The Box (Part XVI)

The words rolled off of his tongue before he was able to stop them, fleeing as quickly as they were born, only to be reflected back unto him by the stone on the opposite end of the large cavern.  Even as they bounced off of the wall behind him and returned in the direction his mouth had originally flung them, was great wyrm beginning to stir.

It was the mountain of gold within which the dragon lay, nestled beneath a weight so massive that were it any other creature, it would have been crushed.  Coins, gems and magical treasures endlessly poured away from the beast, a sight both beautiful and terrible to behold.

“…the gods…the gods…the gods…done?…done…done?”

Even over the cacophony of noise, his words continued to reach his ears.  A seed of doubt took root in his very soul as he glimpsed the first slash of red through the riches before him and he began to tremble in fear.  Even from this distance, the creature’s size was intimidating!

But more horrifying than the brief peek at its crimson scales was the sheer presence of the monster.  Here was a creature that had conquered cities.  Armies had fallen before its might and he dared to face it alone?

Two great horns began to cut their way from beneath the fortune.  They were scorched near the tips, tempered from years of bathing in the drake’s furnace.  His vision blurred, and he nearly swooned with fear as the eyes of the dragon set their calculating gaze upon him.

“THERE ARE NO GODS HERE, LITTLE MAN.  ONLY MALIFGORRANAKA.”

The last of the world’s most expensive blanket finally fell free from the wyrm as it rose to it’s full height.  Here was a beast which had survived the world’s finest warriors.  It had outsmarted the land’s most reviled villians, and now he stood before it feeling every bit as an ant would against him.  Indeed, this creature had only to raise one massive foreleg and with the tiniest flick of one claw, it could send him rocketing into oblivion.

“IT’S BEEN LONG SINCE I HAVE FEASTED UPON THE FLESH OF MAN.  TODAY I SHALL NOURISH MY OLD BODY WITH YOURS.  TONIGHT, I WILL SUCK THE MARROW FROM YOUR BONES.”

The words still held enough power that they very nearly shook him apart!  His mind screamed in protest.  His nerves were broken and he wanted nothing more to do with this foolish quest.  Before this crimson god, he had lost all will to continue.  His had forgotten all that he had come prepared with and the sword was an unfamiliar burden that pulled his hand down.

“…by the gods…”

The sword!

As if awakening from a dream, he blinked his eyes and looked down to the hand which held the…

It was gone?

“It’s gone,” he asked incredulously.  But that’s impossible!  He had only been holding it just moments ago!

“…what have I done…”

His words taunted him, reminding him of the imminent doom that was now upon him. The Great Flame yawned and stretched it’s wings as it began moving forward.  It moved from side to side, much like a cat, as it stalked him.  There was now only a few moments left for him to act.

“Damn,” he muttered softly.  Without the sword, his magic didn’t stand a chance of defeating the beast.  At best, he would only anger it even further!  And with the blood he had already spilled this day, there was only a little left to use before he became too weak to escape, should the opportunity even present itself.

“It appears I have made a grievous error,” he admitted softly.  As he began to prepare one of his most powerful spells, he watched as the dragon god closed the final dozen yards between them.  Regardless of what happened next, he knew that it would soon be over.

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