Salutations once again, valued individuals!

     Lately, Geldrin has been reading to me a few of the popular “Tales of Wizards and Barbarians” books, and one gripe I’ve had is the constant lengthy repetition in the recounting of previous adventures at the beginning of every new book in the series. Thus, instead of a lengthy telling of my awful frosty misadventures, I will just command you to go back and read the previous parts of this story if you simply can’t remember. Also, dear reader, if this upsets you, do not be a grumbler lest I gixustratyou!

Editor’s note: Had to look it up, but “gixustrat” means to disembowel. Gross. Sorry about that! Grendel seems to be a bit grumpy after recalling this story.

     So there I was, sliding down a mountain on my belly, an avalanche at my tail and a most horribly idiotic white dragon flying above me, breathing his foul frosty breath upon my back in an attempt to slow me down even further. My wings were torn from the fight and my only option for surviving this dire ordeal would be to make it into a small cave I had spotted a ways down the mountain.

     I folded my wings and limbs in on myself in an attempt to become the most aerodynamic dragon that ever was and plunged like a rock toward the crevasse. The avalanche was pouring around me, with some of the quickest bits of frost overtaking my position. Still, the white attempted one last, desperate blast of frost breath to slow me down, but only succeeded in freezing the ground around me and actually giving me the smallest boost of speed! Like a bolt of frozen lightning, I flew right into the cave opening.  With a deafening crash, thousands of pounds of snow smashed against the mountainside around the mouth of the cave, sealing my battered body inside.

     The rumbling lasted for several more minutes. I gathered myself shakily in the darkness as I waited for the roaring to subside. It took only a moment for my eyes to adjust to the nearly absolute lack of light. I could still hear the white howling his disproval through the snow, but for the time being I was safe. Supposedly. I was still beaten and battered, with torn wings and a bone-chilling coldness permeating my entire being, but for the moment there was a thousand elephant’s worth of upended mountainside between me and him.

     A few things struck me about this cavern as I assessed my situation; first, the walls and floor all seemed to be carved of pure ice. Secondly, as I limped further into the cave, I noticed to my delight that the air started to feel a bit warmer. I knew I wouldn’t be getting out from the way I came in, especially with that horrible beast lurking around, thus I would need to attempt to find another exit.

     I kept pressing on through the icy passages. Most of them were surprisingly big enough to accompany my size, since I was still not full grown at this point. I had to squeeze through a few more narrow sections, some of which I even had to melt a bit with my fiery breath, but overall, I found myself able to traverse the tunnels somewhat easily. Further and further into the mountain I crawled, with the steadily increasing temperature continuing to thaw my frozen bones.

     Eventually I passed through a perfectly smooth, tube-like tunnel into a much larger, much warmer chamber. Steady streams of melted ice flowed in small channels, pooling at the center of the room. I stepped out cautiously, all too aware that my weakened state would put me in jeopardy should I come across another powerful adversary. I took a few careful steps into the pool and heard a snap under my claw. Bobbing to the surface came the decayed remains of a deer. My eyes quickly shot around the pool, with it becoming ever more apparent what surrounded me; a graveyard of carcasses filled the water. Whatever lived here and had been snacking on these creatures was surely a proficient hunter. Even the gnawed bones of large creatures—mammoth tusks and dire bear claws—were scattered all around. On the other side of pool, however, I noticed the most telling of remains—what appeared to be a small dragon’s skull was embedded in the ice. I made my way through the muck to get a better look.

     Just as I thought, it had been a wyrmling, at least at one point. What more, the remains of a single crest at the top of its head exposed it to having once been another white. It was at this moment I fathomed why the brute prowling above these caves must have been so much more aggressive than I would have thought at another potential predator in the area. To my dismay, I also realized that whatever could have raided a dragon’s lair and made off with its babies would certainly be something I wouldn’t want to tangle with. I hoped somehow it was already dead.

     It was not.

     A reddish glow emitted from the cavern’s ceiling. I turned slowly from the wyrmling skull to see where this new light was coming from, only to be met by the gaze of a gigantic monster staring back at me. The thing was four times my size. Its long, segmented body was covered in glowing red spines, with hundreds of tiny legs holding it to the top of the ceiling. But the worst part were the horrible, bulbous eyes that now stared directly at me, below which its drooling maw chattered with anticipation. A large frill spread out from behind its chitinous neck and with a bone-chilling shriek it released itself from the ice above, attempting to smother me with a quick strike.

     I jumped out of the way, barely, as the monstrosity landed with a crash and a fountain of broken bones. Immediately it shot at me, massive jaws almost clamping onto my face. In retaliation, I sucked in a quick breath and let out a burst of immolation. Flames so hot they could nearly melt stone washed over the creature, but it did not burn or even react in the slightest to the heat! On the contrary, my breath, if nothing else, seemed to make the spines lining the thing’s back glow even brighter. Even past the lingering heat from my own breath, I could feel the molten temperature pouring off the thing’s back. Well, at least I knew how these caves had been formed!

     How did I escape the vile clutches of this fireproof snow monster? Would I ever see my white dragon enemy again? Are we actually turning the snow story into a four-parter?!

     Find out next week! And until then, continue to season yourselves with knowledge!