Medievia Mudslinger

November 19, 2000

To Slay the Dragon Zeksagmak - By Anthrop

"Come with me to slay the dragon!" the stranger shouted over the commotion of the city.

I had fled in near-blind panic from many dragons in my years of battle. I was a powerful cleric, and I knew of their superiority in battle. I wished all dragons dead. Yes, there are those considered "good" dragons, but they are all the same. They all have the same motive. Gold. Evil dragons kill you for it and "good" dragons help you for it, but their motives are the same. My brother was murdered by a dragon for the monster to rend a gold coin from his corpse and add it to his colossal mound of treasure. I used my powers to call for the aid of a cursed "good" dragon, but alas, it did not come. This because I did not have enough gold for it to consider helping me.

I loathe all dragons. May they be banished from existence.

"I will follow!" I shouted passionately. Other voices echoed mine; as dragons had plagued the land for thousands of years, those warriors, mages, clerics, and even thieves surrounding me were just as eager as I to rid the land of whatever dragon this stranger spoke.

Those who answered the call gathered shoulder-to-shoulder near the black portal of the city Medievia. No names were spoken, and none were asked. The stranger who led us was a short man clad in loose black robes that fluttered in the gusty breeze. The shadow of his hood shrouded his face in darkness, exposing only his mouth and chin to the light. Although his appearance irritated me, I said nothing. My concern was with the dragon, and not with the obnoxious apparel the stranger chose to wear.

When all that were coming had gathered at the city portal, our leader finally stepped through the portal and into nothingness. I was the first to follow, as I was the nearest to the portal. I stepped through, and the world dissipated into exotic ethereal clouds. A sense of weightlessness came over me, and the surrounding clouds engulfed me. As always, nausea found me on my trip through the astral plane. There was no indication that time passed, and whether five minutes went by, or five days, I do not know. The portal dumped me onto solid ground, and I nearly collapsed from the transition from nothingness to the burden of my weight. The man in darkness stood a small distance away, now wielding a dark wooden staff twice his height.

Staggering, I moved away from the portal to allow the others through, and counted those who followed to help myself maintain my balance. I lost count at ninety-three when a burly warrior collapsed from the portal, and threw up on the pink slippers of the stern mage beside him. There were many that followed from the portal.

My mind raced as I anticipated the impending doom of the dragon. I would finish it off! I would lay the final blow that would rid the land of the worthless dragon. My fingers dug into my palms. I did not know which dragon killed my brother, but I knew that today, through the death of this dragon, I would avenge my brother's death! A bitter tear tore itself from my right eye and moistened my cheek. Today I would avenge my brother.

Feelings of excitement and anticipation were palpable in our small army, as we stood crowding the small clan-town generally void of visitors. I saw it first. Off in the distance, a large black dragon was circling. "The Dragon! I shouted," alarming our group of its impending battle. The dragon came upon us swiftly. Upon landing, the dragon was marauded by invisible waves of energy, shards of ice, lightning, and fire summoned from the sky. The warriors never had a chance to attack it. I had lost my chance to consume it in demonfire. Shouts of joy rose up from the group. Most were boasting. Blood ran from my lip as I bit it to keep from screaming. I had not revenge.

"Silence!" shouted our short leader. "Silence!" The sounds of celebration quickly faded into silence." This is not what we have come for. This weakling came merely because it sensed your gold. Zeksagmak will not be so easy." Good. That would give me enough time to cast a few spells, hopefully the one that would be this Zeksagmak's doom.

In disgust, the stranger muttered a magical phrase and dense gray smoke welled up from his feet, enveloping him; he vanished with the dissipating fog. Moments later, small holes appeared in the air, and one by one those surrounding me began to disappear. In an instant, I was engulfed in blackness and when the surrounding area appeared I was standing next to our leader.

I was standing near the entrance to a dark cave. The ground I stood on was hard and barren, and the peaks of the mountains surrounding me rose above the clouds. The small town I had been in just moments before clung low to the side of a mountain to the west.

When the stranger had summoned the whole of our army, we entered what had appeared to be a cave but was really a furnace. A dragon! There must have been hordes of them! How else could the cave be so broiling hot!? This was insane! One dragon? Impossible!

But still we pressed forward. I was the last of our party to enter the cave. Through the passage of time, the heat became only more and more intense. The caves were narrow, and our army was forced to spread itself throughout the lair. Frequent stops were later explained by dark, moist blood spilt across the caverns. It stained the walls, puddled along the floor, caked my shoes, and the stench poisoned my lungs. The air was thick, moist, and hot, and though we moved, you would not notice by a glance, but by several seconds of careful observation.

Deep in the lair of the dragon, I came upon a massive cavern where the bulk of our army waged battle against a guardian of the lair. A mere dragon hatchling was testing the strength of our army, but doing so alarmingly well. As warriors hacked at it with their swords, and mages pounded it with massive shockwaves, gigantic fireballs flew into the chamber, devastating our army. The dragon hatchling horribly maimed those warriors fighting hand-to-hand with it, and I spent all my energy on healing those warriors before they could be killed. The hatchling fell to our strength, leaving many men crippled, and one dead. I withdrew the Gem of Souls from my pack, and summoned life from the gem into the body of the slain warrior. He gasped for breath, alive, but barely. Pearls and staffs, held and used by members of our army filled the room with blinding light, and brought many from near death to full health in a matter of moments. We pressed on.

We once again spread ourselves throughout the narrow lair. Fireballs now filled the air, and devastated our army. As we moved, I was forced to continuously heal myself and the others around me. To avoid heavy loss, we moved as fast as we possibly could - at a crawl. For four terribly long minutes, we moved through the fire toward the dragon that was tormenting us.

I felt a sudden rush of freedom, despite the unbearable heat when I stepped into a large cavern where the rest of our small army was waiting. There were no smiles. Our black clad leader, on seeing me enter began. "Zeksagmak is waiting in the next chamber. Be warned this will be a battle unlike any you have ever fought. We must charge into the room in which he awaits, and combine all our force at once." In the silence, swords were drawn.

"On three, charge. One. Two." I began summoning demonfire to consume the dragon. "THREE!!!" I charged into the soul of the dragon's lair, a room vacant of my companions, and full of burning corpses.

Fiery death consumed me.