It is often said that the best laid plans are oft to gang agley, and so it was with the party’s first attempt to slay the fell dragon that guards the bridge over skull gorge. The plan was a good one: trap the bridge to keep the lesser foes at bay, gain surprise on the dragon, and draw him to the the party to engage at close range. A good plan, perhaps, but the dragon had plans of its own, and they didn’t involve getting caught on the ground. Instead, it circled far overhead, breathing hot death down on its would-be attackers.
Hard lessons have taught the party when to stand and fight, and when to retreat. They ran like hell for the woods as fast as their feet could carry them.
The next day, wounds licked and spells re-memorized, the party set about making a new plan, and several hours of heated debate punctuated with words like “impossible” and “insane” followed. In the end, a strategy was decided upon, and the party once again stood at the edge of the woods, ready to face its fell foe.
Time to put the plan into action.
“Get ’im,” said Edward.
Nothing happened. The party looked around at each other, expectantly.
“Cast the fireball!” Ed shouted at Ismelda, “like we planned!”. Ismelda, who, for her part had understood the plan to be that the fighters should rush the tower, merely glared back. Templeton ran back from her forward position, behind some rocks in the clearing.
“Where’s the archon? Weren’t we summoning an archon-y angel type thing?”
McSoggybiscuit, who was rather ill-suited to plan making, for whom in fact the long, tedious hours spent plan making had acted as a particularly effective soporific and was therefore unaware of any plan at all, spoke from somewhere in the trees. “What’s an Argon?”
Edward put a calloused hand to his brow. He wasn’t quite sure anymore what the plan was, or had been, but he was fairly certain that standing in the clearing and waiting for the archers and the dragon to target them wasn’t quite in it.
“I’ve heard it said,” he mused, “that no plan survives contact with the enemy, but this one doesn’t seem to have survived contact with us.”
“it’s not the plan’s survival I’m worried about,” shouted Goldie, “Look!”
The dragon, apparently weary of watching the vaudeville, had launched itself, catlike and lethal, into the air and was hurtling toward the party at a speed that really hadn’t been properly invented yet.
Ismelda and McSoggybiscuit were already casting, and down by the bridge the results of Cardagh’s druidic machinations could be heard, if not seen, as several hapless goblins dropped what they were doing to pick caltrops from their calloused feet and curse loudly.
Then there came a sound the adventurers well remembered. Louder than a sound, really, a crush of sternum-pounding air that assaulted the party’s eardrums and seemed to shatter the sky like a stone being pushed through a block of ice. The dragon wheeled overhead like a comet zeroing in on a future crater, breathing in the shattered air and preparing to cook the pesky creatures below it in a nice bath of searing hot death.
“Nice knowing you, Goldie,” said Edward, drawing his sword. A lot of good it would do him, he thought, with the enemy attacking from the sky. Around him, his companions likewise made ready to go down fighting. There was an explosion, distant seeming to him, as a spell went off. A great ball of fire erupted next to the dragon, was shrugged off with what looked like a sneer.
Edward felt his heart in his throat, his hands, gripping his sword, were glazed with sweat. He was going to die. He knew it, and now it seemed his body had finally caught on. To make matters worse, the hellhounds and goblins were finally making it across the bridge.
The dragon hurtled downward.
It was then that Edward noticed something. No, not something, nothing; the absence of something. It was a nothing he would never forget. Around him and everywhere, the flower of battle bloomed into chaos as his companions clashed with the forces that held the bridge, and above, where the death dealing dragon made ready it’s first attack run. Chaos was everywhere, but in a small dwarf-sized pocket next to him there was…silence.
The dwarf looked into the sky with a steely gaze. And steel is something dwarves know about. Silence seemed to radiate from her like light from a torch. A living silence that Edward, even in his fear, even in the heat of battle, could feel in his bones.
The dragon plunged from the sky like a raptor, claws extended, death in its eyes and fire in its mouth.
Goldie, her face relaxed and calm, drew back her bowstring. She looked…ordinary, Edward thought, like she might be serving tea or fixing a leaky faucet.
Three arrows sprang from her bow in rapid succession, hurtling towards the quickly approaching dragon. The first hit the dragon square in the eye. The dragon reeled in disbelief and anger. Fire erupted from its jaws, jetting down towards the party.
The second arrow split the first, driving both shafts deep into the beast’s skull. Blood and ichor erupted from the wound in a torrent of hot gore. The dragon, moments before a deadly predator on an inevitable course with Edward’s fragile being, was now suddenly, impossibly, falling from the sky, clawing uselessly at a third arrow now sticking from its throat. Wings collapsing and legs splayed, the great beast tumbled, “ass over teakettle,” as Edward’s father would have said, and plummeted into the earth, landing with an ear-shattering crash.
Edward stopped. The goblins stopped. Everyone stopped. Everyone looked at Goldie, who was putting away her bow with an even hand.
“Yeah,” she said, “that’ll do.” And turning quickly aside, walked back towards the woods.