Greetings once again, adventurers!
This week we shall finish up my tale of the magical mirror. If you recall from last week, I was recounting how I was trapped within the confines of the reflection, with only a small portal to view the world outside. To my horror, I had just observed a blue dragon entering my unguarded treasure room. I knew this dragon, as we had met only a few days before…
Sparks crackled between her teeth, her entire body becoming like a living bolt of lightning, ready to strike. The rage in her eyes seemed entirely unfounded. Who was this blue and what could I have possibly done to make her hate me so? Storytime With Grendel: The Stormbringer’s Ire - Part 1
I had been successfully raiding the villages of the Zelistann desert, having collected a good deal of treasure and consumed many a mortal. I made quick work of a trade caravan along a dusty road, and had just collected the blasted magic mirror, though at the time I assumed it to be just a valuable work of art. Nearly satiated with a full stomach and fuller loot bag, I was about to consume the caravan merchant and be off when I was disrespectfully attacked from behind. A brief struggle ensued, and after pushing the attacker off, I had found myself facing this furious-looking blue dragon.
“WHAT is your problem?!” I wheezed. The force of the blue crashing into me had blasted me a few feet into the dirt and forced my breath from my lungs.
In leu of a response, the blue instead sent out a burst of lighting breath so quickly that I was barely able to dash out of the way. The sparks skittered across the ground, turning the desert sand into clawing veins of glass.
“EXCUSE ME!” I bellowed. “STOP THIS NOW LEST I RETURN FIRE!”
I let out a blast of my immolating breath as a warning to the blue, though from the fury in her eyes I could see that trying to intimidate her might not bring forth the reaction I was hoping for. Nevertheless, I continued to issue a warning in an attempt to avoid a full-scale battle. Though my fiery breath was surely stronger, the speed behind the lightning flowing from her ferocious maw drew my caution.
She ignored my command and continued to attack, thus I tried again, this time punctuating my demands with blasts of fire. “STOP.” Floom! “THIS.” Floom! “NOW!” FLOOM!!
The last burst of flame inadvertently found purchase on her horned face. She jerked her head back in pain and let out a violent roar.
“Well! I… I didn’t mean to hit you, but you gave me no choice,” I blurted. Battle with another dragon is never easy, and I was feeling rather stuffed, so I continued my attempted pacification. “Now answer me! Who are you and why are you attacking me?!”
The blue buried the side of her face in the sand for a moment to extinguish her smoldering scales. With wrath dripping from every word, she finally spoke.
“I am Grisgilanaxx the Storm Bringer. You have been raiding and pillaging in my territory. You have eaten my subjects and stolen my tribute. Now you will pay with your life.”
Immediately she let out a few short shots of lightning, once again glassing the sand at my feet. In return, I blasted a few fireballs toward her, but she was too quick. She darted around the burning spheres and sliced at me with razor-sharp claws.
All this anger for a little mistake! How was I to know whose land it was? At this point I wasn’t even aware that we dragons claimed territory! I tried to explain as much in between swipes, bites, and breath, but my rationalization fell on ears deafened by rage. The battle was fierce, but quick. I had been focusing on defense, but soon my eye caught a glittering coin on the ground. In the melee, she had apparently slashed a hole in the treasure bag I had fastened across my chest. As we fought, more and more of my pillaged booty was spilling on the ground. An attempt on my life is one thing, but now that my treasure was in danger, I needed to end this quickly!
It was time to fight dirty or risk losing my loot. Secretly and quickly, I picked up a handful of the glassed desert sand, waited for the perfect moment, then threw the pokey pieces right into her yellow eyes! I would say it was a lucky shot, but as with most things, my aim is also perfect. She recoiled in surprise, once again letting out a pained roar, and began furiously clawing at her face. I quickly collected my spilled treasure, holding my partially ruined loot bag together, and took to the sky.
As I flew away, Grisgilanaxx let out a few more pained howls, then shouted blindly to the sky “I WILL GET YOU, GREEN! I WILL FIND YOU AND DESTROY YOU! JUST YOU WAIT! YOU CAN’T ESCAPE ME! I…”
By then I couldn’t hear her anymore as I passed above the clouds in the direction of my lair. What she threatened me with mattered not, as I believed at that time that I would see her no more. Nearly a day’s flight later and I was back at home. I took stock of my haul—quite a few gems, coins, and baubles, but what I was most excited to examine was the elaborate mirror. I set it against the wall of my hoard room, it’s intricately carved silver filagree reflecting the glowing gold of my life’s work. Best of all, it held the image of existence’s most handsome dragon whenever I looked upon it. It was a thing of pure beauty. I decided to find a peg or sharp rock to hang it upon, but right before I turned away, I noticed the most peculiar thing; reflected in the image was a word. It seemed to float in the room behind me, though a quick glance around the room showed no ghostly script on my side of the reflection.
The word was in Elvish, that much I knew, though not a word I knew the meaning of. I made the foolish decision to read it aloud.
“Aslȗdilath,” I spoke, though no sooner had the word left my mouth that the mirror seemed to grow. Or maybe I was shrinking. I couldn’t be sure, but the sensation only allowed me a second of panic before I found myself sucked into the reflection itself, with the world around me seeming to flip. I was then unceremoniously plopped into an endless, misty demiplane. As stated before, I searched for hours for an exit, but found nothing. All I could do was view the true world through the tiny portal, and there, not an hour later, I saw the Storm Bringer entering my unguarded treasure room.
I have no idea why she would pursue me so far as to come all the way to my lair. All I had done was consume all of her subjects, destroy the villages under her control, and steal all her tribute! The pettiness of this broad was ridiculous!
How she located my lair or made it past my defenses I’ll never know. Maybe it was because I hadn’t put up any defenses at that point. Actually, to this day I still have the odd Gnome just wandering in… maybe I should install some security. Nonetheless, my treasure was there for the taking and I could do nothing but watch as she looted my loot! She took a few cautious looks around the room, then proceeded to begin gathering up my hard-earned booty.
“No!!” I cried as she held up one of my favorite trinkets. Suddenly she reacted, her still-swollen eyes darting around the room, searching for the source of the noise. So, she COULD hear me!
“Get away from my treasure!” I commanded. She dropped the trinket she had been holding and began searching the room for me. Finally, she spotted me, picking up the mirror with a smirk, her scarred eyes filled with malice.
“What is this? Come out of there and face me! I have vengeance to enact!”
“I cannot!” I replied. “This blasted mirror has trapped me. Find a way to free me and I will return your treasure, plus give you a few pieces of mine!” I had a mind to simply give her this wretched mirror if she could get me out. I hadn’t given away any treasure before, but this looking-glass was proving to be more trouble than it was worth.
“HA!” she cackled. “So the thief has become trapped by his own stolen treasure! You know, there’s a moral to this story. Maybe your folly will become some mortal’s fairy tale someday. For now, I will simply leave you in this prison. Perhaps someday my hatred of you will grow too strong. Then maybe I will come back and free you, if only to then slay you. For now, I will simply leave this cave with only one piece of treasure—a mirror holding the image of an ugly dragon. The rest of this wealth is mine.”
With that, she set my prison back down and began collecting my hoard. I had to think of a plan, and fast. My mind racing, I thought of every possible action that may free me… and then one stuck. I had it. I knew not if it would work, of course, but I had to try. I waited until she spoke aloud again and began enacting my ruse.
“Hmm… this piece looks good,” she muttered, holding up a ruby-tipped cane.
“OOooh ooowwww!” I yelped, feigning agony. “Please don’t say that!”
The blue turned, my apparent pain her seeming to delight her. “Don’t say what?”
“That word! Agg!” I writhed. “This mirror responds to verbal commands! Whatever sadistic fiend created this prison also embedded it with the ability to inflict pain on those trapped within when certain words are said aloud!”
“What word did I say, eh, thief? Piece? Look? Good?…”
“AAARRGG!” I flung myself back in artificial suffering. “Please! Yes, that is the word! Please no more!”
“GOOD!” she barked; her face twisted with cruel joy. “GOOD! GOOD!”
I responded to each spitting of this word perfectly. If her disturbing enjoyment of my torture was any indication, she was buying it.
“Please! Stop!” I begged, forcing tears into my eyes. “And for the Scale’s sake, please don’t say ‘Breadstick!’ That one is even worse!”
“Breadstick?!” she questioned. That one was a risk, and I couldn’t think of a different word at that moment. She bought this one as well, though, since I immediately howled in horrid agony.
“BREADSTICK! BREADSTICK!” she blurted. It would have been somewhat humorous to see an adult blue dragon screaming “breadstick” into a mirror if the intent behind her repetitions wasn’t so malicious.
“Please! No more!” I begged, with each recurrence of the word sending me into a fictitious fit of agony. Finally, I had her where I hoped she would believe this next, penultimate part of my deception.
Panting, I said the next part as slowly as I could. I needed her to say the next word exactly. “I beg of you, blue. I will do anything. I cannot stand this torment any longer. Please, just don’t say the final word. The one that will bring me more suffering than any being is capable of withstanding. It may be the death of me. Please DON’T say…”
I trailed off. What was the blasted word?! In my focus on my feigned suffering, I had completely forgotten the Elven phrase!
“Don’t say… what, poor thief?” Grisgilanaxx nearly whispered. She seemed to brim with anticipation for what simple sound could cause so much pain.
“Umm… Don’t say… ‘Ash…dunla?’”
“Ashdunla?” she responded, seeming to be disappointed with my lack of reaction.
“No… Umm… what was the word you can’t say? Hmm… I know it was Elvish. Asludat?”
“No, I think that’s Sylvan for “Forest Pond,” she replied. It seemed as though she was beginning to lose interest in torturing me.
“Well, what’s an Elvish word that sounds like the Sylvan word for “Forest Pond?” I was beginning to panic. If I couldn’t get her to say it, I would be trapped in this prison for eternity.
Fortunately for me, the blue had at least a passing interest in linguistics and evidently knew a bit of the language of the pointed-ear-folk. She thought for a moment. “Well, there’s the word that’s a formal way to invite someone into your home… I think it’s… ‘Aslȗdilath?’”
At this, in nearly an instant, the tiny portal grew once again, this time with the image of the blue growing with it, then reversing, with me finally standing back in my lair. My plan had worked! The astonished fury on the blue’s face reflected in the tiny, ornate mirror is one I think of often. My triumph over this outraged dragon is one of my greatest accomplishments.
I did not have to give up this valuable mirror, but I do not keep it with the rest of my hoard. It is tucked away somewhere safe, surely still containing one very angry, lightning-filled nemesis.
Hopefully this tale has been somewhat enlightening and has taught you this valuable lesson—if you’re going to be raiding a region, maybe ask around to see what tyrant has possibly claimed the land. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to reflect on your actions. Until next time, continue to spark your minds with new information, lest you mirror your past mistakes!
Editor’s Note: I’ve been teaching Grendel more about puns. Sorry. I will say, I now know why there’s a back room in the lair containing only a large object with a sheet over it, with a sign saying, “No Speaking Elvish in this room!” plastered to the door. A few times I thought I heard the thing under the sheet growling and muttering, cursing Grendel and swearing vengeance for… something… Now I know what. If ever any of you fair folk get the chance to visit the lair, please obey the sign, lest we all meet the fury of Grisgilanaxx the Storm Bringer!