Back at the Cat’s Tail, the Great Ones sat together below deck to discuss our next course of action. We debated a few options, knowing that all of them would lead to a fight with the dragon. If we tried to quickly fix Soul’s ship, we may get attacked during the repairs. If we fixed it and escaped the island, the dragon could attack us at sea while we have no cover. We could find the dragon and deliver the spell scroll – that which we collectively decided was what the dragon sought – and get ambushed by the dragon afterwards. No matter what we thought to do, it seemed that we would eventually need to defend ourselves. Dragons are unpredictable.
Part One: The Plan
Oromis thought of a different approach. What if we attacked first? He was a soldier, after all, and could think of a smart way for us to catch the dragon unawares. His plan seemed simple enough: give the dragon a fake scroll. While the dragon was inspecting it, we could surround it and take it down.
Petra could read and write Draconic, the language of that spell scroll, so Oromis had her start there. He gave her his quill and ink and she began transcribing the spell onto some old paper I had in my bag. Since this was not magical ink, the spell would not work and the dragon could not use it against us. Luna helped Petra with some of the markings while she worked.
While Petra worked on this, I asked Soul if we could lift the ship’s solitary cannon onto the deck in case the dragon appeared. The surprised look on Soul’s face hinted that Hebo had not warned Soul and his sisters like we asked him to, so Ezio and I explained the situation. Soul agreed and we lifted the cannon up to the deck. Soul quickly taught Eclipse and Hebo how to operate it before going back below deck to protect his sisters.
Back below deck, Oromis asked me to inscribe some magic into the ink to make it appear as if it was written with magical ink. The ink glistened in the light, but Luna suggested that it was still obviously fake. That would not matter, Oromis explained. While the dragon was reading it, we would already be in a position to attack.
Here was the plan:
- The Great Ones would ascend the mountain in the morning to meet the dragon, as per our agreement
- Oromis and Petra would approach the dragon initially, while Hebo and Ezio hid somewhere nearby. The rest of us would be not far off, but hopefully out of range of the dragon’s breath
- If the dragon asked about Hebo and Ezio, we would explain that Hebo – the weakest of our group – did not survive the horrors of the cave. Ezio, an assassin from Caladmein, abandoned us as soon as he could
- Oromis and Petra would deliver the scroll. While the dragon inspected it, Ezio and Hebo would attack from a distance.
- While the dragon is distracted by the attacks, we draw weapons and charge
This plan did not work. Not because of our lack of planning or preparation, but because of exactly what we initially feared: dragons are unpredictable.
Part Two: Emissaries
Before we could initiate the battle plan, we would rest for the night. The sun was fully down on the mysterious island and fighting the dragon at night would put us at a disadvantage. Eclipse, Hebo, Luna, Oromis, and Petra stood on the deck of the ship with the loaded cannon. They would watch the skies while Ezio and I headed for the tree line. From here we thought we could get an alternate line of sight if the dragon suddenly appeared.
After a few hours in the dark, I heard a magical message from Hebo, “Luna says that there are some things in the woods-”
I could not concentrate on listening to the rest of the message. A dart struck my shoulder, though it did not pierce my metal frame. I spun around, raising my thunder cannon but noticing Ezio not moving at all. A trio of Kobolds were behind us, one of which was holding Ezio in place with a spell. I shot at that one, turning it into an explosion of viscera. The larger Kobold charged at us and Ezio jumped to attack it. The other, a smaller Kobold, disappeared into a thick web of shadows.
Luna, having seen the Kobolds in the trees behind us, had already started blasting magic to defend us. Eclipse and Petra followed suit, though neither of them could see our attackers. Oromis leapt off the ship and charged straight into the woods. Hebo asked, “Um… what do… what do I do? I will stay with the cannon, I guess!”
Ezio and the larger Kobold fought back and forth against each other. I loaded another shell into my cannon and raised it, only to be stabbed through the chest with a long rapier. My vision blurred briefly as sparks and smoke shot from my chest. My attacker, the other Kobold, wrapped itself in a spell of darkness and I could no longer see it. Injured, I shot towards Ezio’s attacker again and retreated. Oromis passed me, glowing with white and red energy and growling, “WHERE IS IT?!” I weakly pointed in the direction before stumbling back to the ship. When I turned back, Oromis’s axe was stained with blood. With a swipe, Ezio removed the head of the last Kobold.
Hebo and Eclipse insisted that I climb back into the Cat’s Tail for repairs. They helped me up as Luna and Petra ran towards the dead Kobolds. Hebo and Eclipse helped piece me back together and cast some strange magic to close the wounds. Recovered, I sent a message to Ezio and asked if he was alright. “We’re okay,” he replied. “We’re looking at the bodies now, and-” but he stopped speaking.
Confused, I cast another message. “What is the matter?”
Ezio replied, “Petra says that Kobolds usually serve dragons.”
I turned to Eclipse and Hebo. “Is this cannon prepared to fire?” They both nodded. I stamped on the deck of the ship and shouted to Soul. “The dragon may be coming now. Prepare yourselves!”
When I turned back to the beach and the treeline, Ezio had vanished. Oromis and Petra were next to each other, speaking. Luna waved to me and pointed to the sky.
The dragon was coming.
Part Three: The Cannon
“Fear me, morsels! I am the Great Renshato, the Foul Spawn!” it bellowed as it descended.
Oromis waved to Renshato and Petra created some sparks of fire. The dragon gazed at us all for a moment, each in turn, before settling on Oromis and Petra. He landed on the beach and turned towards them.
“You’re not in the cave, I see,” said Renshato. “Did you already acquire what I want?”
Petra scoffed. “You told us we would meet on the top of that mountain. Wasn’t that our agreement?”
“The agreement is changed. I am here now, as are you. What trinkets do you bring to me?”
On the deck of the ship, I quietly spoke to Hebo. “If things do not go our way, send a message to our allies. We currently have the dragon surrounded. We move forward with the plan.”
Oromis approached Renshato. “It’s a scroll,” he said. “Written in dragon language. I don’t speak it, but the gnome here does. Says it might be what you’re looking for.”
Renshato’s eyes glittered for a moment and it made a strange growl that Petra said might have been a laugh. “Set it here at my feet.” Oromis complied, setting down the scroll.
Unfortunately, the dragon did not look at the scroll again. Instead, its eyes fell upon Flamebreaker, currently slung over Oromis’s back. “That axe,” he said. “You did not have that axe before, Dwarf. Where did you find it?”
Oromis stammered, caught off guard by the question. “The… the cave. There were some ghosts in there and they had this-”
“Give it to me,” growled Renshato. Oromis instinctively took a step back. “No, no, dwarf. Stay where you are. Drop the axe. I want it.”
“Now,” I said to Hebo. We sent the message to our allies. “It is time.”
Oromis suddenly laughed, unafraid. “You want this axe?” he said. “Very well, I’ll introduce you!”
He launched himself forward at the dragon. Renshato moved to dodge, but my cannon struck him in the back of the head and he crumbled to the ground, roaring in pain. Oromis leapt into the air and drove the axe down into Renshato’s shoulder. An arrow from Ezio’s hidden location struck the dragon in the face.
“The Great Ones are upon you, Renshato!” I shouted.
Perhaps Renshato did not expect this kind of attack from “morsels” as he considered us. He raised himself up and flew into the sky. Thick pools of blood stained the wet sand below. Petra began laughing, “Where are you going, O Great Renshato!” She began throwing blasts of fire into the air, driving the dragon towards the ship. It swooped towards me, Hebo, and Eclipse and breathed its poisonous breath. “Cover Hebo!” I ordered Eclipse, taking another shot at Renshato. Hebo, picking himself up from the attack, looked up at the dragon and mocked it, too, speaking something in his Goblin language. Renshato roared again, but weakly. Arrows from Oromis and Ezio began to pelt into his side.
Renshato landed on the ship, trying to take cover from the arrows. He turned to me, eager to strike. Before he could, Luna teleported onto the deck and stabbed Renshato in the jaw with Midsummer, throwing his head aside and dislodging a few of his sharp teeth. Eclipse conjured a magical claw in the air and began slashing at his wings. I set my dagger on fire and stabbed him in the belly.
Petra, still down on the beach, began laughing at the dragon. She translated the message for me later: “Poor Renshato! We are the Great Ones! Look at yourself! You are a disgrace to our kind!”
Renshato inhaled deeply and prepared another poisonous breath attack. As he inhaled, another arrow rammed into his throat. He caughted and hacked, unable to breathe. Renshato regarded us and knew that he would not survive against us any longer. Dragons are unpredictable, yes, but so are the Great Ones. With blood pouring from his injuries, Renshato fled. He flew up into the air away from us.
“The cannon!” shouted Oromis from the beach. “Nine! Ezio! Keep shooting! Petra, keep it busy!”
Ezio and I fired again, ripping scales from Renshato’s cowardly hide. Seeing the dragon’s direction, Petra summoned a ball of fire and sent it in front of Renshato. The injured dragon reacted by slowing down and dodging.
As he did, Eclipse aimed the cannon. Hebo flipped onto it, hands in the air, and shouted bad words in Goblin-tongue. He snapped his fingers, igniting the cannon. An explosive blast of gunpowder and smoke erupted from the cannon, but Hebo balanced and watched.
In the dark, we could barely make out the shape of the retreating dragon as the cannonball slammed into it. The dragon crashed into the woods. Soon after, the sounds came to us. We heard the sound of the dragon’s spine shattering from the cannonball, the sound of the crash into the trees and the splintering of wood. Through the trees, a faint, weak roar. And then, silence.
Part Four: Collection
“I killed a dragon!” exclaimed Hebo, jumping up and down and hugging Cloud and Gift. Soul seemed relieved, more than any of us. Oromis, chuckling to himself about how the plan did not work as intended, took me and Eclipse with him to gather the belongings of the dead Kobolds. Petra wanted to investigate the body of Renshato and took Luna and Eclipse with her.
Soul asked us what would happen now that the dragon was dead. We explained that we still needed to help him with the repairs to the ship. Now that the threat of a dragon attack was gone, finding materials in the woods likely would no longer be an issue. Of course, we would need to watch out for more Kobolds or other dangers, but things would be much easier without a dragon. Hebo, Spoink, Eclipse, Oromis, and I ventured into the woods to find our allies.
What we found was a mess, to put it lightly. The scene we found included Luna slicing off scales with a knife while Ezio and Petra argued about the dragon eye that Ezio failed to successfully remove from the body. The damaged eye oozed a strange, green mucus. Next to Ezio was the other eye, undamaged.
“What is going on here?” asked Eclipse. “What are you doing?”
Petra explained to us a number of things about dragon parts of which I did not fully understand. She told us that certain parts could be used for certain things, including creating materials, crafting equipment, or selling for profit. For a moment, I did not understand how she intended to carry all of these things until I noticed that she was mostly saying this information to me directly. It dawned on me that she intended to store all of these into my bag of holding. I uncomfortably allowed her to store one dragon eye, thirty pounds of dragon scales, Renshato’s horn, claws, teeth, wings, hide, the heart, the liver, the tongue, the gizzard, various tendons, and a large collection of bones. Hebo asked for someone to cut out the bladder for him because he wanted to use it for something. Finally, Oromis removed Renshato’s head and insides, collecting the skull itself as a trophy.
When we had finished our grisly work, we returned to the Cat’s Tail. I created an inventory of everything in my bag when Ezio, Oromis, Luna, and Hebo approached me with a piece of parchment. They each asked me, being the crafter of our group, to create some things for them. I supposed that would be fine considering it may still be a few days before we can repair Soul’s ship. I collected some wood from the forest, intent on creating a small forge in the morning. As I did, I saw Hebo writing on his own sheet of paper.
“Something else I can create for you?” I asked.
“No,” he replied. “I’m writing a song.”
Hebo’s music was always very pleasant to hear. “What’s the song called?”
Hebo stopped writing and turned to me, smiling with his sharp teeth. Not a mischievous smile, though. Hebo is always so sincere. “It’s a secret! I’ll tell you when it’s done.”
I would have smiled if I had a mouth.