The tunnels began to widen as he drew ever closer to the lair of the beast. The darkness fled before a soft golden glow which spread into the tunnels as if to reach for the one approaching. The breath of the dragon stank of rotten flesh and grew unbearably hot as he closed the distance between himself and its lair.
All of these things he noticed with only a passing interest. His mind had turned within itself as he reviewed what magic he had prepared to use. His arm shook beneath the weight of the elf’s sword and he absently shifted it from one hand to the other as he pressed on.
He knew full well the power of the creature he was about to face. After claiming his master’s tower for his own, he’d spent many hours pouring himself into the research necessary for such a confrontation. Many books had succumbed to him their knowledge. Through trial and error, he’d summoned different creatures from various planes of existence, including (but not limited to) demons. It had taken many years off of his life to do so, but he’d finally coerced the answers he needed.
The ancient dragon was looked upon as a god amongst other creatures. It had lived for many millenia, consuming man and magic alike, gaining as much knowledge as it had in power, over those beneath it. Malifgorranaka had become a name that was not only feared by every other species, but of its own as well!
There was very little to be found in the books. Most were stories of the creature’s deeds, of how it had leveled entire nations as it sought to placate its hunger. They were of heroes who stood before it, giving their lives so that others might live. Or they were of villains who sought it out for their own power, never to be heard from again.
One thing remained consistent in these stories; Malifgorranaka’s hunger. It was written to be a beast even greater than the monster itself. For nearly a thousand years, it decimated entire landscapes in order to quell the ache in its midsection.
But it was not just a hunger for flesh. It was the hunger for knowledge, for power, that drove it as well. It was said that as the creature consumed its enemies, it absorbed its knowledge as well.
It’s not known if The Great Flame retained said knowledge, only that the next time it was seen, it used whatever magic or power it had taken from its previous victim.
Oramiir again switched the blade from one hand to the other as his mind replayed the things he had learned. The books had been easy enough, his former master had done all of the work for him.
The summonings were slightly more difficult.
He didn’t spend enough time creating the protection glyphs around the circle and as a result, it was a Pit Fiend which nearly killed him. The cambion, a half fiend/half human, had found the weakest point of the circle and had broken it with-in seconds of the summoning. It not for the contingency spell hidden in his former master’s cloak, which he had been wearing at the time, he would have been consumed by the creature’s magic.
The contingency, however, was a defense against other worldly creatures, and when it sent its flames against him, reacted with a spell designed to paralyze such beings.
He had tortured the creature for the entire duration of the spell, by which time he’d also prepared the banishing ritual needed to send it back to its plane. From the foul demon he’d learned of the dragon’s weakness against elfin steel.
“STEP FORTH INTO THE LAIR OF MALIFGORRANAKA AND BEAR WITNESS TO THE END.”
The voice of the dragon thundered off of the walls, bombarding him with its fury and pulling him back to the present. His arm faltered as the blade suddenly became too heavy for him to bear, and its tip lowered to the ground with a dull metallic clank.
The tunnel had come to an end and before him was the lair of the ancient red he had come to slay. Whilst lost in his thoughts, it had widened until it was nearly twenty paces across, with the ceiling being nearly as high. The edges of the wall rounded smoothly at the tunnel’s end, seamlessly becoming a part of the cavern beyond.
The lair was massive.
It spread out further than he could see and for a brief moment, he thought he had returned to the surface, albeit, at night. The floor was littered with gold, gems and treasures, and there was not a single bit of stone visible beneath all the riches.
While the treasure was stacked into various piles around the cavern, none were so large as the mountain on the farthest end. The gold stretched along the wall, where it was piled higher even his former master’s tower!
“By the gods,” he muttered in awe. “What have I done?”
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