The Sun Door Part 33
by Joe Solmo
A dragon, that’s why it was getting hot. A gods damned red dragon with the scales, and wings, and giant teeth and claws, and the fiery doom stared back at us. Puffs of sulfur and brimstone escaped its wide nostrils as its large eyes followed us. It didn’t seem concerned with us at all. Why should it be, it’s a gods damned dragon and we are just food for its kind. So, dragons are real eh? A hell of a way to find out. When I see that mage again I am going to punch him in his young nose, even if it means Moose clocks me one. I glanced over at the largest brother and wondered if I really wanted to take a hit from that ham hock fist he had. I decided against it, but I could yell at Skrat all day!
I looked beyond the dragon, about fifty feet behind the big red bastard was our ultimate goal. The Moon Door. It looked a lot like the Sun Door to be honest. From here I could just about make out some of the carvings that weaved around the door its self. I turned to Dead-Eye to see if he saw it too, but he was busy trying to discretely put a bolt into his crossbow. I already felt that bolt striking me in the back. The sweat started to trickle down the small of my back as I thought over our situation. The room was really starting to heat up.
Drejnin approached the dragon, slowly. Finally, we found something the big man was afraid of, I thought. He held his large hands out to show the dragon that he wasn’t armed. A snort from the dragon made him stop dead, much like my heart.
“That is far enough,” the dragon said in a deep voice that rumbled in the stone beneath us. He rose his head off of his front feet, and cocked his head sideways, like a dog. “Have you come to return home?” Did the dragon recognize Drejnin then?
“I have. May I ask you name, great one?” Drejnin inquired. The dragon seemed to get visibly annoyed.
“Have they stopped telling the tales of Charstrike?” the dragon asked incredulously. The dontu approached his friend and put a hand on his shoulder. As if to say, let me handle this.
“Oh no, great one. We just didn’t know that was you! There are so many tales of dragons, it’s hard for our feeble minds to keep then straight,” Serius added. The dragon rose onto all for limbs and spread out his leathery wings. He took up most of the damned chamber. Where does he poop? I wondered as I stood there.
“What other dragons matter? I can defeat them all! Do you not see these sharp fangs! Does not death see through these eyes? How could it not be me? I am the most feared dragon to have ever lived!” the dragon roared. It was almost as if he was throwing a temper tantrum since we didn’t know who he was. How immature, I thought.
“We meant no harm. We didn’t know we would find you here. It took us by surprise,” Drejnin said to the reptilian beast. I looked down at the book for help. I saw a flash of movement. What was the mage up to? I am going to have to have a talk with him.
“Kid? Now would be the time to help. I think we are blowing it here,” I whispered into the book. I didn’t get an immediate response, no surprise there. Kids these days. I tell you when I was a kid…well, we acted just as bad really. Let’s not kid ourselves.
“The stories of the great Charstrike do not do you justice. You look so much more grand in person,” Drejnin said and bowed to the dragon. “Will you let me pass and go home? I have defeated all the guardians in this cemetery.”
“I am the immortal guardian of the Moon Door. I can’t allow anyone to pass, Dreymorian,” Charstrike said and tapped one of his claws on the stone floor. I wondered how that claw would feel tearing into out flesh. Drejnin was a certified tough guy, but a dragon? This was impossible! Drejnin sighed. I could tell he didn’t want to have to fight the dragon.
“Marsh?” I looked down and saw the young mage looking up through the book. He looked ragged. I guess all that running around for information for us was starting to take its toll on him. Ah fuck him, he’s young and I was in a mood.
“I’m here kid, with a fucking dragon! You think you could have mentioned there was a fucking dragon before we were eye to eye with it?” I asked sarcastically. I know, it was so uncharacteristic of me. People evolve I guess. I am glad I am not one of those unsophisticated louts you see in most armies. They should have made me an officer. It would have done them good to have someone as refined as I.
“Listen Marsh. I can’t find his weakness. I am not sure he even has one to be honest. According to these accounts Charstrike is immortal. Given guard duty as a reward for his service in the demon wars where Drejnin’s father won,” Skrat said. I saw the movement again behind the young mage.
“Um kid, you are alone there, right?” I asked.
“Skrat made a confused look. “Yeah Marsh, you guys left me here alone, why?” he asked. I figured I was just seeing things.
“I’m just tired, kid. Just tell me one thing. Does this son of a bitch breath fire?” I asked as I turned the book so Skrat could see the immense form of the dragon in front of me. Why should I be the only one who drizzles down his leg.
“Well, of course it does,” Skrat responded without hesitation.
“That’s just fucking great. Now we have to fight a flame spitting asshole. This day just gets better and better!” I yelled at the kid.
I looked up at my friends to see how the talks were going with the dragon and my heart skipped a beat. Everyone was quiet and the dragon was looking at me. Even Serius had a solemn look in his face. Did the dragon hear me call him a son of a bitch?
“Hey guys, how’s it going” I said with a smile while looking around for someone who wasn’t showing fear like a mask during the Dead Night celebration. No one moved at first and I started to get that creepy feeling where your skin begins to crawl away. I guessed it didn’t want to face down a dragon either. The hairs on the back of my neck rose and I shivered in a chamber that had to be a hundred degrees.
“What is that you have in your hands, mortal?” Charstrike asked me. I looked down at Skrat and he was shaking his head no, like I shouldn’t show the dragon. Easy for him to feel that way being a few miles away from that cold, reptilian stare.
“Oh this, just a book. Not a very good one really. Children’s story. I’m sure it wouldn’t entertain you. Someone of your greatness shouldn’t be bothered by such a thing,” I said rambling thinking that if I said enough words maybe some of them would make sense and help me out of this situation. I replayed it back in my brain during the silence that followed and shook my head with a frown. Not all plans are a success.
“Bring it forth,” the dragon said and opened its mouth showing its wicked teeth. Goose bumps covered my skin.
“I really don’t want to,” I said and stood there for a second. The dragon raised an eyebrow so I decided to elaborate. “I really don’t deserve to be in your presence, being a mortal and all. I will just hang out back here while Drejnin and you finish your business,” I said.
“Bring it, now!” the dragon roared so loud dust fell from above.
“Right away Your Dragoness!” I said and stepped forward even though I could hear the young mage telling me not too. He may have called me a name too.
I stopped about twenty feet in front of the dragon, right near Drejnin and couldn’t make my legs move anymore. The weight of the Charstrike’s presence held me in place. I looked up at Drejnin, then Serius trying to find courage from the strength they have shown time and time again, but there was nothing but fear in their eyes. Now would be a perfect time for one of Dead-Eye’s terrible fart jokes, I thought.
The dragon moved one of his clawed hands towards me, and I instinctively flinched. I closed my eyes expecting the worst, but nothing happened at first. Burned in my brain was the image of that black claw protruding from its scaled talon. A second passed and I popped one eye open, curious as to my fate. The dragon turned his palm towards the ceiling and snorted.
“Place the book into my hand, mortal whelp,” it said. Each word breathed its hot breath on me. It was unbearable from this short distance. My hands began to shake.
“Don’t do it, Marsh. It could jeopardize everything. Just stall for time,” the mage said from the book. How the hell was I supposed to do that? I stood there and didn’t move, frozen in fear of a fiery death, but also fearing screwing up the mission to get Drejnin home.
“I am losing my patience,” the dragon said and opened his mouth wide, I could see the glow of fire from his throat. So, this is how I am going to die, I thought. Roasted by a red dragon. Dinner for a giant mythical beast that no one knows exists. And my Drill Sergeant said I wasn’t going to amount to anything. Shows how much that asshole knew. He probably died by now from a sword or old age. How droll. He probably never even seen a dragon! I wish he was here now so I could rub it in his face. Hey, look at me Sarge, I am about to be food for a giant fucking lizard! I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself down.
“Listen, Char…Char…” I started. Was I getting my stutter back from when I was a kid? It was just probably nerves. I mean how many times does a mortal peon like me get to see or even talk to a dragon.
“CHARSTRIKE!” the dragon roared. Smoke began to pour out of his snout as he grew angrier with me. Maybe stalling wasn’t a good idea. Maybe I can trade him the book for our passage or something. Then maybe I would have actually been useful on this whole trip. I noticed the dragon was staring at me.
“Right, Charstrike. It’s obvious that you are a great being, worthy of worship, but being a mortal, I haven’t heard your story. Can you tell me how you fought in the demon wars?” I asked.
The dragon reared its head back. A breath as hot as Drejnin’s wife escaped its nostril and struck me in the face, but it was only heat, no flame. The dragon settled on its paws again, like a dog. I think it was getting comfortable.
“Sit mortal, and I will tell you a tale that you really aren’t worthy to hear. How clever of me to appeal to its ego, I thought proud of myself until I realized I was doing the same thing to myself. I settled down on the floor with the book in my lap aimed just right do Skrat could see what was going on. I hope that little shit knew what he was doing.
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