Welcome to yet another edition of Story a Week. This week's story is clocking in at ~2400 words. I wasn't meaning for it to make up for last weeks shortfall in word count, but this one just flowed out of me in a matter of a couple of hours. I didn't know that it had gotten that long until I copied it into Word to spellcheck it.
It was nice to have the words flow like that again. The last story I had to fight hard to get out, but this one the words seemed to write themselves. As far as overall plot goes, I'm not sure how many stories are left before the conclusion, but we'll see. I hope that you all enjoy the ride.
Rixi saw Cuddlington tackle Melbrid as she dodged to a corner of the tunnel away from the opening to the dragon's lair. Meentha went the other way and Rixi couldn't see how she fared as she shielded her eyes from the heat and light of the dragon's fire. A short time later the fire dissipated and Rixi helped Melbrid and Cuddlington get up.
"Here's the plan," she said as Meentha rushed over to join them. "You three charge out and head left to distract the dragon. I'll try to stealthily go right to try and sneak up on the dragon. Cuddles, I need to know its weakness."
The dwarf bristled a little at the sound of the nickname he hated, but quickly calmed down. "Me god told me that there's a break in its armor where its legs meet its torso."
Rixi nodded with a big fierce smile on her face. "Good," she said. "I can get there without much trouble, but you three will be in grave danger. Please be careful."
They all nodded and without another word, Cuddlington let out a battle cry and charged out the door and broke for the left. Rixi heard the dragon roar and a couple of stomps as Meentha growled and, with her bow drawn, charged out firing arrows. Melbrid gave Rixi a weak smile as he walked out of the doorway chanting a spell.
Rixi took a moment to steady herself. She was trying to be calm and confident for her friends, but her heart was pounding and her hands were shaking. She slid over to the entrance and peeked out. The dragon had Cuddlington pinned in one corner of the large room, but Meentha and Melbrid were trying to get its attention so that it wouldn't try to take a large bite out of the dwarf. Rixi saw that this was her best chance to sneak out and she quietly crept out and to the right.
Rixi knew a little about dragons from her parents. They had come to Telquirk not long after it was founded and there was still a green dragon living in the forest nearby. Some of the townspeople banded together and eventually killed the dragon, but not before many of them died. As such, her parents told her that the chromatic dragons, such as the green and red variety, were smart and ruthless, but not any smarter than the average person. Rixi wasn't sure whether the dragon saw her in the tunnel or not, but it was likely to have forgotten or dismissed any sight of her when just three people came charging out of the tunnel.
That didn't mean that she could recklessly charge under the dragon and stab it in its belly though. Its tail was moving about and that thing could do some damage if she couldn't avoid it. She glanced over to the other side where the main battle was occurring and saw that Cuddlington had managed to get out of the corner and was trying to fend off the dragon in front of Meentha and Melbrid.
She saw that they had broken off many of the scales around the dragon's head and neck and she was happy to see that they were making progress. However, Rixi knew that the three of them wouldn't be able to hold the dragon off forever, so she had to hurry if she was going to have a positive effect on the outcome of this battle.
From behind the dragon, Rixi watched the tail and saw that it was moving predictably from side to side. Once she had the pattern down, she moved into position just out of reach of the tail. She watched it pass once, then twice, and then ran for the underside of the dragon. After five or six steps, she spotted some gore left from the dragon slaughtering the orcs. It was too late though and Rixi's right foot slipped in the gore and she fell. Luckily, the dragon didn't seem to notice her fall, but Rixi's ankle was sprained.
She was about to stand when the dragon's tail whipped by and almost struck her in the head. Rixi decided that it would probably be best if she crawled the rest of the way and carefully began crawling towards the underside of the dragon. She nearly got slapped by the dragon's tail a couple of times, but after a few moments, she was between the monster's hind legs.
Rixi checked on the progress of the main battle. She saw her three friends still standing, battling the dragon, but she also saw a whirling mass of air and dust and she remembered that Melbrid had a gem that could summon an air elemental. Things must not be going well if he'd had to do that. She must hurry to help her friends before they ran out of tricks.
Gingerly, Rixi stood up on her feet. Her ankle was in pain, but she could walk on it. She looked up to see the dragon's armored belly was right above her head. The armor here wasn't as heavy as on its back and tail, but she couldn't puncture it with her short swords or daggers. She drew her swords and cautiously approached the dragon's left hind leg. She immediately saw the break in the armor that Cuddlington was talking about and studied it for a second. She knew that once she stabbed the beast, it would know she was there and try to kill her. That either meant that it would simply lie down and crush her, or that it would try to strike her with its tail.
She thought a moment to come up with an escape route when an idea popped into her head. She smiled at the thought and steadied herself to stab into the dragon's leg. Quickly, she plunged her swords into the dragon's tender flesh two times and jumped out from under the dragon. She ignored the loud roar that the dragon let out and sheathed her swords. She saw that the dragon's head turned towards her as she quickly climbed the dragon's leg and got onto its back. She saw the dragon open its mouth wide to release its breath weapon. Rixi was shocked and didn't think that the dragon would do that to itself. Then she remembered something that her parents told her about dragons. They were almost always immune to their own breath weapons.
She had to think quickly and saw the dragon's wings up ahead of her. Her ankle was very painful, but she sprinted up to hide behind the wing as a gout of dragon fire reached her. As she had hoped, the wing blocked the fire from hurting her. The fire dissipated and she heard the dragon roar twice as loud as it had before. She fought to hold on as the dragon turned its body and head around. The head tried to reach her, but she was still protected by the wings from its gnashing mouth.
The dragon realized this pretty quickly and smiled wickedly at her as it said in the elven tongue, "I hope you can fly, elf."
Rixi didn't have long to wonder what that meant as the dragon jumped into the air and its wings started beating. She had trouble holding on as the muscles underneath the armor she was holding on to moved more and more. A few moments after the dragon started flying, her grip slipped and she desperately clung on with one hand. She saw that the scale she was gripping was starting to lift up so she quickly grabbed a short sword from its sheath and stabbed it under the scale. The dragon roared again and its left wing couldn't keep up with its right.
She smiled in triumph, but that smile was short lived as the scale that she was gripping slipped off of the dragon. She began to fall, and saw that the dragon was struggling to keep its height itself. Even though she knew that she was falling to her death, she smiled to herself, knowing that with the help she had given them, her friends would be able to defeat this dragon today.
Suddenly, her fall slowed to a stop and Rixi found herself floating about a foot above the ground. She looked upwards to where her friends were standing and saw Melbrid smiling at her through a look of concentration. Cuddlington yelled, "Get moving girlie or that dragon's gonna come down on top o' ye!"
Rixi got her feet on the ground and limped over behind Cuddlington. She turned just in time to see the dragon come crashing to the ground. A moment later, it tried to stand, but its left hind leg wouldn't support its weight. It roared and reared its head in the group’s direction. Cuddlington charged forward with a roar of his own and Meentha began to fire arrows into the bare spot of back where the scale that Rixi had torn loose had been. Melbrid pulled out the dark death ray wand and pointed it at the dragon's head. Rixi, a surge of pride and adrenaline rushing through her, pulled out her hand crossbow and began firing.
Melbrid yelled out, "Down, Cuddlington!" The dwarf threw himself to the ground as Melbrid yelled out the trigger word for the wand. The black ray of energy surged out of the wand and struck the dragon straight in the head. The dragon let out a final roar as its head staggered, then fell to the ground.
Cuddlington stood up and turned to Melbrid. "Nice shooting!" he shouted and let out a victory whoop.
Rixi put a hand on Melbrid's shoulder and smiled at him. Meentha walked over and examined the dragon's body. "It's still alive," she said. "Barrely, but it’s still breathing."
Melbrid smiled back at Rixi before moving over to where Meentha was standing. "Dragons are powerful creatures and this one is no exception. I'm not terribly surprised that it survived a Death Ray. It won't be awakening anytime soon to be sure. We should get out of here before it does." He turned away and took a couple of steps.
Cuddlington and Meentha looked at each other and Rixi noted a slight nod exchange between them. Cuddlington said, "Not so fast there, Melbrid. We need to finish off the dragon."
Melbrid turned back and said, "What? We defeated the dragon. We can move on without having to kill the creature."
Rixi saw Meentha and Cuddlington glance in her direction to see which side she was going to favor. Rixi decided to keep quiet and see how this discussion unfolded before she would chime in. Seeing as such, Cuddlington plodded on. "Melbrid, this is a chromatic dragon. Such creatures are widely known as incredibly evil beasts. All they do is eat, sleep and pillage. Do ye know what they eat, young sorcerer?"
Melbrid was obviously startled by Cuddlington's ferocity. He meekly said, "No, not really."
Meentha took this opportunity to chime in and said, "Everrything. Literrally everrything. People, livestock, buildings, animals, trees. They eat for days all the while looting whatever treasure they can get their claws on. When they've built up a large pile of treasure they use slave labor to bring it back to their lair, and then eat the slaves. After that, they sleep for a couple of hundred years and do it all again."
Cuddlington let out a short laugh that was anything but mirthful. "Yer lucky if they sleep that long. The young ones sleep for a year or two then do it all again. Their period of sleep increases as they age."
Melbrid gulped and stared at the dragon. Even though he was a smart man, he let his naiveté show through when he asked, "All dragons do that?"
Meentha and Cuddlington smiled. The dwarf opened his mouth to speak, but Rixi beat him to it. "No, my friend, not all dragons do that. There are good dragons in the world and there are neutral dragons in the world, though those are rare. The good dragons often hunt their evil cousins and keep the loot for themselves."
Cuddlington and Meentha looked startled and confused that Rixi knew that fact. Rixi smiled at being able to show her older friends a bit of her knowledge and past. "My parents helped fight the green dragon that terrorized Telquirk when the town was founded. I asked that same question to my parents when I was young."
Rixi looked towards Melbrid and saw that he was struggling with the decision. She moved over to him and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "It's alright, Melbrid. You don't even have to be around. One of us will take care of it."
The sorcerer took one last look at the unconscious dragon and solemnly nodded. He weakly smiled at Rixi and turned towards the tunnel and walked to it. Rixi turned back and looked a question at Meentha and Cuddlington. Without any hesitation, Meentha said, "I'll do it. You two may head to the tunnel."
Cuddlington nodded at the ranger and took Rixi's arm and guided her to the tunnel. As they walked, he quietly said, "Ye surprised me back there, young lass."
A smile as wide as Rixi's face showed as she said, "In a good way, I hope."
Cuddlington smiled too and said, "Yes, lass. In a good way."
Rixi took a step through the door to the tunnel and was startled as the tunnel transformed from the tunnel they had come out of to the dining room of the mansion that they had met Yif in. Melbrid was standing not far from where Rixi and Cuddlington came through. Rixi turned around and looked through the doorway they had come through and only saw the room beyond. "Where's Meentha? What just happened?"
She recognized the sound of Yif's voice as he said, "She'll be along momentarily. She just finished off the dragon for you all."