This week’s question comes from one of those paladins I’ve heard so much about. All I know of them is that they taste like valor and holiness, which reminds me of freshly baked muffins. Blueberry, to be precise. Thus, I’ve eaten quite a few paladins in my time. And almost as many muffins!
Fearsome dragon! Tales of your vile and wicked deeds have reached far across the lands. Many folks tell tale of “Grendel the Wicked” and “The Insatiable Hunger known as Grendel”, but I have a feeling that these stories are somewhat exaggerated. I see good in you, dragon. Tell me, what honorable deeds have you done? Paladin Xenk Yendar
Ha! Grendel the Wicked! I like that one. What I don’t like is the assertion that I am only a “terrible, evil” being, or even the thought that being a generally malicious dragon is such a bad thing. Nevertheless, I have partaken in plenty of benevolent activities! As mentioned previously, I have never forced any minions into my service, as I have always consumed them outright (Geldrin and the harpies are employees, technically). I once saved the dwarven stronghold of Dol Kragon from an evil, manipulative red dragon and stole much of his treasure. I blasted a giant in the face with my fire breath as a wyrmling. Last week I even recounted my tale of imprisoning a vile blue dragon, thus saving whatever was left of the desert’s inhabitants! Oh, and of course, I didn’t eat the little gnome that wandered into my lair. I’ve done plenty of good!
…Geldrin is informing me that the question-asker might have been wondering about something I did for a more noble reason—some act I performed with no selfish motives in mind. Well, I believe I can still argue that the good that may have come from a so-called “selfish” act is still good, but fine. There is one time I guess I did end up doing a goody-goody, selfless deed…
I was lounging on a large stone dock—the port city of Kraken’s Rest had provided me a few quick meals before most of the townsfolk had fled after the usual “Dragon! There’s a dragon in the harbor!”. I had been trying to learn how to swim. My father was an amphibious green; thus, the lair he had kept my siblings and I in was partially submerged. For all of my trying, I had never learned to breathe underwater (thanks in part to my mother’s landlocked genetics), and the fear of extinguishing my fire breath from a mouthful of water had kept me from trying in my youth. Now that I was older, I had decided to teach myself how to be at least partially acclimated to waterlogged environments.
They say it’s unwise to swim right after eating, so I don’t know if it was the few briny dockhands I had just gobbled up or my lack of any swimming-related knowledge, but I had a very difficult time in the bay. After a time thrashing around in the water, I pulled myself out and was properly exhausted. Worst of all, even though I had kept my toothy maw firmly closed, I still found myself lacking the ability to produce flame! Thoroughly frustrated, this is when I decided to dry out by taking a quick snooze on the dock. Sometime later, I was awoken by a couple of loud, salty voices. Apparently, a boat had come in while I dozed, not noticing the massive dragon sleeping behind a few piles of crates.
I was about to rouse from my lounging and enact violence against these obnoxious individuals when I heard something most intriguing…
“…and they say the whole place has been taken over by hobgoblins! Mighty mean ones, too.”
“Wait, all the islands? Even Grumhold? How’d they manage somethin’ like that?”
“Dunno. Apparently, they just sailed right on up in a whole fleet of ships and sacked the islands one by one. Thems were of one mind—one big group of swords ‘n’ spears. Led by some hobgob warlord. The Isles didn’t stand a chance.”
Hobgoblins! And militaristic ones at that. Hobgoblin culture revolves around these tenants— honor, duty, and violence. Honor is something nearly tangible to them, able to be won or lost by nearly every action. The more one dedicates to their training and especially the more enemies one has defeated, the higher the amount of honor. The more honor, the higher the rank in a Hobgoblin military, and the more absolutely delicious they are. Regular Hobgoblins taste just fine, kind of like determination and fresh-baked bread, but in the rare chance that I can consume one of the generals or captains… OH, absolutely mouth-watering. It’s like the honor they gather acts like a marinade that creates the most delectable, the most appetizing…
Editor’s note: It was here that I told Grendel that his particular tastes might not translate as well to our reader’s non-humanoid appetite.
Well fine! All I can say is that the opportunity to consume a hobgoblin warlord in all his honor-drenched, freshly victorious triumph was one I couldn’t pass up. However, this particularly tasty morsel was situated in a most frustrating location. I could fly there, sure, but my recent attempt at aquatic activities gave me pause. I would just have to find my way there by boat!
I called out, interrupting the sailors from their gossipy gabbing.
“Hobgoblins, you say?” I beckoned. “Taken over the islands around Grumhold?”
“…uh… yes. That’s what I have been sayin’,” one of the voices responded. “You there behind the crates… been eavesdroppin’?”
I could hear the threat in the sailor’s voice, which annoyed me greatly, but no matter. I needed that ship if I wanted to get to the islands. I rolled over and stood up straight, my large shadow looming over the sailors and their boat. The gasps from the crew unloading their boats were fantastic. One of the burlier seadogs dropped a crate.
“Yes, I HAVE been ‘eavesdroppin’,’” I bellowed. “And I’m intrigued by what I hear. Pick up that crate, swabby. And the rest of you keep unloading the ship. I’ll need room to stretch out on our trip!”
Would the sailors follow their new captain’s orders? Would I get to the Grumhold Isles? Would I find this hobgoblin warlord and satiate my salivating appetite? Would my fire breath ever work again? Would I ever learn to swim? (I’ll just spoil it now—an absolute YES to those last two). And most importantly, what WAS the good deed I performed?
Find out next week!