The breath was warm, billowing out through the hallway, carrying the scent of smoke and incense and secrets. It washed over the intruders with the promise of a shroud, and curled around them with a lover’s grace.
Invisible and yet as weighty as a slap, the breath was accompanied by a low rumbling sound. It was itself somewhere between the rush of the wind and the snarl of a tiger – low and drawn out, full of menace and majesty.
The exhalation ceased, and in the silence the would-be thieves stopped their advance and looked each to the other. The strong men looked at their cracksman. The cracksman at their wise man, the wise man at their priest.
Then there was another noise, a great rushing of an inhalation that pulled the breath back down the hallway, and tugged the intruders’ clothes with it to flap in the strengthening wind. The same thought came to each of them in the same moment.
Without pause, they turned and ran, back towards the castle entrance and the woods beyond. One of the strong men dropped his sword. The cracksman forgot his tools. Their footsteps remained as echoes longer than they did.
Back in the castle, the dragon put down her megaphone and chuckled. Interrupt her reading time would they? She picked up a delicate bell and rang it to summon her librarian.