire body stood on end.
The dragon had slithered its way up to him, as it sometimes did when he was awake, interrupting his internal dialogue as though it had been privy to it. Too giant by far to fit inside of the tower it had made for its prisoner, the creature peered in through the window, its glowing eye as vibrant and red as a harvest moon.
The captive shuddered, jumping off the bed and backing away as far as he could until he was up against the wall, his clothes becoming stained with that strange, gooey substance. The dragon pulled its head far enough away so that he could see its entire face.
The monster was terrifying in every sense of the word, but it was also…strikingly beautiful. It was giant, its long, sinewy body covered in glistening scales that shone like polished onyx. It had wings, but he had never seen them stretched wide in flight. The dragon typically climbed the bleeding walls when it felt like watching him by coiling its body around the tower and using its talons, instead.
Its eyes were easily its most mesmerizing feature, though. Dragons could enthrall their prey with a glance, could make them feel irrationally calm and at ease when trapped in their gaze.
It was doing it to him, now. The fear that had shot up the prisoner’s spine like lightning a moment before slipped away, and he felt oddly affectionate of this fascinating entity…
No, monster, beast, captor. He shook his head, breaking eye contact with it and swearing. The dragon made a rumbling sound deep in its throat that sounded suspiciously like laughter.
“Who was I?” he asked, annoyed. “What was I, to make you want to lock me up, here? To not even want me to be able to remember?”
The dragon’s jaw opened slightly, revealing just enough of its pointed teeth to make him recoil in fear again. But it wasn’t snarling or threatening him, no—it was smirking.
…A scaly, psychotic loon, for sure.
“Lovely treasure…beautiful prize…”
He sighed. It was useless, trying to get this thing to answer his questions. ‘Treasure’, or some variation of the term, was all it ever said. Maybe dragons were just stupider than he’d thought, and they couldn’t say much. Or maybe it was just this one, in particular, and he was just that lucky, to have been kidnapped by the world’s most infuriating beast with abysmal conversational skills.
The dragon laughed again. He glowered at it—but only briefly, before it could attempt to mess with his mind any more than it already had.
It lowered its head, about to make its descent down towards the ground so that it could resume its ever vigilant guarding of its fortress. But then it paused, and though he could no longer see it, the dragon’s low, rumbling voice carried in through the window.
“You were a God,” it purred, sounding unnervingly pleased at having acquired such a trophy.
It then clamored down the wall, making very little noise as it went. The unfortunate captive was once more left alone with his bewildered thoughts and burning curiosity.