"Did one of yours do this?" Dally whispered.
Baumbang shook his head. "No. My men are not that ruthless. Besides, they all went the opposite direction."
They both moved closer to the body. It looked as though it had been burned from the inside out. The midsection almost seemed to glow as if embers still burned in the torso. Baumbang let out a loud sigh and covered his mouth with his hand.
"What is it?" Dally asked. She moved closer to the body and knelt next to it. The woman's mask had been knocked off of her face, lying several feet from her body. Her face was frozen eternally in a look of pure terror and sadness. "What caused this?" She turned and looked at Baumbang.
"Prospero," he replied slowly. "The Red Death, they call him. A scarlet wyvern that causes a burning fever that brings almost instant death. But this," he said looking at his one-time rival, "makes no sense. Usually, it strikes wealthy politicians."
"You mean it selects its victims?" Dally asked. "No dragon that I've ever heard of is that deliberate. Not without human direction."
"Exactly," Baumbang replied. "But no one can figure out who would be able to control a dragon like that. I dare say, with no disrespect, that you would be able to do such a thing."
Dally snorted as she stood. "No, I dare say you are correct. Nor would I, just for the record."
Baumbang opened his mouth to reply, but the sound of four thuds on the pavement behind them made them both turn. Four of the dead woman's counterparts emerged from the shadows, and silently picked up her body. They jumped up onto the rooftop and disappeared without a word.
"Huh," Dally said. She turned to say something to Baumbang, but he was also gone. Dally sighed, and walked slowly out of the alley toward the street. As she exited the alley, she heard a low, menacing growl to her right. She slowly turned her head to see an armored red wyvern. The armored scales were outlined ornately in gold, and the rest of the body was covered with gold designs. Gold chains fastened to its jaws and connected to the armor on its neck. The tops of the wings were scarlet, and when it roared at her and spread its wings at her, the underneath was a web-like pattern that was the most beautiful that Dally had ever seen.
"Prospero," she said, no sign of fear in her voice. The dragon cocked its head, as if confused. "No, I am not afraid of you. I am not sick, so I am guessing you are not going to kill me." Prospero shook his head vehemently. "No? Well that's good," she said softly. She reached out to touch his muzzle, but a loud shriek from the sky spooked him and he flew off. Dally sighed and walked back to the inn.
"This place just keeps getting stranger," she said as she opened the door.