Good day, patient people!
It is finally time for me to conclude this much-too long story! Though the sound of my own voice is nearly unchallenged in its beauty and melody, even I will admit that this has gone on a bit too long. For those of you with the patience to follow this meandering subterranean story all the way to this week’s long-awaited conclusion, be assured that a few shorter storytimes are in your near future!
Moments later, after a swift, traitorous, and disrespectful (and in hindsight, unsurprising) kick from one mulleted elf, I was careening toward the bottom of the fathomless depths, my fate left only to gravity and any quick plan I could come up with in the next few moments! Thief - Part 5
Having followed my stolen treasure as it was carried deep below the earth, I found myself plummeting to certain death in a seemingly bottomless pit. I had just been kicked most disrespectfully by a mean elf, though how he could have seen through my perfect disguise, I will never know. I was polymorphed into one of these angry, white-haired elves, and even though my true form possessed the most magnificent of wings, it would take a moment for me to shift back. If I met the unseen ground before then, it may hurt a bit.
To my surprise, before I found any sort of land, I was instead caught by a thousand horribly sticky, rope-like nets. In my mustachioed elven form these webs were at least as thick as my slender arms. Quickly I slowed, then held fast, suspended over the inky darkness by a chaotic tangle of webs. My apparent good fortune only lasted for a moment, however. Before I could do more than feebly struggle against my constraints, a voice spilled out of the darkness.
“Struggle, struggle in my web, little bug! And what kind of feast do we have today?”
A gigantic spider was skittering toward me along the webs. Where the spider’s head would be, however, was the torso and white-haired head of the same kind of angry elves from above. A long, pointed tongue was lashing from this horrifying monstrosity’s mouth, salivating in unnerving anticipation.
“Ah, yet another pathetic male. No longer any use to your house? Or maybe your house was destroyed, your status in the city negated? Pity…”
She grew closer until I could feel her cold breath on my cheek. She drank in my scent, nearly shivering over her prey’s feeble aroma as her many legs began wrapping around my elven form. This spider thing opened a much too large mouth, teeth glistening with poisonous spittle and went in for a bite, when suddenly she stopped.
“Ah… What is this scent, little fly? The usual fragrance of weak, male drow is on you, though lacking the usual fear I so readily crave… yet there is another odor… something… spicier. What is different about you? Hmm. No matter, a meal is a meal…”
She lunged for a killing bite, and had I been just a lowly elf, I would have surely met my end. Fortunately for me, I had already mastered the shifting of my form, even in small ways. As the disgusting creature was questioning my physiology, I was subtly changing myself. What once was the mundane mortal throat of my elven form now contained the fiery organs of my true draconic self.
I poured out an immolating flood of fire into the creature’s gaping maw. The horrid shrieking that followed echoed off the cavern’s walls, filling the spidery pits with sounds of the monstrosity’s burning death. She fell far, far down into the pit. My eyes followed her as she plunged into the impenetrable darkness. As her shrieks died, they were replaced with the gasps and murmurings of the city’s denizens gathered around the mouth of the pit.
“She’s dead! Slain by her prey!” one elf said.
“What kind of creature killed her? Surely not a drow!” said another.
“Definitely not! What drow has a mustache?!” questioned another perceptive fool.
Obviously, my perfect disguise was ruined. I still did not know where my stolen treasure was, and attempting any further deception was pointless. Oh well. I figured it was time to change tactics anyway.
I let my elven form fall as I shifted back. My beautiful wings unfurled as horns grew from my head. Scales emerged on my smooth elven skin, my bulk increasing as I returned to my original form. With this, the thick webs that were supporting me began to break. Even though it was only a few hours since I had been in my true form, the return to it granted me the same sense of relief that I imagine a mortal gains when taking off their socks after a long day. However, with this change, the final supportive webbing snapped, sending me barreling into the darkness.
Seconds later, the elven citizens of the spidery city were running in terror as I shot from the pit. Buildings were toppled, elves turned to ash, and quite a few fleeing mortals were consumed in the rampage that followed. One-eye and mullet were consumed as well, frozen in terror at the realization of what they had just brought forth.
Bloody minute after minute went by as nearly half of the city was leveled. Arrows bounced harmlessly off my impenetrable scales and far too many foolhardy warriors attempted to shove spears and swords into my marvelous flesh, only to be smashed by my massive claws or consumed by my unending hunger.
“PLEASE HALT!” came a sudden voice, magically booming over the screams of the panicked denizens.
There, before me floated a female elf, her eyes glowing with surprising power. She wore a high-backed, web-patterned dress, and in her hands, she held a glowing silver staff, much like the mithril one I was after. She was levitating only a few paces away from my sparkling maw. I would have eaten her then and there, but the sheer foolish bravery of her approach convinced me to at least hear her out.
“PLEASE, mighty dragon!” she continued, giving me the smallest of respectful bows. “Why this destruction?! What have we done to bring forth your wrath?”
Finally, we were getting somewhere! As much as I loved the wanton destruction and a belly full of angry mortals, I still needed to find my staff. Searching through piles of rubble would take much longer than just asking, thus I deemed her question worthy of an answer.
“You have stolen something of mine. I have come here to retrieve it,” I bellowed.
She let out an exasperated sigh as she slapped her forehead. “What idiot led a dragon back here…” I heard her say as she addressed me again. “Please, oh mighty one! Pray tell! What has been stolen from you?”
I almost felt sorry for her. By her garb, demeaner, and apparent power, I guessed her to be the ruler of this city, and now one of her subjects just caused the death and destruction of nearly half of its residents.
“I seek a mithril staff. About this long,” I said, gesturing with my mighty claws. “Has a spider on the tip of it. It was stolen from my hoard a few hours ago. I followed it here, but have since lost track of it…”
“And, most fearsome dragon,” she replied. “If you are given this staff back, will your destruction cease?”
I thought on this for a moment. Though I do love consuming mortals, I was feeling a little full and tired. These angry elves, though small in stature, contain so much furious angst and revulsion for surface dwellers that they make for a surprisingly heavy meal.
I gave a small nod and said, “I think we can come to an understanding, yes. Just bring forth the thief that stole from me and return my treasure and I will leave you alone.”
At this, the matriarch turned in the air to address her subjects. The second she began to speak, her voice bellowing loudly enough I nearly had to plug my own ears, the remaining citizens immediately knelt in unison. Never had I felt attraction toward a mortal, but the sheer respect she commanded from her lessers made even my cold heart flutter.
“BRING ME THE WRETCH WHO STOLE FROM THIS DRAGON!”
Only moments later, a male elf was thrown down before the ruler. In his hands he had a small sack. A feeble “Forgive me, my lady” was all he could say as he reached in and pulled out the staff. Immediately my senses were able to focus upon it as the magic that held them at bay faded.
“I thought if I could recover the lost Staff of Thi’rill’tross that it would elevate my house. I knew not the destruction my actions would bring! Please, find it in your heart to…” But he was cut off by the matriarch, a small, dismissive wave of her hand magically silencing his pleading.
“Your actions, foolish one, have killed many of our people. Not only will your house NOT be elevated in status, but you alone are responsible for the destruction of your line! For, as of this moment, House Ret’lus’ai is no more! Every member of your house will face death. Your names will hereby be erased from all record. You will be a lesson to any and all drow!”
At this, she turned from the begging thief to the rest of the remaining elves and continued, “Let it be known! Anyone who steals from a dragon will face the same punishment! If one of these magnificent wyrms takes any valuables from you, said valuables are considered the true property of the dragon! No attempts at recovering the treasure will be made. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?”
The bowing citizens all murmured a hearty agreement as my affection for this floating, beautiful mortal grew even more. Suddenly, for possibly the first time in my life, I felt myself at a loss of what to say next. As the matriarch turned toward me, I would have blushed like a shy halfling if I could do such a thing. With a wave of her slender, powerful hand, she floated the staff from the ground, then glided closer to me. She smelled like power and lavender.
“I believe this is yours,” she said, placing it into my hand. “Is there anything else we can do for you?”
“Umm… uh… no. Thank you.” I said, stumbling over my words. “Thank you. You… uh… really have these mortals eating out of your hands, don’t you?”
Despite the gravity of the situation, she allowed a slight smile and replied, “Oh, you don’t know the half of it.”
I turned from her, the intenseness of her gaze causing me much embarrassment. “Actually, if you don’t mind… Could I possibly have directions out of here?”
Hours later, I was back on the surface, my staff in claw and a new crush in my heart. Whether or not I ever saw this magnificent creature again, I will leave to a different storytime. For now, I will leave this much-too-long tale with this obvious bit of advice: Never EVER steal from a dragon. Until next time, let that bit of knowledge season your delicious minds!