Headhunter

Fantasy. Not my preference, but I occasionally give it a tickle.

I have a strong preference for dwarves. Back when I was playing World of Warcraft on a regular basis, I roleplayed with several dwarf-only guilds, and have never had a better time in an MMO, period.

I do get into the fantasy mood on occasion. I’ve been sucked into Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Riftwar, Middle Earth, and Xanth, but I’ve never really considered pursuing the creation of original storylines in that genre.

But I like dwarves, and so, rarely, I have to write about them – even if only to have them perish almost immediately. No setting in particular, just generic high fantasy … with a dimensional twist.

P.S. I’ve been hovering dangerously close to getting back into WoW – as if Guild Wars 2, The Old Republic, and Star Trek Online weren’t enough.

The mountains devoured the sun, and the broken glow of its passing ran in rivulets of angry red on the mountainside – like blood running between the teeth of a planet-sized predator. Atop the highest peak, our foe stretched her long neck and her blade-toothed maw erupted in billowing clouds of fire and smoke. Alighting from her perch, the old dragon flared out her wings and skimmed the deep incline towards the boulder strewn plains.

Next to me, Fedevar gripped his battle-axe until his dry, ice-cracked knuckles split and began to bleed from the strain.

“Wait until she levels with us,” the old dwarf said calmly. “If ye say the name too soon, she may have enough room to turn and run.”

The ancient wyrm flew close to the rocky wasteland between her home and the ridge where Fedevar and his people had gathered to make this stand.

Eyeing my mystical trappings, Fedevar gruffly stated, “I know you mages pride yourself in being able to stand on equal footing with dragons, but you just stick to the name I gave you.” I found it difficult to maintain a straight face. My ruse was working amusingly well.

The dragon picked up speed, riding the strong currents that formed as the crosswinds blowing in from the V-shaped canyons at either side of the deep valley met and grew in unnatural intensity. Roaring defiantly, the old female belched fire and blew a blackened crater into the rocky terrain.

“Hold steady,” Fedevar commanded to his warriors, flanking their leader and myself on either side. “Steady, lads.”

The dragon closed the distance quicker than I expected, and before I could react, she disappeared past my vision at the cliff’s edge. In seconds, she would rise up over the edge of the cliff and blast our meager troop with fiery death.

“WAIT FOR IT!” Fedevar screamed out to all those gathered around him.

With an unholy scream, the black dragon  rose into view, spreading its leathery wings to hover briefly and deliver her fatal words of flame. I saw her eyes focus on me, recognizing my robes as those worn by a Mage of the Forgotten City. I could see my death in those obsidian eyes as I became her target.

“Now!” came a voice beside me, drowned out by the fierce beast’s triumphant battle cry.

I hesitated, until I heard the dragon’s sharp intake of breath. I had little time left to save us.

“Gyrezandulystia!” I screamed.

The old black wyrm’s eyes widened in horror. The name meant death to her.

Behind us, the air crackled with energy as the mighty gold dragon teleported in from the Ninth Plane. The entire group of dwarves was thrown violently to the ground as the massive gold dragon, Gyrezandulystia, passed over our heads and collided with his shocked and outmatched foe. His talons tore through dragonflesh and split bones. His vicious maw clamped down on the smaller dragon’s neck and crushed it.

In a last effort to strike out, the black dragon tried to blast the gold with its flames. The flames caught at the point where the gold’s maw was crushing the black’s neck and expanded the doomed wyrm’s chest, backfiring into her body. The explosion obliterated her body, leaving only the head still attached to the neck hanging from the victor’s jaws.

The gold dragon, wheeled around and hovered over the dwarves and myself. Proudly, it dropped the dead dragon’s remains in our midst.

“Seven dragontons o’ gold and he can be yers,” Fedevar offered, a wide grin splitting his face.

“We had hoped to recruit your people for this task, not a dragon,” I responded with disappointment, now understanding what I had been shown.

“Ye can take that thought and bury it, mage. We ain’t fer hire,” the dwarven leader replied. “A gold dragon would make quite an addition to yer little army.”

“Then you won’t join us?” I asked evenly.

“Bah!” the dwarf exclaimed. “We’ve our own battles to fight. We’ll not be lackeys to an upstart emperor who’ll likely pass just like the rest.”

“Then I’m afraid you’ll have to perish,” I spoke again evenly.

“Come again?” he replied, gripping his axe tighter.

Without resorting to the charade of casting a spell and appearing as one of the typical mages of this plane I had been banished to, I drew instead on my void energy.

The dwarves perished in seconds, the molecules of their body simultaneously separating and winking out of existence as their faces vanished in a collective rictus of pain.

The gold dragon roared in fury, its magic deflecting the power of the void energy. It spat its powerful flames at me, expecting to vaporize me in one blast. Instead, the flames passed around me, blowing my hair back only slightly.

The flames stopped and the gold looked down at me curiously.

“I would join a being of such power,” it said to me in its ancient, echoing voice.

“As I said to the dwarf,” I replied. “I have no need for a dragon.”

Impatiently, I blew a mouthful of breath at the massive beast. As the small cloud of air from my lungs hit the dragon’s chest, it immediately began to age the dragon’s scales. The instant decay spread in a circle so quickly that the dragon had no chance to retaliate or even scream out in pain. A strong gust of wind rushed up over the cliff’s edge and blew the dead wyrm into a quickly dissipating cloud of ashes.

Looking out over the terrain before me, I watched the red sun disappear behind the black mountains.

It would never rise again.

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