Milo inhaled in big, gasping inhales, finally reaching the dragon’s back. He stood his full height, no longer hindered by the wound at his side – as, by miracle of his patron, it had healed. It was inherent to the nature of the Hidden Stone That Breaks All Hearts to endure.
The paladin stretched, balanced on the back of the largest creature this world has ever seen – pain, distant, echoing from the future, resonated in his muscles, crying out for protein and sugars and replenishment that had surely been depleted in this useless, impossible climb. But as Milo looked out over the landscape – from the leviathan which he stood, to the towering buildings crumbling and falling as they sank into nothing. To the purple miasma that painted the horizon in flourishes of violet cloud…chaotic and beautiful as that napalm scene in Apocalypse Now.
Ser Vox could not help but grin. The joy of this sight, its own reward.
Oh, the wonder.
He could tell that the day had been won, as Pyrrhic as it may be. His fight was over before it had begun. There was nothing he did, and nothing he could do.
But, yet…Look at all this. He took his time to.
From the periphery of his senses, he heard a faint crying. It was contagious, as it always was. Cathartic. Familiar. He had come to accept this as the way his god spoke to him; guided him.
A toppled building was raising to his 10 o’clock. It was within leaping distance, and soon, it would parallel.
Milo took a deep breath and launched himself forward, the rhythmic clink of his plate mail against his chainmail, his chainmail against itself, kept his pace for him as he took off in a dead sprint. Full speed, he made off down the dragon’s back, building momentum for what felt like half a mile, and soaring through the air.
His knees bent as he came down, landing on the stonework and leaning toward, but he hit running, continuing up the building’s side as he slowed himself to a walk, and then standstill, and then a careful sitting down, shaking loose some errant pieces of dragon scale that had crumbled off and fallen into his hood during the climb. He took a moment to catch his breath before he sat down to study them, fanning out the reasonably-sized pieces like a deck of cards and then back into a stack again.
The scene had begun to change as the dopamine wore off and the new reality began to settle in.
He had lost his lead. The people had lost their city, if not their lives.
And for what, exactly?
For Milo, the ordeal had occurred quite suddenly, quite arbitrarily. That is for sure. But he couldn’t imagine it making all that much sense for anyone else, either.
What was any of this?
Just colorful, destructive noise.
Milo shuffled his newly-acquired scales, repeating this absently, as he watched the dragon sink down into its abyss, escaping without consequence or responsibility the mess of which it would burden the world.