The be-damned hound was still following him, right up until Richard closed the door of his room. To his surprise, she didn’t whine or bark. He wondered if he was going to end up tripping over her when he left his cramped room in the morning. He didn’t know if Rain had set the dog to trail after him or not, but couldn’t help to feel uneasy by the canine shadow.
He wasn’t sure if that was he own prudence speaking up or if he was over reacting. His whole body felt battered and his mind tender, as if it had been smashed in the face of his new reality.
Richard sighed and ran his hands through his hair, frowning.
But Lord, how he missed Anne. There had been many times in his life when Richard had no one by his side. When he and George had been sent away for their safety after their father was killed, Richard would sometimes ache from the crushing isolation that bore down on him. After George tried defecting to Warwick and Edward was bending over backwards to please the Woodvilles and his new wife, Richard had felt very alone in the London court. He hadn’t even had Lovell there.
Anne had often been able to sympathize with his feelings, having spent her own time away from her mother and sister, trapped with Henry and Margaret D’Anjou. Then again when George had trapped her, trying to steal her inheritance. Richard had known that with Anne by his side he would at least always have a steadfast companion, despite her sex.
But then after Ned and Anne had died, Richard knew that he’d lost his best connections to others and his isolation had been complete. Not even Catsby or Francis could ease the loneliness at the end. His solace had been in the thought that one day he’d meet them again in Heaven with the Lord.
Richard sat down on the bed very slowly.
But something had gone wrong, and now he was stuck here, still breathing, made up by some mad witch, and with Leonardo, the Italian who he couldn’t parse yet, and Robespierre who he already did not like. He scrubbed a hand over his face, the stubble of his beard scratching his palm.
He was beginning to tire, and very slowly laid down on the mattress, legs still hanging half off the bed. He closed his eyes and fell asleep almost at once.
Run faster, run faster, run faster. His heart was pounding and there was red blood splashed on his bristly white fur. He charged through the thick dark undergrowth, trees leering over and rose bush’s thorns adding to his scratches.
Behind Richard, he can hear the thunderous roars, the crackling of fire, and the hurricane like whooshes from wings. He was running like the wind, panting harshly, but he’s not going to be able to run forever. Even as the hunting beast bares down on him, Richard spun and instead charged fearlessly at his enemy.
Much larger than he, and filling the entire sky it seemed, was a red dragon, wings rending the stormy sky behind it. On it’s back was Henry Tudor, bearing a sword. Richard knew he could gore him, if only he can get close enough. He’s not afraid of a child, of a puffed-up traitor. He’s going to kill him and bring an end to all this suffering.
But it was never going to be enough, because even as he raced to his foe, the dragon reached down and snatched him off the ground, teeth tearing into his side. There was a disorienting moment before the dragon closed his mouth that Richard could see out, into the sky, but then the beast swallowed and Richard was dropped into darkness.
He landed, squealing in shock, anger, and pain, in the sick of the stomach. Bile engulfed him and Richard paddled furiously to stay afloat in the foul liquid.
Around him he could see the bones and tusks of his family. His father’s head, crowned in a ring of white roses and thorns, his brothers, Edmund, Edward, and George, and sister, Margret. His son, like him but in miniature, flesh melting off his bones and flesh seared red.
Anne, throat torn out and eyes closed, was bobbing in the red sludge. Richard paddled harder, but the thick liquid was wearing him down and he knew that soon he would not be able to hold himself up any longer. He moved over to where Anne was, and slowly allowed himself to stop swimming.
Richard woke with a start, painfully banging his foot off the metal frame of the bed. Curing, Richard rolled over and grabbed the injury. Thankfully the pain chased the worst of the fog of the night terror away. By the time the ankle stopped throbbing Richard had nearly gotten his heart beat under control.
He laid back down and clapped a hand over his eyes, frowning grimly.
In that moment, he was eight years old again, homesick and mourning his family all over again.