A most frightening of welcomes, dear readers!
Last week I had to cut my spooky story a bit short—the harpies have been working diligently on some new project of theirs and one of them did, in fact, get their wing stuck in the magical printing press. Geldrin wants me to assure you all that she’s fine, though. Only a few feathers short.
Anyway, back to the story. If you all recall, I was recounting the time I had been trapped in an ancient red dragon’s lair. Only hours before, I had disposed of his tiny, bratty brother whom I had found pilfering my treasure hoard. Now the red had magically sealed me inside his volcanic lair and was asking about the whereabouts of the little wyrmling.
“I’ll give you one chance.” The red’s tone dropped dangerously. “Tell me what you did with my brother, and I may let you live.” Storytime with Grendel: Spooky - Part 1
Obviously, escape wouldn’t be easy. If I told him the truth, he would likely kill me on the spot. No, I had to get the drop on him. Some powerful magic had turned my only exit to stone, though maybe if I could distract this foe enough, his spell could be countered, and I could make my escape. I still had a mouthful of the red’s treasure in my throat, and with this I devised the most cunning of plans.
“Oh! Your brother!” I responded as I gave my most disarming grin. I took a few steps toward the much larger dragon. “Great fellow. WONDERFUL wyrmling, he is! He’s back at my place. He very kindly let me know that I had been trespassing in your territory, and I offered to give him my hoard as an apology.”
The ancient one raised a massive eyebrow at this but made no move as I continued approaching. If my plan was to work, I’d need to get as close to his imposing face as possible.
“Yes, your brother was so understanding that I flew right over here,” I continued, creeping closer, hocking up the treasure in my throat, “and wanted to deliver the first installment… PERSONALLY!”
At this, I spat my glittering mouthful at his crimson face. What I expected was as follows: I would spit the treasure into his furious eyes, temporarily blinding the red, which would then cause him to lose his concentration on whatever spell had turned my exit to stone. Instead, my gleaming spitball passed right through his face, collapsing apart a moment later on the stone tile behind him.
Silence fell upon the volcanic ruins. A bit of coin-filled spittle dripped from my mouth as I stood stunned at this development. The red hadn’t even reacted to my barrage as the missile passed straight through him. It was at this that it dawned on me… staring in this moment at his terrible power, I realized that the whisps of smoke pouring off him weren’t just manifestations of his internal fire. I also realized, to my horror, that I could just see right through him! Where I was worried about his fearsome power before, now I was absolutely terrified.
For what was before me, the being whom I had trespassed and offended so greatly, was not an ancient red dragon, but the ghost of one! Where I may have been able to prevail in a fight against a physical red, I would have absolutely no chance in the Abyss against this incorporeal foe! All I could do now was beg for my life. I slurped up my spittle and began.
“Uhh… my sincerest apologies, sir ghost dragon! I don’t know what came over me! If you’ll only spare my life, I promise…”
The red bellowed a furious roar, interrupting me and cutting off my begging most effectively. I had heard of the capabilities of these undead beings before—with lifeforce-draining breath and even the ability to possess lesser creatures fully. Worse yet, nothing I could do against this foe would affect him in the least. My claws and teeth would pass right through as would my fiery breath. I was trapped, utterly and fully, and I knew it.
“Your insolence has met its end, young worm!” the ghostly red roared. “By your omission of my wyrmling brother’s location, I can only assume the worst. You have no hope. Prepare for your demise.”
At this, he sucked in a deep breath and attempted to destroy me with a blast of necrotic breath. Quicker than I had ever moved, I dashed behind a far pillar, narrowly avoiding a most horrifying demise. Blast after desiccating blast ripped through the ruins, filling the air with the horrible stench of rot. I knew that a single wrong step could spell my demise. The ghost’s breath would cut straight through me, rotting the meat off my bones and turning me into a pile of scales and moldy flesh.
I figured that there MUST be another exit to this place! Quickly I scanned the room, desperately seeking any chance of survival as the room filled with the stench of decay. Nothing around the back that I could see around the crumbling pillars or sealed-up exit. I carefully peeked toward the front of the room. No escape near the ghostly red. Only him, his magnificent treasure pile, and that blue glowing orb he was sitting upon. The orb!
Then realization struck me like the way a goblin hits the ground after dropping him from the clouds. With a furious brain-splat, the only possible saving grace entered my mind. Though ghosts were powerful, immortal, and nearly immune to any attack thrown at them, they usually had some sort of weakness—some physical object that contained their soul and anchored them to the material plane. If that glowing, blue orb wasn’t a soul crystal, I didn’t know what was!
I would only have one shot at this. With all of the speed my young self could muster, I dove out from behind the pillar, dodging necrotic blasts as best I could. Scales fell from my body while bits of my skin rotted away as a few whisps of the red’s breath met my flesh. The feeling was excruciating.
From pillar to pillar I dove, slowly advancing on the ghost as best I could. A few tense minutes later and I was as close to the red as I could get while still behind cover. I didn’t know if this next part would work, but the dire state I was in was forcing my claw. I had to act or die.
I feigned one way, then moved the other in the trickiest maneuver I could. The red wasted his breath in the direction where he thought I would be, as I dove like a flash toward the orb. The second I grabbed it, lifting it away from the hoard, two things happened—first, the red disappeared as suddenly and noiselessly as he had appeared. Secondly, the stone wall barring my exit disintegrated.
I looked at the swirling, glowing ball in my claws. In it, I could see the furious, trapped form of the ancient ghost clawing at the walls of his tiny prison, his eyes nearly as surprised as mine. I had done it! It seemed as though the magic of the massive treasure hoard transfused the orb, giving the red his temporary form. I carried the orb through the exit and tossed it unceremoniously into the crater of the roaring volcano.
With that being that, I continued gorging myself on the now-unguarded pile of valuables. It added immensely to my own hoard, nearly quadrupling it in size. All in all, it was a very successful and valuable endeavor.
…Geldrin is asking why this is one of the scariest situations I’ve ever been in. Well, other than it being an actual GHOST that I fought (so scary!), this was one of the few times that my life was actually in danger. I still carry a few scars upon my back from the exchange. If the world’s most powerful and amazing dragon isn’t scary to anyone listening, I don’t know what is.
And with this, I will conclude my frightening, spooky, Hall of Weens adventure. Though many mortals are still celebrating various ghosts and goblins around the worlds, I hope that I have inspired you all to consider dressing up like the scariest being of all—yours truly. Until next time, remember to not be afraid of ghost dragons. Real dragons can’t be slain so easily! Let that be the knowledge that seasons your minds this Hall of Weens season!