After a rather awkward exit from Penmawr Island, I verily crashed into Alchemister, Jobe and Alley traveling the roads of Novia.

“A good evening to you all!” I declared.

“Huzzah!” cried Alchemister. “What a fortuitous meeting! You’re just in time for our journey to the dragon’s den. Come, it will be a glorious time!”

“The Dragon’s Den?” I inquired. “Sounds like a fine name for a tavern. I’m not familiar with this establishment. Clearly it must be new to the realm. I will gladly come along and give it my expert opinion.” I continued.

As I am a professional, I made ready my drinking horn and followed suit.

It was a merry sojourn, but I felt something amiss as we took many strange and unexpected turns. Soon we were on a lonely road heading into the desert.

“I say, Alch, I am not familiar with any Dragon’s Den being out this way. Are you sure we are on the right track?”

“Of course! Of course!” came his confident reply. “The dragon’s den is just this way. I have been there several times. Fear not.”

“Well then, if you have been there before, I greatly anticipate our arrival.”

But as we continued to head deeper into the barrens sands, I felt compelled to make a comment.

“I don’t mean to tell anyone how to handle their affairs, but I believe the proprietor of this establishment could use a few lessons in attracting patrons to his establishment. I understand a desert oasis could be a draw for most, but he could do with some signage to point the way. I see nothing but sand and rocks. And it wouldn’t hurt to do something about this Corpion infestation. A fellow could lose his way, become light headed from heat exhaustion and take a debilitating sting from one of those nasty things. That wily beast nearly had me cornered back there.”

“Establishment?” Alch asked.

“Yes, this new tavern you are taking us to, the Dragon’s Den,” I replied.

“Tavern?”

“My dear fellow, the heat has clearly started to get the better of you. See, I told you this chap needed signs to point the way. Yes, the Dragon’s Den tavern we are going to. That is the point of heading out into the middle of the desert isn’t it?”

“Oh, nay, nay!” Alch said. “The dragon’s den isn’t a tavern. It’s an actual den, full of dragons. We are making our way across the scorching heat to risk our lives in the pursuit of trinkets and baubles.”

“I’m sorry,” I said stopping in my tracks. “A den? With dragons? Risk our lives?”

“Of course! Fire breathing ones too,” he said with a hearty chuckle. “But fear not! I have something for you. Drink this!”

“Pray tell what is this?” I inquired as I took the strangely colored flask.

“It is a combat mixture of my very own creation. It will make you powerful and fearless. Plus, if you survive the night, one mighty fine dancer,” he said with slap on the shoulder.

“Well, I have always wanted to improve my rhythmic gyrations,” I admitted.

“Down in one!” he cried as he took of the top of his concoction and swilled it down.

I quaffed the drink and felt a feverish burn in my belly and terrible ache in my head.

“Alch! You gave me the wrong vial. I think I just drank poison!” I bellowed as I began to cough and sputter, my vision fading.

“Poison nothing! That’s just the bite of The Hulk! Give it a moment and you will be a powerful fighting force!”

“But, I already am a powerful fighting force,” I choked with tears in my eyes.

With that, Alch raced up the dunes, his compass fixed in the direction of our demise. In my combat elixir delirium, I had no choice but to follow. The wind had swept away our footprints so there was no retracing our steps.

As I crested the rise of the hill, I saw what had brought us out here. Just as Alch had said, there were three dragon’s basking in the heat of the sun.

“What shall our tactics be?” I asked. “I’m not very savvy in battling dragons. My current stratagem is simply to avoid them at all costs.”

Taking a knee, Alch began to explain his battle plan. “We four shall flank them to the right. When I give the signal, Jobe and I will lay suppressive fire with a blinding barrage of arrows. Alley will sweep in and lay down an assault at the legs. Our other four comrades will circle in from the left to make a deadly dual-pronged attack.”

“It sounds well thought out,” I commented. “What is my role?”

“Do what you do best. Set your sword ablaze and swing like mad. And try not to stab yourself. But if you do, we have healers at the ready.”

“Oh, I see you have put me in a position to play to my strengths and anticipated my needs. Very well, since I am now fortified with the poison you gave me and have no chance of finding my way home, I shall leap into battle at your signal,” I said

With that, Alch and Jobe leapt from the dunes, stealthily moving into position. Quick as a flash, Alley too dashed off through the sand. The rest of the group broke off and made ready to rain down destruction from the alternate side.

Recovering from my first misstep into the sand, I followed in pursuit of Alley. I stopped only briefly to recover my balance, and to set my sword alight. I was at a loss how to fight this foe, but a flaming sword is always a good first measure.

True to their word, Alch and Jobe unleashed a volley of arrows that darkened the sky. The dragon howled in pain and anger. Alley followed up with an onslaught to the legs that was both mesmerizing and brutal. I followed Alch’s instructions and swung at everything that looked dragony.

In the enthusiasm, excitement and borderline delirium of the melee, I let fly several crushing blows from Stone and Ice Fist. While I can’t be sure, due to my unfamiliarity with dragon anatomy, I believe I may have struck it in the nether bits with a few of those strikes. Hopefully that will not taken as unsportsmanlike by my confederates.

Nevertheless, the battle raged, the arrows flew, the swords whirled and the healing spells streamed across the desert floor. Finding my rhythm, I assaulted that leathery rapscallion right on the big toe.

The events are a blur. There was a near endless flurry of attacks until baleful cry shattered the air, and a deafening crash as the dragon’s massive body came hurtling toward the ground. But, there was no time for jubilation as we still had two other dragons to contend with.

Considering the terrible raucous we had just caused with the larger firebrand, pummeling the two smaller winged devils into submission seemed a trifle. A fire breathing trifle with razor sharp claws and whipping tail, but a trifle never the less. Clearly, I was in the grip of Alch’s combat elixir.

Taking up my position at the big toe, I swung, and hacked and gave it the full fist! A common Thug would have crumbled at such an siege, but this creature did not give in so easily. It took hundreds of swings and thousands of precisely fired arrows to bring it to the ground. But bring it to the ground we did. It’s ally soon met the same feat, a crumpled heap on the desert.

Just as I was ready to collapse on the ground and relish in the glory of still being alive, Jobe instructed me to skin the beast and confiscate it’s loot.

“Beg pardon? I am at a loss as to how to skin a dragon,” I remarked.

“Just like a wolf,” he said. “Only bigger. With more teeth. And wings.”

Sizing up the animal I worked my around the carcass, looking for the right starting point. This was met by snickering from Alch, as he indicated I was at the wrong end.

Quickly correcting my grievous error, I quickly relocated and began the field dressing process.

This was as brutal a process as drawing the creature out of the sky. It took multiple attempts, but I finally made off with a wealth of riches. At least I assumed they were a wealth of riches. The haunch and neck are considered to be prized items from such a quarry.

With the dragons vanquished and the remains scattered under the sand, I anticipated a festive libation somewhere more safe. But my thoughts were dashed as another dragon streaked across the sky.

“To arms!” Alch yelled. “Have another elixir! It has clearly improved your aim! You are still alive!” Swilling his own bottle of elixir, he let fly a volley of shots clearly meant to antagonize the beast.

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I assure you, I was in the midst of battle the entire time. I only sought higher ground at the very end to take in the scope of this grand achievement.

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I fail to see how my tiny little skinning knife will have any imact on this dreaful beast. That being said, which end do you start from?

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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