Cliven dove head first into a bush.
He heard snuffling nearby, the sound of a predator searching out its prey.
“Dear Lord,” Cliven prayed, “I know my pet dragon started this whole thing, but… Could you stop the zombies from eating my brain? Please?”
The snuffling stopped.
The zombocalypse didn’t.
Cliven followed the zombie dragon and the pudgy princess until they finally alighted on a rooftop.
“Nogard!” cried Cliven. “Come down! Please don’t hurt her!”
Nogard shook his head playfully, turned, and very gently nipped Emeldatine on the shoulder.
The princess started to cry.
Then she turned very, very pale.
“Bad Nogard!” cried Cliven. “Bad!”
The Veterinary Cleric writhed on the ground, clutching his charred intestines.
Perching in the shattered window frame, the little dragon licked its lips with a serpentine tongue, flames hissing through its dilated nostrils.
Cliven wagged his finger. “Do you want me to get the muzzle?”
“I won’t let you kill my dragon!” cried Cliven.
“He’ll become a zombie!” insisted the Veterinary Cleric. “Hundreds could die!”
“I don’t care!”
Nogard shuddered in Cliven’s arms. His eyes rolled backwards, and all his muscles went slack.
“No!” Cliven screamed. “Is he dead!?”
“Well,” said the Cleric, “kind of.”
“What’s Necromantic Fasciitism?” asked Cliven. “And how did Nogard get it?”
“It’s a terrible curse!” said the Veterinary Cleric. “It can’t be stopped! Over the next few days, this little guy will turn into…”
“Into… a zombie dragon,” said the Cleric, shuddering. “We have to kill him now!”
“See, Ma? Nogard’s got the mange!”
“You’re right, Cliven. Why didn’t I notice before? Dear, poor Nogard. You must itch something fierce!”
“What should we do, Ma?”
“We could treat it ourselves, but it looks pretty advanced. We should probably call the Veterinary Cleric. I’m pretty sure he treats dragons.”