And on and on we go. Will this game never end? Oh… The game ended and now we are into a battle with a dragon?!? A dragon!!! Well, this should be interesting!
The dragon bellowed, a sound of rage and contempt, so loudly that Plex felt like his ears were going to explode. There was little he could do to shield himself from the sound. He knew it was as much her screaming into their minds as she was audibly.
She filled the sky above them. Lavalandinarial was enormous and seeing her airborne was a terrifying sight that one could never get used to. Plex knew he needed to move, needed to get away, to save his ears as well as the rest of him but he couldn’t break free from the sight.
Then a hand tugging him downward managed to shake up the trance her arrival had left him in. Looking down, Plex saw that Frukeld was trying to tell him something. The dwarf’s words were lost in the bellow of the beast but Plex could read lips well enough and Frukeld was repeating the same thing over and over, “Distract her.”
Plex realized several things at once. The dragon had made a mistake by not immediately attacking them. She was wasting time by hitting them with her auditory assault. She was underestimating those who had decided to stand against her. He also realized that he knew just what to do get her attention.
“Lavalandinarial,” he snarled. He knew only she would be able to hear him as her scream continued. “You think your mewling can do us harm? You thought you’d just have some fun with your food, playing with us a little before you gulp us down? You are going to choke on us and those left, those who you couldn’t fit in your ugly maw will dance on your corpse.”
Her reply exploded into his head. He had tried to brace for it, knowing she would lash out at him. He hadn’t managed well enough and he was forced to take a knee to keep from falling over entirely. Plex felt the steadying hand of Frukeld on his shoulder and that helped him fight off the worst of the pain.
“Elf!” Her roar continued unabated. Her words were for Plex alone. “I’m so glad to see you again. You’ll be the first appetizer in my meal tonight. Yes, I am going to dine well. I think it is you who underestimates me if you think I’ll fall to this pitiful group who would dare stand against me.”
Not quite sure how he found the strength to do so, Plex began to laugh. It hurt every muscle in his body to do so for it was jarring against the enormity of her voice in his head. Yet, laugh he did and it felt good to do so. It felt cleansing. And with each laugh, his strength returned more.
He returned to his feet and said, “You foolish old beast. It is well past time for you to go away. You aren’t needed here anymore. You never were. And soon the races of this world will fell you from the sky and drive you into the ground.”
While he spoke, Frukeld’s hand slipped off Plex’s shoulder. The elf hoped that the dwarf had a good plan and was going to set it into motion. Plex also hoped whatever the plan was it would do some damage to the beast before she stopped her posturing and started attacking for real.
Plex heard the rush of air and turned his gaze skyward. Up above him, the dragon was right where she was moments ago. That could only mean one thing. “She’s about to breathe fire,” he hollered as he grabbed Frukeld and tried to push him toward the closest cover.
Frukeld stood his ground against Plex’s best efforts. Despite the danger he was in, the only thing going through his mind was how stout the old dwarf was. He looked back up just as the fire left Lavalandinarial’s mouth. Flames of enormous power roared down on him from above. His life flashed before his eyes as he waited for death to take him.
The flames never reached him.
Five paces above his head, the fire disappeared. Plex couldn’t describe what he was feeling. The absolute terror of the dragon’s flames turning into sheer joy as they went away before his eyes. It was the single most intense moment of his life. Especially when he wasn’t sure how long the miracle of his saving would last.
When Lavalandinarial saw that her breath had no effect, she screamed in rage. Then those screams of rage turned into screams of pain. From the same spot the flames disappeared, they came back. This time, they flew back at the dragon. The giant beast was soon engulfed by the fire. Her wailing intensified so much that Plex felt like his ears would start bleeding. It wasn’t until he felt a tugging on his arm that he realized someone was trying to talk to him.
“We created a barrier that would bounce any attacks the dragon made back at her,” Frukeld said after Plex leaned down next to him in order to hear. “We’re hurting her with her own power.”
“Isn’t she immune to her own flames?” Plex yelled back.
“The parts of her body covered in scales can’t be hurt by the magic of her flames,” Frukeld admitted. Then he smiled, “But her wings have no scales.”
“She’s a firebreather. How is she not immune to it?”
“As I said, her scales are immune to any kind of fire. The leathery hide that makes up her wings is immune to any sort of natural flame. It is resistant to magical flames, but not completely immune. If the magic behind the fire is powerful enough, her wings can be hurt by them, and there are no more powerful magical flames than those from her breath. With her hatred of you, she probably put a little bit extra behind that blast too.”
The shrieking from above was becoming more intense. Just as the flames died down, a loud crashing sound cut through the dragon’s screams and the ground beneath their feet lurched. Lavalandinarial became silent, but her bellows were replaced by the shouts of hundreds of people. Two large fires sprung up from the direction of the people’s shouts. It took him a moment, but Plex finally figured out what they were.
They were Lavalandinarial’s wings.
Two thoughts struck Plex simultaneously. We need to flee now while we have the chance. We need to stay and finish her off now while we have the chance.
He was too stunned by how fundamentally she had been wounded by her own weapon to choose one over the other. It seemed like he stood staring at the flaming hulks of her wings for an eternity while the air was still rent with the beast’s screaming and the ground swarmed with chaos. While it felt like an eternity it was only the length of a blink and then Plex sprang into action.
This was why Frukeld and the other revolutionairies had chosen him. Plex was decisive when such a rush to action was needed. He had proved that on the battlefield of the football game. He had decided on his own to try and save his sister. He had taken matters into his own hands to thwart the dragon. He had done so willingly, without wasting time by conferring with others, without the threat of the consequences slowing him down, slowly down his decision, slowing down his action.
“How is she still in the air?”
Frukeld responded, “Her magic will hold her up for a few minutes and then she will either need to retreat or meet us on the ground.”
“Will your shield bounce her away?” Before Frukeld could answer, Plex continued, “It doesn’t matter. We need archers to target her eyes now. Let’s hurt her more. Let’s blind her so she can’t see us coming when she does come down.”
A bow was thrust into his hands and Plex eagerly took it. He didn’t need to know where it came from. He didn’t need to know that the quiver full of arrows that followed had been magically enchanted to pass through the barrier above him. He just needed to test the weight of the string and find it to his liking and feel the swirling air to understand how it would change the path of his arrows and to take careful aim.
The first arrow nocked and held at the ready, Plex waited for his opening. He pushed aside the smell of Lavalandinarial’s charring wings. He pushed aside the ferocity of her agonized screams. He pushed aside her voice that he could once again feel trying to crawl its way inside his head.
Above him, she thrashed in the air, free of the worst of the fire since her wings had been lost but now in the throws of the pain that comes with losing a limb. Her eyes were closed as she snarled and screamed and spat. When they opened, they would present only the briefest of targets. If he managed to get one, it would be the greatest shot of his life.
He couldn’t wait for them to open. He would need to fire before they opened. Plex closed his own eyes and waited. Then he felt it, the slight shift in the dragon’s voice. She hadn’t grown used to the pain but she was ready to do something about.
Plex’s eyes flew, he tracked her movements for another moment and then let the arrow loose, nocked the second one and let it fly as well.
Time seemed to slow as they raced upwards. Her eyes opened, searching once again for the elf that had dared to stand against her openly, dared to allow these insurgents to hurt her, and she missed the first missile until it pierced the flesh of her left eye and buried itself all the way down to the fletching. Her right eye closed instinctively, her scaled eyelids snapping the second arrow as it began to strike. The damage had been down, though. Her eyelids forced the arrowhead downward, scratching away most of the surface of her pupil.
Plex smiled. His aim had been true. The beast was now wingless and blind.