The Faith of the Overlords
Within the depths of the cave the dragon swam in complete blackness. It had quickly realized that the most effective way to ease the pain was by
swimming continuously, but the cold water could do nothing to calm it's incredible rage. Already wounded once, and with yet another cursed knight
pursuing it, the dragon's heart beat at an astounding rate and volume. So did it's breath, yet the animal did not possess the intellect to understand
that it's own physical response to pain and danger was the very thing that would seal it's fate. The one thing it did understand was that it should
stay there and wait; it's enemy would be upon it in minutes, and when the knight came within range, the dragon would rip the his body to shreds.
Duvar himself knelt around the corner, behind a large deposit of limestone and just out of the dragon's range of auditory perception. This far inside
the cave there was no light whatsoever, but this caused little concern. He was, after all, the most skilled of the Republic's Overlords, and his
training would serve him to the fullest inside this pit of blackness. Having honed his own perceptions to incredible detail over the years, he could
rely on his other senses just as well as sight, and even from behind the grotesquely shaped limestone formation he could tell that the dragon was
submerged behind a rock in the middle of an underground lake just beyond the bend - wounded and dying. In this environment, Duvar had the
Tightening his grip on the dragon-lance, he considered his options. With Cornelius's lance already deep inside the creatures belly, it did not have
long to live, but was still quite dangerous. It's fire-breath was already spent, but dragon of this size could still easily swallow a person whole,
and he realized that it was best take it's life as quickly as possible. A well-aimed shot at the heart would do the trick, as long as he could
approach the dragon quietly enough to avoid detection. Duvar curled his toes in the cool mud - he had removed his boots so the dragon wouldn't hear
his footsteps, but had not removed his black leather clothing, which creaked slightly with each movement. Damn, he thought to himself, better move
quickly. Very quickly.
After a brief and silent prayer, he inched around the rocks with the prowess of a predator cat; then made his way ever so carefully to the bend in the
cave. Peering his head around the corner, his senses were immediately overwhelmed by the sheer power of the creature's own lifeforce. The thunderous
heartbeat which echoed on the walls of the cavern, and the roar of it's breath which signaled it's worsening condition, was accompanied by another
sound, one that Duvar had not counted on. The inside of the limestone cave was soggy and damp, and he could hear the steady drip - drip - drip as
drops of water fell onto the lake. Still, not loud enough to throw off his accuracy, but an added complication all the same.
If it was at all possible to get just a little closer, just a little, then he could be sure of his aim to the most critical degree. Crouching very
low, he quickly made his way toward the water.
It was then that he sensed the creature move it's head. The dragon knew. Duvar lined up his shot, and decided to give his throw a running start. In
only a second, he accelerated to a full sprint, brought back the heavy lance over his powerful shoulder, and thrust the spear forward on a path to the
dragon's heart . . .
. . . and missed.
It was the very edge of the shore, where some type of slimy substance had found a home on the water's edge, which caused him to lose his footing. As
Duvar fell square onto his back, the wind was knocked from him, yet he still heard the impact of the lance piercing the creature's shoulder.
Startled, as well as wounded again, it's head burst upward and struck the ceiling of the cave. A dangerous shower of rocks fell from above; this was
followed by the dragon's tremendous and terrifying roar, which echoed from the walls of the cavern, making seem as if the beast were in all places at
once. Duvar desperately tried to claw his to a safe distance, but the edge of the lake sloped downwards, and the slimy mud only caused him to slip
closer toward the water.
Suddenly, he was hit by the wave caused by the huge creature which was thrashing about behind him., and as the water receded, it took him with it.
Duvar slid helplessly into the lake, but even as he did so he tried to stay focused, collected, anything but wild with panic.
Even as he sensed the enormous head rise out of the water behind him . . .
This part of the shore was too steep . . . and too slick to negotiate. He knew he had only one chance, and he took it on instinct. With barely
enough time to take a breath, he dove straight down into the frigid depths, just in time to feel the great teeth slam shut over the surface above him.
Underwater now, with the wounded dragon thirsty for blood, Duvar used his arms to propel him closer to the rocks which he knew were along the side
of the cavern, much too far away for comfort. To make matters worse, the dragon's jaws were now snapping blindly around underwater, hoping for a
lucky strike. Then, unexpectedly, the dragon twisted it's body, and Duvar was struck by the unforgiving force of the gargantuan reptilial tail.
It sent him crashing against the rocks, and he tasted the blood that ran from his nose down through his throat, but this was a lucky break after all.
With plenty of adrenaline left in him still, the knight pulled himself onto the rocks, hopped onto the shore, and began to run for his life down the
pitch-black cavern. Now out of the water, he could much better utilize the keen sense of hearing and direction that had served him so well in prior
deadly encounters. As he rounded the bend in the cavern and sprinted with all his might toward the distant opening, skillfully staying on course
without the guidance of daylight, he distinctly heard the dragon explode from the lake. Bellowing with fury, it set off after him, determined to kill
and mutilate it's prey.
Even without reaching for it, Duvar knew that his sword was still slung at his side, but being far too small to harm this creature, it was no more
than a wooden toy at the moment. There was another complication. The opening of the cave itself was a steep hole which leveled off into the tunnel.
He could reach the end of the tunnel, but that was where he would certainly die. There was no time to climb out.
As his feet carried him across the muddy earth on his desperate escape through the darkness, his attention was captured by the horrifying, rhythmic
rumble of the dragon's footsteps. The sound was like thunder, and was getting closer with every step. Duvar could feel the cave tremble under the
beast's weight, and a stalactite larger than a man fell from the ceiling, almost cutting him in two. Just when it seemed a dead certainty that he
would never see the light of day again, Duvar eyes sighted the bright sunlight at the end of the tunnel which poured in from above.
And that was when he slipped, slamming face down on the floor of the cave, sliding momentarily on the thin layer of water which sat above the mud, his
nose bloodied once again. The sound of the dragons angry footsteps were now deafening, and when he lifted his head he observed tiny mushrooms of
water erupting upwards
with each impact of the dragon's stride.
There was of course no time to reflect on that, to be sure, so Duvar pulled himself up and dodged toward the light. He didn't have to glance back to
know the enormous reptile was upon him now, it's jaws open, outrunning his stride and taking it's final, catastrophic bite.
As if it were a gift from heaven above, Duvar heard his friend Gabel's call, "Duvar! Take this!"
A new dragon lance flew down from the hole above, sticking into the mud. Duvar was still running as fast as he could, he almost had time to reach
But of course he would have no time to turn it around and use the damn thing!
Instead, the quick-thinking knight performed a diving roll, clutching the lance as he rolled over, and braced the weapon's blunt end hard into the wet
limestone floor - just as the horrifying teeth rushed down on him from the darkness.
The huge jaws fell with astonishing speed down over Duvar's vulnerable body, and this sent the tip of the steel lance straight into the dragon's
brain, killing it instantly.
"Could he be alive?" Gabel asked Cornelius, who lay next to him at the edge of the great hole that led into the cavern. The two had managed to catch
only a fleeting glance of Duvar's figure, a mere instant before the great dragon's head decended over him, the impact raising a thick cloud of dust
that was only now beginning to settle.
"By God's most forgiving grace, I would think it possible - barely" replied the other knight. "Look! There's the tip of your lance coming out of the
beasts head! I think he did it!". Cornelius pointed to the steel blade protruding out the top of the dragon's bony forehead. A steady trickle of
crimson blood ran from the wound, making an ever-widening pool in the mud below.
"Duvar! Do you live!" Gabel shouted frantically, but in truth Duvar was in no such circumstance to reply at the moment.
Yes, the beast was dead, but when Duvar tried to take a breath he realized that he was not out of peril just yet. Something big, cold, and wet was
pinning him to the ground - he knew this could only be the dragon's enormous tongue. Unable to move his arms or legs, Duvar began to choke on a foul
- smelling liquid. In fact he was drowning. Drowning in the dragon's blood and saliva.
Yet his right hand still gripped the shaft of the lance. Using as much strength as he could muster, he pushed on the wooden shaft, thus shifting the
weight of the dragon's head ever so slightly. And then the tongue itself shifted, allowing him just enough space to pull himself out from under it,
gasping for breath and nearly vomiting from the hellish stench.
edit on 20-5-2012 by Flatwoods because: